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Wings Over Scotland

Help for Scottish journalists #2

Posted on March 23, 2014 by

We’ve just had a listen to our dear old pal Duncan Hothersall, who gamely appeared on Aye Right Radio this week to attempt to explain/defend Labour’s stillborn “Devo Nano” proposals. He wasn’t able to shed a lot of light on them, but in fairness we suspect that’s more down to the tangled, incoherent, illogical state of the proposals themselves rather than any shortfall of ability, so we’ll move on.


Indeed, the discussion raised more questions than it provided answers, and we’ve made a short list of some of them which Scotland’s journalists might want to crib from the next time they’ve got Johann Lamont or Anas Sarwar in front of a microphone.

(We imagine it’ll be the latter, as Johann must surely have used up an entire year’s quota of public appearances this week, and will be getting put back into suspended animation by her handlers until at least June.)

We’ve also emailed these questions to all the members of the Devolution Commission (and will be directing them to this page via Twitter too), so we’re sure someone will get back to us promptly with a detailed and enlightening set of responses.

1. Johann Lamont told Gordon Brewer last week that Scotland would not be allowed to have a top rate of tax which was lower than the UK’s top rate. Under your proposals, would Scotland be allowed to undercut the UK on the basic rate (or the 10p rate which UK Labour is committed to introducing if elected in 2015)?

2. Ms Lamont made plain, however, that it would be possible for Scotland to have a higher top rate than the UK. Would Scotland also have the ability to increase the basic rate above the UK level, or only the higher rates?

3. If the answer to Q1 is “No”, then if Scotland ever chose to unilaterally raise the upper rate it would be impossible to ever lower it again – because the proposals only allow the upper rate to be decreased if all other rates are decreased along with it, and doing so would therefore result in Scotland having a lower basic rate than the UK, which would be illegal.

Are the proposals deliberately intended to create a situation where irrespective of what government was elected to Holyrood in the future and what its policies/mandate were, it could only ever increase the top rates of tax, never lower them?

4. If, on the other hand, the answer to Q1 is “Yes”, lowering the top rate after a previous increase – so that it was the same as the UK’s but the basic rate was now below the UK’s – could reasonably be expected to cause damaging competition among basic-rate taxpayers, as workers from the rest of the UK flooded into Scotland looking for jobs on which they’d have to pay lower taxes. Do your proposals contain any measures to counter this problem?

5. Meanwhile, if the UK raised the top tax rate – as Ed Miliband proposes – we know that Scotland would be obliged to follow suit. But if the UK then restored it to its original level (perhaps as a result of a different government being elected), would Scotland be unable to do so and be forced to keep an upper tax rate higher than that of the UK?

6. If the answer to Q5 is “Yes”, does that mean that a UK government could, if it chose to for any reason, deliberately engineer a situation whereby it had a permanently lower top rate of tax than Scotland, putting Scotland at a locked-in disadvantage by incentivising the wealthy to move out of Scotland to enjoy the lower top rate in the rest of the UK?

You can have those, Scottish media. No charge.

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74 to “Help for Scottish journalists #2”

  1. davyb says:

    so would the +/- 3p variable tax, which was a founding principle of the Parliament and for which we voted overwhelmingly in the 97 referendum simply be removed by Labour with no referendum ?

  2. G H Graham says:

    These questions in themselves reveal what sort of dog’s breakfast Lamont attempted to serve up last week.

    In fact, when I reviewed her interview with Gordon Brewer, I got the impression that she was actually learning what she was proposing as the words came out Brewer’s mouth.

    Nobody with a minutia of intelligence could have proof read that rubbish & declared it fit for publication.

  3. cearc says:

    So perhaps it wasn’t a dog’s breakfast after all but a cunning plan to raise our taxes.

  4. JimW says:

    Just seen Anwar claiming that Scots have a choice between independence and social justice. Is he really saying that if Labour formed the government in an independent Scotland they would not ensure that Scots got social justice?

