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EU cannot be serious! 173

Posted on May 27, 2016 by

There’s been a lot of nonsense from both sides of the EU referendum campaign, but of all the terrible arguments for voting one way or the other, the worst has to be that the UK is not currently independent.


For supporters of Scottish independence, watching people claim the UK is not independent is like someone in Aberdeen who just had their disability benefits cut listening to a middle-class couple on a joint income of £100,000 moaning about paying a few hundred pounds a year more in council tax for their band H mansion in affluent Rubislaw Den South.

It’s particularly loathsome seeing the genuine arguments for Scottish independence being re-purposed by people who claimed they were invalid two years ago – no more so, perhaps, than in the case of George Galloway, the man who wants independence for every country in the world except his own.

The idea that the UK’s situation is comparable to Scotland’s is simply laughable, and since laughing is good for the soul, let’s look at a few points in detail.

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England’s Dreaming 366

Posted on February 22, 2016 by

It’s quite incredible that someone with Jim Sillars’ political experience should be so naive about the tactics surrounding the EU referendum. Regardless of your feelings on the EU itself, there’s absolutely no point in any supporter of Scottish independence voting Leave this June, and here’s why.


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The limits of solidarity 64

Posted on July 18, 2015 by

Since Germany decided to punish Greece for daring to try to exercise democracy and national sovereignty, there’s been something of an upsurge in commentators on the British left questioning whether the EU is really the progressive institution they’d assumed it to be, leaving their vote in 2017’s EU referendum potentially up for grabs.

(Unlike Scotland, of course, at least Greece didn’t have to ask permission to hold its plebiscite on austerity, even if it appears to have counted for nothing in the end.)


Coming hot on the heels of the European Parliament ignoring concerns over the highly secretive TTIP negotiations, the European dream is turning into a nightmare for many.

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Greece isn’t the word 216

Posted on June 30, 2015 by

In today’s Scotsman, Peter Jones makes the case for why an independent Scotland would have been plunged into the same crisis currently affecting Greece (and making the case along the way for why George Osborne’s austerity is inevitable and we should just shut up and accept it).


He insists strenuously throughout the article that he’s doing no such thing and is simply highlighting the flaws in the idea of a currency union between Scotland and the rUK, but to anybody who actually reads the article, it’s patently obvious that that’s exactly what he’s doing.

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How not to lose the EU referendum 162

Posted on May 27, 2015 by

The UK’s forthcoming referendum on EU membership was enshrined in the Queen’s Speech today, and it seems likely that the “Yes” side will be those arguing for the UK to stay in the EU.

That’s a good thing. However, it’s difficult not to get flashbacks to 2011 when various unionist idiots were insisting that the Yes option should have been “Yes to the UK”, effectively holding a referendum on whether people wanted things to remain the same.


For us pedants, holding a referendum in order to ask people if they’re happy to leave things as they are feels instinctively odd, because if nothing else, it implies that there might be something wrong – a bit like someone randomly coming up to you and asking if you’re okay sitting where you are, making you suspect someone must have done something to the seat.

But it’s just as well, because the pro-EU side is going to need all the help it can get to avoid falling into the same pitfalls as the pro-UK side did last year. And unlike the “Better Together” campaign, the pro-EU campaign won’t have a 30%+ buffer in the polls to insulate it against being led by incompetent buffoons.

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The Great British Elephant 276

Posted on February 05, 2015 by

One of the most interesting things about the recent Ashcroft polls is the flurry of articles they’ve provoked in the media, as London-based political commentators try to outdo each other in displaying their complete ignorance of Scottish politics.

It’s eerily reminiscent of the sudden surge of activity when the gaps in referendum polls reached margin-of-error levels, and metropolitan journalists suddenly realised that Scotland was taking the referendum far more seriously than they were.


Two of the most revealing have been in the Spectator, with James Forsyth saying the Unionist collaborations in the No campaign “marked a recognition that Great Britain is far bigger, and far more important, than party politics”, and Fraser Nelson becoming Scottish Labour’s most unlikely cheerleader, saying “Finally, a confession. I’d like the Tories to win the next election, but not as much as I want Jim Murphy to do well”.

But amid all the outpourings of grief and befuddlement, it’s startling how little analysis there really is into why the UK is in the situation it currently is. And it’s odd because the answer isn’t the least bit complicated.

