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Anything you can do

Posted on April 09, 2014 by

If it’s Wednesday, Labour must have changed their position on their future-devolution proposals again. Following our latest highlighting of the glaring contradictions in the shambolic “Devo Nano” plans, responses have started arriving to your letters.


If you’ve been listening closely, you’ll have heard that the position on whether the Scottish Parliament would be able to reduce taxes below the UK level has see-sawed from “No you can’t” (Johann Lamont MSP, 18 March) to “Yes you can” (Richard Baker MSP, 28 March) and back to “No you can’t” again (Tom Clarke MP, 4 April).

Well, guess what?

Dear Sirs,

As your request for further information regarding Scottish Labour’s Devolution Tax indicates identical concerns, we are coping [sic] you all into the same reply.

The Scottish Labour Party issued a briefing paper to its MSPs and others and I copy a section of this for your information which, I hope, will answer your questions.

Income tax Q&A

  1. Will we be able to increase the income tax rates in Scotland?

Yes – there are two ways this can be done: (i) income tax can be raised across all bands (basic rate, higher rate and additional rate) as is the case under Calman; (ii) income tax rates can be raised in higher or additional rates – for example, it would be possible for the Scottish Parliament to reverse the cut in additional rate from 50p to 45p.

  1. Will we be able to increase the income tax rates higher than that of the UK rates?

Yes – see above.

  1. Will we be able to change the amount we increase income tax differently for basic, higher and the additional rates or do we have to increase them all by the same amount?

It will be possible to increase higher and additional rate separately.  If the SP wishes to increase basic rate, it must also raise higher and additional rates.

  1. Will we be able to lower income tax rates?

Yes – but this will have to be done across all bands à la Calman.  This means that if the SP wants to decrease any rate below the UK rate it must do so across all bands.

  1. Will we be able to lower the amount of income tax by different amounts for the basic, higher and additional rates or do we have to lower them by the same amount?

No – we must decrease by the same percentage across bands.

  1. Will be able to lower the rates of income tax below that of the UK Government?

Yes – but this needs to be done across all bands by the same amount.

  1. What percentage of the basic rate could the Scottish Parliament control?

75 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 20p.

  1. What percentage of higher rate could the Scottish Parliament control?

37.5 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 40p.

  1. What percentage of additional rate could the Scottish Parliament control?

33.3 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 45p.

  1. What powers will the UK Government still retain over income tax?

The UK Government remains responsible for (i) the structure of income tax – bands and thresholds; (ii) income tax paid on savings and dividends; and (iii) rates out-with the 15p Scottish rate – so, for example, 5p of basic rate.

 Best wishes

Rhoda Grant MSP   David Stewart MSP

Highlands and Islands Regional MSP

Now, the reply above only actually addresses one of the three questions the letter asked. There’s no answer to whether there’s an upper limit on how much Holyrood could increase taxes by, and no response on whether a Labour Scottish Government’s policy would be to simply mirror the tax rates set by a Labour UK government.

It also doesn’t actually make a lot of sense in its own right. Saying “What percentage of the basic rate could the Scottish Parliament control? 75 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 20p” only works as long as the rate stays the same as it is now, because if the Scottish Government raised the basic rate to 25p, it would then be responsible for 80% of the total, not 75.

Questions 3, 4 and 5 also seem to contradict Question 1. Clearly, if we’re to take the proposals at face value, it WOULD be possible to effectively “lower the amount of income tax by different amounts for the basic, higher and additional rates” (even though the letter says it wouldn’t), because Holyrood could – for example – cut all rates by 5p but then immediately put just the higher rates back up by 5p, creating a de facto 5p cut for the basic rate only.

So it seems the plans are still an incoherent mess which Labour’s elected representatives can’t or won’t definitively explain. As a last resort, then, we thought we’d get a popular celebrity (and a friend) in to try to take us through it – in song!

We fear that may be as clear as it gets for Devo Nano, readers.

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102 to “Anything you can do”

  1. Lee Rogers

    Clear? Whit!?

  2. Tîm Criced i Gymru

    From BBC website just now:
    “Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has backed what he terms “an extraordinarily successful” union between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    The Have I Got News For You regular, who has a Scottish father and English mother, said the countries would benefit more from staying together.

    He told BBC Radio 5 live’s Richard Bacon: “If you lose bits of it, it works less well. [Power] becomes concentrated in the south-east of England or concentrated in one small area.”
    Well, Ian, even though I really, really enjoy that show, I must tell you something that everyone else on these islands seems to know, except you: POWER IS ALREADY CONCENTRATED IN THE SOUTH EAST OF england OR …ONE SMALL AREA – AKA LONDON!” And you know what, Ian, I really don’t think that on the morning of September 19th, 2014, many of my fellow Celts in ALBA will be grieving much about that, more than to say, Byeee! … and good luck with that problem, cos it’s not ours any more1

  3. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    You forgot the other glaring issue Rev.

    According to the answers to questions 3, 4 and 5 – We can raise individually but HAVE to lower collectively. But if we raise the basic rate we have to raise ALL.

    Surely that means if we raise top rate 5% then find its not working we cant just put it back down by 5% as we now have to lower ALL bands.

    And we cant then raise the lower band back up as we have to raise all bands if we raise the lowest…

    In other words – Raise the tax band and it stays raised.

    Who would use that power when it comes with such a sting in the tail?

  4. gordoz

    Labour have been a mess for years, this magnifies what they stand for, there own employment (nothing else)

    This is an embarrassment to socialist political thinking.

