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Wings Over Scotland

Juxtaposed with U(K)

Posted on March 15, 2014 by

At this week’s First Minister’s Questions, Johann Lamont banged repeatedly on a drum that the Unionist parties never tire of thrashing like an Orangeman in marching season – the notion that an independent Scotland couldn’t afford to live as it does now and would have to raise taxes or cut public spending.

Over and over again Lamont demanded the First Minister say which he would do if Scotland voted Yes, implying the choice wouldn’t have to be made inside the Union:

“If Scotland were outside the United Kingdom, I ask again: how would the First Minister pay for that loss in revenue—by cutting services or by raising taxes?”

Ms Lamont’s colleague Gordon Brown, meanwhile, is about to embark on a tour of Scotland, flitting from city to town to village like some demonic ghostly apparation out of “Tam O’Shanter”, frightening Scots with blood-chilling tales of “black holes” and, most especially, unaffordable pensions.

Sounds like we better stay in the safety and security of the UK, then.


“Britain faces ‘crippling’ tax rises and spending cuts if it is to meet the needs of an ageing population, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The IEA calculated the Government would need to slash spending by more than a quarter or impose significant tax hikes because official calculations had failed to factor in future pension and healthcare liabilities. ‘As populations age, tax bases will grow more slowly while government spending rises faster,’ its report said.

In a stark warning, the think-tank said Britain faced tax rises within just two years equivalent to more than 17pc of GDP – more than £300bn – in order to meet all future spending commitments. This is larger than the entire annual NHS budget and would increase taxes from 38pc to 55pc of national income. 

Philip Booth, the IEA’s programme director, said tax increases of this magnitude would be ‘impossible’ to implement ‘without choking off economic growth and actually reducing tax revenues.’

‘The underlying problem is that successive governments have made promises which can simply not be honoured from the existing tax base. The electorate is grazing a fiscal commons at the expense of future generations,’ he said.”


Gordon Brown knows all about pensions black holes. He created a massive £100bn one when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the first year of Tony Blair’s Labour government, with a “raid” on pension funds that Labour tried to bury in the small print of budget documents and then fought for years to prevent becoming public knowledge.

“In the end, those who would suffer most would be those not in a position to top up their pension contributions  –  namely, the lower-paid.”

Brown was also, of course, the Chancellor behind Labour’s infamous and insulting 75p pension increase in 1999, alongside his then Social Security Secretary Alistair Darling. It’s typical of the barefaced, contemptuous audacity of the No campaign that they of all people should now be lumbering around warning people over their pensions.

The £4bn gap in the Scottish budget so bemoaned by Johann Lamont on Thursday (a one-off caused by large investment offsetting taxable profits for a single year) is dwarfed by a permanent UK shortfall 75 TIMES BIGGER identified by the IEA. The Institute’s comments reveal the harsh reality of the matter – by far the biggest threat to the pensions and other welfare benefits of Scots is remaining in the UK.

Because Scotland at least has options. One, already sought by the SNP, is that by encouraging skilled immigration it can boost its tax base – immigrants tend to be young, hard-working people who pay taxes and then go back to their countries of origin before retirement, paying far more into the system than they take out.

With the powers of independence, Scotland could also rebalance and regenerate its economy in other ways in order to prevent the “brain drain” of talent which sees many of Scotland’s brightest and best young people head to England (and especially London and the south-east) through lack of opportunity at home, which is why Scotland’s population has grown by just 5% since World War 2 while England’s has soared by 40% in the same period.

(In fact this trend has reversed to some extent since the advent of devolution – though the figures don’t show key details like whether it might be young people leaving and retirees coming the other way. London’s population is disproportionately young.)

Neither of those steps are available to the UK. Firstly because UKIP drives the political agenda of both main parties, and secondly because there’s no great “brain drain” to reverse. Pretty much everyone who could possibly be in London is there already – the city is groaning at the seams, more crowded than it’s ever been – and as a world financial centre there’s basically nowhere bigger for people to emigrate to, so they don’t. Scotland has significant room for improvement. The UK doesn’t.

