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Wings Over Scotland

More powerful microscope required

Posted on March 20, 2014 by

All this week we’ve been mockingly referring to Scottish Labour’s devolution proposals as “Devo Nano”, nano- being a mathematical term meaning “one billionth”. The implication there is that the amount of actual power being devolved would be very very small. We’re not subtle. But as we dig down into the full 298-page report, it’s beginning to look as though our sarcastic description is in fact somewhat over-generous.

Johann Lamont got herself into a terrible fankle on Newsnight Scotland on Tuesday over what the proposals actually meant with regard to taxation. She told a bemused Gordon Brewer than under the proposals the Scottish Government would be able to raise the higher rates of income tax, but not to reduce them again or to have them lower than the UK rates under any circumstances.

Even as a theory that’s a pretty pathetic “power”, and we pointed out that it was in any event one which could never be used, because so long as the UK was a single state, rich Scots could just move a few miles down the road and set up in Newcastle.

(Because it’s one thing the wealthy threatening to leave Britain if they get taxed when they’d have to move to Spain or somewhere, with a whole new climate and language and culture and far from their friends and family, but it’s rather less of a big deal if all you have to do to pay 5% less income tax is shift a 45-minute train ride away.)

And as it turns out, Labour agrees with us:


What you need to understand about that line is that the phrase “tax bases which can freely be located to a lower tax jurisdiction” is politician-speak for “people”. What the report says is that you can’t tax people in different regions of the same country at different levels, or they’ll just up sticks and move to the cheaper area.

And what that means, obviously, is that as well as what Lamont already openly admitted – that Scotland wouldn’t be able to tax higher-rate payers less than the rest of the UK – we also wouldn’t be able to tax them any MORE.

In other words, the headline pledge in the Devo Nano document is, exactly as we said, complete nonsense. The only way Labour will tax the rich more is if they do so across the entire UK. The proposed “power” being mooted for Holyrood isn’t worth even the incredibly thin scrap of crumpled paper it’s written on.

In fairness, the report does go on to address this issue in some depth, noting that “It would still be possible for the Scottish Government to unilaterally increase the higher rates of taxation above those in England, because oh look a squirrel!”


Don’t touch that dial, readers. More small print on the way!

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    73 to “More powerful microscope required”

    1. Bill Fraser says:

      I hope they didn’t pay anyone to write this drivel

    2. Dale says:

      I like squirrels! More squirrels!

    3. naebd says:

      The more you consider it, the tax bases that could ‘freely’ relocate are numerous.

      Corporation Tax – companies could freely relocate to lower CorpTax Scotland. So that’s a no-no.

      Air Passenger Duty – airlines could relocate some flights to lower APD Scottish airports. Off the menu.

      VAT – could a VAT reduction in Scotland attract online businesses to relocate here? Maybe not, but if they could – no-no time.

      Labour’s view is that any tax levers Scotland could use to ‘steal’ revenue from elsewhere in the UK are off-limits. The problem is that many of the non-tax advantages are to the South East, so a ‘level tax playing field’ puts us at a disadvantage.

    4. bookie from hell says:

      Can I call it a Financial Apartheid on Scottish Parliament ?

    5. G H Graham says:

      It was written thus because of Labour’s sneering assumption that the electorate is too stupid to comprehend anything beyond the simplistic suggestion, “We’ll tax rich bastards.”

      Labour’s opposition to independence is founded on headlines which, when examined, usually fall apart because they are frequently blatant lies or half arsed truths.

      So we are told; the oil will run out in 2 years or that there are >15,000 people working at Faslane or that the Gestapo will check to see if your papers are in order when driving past Carlisle.

      The latest effort is just a more complicated version of what’s already on offer’ meaningless gestures to give the impression of more powers & more responsibility.

      The reality is that even of these powers are ever granted, they will never be used because of the asymmetric effect upon taxpayers.

      The only folks who really are too stupid are badge leader Ms. Lamont & North British Labour in Scotland.

    6. Alt Clut says:

      Thank you ‘WINGS’ for your determination and insight !

