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Foreign affairs

Posted on April 15, 2013 by

So here’s a funny thing.

Blair McDougall: We have said – I think Blair has said something similar as well – that we are acting as if PPERA applies to us at the moment, so we are carrying out checks on individuals who donate to us. We will disclose people who give more than £7,500 as per PPERA within a calendar year. I would also say categorically that we won’t accept any foreign donations. (Q.1819)

And here it is again, equally categorically:

mcdougallforeign

And again for good measure:

“Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall, who was also appearing in front of the committee, said he would refuse to take cash from foreign donors, but would accept UK-wide donations up to £500.”

(Our emphases.) That’s pretty clear, then – the No campaign will not accept money from “foreign donors”, but will take “up to £500” from people resident in the UK.

Except what’s this, found by an alert reader today?

“When Mr Haggas bought the KM Group in 2006, the sale had not included the mill at Shawbost, which was sitting idle. Enter Brian Wilson, the former trade minister whose home is on Lewis.

Mr Wilson told The Herald: “When people in the industry realised what Haggas was up to, they came to me and said this was a disaster in the making, but did I know that the Shawbost mill had never been included in the sale and it still had all the equipment there?”

He contacted Ian Taylor, an American with Scottish forebears, who is president of oil trader Vitol. He had met him when they were dinner guests of Fidel Castro in Havana, when Wilson was trade minister. Taylor agreed to become the main shareholder and Harris Tweed Hebrides was born.”

Did the Herald get their facts wrong back in 2009? Are Americans (who work for companies based in Switzerland) not “foreign” now? Was there a typo in the Herald’s November 2012 piece where “£500,000” came out as “£500”? So many questions!

We have no objections to anyone anywhere donating to either of the two campaigns, but we must confess we’re not entirely sure we understand what the word “foreign” means any more, or indeed how arithmetic works. Can you help, Mr McDougall?

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    96 to “Foreign affairs”

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      So he’s friends with Brian Wilson?
       
      That’s arguably the most damaging revelation yet…

    2. Adrian B says:

      That Parliament UK link has the following clause in it:
       
      2.)
      Any public use of, or reference to, the contents should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

    3. Peter A Bell says:

      PPERA = Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/41/contents

    4. MajorBloodnok says:

      Yes, any man who has dinner with Fidel Castro is alright in my book, but associating with that lapsed Communist Brian Wilson is damaging beyond words. Obviously Ian Taylor’s alleged ineligibility under the PPERA is a mere inconvenience for Better No?

    5. Rod Mac says:

      Scottish forbears??   interesting could this be another unionist lie that will be outed?
      Was Mr Taylor born in Scotland or not?
      Is he a “plastic Jock ” 5th generation or such like.
      Do we have a DOB and place of birth?

    6. Wur A' Doomed says:

      The Grauniad described him as “the son of someone from Ayrshire”.  That’s cleared that up then.
       
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/scottish-independence-blog/2013/apr/08/scottish-independence-campaign-funding

    7. MajorBloodnok says:

      He’ll turn out to be Donald Trump’s long lost brother.

    8. redcliffe62 says:

      Those former pupils who left Kings College Macclesfield in 1974 would of course know. Not that Ian Roper Taylor is mentioned as a notable former pupil for some reason.
      Just invested, (not wasted) 20 quid on scotlands people and he was definitely not born in Scotland. well registered as born in Scotland anyway.

    9. Iain says:

      Turns out Alistair Darling & BT don’t want ANYONE to feel like a foreigner in Scotland. Kudos for their inclusive, open-borders internationalism.

    10. Seasick Dave says:

      Its a guddle not a fiddle; they just can’t help themselves.

    11. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve encountered the idea that Ian Taylor should be an American — as far as I know, he was born, raised and educated in England (but please correct me if I’m wrong).
      It’s quite funny — whereas Yes Scotland has this straight-forward rule that you need to live in Scotland to donate more than £500, Better Together seems to think it’s OK to accept substantial donations from others so long as they’re of Scottish descent.  Who’s an ethnic nationalist here?
      On a personal note: I was born and raised in Denmark, and I still hold a Danish passport, but I’ve made Scotland my home since 2002, and I’m married to a Scot and have dual-nationality kids.  I love the inclusivity and openness of the SNP, Yes Scotland and everybody else on the pro-independence side I’ve met.  On the other hand, I often find Better Together’s “patriotism” and British nationalism off-putting.