    Labour – we stand for anything to disrupt SNP Scottish Government, even Incoherent, ill thought out gibberish sound bites, that suggest they offer improvement,(they dont its guff and a trap designed to bamboozle loyal spporters), that things could improve under Labour.

    Labour supporters – vote YES, clear the decks and build a truly Scottish party to deal with socialist issues and ideology. You know it makes sense and is do’able just not with Westminster craving loonies and ‘ermine chasers’.

    Where does the socialism reside in ‘Scottish Labour’ ?

    I know it hutes but the truth hurts.

    Do the right thing – vote YES for Scotland then change Labour for the sake of socialism & your community.

  5. steviecosmic

    Well done Rev Stu, you just pipped the Daily Mail and The Sun!

    You’re keeping good company mind, so it’s working 😉

  6. Euan

    If the SP can only decrease taxes by a uniform amount, but can increase the higher rate independently of the basic rate, could the SP lower all bands , then increase the higher rate but allow he higher rate to still be lower than the original ?

    im not advocating lowering taxes, just pointing out holes in the theory

  7. Doug Daniel

    The percentage thing really doesn’t make any sense, which annoys me since I rather like maths.

    So just now the basic rate is 20p, and Holyrood would be responsible for 15p under Labour’s proposals. 75%, fair enough.

    Scotland raises it by 5p to 25p, so now Holyrood is responsible for 20p of 25p – 80%.

    Alternatively, Westminster raises it by 5p to 25p, so now Holyrood is responsible for 15p of 25p – 60%.

    It simply doesn’t make sense to talk of it in percentages like this. It just highlights what a fudge this idea is, and why if you’re going to do something like this, you really have to do it within a federal structure, so you can have a federal-level income tax and a state-level income tax.

    Let’s make it simple and just vote Yes in September.

  8. Alex Beveridge

    Thanks again for the information Stuart, but I’m afraid it’s still a dogs breakfast as far as I am concerned. Anyway, all of us who have lived through ’79 and ’97 know that it’s the same old “jam tomorrow” theme which wiil never be delivered, even if a Westminster Labour Government is elected, which with Ed Miliband as their leader, is to my mind never going to happen. Now all we have to wait for are the tories proposals, which again will just be a variation on the same theme, and will never come to pass. In fact if the No vote wins, and we remain tied to Westminster, we are going to suffer, big time. As already been said by some unionist politicians, the Scottish Parliament could, should, be abolished, and all power taken back to the so-called, “Mother of Parliaments”. At the very least, the “uppity Scots” will be put back in their box, and will never again be allowed to challenge the might of the British State. So in that respect, I think I differ from the S.N.P position who seem to think that after a few years we will be allowed to hold another independence referendum. I don’t think that will ever happen, so we have to claim victory on the 18th, otherwise we are going to be subject to years of mis-rule from whichever political party in is control at Westminster. And I think after 2015 that will either be David and Nigel, or Boris and Nigel. The thought that my great-grandchildren would have to live under these people, who don’t give a toss for Scotland, except of course to keep plundering our wealth, makes me shudder. So please vote Yes, for all our futures.

  9. Salt Ire

    Tîm Criced i Gymru

    That explains Private Eye’s utter silence on the media gold the referendum has been casting up.

    Paul Foot award eh?

    Subscription cancelled, what a cataclysm…

  10. mogabee

    So, still as clear as mud!

  11. heedtracker
    says: or another day in a deeply corrupt media corp. Maybe these idiots will give their take on it all one fine day.

  12. Desimond

    “Thatcher, Orborne and Salmond”….Anas Sarwar, a man with no shame in a party with no shame!

  13. Desimond

    “Thatcher, Osborne and Salmond”..Anas Sarwar in the Record. A perfect example of how loathsome and loathing that man and his party have become.

  14. mjaei

    Someone should perhaps inform Johann Lamont that under the ‘labour’ proposals we could in fact lower the tax rates below UK levels.

    You know – before she goes on TV again to state that ‘we’ll have the power not to cut below UK levels,’

  15. Desimond

    @Salt Ire, @Tîm Criced i Gymru

    I now only subscribe to Private Eye purely to count the attacks on Scotland, Independence, SNP or Alex Salmond. The latest Piloti piece has a half page on the years of Edinburgh Council building neglect but the conclusion is its all Alex Salmonds fault and he is only person named and shamed!

    The new ‘Have I Got News for You’ set also has a few jibes, one fat Salmond picture and a “Scottish Independence takes a pounding” headline front and centre.

    They must be very scared indeed!

  16. Flower of Scotland

    This just makes my head spin. The two e mails I sent you Rev are the same but different! Did they just get all the words and mix them up and put them in a Devo Plan!

  17. Murray McCallum

    Scottish Labour’s devo nano tax proposals are an astonishing cataclysmic mess. To be fair they only had 2 years to make it coherent.

    Best way to avoid all these unnecessary unknowns is to vote Yes.

  18. Martin

    When founded, Labour stood for protecting the worker and ensuring a fair society. Now UK Labour stands for being Thatcherite, and Scottish Labour stands for shouting down any SNP proposal, no matter how good…or indeed if previously supported by Labour. In short- they are a non party.

  19. BigSteveChisholm

    My response from Malcolm Chisholm (MSP Edinburgh North & Leith) 08.04.14

    Points a) and b) concerned claims made in a ‘Forth News’ newsletter I received yesterday. Mr Chisholm made some pretty broad statements which I asked him to clarify.

    a) Basically, leaflet says independence = ‘risk uncertainty, higher interest rates and more financial austerity’. I was asking for his opinion on the Standard & Poor’s assessment that iScotland would have an ‘investment grade economy’.

    b) I asked him if Labour had or had not agreed to continue with the coalition’s austerity programme if elected in 2016.

