So called because doing it makes our traffic figures get larger 😉
A traditional brainteaser to test your Alert Reader Quotient for 2014. All the answers can be found somewhere on Wings (though not always in the obvious places).
Using the Search facility is cheating.
When former chancellor Alistair Darling said the following during the currency row, he should have known better (and no doubt did):
“The nationalist threat to default on debt if they don’t get their way on currency is reckless. The impact of Alex Salmond’s default would be to say to the world that we cannot be trusted to honour our debts.”
The empirical fact is that an independent Scotland would not be defaulting, reneging on, or walking away from anything. That’s because the UK government has already taken full responsibility for all debt accrued up to the date of Scottish independence.
So we can just forget about it, right?
To cut a long story short, Wings readers, it turns out that by a freakish coincidence I have a fax number only one digit different to that of Alistair Darling’s constituency office. Attached below is a document I unexpectedly found in my in-tray this evening.
Sometimes you have to wonder if the Scottish Wars of Independence are actually over. Throughout many long centuries, Scottish independence was seen by England not just as a threat, but as something that wasn’t actually legal.
Throughout the medieval period, the argument revolved around homage – which Scottish King had done homage to which English king, hence confirming the fact of feudal overlordship and thus the Scottish monarch’s subordinate position. When that was denied, violence was the usual result. And in his own only slightly more modern way, George Osborne this week declared the same war once more.
The latest in the UK government’s “Scotland Analysis” series of independence briefing papers was released this week on the back of William Hague’s visit to Glasgow.
At 119 pages, the EU and International Issues paper is nobody’s idea of a slim pamphlet, but it’s remarkably light on meaty content.
It says something about the baleful influence of the right-wing press (not to mention Tory, UKIP and Labour politicians desperate to seek its favour) that some people in Scotland mention immigration as a reason for voting No.
Of the many scare stories originating south of the border, this one is among the least applicable to Scotland. (But is still perpetuated in the media because no major Scottish newspapers are actually owned here.) Scotland needs immigrants, and without sustained immigration over the next half century, we could be in trouble.
Whenever the hoary old story about passport checks along the border with England is dug up for another run-around (roughly once a month, as far as we can tell), the Schengen agreement usually features as the justification. Here’s a typical example:
“If an independent Scottish state were required to join the Schengen area as part of its EU membership, it would therefore have to implement the border and immigration policies required by the EU. As the UK has no intention of joining the Schengen area, this would involve border controls between Scotland and the continuing UK in order to meet EU rules protecting the security of the Schengen area.” (III 3.46)
And from there it’s only a small step for Project Fear to get to this:
This, as Theresa May knows full well, is utter rubbish. It relies, as so many of the No camp’s arguments do, on normal people’s lack of knowledge of obscure and complex laws (see also: the currency issue). So let’s cut through all the mumbo-jumbo and jargon and lay the plain and simple facts out for the record.
With our compliments and best wishes.
Last month saw a return of one of the No camp’s favourite scare stories – that an independent Scotland would be unable to defend itself against terrorists. (As usual, no consideration was given to the notion that a Scotland with a non-aggressive foreign policy would be far less likely to be the target of terrorism in the first place.)
An unusually balanced and thoughtful piece in today’s Scotsman trashes the UK government report’s findings on purely practical and technical grounds. But there are rather more inspiring and positive reasons for doing so too.
If there’s one phrase that has long bedevilled the Liberal party and its descendants, it’s ‘home rule’. What are we supposed to understand by it? And perhaps more to the point, what do modern Lib Dems understand by it?
If you go back in Liberal history to the time of the great William Gladstone, ‘home rule’ meant something. It meant the principle of self-governance for Ireland, with certain powers reserved to Westminster.
Gladstone’s idea of home rule was very similar to what we now call Devo Max. And when Gladstone stood up for this principle and fought to drive it through parliament, he was attacked in terms we recognise only too well today.