We nearly killed ourselves this week compiling twelve “quotes of the year” articles for December 30 and 31, which required ploughing through over a THOUSAND posts (1,170 to be precise) looking for interesting or amusing word-nuggets. Unfortunately, everyone was on holiday or out having a good time, so hardly anybody read them.
So we’ve put them all together in a single ridiculously huge mega-post to give everyone who only reads the most recent article a chance to catch up. We’re nice that way.
And then on Monday, when we’ve all finally got back to having some sort of vague idea what day of the week it is again, 2014 starts in earnest.
“No campaigners must publicise the fact that this is as good as it gets [...] With a No win little is going to change. Right here, right now you can see the kind of country we are going to be living in.” – Michael Kelly in The Scotsman.
“Whether one likes it or not, it is in the interests of the unionists to lower the tone.” – Simon Pia, former Labour spin doctor unusually tells the truth.
“Taking an average of the Scottish Government’s own figures since devolution, instead of being £500 better off, Scots would be £1 worse off.” – Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
“Scots will be the laughing stock of every stand-up comedian in Britain if they bottle out of self-government.” – Iain Macwhirter, Herald columnist.
“As the Labour party engaged in the rebranding of social security as ‘welfare’ and its ministers raged against ‘benefit cheats’, something poisonous was being embedded at the core of our national life.” – John Harris, the Guardian.
“Given the demographics in Scotland, pension funding generally is a very difficult problem. It’s much easier to face these pressures as part of a country with a population in excess of 60 million people rather than 6 million.” - Alistair Darling, “Better Together chairman, creates 700,000 extra Scots out of thin air.
“The idea of the political independence of England and Scotland leading to conflict, hatred and distrust is the mindset of opportunistic status-quo fearmongers and gloomy nationalist fantasists stuck in a Bannockburn-Culloden timewarp, and deeply insulting to the people of both countries.
Swedes, Norwegians and Danes remain on amicable terms; they trade, co-operate and visit each other socially any time they like. They don’t need a pompous, blustering state called Scandinavia, informing them from Stockholm how wonderful they all are, but (kind of) only really meaning Sweden.” - Irvine Welsh, author.
“Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has been accused of rank hypocrisy after Labour torpedoed a Holyrood debate on universal benefits, despite Lamont regularly accusing the SNP of trying to stifle debate on the subject.” - Tom Gordon, the Herald.
“You’re the deranged maniac, who (ironically) gives your own side a bad name.” – David Torrance passes the time of day with us on Twitter.
“We have a majority SNP Government in the Scottish Parliament, but that is not a democratic place in the conventional sense; it is a dictatorship of one man sitting in Bute House, who will do not what is in Scotland’s interests, but what is in his own or his party’s interests.” – Scottish Labour “deputy” leader Anas Sarwar memorably raises the level of debate.
We thought that Scotland in the 21st and 22nd century would be looking forward, and would be progressive and positive. Celebrating the murder of hundreds or thousands of English people does not necessarily provide the best base on which to move forward.” - Labour MP Ian Davidson, classing up the joint as ever.
“Four people died in Glencoe tonight. Within an hour Salmond saw it as an opportunity to get his name in the papers. Hope he’s proud.” – Labour activist and BBC pundit Ian Smart joins in.
“What I see at Westminster now is not an alternative politics that avoids the pitfalls of nationalism, but an instinctive, backward-looking British nationalism that is even worse: a farrago of double standards about Westminster and Holyrood, and of reactionary nonsense about the nature of national identity in the 21st century, combined with a complete vacuum of progressive policy, and an instinctive willingness – on the part of the Labour Party – to side in this debate with what is perhaps the most privileged and reactionary government the UK has seen in a century.
The truth is that the tone of the No camp’s response to the independence debate has – in too many cases – been so reactionary, so negative, and so fundamentally disrespectful of the Scottish Parliament as an institution, that I now find it hard to think of voting with them, no matter what my views on the constitution.
And this, for me, is a new experience in politics – to enter a debate with a strongish view on one side of the argument, and to find myself so repelled by the tone and attitudes of those who should be my allies that I am gradually forced into the other camp.” - Joyce McMillan in the Scotsman, with what would become a familiar refrain.
- Labour councillor Terry Kelly really selling the benefits of the Union.
“I admire those countries and they are friends of ours – but they are very different from us. Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe, and has a sovereign wealth fund of over €500bn.” - good point, David Cameron.
“Pro-independence parties will be able to spend £1.494m compared with £1.4m for the pro-UK parties, an advantage of £63,000.” - Magnus Gardham on top of the facts and figures as always in the Herald.
Finally, one that was actually said in March 2011, but which we discovered in January.
“Deprived of government power after our longest period in office, there is something almost therapeutic about finding new ways to make change happen. Unless you are lucky enough to be a Welsh minister, Labour council leader or (after May’s elections) a Scottish Labour minister, you are unlikely to wield executive power any time soon.” - Labour’s Blair McDougall , now director of “Better Together”, shows off his prediction skills.
“Could we possibly not export [England's nuclear waste] to Scotland, and then give them their independence?” – audience member on BBC’s Question Time, to much merriment among the crowd and panel.
- Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell.
“There’s one thing that’s absolutely certain – if the nationalists get a Yes vote, Scotland will be leaving the UK and so we’ll be leaving the European Union.” - No campaign director Blair McDougall shows why he’s by a massive distance the least trusted man in Scotland.
“Actually it’s difficult for people who are trying to get into work if they’ve got the burden of having to pay for a house they can’t really afford, it makes it much more difficult – they’re going to have to earn more to make work pay. What we’re trying to do here is improve social mobility, so that people can get into work.” - Willie Rennie explains how the bedroom tax is actually HELPING poor people escape poverty by taking money away from them.
“You have a situation where the SNP cannot tell us what their position now is on things like the currency, or on pensions, or on defence, or on Europe.” - Alistair Darling, perhaps needing his ears cleaned out.
“If a referendum were to result in a vote in favour of independence, the associated monetary, banking and regulatory arrangements would be for Westminster and Scottish Parliaments to determine. However, we stand ready to provide technical assistance to advisers to the Scottish Government’s fiscal commission.” – the Bank Of England, not seeming to regard a currency union as a “delusional fantasy”.
“Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?” – David Cameron, apparently disowning five years of his own ‘Broken Britain’ rhetoric.
“Whether or not England was also extinguished by the union, Scotland certainly was extinguished as a matter of international law.” - the UK government’s first paper on independence drops a bomb.
“Scotland would [face] similar demographic challenges to the UK as a whole and will also have to manage the projected long-term decline in North Sea production and tax receipts. An independent Scotland, however, would have greater flexibility to respond to these pressures than it currently does as part of the UK.” - report of the independent Fiscal Commission.