    Point c) is in answer to the WoS Devu-nanu questions.

    Credit to Mr Chisholm, same day response.


    “Thanks for those points. In relation to (a) I am thinking about the fundamental problem of the currency and the interest rates that will be consequent on that. Standard and Poor did talk about investment grade but that of course starts at BBB , which is how Ireland is rated at present. The UK is AAA according to Standard and Poor and that gives us great advantages when it comes to interest rates. On the currency I believe UK politicians when they say there will be no currency union and note all leading economists based in the rest of the UK appear to agree with them in terms of what is in the best interests of the rUK.. I know some Scottish based economists and the Fiscal Commission favour a currency union but that of course would require the agreement of the rest of the UK. Not having a currency union would of be disastrous for interest rates, which is why presumably it cannot be contemplated by the SNP. Those who believe there will be a currency union should however reflect that they would pay the most enormous price in terms of loss of fiscal freedom. Professor Leslie Young who was being quoted by the SNP a couple of weeks ago in favour of currency union said there would also be a migration of the banks to England.

    In relation to (b) I would suggest you read my speech from the debate on the Finances of an Independent Scotland on Wednesday 26th March. A number of economic think tanks have made clear that the fiscal position of an independent Scotland would be more difficult than that of the rest of the UK and that is why I referred to more fiscal austerity.

    On (C) Johann Lamont is right. The top rates could only be adjusted upwards but the standard rate could be adjusted up or down. No decisions have yet been made about what tax rates to impose although we have said we will support a 50p top tax rate unlike the SNP.

    Best Wishes
    Malcolm Chisholm”

  20. JPJ2

    I am afraid that like far, far too many lefties down South, Hislop is at core a Brit Nat apologist.

    He has made a number of snide remarks about Salmond & the SNP on Have I got News.

    He should be ashamed of himself as Private Eye ought to be headlining the Robertson nonsense big time but may well simply ignore it.

  21. Christian Wright

    I read these explanation of the new? mechanism and felt it and my confusion had a marked affinity with the following. The great virtue of the dialog below is that it is entertaining and baffling whilst Labour’s plan above is turgid and impenetrable, and no fun at all.

    Hawkins: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?

    Griselda: Right. But there’s been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!

    Hawkins: They *broke* the chalice from the palace?

    Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.

    Hawkins: A flagon…?

    Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.

    Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.

    Griselda: Right.

    Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?

    Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!

    Hawkins: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has
    the brew that is true.

    Griselda: Just remember that.

  22. bald eagle

    stu sorry for going o/t so soon

    watching stv news last night some guy was talking about the royal society of scotland and some report they had done called
    enlightening the constitutional debate.

    i had visitors last night and couldnt really hear what he was bumping his gums about something about answers to possible problems with the white paper.

    if you are aware of this sorry for going o/t so soon they have published 5000 copies for anyone that wants them first come first served there is also a download for this report Idont know how to grab these thing so maybe someone could grab it and have a look

  23. geeo

    I really do not understand all the confusion about these devo nano proposals, they seem clear enough to me.

    Saying that I recently escaped from an asylum and have not taken my meds for a few weeks.

    Please help me someone,
    Yours etc, geeo.
    Somewhere in Scotland…find me when it is all over please.

  24. caz-m


    For god sake heedtracker, you never warned me that the EVIL Douglas Fraser was at the other end of that BBC Scotland link.

    I only glimpsed at his image, so I don’t think I will need hospital treatment.

    You will need to put up a health warning if you continue to lead innocent people to the EVIL ONE.

  25. The Man in the Jar

    Stu I emailed your second round of questions to my MP Jimmy Hood, MSP M.McMahon & MSP (list) S. McMahon on Friday 4th April. I have not yet had a reply. I am still waiting (without baited breath) for a reply to the first set of questions from my MP Jimmy Hood. He who doesn’t care if Scots are better off under independence he is still voting No.

    I will post if I get a reply.

  26. Geoff Huijer

    Clearly Labour will offer anything that they think will keep them in power.

    Shame that in this case they haven’t even thought it through enough themselves to know what it is they are offering.

    Fortunately some of the electorate have seen enough of their actions/non-actions to know that they are not to be trusted whatever it is they offer.

  27. Gillie

    What a ‘cataclysm’ Devo-Nano has become for Labour. It would appear the ‘forces of darkness’ now shroud their tax plans.

  28. Nana Smith

    @Christian Wright

    Brilliant! Perhaps Danny Kaye should replace Danny Alexander.

  29. jingly jangly

    Still no response from Katie Clark on the first questions, anybody else in North Ayrshire received a response from her?

    Giving that she is of the few or perhaps only Labour politician I have a bit of respect for, maybe she is too embarrassed to answer 🙂

  30. caz-m

    If we can be completely neutral for a minute here regarding Scottish Labour’s tax plans.

    Can ANYONE see ANYTHING in them that is going to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.

    This is a genuinely serious question, without any bull attached.

    I am trying to see what Johann Lamont sees.

  31. geeo

    On a more serious note than my last post.

    If these devo nano tax proposals are an example or even a wee bit representative of wider UK tax laws currently, is it any wonder big companies feel it is easier to simply avoid paying tax ?

  32. Ravelin

    Rev, you’d be as well giving up as no matter how hard they try they’ll never be able to explain their tax plans coherently. Even if, a miracle occurs and they can, we all know they will never see the light of day.