    12. Kenny Campbell says:

      maybe they are getting their excuse ready now for when the money goes back….

    13. Albalha says:

      I posted a paragraph from the West Highland Free Press re Harris Tweed on the other story and they call I Taylor a ‘Scottish buinsessman’ who has a property on the West Coast.
      Perhaps he has a globalised identity, much like VITOL.
       

    14. Kenny Campbell says:

      He could be deemed Scottish if one of his parents was Scottish. Where he was actually born is not really the settling factor.

    15. TYRAN says:

      He sound like this for the curious though so does Gordon Ramsay. You also get vice-versa like London-born Angus Robertson MP, etc. Tells nothing.
      http://video.ft.com/v/1579338578001/Vitol-Oil-price-stubborn-short-term
      Wasn’t Alexander Graham Bell an “American”, as is Craig Ferguson (who I guess would be in the Yes camp)? Both resident over there of course.
      Whilst I am here, Gordon Jackson and Lord Robertson are also on board of Harris Tweed if it means anything. 

    16. Albalha says:

      businessman indeed

    17. heraldnomore says:

      But surely Mr Cameron wouldn’t have got it wrong when his party accepted money, after all it’s not as if the blue tories have a track record of overseas donors
      wait a minute, scrub that, Belize is in the UK isn’t it

    18. YesYesYes says:

      If this is correct then this would mean that Better Together has received some 45% of its actual donations from foreign donors (not including small donors), compared to less than 1% for the Yes Campaign.
       
      You can understand why Better Together has difficulties getting its script right here. After all, the Tories have problems with ‘foreigners’ (they don’t like them as a rule). And Labour has problems with ‘foreigners’ too. When Labour isn’t actually being tough on migrants when it’s in government itself, it’s threatening, when in opposition, to be tougher than the Tories on migrants.
       
      Moreover, barely a day passes without some Scottish Labour lick-spittle telling us that they don’t want independence because they don’t want the rUK to be a ‘foreign’ country, as if there’s something inherently wrong with ‘foreigners’ and ‘foreign’ countries. Which raises the question: why do British nationalists have such a big problem with ‘foreigners’?

    19. scottish_skier says:

      maybe they are getting their excuse ready now for when the money goes back…

      It’s a bit late for giving it back now. Damage is already done. Especially considering Darling has stated they won’t be giving it back. Would be major U-turn stuff and effectively an admission of guilt.

      That and they probably can’t afford it unless another Tory with dodgy dealings in his past chips in half a million.

      Rock and a hard place.

    20. Peter A Bell says:

      Ian Taylor comes from a Scottish family… – http://bit.ly/YKoxe0

    21. Albalha says:

      BBC Henry McLeish alert ….. he’s soon to be on Newsdrive to talk about the diabolical state of Scottish Football and today’s voting farce, anyway will he be asked about his expressed views on donorgate ……..clearly rhetorical

    22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “He could be deemed Scottish if one of his parents was Scottish.”

      I’m not saying he is or isn’t, of course, nor even that it matters. I’m just noting that the Herald called him an American and wondering if that’s true. And it’s surely interesting that McDougall said he’d accept “UK” donations up to £500, and has in fact accepted one a THOUSAND times that size, even if Mr Taylor is as British as cream teas, warm beer at cricket and chicken tikka masala.

    23. Wur A' Doomed says:

      It’s been reported that BT have already spent £500,000 on start-up costs (i) so if they returned Taylor’s money they’d have £zero to deploy.  Oops.
       