“What I think the SNP don’t like about the opinion is that it suggests that [independence] is quite a difficult thing to do, because they would be placed in a position of having to negotiate 14,000 agreements.” - Scotland’s only Tory MP, David Mundell, trails in a week behind the news.
“This is a blatant attempt by the Nationalists to shut down debate in the UK parliament.” - a Labour spokesman explains why Labour cancelled a House Of Commons debate after Westminster clerks ruled that they had to stop referring to independence as ‘separation’.
“There is no point funding free care for the elderly when half the people in the poorest parts of Scotland do not live long enough to take advantage.” - Glasgow Labour MP Anas Sarwar decides that because Glaswegians die early, the rest of Scotland’s old folk should have to suffer too.
“Taking winter fuel payment and free bus travel away from richer older people would save relatively little, cost a lot in administration, increase poverty among the old, and undermine solidarity between the generations.” – BBC financial expert Paul Lewis talks sense.
“There are serious discussions to be had about how much economic freedom an independent Scotland using the Bank of England’s pound would have, butthe idea that England would deliberately try to sabotage an important political and economic ally is for the birds.” - Sunday Mail editorial leader.
“Labour campaigned in Scotland on the basis of being the only party that will stand up to savage Tory cuts in local councils. Whilst the Tories’ vote declined significantly, their influence in Scotland has increased massively due to Labour’s willingness to enter into coalitions with them to keep the SNP out. It goes without saying that this is a complete betrayal of those who thought a Labour vote was an anti-Tory vote.” - Ben Wray, International Socialist Group.
“At least Irish nationalism is a pure, honest form of nationalism. Scottish nationalism, which has been a fraud committed on the Scottish electorate for the last few decades, has finally been exposed as nothing more than what has now become its own political class, seeking to justify its own existence. “ – Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP and apparently a big Sinn Fein fan.
“Anti-English hatred is the default position of the SNP, so it is no surprise when the party shows its true colour.” – pure, honest Irish nationalist Michael Kelly in the Scotsman.
“Whatever the legal formalities, in terms of the political will if Scotland were to vote for independence, I think Europe would try to smooth its way into taking its place as a European member.” – Lord Malloch-Brown, the former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
And again we’ll finish on a rather older quote that we only uncovered this year:
“We believe that the only way forward for workers in Scotland is to ensure a Yes vote in the referendum.” – statement from postal workers’ union the CWU.
We probably need more than one quote, right?
“On jobs, though – the part of the economy that matters most to most households – the economists forecast a rise this year and next. The better news: it doesn’t look as steep a rise as previously feared.” - the BBC’s Douglas Fraser warns against the jobs menace.
“Just once, just for a change, let’s hear something positive about why Scotland would be better staying part of the United Kingdom. Because frankly, the scare stories are wearing a bit thin.” - the Scottish Sun’s editorial leader column pleads in vain.
“Former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will have a statue erected in her honour in her home town of Grantham in Lincolnshire. Labour councillors had called for a town centre statue after the Conservative-majority authority voted against the move last week.” - no, you’re not reading the BBC website wrong.
“If the Royal Navy is forced to move as a result of a Yes to the Independence vote and subsequent implementation, HMG could make clear that Scotland must lose the protection afforded by Trident’s nuclear umbrella. Any first strike on Scottish soil would therefore not constitute grounds for WMD retaliation by the rest of Great Britain.” - bad news in a report from the UK Defence Forum: if Scotland gets nuked to ashes by North Korea, millions of North Koreans won’t also die. (As long as they ONLY nuked Scotland, of course.)
“The next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and it’s why we should also consider very carefully our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention it enforces.” - Home Secretary Theresa May.
“Two thirds of the North Sea and west of Shetland reserves are in Shetland’s coastal waters.” - Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott gets his international law a little muddled.
“The precedent is a terrifying threat to civil liberty, and because the UK has no codified constitution, it’s entirely within Parliament’s prerogative. If government can simply rule on actions ‘ex post facto’ (after the event) then nothing is sacred. You could be walking your dog in Doncaster, completely legally, on Monday, and on Tuesday find that your perambulation was illegal and carries a life sentence.” - liberal thinktank Civitas expresses concern over the coalition government’s retrospective “workfare” legislation, supported by Labour.
“There’ll be many people who voted SNP but don’t believe in independence who will breathe a sigh of relief, like me.” - a surprise admission from Scottish Labour “leader” Johann Lamont.
“The Labour Party have managed to prove themselves to be just as sleazy and horrible as we all know the Conservatives are. There’s nothing left to vote for any more.” - Noel Gallagher of Oasis laments not living in Scotland.
- interesting use of the word “remember” from the former Tory MYSP, there.
“Scotland would have been abandoned to the Germans in the event of a Second World War invasion, according to new research. Military commanders in London were prepared to ignore ‘screams from Scotland’ in order to give England ‘total priority’.” – the Scottish Daily Express reveals the true meaning of “better together”.
“A parliament with little responsibility for raising the money it spends will never be properly accountable to the people of Scotland. It can never have the proper incentive to cut the size and cost of government, or to reduce tax bills. So that means in future a far greater share of the money spent by the Scottish Parliament should be raised by it.” - while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson similarly lets the cat out of the bag about “more powers”.
“Faced with pressure to tackle both the East Lothian Question (Scottish MPs voting on England-only laws) and the Barnett Formula (for working out Scotland’s block grant), the idea of tearing up the latter and introducing a system of self-funding for Scotland looks most attractive.” – and Magnus Gardham in the Herald gives the game away about Barnett, with a comedy clanger thrown in for distraction.
“Horsemeat in school dinners,14 year old raped in City bus & Orkney firm in administration yet all we hear from SNP Govt. is more on Indyref!” – stay classy, Baron George Foulkes.
“The SNP have done a great job in explicitly not being xenophobic. I sighed when I saw the copy, but it was too late by then. I entirely agree that this will give an impression in these ‘interesting times’ that I said something that I didn’t. While I did make a comment on anti-English sentiment generally, particularly in relation to the 2006 world cup, I most certainly did not refer to the SNP government, which came out with statements condemning the actions of those few.” - historian Dr Fiona Watson reacts to some creative editing of an article she wrote for the Radio Times.
“Prime Minister David Cameron will reportedly back Rangers and Celtic joining the English football league in an attempt to win the Scottish referendum on independence.” - Yahoo Sport reporting on a Sunday People ‘exclusive’. We suspect it’s a strategy Alex Salmond would have more luck with, frankly.