    The sequence of events for them to come to fruition is just so unlikely i.e. Labour win the 2016 GE, Labour actually introduce the plans to Westminster, Westminster MPs actually vote them through, a Holyrood government actually uses them. Of course I’m also assuming that the Sept 18th vote is a No, which is also hopefully looking increasingly unlikely.

  33. Les Wilson

    I used to be a labour supporter, nowadays they are nothing like they used to be, seem now to be run by the bitterest people they could find. Then you also see just how inept they are. Then there are their “policies”, which are loosely based on Tory policies, in order to compete for Tory votes in England.

    Most of these policies go against the Labour DNA, but they do it to gain power, in their, case power does corrupt.

    I look at all the years they were top power in Scotland, what have they done. Poverty is worse, mostly getting worse due to Westminster policies that labour back. They have no shame.

    Nothing is actually better in Scotland, most things are far worse. It is obvious that we need to change. A YES vote is the way to do that, it offers hope that the UK cannot offer. Labour you reap what you sow, and I salute that.

  34. heedtracker

    @ caz-m sorry but old what’s his face is an economic genius, in same league as vote NO Severin Carrell. I just wish BBC in Scotland would change their logo to that economist mag’s noose around Scotland’s neck and save us all a lot of time.

    Incidentally after sending Labour devonano queries, I haven’t heard anything from my MP Anne Begg or Aberdeen city council finance convener Willie Young here in Saltireless Aberdeen. Funny that.

  35. Fiona

    Re: Ian Hislop and Private Eye

    I do not think it is reasonable to take umbrage because someone holds a different opinion. It is perfectly legitimate to dismantle the argument, of course. But are we not in danger of doing what our opposition do and accuse us of doing? I can see no reason to stop buying Private Eye because it takes a different view on scottish independence, which it clearly does. I don’t buy it for its insight into Scottish politics except insofar as it exposes corruption there: but that is a subset of its reporting on corruption and hypocrisy across the board. What I buy Private Eye for is its willingness to report important things which are not covered in the MSM and most of that is detail about dodgy dealings in specific companies and government departments. I also buy it because it does not indulge in smearing of individuals nor in celebrity culture unless those individuals are engaged in substantive wrong doing.

    I don’t agree with Ian Hislop on a fair few matters: in particular press regulation. But I do think that if all of the press behaved as Private Eye does there would be a lot less need for press regulation. That at least is valuable, and it stands apart from the publication’s view on Scottish Independence.

  36. heedtracker

    Does anyone know if my MP Anne Begg or councillor Willie Young here in ABZ are under any legal or professional obligation to actually reply, respond, tell me to get lost etc? Or, if a constituent does write to his her MP can they just ignore them?

  37. heedtracker

    @ Fiona “I don’t agree with Ian Hislop on a fair few matters: in particular press regulation”

    I’d like to step in here and the whole point is, Ian Hislop and Private Eye can say whatever they like but the BBC sells itself around the world as neutral, unbiased and trustworthy. As we all know in Scotland, see latest Panelbase pol, this is a complete and utter lie.

    The BBC are liars, hypocrites and propagandists, simples.

  38. Edward

    Ed Davy on GMS, towards the end of the interview was become a stuttering mess as he was questioned (lightly I thought) on some of the rubbish he came out with.

    I noted that he played the proposed connection with Norway from England (711 kilometres / 442 miles), but no mention by Gary Robertson that Scotland already have a HVDC connection in the pipeline to connect Norway with Scotland and the National Grid.

    Or is it a case that Westminster are ignoring what is going on between Scotland and Norway or are the hedging their bets?

  39. SquareHaggis


    Anne Begg, dinna waste yer time, she was busy harping on in the EE about how the welfare cap will devastate the wrong people, whilst having just voted FOR the welfare cap.
    Good to see her getting drubbing at the Blue Lamp a few weeks back for it though.

    Re: flagless Aberdeen

    2 Saltires on Flying ower the Douglas Hotel, Market St.
    Noticed a post from HorseHead last night talking about a wings flag and the Duthie Park, posted at the tail end a few threads back.
    Might just take a nosey tomorrow.

  40. Roboscot

    bald eagle – Just ordered a free copy so they are still available from the Royal Society of Edinburgh website.

  41. Salt Ire

    @ Fiona,

    I will probably still get Private Eye as it does pick at the scabs other more mainstream publications avoid.

    However, given its usual editorial position of pointing out hypocrisy and cronyism in the media/parliament/local government et al, it has spectacularly failed in its coverage of this upcoming referendum.

    It’s all very well acting like a whistleblower and getting a reputation as an investigative journal, but when a genuine case of democratic self-determination is on the horizon and being attacked daily, it turns its cheek.

  42. Doug Daniel

    Fiona – well said. It’s not like Private Eye even pays much attention to what’s going on in Scotland anyway, since it already has its hands full with the rogues of Westminster and Fleet Street.

    If I end up cancelling my subscription to Private Eye, it’ll be because it feels like it is getting increasingly irrelevant to my life, due to the lack of interest in Scottish politics. How Glasgow City Council aren’t in it pretty much every fortnight is beyond me. And Aberdeen City Council these days as well!

    Scotland will need our own version of Private Eye to keep politicians on the straight and narrow after independence – life after the referendum for Wings perhaps…?

  43. Robert Louis

    Who’d a thunk it – ‘rebellious wag’ Ian Hyslop speaking up for the British National establishment. All credibility blown.

    The times they are a changing.

  44. Grouse Beater

    I’m no mathematician, but even without Wings commendable dissection Labour’s liberation of tax restraints never appealed mainly because it is so bloody mean spirited.

