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Safe under the watchful eyebrows

Posted on December 05, 2013 by

Last night’s edition of Scotland Tonight saw a clearly nervous, rambling and seemingly well-refreshed ex-Labour spin doctor Simon Pia called upon to defend “Better Together” chairman Alistair Darling (“as good a frontman as I can imagine to save Britain”, said the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson in that extraordinary accent of his) from a series of attacks by his own side over his stewardship of the No campaign.

simonpia

Pia played the usual cards that Labour types do when called upon to defend a man who is now distrusted by a majority of Labour voters. Darling was “substance not style”, a serious man with “cross-party appeal” (if you exclude Labour, the SNP and now seemingly a lot of Tories) who had “filleted” the White Paper (without reading it or understanding the one page he did look at) and saved the nation in 2008 “when we looked into the void”.

But not everyone shares Pia’s view of Darling’s integrity and competence.

Labour loyalists across the UK had leapt to join Pia in defending Darling against the Tory criticisms. “Dull but reassuring”, said the New Statesman’s chief Labour cheerleader George Eaton. A “safe pair of hands”, said Labour List, claiming the Tories were simply attempting to rubbish Darling because they were scared of having a “formidable foe” in Parliament after the referendum campaign.

They may, like us, have missed a piece in this weekend’s Sunday Herald that for some reason didn’t make it onto the newspaper’s website and therefore escaped wider attention. (Unusually we didn’t buy a copy, not being in the mood to wade through page after page of gloomy coverage of the Clutha tragedy). But the author, Ian Fraser, has now posted the full unedited version on his own blog, and we suggest Simon Pia gives it a once-over, because it makes sobering reading.

It’s a long and involved story involving lots of complicated financial shenanigans, which is well worth reading the whole of if you have the time and understanding of such affairs, but we’ll try to strip it down to the brass tacks.

dangerous

In late November several media outlets carried disturbing stories about the Royal Bank of Scotland forcing a number of basically-healthy small and medium-sized businesses into insolvency for its own financial gain, in a scheme now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

In essence, it’s alleged that fundamentally-sound companies which needed some short-term help from the bank during the economic crisis were ravaged by crippling fees and charges from RBS’s supposed rescue team, the Global Restructuring Group (GRG), which were designed firstly to extract cash quickly for the bank’s balance sheet but ultimately to collapse the business so that its assets could be bought over cheaply by RBS subsidiary West Register.

“Businesses which that have had their accounts transferred to GRG, of which the Sunday Herald has spoken to 60, compare the experience to being mugged by a ‘hit squad’. Once there, they are hit with extortionate extra fees, charges and higher interest rates on loans, none of which are conducive to recovery. 

An email leaked to the Sunday Times suggests West Register developed an ‘appetite’ for certain types of developments, while the May 2009 document revealed it was targeting offices, retail and industrial premises, pubs, hotels, nursing homes, car dealerships and hospitals.

There is [a] perception the bank set out to ‘purposefully distress’ business borrowers to put them in GRG and ‘subsequently take their assets for West Register at a discounted price.'”

What none of the stories either knew or chose to mention, however, was that the heart of the plan was conceived and approved by Alistair Darling.

darlingreduced

Ian Fraser’s story notes:

The scandal owes its origins to an over-riding strategy signed off by prime minister Gordon Brown and chancellor Alistair Darling in February 2009. It was approved by UK Financial Investments, a vehicle for holding the taxpayer’s stakes in RBS and Lloyds. The aim was to bring about a turnaround of RBS as quickly as possible in order to ‘flip’ the bank back into the private sector at a profit within three to five years of the bailouts (so by 2011-13).

To achieve this, the government and UKFI ordered the bank to focus on short term maximisation of profit and shareholder value. 

And Darling is familiar with GRG. He spent two hours being briefed on GRG’s activities by Derek Sach, who has run GRG since 1992, in January 2010, but is thought to have failed to asked the right questions about its modus operandi.

In short, then: Alistair Darling devised a strategy to get RBS back into the private sector as fast as possible in order to save his own political skin after he failed to foresee the economic crash. He was briefed on the underhand, immoral methods that would be used to achieve that end (or, at best, was too inept to appreciate them), and gave them his approval, leading to catastrophic and possibly criminal damage and destruction for countless small and medium-sized businesses across the UK.

Those, readers, are the “safe hands” lauded by Simon Pia and his Labour chums. That’s the sort of integrity and trustworthiness you can expect from the man who tells us the Yes campaign’s sums don’t add up. (But who never misses a trick on his own expenses claims.) This is the man who says we’re only safe in the UK.

“Comatose”? “Dreary”? If only.

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    82 to “Safe under the watchful eyebrows”

    1. desimond says:

      He must have a really really comfy bed to allow him to be able to sleep at night!

