The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

50 answers for the No campaign

Posted on January 13, 2014 by

(Now to questions typed by someone with a rudimentary command of written English.)


Because as we know “Better Together” will have quite a lot of trouble coming up with any coherent replies, we’ve had a bash ourselves while we wait for them to get started.



1. What new powers is Holyrood guaranteed in the event of a No vote?

None. Even those already scheduled to come to the Scottish Parliament as a result of the Scotland Act 2012 could be cancelled at Westminster’s whim, either by the current government or the one that gets elected in 2015. There are no guarantees with devolution – Holyrood exists solely at the pleasure of Westminster, and could be closed down tomorrow should the UK government so decide.

2. Can you guarantee future Westminster governments will retain the Barnett Formula, which is used to calculate Scotland’s annual grant from the Treasury?

No. All three parties have made recent and historical statements against it, and public opinion outside Scotland is very strongly opposed. It seems very unlikely to survive a No vote.

3. What will the impact be on Scottish families of the £25bn of new public spending cuts announced by the Chancellor this month?

Probably not good, we’re guessing.

4. Can you guarantee Scotland will still be in the EU in 2020 if there’s a No vote?


5. What extra powers will be devolved to Scotland to grow the working population?


6. How many more children will be living in poverty in Scotland in 2020 as a result of Westminster policies?

Just over 20,000.

7. What steps will be taken to close the growing gap between rich and poor?

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

8. What will the UK’s national debt be in 2016?

Projections suggest somewhere between £1.5 trn and £1.8 trn.

9. Will an oil fund be established in the event of a No vote, as we plan after a Yes vote?


10. How many UK army, naval and air force personnel will be based in Scotland in 2020?

Fewer than there are now.

11. How much will Scottish taxpayers have to pay for the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system?

Somewhere between £8bn and £10bn.



12. If the Barnett Formula is scrapped, by how much would Scotland’s budget be cut after a No vote?

If Scottish per-capita spending was reduced to match the UK average, then the reduction would be £1,200 per head x 5.3m people = £6.4bn a year.

13. If the Barnett Formula is retained, by how much would Scotland’s budget be cut after a No vote?

According to George Osborne, at least £0.2bn.


14. What will UK personal tax rates be in 2016 and beyond, and how will Westminster improve the tax system, including collection?


15. Will the rate of VAT be increased, cut, or stay the same in 2016 and beyond?


16. What will be the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in 2016 and beyond?


17. Why has APD not been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as recommended by the Calman Commission on devolved powers?

“This page cannot be found.”

18. Will a system be put in place to guarantee the minimum wage will always rise at least in line with the
cost of living?

No. It has fallen in real terms for almost all of the last decade.

19. What additional tax powers will be devolved to Scotland in the event of a No vote?

Those laid out in the Scotland Act 2012. Any further devolution, according to Labour’s Douglas Alexander, will only come as a result of at least ten years of discussion and debate about the constitution.



20. What additional economic powers will be devolved to Scotland?

Those laid out in the Scotland Act 2012.

21. What powers will be given to Scotland to combat – in Business Secretary Vince Cable’s words – the “giant suction machine” of London?

See question 7.

22. What will you do to narrow the huge regional differences in GDP per head, which are greater in the UK than in any other EU country?

See question 7.

23. What additional powers will be devolved to increase women’s participation in the labour market?

None. Why would that be seen as a Scotland-specific issue requiring devolution?

24. What additional measures will be devolved to Scotland to boost research and development? 

None. Why would they be?

25. Will additional competitive powers be devolved to encourage major firms to locate their HQs in Scotland?

It seems unlikely that the UK government would want to help Scotland take jobs away from the rest of the UK, where there are far more votes.

26. Will corporation tax be devolved to give businesses in Scotland a competitive edge?


27. What powers will be devolved to encourage re-industrialisation and halt manufacturing decline?


28. Will the post-study work visa be re-introduced?




29. Will the UK still be one of the most unequal countries in the developed world?

Seems likely, as no UK government of the last 30 years has reduced inequality.


30. Will all current universal and pensioner benefits remain, or will some be means-tested?


31. In the event of a No vote, will you guarantee funding to fund a long-term expansion of childcare in Scotland to match the best provision in Europe?