  5. BuckieBraes says:

    Scottish media – you’re useless. This site is doing what you should be doing, instead of sucking up to a doomed campaign to save this freakish, abnormal political union.

    When this referendum is won, I’d like to hear a roll call broadcast in the style of the celebrated Norwegian football commentator Bjørge Lillelien:

    ‘Daily Record, Sun, Herald, Scotsman, Press and Journal, STV…BBC Scotland, can you hear me, BBC Scotland? Your boys took a hell of a beating! A hell of a beating!’

  6. Steph says:

    I think most people reading questions 5 and 6 would agree that even the status quo is better than Labour’s plans. Pretty much anything would be better than Labour’s plans though, in all fairness. (Having said that, someone will now probably invent something worse).

  7. haartime says:

    The only answer Johann Lamont would give is with respect, what we have said is this, this is a conversation to be had with the Scottish people.

    Severing Carrell has I supposed offered a half hearted critique.

    The two academic advisers, I think it was Midwinter and Gallagher might be able to shed some light.

  8. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    Logic no more
    Lamont no more
    Labour no more

  9. Clootie says:

    We don’t have a Scottish media!

  10. gillie10 says:

    7. If Johann has 3 tax rates and Ed has 4 tax rates how many tax rates do they both have?

  11. It’s actually noticeable that today has been a horrendous day in the print media for the No side with 2 notable exceptions.

    That comic, The Sunday Post with some help ma boab, they’re gonnae tak oor queen nonsense and, of course, the BBC. It continues its series of giving prominence to any finance house that makes any mention of “possible” negative consequences on independence with a piece on US finance house Blackrock’s report.

    Do the BBC plan to have some chimp cut and paste bits of reports from vested interests all the way to September?

  12. kendomacaroonbar says:

    On behalf of the People of Scotland, I would like to apologise for Johann Lamont.

  13. Robert Peffers says:

    But! But! But!
    The referendum paper has no questions on devolution? How then do I vote on The London Labour Party, (Scottish Branch), Devolution Proposals as proposed by Lamont? Will it be a YES/NO Question? Sarwar says the vote in September is between Social Justice and Separation but I can’t find where I vote on those proposals either. Will that also be a YES/NO Question too? All I can find is a single YES/NO question that asks me if I want Scotland to be an independent country or not. I know I’ll be voting YES on that question. Is it me that is stupid or is it Lamont & Sarwar? Ach! Will that be a YES/NO question too?

  14. SquareHaggis says:

    Good questions but neither Lamont or Sawar would be able to understand them, let alone answer them.

    Maybe that nice ex-chancellor chappie from Better TheGether?

  15. gordoz says:

    Robert Peffers –

    You’ve no’ seen the squirrels then ?

  16. Mr Beaujangles says:

    I think were are not giving Labour enough credit here. They have somehow engineered a proposal which apparently transfers more power to Holyrood but also makes it weaker as a consequence.

    In doing so they have out Toried the Tories – which is a remarkable feat in itself – displaying a poorly veiled contempt for the people of Scotland in the process. It is a narrative of less is more that is both bewildering and plain daft.

    Talk of social justice and a move to the left is all very well but when you come up with a set of proposals that are so headbangingly dim you are going to need a lot more than slogans and flannel to take people with you.

  17. HandandShrimp says:

    To my surprise Severin has put the boot in a tad over on the Groaniard.

    If Severin is unimpressed enough to set about it then they really have misfired on this one and they should be worried

  18. GordonMcA says:

    It’s actually noticeable that today has been a horrendous day in the print media for the No side with 2 notable exceptions.

    That comic, The Sunday Post with some help ma boab, they’re gonnae tak oor queen nonsense and, of course, the BBC.

    Interesting that the only Scottish newspaper Andrew Marr could find for the look at the front pages was the sunday post. He did mention Scotland On Sunday but claimed he didn’t have it. A copy of Scotland on Sunday did mysteriously appear moments later for his guest.