“One of the most important things that you can do is free women and girls from the tyranny of rape, of violence, to give them their freedom so that they can contribute as equal members of society. We wouldn’t have the influence to do that in an independent Scotland.” – Lib Dem activist Caron Lindsay suggests that a Yes vote will inhibit the combatting of global rape.
“The cost of the SNP’s constitutional obsession is around £13m. The price-tag is substantial and doesn’t include the costs to Scottish families of sorting childcare or taking time off work due to schools being closed for the vote.” - Scottish Labour constitutional spokeswoman Patricia Fergusson looks at the big picture.
“We should be helping [to] build an unstoppable momentum for permanent change following the Independence Referendum next year, where another Liberal Democrat, Michael Moore, has secured the right of 16 and 17 year olds to vote.” - Lib Dem Voice makes a bold claim. If you haven’t been clicking on these links, make an exception for this one.
“Today, the ruling party of Scotland has nationalism as its creed and is suspiciously coy about its own history. Elsewhere in the nationalist family, the BNP [...] trounced the Far Left in recent Scottish elections and, in 2010, received a respectable 1,000 votes in Alex Salmond’s stamping ground of Banff and Buchan.
To this should be added growing sympathy for the agenda of Ukip. The Scottish electorate now appears more receptive to radical nationalism than Mosley’s blackshirts could ever dream of.” - perhaps the most repellent thing printed in a Scottish newspaper this year, Scotland on Sunday soiled the country’s newsstands with Gavin Bowd’s despicable smear likening the SNP to the BNP, UKIP and fascist Blackshirts under a faked image of a bastardised Saltire featuring a Nazi swastika.
“Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall, who was also appearing in front of the committee, said he would refuse to take cash from foreign donors, but would accept UK-wide donations up to £500.” – the Herald reports unambiguously on the No camp’s plans to reject outside-Scotland donations of over £500, and “foreign” donations of any amount.
“Better Together’s top donator is oil trader Ian Taylor, who handed over £500,000 – ten times that donated by Labour-supporting Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson.” – Whoops. Ian Taylor wasn’t born in Scotland, doesn’t live there and isn’t registered to vote there. (PS the Record: Sir Alex donated £501, which we’re fairly sure is less than a tenth of £500,000.)
“There is a major question of principle here to be addressed as to whether or not the referendum can be bought and sold with foreign gold. Even at this late day, I would hope that the Scottish Parliament and the SNP would show confidence in their own ability to raise money from Scots in Scotland and desist from taking foreign money.” – Labour’s Ian Davidson attacks referendum campaign donations from anyone other than “Scots in Scotland”, shortly after the No camp cashes the cheque from Mr Taylor.
“These allegations are seriously defamatory of our client. There can be no justification for their publication. The article must be removed from the web immediately. Should you fail to take this step our client will issue proceedings in libel against you.” – the aforementioned Ian Taylor’s lawyers, in a letter to us about this article. We left the article where it was. We’re still waiting.
“The data shows that a couple with children, where one parent works, will be worse off by £3,995.65 a year on average after the tax and benefit changes introduced since 2010. Average households will be worse off by £891 a year.” - the Institute for Fiscal Studies, recently lionised by the Unionist parties and media for its integrity and authority, reveals the cost of staying in the Union.
“Scotland could wake up tomorrow to the grim reality of a new Tory government, led by Thatcher disciple David Cameron.” - the Daily Record learns half of the lesson, although its grasp of election dates is a little squiffy.
“yay! well done everyone who crowdfunded that racist cybernat #fuckingidiots” – Scotsman columnist Euan McColm warmly congratulates us on raising £33,000 in a month to support this site’s work.
“A warning that thousands of Scots are being forced into insecure and poor-quality jobs has overshadowed encouraging figures showing a fall in unemployment.” - Magnus Gardham reports the good news that fewer people are out of work the way only he can.
“I am not asking anyone either to forget or forgive what Thatcher did. We never will. But I also remembered that Nelson Mandela, after 27 years jailed on Robben Island, forgave his jailers before he walked out to freedom.” - since Johann Lamont had just told the Scottish Labour conference she would “never” forgive Mrs Thatcher, we can therefore only conclude that she was calling Nelson Mandela a wimp.
“Every time your granny or your uncle or your auntie came up here they’d have to get currency in order to come and visit you.” - Alistair Darling apparently revealing that he charges his relatives for tea and biscuits when they pop round. After some of his Parliamentary expenses claims, we can believe it.
“It remains the case that currently no state has both the intent to threaten our vital interests and the capability to do so with nuclear weapons.” – Dr M. Smith, the Ministry of Defence.
“Looks as if we have over 150 people at tonight’s #bettertogether Aberdeen launch event.” – the No campaign, presumably before going to SpecSavers.
“I think people are asking this very very important question about the country, which is, y’know, are our problems so deep that NOBODY can actually make a difference to them? My emphatic answer is yes.” - Ed Miliband, Britain’s would-be next Prime Minister.
“Comic Susan Calman has called for the end of ‘name-calling, swearing and death threats’ marring the independence debate after her satirical contribution to a radio show triggered an onslaught of online abuse.” – The Scotsman.
We’re expecting to see the evidence of these “death threats” any day now.
“Located in the heart of Edinburgh and only ten minutes away from Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle, Surgeons’ Hall can accommodate between 10 – 300 guests.” – the official brochure for an Edinburgh conference venue casts some doubt on whether the No campaign’s launch there was really attended by “about 600″ people.
“UKIP have asked to join us and we have said no. If they ask again, we will say no again. They are not a Scottish party and this is a Scottish debate.” - “Better Together” makes it absolutely plain that only Scottish people should be involved in the independence debate, unless they’re Spanish, Portugese or Welsh.
“Better 100 years of the Tories than the turn on the Poles and the Pakis that would follow independence failing to deliver.” – the year’s most offensive tweet, from Labour activist and solicitor Ian Smart.
“How much would a first class stamp cost in a separate Scotland?” – not even getting near the bottom of the barrel in the No camp’s unforgettable “500 questions” gaffe, which saw even the mainstream media begin to turn on the relentless petty negativity of the advocates of the Union.
“But if [devolving income tax] means that we are equalising at a fiscal level across the United Kingdom, while giving freedom to set income tax rates at a greater level in Scotland, then I have no problems with it.” – Gordon Brown, in one of many comments by senior Labour politicians revealing the party’s post-No-vote plans to slash Westminster spending on Scotland and force Holyrood to increase taxes or cut services to pay for it.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m British. And, yeah, I’m Scottish but I feel I’m part of the UK. I think it’s very important to have a Scottish government who make decisions for Scotland but I can’t understand how Scotland would survive independently. We don’t have the resources – like oil and gas – we’d need to keep Scotland afloat.” - Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri, a little behind on current affairs. Like, maybe 40 years or so.