      (i)  http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/revealed-better-togethers-2m-war-chest-and-who-donated-to-it.20727542 

    24. redcliffe62 says:

      If born in England it was either Surrey or Warwickshire as only places in 1st quarter 1956 with Ian Taylor and he claims to have been born in February 56. I am sure someone can surely ask him where he was born, and no doubt as it is not above hadrian’s wall he will be keen not to confirm it. Scottish family is very vague to me.

    25. scottish_skier says:

      Wur A’ Doomed says:
      It’s been reported that BT have already spent £500,000 on start-up.
      Oopsy daisy.

    26. LeeMacD says:

      It is annoying when you cant get reliable information on people. All his professional bios say he got a ‘MA degree in Politics, philosophy and Economics from Oxford university in 1978’ yet Merton College says he was class of ’75.
       
      http://www.merton.ox.ac.uk/alumni_and_friends/section_specific/2012_DonorReport.pdf
      Obviously someone’s mistaken.
      It must be really easy to locate the birth record of Ian Roper Taylor in Scotland on (7th?) February 1956.
       
       

    27. abigdoob says:

      Not born in Scotland then?

    28. Dcanmore says:

      So Brian Wilson went cap-in-hand to Ian Taylor for cash, which means he had some relationship with Taylor beforehand, probably to do with Wilson’s Havana Energy hence the dinner with Fidel. And it was through Wilson that Darling (looking for cash) met Taylor.
       
      http://www.havana-energy.com/

    29. Luigi says:

      If BT have already spent the 500,000, they are in serious trouble. Given the roasting that BT are now experiencing, how many rich, potential BT donors will still be willing to come forward into the spotlight and be scrutinized?

    30. creag an tuirc says:

      Don’t know if this route has been investigated. Mr Taylor’s best pal is this guy (both worked at Shell together) http://www.theweek.co.uk/people-news/20571/duncan-apolgises-after-foul-mouthed-expenses-outburst

    31. Jiggsbro says:

      It’s been reported that BT have already spent £500,000 on start-up.
       
      And for that, they got a communications czar who won’t communicate and any number of wee trestle tables for assorted MPs to stand behind for their photo opportunities.

    32. kininvie says:

      @LeeMacD
      Assuming he went to Oxford in 75, that would be ‘class of 75’ Three years to get a degree = ’78. So that (at least) is proabably OK

    33. creag an tuirc says:

      OT: MoD are now making contingancy plans for Trident in the event of a YES vote http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2013/apr/mod-u-turn-contingency-plans-trident

    34. LeeMacD says:

      If you look at the PDF the dates seem to be the year people got their degrees. Maybe I’m wrong.

    35. Wur A' Doomed says:

      Going by the available information, it appears that Ian Taylor was born, grew up and was educated in England, but that his father was from Ayrshire and moved to England for career reasons.  The Herald appears to have made an error, albeit a strange one.
       
      All of this backs up the ethnic “Real Scot” non-foreigner narrative of Better Together and his right in their terms to intercede in the debate.

    36. Rod Mac says:

      I have searched births in Scotland Ian Roper Taylor 1956  .none in Scotland ,many in England.
      So were BT lying yet again about him being born in Scotland and moving early in his life to Mother England.
      Can these unionists ever tell the truth about anything?

    37. AnneDon says:

      It’s great to know being an Swiss-based American isn’t a bar to Scottish citizenship, although it does blow another hole in the No Campaign’s claims.

    38. Wur A' Doomed says:

      Genuine question:  did BT ever claim that Ian Taylor was born in Scotland?  Does anyone have a link?

    39. Cath says:

      I wonder if the Herald got the American wrong because of what was mentioned during the Lockerbie thing on the other thread – ie Wilson, Taylor and Harris Tweed were trying to play down the links to Scotland during the Lockerbie release time. Hence, at some point, intended for American consumption, he described himself as “American”.

      What a tangled, and ever more tangling, web…

    40. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Genuine question: did BT ever claim that Ian Taylor was born in Scotland? Does anyone have a link?”

      Not that I’m aware of. The only statement to that effect – which there’s no verifiable evidence for – is a line to that effect in a Herald piece that I and others are certain we remember, but which now says something else. In any event it was said by the Herald, not BT.