  19. SquareHaggis says:

    That whole Demolition Paper seems to have been created for Labour by someone totally alien to them.
    Some kind of extra terrestial think tank in a fish tank.
    The bubble is burst.

    They should throw in the towel.

  20. gillie10 says:

    The other big problem for Labour’s Devo plans would be the introduction of the 10p tax rate. By my reckoning that would lower further the total income tax raised by the Scottish government.

  21. Brian Powell says:

    Comedy as Labour castigates LibDems over the tuition fees for students in England:

    while Labour reps in Scotland go on and on about the Scottish Government having abolished tuition fees.

  22. Seasick Dave says:

    I paid £1.30 for a Sunday Herald today, based on some of the headlines it contained.

    This was the first copy I had bought for probably twelve years.

    There definitely felt like there was a tide change in the attitude towards independence and I shall consider buying it on a week by week basis.

    I am not necessarily looking for pro independence articles (although that would be nice), simply unbiased and probing journalism.

    Until Magnus Gardham is shown the door I will not buy a Glasgow Herald; its as simple as that.

  23. AnneDon says:

    Gordon Brewer asked Ms Lamont: if Holyrood raised the higher tax rate, then decided it wasn’t a good idea, could it then be lowered? Johann replied: “Yes, of course.”

    Not that it’s anything to go by, because I wasn’t convinced she had actually read the Devo-Nano document, of course!

  24. CameronB says:

    Not meaning to be Bolshy, but please speak for yourself.

    I’ll not accept a simple apology. The fraud British Labour has sold to working people, has damaged millions of lives over the last 50 years, whilst helping enrich the already grossly wealthy.

    Perhaps we should bring back Katorga to help repopulate the highlands? 🙂

  25. Richard Bruce says:

    I think tonight Johann will be resting and completing her colouring in book.

  26. CameronB says:

    Can I revise that period to 90-100 years. Since the turbulent ’20s and ’30s, when capitalism almost collapsed and Labour joined the Tories to keep the empire together.

  27. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Saw an ad in Herald today, don’t have it to hand, but it was for a lecture tomorrow in Glasgow Uni. Is the ‘Gallagher’ speaking tomorrow the same dude involved in the Devo-Doughnut report?

    Not sure if I could make it along, but it said it was free and open to the public.

  28. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    @gordoz says:
    Robert Peffers –
    You’ve no’ seen the squirrels then ?

    Cybersnax Squirrel-Flavour Crisps are on special offer this week.

  29. John McLeod says:

    The questions that I would really like to see put to Scottish Labour in respect of their devo tax proposals, are: What is the purpose of these tax raising powers? If in power, under what circumstances might you want to vary the rate of income tax?

  30. Croompenstein says:

    @Richard Bruce – she’s probably still taking her ‘make-up’ aff

  31. kendomacaroonbar says:

    @Cameron B

    ahem, if you recall, JoLa took it upon herself to “apologise on behalf of the People of Scotland” for Alex Samond upon the release of Megrahi.

  32. HandandShrimp says:

    Apart from one or two party stalwarts is anyone really sold on Labour’s Devo Nano proposals?

  33. CameronB says:

    Sorry, I wasn’t aware of that. Like the majority of Scotland, I didn’t listen to her.

  34. kendomacaroonbar says:


    She’s a dead ladyboy walking 🙂

  35. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Where’s all the coverage of MagCurr’s speech today? I hope she struck a pose for the cameras at the end – the photo which appeared on here of her about to snog Ed Miliband with Edinburgh Castle as the backdrop (or was it Stirling?) is in my Top Five toe-curlers of all time. Superb.

  36. abystander says:

    I have a further question.

    Under these proposals would Westminster continue to decide tax thresholds?

    If Holyrood increased the rate of tax for the highest band could this be negated ( at least in part) by Westminster simply raising the threshold from say £150,000 to £200,000

  37. Flower of Scotland says:


    Just on RT, there was a programme about false reporting in war situations, and they were accusing the BBC of deliberately inventing scenarios to back up war in Syria and even Ukraine!
    They more or less accused Obama , Cameron, Hollande, Ashton of inciting war to cover up their weak leaderships . Strong Stuff indeed!

