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Wings Over Scotland

A difference of recollection

Posted on November 01, 2015 by

Dear Wings Over Scotland,

It’s been brought to my attention that you recently shared a quote attributed to the TV presenter and Westminster political commentator Andrew Neil, and that in response Mr Neil has strongly denied making the statement in the quote, namely:

“Devolution, the Calman Commission, the Scotland Bill, the Edinburgh Agreement – all of this and more you have is because Westminster parties are scared of the SNP. If you vote ‘No’ you massively change the balance of power and they will not only give you nothing, but will probably take powers away from the Scottish Parliament”.

I find it very strange that he denies making that statement.

I find it strange because I can categorically confirm that he did say it, because I was in the room when he did and I was the person who first recorded the statement and shared it. I notice that several people on Twitter have also said they were there and heard it, which doesn’t surprise me as there were over 200 people present.

It was 27 October 2012 and the occasion was a fundraising dinner for the excellent Accord Hospice in Paisley. Andrew Neil was giving the speech and he delivered a thoughtful and touching account of how Accord had provided excellent palliative care for his brother who had passed away from cancer.


He then moved on to sharing the insights on Westminster politics for which he is justly recognised.  He took questions from the audience and, as often happens, there were some strange ones – one woman had a go at him for the BBC’s policy on gender balance and firing older news presenters like Joan Bakewell.

(He was hugely supportive of Bakewell but pointed out that he was a BBC employee and had no say in the matter, and eventually the audience let the lady know they’d had enough of her going on about it.)

The people in the room didn’t really seem that interested in Westminster politics and he freely admitted he wasn’t an expert on Scottish politics, and so question after question went largely unanswered.  He got a bit frustrated and said:

“I don’t claim to be a real expert on Scottish politics but I will tell you this about the Westminster parties’ promise of more powers if you vote No – I understand Westminster and that is not how Westminster works.  Devolution, the Calman Commission…”

From the word “devolution” onwards I was writing the quote down word for word, and I then checked it with the people sitting next to me (both Unionists) who confirmed it was exactly what he had said.  I’ve used the quote on my website fairly often and it proved the talking point of the evening.

Some months later I heard of a Tory donor and fundraiser – Laurie Clark of Anglo-Scottish Concrete – who was planning on telling the Conservatives he was switching to Yes, so I met him for a coffee and asked him the obvious question: “What was it that made you decide to jump ship and declare for a Yes vote?”

He replied “Well the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I attended a fundraising dinner in Paisley last year and Andrew Neil said ‘Devolution, the Calman Commission…’” I stopped him and told him that I knew exactly what Neil had said.

Laurie Clark’s subsequent meeting with David Cameron in August 2013, where he explained to him why he wanted an independent Scotland (albeit one run by a Scottish Conservative Party), featured on the front pages of several newspapers, complete with a photo of Cameron and Clark together. He also appeared on Scotland Tonight discussing it, and I wrote about it as well.


Andrew Neil did make that (rather insightful) statement, and it even led to some public embarrassment for David Cameron. I think it’s most likely the case that Andrew’s forgotten, rather than that he’s lying, as it was an off-the-cuff remark that wouldn’t have been in his speech notes, but I know several people who were there and thought it the cleverest thing he has ever said.

Feel free to publish or share the content of this letter.

Yours sincerely

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp
Founder and Chief Executive
Business For Scotland

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  1. 01 11 15 14:43

    A difference of recollection | Speymouth

  2. 02 11 15 10:16

    A difference of recollection | Politics Scotlan...

58 to “A difference of recollection”

  1. Itchybiscuit says:

    Andrew Neil lies for a living.

    Why would anyone expect him to be truthful on this occasion?

  2. Patrick Roden says:

    Check Mate!

    No wonder A Neil doesn’t feel all that Scottish any more, what with us Jocks refusing to get to the ‘back of the bus’ as we used to do.

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    Hoo haar!

    Too insightful a remark to be attributed lest BBC bosses think Neil not neutral, or too insightful a remark that BBC bosses will neuter Neil?

  4. Iain Lawson says:

    I was there as well and would confirm the accuracy of the quote, I found him lacking in all knowledge of Scottish politics as well. He is clearly a Westminster man.