      So how is this likely to play politically ? On the face of it SLAB has given us an ‘open goal’ as they have nothing at all to offer. It’s independence or worsening marginalisation and increasing attacks by any combination of Westminster parties that form the next UK government.

      Labour leaders would have served their own mercenary interests better by saying nothing, and it’s likely that many of their own supporters will see straight through the smoke and mirrors.

      Thank you Johann and friends for helping us along again !

    7. Linda's Back says:

      At FMQs it was stated that rather than giving Scotland power over 40% of its revenues under Labour’s proposals the true figure is only 26%

    8. Macart says:

      It is a bushy tail isn’t it?

      Cute wee thing. Not as nice as the red squirrel, but nice. 🙂

    9. west_lothian_questioner says:

      It’s a con.. all of it… that’s the same bloody squirrel as the last time… somebody somewhere must think there’s a zip up the back o’ my heid!!!!

    10. Arbroath 1320 says:

      I wonder, does the squirrel have a view about Devo Nano here?

      Perhaps the squirrel might be able to come up with some views about devolved powers that would work and have somehow been missed by Lamont and her motley crew. Come to think about it I think naebd has already been discussing this exact possibility with the squirrel. 🙂

    11. Jamie Arriere says:

      Ah, then we’ll have a squirrel tax based on the size of their tails. Unlikely that the little bastards will flit to England, unless they can fly, drive or hitch-hike!

      Which page is that on?

    12. Thomas William Dunlop says:

      Now I begin to understand why “red” squirrels are on the way out.

    13. handclapping says:

      If you / they carry on like this I’m applying for a shotgun licence. Bloody American tree rats!

    14. AnneDon says:

      @Bill Fraser

      I think they just found a computer program, fed in a few bits of jargon, and nearly 300 pages spewed out!

    15. alex mckechnie says:

      What would we do with out wings, we’d all be squirells ?
      Lets have some sense again vote YES and sort out the Labour lots once and for all.

    16. Bill Fraser says:


      I can hear it now. ” Go into a darkened room and write as much drivel as you can without really giving anything away or saying anything of substance and the natives wont notice because it sounds good.”

      Too stupid indeed. Too stupid to realise that the public isn’t stupid.

    17. Thomas William Dunlop says:

      No microscope required. For that type of instrument you need something physical to observe. From what I understand the feck all substance to this document.

      What we have here is a magic trick or a slight of hand trick. i.e. a con trick devised to decieve gullible into believing as something magical or otherwise has happened.

      However, the veneer is so thin, you would have to be really stupid to believe that anything new in this

      No wonder a lot of the unionist commetatariat/ cheerleaders have been felt completely let down by this, and are mostly silent or indifferent to it.

    18. Jack Sloan says:

      Squirrels at least squirrel away nuts for rainy days and winter. Something Gordon Brown might have done if he had any nuts!

    19. Mosstrooper says:

      Nice pair of squirrels I must admit…Naw, have to go with my first choice, beaver.

    20. Desimond says:

      ‘La Mont’ is French for ‘Squirrel’

    21. Robert Kerr says:

      Jack Sloan.

      Gordon doesn’t have nuts.

      He is nuts!

    22. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Don’t you just love Labour, the party of the people for the people.

      While Stu does his usual high calibre examination and destruction of this so called new powers for Scotland garbage there has also been some high powered examination by a group of academics including the one, the only Professor John Curtice.

      Not only is our beloved future “leader” having her long awaited commission report debunked by a group of academics but we also have this news today about the latest opinion poll carried out by Stu’s favourite opinion poll company, Panelbase.

      Sorry Stu for invading this thread so early with these links. 🙂

    23. ronnie anderson says:

      @west_ lothian_ questioner 1.32, ( same bloody squirrel )

      aye but has a differant outlook noo, its faceing in oor

      direction, it must have read the Rev,s disection lol.

    24. Onwards says:

      Obviously Labour doesn’t want Scotland to have any area in which we could compete effectively with the South East of England for business.