32. Will Scotland’s age profile be taken into account when decisions over the state pension age are made?

With just 8.4% of the UK population, it seems doubtful.

33. What will be the state retirement age for people in Scotland who are starting work this year?


34. Will the bedroom tax be abolished?


35. Will the bedroom tax be extended to pensioners, as suggested recently by an MP from one of the No campaign parties? (Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury.)


36. Have you assessed the impact Westminster welfare cuts will have on Scotland’s NHS?

We can see no direct correlation between the two things.

37. The NHS in England is being privatised. Given that cuts in funding for public services in England trigger cuts in the Scottish budget, has any study been done of the impact on Scotland of NHS privatisation in England?

Take a wild stab.



38. The Tories have just one MP in Scotland, yet are leading the Westminster government. How can Scotland get the government it votes for?

This seems like a rhetorical question.

39. Nine out of 10 Scottish MPs voted against the bedroom tax. How can you ensure the views of Scottish MPs are not ignored in future?

Ditto. Also, see question 7.

40. Royal Mail has been privatised. What guarantees can you give that other public services will not be privatised against the views of Scottish MPs?

And again. But this week’s Economist hints at the prevailing mindset.


41. How much money per year will taxpayers in Scotland be expected to contribute to funding the unelected House of Lords?

Around £13m, same as now.


42. When will an in/out referendum be held on the UK’s EU membership?

In 2017, assuming a Conservative victory in the 2015 election and a failure to negotiate new terms. Labour may yet also offer a referendum.

43. If a majority of people in Scotland vote to remain members of the EU in an in/out vote – going against the grain – what will happen to Scotland?

It’ll be taken out of the EU, duh.

44. If the UK government fails to renegotiate the UK’s EU membership terms, will it recommend withdrawal?

That seems to be the current UK government position.

45. Will Scotland get any direct representation in Europe to negotiate for our fishing and farming industries after a No vote?

Why would it? We’d have voted to keep things as they are now.

46. If Scotland had been independent during the most recent EU farming talks we would have qualified for an extra €1 billion of funding. How will that shortfall be made up?

It won’t.

47. Scotland currently receives the lowest farm payments of any country in the EU. Will this continue?

We’re not aware of any UK party with proposals to the contrary.

48. What guarantee is there that Scotland will not be hit again by disproportionate defence staff cuts in the future?

None, obviously.

49. Will the 7,000 service personnel promised to be returned from Germany to Scotland ever arrive?

Armed forces numbers are declining, not increasing.

50. How much money will be spent on the replacement of Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons?

Didn’t we cover this in question 11?


To be honest, that list of questions could have done with some pruning, never mind the hefty dose of subbing. Though at least it was still over 90% shorter than the No camp’s one, and very considerably less stupid.

We’re not adding it to the list of the Yes campaign’s finest moments. But we’re betting that this is still the most comprehensive response it’ll ever get, because in the independence debate, only one side is ever expected to actually provide answers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

32 to “50 answers for the No campaign”

  1. Bubbles

    The stark reality. Excellent work. Shared.

  2. David Whannel

    Love hearing project fear tell us about what gambles we shouldn’t take when staying in the UK is as bleak as this with forever worsening odds

  3. yerkitbreeks

    As you and Bella have both put these 50 up, perhaps the MSM is more likely to notice ??

  4. Pedro

    I reckon #50 is more targeted at how much Westminster is going to squander on big bombs on behalf of the whole UK as opposed to how much it will affect Scotland. 
    Hundreds of millions, if not billions. 
    We just have to sever ties with that lot! 

  5. Papadocx

    Scotland tonight: John McFall Supporting Capitalist Tory manipulation of the truth to protect the establishment and ca

  6. William Wallace

    I also think we should be asking where England intends to send its nuclear waste? And if they have plans to send it to Scotland?

    How much will we have to pay for that train carry on to Birmingham?

  7. ronnie anderson

    Why o why,is it that has been politicion,s are rolled out when we have a person such as J Mc Kemp to debate with, mcfall mention,s Rbs / Hbos Mc Kemp answering, what happen,s run out of time, Yes debater,s need to raise this issue first & finaly put it to bed.