So we’ll be watching to see how prominently the IEA’s warning features in the Scottish media. We have the strangest premonition that the answer will be “not very”, and probably not at all in the context of independence.

Scotland’s papers have already studiously blanked one piece of major Yes-positive pensions news this month, and we strongly suspect that this rather inconvenient story will go the same way. Let’s see if they prove us wrong.

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70 to “Juxtaposed with U(K)”

  1. Claire McNab says:

    Brron’s impending tour of Scotland should strike fear into the heart.

    It is set to be a diabolical re-run of October 1974, when William Whitelaw pronounced that “Harold Wilson is going around the country stirring up apathy”.

    I dunno what word best describes the grim horror of Broon sulking and scowling in countless village hall, but I hope that someone can lay on a counselling service for the victims.

  2. john king says:

    I’ve said that all along, the Polish kids you see coming to Scotland are the perfect immigrant, they are hard working polite and are here for one thing only ,a better life and when they get older they move back to the country of their birth, win win!

  3. Helena Brown says:

    I thought we all died far too young, with so many people never getting their pension. After all my Father in Law never got his, died at 63 after 40 odd years of work. My Dad worked till he was 70 okay he took his pension at 65 but he was dead at 73. They cannot have it both ways. It is all those plump well heeled folk in the South East that are living delightful lives if the newspapers have it right, that are costing the rest of us a fortune.
    I was one of those who Gordon robbed as was my Husband, so he is not flavour of the month in my house, I also was affected by his stupid 50 pence tax. Man is a complete eejit except when it comes at looking after Gordon.

  4. Juteman says:

    Excellent article.
    The arrogance of the No camp will be their ultimate downfall. They are treating the Scottish people like uninformed idiots. Maybe that would have worked in the past, with the MSM backing up their lies, but those days are gone.
    The internet has changed everything, but they don’t seem to have realised that.

  5. heedtracker says: Westminster under Con/Lab/Dem rule has bankrupted us, so lets hear BetterTogetherBBC explain how Norway owns the world’s biggest state pension fund, as Scotland’s other “small” neighbour’s state pension fund hits $900 billion and Norway’s population, just 200,000 people less than Scotland are all now dollar millionaires, all of them. Blair/Brown/Darling etc have made a fortune though which maybe explains their bizarre teamGB Project Fear stuff.

  6. Wp says:

    Juteman, totally agree. Many dont knows are sick of listening to unionists ripping their country to bits. The polls show a shift from DK to Yes, this happened just about the time the no side started to get nasty. They are so arrogant they don’t see it.

  7. John H. says:

    What Lamont really meant was that any government run by her and her band of unimaginative incompetents would have to cut services and raise taxes.If there is a good case to be put forward for retaining the union, then what passes for an opposition at Holyrood don’t know what it is.

    As for Brown, he could give masterclasses in deviousness. He also is incompetent, and should be hiding in shame for what he did to Britain’s finances. The suffering we see today, food banks, ATOS, etc. is largely his fault.

    Thankfully, fewer and fewer people are listening to him.

  8. Desimond says:

    Thursdays BBC Question Time…wee man in Nottingham defending NHS states “THE UK IS BROKE…ITS THE UK THATS BUST!”…cue Booohs from people in the crowd and hearty denials from the Westminster based panel.

    The Truth shall out.

  9. Thepnr says:

    The difference between “us and them” is startling. Where does the bulk of the profits from all our efforts go? Into the cabal’s pockets of course!

    Time for change, I believe Yes are already ahead and I’m not complacent. The lead can only increase over the next six months.

    I am so looking forward to the Euro elections, watching England in the World Cup and Scotland in the Commonwealth Games.

    Perverse, I know looking forward to watching England but nothing raises a Scots hackles more than never ending talk of 1966.

  10. SquareHaggis says:

    Thank you Alba4Eva 😀

    Loved the whole thing especially the Frankie Boyle gag.

  11. Les Wilson says:

    Brown chooses soft areas where the pensioners MIGHT listen to him, there again maybe not! He is never being politically challenged when he goes around preaching to us.