    2. Juteman says:

      Its strange how the Labour faithful complain about the Blue Tories using Red Tory policies. Bedroom Tax, Atos etc, and now this. It must be jealousy.

    3. Murray McCallum says:

      “In short, then: Alistair Darling devised a strategy to get RBS back into the public sector as fast as possible …”
       
      Rev Stu – I think that should read “private sector”?
       
      Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are clearly all talk and inaction. They talk a good boom and hide away and smear during the bust. Much of the financial crisis seems down to traditional retail and corporate banking – poor loans and insurance made in a lax regulatory environment.

    4. gordoz says:

      Saw Pia’s performance last night all the usual cultured bluff and gusto about ‘respected chancer’ ‘safe pair of hands’.
       
      Sorry it does not wash Brown & Darling as a cuddly popular  ‘Music hall’ double act does not wash. THE BANKS FAILED ON THEIR WATCH remember light touch regulation ? More like no regulation at all – casino free for all (socialism ?) and now we hear about these further corrupt financial machinations.
       
      Simon Pia exposed himself again (ooh errr) as a Labour luvvie and nothing else nothing of substance. Rubbishing the White Paper (in cahoots with the eyebrows) when the NO side have still produced no future plan whatsoever, nothing , nada !
       
      And MSM keep playing the Unionist party line by ignoring this fact.
       
      ‘Absolutely the same together’, no progress at all, no end of recession, no need ‘we’re not being challenged on this hurrah !!’
      Indeed if the Lords is anything to go by you can forget DevoMax! absolutely no fucking chance folks.
       
      Powerful stuff Rev – wish this would get on to the TV but wont.

    5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Saw Pia’s performance last night all the usual cultured bluff and gusto about ‘respected chancer’”

      Now there’s a Freudian slip.

    6. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      AD and Broon, gave the keys of the bloodbank to the vampires of RBS.
      So what possible motivation could they have had to do so?
      I go for ineptitude and total unawareness that they were being shafted, Royally, by the spivs in suits.
      Remember Broon bought into original free market lack of regulations which allowed the original banking catastrophe which in nowhere near to be solved yet.
      So AD major banking scandals with his sticky paws all over it.
      The City really loves his type of financial naivety.
       
       
       
       

    7. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Rev Stu – I think that should read “private sector”?”

      THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT DOES SAY, YOU MADMAN.

    8. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      I smell the imminent implosion of the NO campaign, maybe before the end of January.

    9. Craig P says:

      It’s this line that stands out:
       
      the government and UKFI ordered the bank to focus on short term maximisation of profit and shareholder value.
       
      A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put some long term planning in place? Nah, just more of the same that got us into the mess in the first place.

    10. X_Sticks says:

      Bugger (the Panda) says:
      “I smell the imminent implosion of the NO campaign”
       
       
      Me too BtP. Just saying that very thing over on NNS last night.
       
       
      It’s not just the No campaign, it’s the whole ‘Scottish’ labour party.
       
       
      What will westminster do when it all goes mammaries up? Who can they draft in to take the flack and the fall next time around.
       
       
      Isn’t it fascinating to watch though! Pass the popcorn!

    11. theycan'tbeserious says:

      Whenever I see Darlings face, here his voice or here his name two words pop into my head….ODIUOS and SHYSTER……I can’t think why?

    12. Les Wilson says:

      I have never assumed that Darling was anything more than an inept Councillor who has got above his station and his abilities, really working on a wing and a prayer. 
      Whatever you may think of Gordon Brown ( I think he was a disaster ), he was Darlings boss, however when the inkling of a disaster was looming he started to distance himself from Brown, effectively stabbing him in the back. He was starting to speak against some of Browns policies and for that was to safe him, ( as Chancellor !) the worst of the flak.
      This was noticed as no one really liked Brown, eventually his deceit against Brown was spoken as his ability to tell the truth and somehow he became rather popular for doing so. He had managed to manoeuvre himself into a semi popular position and Brown got almost all of the blame. Job done, he saved a reputation of sorts.
      As the realisation that we were going to have an Indy Referendum, the Unionists started to look for someone who they thought at least, be respected and people would listen to. They chose Darling, he was proclaimed as the Unionist messiah, someone who would deliver a NO vote for Westminster. However, he never deserved his reputation, it was just manufactured, the observant would have recognised that, but hey, they did not care, they had a figurehead.
      So what they chose was a man who was of dubious good as a Councillor in Edinburgh, a man who as Chancellor SHOULD have seen the crisis coming but didn’t, a man who stabbed his then friend and boss in the back to save his own skin, AND allowed the Banks poor regulation to continue, thereby allowing the RBS HBOS and others disaster to happen.
      So, when you look at this man, there is only one motivation and that is for self serving, and he has failed in all his positions of authority. I guess that I for one am rather happy he leads the NO campaign, as his job here will assist the YES vote more than most, given his track record. 