“The hounding of Farage is a reminder that Scotland - or at least Scottish politics – is not quite as generous, open-minded and tolerant a place as it likes to fancy itself. There is, it seems, a narrow spectrum of views deemed acceptable or legitimate. Anyone who falls outside that range can be ignored or, better still, suppressed.” - Alex Massie bemoans the ongoing Stalinist censorship of little-known political outcast and UKIP leader Nigel something.
“The Scottish broadsheets produced from Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Herald and the Scotsman, are in an even sorrier state than the local BBC. Their circulation has nosedived in the last 20 years. Tiny numbers of Scots have access to them on a daily basis. Both rely on a core Left readership.” – Tom Gallagher demonstrates that the Telegraph’s idea of “centre” may be in some need of recalibration.
“The former Labour Chancellor, Denis Healey, has admitted his Government played down the value of Scotland’s oil reserves in the 1970s because of the threat of nationalism. Now Lord Healey of Riddlesden, the Labour peer said tax receipts from oil is the biggest factor behind Westminster opposition to both next year’s and the 1979 independence referendum.” – The Sunday Post, via Holyrood Magazine, with the year’s least shocking scoop.
“Labour are meant to be convincing Scots that we can trust them with our future. On this evidence, you would not trust them to go to the garage for chocolate.” - the Sunday Mail says what we’re all thinking.
“The Scots are accustomed to having their views ignored in the British political system. Despite voting consistently for the left, Scotland has been governed by Labour for only 30 years out of 68. If England is set to elect the Conservatives, in other words, it’s hardly worth going out to vote in Scotland at all: we know what we’ll get.” - and the Observer tells a home truth.
“I wasn’t around in Denis Healey’s days.” – Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran, who was secretary and vice-chair of the Glasgow University Labour Club, and chair and secretary of the Scottish Organisation of Labour Students, during the period when Healey was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“The thought that my mother would suddenly be a foreigner would upset me very much.” - the great international socialist Tony Benn.
“Oh dear Chris, you have just went from being a Scottish hero in the eyes of the Bravehearts to being a traitor, how dare you ?” - a Unionist commenter on the Scotsman is used as evidence of “cybernats” unleashing torrents of “vile abuse” at the Olympic cyclist.
“I also hope to arrange an event to celebrate the start of the First World War.” – Labour MP, Rangers fan and bowl-cut aficionado Brian Donohoe accidentally tells the truth. Let’s party like it’s 1914!
“More than 30 million people ‘suffering some degree of financial insecurity”’; close to 12 million ‘too poor to engage in common social activities’; around four million children and adults who are not properly fed; around 2.5 million children in damp homes; around 1.5 million children ‘in households that cannot afford to heat their home’.” - Poverty and Social Exclusion on the current state of the United Kingdom.
And let’s just recap one from January again:
“No campaigners must publicise the fact that this is as good as it gets [...] With a No win little is going to change. Right here, right now you can see the kind of country we are going to be living in.” – Michael Kelly in The Scotsman.
Quite the offer, isn’t it?
“Scots could get welfare benefits at lower rates than people in wealthy parts of England under plans being worked on by Labour. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls yesterday raised the idea of a regional cap on welfare, opening the door to variations in a range of social security benefits.” - the Daily Record trails in just a few weeks behind this site in realising what Labour plans for Scotland after a No vote.
“When we come back in 2015, we need to be honest with people and say we can’t do everything Labour would want to do, because public expenditure will be in a very different situation, but we’re signalling now that there are things we really have to get tough about and that’s what we’re doing.” - Margaret Curran tells Andrew Neil that it’s pretty much a waste of time voting Labour in 2015.
“[Ed Miliband] will pledge to restore the ‘contributory principle’ to jobseeker’s allowance, so that only people who have paid in ‘for significantly longer’ than the current minimum of two years will be eligible.” - BBC News reports that unemployed young people are going to have to live on air under Labour.
“People’s faith in the system has been shaken by a system that appears to give a minority of people something for nothing.” - the aforementioned Ed Miliband, or possibly David Cameron, or maybe Iain Duncan Smith, or Boris Johnson, or George Osborne. How could you tell?
“Until this week, the hope was that a Labour government at Westminster would respond with a cure. Now Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have disclosed Labour’s response to austerity: more austerity.” - Labour Party member Cailean Gallacher writing in the Herald.
“Despite the joint campaign with Labour and the Liberal Democrats against independence, Mr Gove said a No vote would represent a Tory victory.” – STV report on the Scottish Conservatives conference.
“Speaking as the leader of the Better Together campaign, Darling was cheered and thanked profusely by around 200 delegates after defending the Union at a packed meeting on the fringe of the Tory conference in Stirling.” - the Herald at the same gathering.
“The National Health Service is a United Kingdom institution, it was created by United Kingdom people.” - Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie describes the four completely separate and independent entities which provide state healthcare to the citizens of the component countries of the UK, and which have never in their entire history been a single institution.
“Will everything be, you know, flowing with whisky and oil and will everything be perfect? No, it won’t all be perfect [and I] daresay we’ll make a few mistakes along the way. But that combination of these natural resources and the human talent and ingenuity of our people should give people confidence that they and their families will be better off.” - the First Minister, apparently promising Scots a flawless, fantastical “land of milk and honey”, according to every Unionist who heard him.
“I think Alex Salmond is offering something in terms of independence, whether you like it or not. The Unionists are not offering, in my view, anything.” - Henry McLeish, one of Mr Salmond’s predecessors in Scotland’s highest office.
“Travelling from Afghanistan to Brazil, and from Canada to Australia, I encounter bafflement that anyone would try to break up a union that has been so resilient, so successful and so admired as ours.” – William Hague, who presumably must be equally bewildered that Canada and Australia chose independence from the UK too.
“Across Europe, across the Americas, across Africa even, they’re trying to come together because they recognise that there’s strength in numbers, and because they recognise that we’re stronger when we work together with other people.” - we’re genuinely not sure which European, American or African countries Blair McDougall’s been visiting that are putting together UK-style sovereignty unions.
“Privately, some inside Better Together even refer to the organisation as Project Fear.” - credit to Tom Gordon of the Herald for one of the year’s most explosive lines as he interviewed McDougall back at home.
“Organisers hope [David Beckham] will add his firepower to a recreation of the England-Germany match in no man’s land.” - the Sunday Times gets a bit confused about who the sides in WW1 were.