    41. Scotsfox says:

      His ethnicity or place of birth matter not a jot but his residency does. Is his main residence in the UK? If not then the £500 max cited by McDougall must surely apply.

    42. Wur A' Doomed says:

      Scotsfox
       
      He is variously reported as living in London and/or Switzerland, and also that he “maintains” a family home in the west of Scotland.  Your point is an interesting one, and is easily resolved by determining whether he pays Income Tax to the UK Exchequer.

    43. Rod Mac says:

      If he is not Sottish by birth as rumoured it makes hi donation doubly wrong.
      It also makes a mockery of Cameron’s excuse to avoid debating with Ale Salmond because it iss a matter for Scots only he said.

    44. beachthistle says:

      @Dcanmore
      Interesting link to Brian Wilson et al’s company, Havana Energy  http://www.havana-energy.com/
      According to their website, Havana Energy’s Head Office is (not very patriotically) in Guernsey, and their phone number is +44 1481 714 898…
      …which is also the phone number of  a Cuban holiday company (Esencia Experiences)  at least according to their company website  http://www.esenciaexperiences.com/luxury-holidays-cuba-contact.php
       

    45. Bill says:

      I say again, my Birth records checks yields no Ian Taylor born in 56. And the Oxford Alumni has no Ian Taylor!
      Just Saying!

    46. Jiggsbro says:

      Havana Energy’s Head Office is (not very patriotically) in Guernsey, and their phone number is +44 1481 714 898…which is also the phone number of  a Cuban holiday company
       
      They’re both part of Escencia Group, a British company focusing on Cuban development.
       
      http://www.esenciagroup.com/

    47. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “According to their website, Havana Energy’s Head Office is (not very patriotically) in Guernsey, and their phone number is +44 1481 714 898”

      If you ring them up they just say “Hello?” without identifying themselves, until you say “Is that Havana Energy?”, whereupon they sound surprised and say “Er, yes.”

    48. Jiggsbro says:

      If he is not Sottish by birth as rumoured it makes his donation doubly wrong.
       
      You must be that racist cybernat Euan McColm was banging on about. Where he was born is irrelevant. I’m only interested in where his interests lie: in Scotland, or in keeping Scotland under the control of Westminster. If he lives in Scotland, he has an interest in the referendum. If he doesn’t, he may be interested in the referendum but it’s none of his business.

    49. Rod Mac says:

      Rev. Stuart Campbell says:
      15 April, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      “According to their website, Havana Energy’s Head Office is (not very patriotically) in Guernsey, and their phone number is +44 1481 714 898?
      If you ring them up they just say “Hello?” without identifying themselves, until you say “Is that Havana Energy?”, whereupon they sound surprised and say “Er, yes.
       
      Maybe you should phone back and ask if this is where we are to send the dodgy donations .

    50. Angus McLellan says:

      Jersey, Switzerland? That reminds me of something.
      I’m not Richard Murphy’s number one fan by any means, but this piece today is worth reading: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2013/04/15/the-argument-that-tax-avoidance-is-legal-is-now-dead-and-gone-for-good-the-world-of-tax-abuse-changed-today-for-the-better/
      If that Murphy piece was rather good news, this piece by Jim Cuthbert for the Reid Foundation is really scary stuff: http://reidfoundation.org/portfolio/the-mismanagement-of-britain-a-record-of-the-uks-declining-competitiveness-and-its-implications/ Don’t these people learn anything from experience?

    51. beachthistle says:

      @ Jiggsbro
      They’re both part of Escencia Group, a British company focusing on Cuban development.
       
      http://www.esenciagroup.com/
      Indeed. Interesting to see you can still be, and presumably Brian Wilson will agree, that it is still possible to be a British company based outwith the United Kingdom.

    52. Dcanmore says:

      I’d bet Taylor’s bank account is in Switzerland and Wilson’s is in Guernsey!

