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Wings Over Scotland

Let’s walk this one through

Posted on March 16, 2014 by

Being a journalist can occasionally present some tricky ethical dilemmas. Today’s Scotland on Sunday carries a story about Scottish Labour’s strife-riddled devolution plans, which attributes this quote to the Scottish branch manager Johann Lamont:


Now, that’s an awkward one for any conscientious reporter. We have to presume that the former English teacher MEANT to say “increase” (or “restore”), rather than “reduce”. But you can’t just casually reverse in print what someone actually said on the assumption that they meant the opposite, so the hapless Andrew Whitaker has to resort to the least-bad option, which is just printing it and hoping nobody notices.

It’s the rest of the article that contains the real nonsense, though.

Because Lamont’s shambles of a “devolution” plan shatters into a million pieces at the slightest scrutiny. It’s an illogical mess which in reality just amounts to what Labour’s core No argument has been all along – “Please don’t vote to run your own affairs in Scotland, just elect Labour at Westminster and we’ll make everything fine, honest!”

You don’t have to take our word for that. It’s right there in the story:

“Lamont was speaking before Labour unveils the findings of its Devolution Commission on Tuesday. The commission is expected to recommend giving Holyrood the ability to vary the rate of Scottish income tax in each tax band.

Lamont indicated she would follow the approach taken by UK Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has been a fierce critic of George Osborne’s 2012 move to cut the tax rate for those paid more than £150,000 from 50p to 45p.

Miliband has promised to restore the 50p rate and has launched a high pay commission aimed at curbing excessive boardroom salaries.”

Our emphasis, there. Lamont’s plan for “devolution” is for Scotland to, er, do the same as London does. The Scottish Parliament will have the right and the ability to copy Westminster exactly. Gee, thanks.

But it could be no other way. Ponder it for a moment – would a Labour government in England allow a Labour government in Scotland to have different tax policies, when both were in fact still part of the same country? The idea is self-evidently absurd.

The entire concept of a No vote is that Scotland is a region of the UK, not a nation in its own right. It’s somewhat fanciful to say the least to imagine Manchester, say, or Yorkshire being allowed to have a different income tax structure to Bristol or Cornwall. Administratively it would be utter chaos. The loopholes that would open up would be uncountable. Yet effectively it’s exactly what Labour wants us to believe.

Even an independent Scotland would have to be careful how it implemented different tax rates and structures, lest businesses and individuals simply hopped across the border to take advantage of a more favourable regime. But at least it could do so as part of an overall package of measures. (Purely as a simplistic for-instance, company directors might not like paying a bit more personal income tax, but they’d have to weigh it against the advantages of lower corporation tax for their businesses.)

Without full control of Scotland’s economic levers, though, no such balancing and trade-offs would be possible. Just as it does now, Holyrood would have the theoretical ability to alter taxation, but no practical ability to do so. The reasons Holyrood has never used its 3p tax-varying power since 1999 would remain unchanged, even though the power itself might become technically more flexible.

All of this, it should go without saying, is predicated on the fact that Labour will win the 2015 UK election – something which gets less likely by the day – and that the view of its Scottish MSPs somehow managed to hold sway after the referendum over not only the party’s Scottish MPs but its English and Welsh ones too, most of whom are bitterly opposed to any more devolution for Scotland no matter how useless it is.

(And if you want a REAL laugh, try to picture a Tory government in Westminster granting an SNP or Labour one in Scotland the power to undercut it on tax.)

That the media is treating Lamont’s plan seriously indicates at best that they’re engaged in frantic, crude political spinning on behalf of the No campaign, and at worst that our newspapers are staffed by dribbling idiots who shouldn’t be allowed out without supervision lest they injure themselves chasing parked cars.

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65 to “Let’s walk this one through”

  1. Croompenstein says:

    Lamont was speaking before Labour unveils the findings of its Devolution Commission on Tuesday oh well I’ll need to go climb a big hill on Tuesday and keep away from Radio, TV so I don’t hear all the inane pish that is about to flow..:(

  2. Helena Brown says:

    Well I imagine this will be a big spread over the papers on Wednesday, totally unscrutinised as usual. I hope she hasn’t used too many big words cause that will defeat her supporters.