  5. Schrodingers cat says:



  6. Capella says:

    I can believe that he said it. He is not an idiot.

    It was obvious to some of us that a NO vote would be a disaster for Scotland. A NO vote would be a green light to more exploitation and denial of democracy. You can fool some of the people all of the time.

    Luckily, with WoS, that number is rapidly dwindling.

  7. Mae Carson says:

    Oh boy! thanks to both Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp and Wings for this.

  8. Helpmaboab says:

    Andrew Neil seems typical of the old generation of London hacks. He’s become accustomed to lying with impunity, confident in the knowledge that no-one will challenge him.

    Fortunately there are always honest people willing to point out such mendacity. Thank-you Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp!

    Fortunately, too, we now have a way of disseminating the truth while by-passing the established media. Thank-you Wings!

  9. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Any insight on Scottish politics comes to him in pre broadcast briefings and advice down his earpiece during broadcast.

    Who decides what to give him is the real culprit. Brillo is just the mouthpiece who fronts and handles the technological diffusion.

  10. Macart says:

    It comes to something when honesty from folks in the public eye is reduced to non scripted moments or off the cuff improvisation.

    Still, Andra nailed that one, he isn’t clued up on Scottish politics, but he does know how Westminster works and in that remark he merely acknowledges everything we believe them capable of. You can see why his superiors and peers might want such a remark brushed under the carpet and forgotten.

    Many thanks Mr Kemp.

  11. Clootie says:

    Andrew Neil lied!!!!

    No,No,No – it must be a mistake.Who could doubt the word of a man with such integrity (the best money can buy)

    I suggest he told the truth for the first time when he made his comments at the fundraiser.

  12. Fiona says:


    Does anyone recognise this? it is said to come from a poll run by this site, but I missed it. Can someone direct me there please

  13. heedtracker says:

    Just one more example of what rancid The Graun so accurately and honestly described last week and how Wings over Scotland is-

    “distorting data, of being unjustifiably abusive, and repeatedly misrepresenting their views and the media’s reporting”

    Libby Carrell.

  14. liz says:

    I remember being hugely impressed when I read that statement from Adra.

    Thought he was being very candid.

  15. Bill Fraser says:

    So there you have it.Andrew simply forgot he said.Look out for flying pigs”!!!

  16. Lesley-Anne says:

    Oh boy.

    Thanks Stu for putting up Andrew Macintyre-Kemp’s article.

    This really does put the cat in amongst the Brillo pad pigeons now. No longer do we have the evidence from oor Stu alone that Andra has bee lying, or at the very least extremely economical with the TRUTH. We now have A.M-C’s account as well along with anecdotal evidence many others actually heard the words come directly from oor wee Andra at a fund raising dinner in 2012!

  17. Sooz says:

    Well done, Stu. I wonder why he’s denying it. Probably it’s just completely gone from his memory, but with so much evidence to show that he did say it he’d be best advised just to accept it. Otherwise, maybe he’s embarrassed for having said it, but he can’t pretend not to have said it.

  18. Clootie says:

    O/T – sorry!

    Just looked up HRMC tax thresholds for 2016/17 & 2017/18
    40% limit 2016/17 is £42,700
    40% limit 2017/18 is £43,300

    So freezing rise in allowance would have a taxable base increase of £600 per person. This would lead to an additional Tax revenue of £240 per person. How many people are in this bracket (I doubt it is the million plus that she would need). In addition why wouldn’t those at that threshhold zone simply put it into pension AVC contributions and avoid the tax altogether.

    Have I missed something?

  19. Calum McKay says:

    I wouldn’t say this was devastating, precise or astute political observation, it’s stating the bleeding obvious?

    Since abandoning the Forsyth no surrender / not one inch and the Major taking stock / kicking into long grass strategies, westminster will accommodate Scotland whilst it’s threatens to leave. The moment Scots revert to being mailable and placid as under labour, there will be no new powers and gains made will be clawed back.

    Look at Wales, treated with absolute contempt by westminister, why, because they vote labour and never do anything to rock the boat.

    Basic human nature!

  20. heedtracker says:

    Also interesting this week, a n other honest and reputable LibDem unionist hits the UKOK non headlines, with his appearance in the witness box, High Court Edinburgh, under oath this time.