    53. Jiggsbro says:

      I’m not Richard Murphy’s number one fan by any means, but this piece today is worth reading
       
      That (GAAR) is a bit of a double-edged sword. It certainly deals with the extreme ends of creative tax avoidance, but it sets an unfortunate legal principle: that the law can be not what the law itself says, but what it would say if a ‘reasonable’ person extended it to whatever they considered ‘reasonable’. It then becomes impossible to know what the law is, until the ‘reasonableness’ test is applied by a court. Few people will object to using that principle to extract tax from rich chancers (the few being rich chancers) but it is another dangerous precedent, like the recent retroactive legalisation of the illegal.

    54. Marcia says:

       but will take “up to £500? from people resident in the UK.
       
      Did he forget to say ‘k’ after the 500?

    55. pmcrek says:

      heraldnomore,
      Belize gained its independence from the UK on the 21st September 1981, although British troops remained stationed there until the 90’s when Guatemala eventually renounced their claims on the territory.
       
      However, following the intentions of Guatemala in renewing their claim on Belize there is currently a simultaneous referendum being held in both countries, in October this year, on whether to refer the future of Belize to arbitration at the International Court of Justice.

    56. pro-loco says:

      O/t but we should be grateful for Mr Taylor’s investments in Scotlands’ interest. Meanwhile another small north european country contemplates some real investment in its own interests because it has to do something with all that oil income it has managed to accumulate
      http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1756376/Norway-wants-to-build-world's-first-tunnel-for-ships

    57. Caroline Corfield says:

      in his opinion piece, used to announce his donation to the Better Together campaign he describes himself as having a dual identity. He also says he has a ‘family’ home in Scotland. Expect therefore, him to return as expediently as is required to register for the vote. As will many I expect, possibly even from both sides of the ‘debate’. I have made my position plain as to this tactic. Since I have a grandfather who is Dutch I expect to be able to meddle in the affairs of the Netherlands when I acquire enough cash from ‘business’ dealings as a result of all this!

    58. Brie says:

      Ian is the Scottish form of the name John. My father was christened John and has that name on his birth certificate. However, he was known as Ian (which is a popular tradition in lowland Scottish families).

    59. LeeMacD says:

      No matter where you search online all of Ian Taylor’s bios read the same ie they’re from the same vague source.

    60. Jeannie says:

      @major bloodnok
      He’ll turn out to be Donald Trump’s long-lost brother.
       
      Wasn’t that a plot on the Gaelic soap “Machair”?  “Ding Dong”, by the way….and that has nothing to do with Terry Thomas 🙂

    61. Angus McLellan says:

      @Jiggsbro: Well, the law is like that. Not so much perhaps, but there’s still a lot of the old “If the Secretary of State has reasonable cause to believe” about. And unlike some of that “reasonable cause to believe” stuff, a GAAR won’t send people to jail automagically. The worst that happens is that someone ends up paying more tax than they had hoped/expected.

    62. ianbrotherhood says:

      Rev –
       
      It’s well known that WoS was prominent in the rangerstaxcase debates. Given that we’re hearing about EBTs etc, and some familiar names and connections seem to be cropping up, is this something that Alex Thomson at CH4 News might take an interest in?
       
      Not sure if you ever had any dealings with him, or what your take on his coverage/input was – just a thought.

    63. Tris says:

      Doug Daniel says:
      So he’s friends with Brian Wilson? That’s arguably the most damaging revelation yet…
      Absolutely. If I were him that’s one I’d definitely be keeping under my hat.
       
      It seems to get more sleazy by the day. I just wonder what the press would make if this if the boot were on the other foot. Heaven forbid.

    64. Jiggsbro says:

      Not so much perhaps, but there’s still a lot of the old “If the Secretary of State has reasonable cause to believe” about.
       
      That’s a qualitatively different proposition to “if a reasonable man would believe the law was something other than what it says”. I have no general objection to ‘reasonableness’ tests within laws. it’s feasible to avoid giving the SoS any reasonable cause to believe something. The problem is when the reasonableness test applies to the law itself: it’s less feasible to predict what a reasonable person might think the law is or whether something that is explicitly within the letter of the law is somehow outwith the ‘reasonable’ spirit of the law. If you can’t tell what the law is without a court finding you guilty of breaking it, how can you obey it?
       