“Just think how we will feel if there is a No vote; if in 2015 we get another government we didn’t vote for; if in 2016 we’re taken out of the European Union against our own expressed wishes; if in 2017 there are new welfare changes that introduce a lower rate of payment for people in Scotland; or if in 2018 we are still wasting £250 million a year on nuclear weapons.” - the SNP’s Stephen Noon in the Scotsman.
“Mobile phone users could incur roaming charges while still in the UK if Scotland gains independence, ministers have warned.” – the moment when Project Fear jumped the shark.
“David Cameron got himself into all sorts of trouble when he told an excitable backbencher to ‘calm down, dear’ but that’s precisely the instruction that he and Alistair Darling should be issuing to those who’re running the anti-separatist campaign. Not to put too fine a point on it, they appear to have taken leave of their senses.” – because when you’re too negative for Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, you know something’s going wrong.
“Eventually it was mentioned to us that there was a beer tent at the fair and after a few drinks things “could turn a bit nasty” with some of the objectors.” - Yes Scotland campaigner Paul Donaldson reports on a small team of canvassers attending the ‘Maggie Fair’ near Elgin, with official permission, being chased out under threat of violence by angry No supporters. It was a story that would become all too familiar.
“I found this highly amusing. Haha.
#nolucknats” - local Labour activist Louise Morton responds to the incident on Twitter.
“When the Tories are attacking the poorest in society, it’s pretty difficult to sit with them and to argue for a progressive Scotland.” - Richard Leonard, organiser for the GMB trade union, explains why his members want nothing to do with “Better Together”.
“Blair and Brown were defeatists, convinced Britain was essentially conservative, individualist, imbued with Thatcherism. Ideas matter. Had Labour changed the political climate (as Cameron briefly thought), this government could not dismantle the social state. But like tumbleweed, Labour policies put down no roots to anchor ideas of collective provision and social protection.” – Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee bemoans the failure of two Labour Prime Ministers to reverse the UK’s prevailing neoliberal ideology in 13 years.
“I reject the arguments that some people make on my side that Scotland is too poor and too stupid. ‘Cos I don’t think it is. I think it’s well capable of being a vibrant, successful nation. I think that is something that we must convince people through this process, through the referendum. And I want them, with that confidence, to believe that we can stay in the United Kingdom and punch above our weight within the United Kingdom.” - Willie Rennie doesn’t want Scotland to be ‘a vibrant, successful nation’ for some reason.
“After 77 years, Murray and England rule” – hastily corrected New York Times headline after the Scot’s thrilling Wimbledon victory.
“Attitudes in England are hardening towards Scotland, with 52% now believing that Scotland receives more than its fair share of public spending, up from 24% in 2002.” - the Institute for Public Policy Research sounds the death knell for the Barnett Formula. Vote No in 2014 and get ready for billions of pounds of cuts to the Scottish budget, folks.
“The British government is examining plans to designate the Scottish military base that houses the Trident nuclear deterrent as sovereign United Kingdom territory if the people of Scotland vote for independence.” – the Guardian reports the first invasion of an independent Scotland.
“This Government has not commissioned contingency plans over Faslane. No such ideas have come to the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister. They would not support them if they did. It’s not a credible or sensible idea.” – a Downing Street spokesman quickly denies the suggestion the next day.
“Scotland’s share of UK debt interest amounted to £83 billion at 2001-12 prices. Subtracting this from total estimated Scottish spend of £1,440 billion we get a debt interest adjusted estimate of spend of £1,357 billion. This means that Scotland was in overall surplus by about £68 billion.” - Professor Brian Ashcroft, husband of former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander, calculates Scotland’s financial status had it been independent since 1980, rather than sending all its tax revenues to Westminster. Having stayed within the UK, Scotland instead carries a debt share of over £100bn.
“I am on holiday in Denmark and independence is the topic all Danes want to discuss when they learn you are from Scotland. I have met no-one yet who is opposed to Scotland’s independence. One said to me yesterday: ‘Surely it is natural to want to run your own affairs, we certainly wouldn’t want to be run by Sweden.’” - former Labour MEP Hugh Kerr in the Herald.
“Salmond pictured with Mickelson at Scottish Open. Can anyone remember last time a British PM was pictured with Open winner? Is FM an arse?” – Johann Lamont’s speechwriter Paul Sinclair is enraged by a picture of Alex Salmond with a sportsman at a sporting event in Scotland.
- proud Scot and Labour councillor Terry Kelly explains in the Herald just what a pitiful basketcase of a country Scotland would be without the Union.
“In an uncertain world in which the number of nuclear weapons remains high and some states are increasing their holdings, we should not take risks with our security by downgrading to a part-time deterrent.” – a series of peers, including former Labour defence secretaries George Robertson, John Reid and Bob Ainsworth, write to the Telegraph demanding the UK spends £100bn+ on a new nuclear weapons system while their constituents queue at foodbanks.
“There can be no justification for either unilaterally disarming or for decreasing the capabilities of the UK’s deterrent. There is nothing we have seen from the Alternatives Review or from our own extensive research that convinces us otherwise. That is why Labour is committed to maintaining a continuous at sea deterrent.” - the party’s shadow defence minister Kevan Jones reinforces the point in an article for LabourList.
“Salmond knows the US would veto Scotland’s membership of international fruit trading organisations, never mind NATO or the EU, until it accepted nukes at Faslane.” – the Daily Record’s Torcuil Crichton is clearly better-connected with the US government than we imagined.
“After a fortnight which included high-profile debates around Labour and Ed Miliband’s relations with the trade unions, Britons are saying they do not believe that the Labour leader will be the next Prime Minister. Fewer than one in four (22%) expect Ed Miliband to be the Prime Minister in 2015.” - ITV reports a ComRes poll, one of several delivering similar results. Labour’s poll lead has since halved.
“[Alex Salmond has] inflated the amount that he thinks is left in the North Sea to something like 12 times what independent experts say.” - Alistair Darling claims that Scottish oil will run out in January 2017. We still await the source for this assertion.
“SNP clearly have a figure for defence budget. Why won’t they share?” – No campaign director Blair McDougall, apparently missing the dozens of times the SNP announced their proposed defence budget (it’s £2.5bn, Blair) live on national television and just about everywhere else.
“Labour for Independence is a sham, a tawdry little con in which some of the party’s most bitter rivals are complicit.” - Euan ‘Scoop’ McColm uses all his top investigative skills to identify the terrible secrets behind LFI by, er, reading the captions on their photographs.
“Defence ministers have admitted the UK has been forced to pull out of key Nato naval defence groups in a sign of just how stretched the Royal Navy has become. The MoD has acknowledged it has not provided a frigate or destroyer for Nato’s maritime group defending the North and East Atlantic since 2009.” - David Maddox in the Scotsman. But remember, it’s independence that’ll leave Scotland defenceless.