    13. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      X_Sticks
      Ghostbusters?

    14. Andrew Morton says:

      O/T following our discussions yesterday about guiding the lurkers at the Scotsman bear pit over to Wings, NNS, etc. I have started a long term campaign to post a list of sites together with the reasons for looking at them. I’ll be doing it only a couple of times a day to avoid accusations of spamming. hopefully it will start to get through.
       
      I posted a couple of times last night and almost immediately one of the astroturfers posted a comment along the lines of, “Nothing to see here folks, step away from the Truth Machine!”

    15. Dan Watt says:

      I was arguing till late last night on the Better Together Facebook page and all I really have to say is, the supporters of better together cannot be reasoned with, cannot be bargained with and they absolutely will not stop, until yes is dead. It was exhausting and demoralising.
      Mr Pia, drunk as he clearly was, doesn’t care what other people say about AD. None of it really matters, at least to the hard core of better together’s support. The only people that will hopefully be put off by him and BT’s lie machine, are the don’t knows. I really hope we see plenty of them coming over to us next year.
      I’m sceptical that there are any real problems within BT. We’ve already seen that it basically exists only on paper anyway, with Blair McD and AD its only real public figures. The real problem with BT, so far as I see it, is the relentless and unashamed backing it receives from our wonderful MSM.

    16. Luigi says:

      Ah, power without responsibility.  Way to go, Darling!
       
      I really do think that you and your chum, McCavity Brown, should be held to account for past dirty deeds.  And I am not referring to the ballot box. 

    17. gordoz says:

      Anyone heard from Blair MacDougall ? (went missing last night )
      Not prepared to defend Alistair ? (If we ingore, it will all go away)
      Forgot – just realised he had Tuba practice last night
      (Buff, buff; fruff, buff; buff, fruff, fruff    rudolph the red ……. ah forget  it.)

    18. call me dave says:

      This excellent article must torpedo Darling as a credible player in the referendum as well as putting a shot across the bows of those touting Gordon Brown to pick up the cudgels for better together.
      The present SG team is the one to get us out of these draconian social policies that attack the ordinary person in Scotland and lead on to independence.
      O/T
      Autumn statement.
      Lots of shovel ready projects for England . Is that not a Swinney  plan from last year. It was rubbished and scorned then but OK now for down South, funny old world init.
      Jackpot for the regions. 
      Nuclear power station for Wales
      Science facility in Edinburgh (nod for Mr Higgs)
       
       
       

    19. stonefree says:

      Was it me or was Pia “tired and slightly emotional”?….Because he seemed a bit
      And it wasn’t as if the presenter gave him a hard time
      I do wish they and including GK could differentiate between SNP and the Yes Campaign

    20. gordoz says:

      Jesus just saw this attached to Pia’s picture Rev –
       
      “What the Hell ? There’s tonic in this”
       
      (Nearly fell off ma chair laughing / it was a bit like that last night)

    21. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      OT
      The Scottish Farmer has just delivered a full broadside at the Con Dems over a £200 million CAP reform payment supposed to be from Bruxelles to Scotland
      “I did not think Defra, at its worst, could have done Scotland more damage than Owen Paterson did a couple of weeks ago with his handling of the CAP reform uplift of circa £200m that Brussels allocated to Scotland in order that its policy of EU convergence would be closer by 2015.”
       
      A Carmichael is called “wet behind the ears”
      http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/opinion/columnists/farmers-faith-destroyed.22817141
      I guess that’s the farming vote going to YES now.

    22. Rubberbelly says:

      Why are so many labour politicians “moral compasses” stuck pointing due self?

    23. desimond says:

      Anyone else thinking of Rev I,M Jolly drinking the Gin at Last Call and slurring “This is lovely water..where did you get this water?”

      O/T..O2 just telling me calls to Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man no longer included in national tariff…has the break up began?

    24. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      FYI
      There is another banking scandal, possibly bigger than the LIBOR fixing one, concerning fixing of exchange rates. This is being trailered by a German Newspaper with info from Deutche Bank and pound to a pinch of shit, RBS will be in it up their oxters.
      I suspect that the US authorities will lock up some of the City spivs this time.
      All developed on AD’s watch and encouraged by G O.

    25. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Apologies if this from Newsnet has been posted already
       
      Meanwhile Mr Darling was at the centre of another expenses story when details emerged of hundreds of thousands of pounds in payments he had received for making speeches.

      According to the Herald, Mr Darling – who is still an MP – has been paid more than £170,000 for after dinner speeches, including more than £30,000 for addressing two meetings in a single day.