      The answer, of course – and the GAAR relies on this – is that you voluntarily restrict your lawful activity to an unreasonable extent. Now, that doesn’t bother me when it means tax avoiders choosing not to – legally – avoid tax, but it would trouble me considerably if the principle were extended to other areas. Laws restricting protest, for example; while I might object to a particular restriction, at least I know what it is and, more importantly, what it is not, and therefore the ways in which I can legally protest. But imagine a law restricting protest, but which has loopholes allowing certain acts of protest. Then imagine that a court can say “Well, yes, your protest was within the law, but a reasonable person might imagine that parliament would have outlawed it if they’d thought of it when they were drafting the law. So the court will pretend that they did. Guilty”. And so people choose not to – legally – protest, in case their protest is later declared illegal, according to a ‘reasonable’ person.
       
      The law must be what the law says. If a law doesn’t do the job it was intended to it can be amended or replaced, by the normal processes of government. But a law which can be extended by a court to include whatever they think reasonable to include is meaningless and chilling.

    65. pictishbeastie says:

      Brie says:

      Ian is the Scottish form of the name John. 

      Well,no it isn’t actually. Ian is a corruption or Anglicisation of the Scots Gaelic Iain which translates into English as John. Not that I see what difference the man’s given name makes to this debate?
      Slainte! 
      Hail Caesar!! 
      Iain Macmillan
       
       
       

    66. a supporter says:

      In the light of Bitter Together’s statement about not accepting donations of more than £500 from donors who live in the UK ex Scotland, and categorically none at all from foreigners, Mr Taylor’s antecedents, and place of residence are very relevant. And there seems to be a good deal of obfuscation about those facts. He is either a foreigner or a UK citizen If he is a foreigner his donation of £500,000  should be rejected under BT’s donation terms. If he is not a foreigner but a UK citizen residing in the UK ex Scotland then his donation should be limited to £500 again under BT’s donor terms. I understand he does NOT reside in Scotland so how has his £500,000 donation been justified?

    67. Thomas Dunlop says:

      Rod Mac 
      ““plastic Jock ” …etc”
      I do not like your tone. Its not that whoever was born in Scotland, it is whoever is living there that counts.
      Since Taylor is not resident in Scotland, that should be clear enough that he should be limited to 500 GBP donation.

    68. Braco says:

      @ a supporter,
      because it’s 500 000 POUNDS! (greedyweesmily)

    69. a supporter says:

      And by the way all this concentration on Mr Taylor is removing the spotlight from another big donor to the Bitter mob, ie, CJ Sansom who contributed £161,000 and who hates the SNP with a vengeance. He also resides in England and his donation should be limited to £500 under the BT’s terms for donations.

    70. Cassandra Lee says:

      I was deeply disappointed to discover that CJ Sanson is so virulently anti-SNP and independence. Sadly it means that I will not be able to bring myself to buy any further Mathew Shardlake novels and I was rather enjoying them.
      Quite why he has this thing about the SNP I have no idea. AFAIK he has no connections with Scotland.

    71. Boorach says:

      Let’s not overlook the fact that the man has a number of residences and is in cahoots with the UK’s champion flipper; A Darling esq! 🙂

    72. sneddon says:

       
      LeeMacD- The confusion over the date of graduation and award of MA is because the University of Oxford allows its undergraduates to recive a ‘complimentary’ MA as a result of being an undergraduste at that university.  Mad but true.  So if you read anyone with a MA(OXON) in their title, it’s a pretendy one.  🙂

    73. Oldnat says:

      Came across this snippet. Nothing illegal, but helps to explain why Taylor is so happy to have “extensive links” to tories like Cameron, Darling and Wilson.
      http://antonyloewenstein.com/2012/03/28/one-loaded-british-tory-who-just-happened-to-love-libyan-rebels/

    74. peter says:

      Operation joint warrior is taking place mostly in Scotland, where will they hold it when as the Unionist doom mongers state NATO kick us out??