    Should be fun watching the whole honest and reputable unionist BBC media led erasing of Fozzie, the same way they buried EVEL lately, much like the closing scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark/honest unionist-

  21. scott says:

    O/T sorry I don’t know if I have done this right but Rev have you any update on the Sunday Express on the slur on R Arkless SNP MP. …
    As for Andra another no good tory.

  22. Kenzie says:

    So that’ll be Brillo scrubbed, then?

  23. ClanDonald says:

    If he is to hang on to any shreds of credibility Andrew Neil would be wise to graciously withdraw from any future conflict with Wings.

    Or, on the other hand he can keep it up, just for our entertainment, like, as it’s fun to see him publicly embarrassed and exposed as a deceitful phoney.

  24. One_Scot says:

    Andrew Neil caught with his trousers at his ankles.

    Not a pretty sight.

  25. Alan Mackintosh says:

    Thanks for the letter Gordon. As you say, it was off the cuff and I doubt I would remember things I said 3 years ago. The benefit of the doubt should be given unless of course he continues to deny it.

    It was always good to see and hear you (& Ivan) at the Bus. for Scot meetings in Inverness. Your moments on the TV were always powerful and incisive. Which is probably why your, and Ivans, appearances tailed off. Talking too much sense and too formidable for the Yoons that they had on.

  26. Sorry O.T.but I have just heard on the radio that tens of thousands of jobs would be lost on the Clyde if we scap trident how often can they get of with lying?as i have said before if they ever use it tens of thousands of lives will be lost on the Clyde and that’s the truth ,but they never mention that

  27. Petra says:

    Another very insightful article Stu and with thanks to Gordon Macintyre-Kemp for sharing.

    Maybe the Sunday Herald could use this information (and other data) and publish what an out and out liar and manipulator Andrew Neil is on their front page next week.

  28. call me dave says:

    Game,Set and Thatch Mr Neil!


    Wont archive so just a snippet!
    DELEGATES at the Scottish Labour conference have voted by a landslide to support scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system.

    A composite resolution, stating that nuclear weapons pose a “mortal threat to humanity’s survival” if used, are “massively expensive” and calling for renewal of the Clyde-based weapons system to be abandoned was backed by more than seven in ten voters.

    From both constituency Labour branches and Trade Union affiliates, just over 70 per cent backed the motion, in a historic vote.

    The resolution also calls for the establishment of defence diversification agencies which would ensure a “just transition” for communities whose livelihoods depend on the sector, although this failed to satisfy some union representatives who questioned where replacement jobs would come from in a lively debate this morning.

    The debate, which was held after members overwhelmingly backed holding an open discussion over Trident, has been the most eagerly-anticipated event of the party’s three-day conference in Perth and signals the backing of a position within the Scottish party that Labour has not held since the 1980s.

    Aye right!

  29. Dr Jim says:

    He forgot, och that’s alright then I feel bad about saying he’s a Ratbag liar then

    But he’s a forgetful Ratbag liar on the Telly and that comes in conveniently handy or am I just an old cynic

    There is no defence for Andrew Neil none, he is the embodiment of Scottish betrayal and cringe factor
    There is nothing to commend this man in any way, he is a Wanna be English Establishment Toadie who’s never been able to rid himself of his own accent which marks him as one of us, and that embarasses him

    Kinda makes him belong nowhere, not really accepted by them and not by us
    Maybe that’s why he’s so unpleasant, not just for the money

  30. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    The telling feature of this report is of the Tory businessman voting YES
    This is the political element we still have to get to.
    It is very important
    This is the constituency which has the most influence on the media

  31. Grouse Beater says:

    Neil protects his self-perceived reputation as television’s most trusted interviewer.

    A case of a man’s vanity over-ruling his honesty.

  32. Robert Peffers says:

    Many heartfelt thanks to Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, (Founder and Chief Executive Business For Scotland).

    No further comment is necessary for either this present contribution nor the organisation you helped to begin and run. Scotland owes you, and that organ, our thanks.

  33. Capella says:

    @ Fiona
    That link doesn’t lead to an existing page.