    I would love to see him against an able adversary, challenged with his part in the banking, his “pickpocket” sly taxes etc etc. He would walk out as he would not be able to hold it together, but when will we see it, soon I hope.

  12. proudscot says:

    Speaking as a confirmed supporter of Scotland’s independence, I have noticed what I consider to be the main difference between the two main unionist parties.

    I have no time for the elitist Tories who are providing the main funding for the NO Campaign, but at least their main message (no matter how insincere) seems to be “Don’t go, we would miss you” … (unspoken – “and your oil”)

    Labour’s message on the other hand, articulated by mostly MPs representing Scottish constituencies, seems to be “You’re too incompetent to run your own affairs … and we hate Salmond and the SNP!” (Unspoken – “We’ll lose our lucrative jobs and our places at the huge expenses trough in Westminster.”)

  13. Thepnr says:


    Absolutely brilliant. With such talent I know we will fantastic country. Keep taking the piss lol.

  14. muttley79 says:

    How would you come up for a slogan for Gordon Brown’s prospective tour of Scotland? Come and see the great clunking fist on his just say No campaign of fear and terror…How would you attract voters? Come and see the great clunking fist throw a mobile phone at you, if you are a Yes or a don’t know? The mind boggles. 😀

  15. Thepnr says:

    We will BE A fantastic country. If you didn’t have dopes like me.

  16. Murray McCallum says:

    Great article. Outside of Planet Brown, Pensions is a ‘Yes’ strength, not a weakness.

  17. Croompenstein says:

    Broon the loon talks Scoatland doon..

  18. Wee Jonny says:

    Rev Stu I do love the work you put in to give us the truth behind the bullpish we’re fed on a daily basis from the MSM. I’ve said it before, without you we’d be fucked.

  19. Alba4Eva says:

    Stop giving me personal credit guys… me is just sharing the lurve. 🙂

  20. Stuart Black says:

    Muttley, Yes or don’t knows need not apply. Brown doesn’t do hostile audiences.

  21. Clootie says:

    From the days when Gordon was “the man”

    A man was coming home from work one day. He noticed that there was a lot more traffic than normal. As he got further up the road all of the traffic had come to a halt.
    He saw a policeman coming towards his car, so he asked him what was wrong. The cop said, “We are in a crisis situation. Gordon Brown is in the road very upset. He does not have the £10 billion needed to fill his black hole, and everyone hates him. He is threatening to douse himself in petrol and start a fire.”
    The man asked the police officer exactly what he was doing there.
    The bobby said, ” I feel sorry for the Chancellor so I am going car to car asking for donations.”
    The man asked, “How much do you have so far?”
    The bobby replied, “Well as of right now only 99 litres, but many people are still siphoning as we speak!”

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    I wonder if the right-wing press will do an complete volte face on seeing Brown take to the high road, the same who so sorely taxed his patience and eroded his credibility by jeering at his every endeavour, and saw to it his microphone was on when he was out canvassing for the general election he so easily lost.

    Will the press, at his latest attempts on the Munros of Stoneybridge, tell us he’s a great elder statesman showing Scots their destiny lies with Westminster’s wise council?

    Somehow Brown touring Scotland reminds me of a foggy bank low to the horizon, heavy with drizzle, blocking the sun.

  23. Ian Brotherhood says:

    The longer the campaign goes on, the clearer it becomes – Scots cannot stand Tories. We don’t like, want or need them and their putrid world-view, and we never have. The fact that they still exercise any influence over our lives has become intolerable.

    ‘Labour’ has become Tory-lite, so they can fuck off as well – Lamont, Rennie, Davidson and the whole lot of them can bump their gums from now until doomsday, and it won’t make a jot of difference – we are going our own way, and there’s nothing they can do to stop us.

  24. Susan says:

    Sorry, Rev, for going off the topic, but we have run out of the second Yes Newspaper (The one featuring Proclaimers). Have any of the other Yes groups any spares (we need another 500 or 600)?

  25. gordoz says:


    Top notch get this out there- should be showing these at YES get together events.