      But what about cheap power?
      The huge offshore windfarm just announced will generate almost 2GW.

      It doesn’t make any sense to me why the Scottish Government doesn’t have a public stake in projects in which half the value comes from granting the planning permission in the first place.

    25. Murray McCallum says:

      The Labour Party’s Devoid document has the clear purpose of chaining the Scottish Parliament within the UK. Zero ambition or vision.

      In the event of a Yes vote, I struggle to see why anyone who backs this document could possibly be included in the Scottish negotiating team around settlement terms with the rUK government.

      This is on the basis of basic intellect as well as seeking the best settlement for Scotland.

    26. Robert Peffers says:

      Tree Squirrels = Tree Rats, as opposed to Three Squirrels = three rodents and one of them a Ginger Rodent. Am I the only one to detect a feeling of utter desperation creeping into the Better Together camp? I hope Her Majesty’s Stationary Office has ordered a decent number of blank P45s for after independence day use. There will be a large number of former journalists, broadcasters,MEPs, MSPs,MPs and political commentators looking for new work. Mind you they shouldn’t need new passports to get past Ms May’s razor wire and armed border guards at the more accessible border crossing points. They probably won’t be able to leave from the bombed Scottish airfields, though.

    27. Robert Kerr says:


      No point in SG investing. All income is remitted to Westminster and we get pocket money.

      That is the whole point of childcare investment to empower women to work to increase tax take to fund the childcare.

      No point till we are free to keep our own money.

    28. Muscleguy says:

      I like squirrels!

      I’m reliably informed that squirrel is very tasty. How would you like yours prepared?

    29. X_Sticks says:

      That’s no squirrel. It’s an elephant in disguise!

    30. G H Graham says:

      The wind & wave projects are fantastic for Scotland. However Lockheed Martin is building the sub sea array for the Pentland Firth project.

      We need the capacity in Scotland from Scottish companies because that’s where the real manufacturing value comes from. And then we can sell it to other countries too.

      It takes years to get back the skills once they leave.

    31. sionnach says:

      Thomas William Dunlop says: No microscope required

      I think it’s one of those quantum physics things. By the act of looking at a particle, you destroy it. Precisely what Stu’s done here.

    32. heedtracker says:

      “Fall’s well short” of what Scottish electorate want says Professor Professorson at the University of Professors, Glasgow. In other non news ” I like nuts” says cute squirrel, bears spotted poopin in forest, 99.9% Scotland say let football fans of Glasgow go apeshit anytime anywhere and now back to London, where important things happen, yours honestly, BBC in Scotland.

    33. Muscleguy says:

      Just a point Rev, to see in the nano scale you really need an electron microsope, though a confocal can in some circumstances get down that small.

      So your only real option as you surmise is a more powerful electron microscope or even a scanning tunneling microscope that can image and manipulate individual atoms. That might just do it. Beyond that you are into high energy physics and a cyclotron would be minimum required. I understand there’s a moderately powerful one at Daresbury.

      I learned to do electron microscopy (transmission, ultrathin plastic sections) for my honours thesis and continued for much of my PhD. I am also experienced in many forms of light microscopy and tissue and sample preparation for same including 3-dimensional reconstruction of serial or semi-serial sections. Should you find something more substantial I have access to tools that may be suitable.

    34. naebd says:

      “Bloody American tree rats!”

      Hiy waait a minute. Grey squirrels came here looking for a better life for themselves and their children. they work harder than indigenous Red squirrels and so are more successful – not their fault the locals are lazy. They contribute to the arboreal manure supplies, which results in increased growth (of flora). And they enrich our boring whitebread squirrel monoculture.

      I for one blah blah blah.

    35. naebd says:

      “I’m not a squirrelist” – let me stop you there Nigel Farage.

    36. Stew says:

      I cant believe how quiet its been regarding media coverage of this document. As bad as it is, surely SLAB themselves would be trying to spin it in some way. It is afterall theyre answer to the scourge of nationalism.
      And whats happened to the dancing eyebrows, he’s been very conspicuously absent from our screens for a while. Have his frothing tirades finally been recognised as repetative drivel and elbowed aside to the dark quiet Better Together meetings where nobody can hear him.