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Matters of life and death 53

Posted on December 02, 2014 by

Of all the powers that Labour were reportedly responsible for keeping reserved to Westminster, abortion law is perhaps the most revealing about Labour’s true attitude towards Scotland and devolution during the Smith Commission’s deliberations.

It’s one of a handful of issues, including embryology, xenotransplantation (that’s transplanting a cell or organ from one species to another) and surrogacy, which would otherwise fall to the Cabinet Secretary for Health had Labour not specifically reserved them when creating the Scottish Parliament in 1997.


(In fact, it was Tony Blair who personally insisted that abortion law remain reserved to Westminster. Donald Dewar was apparently in favour of devolving it, but we all know who wins in a battle between Scottish Labour and London Labour.)

If the Smith Commission was nothing else, it was an opportunity for unionists – Labour in particular – to prove their commitment to devolution by relinquishing their hold on powers previously considered too important to fall within the Scottish Parliament’s remit. Unsurprisingly, they declined it.

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The lesser of evils 115

Posted on November 18, 2014 by

Ever since Nicola Sturgeon announced on Saturday that the SNP would never put the Tories in government, various mainstream political pundits have shown an alarming level of inability to grasp the concept of someone who cannot possibly become Prime Minister declaring their preference out of those who can.


Perhaps we’re being a bit unkind, as this isn’t a regular feature of British politics – usually we only hear the leaders of the two main parties telling us why they’re the best for the job, with the Liberal Democrat candidate comically trying to pretend that they stand a chance of being Prime Minister – but it does highlight the extraordinarily parochial nature of political debate in the UK media.

Because anyone who cares to cast a glance across the continent will see that such scenarios are not just common, but often an integral part of politics across Europe.

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Our man on the scene 900

Posted on September 24, 2014 by

There’s been a lot of talk on Twitter and Facebook of irregularities at the referendum counts, leading to accusations that the referendum was somehow fixed, culminating in a petition to have the procedures investigated, or even the referendum re-run. As with most conspiracy theories, this is largely down to people not understanding what they’re seeing, as the videos flying around the internet showing bits of the count have been removed from their context.


For example, there’s a video showing a counting table with a No sign on it with a pile of ballot papers, with the top paper showing a cross beside Yes. To the uninformed observer, this looks like Yes votes have been dumped on a table of No votes; but in reality, the pile of votes were still waiting to be split up into Yes and No at this point, and if the person making the video had bothered to check, they’d have found this out.

So here’s a quick guide to how the count worked, as observed by one of this website’s own official monitoring agents (specifically me).

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Heads for figures 125

Posted on June 24, 2014 by

Last week the Press & Journal carried a story about a debate held at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, attended by just over 150 company directors, senior managers and other “business leaders”. The debate was between John Swinney and Danny Alexander (with contributions from Professor David Bell and businesswoman Christine O’Neill), followed by a poll carried out among the audience.


The No-friendly headline figures – which will come of no surprise to anyone who has ever read the Press & Journal – said 68% of the audience would be voting No at the end of the debate, with 16% Yes and 15% still unsure (1 person said they wouldn’t be voting. Maybe they walked into the wrong room at the start or something.)

That sounds like a pretty comprehensive win for No, so we should probably all just pack up our stuff and concede defeat.

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100 hours with Auntie 176

Posted on May 22, 2014 by

On last night’s Scotland Tonight, Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson claimed that a vote for independence would put at risk Scotland’s access to over £3 billion of BBC programming. It’s a curious and illogical straw-man argument rather akin to saying that if you stop being an ice-cream man you’re not allowed to have ice-cream any more, but we’ll let that slide until another day.


£3bn sounds like quite a lot of money, so in a dull moment we thought we’d study a week’s output from BBC One, the national broadcaster’s flagship channel, and see how much of it we could bear to live without.

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While we’re investigating 479

Posted on May 01, 2014 by

Today has seen the entry into the independence debate of the magnificently batty Vote No Borders campaign group – not on any account to be confused with the No Borders campaign group, whose aims are to “struggle against borders and immigration controls and strive for freedom of movement for all” and are therefore the very antithesis of what the British state has increasingly come to stand for.


Various puff pieces in the media have given the group free space to advertise themselves as a “grassroots” campaign that is non-party political. But the funding figures mentioned – £150,000 raised before the group had any kind of public profile at all and hope of raising another £250,000 on top – may well cause more cynical readers to detect a somewhat piscine odour.

As we’ve got our journalism hats on, let’s have a sniff.

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