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Wings Over Scotland

Archive for the ‘analysis’

Sailing away from the truth 213

Posted on November 05, 2016 by

There’s a very interesting blog by Douglas Fraser on the BBC website today, pointing out exactly how vague and non-committal yesterday’s “announcement” by UK defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon regarding the long-awaited order of a reduced number of Type 26 frigates for the BAE shipyards in Govan was.

It might explain this extraordinary interview Fallon (alongside a very bad-tempered and unnamed PR goon), gave to Bernard Ponsonby on the evening’s STV News.

What actually happened yesterday was the removal of the threat of blackmail against a Yes vote that had been made against the yards in 2014, and endlessly exploited by the No campaign. The UK government stalled desperately to keep the orders as a bargaining chip in the indyref, not anticipating the prospect of a second one.

But they can’t be delayed forever, and once the orders are in place any possibility of cancelling them is effectively at an end, for a whole slew of mainly extremely obvious reasons. After Fallon had scurried away from him in fear, Ponsonby revealed what the Secretary of State had tried to avoid admitting:

“BAE confirmed to STV News that there is nothing in the contract that would prevent work continuing on the Clyde in the event of a Yes vote in another referendum.”

But Fallon’s toe-curling evasiveness, which finally saw him reduced to hiding behind the skirts of a sour-faced PR woman, had already made that fact clearer than any straight answer could ever have done.

A matter of competence 809

Posted on October 25, 2016 by

Back in May we wrote this:


The prediction duly came true, as most of ours do. Sometimes we hate being right.

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Exploring the options 305

Posted on October 18, 2016 by

We had a bit of a debate at the weekend with ITV’s generally pretty decent Scotland correspondent Peter Smith, after he tweeted this:


It wasn’t the curious choice of picture we objected to, nor the fact that the £14.8bn figure is a notional sum which is totally meaningless in the context of an independent Scotland (because it represents a vague estimate of the disaggregated finances of a Scotland that’s inside the UK and subject to UK government policy choices).

Nor was it even the implication that a £14.8bn “black hole” was an inherent permanent feature of the Scottish economy rather than an unusually bad year.

What chafed with us was the idea that it was somehow Nicola Sturgeon’s fault.

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Waiting on the guns 438

Posted on October 02, 2016 by

The starting pistol hasn’t actually been fired on the two-year Brexit process yet, but now we have a clear statement of when it will be: this morning on The Andrew Marr Show, the Prime Minister pledged that it would happen before the end of next March.

When she gave a speech to the Conservative conference later, Theresa May did even more than that. By the common consensus of the punditariat – whatever that’s worth these days – May’s message was that the UK was heading for the “hard” version of Brexit, with the single market sacrificed for control of borders.

(We might end up broke, in other words, but at least we’ll be good old British broke, with none of those awful smelly foreign Euro-Johnnies around to see it.)

And nobody was getting a sick note.


And for supporters of independence, that’s about as good as news gets.

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The squandered bounty 433

Posted on September 22, 2016 by

It’s long been a bone of contention for Scots – and not just nationalists – that the UK government, by common agreement, wasted the vast wealth windfall of the North Sea on funding Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s programme of deliberate de-industrialisation, mass unemployment, huge tax cuts for the wealthy and bribes to the working class in the form of Right To Buy.

It did so rather than investing the proceeds in a sovereign wealth fund, as demanded by the SNP (and some elements of Labour) and practiced in Norway, whose fund – only set up in 1990 – is now a literal embarrassment of riches.


But the reality is even worse than that. Because according to a 2015 report by the National Resource Governance Institute that’s just come to our attention, the truth is that if the UK had managed its North Sea treasure better, it could have done both.

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Junkies, tramps and thieves 342

Posted on September 02, 2016 by

Fear and lies work. Over many decades (and really for centuries) the Unionist parties and the media have succeeded in persuading a large percentage of Scots that they’re beggars, scroungers, vagrants and “subsidy junkies” dependent on the ever-generous charity of England to keep them from starvation.


And in terms of the facts, that hasn’t always been an easy sell.

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How to disrespect the electorate 181

Posted on September 01, 2016 by

More or less since the morning of 19 September 2014, the Unionist parties in Scotland have kept up an unceasing chorus of “You lost! Accept it!” directed at the entire Yes movement, but primarily the SNP (despite the SNP having never to date disputed the result or called for a re-run of the referendum).