    37. Andy-B says:

      You do realise that the said squirrel, is in Margaret Curran’s words a “furriner” unlike the Red squirrel.

      O/T National Express coach company is giving a 50% to anyone going to Stirling for armed forces day, National Express said the hoped to pack the event out.

    38. heraldnomore says:

      Get some red ones Stu, squirrels that is.

      Some of us remember when Labour were red.

      And when we look back a generation hence some of us will tell tales to our grand-weans that once there was a Labour Party, socialists to the core, held Scotland in it’s grip. They won’t believe us though.

      Then we’ll show them pictures of the tooth fairy, JoLa the Red.

    39. X_Sticks says:

      G H Graham says:

      “The wind & wave projects are fantastic for Scotland”

      Not sure I’m convinced about the propeller type tidal turbine. There’s a Norwegian design which I’ve seen which is a kind of Archimedes screw – looks potentially more robust, and probably cause less grief to wildlife.

    40. gordoz says:


      Amazed at the coverage NNS Poll shift towards YES is getting on State Broadcaster and STV today.

    41. The Man in the Jar says:

      Would you not need something like the Large Hadron Collider to detect anything of value in Labours document?

      To be fair the Labour Party will try to spin it faster than the collider ever could.

    42. Appleby says:

      How come everyone and their dog had an opinion in print half an hour after (and in some cases before) the white paper came out but when this comes out there’s a strange silence and wait…?

    43. Appleby says:

      Obviously I mean the “usual suspects” in the media and politics and not your good selves, Rev & the bunch here.

    44. Dorothy Devine says:

      OT but I have had a discussion with a dear friend who has swallowed hook ,line and sinker the too wee too poor and presumably too stupid line – ok she reads the DT so perhaps not getting the widest perspective.

      I told her about Wings and Newsnet in the hope that a little balance in her reading might persuade her otherwise.

      So Little Flower ,there is a welcome waiting for you on Wings – hope you visit and meet some good folk!

    45. cearc says:

      Red Squirrels? In the labour party? Surely they would be slung out.

      Labour squirrels are much more likely to be Grey.

    46. Andy A says:

      Devo Pico, anyone ?

    47. ronnie anderson says:

      Microscope,s are to wee, Hubble telescope,s much better

      it sees through blackholes tae.

    48. Gillie says:

      bookie from hell says: “Financial Apartheid”

      Bang on the money there.

    49. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

      @ronnie anderson says:
      @west_ lothian_ questioner 1.32, ( same bloody squirrel )
      aye but has a differant outlook noo, its faceing in oor

      This one definitely looks more like a Cybersquirrel.

      It’s just about to start key-tapping on its ‘flickering’ laptop.

    50. Jamie Arriere says:

      “Power with a purpose”

      It must be a typo (cos there’s no discernible purpose there) – surely they mean power with one of these

      The squirrel’s not gonnae like it!

    51. gordoz says:

      O/T :

      Craig Murray blog pointing to same conlcusions as WoS, gets attention of our southern neighbours in comments.

      “Anyway, there is no radical economic choice of any kind on offer to the electorate, and the Tory/Labour divide is one of tribal adherence rather than real policy difference. But for what it is worth, with New Labour only leading in the polls by 4% just a year before the election, all precedent suggests that the Tories will easily recover that within the final year and there will be at least six more years of Tory government.

      I do hope that Scots are quite clear-eyed about that before September. The choice on the ballot is simple: Scottish independence, or Tory rule from South East England for the forseeable future. The rest is smoke and mirrors”

    52. Doug Daniel says:


      VAT – could a VAT reduction in Scotland attract online businesses to relocate here? Maybe not, but if they could – no-no time.

      VAT has to be uniform across an EU member state, so we can only control VAT with independence!