“You just can’t have a vastly divergent immigration policy without a strong border. I represent more of the land border with Scotland than anybody else in Parliament and I can tell you that it would be a complete nightmare.” - um, shouldn’t then-Scottish Secretary Michael Moore be talking about the land border with England?
“We take part in debates with our opposite numbers all the time but, for the avoidance of doubt, we won’t be taking part in any event organised by you.” - No campaign director Blair McDougall (eventually) rejects our offer to put on a debate, with a neutral host approved by both sides, between his chairman Alistair Darling and Yes Scotland’s chair Dennis Canavan. The two chairs have yet to appear on the same platform.
“I think it is, in a sense, fraudulent to give the impression that if there is a No vote, Scotland will still get greater powers. The prospect of further powers is ridiculous.” – Scottish Labour grandee Tam Dalyell tells the Sunday Times that abolishing Holyrood entirely is a better, and more likely, idea.
“Wings Over Scotland is not some Paul McCartney outfit with mullets, platform soles and a pipe band but a supposedly serious, non-party-political website backing independence. So, having interviewed 1,000 Scots for its Panelbase survey, what vital facts did it uncover? That Scots are less scared of space monsters than of a Tory Government.” - the Scottish Mail on Sunday, with the most extensive piece of media coverage of our groundbreaking crowdfunded Panelbase opinion poll. We’ve quoted you nearly all of it.
“Labour’s senior figures, notably Ed Balls, have assuaged their contortions of guilt with much sound and fury, but little by way of alternative policies. Miliband and Balls have concentrated on noisy performances in parliament, with some effect, but have failed to emerge as plausible national leaders. Their programme has been a pale imitation of the Tories. They are for cuts, but not too deep, for glamour projects, for monetary caution, for the Afghan war. A fear of seeming too leftwing has led them to fudge every opportunity the ineptitude of the coalition has offered them.” - Simon Jenkins joins the ranks of Guardian commentators unimpressed by Labour.
“Historically, in any Yes or No vote in a referendum, it’s actually the No side that tends to grow over time, people tend not to default to changing the status quo.” - American pundit Nate Silver, accidentally forgetting all the times when they tended the other way.
“It seemed the days of booing national anthems had passed. But old habits die hard against the Auld Enemy so Flower of Scotland got the treatment and God Save the Queen was booed in response. Pretty unsavoury all round.” - the Daily Mail reports on the formalities preceding the England-Scotland friendly.
“The sing-off was generally good-natured but the Scottish contingent let themselves down badly at the start as a cacophony of boos drowned out God Save The Queen after respect was afforded Flower Of Scotland.” - the Scottish Daily Mail, meanwhile, hears something rather different.
“The idea of Scotland winning some version of ‘devo max’ in the aftermath of a no vote is fantastical. The term as understood by most people is ‘just independence light’ and will never be accepted by Westminster.” - the Telegraph assesses a book written by Prof. Jim Gallagher, former Secretary of the Calman Commission.
“With Scotland’s strategic sea position, it is ludicrous to think that Western allies would refuse to help defend Scotland against a major foreign attack, even if NATO did not exist.” - Professor Michael E. Smith, Chair of International Relations at the University of Aberdeen in an exclusive Wings interview.
“Alex Salmond can’t be trusted on the BBC and hasn’t answered some of the most basic questions over the past year. Will Scottish TV viewers be able to get all the content they currently enjoy, for free?” - Margaret Curran on the BBC, which in fact costs £145.50 a year.
“Dear Sir, Thank you for taking the time to write. I agree the leader column should have said Labour introduced the policy and we are printing a clarification.” - the Record’s editor-in-chief in an email to us that evening.
“If we were to leave the United Kingdom it would inevitably mean one set of rules and regulations in Scotland and another set just across the border in the remainder of the UK. Different financial regulations, different employment laws, different insurance requirements, different tax authorities, different accreditations and qualifications with which small companies would be obliged to contend.” - should we tell Ruth Davidson that Scotland alread has different laws, regulations, accreditations and qualifications (due to its centuries-independent legal and educational systems), or do you want to?
“Mr Salmond and his empty brains has not spoken about Spain again but I went over to Spain last year and the fact is now there is more unemployment, begging and everything over there and the pensioners can’t get a pension until they retire and if you retire before you’re 80 you won’t get a pension. So I hope that we work together as a Great Britain. Thank you.” - an attendee at the launch of Better Together Glasgow.
That positive case for the Union is clearly getting through, then.
“Scottish households ‘would be £2,000 better off if voters reject independence’” – various papers report a claim by renowned seer George Osborne, quietly mumbling some distance below the headline that the alleged figure is a total over three decades, or around £67 a year.
“I believe we should write this into the constitution, for the first time making it explicit that the purpose of the Union is not just defence security, is not just trading relationships, but to pool and share our resources for the benefit of working people, the elderly, children and families, in all parts of the United Kingdom.” - Gordon Brown reveals with admirable frankness that in the event of a No vote and a Labour 2015 election victory, Scotland will have to keep sending all its tax revenues to London, but will get less spending in return.
“I’m not saying that, y’know, we can’t develop our own welfare system, I’m saying we shouldn’t develop our own welfare system.” - Jackie Baillie is happy to have the Tories in charge of looking after Scotland’s poor, sick, vulnerable and elderly.
“A pro-independence campaigner has been assaulted on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile by a woman who was outraged at his Yes placard. In what are believed to have been the first physical blows of the debate on Scotland’s future, frail nationalist campaigner James McMillan, 80, was sent spinning to the ground by the woman – after she wrestled a banner supporting a Yes vote from him.” - the Edinburgh Evening News reports the inevitable result of a No campaign built on hatred and abuse. Mr McMillan sustained a broken wrist, severe bruising and a cut to the head.
“Norway, which goes to the polls tomorrow, faces a strange problem: too much money. The Nordic country, an island of prosperity in ailing Europe, faces an embarrassment of riches as it tries to figure out how to spend its huge pile of oil money without damaging the economy in the long run.” - Australia’s ABC news details the difficulties facing a country near Scotland, with Scotland’s population and similar natural resources.
“Alex Salmond’s independence white paper shifts to November” – Severin Carrell in the Guardian reports the news that the White Paper, never slated for any time OTHER than November, would indeed come out in November.
“Now SNP plans to outlaw our cars” – the Daily Express: never knowingly outsatirised by reality.