  26. handclapping says:

    A poem for those thinking of voting No.

    You may be rich today,
    but the way to get poor
    is to stay
    in the UK.

  27. FlimFlamMan says:

    Note to the IEA, and other pedlars of failed mainstream economics: the gold standard is over.

    Modern money is created ‘out of thin air’, and nation states which have their own currency face no financial constraints, only real constraints; the capacity of the economy to produce goods and services. Prosperity is about those real goods and services; if the capacity to provide them is there then the money can be created.

    The questions and dangers are about what governments choose to spend on, and who they choose to support.

    Will the UK government use its ability to spend to support the productive economy and all its citizens?

    It sure isn’t doing it now, why would a No vote in Scotland make a difference?

    Is an independent Scotland, with an increasingly engaged and knowledgeable population, more or less likely to demand, and participate in, government that does support all its citizens?

    Seems pretty obvious.

    Money is an entirely human invention, and we create it out of nothing. The vast majority of it consists of entries on computer spreadsheets. We as societies, our governments, can change those values up and down at will. There is no spending black hole, or pension black hole. What there is, all across the UK, is a lack of support for productive industry and useful services. Improving that situation is what will determine the prosperity of current and future generations.

  28. gordoz says:

    (K)homage to Bill Hicks ?

    If so I like it. He is the comdedic God (political ninja)

  29. Embradon says:


    I believe Yes Cowal had spare copies.

  30. heedtracker says:

    “Big prizes to be won by staying British, says PM” via BetterTogether Press & Journal vote no banner headline of the day here in ABZ but the lads that bash out this stuff every day of their working lives do not actually say what the “Big prizes” are which won’t be a surprise to anyone anywhere either. Maybe they think that Scotland bled white by rich upper class elitists 600 miles away is a “Big prize.” Vote No P&j author for this stuff is a Tim Pauling whose LinkedIn thingee says he works at the Press and. Journal and also, he’s now clearly a BetterTogether propagandist. Aren’t they all.

    Tim’s actually all over the place today in Aberdeen with his vote no “Scots to face tough time as EU new boy” and “Independence could hit UK-wide terrorism fight” headlines although clearly Tim’s not yet made the connection between Scotland as a nation state and who ever next Westminster charges off to war against.

  31. Ken500 says:

    Scotland can and does afford it’s pensions £17Billion (a quarter of revenues). I could increase pensions by different policies from Westminster. An increase in tax on ‘loss leading’ alcohol would save £1.5Billion. Cut spending on Trident and redundant weaponry would save £1.5Billion = £3Billion a year.

    Scotland puts on average, the equivalent of £10Billion to Westminister ie £4Billion on debt repayment not borrowed or spent in Scotland. £3Billion (social saving from tax on alcohol + monies saved on Trident + redundant weaponry). Higher revenues from Oil. Westminster interference has cost approx £5Billion a year. = £12Billion for increased pensions etc.

    By following different fiscal policies and with fiscal autonomy Scotland could have an Oil fund, better pensions, not starve the vulnerable and have better infrastructure and less unemployment.

  32. StevieMcB says:

    load of rubbish on any answers R4

  33. Ken500 says:

    EE & PJ personnel are biased, for various reasons. Not objective.

  34. Stuart Black says:

    Off topic, but in a good way. My wife took the dug down to visit the YES Milngavie stall today, and spent an hour talking to the folk there.

    Apparently they have seen a massive swing in attitudes since the end of last year. In both November and December they faced a very hostile reception, very aggressive and with much heckling. A sea change seems to have taken place since, and it appears that Mr. Osborne’s flying intervention has had much to do with it. There are still folks passing by, refusing leaflets and the like, but the aggression is absent, and they are finding many people ready and willing to engage.

    Some folk are coming up and starting off, well I’m not for this really, but I was wondering… and then proceed to, in effect, talk themselves round, with a minimum of assistance.

    She spoke to all of the helpers and reports very positive results, encouraging stories of middle class Bearsden ladies, converted and fully active, and the mood was that, on today’s events, Yes would win hands down (a conclusion I reached about 18 months ago 😉 ).