  34. caledonia says:

    Im sick of all the unionist lies and the SNP playing to soft
    Gordon Brewery show today was a SNPbad and Labour Party political broadcast

    From now on i am playing them at their own game ie just went on 5 big online sites and lied about scottish labours new policy

    If we all start soing the same the lies will be believed and repeted by even those not in the know

  35. Chic McGregor says:

    I may be misremembering, my memory is not what it used to be, but I am very sure he said something very similar on TV, possibly on his This Week show.

  36. Robert Peffers says:

    @call me dave says: 1 November, 2015 at 2:55 pm:

    “DELEGATES at the Scottish Labour conference have voted by a landslide to support scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system.”

    What a total load of codswallop. Do these idiots imagine the heads of the Scottish electorate button up the back?

    This charade by the Scottish Branch Office of the United Kingdom Labour Party is being backed up by their real elected leader. This only highlights just how hollow the claims made by this disgraced group of fools are.

    Anyone able to think can deduce what all this malarkey is about. (Note : Malarky or malarkey is defined as useless or silly talk usually designed to deceive).

    However, in this instance the Malarkey is designed to deceive only themselves for everyone else, friend or foe, sees right through it.

    Why this group of numpties bothers to go to all the bother of debating and voting upon the matters of either autonomy or Trident is beyond comprehension. Their claims on autonomy are complete and utter farce. As is this charade of holding a debate and voting upon a Scottish autonomous stance upon the Trident system. None of it could ever change an iota of London Labour Party policy in any way whatsoever.

    Quite simply it boils down to this. The Labour Party elected Membership at Westminster is presently a total figure of one but, even in the unlikely event, of Labour winning every Scottish seat their total Scottish membership could not better 59 members.

    This is a long way short of even the likely total English/Welsh/Irish membership at Westminster. Thus even a total abstention, or even a total vote against the Westminster Labour whip would not change London Labour’s Westminster vote.

    This is in fact the status quo that has been in force throughout the lifespan of the Labour Party. Westminster has always been the de facto parliament of England and it continues to be so.

  37. Robert Peffers says:

    @Petra says: 1 November, 2015 at 2:52 pm:

    “Maybe the Sunday Herald could use this information (and other data) and publish what an out and out liar and manipulator Andrew Neil is on their front page next week.”

    Do you get many other flying pigs around your neck of the woods, Petra?

  38. Lollysmum says:

    That looks like my notifications list

  39. Capella says:

    @ Fiona @ Lollysmum
    I’ve now signed in to twitter and that link also leads to my notifications page!

  40. Alan Mackintosh says:

    Chic, I also thought that I had seen this quote somewhere before(on a TV clip), but it may be that it was this quote printed out which was the source. I certainly remember it from last summer during Indyref.

  41. Lollysmum says:

    Ooh creepy or what?

    Fiona-did you have twitter open in a tab at the same time?
    Capella said the link doesn’t go anywhere when she checked earlier but when I clicked on it, my twitter opened & showed my notifications list.

    I really don’t know the answer to this conumdrum.

  42. Craig MachAonghais says:

    The supporters of the Union know it’s only a matter of time before it blows up in their faces, but while we know Westminster thinks it’s smart to lie and deceive the populace and that they are ever so sophisticated and clever, the truth is their lies, deceit and sophistry cost lives…this is not some clever undergraduate philosophy discussion but real life! Real life where Westminster politics kills the weak, the vulnerable and desperate, while the unionists pat themselves smugly on the back for being “oh so smart”.
    Andrew Neil is merely a very well-paid propagandist and supporter of this sort of mentality. As such he considers himself a cut above the common herd and that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat the peasantry with contempt.

  43. Patrician says:

    @Alan Mackintosh

    Like you, I am sure I heard this quote or one very similar made by Mr Neil on TV. I am almost sure if was on Andrew’s late night politics programme sometime before the referendum.

  44. yesindyref2 says:

    @Dave McEwan Hill
    Indeed, it’s the Conservative (15%) and conservative small c (30%) who need to be appealed to as well.

    Perhaps GMK could write the odd guest article for Wings, extolling the business and higher rate employment prospects for an Independent Scotland, such as new HQs, proper branch offices rather than an accounts manager running up and down the M6 from their base in Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds, embassies and trade delegations, conferences, that sort of thing? Tourism?