    They are trying hard to eliminate additional powers whilst telling Scotland it might get them, if only there is a UK Labour government… that doesn’t renege on its promise.
    And there is a blue moon on a Leap Year.

  45. No No No...Yes

    heedtracker at 11:12am

    All MPs and MSPs hold surgeries and these are ideal opportunities to voice concerns in person.

    With regard to Dame Anne Begg:

    Of course, handing over a letter at the time is a nice touch.

    In the interest of fairness there are others MPs and MSPs that hold surgeries..

  46. SquareHaggis

    P.S. anyone know if you have to be a member of the SNP to go to their conferences?

  47. Gillie

    Have you seen this?

    SNP MSP assaulted in Pub.

    What intrigued me was the comments by Linda Fabiani MSP who said: “a recent poll showed that Yes supporters are nearly three times as likely as No supporters to be on the receiving end of online abuse or threats”

    Can anyone point to this poll?

  48. Alt Clut

    I suppose that it’s been said already but all that SLAB has managed to do on this matter is show themselves up as an amateurish shambles that you wouldn’t trust with your shopping list.

    Surely the electorate will never give these feckless clowns power at Holyrood again ? What a wretched mess !

  49. Erchie

    I see, like Owen Jones, Malcolm Chisholm peddles a lie about Alec Salmond not supporting a 50 tax rate (which Labour had in place for 36 whole days!)

    The SNP opposed its removal when Labour didn’t bother to turn up

    They have supported it in Westminster

    They have refused to commit to it one way or another in an Independant Scotland because that will be a different set of circumstances

  50. SquareHaggis

    Jeez, no tickets left, not even for the fringe meetings 🙁

  51. Stand Sure

    This whole thing is a cluster, the only person dissecting it is the Rev (apart from his sinister disciples) and the general no-leaning populace will just accept their offer at face value. The job of the unionists seems to be not to come up with a coherent plan, but is to get the idea out there that further devolution is a credible option. I suppose the lesson is one that Wings’ poll has shown, and that probably everyone already accepts; the ones who believe these offers are not the ones we need to be working on. These hard NOs will believe it, and will just get ‘harder’. To this end, I’m not sure if Bitter Together are really shaping their message for the poulation we are all competing to convince, and that looks like it could turn out to be disastrous for them.

  52. handclapping

    @ caz-m
    I am trying to see what Johann Lamont sees.

    Do you see a red mist when anyone mentions SNP or Alex Salmond? If not, no chance.

  53. Helena Brown

    Meant to write and say we, as in both myself and Husband received the self same reply from Cara Hilton as we did from Thomas Docherty. Well still waiting on my MEP but then she may be campaigning (?) for the European Elections next month, though I have yet to see any of that sort of thing.

  54. Anne

    The RSE’s report can be downloaded here

    The Royal Society of Edinburgh states that it has no official position on independence, which in my opinion is the right thing to do. I haven’t read the text yet, so don’t know to what extent I will agree with the arguments presented, but I welcome the fact that these discussions have taken place

  55. Grouse Beater


    Who’d a thunk it – Ian Hyslop speaking up for the British National establishment. All credibility blown.

    Ian Hyslop has always been a closet Hooray Henry.

    He has mixed with celebrities for so long now, and become a pillar of the estblishment, the original razor edge that was Private Eye under the much missed Peter Cook and his journalist colleagues has long evaporated.

    Until recent times the rag rarely if ever bothered about Scotland, and still today it remains metro-centric.

    I can applaud the excellent consistency of its front cover lampoons – always consistent, some memorable. But…

    …for truly biting political satire see USA’s The John Stewart Show.

  56. tartanpigsy

    @caz-m (last night)

    Sorry never saw your query regarding the flags.

    They’ll arrive towards the end of May, and everyone who’s donated should get theirs soon after this. I put 31st May into Indiegogo and it came up as May so no doubt the screaming will start while the flags are still in a container somewhere on the Indian Ocean.

    If you get a chance to read the spiel on the page it outlines the plans for the flags. I’ve already had contact from a few of the area groups

    From the page:

    Now think about the visual impact of 10,000 Yes Saltires.

    BIG Yes Saltires, visible throughout the country, on flagpoles, in windows, being waved at cultural and sporting events.

    Every Saltire flying household in the country can be approached and offered one of these to fly. Every major event this summer can have a large Yes presence, even those of you abroad can fly your Yes flags in support as the world starts to realize what is happening here.

    We anticipate distributing to ALL the various Yes area groups and to activists nationwide, as well as to specific Yes pressure groups such as RIC, LFI and Women for Indy.

    We see this is an additional campaign resource.
    We have agreements in place for these flags to be sold through the online shops of both Yes Scotland and Newsnet Scotland.

    We believe this to be a vital part of creating confidence among the quiet Yes vote and building the atmosphere required for a MASS move towards Yes before the referendum.

    We cannot rely on the billboard campaign alone, other businesses and organisations require these facilities, and it is extremely expensive.

    I hope that helps–11/x/2353157

  57. Helena Brown

    @Jim T, thank you so much for the link to the publication but the Royal Society Edinburgh & the British Academy. The pity is it started well then we got to the nitty gritty, and they went right down the road of the Unionists. No looking beyond the declining (?) North Sea Oil revenue and our ever increasing elderly. That is where I gave up.

  58. Doug

    I wrote to that pair and sent of an email highlighting that I considered the original reply on income tax satisfactory (not 100%, but at least there was one and I was being polite) but that they had singularly refused to answer my other points.