      The Labour MP hit the headlines at the height of the MP’s expenses scandal after it emerged he had ‘flipped’ his official home address to maximise his expenses claim.

      The Labour MP came under fire after it emerged he had designated four properties as his second home in four years.  He also employed an accountant at taxpayers’ expense to complete his self-assessment forms.
       
      Mr Darling, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, also claimed parliamentary expenses for a flat that he let to tenants while also claiming living allowances for his grace and favour home in Downing Street.

    26. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      http://qz.com/132027/is-this-the-next-libor-scandal-european-regulators-are-probing-foreign-exchange-market-manipulation/
      apropos exchange rate fixing. I wonder if AD knows about this shit filled balloon which is about to burst and this, plus other stuff, is making his cloaca incontinent.

    27. Tasmanian says:

      Oh gosh. I remember reading about these schemes in Private Eye a few years ago. A single organisation acting as auditor and declaring that a business must be dissolved, and then acting as an administrator and selling off the business’ assets, making a profit both ways. Massive conflict of interest. But from memory it was consultancy firms like KPMG which did this. Damn you, Private Eye, for not publishing your articles online, or we could quickly check!

    28. X_Sticks says:

      @BtP
       
      It’s Yesbusters they’ll need to call!
       
      I have a funny feeling that the phone line will just ring and ring….

    29. call me dave says:

      Dave McEwan Hill
      But they are all the same, looking for a reputable unionist politician from Westminster to bolster the NO’s is no easy task.  He’s making hay before the sun sets on what is the union.   
       
      Like Fu Manchu says. .  we have not heard the last of bank swindles and frauds
       
      The Icelanders put the culprits in the clink, and their return to some sort of solvency was painful but quick. We will suffer for years to come inside the UK.  Quick exit route is independence and some honesty put back in the system.

    30. gordoz says:

      Call me Dave  –
      Second that !

    31. Macart says:

      Trust? Trust is it?
       
      I’d rather trust a starving wolverine with the care of my pet bunnies, than trust a word out of Darling or Pia’s mouths. As for the serious man with cross party approval? 😀
       
      NO what you have is a cross party accommodation as to who is fit to carry the can for the BT car crash. If BT were doing well it was going to be pats on the back all round for the tory led quorum. If BT was in crisis (as now) the knives would come out and Darling would be gutted publicly to save face. When even the unionist press are regularly printing stories on just how painfully negative the BT campaign is, then you know how badly they are doing. I’m also willing to bet private polling is beginning to show a looming disaster for BT.

    32. Pity none of this will appear in the MSM.  Neutral media would = 90% Yes vote next year.  🙁

    33. caz-m says:

      I think you’re being a bit unfair by suggesting that Frazer Nelson’s accent is “strange” and probably the worst Scots accent you ever heard.

      Have you heard Scottish born reporter Martin Patience. The China correspondent for the BBC has got to have the worst Scots accent you ever heard.

    34. Do we have any feedback from the Unions? This was a Labour Government, that was condoning workers losing their livelihood.

    35. Norrie says:


      O/T
      live discussion of FMQs at noyzup
      http://www.ustream.tv/channel/noyzup

    36. Linda's Back says:

      It never  fails to astonish me that Alistair Darling’s role in the disastrous RBS / AMRO bank takeover has been airbrushed out of history.

      It was the UK regulatory authorities headed by Chancellor of Exchequer Alistair Darling that had the powers to investigate the RBS / AMRO take over  but ignored fact that no  due diligence was done by RBS on a deal worth £49 billion before they gave its approval for world’s biggest bank take over  deal that brought about the collapse of the Royal Bank.
       
      At the time Fred Goodwin was an adviser to Alistair Darling as Chancellor, and was still a member of a key Treasury body advising Labour months after the banking crisis and quitting RBS

      In a BBC Today Programme Lecture on 2nd May 2012, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King criticised the lack of action by Alistair Darling and the last Labour government in the earliest days of the banking crisis when the first UK Bank, sorry English bank, Northern Rock, failed, which King said could have cost up to one million people their jobs.  

      Decisive action would have at least mitigated the problems encountered by other Banks including HBOS and RBS some 10 months later. 

    37. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Was it me or was Pia “tired and slightly emotional”?….Because he seemed a bit”

      He was certainly pretty slurry, and all over the place – he got asked about Alistair Carmichael and embarked on some bizarre rant about Belgium. But the second bit might of course just been evasion and misdirection.

    38. gordoz says:

      @ Linda’s Back – I think we’re going for ‘Chancer of the Exchequer’ in future.

      O/T        UNITED WITH LABOUR initiative ?
      Is the ‘United with Labour’ seperate Scottish Labour voice website still active – no new posts since my own on Oct 28th ?
       