    The first Ref started from less than 30%, it’s now at 50%, and that’s the tipping point reached. Next Ref there’s a good chance even diehards will be looking and making their plans for a YES, and they could not only be persuaded, but used perhaps to add to articles about the Wealthy Nation that Scotland would be – with them doing better out of it as well.

    It could be, by the way, that the next YES leader comes from a soon to be converted to YES high profile business figure with socialist sympathies, if that happens.

  45. Capella says:

    @ Lollysmum
    I think Fiona’s link is to a notification page. If you are logged in, it goes to yours. If not logged in, it tells you the page doesn’t exist.
    Maybe Fiona saw something in her notification page?.

  46. Valerie says:

    With sincere thanks to Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp.

    It’s damnable,but at least there are principled people that care about the truth.

  47. Kirsty says:

    Thanks for this. I’m not sure why he’s denying he said it, maybe he did forget but if it was off the cuff then it was obviously his true opinion – you don’t make up things you don’t believe off the cuff; you don’t have time. It’s not a bad opinion to have, particularly for a political journalist; it showed that he does understand WM as he said, because it’s exactly what’s happened so if anything it makes him look better at his job. I guess he’s remembered (or been reminded) who his bosses are and so is back to toeing the line. Pity he doesn’t have the character to stand by his comments but we’re used to people selling us out by now; I hope his salary makes it worthwhile.

  48. Chitterinlicht says:


    Really confused why he denied saying it.

    Thanks for clearing this up.

  49. Cadogan Enright says:

    Previous posts suggested that it was printed in the Sunday Herald today that ” IDS “made the revelation” that SG already has the power to restore tax credit cuts”

    What page is it on? I have scanned my subscription and cannot see this

    I’d hate to have to cancel one of my only 2 Newspaper subscriptions

  50. john king says:

    “Really confused why he denied saying it. ”

    Probably drink.

  51. yesindyref2 says:

    Online “VIDEO: SNP MP Mhairi Black told by Ian Duncan Smith Scotland has power to stop tax credit cuts”. No idea the print edition I rarely used to buy it, and don’t at all now, nor have I ever paid one penny for the online sub.

  52. Ken500 says:

    Herald articles disappear. Often when a poster shows up the article. E,g, one on electricity supply.

    Some commentators say one thing south of the border and another thing north.

    Has Kevin been on the sherry again.

    The Scottish Gov would make Faslane a conventional Navy base, keeping jobs and saving money. The Oil in the West could be developed, creating jobs.

  53. Fiona says:

    I am sorry, people. I did not realise you can’t link to twitter like other things. So the link does not work as you say, and I don’t know how to fix it.

    The tweeter who posted it was called bayernbru and had @mclaughlan57 after that name. It was posted about 7 hours ago and is a graph comparing Scottish and UK attitudes to various things, represented by “tower blocks” coloured union jack and saltire respectively.

    I don’t recognise the source but the poster said it was an opinion poll from this site taken some time after the indyref.

    Not sure if any of that helps?

  54. Lollysmum says:

    Yes I agree-I followed the link on my laptop where it logs me in automatically to twitter so no sign in needed.

    Waited till after my grandson went to bed then tested it on my pc where I have to sign into twitter every time I want to use it & got the Sorry that page does not exist message.

  55. Chic McGregor says:


    Aye that can happen, but I get an image of him saying it and my wife says she remembers seeing it as well, but could still be memory fuck.

  56. Roger Hyam says:

    Wasn’t he editor in chief of the Scotsman for 9 years (1996-2005)? Does this explain is lack of knowledge of Scottish politics!!!

  57. Kate says:

    Chic McGregor says:
    1 November, 2015 at 3:30 pm
    I may be misremembering, my memory is not what it used to be, but I am very sure he said something very similar on TV, possibly on his This Week show

    As I was reading the letter from Gordon, I was thinking, But, But, I have HEARD this before, & was sure it was on hisThis Week show… So was glad to read that you too believe you have HEARD it as well… We need to find the clip of him saying it now..

  58. DougC says:

    I too am 100% certain he made an identical comment on one of his TV programmes. Game, set and match.

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