    75. Jiggsbro says:

      In Scotland. But for real.

    76. Brie says:

      Rod Mac says:
       

      I have searched births in Scotland Ian Roper Taylor 1956  .none in Scotland ,many in England.So were BT lying yet again about him being born in Scotland and moving early in his life to Mother England.
      Just trying to point out that Rod Mac may have been searching the wrong name.
      Ian is a corruption or Anglicisation of the Scots Gaelic Iain which translates into English as John.
      Yes, which was why I said it was a tradition of the Scottish Lalanders. But, as you or someone else pointed out, since Taylor is not resident in Scotland, that should be clear enough that he should be limited to £500 donation.
      A’ tha Best!
       
       
       

    77. Dcanmore says:

      @Oldnat …
       
      That’s why there is a War on Welfare because the poor are useless to the Tories. Tory policy on society is: Dave’s a millionaire so he doesn’t use libraries, lets close the libraries; he’s a millionaire so he doesn’t use post offices, lets close the post offices; he’s a millionaire so doesn’t need the NHS, lets privatise the NHS and make more millions; and the police and the fire service … because Dave can buy whatever he wants, and so can his pals.

    78. Handandshrimp says:

      I’m kind of hoping they keep the money/albatross. A cynic might say that Mr Taylor is working for some Conservative group that wants Scotland to vote Yes. 

    79. Angus McLellan says:

      @Jisggsbro: Historically, the Secretary of State believing something – or saying (s)he did – was accepted as proof of the reasonableness of that belief. Internment in the post-1916 period and again in WWII used such a rationale. As for the beliefs – opinions even – of right-thinking reasonable people, don’t those play a prominent part in defamation law? Reasonableness runs through 18 USC s 922 like letters through a stick of rock.
      But a GAAR is a rather narrow piece of administrative law. It is not the first step on a slippery slope to ruination. As evidence, note that GAAR statutes are on the books in such awful places as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. “A GAAR statute would turn us into Canada or Norway” doesn’t strike me as a reasonable basis for rejecting the idea.

    80. Dcanmore says:

      @Peter …
      That’s another thing about Scotland being in the Union, it allows NATO (and others by invitation) to tramp all over Scotland on a regular basis. I saw one exercise back in 2003 (Exercise Northern Light) at Luce Bay in Wigtownshire. On the beach they had a mock situation with soldiers (male and female) dressed as civilians with placards holding a fake demonstration. The exercise was to give soldiers experience in quelling a civilian riot, trying out certain manoeuvres using gas, batons and ‘kettling’ tactics. Being brought up in the area I’ve seen mock military warfare being carried over 30 years, but that was the first time I had seen that sort of stuff and it made me feel a bit uneasy. I’ve seen many ‘official’ photos taken to publicise the ‘great work by NATO’ for that exercise but none were of what I saw on that beach.

    81. Adrian B says:

      OT
       
      2 Bombs Strike Boston Marathon: Third Blast Strikes JFK Library:
       
      http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/15/us/boston-marathon-explosions/index.html?c=intl-homepage-t

    82. The Man in the Jar says:

      Sorry O.T.
      WTF is going on with George Galloway. Watching him on Scotland Tonight he seems to be adopting a slight Middle Eastern accent.

    83. Jeannie says:

      @The Man in the Jar
       
      Snap!  I just said much the same thing to Mr. Jeannie.  Although I did like his description of the forthcoming Thatcher funeral as “The Adoration of the Maggie”.

    84. Jiggsbro says:

      But a GAAR is a rather narrow piece of administrative law. It is not the first step on a slippery slope to ruination.
       
      It is only ‘not the first step’ if no one takes any more steps. And we’re talking here about a government (and opposition) that were happy to pass an ex post facto law declaring their own illegal actions legal. Are these people you can trust not to take any steps they feel are ‘reasonably’ warranted? Are you sure their idea of ‘reasonable’ resembles yours, or that of any reasonable person?
       