      What is going on ?
       
       I thought this was supposed to be their new independent (sorry I know ) vehicle for the Union Case ‘Better with Britain’ ?
      Anyone have any insight ?

    39. Wingman 2020 says:

      The story is more important than the story teller.  

      No matter who they get to tell the story, and what ever emphasis or spin they choose to embellish the story, the ending is always the same.
      The Book of Grim Political Tales.
      1. Westminster and the Union are good for Scotland.
      2. The Oil is running out and not important.
      3. Scotland is poor, wee and stupid. 
      What are the other stories that should be included?

    40. Linda's Back says:

      O/T More Unionists devious activities in House of Lords removing powers from Scottish Parliament.
       
      http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-politics/8428-fury-after-unelected-peers-strip-power-from-scotland

    41. X_Sticks says:

      Pia always seems to be a bit…pia-ished to me. I thought it was his natural state.
       
      I’ve never quite seen the point of Pia existing other than to praise the holy labour party at every opportunity.

    42. liz says:

      Yes I think Darling is being hung out to dry.

      That’s why the tories are distancing themselves from him – they probably got the heads up from their banking chums.

      We have all heard how Darling has become a twitching wreck – he will be the scapegoat and might end up in deep trouble with the law.
       
      BTW I dont know if anyone remembers Brown and Darling selling off the Dunfermline BS over a holiday weekend to Nationwide despite protests from both the SG and the chairman of the company.

      Apparently they had only required a short term loan of £2m which the SG said they would cover.

      At the time I thought -‘asset stripping’. and I also thought bastards.

    43. velofello says:

      Reference the rate fixing scam, reported on the news last night,Deutchte, Citibank, and RBS accused and fines imposed. Barclays were also involved but as they turned whistleblower they were excused a fine.

    44. desimond says:

      This Autumn Statement reads like another country. Cant wait till next years, wonder if Scotland will actually get a mention in that one?

    45. Mr Angry says:

      I have just cancelled my Glasgow Herald after getting it daily for the past 23 years. There onling forum was my reason. They continually block anything that comes near being factual when it contradicts what the unionists are saying. They allow links by unionists but not those trying to show factual such as the one below. http://fullfact.org/factchecks/will_scots_face_1000_in_extra_taxes_under_independence-29286
      No mention was allowed of Deutsche Bank, AG and Citigroup backing a currency union for example. Also not allowed was a link to Labours 2005 defence and strategy policy and on and on.

    46. kininvie says:

      O/T
       
      Two clear confirmations in Nicola’s speech last night in West Lothian that The Yes campaign has decided that it’s the right time to stop being entirely fluffy bunny and to show some teeth. First the ‘where’s the BT together equivalent of the White Paper – where is their prospectus for Scotland if we vote no?’ line, and next a clear message about the consequences of voting No – jam tomorrow, Barnett, etc.
       
      All of which will be familiar to readers of this site (in fact she no doubt used it as a brief 🙂 )
       
      Also the merest mention of Carmichael drew a round of applause and laughter. So a lot of people must have watched that debate.

    47. Molly says:

      funny Gordoz I was wondering the same thing. All eyes on Better Together , meanwhile there is United with Labour.
      Genuine question , Gordon Brown was given air time to promote this group but who is actually backing this ?

    48. msean says:

      Darling must stay,doing a great job lol.

    49. Geoff Huijer says:

      Flipping Darling again eh?

    50. gordoz says:

      Yep you noticed too Molly
      Thought Big Guns Brown was leading this ? Whats happened ? Appears to be a lame duck.
      Surely there’s a story in their somewhere  Rev ? No one’s visiting the website by the looks of it my last post October 28th is still the latest.
       
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-22495174
       
      http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/independence-brown-in-united-with-labour-speech-1-2926889
       
      http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/independence-referendum-gordon-brown-launch-1884522
       
      http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/blog/entry/a-positive-principled-and-forward-looking-case-for-the-union

    51. Would you buy a used car from this man? Hope the police fraud squad throw the book at him. Reverential tones and air-time to Darling sickening in the face of his incompetence.

    52. handclapping says:

      I don’t get why Darling has any reputation.
      As shadow Chief Sec to the Treasury he dreamed up the lax tripartite regulation of the bankers and, when substantive, implemented it,
      at Transport he started HS2,
      at Work and Pensions ATOS and the bedroom tax,
      as Sec agin Scot he took his eye off what the Slab/Slib executive were cocking up and left room for the SNP get to largest party and then
      as Chancer he greenlighted the RBS/AMRO takeover, chose the worst of all worlds solution for Northern Rock, repeated it for RBS and Lloyds and then sacrificed Dunfermline B/S to keep the Nationwide afloat.
       