  3. SquareHaggis says:

    I’d plan for an overnight camping expedition Croompenstein, just to ensure you miss the night-time analysis as well, better safe than…

  4. Alba4Eva says:

    Tariq Ali’s Glasgow Uni lecture is up now…

  5. rgweir. says:

    Tinto Hill on Tuesday then,But I must have my tablet with me to keep me updated on events.

  6. SquareHaggis says:

    Roaming pro-life, I like it.

    Benachie for me.

  7. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Tariq Ali’s Glasgow Uni lecture is up now…”

    Readers! For about the billionth time, please don’t include the “http://” part when posting YouTube links. It embeds them on the page rather than linking, and if you do it early in a comment thread that makes a terrible mess.

    I can fix them by taking the http:// part out as long as they’re normal YT links, but as you can see above it doesn’t work if they’re shortened ones, and I don’t have the time to spend all bloody day clicking them, copying the real URL and editing it back into the comment for you.

    And all of that is ASIDE from the fact that going off-topic FOUR comments into a thread is expressly forbidden by the posting rules because it makes me punch things and be in a really bad mood.

  8. MochaChoca says:

    The other problem of course is that out of the 30 or so taxes we are subject to (which on balance places Scotland as a nett contributor) the only tax they are suggesting be further devolved is one where Scotland raises less per capita than the UK as a whole. The result being we’d either have to pay even more tax or have an even deeper cut in budget.

  9. Macart says:

    Its one of a small herd of elephants in the room for BT. None of the Scottish franchises can promise or deliver anything without the say so of their London HQs. Their entire campaign is one big LIE.

    There are only two deliverable choices on the ballot and they boil down to this on the day. Scotland retains its sovereignty from 19th September onwards or we give it away. Scotland is independent or it is a region with devolved responsibility.

    Anything else we here from Westminster, BT or the media is complete and utter falsehood.

  10. RogueCoder says:

    It doesn’t actually matter what Labour produces, because the Lib Dems and the Tories will come up with two completely different plans, so Bitter Together will be splintered, just as Wee Eck knew it would be. Let’s embrace this opportunity to the fullest extent and ask Johann for for certainty in the event of a No vote – what new powers, if any, would Scotland get? Answer: bluster.

  11. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “The other problem of course is that out of the 30 or so taxes we are subject to (which on balance places Scotland as a nett contributor) the only tax they are suggesting be further devolved is one where Scotland raises less per capita than the UK as a whole. The result being we’d either have to pay even more tax or have an even deeper cut in budget.”

    Oh indeed. I can’t wait for Labour to finally officially publish its Devo Commission report, because it’s going to have more holes in it than Rab C Nesbitt’s laundry basket. It’s going to be like shooting fish in a teacup with a blunderbuss.

  12. Macart says:

    Here? Jeez, back to bed.

  13. msean says:

    So the much awaited result all of this exercise is that essentially,the Labour party of the uk has probably told its branch office that nothing is to change.Move the chairs around,but nothing is to change.

  14. HandandShrimp says:


    She taught English?

    Not economics then?

    Actually given her inability to communicate I would never have guessed she taught English in a month of Sundays. I have always had a mental image of the Chewing the Fat biology teacher for some reason.

  15. Juteman says:

    The Yes campaign really need to make folk understand Macarts point in the weeks and days before the vote.

    On the 18th of September, Scotland IS independent whilst the voting booths are open. We have the choice to give away our independence or not.

  16. Alba4Eva says:

    Sorry Stu.

    This from Guy McV is worth a watch also…

  17. tartanfever says:

    50p tax rate eh ?

    Isn’t that what Labour MP’s abstained on voting against a couple of years ago at Westminster ?

    This was the motion presented by Plaid Cymru and the SNP and what led to the ‘Bain principle’ after the leaked internal Labour e-mails showed that the party decision was to reject all SNP motions even if they were similar to Labour policy.

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    Anything Anglophile pollytishuns propose as new tax powers in Scotland is certain to be balanced by at least the equivalent withdrawal of investment or infrastructure.

    When our penurious nobles and flaky bankers were give part of the Darien loan in cash (the debentures part tanked) in return for the soul of Scotland and all its first born, England immeditaley raised our taxes to pay for their loan.