  38. HandandShrimp says:

    I forgot Magrat was speechifying today. Did I miss anything?

  39. Ian Brotherhood says:

    We want Mags! We want Mags!

    What do we want?


    When do we want her?


  40. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    The process that led to this week’s Devo-Nano shambles is explained here:-

  41. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Lots of interesting stuff going on. The generous piece on Stephen Purcell in SOS was noteworthy particularly as I believe he has indicated a leaning to YES.

    This week we have seen Robert Shorthouse make statements publicly which indicate little principled support to the cause he is being paid to support and the Scottish Secretary getting tanked on his home patch. Meanwhile Labour plans are exposed, even by elements usually blindly supportive, for exactly what they are – unadulterated incoherent and cynical spin designed for half-wit consumption.

    There comes a point in any campaign when the realisation that they are getting a beating and that what they are fighting for is not worth it sets in and so does demoralisation. The army doesn’t necessarily change sides. Most of it just quietly lays down its arms and fades away. We are here now. We haven’t won yet. But unless Better Together has something up its sleeves we are not far away.

  42. Andrew Parrott says:

    Canon Kenyon Wright is now making a contribution to the independence debate at

    His first piece is a “letter” to Gordon Brown. Folk may want to have a look at it.

  43. Richard Bruce says:


    I think she used the same crayons for the make-up. Probably opening a new box as we write! Well getting someone else to as it, with respect, a wee bit complicated getting the sticky tape aff first!

  44. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Well, until we do get Mags, perhaps some vintage Dick Emery will tide us over…

  45. Kevin Kenny says:

    haartime says:

    “The only answer Johann Lamont would give is with respect, what we have said is this, this is a conversation to be had with the Scottish people.”

    Where is this conversation being held with the Scottish electorate by Labour? Hiding away for two years to produce that castrated pile-o-nonsense is not having an ongoing conversation with the nation.

  46. Croompenstein says:

    @Richard Bruce – Her eyebrows certainly aren’t ‘wee things’..

  47. Clootie says:

    kendomacaroonbar says:
    23 March, 2014 at 7:35 pm
    On behalf of the People of Scotland, I would like to apologise for Johann Lamont.

    Now that was a keyboard cleaning moment – thank you!

  48. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Here’s what JoLa having a conversation with the Scottish people looks like:

  49. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “If Holyrood increased the rate of tax for the highest band could this be negated ( at least in part) by Westminster simply raising the threshold from say £150,000 to £200,000”

    That’s an excellent point, except Labour’s entire plan is premised on Labour being in power on both sides of the border and Scotland (in reality) simply mirroring UK tax rates exactly right down the line. And if a Tory government got elected at Westminster, they could just repeal the whole dog’s dinner and be done with it.

  50. keaton says:

    As I understand it, we can lower the top rate to the current UK rate, just not below it. So if the UK top rate undercuts ours, we can still lower it back to parity. Which takes care of 5 and 6.

    1, 2, 3 and 4 are very good questions, though.

  51. CameronB says:

    I still think Katorga shouldn’t be considered. 🙂

  52. kendomacaroonbar says:

    @Cameron B

    🙂 She’s the best YES recruiting sergeant we’ve ever had !

  53. Giggy says:

    Not on Twitter.
    And a bit late.
    Try this one for streaming:

  54. Graeme McCormick says:

    The Labour agenda stinks. The hidden flatulence tax

  55. Cindie says:

    @Flower of Scotland. I saw that too. Here’s the vid if anyone else wants to watch it, a friend just shared it on FB:

  56. CameronB says:

    Should be considered.

    Specsavers for me.

  57. Cindie says:

    Sorry all, the link doesn’t seem to be working, trying again:

  58. Cindie says:

    sorry Rev,

    I don’t understand why the link I’m trying to post isn’t working. 🙁

  59. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Sorry canae play with you, Doll.