      IMO he has got a reputation and it is not as a watchful eyebrow nor a safe pair of hands.

    53. Chris says:

      O/T, two related posts on the BBC website
      4/12/2013: Scottish minister Swinney makes ‘no more cuts plea’ to Chancellor Osborne
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-25212902

      Treasury spokesman states:
      “The finance secretary’s claims on fiscal policy lack credibility. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that in the first year of a separate Scotland there would need to be spending cuts or tax rises of £3.4bn to balance the books. The Scottish government would have to raise tax bills by an average of £1,000 a year per household by the end of the decade.”

      5/12/2013 Autumn Statement: At-a-glance summary of key points
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25232742
      “Borrowing at £111bn for this year, falling in 2014-15 to £96bn, then down to £79bn in 2015-16, £51bn the year after and £23bn the year after that.”

      Obviously there is no mention in the article of the 4 December from the Treasury Spokesman (or maybe it was not reported by BBC) of the deficit forecasts for the UK! If they did, they would of course have to acknowledge that IFS analysis would indicate that Scotland is immediately £880m better of in 2016 compared with Scotland’s population share (8.4% of £51bn) of the Treasury forecast for 2016 for the UK.
      If Scotland has to balance the books in 2016 why not the UK?

    54. Brian Powell says:

      It was also a Gordon Brown strategy so he and Darling are in it Together.
       
      The Tories want Brown to replace Darling as head of Together!
       
      The Tories must be loving this, Alistair in their pocket at the Conference, now looking to do a hatchet job on him.
       
      I mentioned many, many months ago that the Tory machine would be watching and waiting.
       
      Normally they would count Scotland lost to them but with the Labour slugs doing their work for them in Scotland (and incidentally Wales), possibly keeping Scotland in the Union, and now the scandals at RBS bubbling up again, they look likely to get Westminster in 2015.

    55. call me dave says:

      handclapping
      The list puts it all ‘better together’ than I can.
      When you reflect on it, he wasn’t the best choice at all but the only choice available that was willing to be the hit man for the Tories.
       
      As for stepping aside to bring on the last minute substitute ‘Broon’.  Remember that there is no love lost between them. Darling would be loathe to go and perhaps be delighted to snipe from the grassy knoll at any opportunity.  
       
      Besides Gordon’s Labour splinter group for NO  has fizzled out after his much promoted launch a while back.  He would find it difficult to change horses from red tory to blue tory now.
      The rest , Lamont  labour etal, realised their initial mistake in being photographed  as part of the tory sponsored  ‘better together’ team and have lost traction and credibility.
      When you look at it two years in it’s a right guddle!
       
      Mr Bateman expresses a view  Darling. link top page.

    56. Tamson says:

      He spent two hours being briefed on GRG’s activities by Derek Sach, who has run GRG since 1992, in January 2010, but is thought to have failed to asked the right questions about its modus operandi.
       
      All very much fits with the pattern of Darling, doesn’t it. McBride’s biog decribes him as someone who often struggled to get to grips with the technicalities of his brief. And then there’s that bizarre day he went around repeating a soundbite which stated Scotland’s population was 6 million, without ever correcting himself.
       
      The guy is simply not very bright. As Les says above, councillor material who got promoted way, way beyond his station. Frightening, really.

    57. CapnAndy says:

      I’ve read in the papers today that some people in the Tory party want to replace Darling with Gove. Now, I know Darling is bad, but are the Tories really that stupid?
      Answers on a postcard please.

    58. Jingly Jangly says:

      Mr Angry
      I hope you told the Herald, The Editor Magnus Llewellin Im sure would like to know that yet another very long time subscriber to what was once a quality newspaper will no longer buy it.

      I took the plunge several months ago along with a mate who had taken the Herald for about 40 years or more, he called Llewellin and told him why he was doing it.

    59. Marcia says:

      Perhaps the reason Darling is getting flack is the sinking poll ratings – October last year the No side commanded 53% in the TNS poll, now only 42%. Yes about 26% but rising with the rest undecided. Despite all the media help be it print or broadcasting the No side are now showing signs of struggling. Shame isn’t it. 🙂

    60. Wingman 2020 says:

      @Mr Angry

      “I have just cancelled my Glasgow Herald after getting it daily for the past 23 years.”
      You can read it online for free.  

    61. Andy-B says:

      I’m not surprised at Alistair Darlings exploits with GRG, the level of clandestine activities at Westminster, regarding corporate business deals is, I presume very high indeed.
       
      I’m more disgusted by Scottish Labour, and there selling out of the Scottish people, and to watch them, systematically dismantle every prinicple Labour was founded on, with every question posed against independence at FMQ’s, is a dagger to the heart, of the socialist inclined Scottish public.