  19. Scott says:

    And you’re welcome Stu 😉

  20. panda paws says:

    “and at worst that our newspapers are staffed by dribbling idiots who shouldn’t be allowed out without supervision lest they injure themselves chasing parked cars.”

    Don’t be silly, that’s not true! They are instead staffed by people who think their readers are dribbling idiots…!

  21. Alasdair Stirling says:

    MSM know that iScot means career death on the 19th Sept so they are bigging up More Devo in the hope that that will keep the gravy train running

  22. Vincent McDee says:

    Is that la Krankie new image? To paint Darling eyebrows over her eyes?

    As I must be the twentysomething comment let me refresh you on Tory PURE BRILLIANCE made by Jason Carlow:

    Please notice Peter Piper’s comment:

    “Are the members of Holyrood confident in the current administration’s ability to continue in Government?”

    Ayes 68, Nawbuts 58.

    Alex, are you voting? Eh? Sorry, I was too busy laughing.

  23. heedtracker says:

    You can see exact same method in Lamont’s madness with future PM Milliband “promise” of an EU referendum, if something something something happens, then etc etc maybe. They only need the impression that change is on the way with a no win because the BBC in particular will UKOK lie/spin to Scotland about all of it anyway, just as their idiot newspaper chums do everyday.

  24. Alfresco Dent says:

    The problem with all this is the same as it has always been. We here all know these promises from the No Scotland Mob are pure lies, that in itself is not the problem. The real problem is that the TV, radio & newspapers are going to be touting all this bluster & bull shit as viable alternatives to independence.

    Your average working man or woman might not have the time to look past the headline they see on the way in to pay for the extortionate fuel they’ve just put in their shiny grey Merc/BMW/Audi (all cars built by those nasty Europeans – Germans too, the ones we can’t be like – not horrible Greeks – the ones we will be like).

    I have no real problem with someone who genuinely believes something different from me. But I do have a real fundamental problem with someone who continually states that 2+2 is indeed 5, when they know fine well it is not. These people are liars. Let’s call a spade a spade here. Dirty, self-serving scum!

  25. Patrick Roden says:

    Panda Paws says:

    “Don’t be silly, that’s not true! They are instead staffed by people who think their readers are dribbling idiots…!”

    Don’t be silly Panda Paws, anyone who still reads the Scotsman, is a dribbling idiot! 😉

  26. AnneDon says:

    It was Scottish Labour’s unwillingness to deviate from the London line in the early days of the Scottish Parliament [Assembly], that made me realise they could never create their own policies – and that was before Lamont became their leader!

  27. JLT says:

    Does anyone …ANYONE …actually listen to Lamont.

    Seriously …anyone ????

    How she is the Scottish Labour Leader is a real puzzle. The other Labour MSP’s must surely curse or weep when they are alone.

  28. call me dave says:

    Andrew Marr v Mr Salmond at 29mins 30secs in.

    Has Mr Salmond been out on the tiles, or is he a bit worried, still in good enough form to see off Mr Marr who got a bit peeved at the end. 🙂

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Alex Salmond on the Andrew Marr Show this morning

    From about 29 mins.

  30. Elizabeth says:


  31. mr thms says:

    The Scotland Act 2012 also allows for additional taxes to be devolved in the future and we recently got the power to issue investment bonds. The Budget on 19th March 2014 will be interesting. I’ve read we might get Air Passenger Duty and The Crown Estates. Also the Whisky Duty Escalator might be abolished. Not sure how that helps Scotland. Now if he announced Scotland can keep the duty on whisky that works out at £135 per second

  32. msean says:

    What the electorate need to be reminded of is that the westminster parties rejected devo anything.Now they have revived devo desperate,they need to be pushed on why,besides the usual Alex Salmond is a (insert insult from usual dictator list) or “it’s the SNPs fault”,they feel the need to do this now. They will prevaricate,but never admit they might be on the slide.

  33. call me dave says:

    Brian T bigging up the tory conference it’s dynamic and on the up, and it’s live for 2 hours on the BBC 2 if you don’t have any paint you want to watch drying … Judging by the crowd shots, like me, they are all on free prescriptions and some may not even have to pay for a tv licence either.
    Ruthie is a mere child.

    I’ve got three X-words to do and I’ll see the fall out later.