  8. orpheuslyre

    Sincere apologies going off-topic before the thread has actually kicked off (and even more so if anyone else has pointed this out) – but I see that after hearing Councillor Gallagher’s views on the Indyref at Ayrshire college today, there was a large and decisive swing from NO/Undecided to YES. 🙂

  9. Arbroath 1320

    In response to Q16 Stu I think the answer might have been better answered by saying: “based on the previous 6 years of A.P.D. rises we have no idea other than we do know it will be a lot higher than it is at present.”
    I believe the answer to Q34 would be:
    “absolutely not. In fact by the time 2016 comes round the Bedroom tax will have risen!”

  10. Clootie

    Newsnight Scotland’s journey into the future. The NO speakers were so sad and pathetic. What was all that “building walls / division / cutting ourselves off /etc”.
    Will the NO campaign ever focus on anything positive.I’m sick and tired of all this doom and gloom.
    I loved the part when the expert carried on from the leading question about the Scottish GDP ratio to debt and covered the rUK being higher, and MUCH higher when you take out Scotlands contribution.

  11. Andrew Mott

    Ian Brotherhood,
    I’ll probably get shot by the Rev for this but I just watched you again in this video: and you are absolutely spot on. I don’t think that I’ll manage your activism and energy but I’ll try and I would encourage all others in my wee neck of the woods (Glasgow Kelvin) to come out and help.
    More power to your elbow.

  12. velofello

    Why did I get the impression that Lord McFall, just like Mags Stairheid Curran, memorises terminology without having a basic understanding of the subject in discussion?

  13. Thepnr

    The BT crowd are making many mistakes now, so how best to capitalise on their errors? 
    I really don’t know but I’m sure there’s a way. Covering yourself in the flag isn’t it, using the welfare argument, maybe. I suppose it’s who you talking too.
    If you think hard, it all boils down to a question of ideology. We Scots are different from our English cousins. There really can be no doubt about that, it’s simple Scots will put up with a Labour government but not a Tory.
    It makes me so happy that Gideon announces 25NBn of cuts half of it from the welfare budget. What an idiot, look at me “I rob the poor”. Thus is why we will win, get the Labour supporter on your side and it will be a cakewalk.
    Time is running out, by the way I printed some “wings” cards, if anyone would like to hand them out stick your email in quarantine and I’ll be in touch.

  14. Patrician

    Stu, perhaps you could offer your services to Yes as a sub-editor.  C’mon you don’t really need to sleep 😀
    O/t to Ronnie Anderson, is that your shed on Gartleahill?

  15. Yesitis

    Thanks for this, Rev.
    When the situation arises, this is a fine reasonably concise piece to show people on your ipad.

  16. msean

    See that time machine,would some of these labour lords have gotten elected as mp’s if the people knew at the time they would end up as lords fighting,sorry,struggling to keep them poor and unemployed,queueing at foodbanks?

  17. Neil MacKenzie

    Devolving APD is on Calman commission report section 11 on page 16.

  18. Ken500

    The McFall guy, who was wined and dined by Tory bankers throughout the ‘banking’ crisis, in their pocket.

    Lordship for Dummies

  19. Ken500

    Danny Alexander the Con man joke, put 11% (£2Billion) a year on Oil Tax revenues (now 60% to 80%). Tax rate rises, while (foreign) multinationals in London tax evade and pay no tax. Different rates, indeed.

    Workers is the Oil industry are dying, because Westminster is not enforcing health and safety Law. Wedtminster government is unlawful and fatal.

  20. redcliffe62

    I was suspended twice on Twitter 2 hours after amongst many other things I suggested a link between GCHQ against Scottish Government.
    Just to be stupid I did it a third time yesterday and guess what happened 3 hours later.
    Now I can be generous and say it might be a coincidence of course, but I will do it a 4th when allowed back and keep you informed if or when I get suspended again.

  21. Ian Brotherhood

    @redcliffe62 –
    If you don’t mind my asking, what was the nature of your ‘suggestion’?

  22. Ian Brotherhood

    Here’s an interesting Penguin cover for Nineteen Eighty Four.
    Could, of course, be a primitive call centre, but looks more like a GCHQ forerunner. As you can see, all the male spooks back in dem days were built like WWF wrestlers and were obliged to use the same barber.