      GAAR itself is not the issue. The issue is the principle which is established, which is that the law can be unknown until some judge decides, ex post facto, what is. That is not the case with laws which have a ‘reasonableness’ test within them. A truly reasonable person would suppose that the law is what it says it is. The ‘reasonableness’ test here simply allows things to be ruled unlawful which the government has failed to legislate as unlawful, bypassing the already meagre checks and balances on the executive.
       
      And the issue is not that this is the start of a slippery slope. It’s that it constructs a slippery slope for potential future sliding fun. This government may not use it (although their prior disregard for the law, and their belief in their own unlimited sovereignty, does not make me optimistic). No government may ever use it. But it will still be there, waiting for some government that does feel like using it.
       
      A GAAR may turn us into Canada or Norway, and that rightly does not worry you. They’re fine countries. The USA was a fine country – okay, reasonable country, the land of the free – until 9/11, then it decided to engage in a massive, unprecedented restriction of civil liberties. Countries – governments – are subject to events. Events are unpredictable. Governmental response to unpredictable events is unpredictable, but with a tendency towards control. Which is why principles, checks and balances, and constraints on power are important: to control those who control us.
       
      A principle in law which says that their controls over us need not be made known to us, and need not be approved democratically, is dangerous. A principle which says that the legality can be determined after the act, based on some judgement of what might reasonably have been against the law if the law was different, is dangerous. It’s dangerous like a loaded gun is dangerous, even if you never intend to use it for anything other than target shooting. It only needs someone else, with different intentions, to get hold of it.

    85. G H Graham says:

      OT – Ed Miliband has just had surgery to repair a broken wrist.
      I’ve learned that such injuries can be caused by a fall while out hill walking.
      Or violent wanking while drooling over a photo of Margaret Thatcher.
      I’m waiting on a Labour press release to clear up any confusion.

    86. I was finding it so hard to understand what Better Together’s donation rules are that I had to write a blog post to get my head round them.

    87. muttley79 says:

      @The Man in the Jar
       
      He was wearing an bunnet when interviewed on BBC!

    88. YesYesYes says:

      Speaking of Thatcher’s funeral, surely they could have saved a few bob by including Thatcher’s cortege as one of the entrants for the London marathon on Sunday?

    89. Barontorc says:

      Bill says:
      15 April, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      ‘I say again, my Birth records checks yields no Ian Taylor born in 56. And the Oxford Alumni has no Ian Taylor!Just Saying!’
       
      By God, I bet Ian Taylor now hates the very sight of his erstwhile buddies Alistair Darling and Brian Wilson! This is some spotlight his whole being is now under.

    90. YesYesYes says:

      On second thoughts, the whole cortege would be a bit OTT. Just limit it to the coffin and the pall-bearers, with the pall-bearers wearing Kim Jong-il masks.

    91. redcliffe62 says:

      If Ian Taylor’s wife is Cristina Hare (Tina) then I know where he came from.
      If not then I am struggling.

    92. The Man in the Jar says:

      @Muttley79
      At 1:04am
      I noticed that as well. It looked suspiciously like one of the tin-foil lined bunnets issued by Cybernat HQ. Galloway is a cybernat, who knew?

    93. Adam Davidson says:

      Doug Daniel, There we have it. Ian Taylor isn’t concerned about Serbian terrorists and giving money to every dodgy government round the world; he was trying to clamp down on the discussion before it came out he is friends with Brian Wilson. Can’t say I blame him. 

    94. John Lyons says:

      To Unionists foreign means your children if you vote yes.
       

    95. Ken Johnston says:

      Oldnat says:
      Bit late in the day,but, go to oldnats link, then click the link at bottom of page,  BBC happy to promote deluded Britain and read to the end and find an old friend.
      Oldnat says:
      15 April, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Came across this snippet. Nothing illegal, but helps to explain why Taylor is so happy to have “extensive links” to tories like Cameron, Darling and Wilson.
      http://antonyloewenstein.com/2012/03/28/one-loaded-british-tory-who-just-happened-to-love-libyan-rebels/

       
       



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