    53. Desimond says:

      Eddie Izzard might do some wacky Squirrel jokes at his Better Together gig

      “So yeah, 2 squirrels are sitting, in fact do squirrels sit or just haunch?.. ‘Look at my mighty suirrel thighs…theyre enormous’, Do squirrels have thighs…anyhows…these 2 Squirrels…ones English, the others Scottish. The English one, who sounded just like James Mason for some strange reason says “Hey you Scottish Squirrel, give me your acorns” so the Scottish Squirrel nutted him”

    54. scottish_skier says:

      Amazed at the coverage NNS Poll shift towards YES is getting on State Broadcaster and STV today.

      Process of Yes normalisation is well under way.

    55. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Get some red ones Stu, squirrels that is.”

      These are all my own squirrel pics. No reds in these parts.

    56. Robert Kerr says:

      Rev Stu

      Look under the bed! There’s always reds under the bed!

    57. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Bloody American tree rats!”

      And what, EXACTLY, is wrong with rats?

      [hovers over ban button]

    58. ronnie anderson says:

      @ Desimond,gonna no provide Izzard wie funny material,he

      might get a audence.

    59. Muscleguy says:

      I’m with you Rev. Stu, rats are lovely animals, the domestic or lab type anyway. I wouldn’t try and make friends with a wild one though.

      I’m also on record as not being off the prospect of eating rats, or squirrels. I draw the line at mice. Having professional experience of the muscular content of various small mammals (and sheep) there simple isn’t enough meat on a mouse to bother with. A decent sized rat on the other hand is much meatier. On a par with a quail certainly. Your squirrel would be more equivalent to a partridge I think.

    60. gordoz says:

      Rev –

      Is there even enough substance to Devo Nano for it to be considered as ‘smoke and mirrors’ ??

      Or are they really that lazy ?

    61. Seasick Dave says:


      A decent sized rat on the other hand is much meatier.

      Tread warily…

    62. Desimond says:

      I thought it was called Devo Nano as in “Nano Nano” given its a big pile of ‘Shazbot’.

      Mis-spelt Mork & Mindy references…you’re welcome!

    63. CameronB says:

      One tax rate across the UK, resulting in the need for regional assistance to compensate for differences in regional economic activity.

      Whitehall was advised by a Royal commission at the end of the 1960s, to implement local income tax and decentralise political power. The Heath government bottled it and stuck with a grossly out-of-date rating system, which was then replaced with the Poll Tax, which the Royal Commission had strongly recommended against.

      HMG does not have the people’s interest at heart as they do not work for the people. They work for the Crown.

    64. Macandroid says:

      @ Jamie Arriere

      That’s no a porpoise – unless that’s exactly what you mean 🙂

    65. call me dave says:

      Robert Kerr

      Like that one. 🙂

      Must have missed the poll news on BBC radio?

    66. Helena Brown says:

      Bumped into a red squirrel in the woods not far from the house, I was really shocked because we have nothing but grey squirrels everywhere else. I have nothing against grey ones, live and let live but the red one is a bonny animal and should be given all the protection an Independent Country can.
      As for the Labour Party, time for extinction, no longer fit for purpose.

    67. Grouse Beater says:

      All this debate about red squirrels demanding they run their own territory and grey ones saying Scotland has been theirs for decades has me wondering if I should establish the Aboreal Party.

    68. Jamie Arriere says:


      Well it says it’s a finless porpoise and obviously is not found round these shores

      The fact that it has a face like an arse is another unfortunate coincidence

    69. Fiona says:

      for example, all taxes distort markets to some degree

      Spot the neoliberal economic assumption smuggled in to this document!

      Pitiful, from a so called Labour party

    70. galacennalath says:

      cearc says:
      Red Squirrels? In the labour party? Surely they would be slung out.

      Labour squirrels are much more likely to be Grey.


      And dare I suggest many people view the grey ones as simply vermin?

    71. Patrician says:

      That squirrel obviously belongs to the Nu-Squirrel party in Scotland, The old Squirrel party, much missed now, was full of reds.

    72. a.ure says:


      Devo-nano has suddenly and irretrievably become Devo-id, it contains the sum amount of FUCK all.

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