“Labour needs to articulate a new golden rule on welfare. Apart from the disabled and most vulnerable, work is expected. It is the duty of all adults to put their shoulder to the wheel. Work is normal.” - but apparently being paid for it is an optional luxury, according to Labour Uncut.
“I want my education to be secure, I want my health to be secure, and I want my friends, my family and every single person in Scotland, regardless of age, race, or how many bedrooms you have in your house, to feel safe and to feel as if they matter. This will only ever happen if we believe in independence.” – Scotland’s Sweetheart, 16-year-old Saffron Dickson, writing for this site.
“We need to ask ourselves some questions about [devolution]. Has it made health better in Easterhouse? Has it made education better in Easterhouse? And there are a lot of questions marks [sic] over that.” - does it sound as if Margaret Curran’s Labour are planning a big expansion of devolution in the event of a No vote, readers?
“The next year is about defeating the politics of nationalism, a virus that has affected so many nations and done so much harm.” – Johann Lamont to the Labour conference.
“The discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions that has taken place in the world. The battle in which we are engaged today is of the same sort as the battle waged, during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch. How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! We shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jew.” - Adolf Hitler, February 1942.
“Let’s get health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales. Wouldn’t that be a good thing, pulling in the same direction as opposed to pulling our separate ways? Devolution, in its early days, was about doing something different and it needs to enter a different phase where we start talking again more about a UK-wide policy because in the end, that helps everybody.” - Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham with more advance warning of the rollback of devolution if Labour wins in 2015 after a No vote.
“A newly independent Scotland would develop its military capability backed by its 8.4% ‘population share’ of UK defence assets, assets which are (conservatively) thought to total around £90bn.” - defence thinktank Scotland International suggests that an independent Scotland would have a whopping £7.6 billion warchest (quite literally, in this case) with which to set up its armed forces.
“Indeed, 55 per cent of people who said that they voted for the Scottish National Party in 2011 have said that they are not in favour of independence.” - Blair McDougall on Labour site Progress Online with what appears to be a flat-out complete lie. We can find no poll with such figures anywhere, nor has Mr McDougall provided his source despite repeated requests.
Business as usual, then.
“Scotland ‘more likely to suffer catastrophic terror attack if it achieves independence’” – the Daily Mail takes care to keep the debate mature and reasoned, as always.
“Of course we’ve got the economic vitality, and we’ve got the people and we’ve got the resources. But why do we want to make a separate nation state at this point?” - kind of answered your own question there, Lord Robertson. The one we’re in is a total shambles, seems like an ideal time to jump ship.
“Alistair Carmichael, the man who is replacing him, the chief whip, I think he will adopt more of an abrasive, in-your-face approach to Alex Salmond. There’s going to be less of the sort of sotto-voce criticism, much more right-in-your-face. Clearly they feel maybe they need to step it up a level.” - the BBC’s Norman Smith introduces the new Scottish Secretary. Help me, Rona!
“[Independence] is a real dagger poised at the heart of Scotland’s industrial infrastructure.” - defence secretary Philip Hammond.
“Czechoslovakia is a dagger pointed at the heart of Germany.” - Adolf Hitler in 1938, shortly before invading said nation.
“Council resolves to stand up for the symbols of our country by flying the Union Flag from the main pole above the council building.” – Stirling Council plans to fly the UK flag above its statues of William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, until Wings Over Scotland breaks the story and the idea is shelved amid an outcry.
“Even though I’m a Scot, the Saltire makes me cringe. Every time I see a crowd of people waving it above their heads, I feel embarrassed for them.” - the Herald’s Mark Smith snivels for Britain.
“The loudest cheer and longest applause of the evening was in response to the Better Together youth representative’s declaration that the Romans couldn’t be bothered to occupy Scotland because having marched its length and breath they found ‘it was useless’.” - an eyewitness account (backed by audio recording) of the launch of Better Together Cowal.
“Another song pays tribute to the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, while All Jock Tamson’s Bairns are Coming Home, by Steven Clark, welcomes refugees from ‘Iraq, Zimbabwe, Turkey and Somalia’. The SNP is abusing the education system to promote its own separation propaganda.” - Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Mary Scanlon rages at the notion of Scotland being outward-looking and welcoming.
“One independent study suggests that viable intervention forces as well as basic territorial defence could be provided for little more than half the money Scottish taxpayers currently contribute to UK defence.” - an Icelandic expert group’s view of Scotland’s defence needs, and how much money they’d free up to spend on other things.
- “SNP Nats” are the WORST kind of Nats!
“Ineos has been flagging likely cuts for months but instead of engaging with the situation and organising a coherent plan to save jobs, Unite called a strike over a pathetic and petty issue related to Labour Party internal politics. By the time the union woke up to the reality workers faced, it was too late.” - independent, formerly Labour, MP Eric Joyce on how Labour played games with Scotland’s industrial lifeblood.
“[The second Wings Over Scotland poll] is one of the largest commercial public opinion polls to have been conducted in Scotland in recent years. It is doubtful whether any newspaper or even broadcaster could afford so large a project nowadays.” – Professor John Curtice is glad SOMEONE’S still got the resources to keep him in a job.
“What Scottish soldier, proudly serving in the British army, would want to join the Scottish forces and spend their time parading up and down in a kilt in front of Edinburgh Castle waiting for tourists to take their picture?” - Gavin Brown, Tory MSP at the launch of Better Together Musselburgh. What, as opposed to being sent to Afghanistan and having their legs blown off?
“Well, we have worked together, absolutely closely and co-operating throughout this process. The, the, the power to impose special measures on the Falkirk Labour Party is taken at the NEC, and I’m part of the UK party, and certainly I’ve been part of that process.“ – Johann Lamont finds a roundabout way of saying she hasn’t been consulted on Labour’s ongoing car-crash.
“There should be no unnecessary delays in awarding the contract. The MoD does not need to wait for the referendum to issue contract. It could place the order with the provision that if Scotland separates it would revert back to the MoD where to place it. There would be a break clause in it. Then the SNP needs to be clear about what it would do if the order is taken back.” - Ian Davidson, Labour MP for Govan, demands that his constituents should be held hostage by the UK government and punished in the event of a Yes vote.
“If Scotland were to vote yes, then the rest of the UK would be looking for shipyards within their jurisdiction and Portsmouth would be well placed.” - and the Secretary of State for Portsmouth backs him up.
“I have spoken to other shop stewards and GMB members and we are incandescent. The union leadership has absolutely no right to take this action. To say we have been consulted is a falsehood, pure and simple. There has certainly been no consultation in this part of the world. The first I heard about this was when I saw it on Facebook.” - Jim Moody, a senior shop steward of trade union GMB, reacts to the news that the union has backed the No campaign, alleging to have consulted its membership first.