  34. Alfresco Dent says:

    @ mr thms

    It’s full independence or nothing! Under any devolution settlement any power granted today can be rescinded tomorrow.

    FFS Wake Up!

  35. Ken500 says:

    The Unionists plan is to tax Scotland twice, as they do now. Thinking they can secretly get awsy with it. No taxation without representation. Vote YES.

  36. Alfresco Dent says:

    @ call me dave

    Let me think – on the one hand a few Tories promising nothing and on the other – the dandy Dons lifting their first trophy for decades. Hmm…

  37. Murray McCallum says:

    Had to laugh at Andrew Marr clearly giving his personal opinion on Scotland finding it very difficult to join the EU. Why do we bother listening to any independent, expert opinion when a unionist BBC politics pundit can just blurt one out?

    His personal opinion, under challenge, then seemed to become him simply echoing Mr. Barroso’s opinion.

    Andrew Marr then ended saying he had no personal opinion. Maybe expects us all to Ctrl-Alt-Delete our collective memories?

  38. msean says:

    I’m not watching the tory coference,but I wonder if anyone has noticed any of those nasty glitches that seem to appear when SNP conferences are streamed/broadcast?

    Just wondering.

  39. msean says:

    * conference

  40. velofello says:

    I reckon Andrew Marr will be spending his Sunday afternoon leisure gulping down neat whisky, or smashing plates. And cursing that Alex Salmon.

    “I thought you were asking questions Andrew?” ponders the FM.

  41. Scott says:

    Tory Conference.
    Rev,do you want a laugh,just switched on TV and see Ruthie my what a crowded body of people she is talking to,NOT.

  42. Clootie says:

    Macart expressed best the part that excites me.

    Between 07:00 and 22:00 on the 18th. of September it is OUR nation once again. We can only surrender it back by voting NO.

    Wake up on the 18th. and realise Scotland is a nation and keep it so.

    Think how you will feel if you either fail to vote or vote NO and the outcome is the vice closing again!

    Blair Jenkins posed the question at the start of the campaign
    – “If Scotland were an independent nation would you vote for the union?”.

    That question, in a sense, becomes a reality on polling day.

  43. bookie from hell says:

    Andrew Marr(Europe)

    “I think it will be quite hard to get back in”


    “I have no views or bbc”

    37 mins—38 30 secs

    salmond a nice sunday roast

  44. Croompenstein says:

    @call me dave – Absolutely loved that the FM completely owned Marr.. hilarious

  45. Malc says:

    Listening to the verbal diahorrea was excruciating. Just absolute tripe and out and out lies.

  46. Malc says:

    I was of course referring to listening to Ruth Davidson speech.

  47. Dorothy Devine says:

    I am sitting watching a tedious wummin lecturing the slightly thin on the ground members of the conservative party at their conference.

    I am so tired of the tripe that is being peddled.
    It utterly amazes me that the SNP get sooooo many mentions by the opposition party – that party being the Lib/Lab/Con Party.

    And the SNP are accused of harping back to the past but now we hear about that shared history ad nauseam.

  48. lumatrix says:

    Re Andrew Marr – these people are incompetent on so many levels they cannot even keep their stories straight for 30 minutes. One of the great eye openers of these referendum politics is just how useless at every level the Con-Dems and Labour parties are. Every single day they trot out another lie – or if they’ve run out of new ones they trot out the same old ones again – as if we won’t notice. The levels of corruption, incompetence and sheer effrontery of their lies are breathtaking but they WILL be remembered after YES.

  49. call me dave says:

    Alfresco Dent

    True…Decisions, decisions? However I’m neutral on the footie it’s a North British affair..sorry North Scottish affair.

    Now where was I…Oh yes X-word. 2 across ‘Unionist promise to preserve the UK at a future unspecified date’ 3 & 8 hmm!

  50. Krackerman says:

    Did I hear correctly on the Andrew Marr show this morning that the austerity cuts are only half way and they’ve still got 37% cuts to welfare lined up for the next few years???

    What the hell will be left after that???

