Scottish independence referendum, plus jokes.

Wings Over Scotland

New readers start here 304

Posted on March 28, 2014 by


Younger leopard, same spots 88

Posted on July 28, 2014 by

Our “Better Together” mole has just leaked us this exclusive extract from a new cinema advert with a re-imaged Alistair Darling listing the consequences of a Yes vote.

It’s really from the 1981 Labour conference, of course. But it’s fascinating to note that while the No camp leader’s politics may have softened somewhat over the intervening 33 years, his modus operandi hasn’t changed a bit.

We are not alone 126

Posted on July 28, 2014 by

Supporters of independence are often accused of a certain degree of paranoia when it comes to their lack of trust in the Scottish and UK media.


The above chart is from the latest European Quality Of Life Survey, conducted by an EU agency with the unwieldy but self-explanatory name of The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, (Eurofound for short).

It’s a wide-ranging study with a variety of very interesting findings, but one of the most striking is the almost unique and near-pathological lack of trust in the media held by the UK public. With the exception of Greece, every other nation on the continent has considerably more faith in its press.

It’s not just a cynical British nature – trust in the Parliament and the legal system(s) here are much healthier in comparison to other European nations, but the people of Britain don’t trust their media as far as they could throw it. (Perhaps astonishingly, UK citizens trust politicians significantly MORE than they trust newspapers.)

It’s not just us, readers.

Reaching a consensus 100

Posted on July 28, 2014 by

In case you somehow carelessly missed it, here’s the nine-minute-or-so segment from last night’s “The Westminster Hour” on Radio 4, in which dear old Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph and I discussed the tone and tenor of the independence debate.


The fascinating thing was how Cochrane started off essentially claiming that the entire thing was an intolerable horror, but but by the end was agreeing that it was actually surprisingly mild and civilised as these things go, and needed to continue in exactly the same manner it was now. Funny old cove.

The chocolate teapot 99

Posted on July 28, 2014 by

The UK Trident programme encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them. It was announced in July 1980 and patrols began in December 1994. Its stated purpose is to provide “the minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threat”.

It has also been described by former Vulcan squadron commander (the UKs original nuclear deterrent) and current vice-president of CND, Air Commodore Alastair Mackie, as Britain’s “stick-on hairy chest”.


And yet other than “We should/shouldn’t get rid of it”, it’s rarely the subject of any serious debate or investigation. And as it’s the summer close season for politics, this seemed like a good time.

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The best of all possible worlds 96

Posted on July 28, 2014 by

The times they have a-changed 212

Posted on July 27, 2014 by

Does anyone know if Alistair Darling (left, with banner) is still a republican?


He doesn’t seem to talk about it much these days.

The case of the missing billions 133

Posted on July 27, 2014 by

Readers of this site may remember the story published on the BBC earlier this week, where the figures for GDP per capita miraculously switched overnight from showing Scotland as a net contributor to the UK to implying that Scotland was a net recipient.


And after reviewing the data posted by the BBC, it appears that the export figures have also been massaged to imply that Scotland exports vastly less than it does in reality.

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Taking your ball away 250

Posted on July 27, 2014 by

We just caught a documentary on the BBC News channel presented by John Beattie and entitled “The Games People Play”, which seems to have been first aired on either Saturday or Tuesday (the BBC seems somewhat uncertain). Covering the link between sport and politics, for our money it’s one of the best things the state broadcaster has produced as part of its referendum programming, and we recommend it.

One rather depressing bit leapt out at us, though.

Sir Craig Reedie CBE, from Stirling, is former chairman of the British Olympic Committee and a current member of the International Olympic Committee. And when Beattie asked him about an independent Scotland’s entry into the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he gave an answer which readers may or may not find surprising, depending on their level of cynicism about “proud Scots”.

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Information minimalism 50

Posted on July 27, 2014 by

We know you’re not really very big on boring old politics while there are still reality TV “celebrities” alive and desperately punting their “leaked” sex tapes, Scottish Sun On Sunday, but we could probably do with just a little bit more to go on than this:


Don’t you forget about me 280

Posted on July 26, 2014 by


The unlikeliest places 158

Posted on July 26, 2014 by

Investors Chronicle (part of the Financial Times group), 25 July 2014:

“In the 12 months since we recommended EnQuest (ENQ) as a speculative buy option, the share price of the North Sea independent has oscillated within a relatively narrow range (-11p/+16p) either side of the current share price of 132p. The relative stability (or stagnation) of the share price – depending on your point of view – is partly attributable to repeat production delays on the Alma/Galia project.

But oil from the 34m barrel development is now imminent, which will help to shore-up near-term sentiment, particularly if output is cranked-up in fairly short order. However, even beyond the immediate quest to bump-up EnQuest’s daily production volumes by another 13,000 barrels, the driller’s strategic focus on exploiting maturing assets and underdeveloped fields in the UK North Sea places it in an ideal position to benefit from likely regulatory reforms, and we recommend buying in anticipation.

We think that Westminster has been deliberately downplaying the potential of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) ahead of September’s referendum on Scottish independence.

The Department of Energy has certainly been far more subdued than it was at the time of the February publication of Sir Ian Wood’s preliminary findings on the future of offshore oil & gas in the UK.

According to the report, the UK economy could generate £200bn over the next 20 years through the recovery of only 3-4bn barrels of North Sea oil and gas. Many analysts believe that the potential is much greater.

(Our emphases.) We all suspected as much, of course. But the Investors Chronicle isn’t exactly a renowned fount of Scottish-nationalist propaganda – for 150 years it’s been making its living out of telling the City of London how to get richer. If you want to find out what the UK’s wealthy elite REALLY think about the North Sea’s prospects, you won’t find a much better indicator.

So if it’s telling its readers to dive in on oil companies which had a big DROP in profits last year (you know, the freak low year for oil tax receipts that the UK government just loves to use as the foundation for its theatrically gloomy analyses of an independent Scotland’s finances), it’s probably worth taking note.

A useful idiot 277

Posted on July 25, 2014 by

Alert readers will doubtless have noticed that a post yesterday was disrupted by a series of strident and increasingly ill-tempered comments by a particular user, themed around their insistence that a central bank is a prerequisite of EU membership, and therefore Scotland wouldn’t be eligible if it was using Sterling as its currency OUTSIDE of a formal currency union with the rUK.

In fairness, that’s an assertion that quite a few people have made during the debate, and the commenter – eventually, having been repeatedly challenged for evidence to back up his claim – managed to provide a couple of examples, in the form of the New Statesman’s George Eaton and the Telegraph’s Andrew Lilico.


The problem, of course, was that those were just equally empty assertions which provided no evidence. So rather than argue the toss over interpretations of obtuse legalese, we thought we’d just go straight to the horse’s mouth, and we rang Graham Blyth, the Head of Office of the European Commission in Scotland.

Being such important people, we got straight through.

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