    Remember, this is Bearsden and Milngavie. We win here, we win everywhere. 🙂

  35. Linda's Back says:

    Listening to BBC Radio 4 Any Answers with a succession of anti independence rants

  36. SquareHaggis says:

    P&J pome

    I PAY

  37. Dorothy Devine says:

    Anyone read the ordure in the DT by one Ben Riley – Smith?

    Depressing stuff so I’ll need to nip off and look at the Short Straw to bring my smile back.

  38. SquareHaggis says:

    Signed up to the P&J for 1 month, to get my free Tesco voucher.

    Paper came through the door and straight in the recycling bin.

    After the month they sent their invoice and the promised voucher which I spent on goods and chattels, not including any AJ products.

    Refused to pay on the basis that they’re editorials were biased against just about anything. They still call me up from time to time but years of corruption has produced in me a cunning fraudster.

  39. Albalha says:

    @Thistle’s live event fundraiser nearly there..

  40. call me dave says:

    I was just reading that myself … here it is.

  41. Alba4Eva says:

    Gordoz… between Lady Alba, Paolo Nutini and David Be-no-way… the Scottish music charts are more vibrant than they have ever been since the late 80’s / early 90’s. 🙂

  42. Robert Kerr says:

    A small donation made to the live event stuff.

    Can someone finish it now please?

  43. SquareHaggis says:


    Kerching Kerching 😀

  44. Weedeochandorris says:

    @Heedtracker “Norway’s population, just 200,000 people less than Scotland are all now dollar millionaires, all of them.” Sorry for the correction but, I believe, Norwegians are now NOK (Norwegian Kroner) millionaires. 1,000,000 NOK = 100,530 GBP. Still, a fantastic amount of money for every Norwegian, saved for them by their canny government unlike the greedy guts we have in Westminster.

  45. Thepnr says:


    You are correct, and they only got Independence from Sweden in 1905.

  46. SheenaJ says:

    Susan, YES Pentlands in Edinburgh has some spare papers. Email

  47. Clootie says:

    I notice a big change in the work place debates. More and more people are asking questions, asking for links and willing to express their concerns. The hard core NO are looking very isolated because they can only repeat fear stories. The months of BT shouting for answers has back fired because they don’t have any answers for a post NO situation.

    The NO bunch are sincere in their opinion but they are losing heart. It is amazing how smiles and a positive cheerful message of the future makes them sound so pathetic wih the message of doom.

    Not long now – keep up the push!
    Think of all those summer events with big crowds.

  48. Jamie Arriere says:

    Now is this just the IEA, or is it “the respected IEA” like whenever they make any gloom-laden predictions about Scottish independence?

  49. heedtracker says:

    @ Weedeochandorris, Thanks I got it here with their 5.11 trillion krones Published: Thursday, 9 Jan 2014. There are actually several larger Norwegian pension funds too but this report says

    “Everyone in Norway became a theoretical krone millionaire on Wednesday in a milestone for the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund that has ballooned thanks to high oil and gas prices.”

    So its the usual UKOK insanity for Scotland in teamGB where high oil prices made Scotland £4 billion worse off last year, while same high prices made “small country” Norway pension funds balloon.

  50. FlimFlamMan says:


    Since Norway has its own currency, the Norwegian government has the capacity to create whatever money is required to purchase whatever the Norwegian people can produce, plus whatever foreigners want to sell to them.

    It’s not the money that makes Norwegians wealthy; their wealth is in their capacity to produce, to provide health care, schools, elderly care and all the rest of it.

    They could gather all that money together and burn the lot of it, and not lose any wealth. No productive capacity would be lost, and neither would their capacity to create their currency.

  51. Albalha says:


    Wings the online community that just keeps on giving!


  52. David McCann says:

    Hammond rubbishes Scots defence plans. Hope someone takes up the challenge in the comments.

  53. Patrician says:

    @ Stuart Black

    I have found this over the last year or so, some of the my acquaintances have been so easy to switch from no to yes, it isn’t easy to take any credit for the conversion. In their heart of hearts they know what is the correct choice, they just need someone to agree with them.