“The McChattering classes pride themselves on living in a generous, social democratic nation. So why should redistribution keep going to Scotland when needs are greater elsewhere? Time, surely, for Scotland to help out south Wales or west Belfast – or even the east Midlands.” - former Labour spin doctor John McTernan, originally speaking in 2011, makes clear that the party’s plans for slashing Scottish funding after a No vote aren’t a new development.
“For those asking we operate a pairing system with the Tories and therefore it would have made no difference to majority on #BedroomTax” – the Labour Whips Twitter account explains why dozens of Labour MPs didn’t bother to show up for their own vote on the hated policy.
“The difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK at this moment is the difference between ‘Come to me all ye who are heavy burden’d and I will set you free’ and ‘Come to me all ye who are heavy burden’d and I will stop your benefits’. I know which country I want to live in.” – Kevin McKenna writing in the Scottish Catholic Observer.
“I think that Scotland leaving the UK would be pretty catastrophic economically for Scotland… I’m making that argument as someone who’s a proud and patriotic Scot.” - some of the finest proudScottery of the year from Danny Alexander. What happened to that official No-camp line that Scotland would do just fine independent?
“Bob my english is not that good but i am aware 300 years of Scotland and England working together makes us better together. voting NO is for real Scots voting Yes is not an option.” – failed Aberdeen Donside candidate and sitting Labour councillor Willie Young not really grasping how a referendum works.
“The Scottish people are entitled to know that even if they vote to stay in the UK, the current method of financing public spending should not be allowed to continue.” - the Telegraph joins in with the Barnett Farewell Chorus.
“The message is clear: within the union Scotland faces a future of public spending constraints, falling population and economic decline. Scottish representation in Westminster will likely be cut under the McKay Commission into the consequences of devolution. The Scottish Parliament will have to pay its way by raising taxes in Scotland, without having access to oil revenues or the ability to legislate for growth. Scotland may be dragged out of Europe if it remains in the UK.” - and the Herald fills in the colours, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor.
“Nothing has changed as a result of today’s White Paper. There is nothing that we found out today that we didn’t already know. Yesterday Alex Salmond’s case for breaking up the UK was based on assertions. Today it is still based on assertions. If this White Paper was going to be credible, it had to address the fundamental issues that people are concerned about. They didn’t.” - world champion speed-reader Alistair Darling appraises the 670-page White Paper two hours after it was released (during almost the entirety of which time he was giving media interviews).
“The misuse of quoting Gini statistics without an explanatory context should be avoided because they measure relative wealth, so for example in 2010 the Netherlands and Bangladesh had the same Gini co-efficient but it would be completely misleading to suggest Bangladesh was as equal as the Netherlands given the stark contrast in basic quality of life and economic opportunities.” – galactic-class idiot Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre demonstrates his lack of understanding of the difference between “wealth” and “equality”.
“It was way after the watershed but there was still something indecent about the way Scottish Television broadcast coverage of a man being eaten alive on Wednesday night. It was supposed to be a debate, between the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and Alistair Carmichael, the Scotland Secretary. Instead, viewers saw a genteel Liberal Democrat being disembowelled by a ferocious and merciless nationalist. She seemed to quite enjoy it.” - the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson is on the scene. Archie McPherson was indisposed.
But we must of course end November with perhaps the quote of the year.
“On page 305 of the White Paper, it says that the Scottish Government would look to establish an oil fund immediately on independence to stabilise the economy. What it doesn’t say is where the money for that fund will come from.” – the incomparable former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray asks the big question in the Holyrood chamber. How we’ve missed him.
“It is in the UK’s self-interest to portray relations with an independent Scotland on this side of the referendum as highly contentious and difficult but its interests will immediately change on the other side of a referendum if Scotland votes Yes.” - Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University casually exposes the massive con-trick that lies at the heart of the entire No campaign.
“The British government has launched a multi-party charm offensive, ‘Better Together’, to persuade voters north of the border to vote No.” – the Irish Times has clearly started drinking early.
“Britain could lose many millions of pounds in brand value if there is a Yes vote in next year’s referendum on Scottish independence, says the boss of a leading consultancy firm.” – by December the Herald was hardly even trying any more.
“[Alistair Darling is] as good a frontman as I can imagine to save Britain.” - Labour ex-spin doctor Simon Pia displaying a serious lack of imagination.
“It must be his message, and his legacy, is the capacity of people to govern themselves, and make the right decisions in their own interests.” - Margaret Curran learns half a lesson from the life of Nelson Mandela.
“The architects of devolution did not think their plans would lead to an independence referendum as it was not thought possible for the Scottish nationalists to win an overall majority in Holyrood.” - Lord Wallace of Tankerness puts it on the record that the people of Scotland were never meant to be allowed a voice on their future.
“A new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply any more on its territory.” - Herman van Rompuy, president of the European Council, makes it absolutely crystal-clear that Scottish negotiations over the terms of EU membership would take place from WITHIN the EU.
“Labour is the pro-welfare party-of-the-heart” - YouGov’s Peter Kellner makes a curious claim in a strange article likening political parties to various characters from The Wizard Of Oz.
“Labour will be tougher than Tories on benefits, promises new welfare chief” – the Guardian, however, reckons the party’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeve is more suitable for the Wicked Witch Of The West.
“No reform to the Barnett Formula until after the Scottish referendum.” - former Labour First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan, goes after anyone who hasn’t worked it out yet.
“That’s EXACTLY what the White Paper says – the price of a worker representative on the board is that they would no longer be able to be active in their trade union.” - Labour liability Ian Smart, apparently having taken delivery of his own special copy that says the opposite of what everyone else’s does.
“The SNP haven’t yet said who would qualify for their passport, and for a reason.” - we assume he lent it to the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson.
“The updated legal advice for the UK Government, seen by Mr Salmond’s legal team, warns no time limit can confidently be placed on any negotiation period. And that although 18 months is a ‘reasonable estimate’, because the EU has not faced a situation that can be compared with Scotland’s position, the time frame could be longer.” - the Independent heroically manages to correctly understand the concept of an “estimate”.
“The Prime Minister was asked in an interview with the Spectator whether he would prefer to have a drink with Ed Miliband, Mr Salmond, Nick Clegg or Nigel Farage. Explaining why he chose Mr Clegg over the Scottish First Minister, Mr Cameron said of Mr Salmond: “I’d have to check my wallet afterwards!” - David Cameron opens his mouth and shows his class.
And in a traditionally quiet month for politics, that’s all we’ve got. We hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of the quotes of 2013, readers, because we’re never bloody well writing another one as long as we live. Happy 2014!