    62. Edward says:

      I see Osborne is giving it large over the ‘additional’ £ 308 million he is giving Scotland
      Mind you its Scotlands money anyway, apart from that is it as a result of Barnett consequential’s from his big infrastructure spend in England?

    63. Edward says:

      The infrastructure plan for England will see £ 375 Billion spent
      Now correct me if Im wrong but Scotland should also see as a result of Barnett consequential’s
      about 8% of that figure coming to Scotland, that should be £ 30 billion…………………………..
      Have I missed anything?

    64. Iain says:

      Darling has no particular expertise: he set out to have a political career and played safe by never going out on a limb on any issue. By the time Blair got elected, he was one of the few who was without influential enemies, and so he got into the cabinet.

      A cheap shot here, but something I always remember about Simon Pia. Prior to working for the Labour Party, he was not particularly well established as a journalist, and at one time he reported on football. Covering an international, he denounced the Scotland striker, Mark Burchill, for lack of alertness and presence of mind because, after hitting a penalty shot against the post, Burchill did not strike the rebound. Pia didn’t know that the penalty taker cannot strike the ball again until after another player has done so. As with football, so with politics.

    65. Kenny Campbell says:

      PWC not KPMG I think were the group often attacked by Private Eye around forced administration and huge admin/interest costs. There was one around a car auction group that came up time and time again. It may actually have been mentioned again in last months edition, probably around the same discussion on here.

    66. wee e says:

      I was watching this on my own, and did wonder about Pia’s state of refreshment: so I’m not the only one who got that impression!

    67. gavin lessells says:

      Saturday Buchanan Street Glasgow leafleting with “Aye Right” leaflets in an attempt to increase interest in this site and others. Everyone seems to think that increasing interest would be a good idea, yes?
      Be around the bespectacled statue at elevenish with stacks of leaflets. Helpers welcome.

    68. Frances says:

      Gavin, can you please send me a link for that leaflet.  I’d like to order some from whoever does the printing.
       
      I also saw Morag saying she handed them out as ‘cards’ do you do business cards too?
      Cheers

    69. Bill McLean says:

      Mr Angry – I gave up on the Herald six months ago. I wish to God everyone with a longing for Scotland’s freedom would too! Some people can’t resist an argument in the threads but you are helping the Herald to gain advertising by doing so. I used to post there but quickly realized that I was not going to convert OBE or McKeown – why bother. If all of independent mind just stopped buying and stopped posting they’d notice soon enough!

      The Scotsman – not worth a comment! Mr Angry – I’m angry too and really fear we are going to lose this referendum. No signs of any bounce – regional breakdown of the latest poll shows all areas of the country below 40% except Lothians at 41%. I really really hope I’m wrong but all the optimistic comments about the pollsters being “wrong” and “not done properly” does not explain why not one poll (1 Panelbase poll excepted but next poll down again) has us doing reasonably well.

      Angry that we appear not to be getting the message across according to all polling. The leading lights in the BT campaign are unintelligent, hypocritical and dishonest  – know flippers and liars but it does not seem to be resonating with the voters.  One appeared to be  drunk on TV last night – we all know their shortcomings but no bounce forthcoming. Don’t know the answer and  I will continue to do my bit but realism is better than saying “it’s just not fair” the day following the referendum and fearing the horrors that will follow. I pray I’m so wrong!

    70. scottish_skier says:

      If you correct the TNS poll for shy factor by using average DK values for all polls, then Yes is 40% and No 42%. Maybe a little optimistic, but then we’ve had Yes ahead (on similar numbers within error) when you ask in a more roundabout way.
       
      Everything says parity is approaching (actually returning to that as that is the long term trend going back to 2000), shouldn’t be long now.
       
      So we’ll enter 2014 with No having lost its entire lead largely by its own actions. Not only that, but with the white paper out, Yes have just about finished warming up.

    71. Bill McLean says:

      Thanks Skier – I hope to God you are right. The prospect of a NO vote terrifies me – not for myself I’m rapidly approaching my allotted term, but for those to follow. Thanks again – I’m always glass half full- sometimes less!

    72. Ken500 says:

      RBS has been manipulating businesses since the 1990’s. Managers became relationship managers often covering several branches. Mortgage management was centralised. It depended on the computer, not the knowledge and experience of the managers. Middle managers were given an offer they couldn’t refuse. Lump sums and early pensions. They came back freelance to sell financial products.

      Twenty year old graduates were recruited to sell, sell, sell. Bonuses and performance related pay led to mis selling. Thatcher deregulated banking and demutualised the Building Societies. The Building Societies were owned by their members. The Banks bought them over and gambled the mortgage books. Other Banks followed suit leading to the banking crisis.