Readers may not be entirely astonished to discover this morning that at least as far as Scottish Labour are concerned, that principle only applies to other people.


Because we’re pretty sure there’s already a name for when political parties set out an “alternative programme of government”.

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Living in a world of quicksand 181

Posted on August 26, 2016 by

Scottish Labour won a council by-election in Fife last night, held after the long-serving Communist Party/independent councillor Willie Clarke (who can be seen on the last page of our Charlie Hebdo feature here) stepped down due to ill health.


The successful candidate Mary Lockhart was understandably jubilant, but there were a couple of what seemed like pertinent facts missing from the local paper’s report.

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The SIX key facts about GERS 76

Posted on August 24, 2016 by

We originally wrote this article in March, in response to the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (better known as GERS) figures for 2014-15. We’ve updated it to take account of events since that time, of which there’s been one rather major one.

Today saw the publication (just five months after the 2014-15 GERS) of the 2015-16 stats, which are again triggering a convulsive orgy of “BLACK HOLE!” articles across the media, as every Unionist in the land falls over themselves to portray their own country as a useless scrounging subsidy junkie without actually using the exact words “too wee, too poor, too stupid”.

And once again, everywhere you look there’s a “Proud Scot” screaming about how the figures – showing an essentially unchanged “deficit” despite an almost £2bn fall in oil revenue – destroy a case for independence that those same people have spent most of the last four years stridently insisting never existed in the first place.


So let’s recap the truth about Scotland’s financial books. Because for all the complex arguments, mad graphs ludicrously pretending Scotland is a less viable nation than Greece or Latvia or Cyprus or Malta and endless arrays of incomprehensible charts and tables, there are (now) only six things you really need to know about GERS.

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Agnostic like the Pope 226

Posted on August 08, 2016 by

God knows, readers, there’s almost nothing we want to write about less than either David Torrance or the Scottish Six. Just to restate our own position for the record, we couldn’t care less either way about a dedicated teatime Scottish news programme on BBC Scotland – not because it’s a bad idea but because we have no confidence that in reality it’d end up any better than the embarrassment that is Reporting Scotland, far and away the regional station’s worst current-affairs broadcast.

(Certainly now that Scotland 2016’s had the chop.)


Nevertheless, the former’s article about the latter in today’s Herald is one of the most abysmally disingenuous and badly-argued things we’ve seen in the Scottish media for quite some time, and in the absence of any more diverting news in what now seems to have reasserted itself as the traditional summer slow season, we might as well take a methodical look at it.

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An empty quiver 200

Posted on July 29, 2016 by

This week I published, through Common Weal, a discussion paper on the potential currency options for an independent Scotland in light of the material changes in circumstances caused by the Brexit vote.

This paper examines some of the options open to an independent Scotland and concludes that, on balance, the best option for Scotland would be a Scottish currency, initially pegged to Sterling but with the infrastructure and mechanisms in place to move, replace or remove that peg if and when it proves advantageous.

(As the UK did itself in the 1980’s when the pound was pegged first to the US dollar and then to the Deutschmark.)

One of the requirements of an independent currency is that Scotland would need its own foreign reserve fund which would act as a buffer against trade imbalances and would be used to counter movements in exchange rate (particularly if we were pegged our exchange rate to Sterling).


It was on this particular point that yesterday’s Scottish edition of the Daily Express chose to focus, in its characteristically measured, balanced and thoughtful manner.

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The quantum of bias 727

Posted on July 20, 2016 by

“Bias” is a word we hate. Other than in the article you’re about to read, you’ll almost never find it used on this site, for a string of reasons. It’s one of those words that – regardless of context or literal justification – simply makes people switch off instantly and dismiss your arguments. (See also: “Zionist”, “Quisling”, “fascist”, “Liebore”.)

It’s also largely irrelevant, because there are very few people or organisations who have any duty NOT to be biased. When it comes to Scottish independence we’re as biased as all heck, and there’s no legitimate reason to expect the Daily Record or Scotsman or Daily Mail to be any more impartial than we are. They’re privately-owned businesses and entitled to take any position they like.

(The difference, of course, is that unlike them we’re committed to still telling the truth when we’re being biased, and to always providing linked original sources so you can judge our biased interpretation of facts and events for yourself.)


But there’s one exception to that rule.

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