  23. Ken500

    APD tax

    BA slots in Heathrow are subsidised by Westminster rule (left over from Nationalised BA) – unlawfully – against equal competition rules. BA is a private company (UK/Spanish?) The BA hub at Heathrow is subsidised by Westminster rule/UK taxpayers. Discriminating against other Airports/Airlines. An unfair advantage to centralised Heathrow travel. Putting all the eggs in one basket and favouring London S/E.

  24. Stuart Black

    Morning Ian, brings back memories, I used to have that very copy.
    The female spooks were also built like WWF wrestlers. 😉

  25. alexicon

    Number 9. An oil fund set up for who?
    Don’t know if you’ve mentioned this; will we get back our 6000 square nautical miles of Scotland’s territorial waters?

  26. Clootie

    We lost all of our waters when the first set of rogues sold out our nation. International boundry law applies no matter what Gordon puts in print when acting for the UK regarding North British waters.
    However the international boundry law only applies when you are a country.
    We lost all of our territorial waters and we can only get them back with Independence. 

  27. Ian Brotherhood

    @Stuart –
    I’ve got it somewhere, can’t find it, and can’t remember the name of the artist, but the title is something like ‘The Control Room’.

  28. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    Here is the link to the report that you couldnt find on the Treasury website:

    3.26  Around 370 stakeholders responded to the consultation question about the regional impact of APD, including individuals as part of a campaign sponsored by several regional airports. A majority suggested that APD should seek to recognise the different economic circumstances facing the regions of the UK.
    3.27 A number of regional airports proposed that APD should include a congestion surcharge to reflect the local economic conditions at airports across the UK.
    3.28 This view was contested by other airport operators who felt that APD was not the appropriate tool for addressing airport congestion in some parts of the country.
    3.29 Among airlines, a majority opposed any regional variation in APD, arguing that it would distort the market without materially affecting decisions about where services were located.
    3.30 There was general acceptance among stakeholders that, if any change were to be considered in the way that APD applies across the regions of the UK, further consultation would be required to fully understand the issues and potential impact.
    APD and devolution
    3.32 Around 100 stakeholders commented on the question of APD and devolution.
    3.33 In Northern Ireland, several stakeholders highlighted the competition effects of substantially lower rates of duty in the Republic of Ireland, which threatened the viability of direct services between Belfast and long-haul destinations including the United States.
    3.34 Those who expressed support for the devolution of APD in Scotland argued that it was necessary to reflect the distinct economic and social conditions in Scotland, and the impact this has on flights to and from Scotland.
    3.35 The Welsh Government called for the issue to be considered further in the context of ongoing work by the Silk Commission.
    3.36 A substantial minority of stakeholders opposed any devolution of APD, arguing that it would complicate the APD system and create potential distortions in the market for flights.
    Government response
    3.37 The Government recognises that airports in Northern Ireland operate in unique circumstances within the UK. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland, where the rate of aviation duty is substantially lower. In recognition of this, the Government announced in September that from 1 November 2011, APD rates for passengers travelling on direct long-haul routes departing from airports in Northern Ireland would be cut to the lower short-haul rate – currently £12 per passenger in economy and £24 for business and first class passengers. To provide a lasting solution in Northern Ireland, the Government has launched a parallel process to devolve aspects of APD to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Legislation to achieve this will be introduced as soon as possible.
    3.38 The Government will continue to explore the feasibility and likely effects of devolution of APD to Scotland and Wales.
    Or in other words… “You’ll have had your tea then”

  29. Grant_M

    17. Why has APD not been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as recommended by the Calman Commission on devolved powers?
    From Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government in 2009 (the very same Mr Brown who only the other day said Holyrood should have more powers – but when he was in a position to transfer APD to Scottish Government control, he chose not to)…
    [ANNEX 3.2]
    “The Government does not attach priority to the implementation of the recommendation on air passenger duty, although it will keep the situation under review.”

  30. Taranaich

    I’m actually looking forward to some genuine honest real heroic attempts at answering these questions from the No campaign themselves. Obviously I sincerely doubt BT would even attempt it, much less put it on their blog, but I can see certain activists making a go of it.
    That would be very interesting.

  31. TYRAN

    51. Will Doctor Who be on TV in 2020?

  32. Ian Brotherhood

    @Stuart Black –

    Here’s the original painting used for that Orwell cover:

Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

↑ Top