    “Dear Mr M (I assume their assistant)

    Thank you for your reply, which was quite helpful with respect to income tax.

    However, there remains a few of my specific points that were not addressed. Specifically:

    “(2) There were a list of other taxes/benefits that were considered for devolution:
    (a) APD was recommended for devolution in your interim report – why has it now been decided not to?
    (b) Corporation tax is expected to be devolved to Northern Ireland – why has it been decided not to for Scotland?
    (c) Several tax powers of this sort were considered and rejected “for a variety of good reasons” – precisely what may these reasons be?

    (3) By what mechanism and in what timescale would you propose that the powers intended to be devolved are so devolved? Further to this, can you guarantee that the powers will definitely be devolved as promised in the event of a No vote?”

    I would be grateful for your thoughts,


    Still waiting…

  59. Jim T

    @Bald Eagle 10:42

    and the link to order a hard copy (free of charge) is:

  60. Jim T

    @Helena Brown 11:55

    I heard about the events a few months ago and tried watching one that was streamed. Lost interest quite quickly and did something more interesting (VAT return, I think).

    I’ve downloaded the soft copy and ordered a hard copy just to make sure I have something “historical” in my possession [grin]

  61. Helena Brown

    @Square Haggis, I reckon you have to be, I would have to book seats, why not ask them, they will not bite.

  62. caz-m


    Hang on in their heedtracker, MP Dame Anne Begg will soon be known simply as, wee unemployed Anne fae Aberdeen.

    Re: “Saltireless Aberdeen”

    I think a Saltire Day should be arrange by the good people of Aberdeen. It is our National flag and should be flying above the buildings of Aberdeen with pride.

  63. Helena Brown

    @ Jim T,I understand you wanting a copy for that reason, considering they seem to be so off the mark it will make interesting reading given time. They may have changed tac further down the page but given that this seemed to be the way things were going I have wasted enough time in my life to bother wasting more

  64. Grant_M

    I have not received any replies from ANNE BEGG, JENNY MARRA or RICHARD BAKER.

  65. heedtracker

    @ caz-m, a big Saltire flying over the new £100 million plus Marischal College Aberdeen council HQ would look amazing but will never happen while dudes like Barney Crocket and Willie Young rule Aberdeen cuz its all about vote NO now.

  66. CameronB

    I would like to laugh at the red Tory clowns, but these individuals trying to pass off British Labour, as being something beneficial to Scotland, just are not funny. Never have been, never will be. These Scottish patriots are the voice of Scotland’s imperial master (i.e. London).

    IMO, British Labour selling us Scottish Labour, reveals the whole crooked carnival side-show reality of British Labour. Scottish Labour are a ‘shell and pee’ game run by a dishonest carnival side-show concessionaires.

    No disrespect meant to dishonest carnival side-show concessionaires. 😉

    P.S. Check and see how many time you find Scottish Labour mentioned in official EU documents. Conversely, I hope you will spot the EU’s use of the more accurate descriptor; British Labour.

  67. HandandShrimp

    Either Lamont did not understand her own proposals (perfectly possible I concede) or these MSPs are confused.

    So how long are we going to give this interpretation before it is overtaken by a new improved interpretation?

  68. CameronB

    I must be confused. All my tags got jumbled up. 🙂

  69. Tommy

    O/T but BBC Scotland Radio lunch time show about this energy report had an SNP MSP explaining the Scottish position and doing a reasonable job then Labour Energy guy doing the usual bills will go up nobody will buy our electricity- then we had an independent expert Professor from Aberdeen who completely floored John Beattie by saying the government report was complete rubbish and he and fellow Professors had the evidence to prove it. Brilliant get it on I-player

  70. Bugger (the Panda)


    Labours’ proposals are so confused and lacking in the cohesive narrative that they might as well just state their proposals are part of a holistic contemporaneous approach.

    Horse feathers.

  71. Les Wilson

    Thinking about Labour’s “proposals”, the basic problem is they have very little of a socialist ideology left.
    Their MSP’s are not intellectually astute nor knowledgeable of intricate matters.

    They are not a party that is ready to govern anything anytime soon, and, they know it. That is what makes them really, and constantly, bitter.

  72. G H Graham

    That it has taken weeks of contradictory answers from Labour to figure out the essence of Devo Nano reveals the pig’s breakfast that it is.

    But really, why should Labour care what anyone really thinks?

    They are likely going to lose a seat to the SNP in the European election next month. They are unlikely to gain a majority in Holyrood, regardless of the referendum result & look very unlikely to win the next UK general election.

    Only at council level will they retain any sense of authority & even that is gong to remain patchy.

    It also appears that the print media cares even less. Otherwise they would surely have tasked a couple of journalist student interns to unpick the incoherent ramblings of a party on the slide.

    It is to Stu’s dogged determination that some sense of meaning & intent has been extracted from Labour’s mumbo-jumbo proposals but I do wonder if events will soon leave this document behind, much as they did to the Calman Commission recommendations.

    As the YES & NO trends continue to merge, the Devo Nano paper becomes increasingly irrelevant. And even if NO does win, the chances of it ever being executed are slim to none.

    It would take a miracle of mutually assured cooperation between 3 Westminster parties to cobble together a post referendum settlement that satisfied everyone, including the Scots. It’s never happened in the UK before.

    So what’s next? I don’t know but whatever it is, it will probably come out of Westminster & will be “cataclysmic”.

  73. caz-m


    The Westminster Parliament banned the words “separate” and “separation” from debates etc.. regarding Scottish Independence.

    Well it didn’t last long.