  60. Alba4Eva says:

    This song makes me produce dew drops from my tear ducts every time… it dawned on me, that there are those who are going through this to get to Yes.

    …begin by letting go.

  61. Brian Powell says:

    Strange letter from Canon Kenyon Wright to Gordon Brown; does he really believe Brown has any power and is relevant to getting changes?

    Posing the questions to Brown, he must realise the ‘answers’ will never happen.

  62. fairiefromtheearth says:

    as a desendant of a clan that came from the western isles this is nothing new,after the King of Scotland brought the Lords of the isles to heel,he brought laws in one of the laws was that an inn should be built on every island but of course two laws down was no alcahol should be sold on the islands,in principal half the laws sounded good untill you read the other half,wrote by halfwits to be implemented on halfwits 😉

  63. Thepnr says:

    Here are the rules, right!

    You go into that box, right!

    Pick up the pencil, you know whit a pencil is eh, right!

    And you stick an X in the box next to No, right!

    Whit fur?

    Whit fur? Whit fur? I’ll tell yeh whit fur, right!

    So as the Union keeps control, right!

    And me and you keep wir joabs. right!

    Jock saunters into the booth. Fuck her I’m voting AYE, right!

  64. Ann says:

    The report from the Guardian states that the Wee Red Book is going to be delivered to 2.4 million households.

    I take it the poor Posties will have to deliver these along with the normal mail?

    Wonder how many will be put directly into the re-cycling bins without even being looked at?

  65. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @Alba4Eva –

    Nice one. Where was that shot?

    Anyway, it begs the question – how hard can it be to ‘let go’ of Lamont, Sarwar, Baillie et al?

    This basic message has to be hammered into ‘traditional’ Labour voters’ nappers until they get it – the ‘Labour’ party your family always voted for is NOT the same product being flogged by the aforementioned belters. As CameronB has indicated, it’s arguable whether ‘Labour’ (as most of us know it) has ever been truly socialist in nature and intent – they may have done a good job of disguising it, but the game’s a bogey now.

    The disgraceful behaviour of the Unions with regard to representing their members’ views on the referendum should be a front-page outrage, but isn’t, won’t be, and is just one example of how profound and pervasive the mass delusion has become.

  66. X_Sticks says:

    O/T very amusing article on WeeGingerDug

    “The problem with fearbomb plumbing”

    Ah, it’s been a satisfying week. I’m liking the way things in Scotland are changing before our very eyes. It’ll never be the same again no matter what happens.

    It must be incredibly depressing being on the No side this week. I almost feel sorry for (some of) them. For them it is just going to get worse and worse. I suspect a lot will jump when it becomes indisputable that Yes is going to win, no one will want to be a loser.

  67. Morag says:

    Let’s not get too carried away here, not yet anyway….

    But yay, this is feeling good.

  68. Vronsky says:

    The first hurdle was the normalising of the Yes position and the removal of any notion that this is all about the SNP. That is being achieved. Was canvassing today with a well-to-do Tory voter, shocking friends by announcing her support for Yes – but they’re coming round, she says.

  69. Flower of Scotland says:


    Thanks for trying to post the video. It would really have been worth watching ! I’ve taped the programme. It’s all very sinister and if true the BEEB has been interfering in World Wide disputes and peoples are not happy !!

  70. Alba4Eva says:

    Not sure where it was shot Ian. But the vid reinforces even more my relating to the lyrics.

    Ps. Looking forward to meeting you and other Wingers on the 4th btw. 🙂

  71. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @Alba4Eva –


    Bestest, as ever.

  72. Barontorc says:

    Alba4Eva and Ian B – this was undoubtedly showing the houseboats from the backwaters of Kerala in South India, a fantastic place to make a cultural holiday, beautiful people.

  73. Alba4Eva says:

    Thanks Barontorc. I guessed it was India. A country I have always longed to visit… and there is a good chance that this year might just be the year. 🙂

  74. Gordon Hunter (@GordonHunter11) says:

    Am I the only One that see’s the Squirrels.

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