  51. Croompenstein says:

    @call me dave – Lie Bastards?…

  52. Robert Peffers says:

    Just listened to wee Ruthie. I cannot remember when I have been so angry at better together lies. This numptie from a party that has a lone Tory MP, with his jaikit oan a gie shoogle cadden nail, from Scotland claiming her party have done well for Scotland gars me grue. 307 years of Scottish decline and she claims to be proud of that? Sheesh!

  53. HandandShrimp says:

    I was amazed at how empty the hall was for Hammond, was it time for the majority of the delegates to get their medication or something? Defence Secretary along with PM, Treasurer, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary are the big beasts of the Cabinet. Health, Welfare and Education impact on more people but traditionally the former are the big five.

  54. jon esquierdo says:

    As Billy Cotton used to say wakey wakey.

  55. Westie7 says:

    OT a bit
    I’m a bit late catching up today after a late night
    But this recent attempt at undermining prescriptions has got me thinking
    Surely those who can afford them would be the least likely to need them, good diet and always at the expensive gym etc.
    Does any ken know if there are figures to show the demographics of prescriptions given to those aged 20-60 with an above av income?

  56. heedtracker says:

    Thanks for the Marr link. Marr squeezing Balls and Osborne on sterling share was ridiculous. Did Marr ask either about Cameron’s “big prizes for the no?” Balls weakest with his project fear “it’ll be like Greece and Spain” and Osborne’s exchange costs are great with euro and dollar but he doesn’t want to join them. Hope people watch these clowns carefully, especially Balls. He really is all about toxic bluster, panic and fear.

  57. liz says:

    Watched the Andrew Marr ‘show’ and AS was brilliant as usual although I thought he didn’t look too well – it could have been the lighting.

    O/T – I think the Observer is becoming institutionally racist against Scots.

    There is one letter on their letters page – can’t find it on line – from a woman with Irish, Welsh, Scots, English ancestry, claiming that she is ‘well aware’of anti-English sentiments from the Scots and her Devonian husband who has lived in Aberdeen for 50years!! was called an English bastard for just ‘pleasantly saying Morning’.

    This letter of course can neither be proven nor dis-proven but it begs the question, would you stay in a place for 50 years if folk were so prejudiced against you?

  58. mr thms says:

    # Alfresco Dent

    Whenever I read about this or that power coming to Scotland, whether it is under the 2012 Scotland Act or something else, it does enable the Scottish Government to get the infrastructure in place so an independent Scotland can hit the ground running. I don’t see extra powers as a sign we are getting Devo Max or whatever it’s called.

  59. bjsalba says:

    O/T Just been to the local Co-op and passed the paper stand with the headline Alex Salmonds £1.8 billion wind farms. Grr! I read no more – I don’t need to. I pretty sure Alex has no wind farms – certainly not that many. I know the money is probably over many years and it is peanuts the costs and subsidies in comparison to the subsidy the English will pay for nuclear to the French and Chinese.

    Of course wind farms we all are supposed to believe are hugely inefficient – except that the efficiency calculation formulas are not comparable for renewables and fossil fuels. Something that even some engineers don’t know – one unionist engineer of my acquaintance now avoids me since I challenged his pronouncements on the matter.

  60. call me dave says:

    Wind farms Sunday Post story right up my parents in-law’s street. Been getting it for over 70 years so it must be true…Aye right!

    But wait what’s this story..shurley shome mishtake!

  61. Paula Rose says:

    @call me dave

    Maybe all those empty seats are more Yes supporters?

  62. Stew says:

    Why the time lapse with Alex Salmond interview on the Andrew Marr show? We’re not a foreign country yet. There’s less of a lapse speaking to America and none at all on other cross border interviews.
    Was it to give Marr time to get his quick quip opinions in without giving AS time to reply…or am I just being cynical!?
    Well done Eck 🙂

  63. galamcennalath says:

    ” Lamont’s plan for “devolution” is for Scotland to, er, do the same as London does ”

    Isn’t that what Labour in Edinburgh’s role has always been? Make sure Scotland doesn’t deviate in policy from Labour in London? Doing things differently would, after all, be showing a degree of independence with a small ‘i’. Anything to stop the BIG I.

  64. Alan Gerrish says:


    I’ve been trying since last night to open the Andrew Marr Show, and there seems to be a permanent time lapse in transmission. The BBC informs me on screen “there is a problem – try later” … why do I feel there’s no point?

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