    73. stonefree says:

      In reference to the polls, if I analysed results on the polls I’ve done and that would be about 30, I’d be a right wing unionist, instead of the complete opposite, the questions and the restricted answers  are so loaded .
      Like others have said I worry that there would be a No vote,

    74. Ken500 says:

      Do not believe the Polls. On the doorstep it is more like 30% Yes, 30% No, 30% DK, non voters 10%. The DK’s will not vote No, it will be Yes or they will not vote. The outcome will depend on the turnout, which is expected to be high.

      The vote for Devolution was 75% Yes. 25%. A 60%+ turnout.

      2/3 voted for Scotland to raise and spend their own taxes/fiscal autonomy.

    75. proudscot says:

      Ken500 I agree. I recall the polls in the run-up to the 2011 Holyrood election, when all the MSM were predicting a Labour Party return to power.  Then in the final polls just before the vote, they started to hedge their bets with headlines like, “Too Close to Call” as it dawned on them they were about to be left with egg on their faces.
      Incidentally RevStu, are you not quaking in your boots at the prospect of Darling suing you for all the fact-based criticisms you have levelled at him in your excellent article? No? Didn’t think so!

    76. Mary Bruce says:

      I heard something anecdotally about these complex arrangements with business loans and wondered if anyone with a banking/legal background on here can confirm it (or tell me it is rubbish). What I heard is that when the banks in sign companies up to these loans they include dozens of pages of covenants, (or engineered traps which are nearly impossible to avoid falling into).
      Apparently, or so I am told, these contracts are signed under English law, even if both company and bank are headquartered in Scotland and the contracts are signed in Scotland. The reason for this being that under Scots law covenants are not permissable (ie, as long as your repayments are on time they can’t impose any other terms and conditions).  Can anyone tell me if this is true? And if so, would these sort of contracts, signed under English law still be the norm/legal under independence? 
      It would be good to limit these covenant arrangements, they seem to be a licence for lenders to extract as much money out of businesses as possible.

    77. gavin lessells says:

      Frances
      I have leaflets available
      You can contact me at gavinlessells [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk and we can sort things out.

    78. stonefree says:

      @Mary Bruce
      It would be too complex to answer here but  generally the contract is where the company is based ,but RBS and HboS did on occasions issue under English Law ,However my understanding would be that the contract would be as the conditions prescribed at the time of signing, I would think that would be covered by what is termed the “Four Corners of the agreement”
      Eg RBS did Business lending in England ,with the company (RBS)registered in London

    79. Barontorc says:

      The Electoral Commission set a spending limit for the YES and NO parties to campaign with, but this was to be for a set period prior to the vote date.
       
      Pray tell me, what will/does the Electoral Commission have to say about the acres of press coverage given to the NO campaign, for free? And more to the point,  how does the Electoral Commission regard the level of anti- YES campaign reportage by the same MSM press and BBC/ITV broadcasters?
       
      Is it a level playing field? If not, what is the EC doing about it?
       
      Are both sides being given an equal opportunity to make their case? Has there been a complaint in any form from the EC?

    80. cjmasta says:

      I also used to comment on news sites like the Daily Returd, Scotchman and Glasgow Hairalt but just got annoyed by the pish they tried to punt as news. When I realized I was helping them by simply going on for a look I stopped going there completely.
      Get the word out, don`t fund Scotland`s Better Tethered campaign by paying directly into their pockets, I stopped paying my license fee for the BBC also and it feels sooooooo good. Like a cigarette after sex good!
      Urge your friends and family to do the same, they can play their part in our wee revolution also tell them. If they`re not sure show them examples of how the media are attempting to twist reality to screw Scotland yet again.

    81. Bill McLean says:

      Really agree cjmasta – no poster on the Herald or any of the other rubbish is going to change people like OBE, McKeown  (although they have no vote in the referendum) or the other unionists who post regularly (Kelly springs to mind) so leave them to debate amongst themselves – they’ll soon tire of their own company. As for the Herald itself – none of us are ever going to change editorial policy – it’s owned abroad remember! I had an exchange with the editor (Llewellyn) some time ago in which he said to look forward to better – nothing changed. Gave it a few months then cancelled subscription. In my view the recruitment of Gardham pointed up where the Herald was going.

    82. john king says:

      Barontorc says
      “Are both sides being given an equal opportunity to make their case? Has there been a complaint in any form from the EC?”

      Yes,
      I amongst others have complained more than once to the ODIHR
       about the lack of fair and balanced reporting specifically from the BBC  which as we all know we HAVE  to pay for like it or not (if you want to watch tv that is) and the answer was clear only the sovereign (UK) government have the right to ask for their involvement end of. 
      were on our own.



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