  54. Viking Girl says:

    Now, anyone who ‘pays into the system’ i e National Insurance, will be able, anywhere on this earth, to take their UK pension. I know folk who live in the states and draw a UK pension, because they paid NI when they worked here. Yes, London is groaning at the seams. That’s what makes the banks and insurance companies assertion that they will leave Scotland on a Yes vote, unbelievable. It would cost them so much it won’t be worth it, and where would they find premises in London?

  55. ronnie anderson says:

    @ Susan 1.46, I have just had a delivery of 2200,whitch area are

    you from I,m in Airdrie.

  56. SquareHaggis says:

    @Albalha @Robert Kerr

    FATE maybe, gettin u ower the line, if my browser hadnae frozen when it did, Robert would have claimed the fame.
    Sorry Robert.

    Keep up the excellent work folks

  57. ronnie anderson says:

    @ Albalha,2.42, £870 now a wee10 spot donated, keep up the

    good work Thistle much appreciated.

  58. Robert Kerr says:

    Thistle dae me!

  59. YES NEWSPAPERS says:

    Nice to see people like Susan still asking for copies of the YES Newspaper and if anyone has any sitting about – GET THEM OUT AND PUT THROUGH LETTER BOXES, no one is learning anything from the red tops in Scotland so leave them on trains, doctors waiting rooms, works canteens or any where you go and people meet. If you need more get on wings and ask everyone, there are quite a few sitting in cupboards and in boots of cars looking for a good home.

  60. jon esquierdo says:

    Gordon Brown is as welcome as a wet fart

  61. ronnie anderson says:

    Next issue of Yes Papers in April,anyone with spare time to do a couple of streets in their area/scheme,there are plenty of Yes
    groups could do with the help,( many hands make for lighter loads )are we Wingers not a careing shareing group of people,
    I know the answer tae that, so nae prize,s.

  62. Croompenstein says:

    @jon esquierdo – On the bus..

  63. oldnat says:

    The link to the full report can be found here.

    As normal with IEA stuff, it’s pretty right wing – suggesting (like BT do) that services will have to be cut, or taxes raised. to pay for pension commitments.

    Difference is that it applies the argument to the UK and describes how UK Govt have adopted measures to make the situation worse.

  64. velofello says:

    “if you don’t behave I’ll get the Scotsman to you”, apparently is a threat Polish mothers used to say to their children. So it may well be that an DNA analysis would find mixed Scots and Polish ancestry among us, and the better for it.

  65. steven Seagull says:

    Bawbag Broon, the black fkn cloud. Quisling gimp bastirt!

  66. lumilumi says:

    I spoke with a Scottish friend on the phone on Friday, about other things, we’ve never much talked about politics (apart from opposition to the Iraq war back in the day).

    At the end, she said, out of the blue, “All these things they say that could happen if we go independent… Well, it seems to me it’s things that WILL happen if we stay part of the UK. I think I’ll vote yes. Maybe we in Scotland could do things differently.”

    She was very much NO last August. She and her husband are well-off professional people in their 40s. They love hill-walking and other outdoor pursuits and love the country they live in for all the outdoor opportunities it offers to counterbalance the hectic/stressful office life.

  67. john king says:

    “Loved the whole thing especially the Frankie Boyle gag.”

    How much does a travel iron weigh?
    would a sock filled wi bools no be better? 🙂

  68. john king says:

    “She was very much NO last August. She and her husband are well-off professional people in their 40s. They love hill-walking and other outdoor pursuits and love the country they live in for all the outdoor opportunities it offers to counterbalance the hectic/stressful office life.”

    Interesting you should say that Lumilumi on a trip to St Andrews the other day coming back through Cuper the wife pointed out a Saltire flying from a pretty expensive house, then another one then another one we saw about five between Darsie and south of Cuper and a single union flag and all of the houses were clearly owned by well to do people maybe we’re even convincing the well off. 🙂

  69. steven Seagull says:

    Hauf brick in a sock is modus operandi Bud!

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