    Have a look at the Scottish Affairs Committee website. It is littered with the words “separate” and “separation”.

    I think a complaint to this committee is long overdue. Ian Davidson and his cronies don’t seem to be listening to anyone.

  74. Clootie

    Heids hurtin’ again!

  75. CameronB

    Re. Mr. Chisholm MP. A same day response is good, but I would prefer it to be honest, if not helpful. Otherwise it is not constructive to the debate and is, in fact, counter-productive. Perhaps that was the plan?

    Those who believe there will be a currency union should however reflect that they would pay the most enormous price in terms of loss of fiscal freedom

    How can one loose something one has never had in one’s possession? A dog tied to a post is free to roam but only as far as it’s master allows.

    Perhaps just a WEE detail, but then up is down in Scottish Labour clown land. Grrrrr.

  76. bald eagle

    thanks roboscot

    I will jump back in and try and get a copy had a quick nosey earlier and then tried to get back in a and all I got was error 503 thanks again

  77. Betty Boop

    @ tartanpigsy 11:55am 9 April

    Thanks for pointing out the 10,000 flags appeal. I’ve sent my donation this morning. We need a sea of them!

    Anyway, just to remind folks again (we Yessers certainly need deep pockets, but, all done willingly), here is the link for ‘10,000 Flags for Yes’–11/x/2353157

  78. Cactus

    These ‘Devo Nano’ plans/proposals/inventions sound like a constant Tug of (Tax) War. So heave ho, we’re taking all of our rope back. We’ll decide what works best for Scotland.

    Yes, that’s right, WE are going to ‘pool and share’ ALL our money in Scotland.. from the north to the south, the east to the west. Let Scotland Flourish!

    I feel a song coming on..

  79. msean

    If your people cannot understand and consistently explain the policy,what chance do the electorate have of getting what you are saying?

    When things go unchallenged,this is what results.

  80. Betty Boop

    On the subject of letters to politicians re Devo Nano questions, I only received 1 reply from 5 sent on 27/3

    Ignored by:
    Brian Donohoe, MP
    Catherine Stihler, MEP (Member of Labour’s Devo Commission)
    David Martin, MEP
    Claudia Beamish, MSP

  81. bald eagle

    jim t @11:40am

    cheers jim still getting 503 will phone the other half and get her to order one for me

    is it just me or is anybody else having problems today a couple of times this computer has turned itself off or restarted?

    while I still have the chance can I put out a plea to my mate chic

    chic ya dipstick I know you are lurking here I want my white paper back you’ve had it for weeks

    thanks again jim-t

  82. ronnie anderson

    labours tax proposals compiled by a mathamagisian that played O/X in a hexagon.

  83. ronnie anderson

    @baldeagle, I got a 503 when I posted.

  84. The Man in the Jar

    I was out walking my dog and when I got home there was an email from Michael McMahon in my inbox.

    Excitedly I clicked the message expecting some revelation regarding Labours tax figures. Instead I got this.

    Dear Mr *****

    Thank you for your message on the issue of the compulsory microchipping of dogs.

    I and my colleagues in the Scottish Labour Party support the compulsory microchipping of dogs. We believe that, with compulsory microchipping already in place in Northern Ireland, England planning to introduce it in 2016, and a consultation on the issue just completed in Wales, Scotland risks being left behind on this matter.

    Whilst it is already compulsory in Scotland for dogs to have a collar and tag, microchips offer much more information and are more difficult to remove. I believe that in addition to this, microchipping has a number of other advantages, including deterring dog theft; facilitating the return of stray dogs; easing the identification of individuals undertaking animal cruelty; helping to ensure that owners of dangerous dogs are held to account and expediting a dog’s swift return to its owner thereby, reducing the amount of time spent in a local authority kennel with the additional cost saving.

    There are close to 3,000 stray dogs in Scotland each year, resulting in a significant burden being placed on Local Authority budgets through kennelling costs, yet microchipping can help reduce that.

    I believe that it is time for the Scottish Government to come forward with firm proposals for the compulsory microchipping of dogs to be introduced as soon as possible.

    I trust that this information is of some assistance to you.

    Kind Regards

    Michael McMahon MSP”

    I only sent the template email from Dogs Trust on the 14th of February 2014. But fair doos he did get back to me some SNP MSPs did not.

    Just as a matter of interest this is one issue that I think Labour have a lead (no pun intended) on the SNP. Hey it is hardly a deal breaker but the SNP seem against compulsory microchipping for some reason. And to be fair to Michael McMahon he is the only Labour MSP to reply to this matter without using his reply to take a pop at the SNP.

  85. Flower of Scotland

    @Tommy Heard that too! It was brilliant! Did the BBC know that this guy was going to rubbish that energy report? I went out for a walk with the dog with an added spring to my step!

    Your doing a lot of good work there Stu! There was something about the Asian vote on radio Scotland at 1.30 . Only caught the last bit, but it sounded interesting!

  86. Grouse Beater

    @ Fiona

    Ian Hislop and Private Eye
    I do not think it is reasonable to take umbrage because someone holds a different opinion

    He’s in the business of satire and rebuttle, so should expect similar in return. His opinion of Scotland’s wish for proper autonomy is that its “stupid,” his contention Salmond is a balloon – not exactly an intelligent or diligent analysis of Scotland’s political malaise or its profound economic disadvantage.

  87. bald eagle

    ronnie anderson

    thanks ronnie it’s not just me then bloody hell now everything is bright blue with red lettering cool looks weird but not sickly

    think i will start a petition to get the other half to buy a new computer

    how do you start a petition and does the petitioned need to bide by said petition might need to converse with johann about it

  88. ronnie anderson

    @bald eagle,Weil the best of luck with your new laptop,this is ma second one in 3 weeks,fekin windie’s 8, ah should have bought one for computer illiterates, just switch on of you go.

  89. TJenny

    Ronnie – O/T – A big Hi and just wanted to ask if you got the box of roses safely home including the wee pink parcel? (I forgot to keep a rose for myself – maybe you can keep me one for the next time we meet?) 🙂

  90. fairiefromtheearth

    FFS somebody hurry and stick a cock in johns mouth before he murders anything else 😉

  91. ronnie anderson

    @Tjenny,Yes I have the wee parcel my daughter will be down this weekend,my son in law was handing out the roses on the way home on the train,but not to worry I will make a special one for You,lets hope that we all meet up again soon.

  92. TJenny

    Ronnie – aw, lovely that they were handed out on the train – wish I’d taken some of the ‘Aye Right’ cards to hand out on the train home – it was packed and I was sitting amongst bow-tied energy execs and an off-shore oil worker! Talk about missed opportunities. 🙁

    Anyway, hope we meet up again soon. There was talk on the night of a WOS night out in May in Edinburgh, we’ll see if that pans out.

  93. Desimond

    After the Ian Hislop, Private Eye chat, I laughed to see the blurb for Unionist Ian Hislop’s new History show, starting tonight …

    “..many of us retain this deep fascination for a heightened, idealised, imagined past.”

  94. Fixitfox

    Sorry Rev. My max tolerance of JB was 1 min. 35 secs.

  95. Harry

    Got a reply this afternoon from Hamilton MP Tom Greatrex to the original e-mail on 27/3. Seems to be the same standard party response.
    Thank you for your interest in Scottish Labour’s proposals to further extend and enhance devolution for Scotland within the United Kingdom.

    The Labour Party is the Party of devolution. Our founder, Keir Hardie, promoted Home Rule in the early 1900s, we participated in the Constitutional Convention in the 1980s and in 1999 we delivered a Scottish Parliament. In 2012, we extended these powers further when we supported the Scotland Act. And in 2016, as a result of these changes, the biggest transfer of fiscal powers since the Act of Union will take place.

    In spring 2012, Johann Lamont established a Devolution Commission to examine what could be done to strengthen devolution further. Following two years of deliberations and a yearlong public consultation, we published our proposals on 18th March. The final report of the Commission was endorsed unanimously by Scottish Labour Party Conference on 21st March.

    Our starting principle is that we believe in a society in which resources are pooled and shared across the whole country, and in which those with the broadest shoulders and greatest resources contribute most to the support of those in need.

    Our report is wide-ranging and includes a number of recommendations, including:

    * Further devolution of income tax, discussed in more detail below.
    * Devolution of housing benefit and attendance allowance, to align more closely the provision of benefits in an area closely related to devolved services.
    * Devolution of the work programme to Scottish local authorities to better meet the needs of local labour markets.

    The report of the commission is extensive and also includes proposals to increase the powers available to our island communities, to improve local democratic accountability and to establish better enforcement mechanisms for health and safety in Scotland, including the establishment of a Scottish Health and Safety executive.

    On income tax, we believe that the changes made by the Scotland Act 2012 are significant, but there is scope to go further.

    * Labour would therefore give the Scottish Parliament the power to raise around £2 billion more in revenues beyond the recent Scotland Act.
    * We will do this by widening the variation in income tax in the Scotland Act by half from 10p up to 15p.
    * This will mean that three-quarters of basic rate income tax in Scotland will be under the control of the Scottish Parliament.
    * The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.
    * Equally, it would be possible to use the same power to increase tax, above the UK level, across all bands.
    * Alternatively, if the Scottish Parliament wished to exercise greater flexibility between bands, Labour’s proposals mean that it would be empowered to do so by applying Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax to increase either the higher or additional rates of tax.
    * Labour’s proposals for further tax powers are designed to enhance fiscal accountability and flexibility at a Scottish level, while preventing destructive income tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    Labour’s policy is that fair taxation for the highest earners would be achieved by setting the additional rate at 50p.

    Thank you for your interest in the final report of our devolution commission. If you require any more detail on our income tax policy, this can be found on page 148 – 151 of the report. If you wish to read the full report, it can be found on the Scottish Labour website at

    Yours sincerely,
    Tom Greatrex MP

  96. CameronB

    The clue to where Ian Hislop is coming from, is that he has no qualms in regularly taking the BBC shilling. I have always suspected him of being an imperialist dolt and now I have the confirmation. Cut him in half and you’d see he is a British Union Jack stick of rock. Just another part of the mufti-headed London establishment.

    P.S. Is Private Eye not perhaps a ‘partial-hing-out’?

  97. Croompenstein

    @Fixitfox – Sorry Rev. My max tolerance of JB was 1 min. 35 secs

    I managed 28 seconds. 🙁

  98. kestral

    I hope it was a bcc or they have just broken privacy laws big style

  99. Grouse Beater

    “…many of us retain this deep fascination for a heightened, idealised, imagined past.” Ian Hyslop.

    That has to be a Hyslop snidy dig. “We all went to Rugby, love cricket, warm bear, jellied eels, church bells, are C of E, and think Watford the English north. We’re all the same, really! It’s just that the Scots don’t know it yet.”

  100. Craig

    Malcolm Chisholm is as bad as the rest of Labour MSPs. His attacks on the SNP and independence are as vicious as those of others.

    I can’t understand why some people find him him respectable.

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