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Wings Over Scotland

Scotland on repeat

Posted on December 08, 2013 by

We must confess ourselves perplexed by the Messianic awe in which much of the Scottish media appears to hold Douglas Alexander. The epitome of the modern career politician (as far as we’re aware he’s never had any sort of job outside politics), Alexander has risen without trace through the Labour ranks, and his Wikipedia profile is unable to attribute one noteworthy achievement to the former minister despite his having held some of the most senior offices of state.


We’re unable to recall a single instance of Alexander ever expressing a view on any subject that was anything other than 100% in line with the official orthodox party position, and in Scotland his name is perhaps most associated with the shambolic conduct of the 2007 Holyrood election.

Nevertheless, for some reason Scottish newspapers appear to regard him as some sort of intellectual powerhouse within Scottish Labour, and the fact that his speeches don’t consist exclusively of tangibly bitter, hate-filled attacks on the SNP also seems to have him marked down as the party’s great thinker.

Which means that roughly every two months we have to endure a vacuous torrent of middle-management duckspeak such as the one Scotland on Sunday has inexplicably chosen to make its front-page lead this morning.

It’s basically the same piece Alexander has written at least half-a-dozen times over the course of the referendum campaign, and it’s worth examining to study the art of saying absolutely nothing at great length, but with just enough eloquence to impress regional Scottish journalists as they translate it into words Johann Lamont understands.

Titled, with no apparent irony or comic intent, “Insight: struggle, solidarity and social justice”, the large bulk of the content is standard-issue Labour boilerplate, with the only notable twist being an introduction quoting some lines from Nobel prize-winning Irish nationalist poet Seamus Heaney, who died earlier this year.

(Irish nationalism, of course, being – despite its infinitely more violent history – the acceptable form of nationalism if you’re a west-of-Scotland Labour MP with a sizeable Catholic vote in your constituency.)

The words of Heaney’s “The Cure At Troy”, says Alexander in a long and pious introduction, endure. You can safely skip the entirety of his next 10 paragraphs, because they’re content-free, faux-solemn padding and puffery (“as a father, a husband, a friend and neighbour and yes, as a politician”), but we include them anyway for the sake of completeness.

“Words that speak of the powerful tensions between now and yesterday, today and tomorrow. What we know and what we want to be, what we think we have learned from our past, and how we believe we will shape our ­future.

Now is a time for a story to be told as a window on our past and a doorway to our future. A story of what we believed in about ourselves and about our neighbours. A story about what we did with our belief.

For the telling of this moment in Scotland’s story, we need more than white papers, political promises, opinions and sound bites. They are but thin descriptions of deeper things. They do not make a nation. They merely say how the nation might be organised, for a while.

So what do I, someone who believes that much must change but that the United Kingdom should remain, bring to this chapter of our nation’s journey?

I bring three things that are at the heart of who I am and why I live my life as I do, as a father, a husband, a friend and neighbour and yes, as a politician. They are not mine alone, but I am part of them.

Struggle, solidarity and social justice – three things that mean for me, we as Scots do better together as part of the family of nations within the UK than we do alone.

Struggle is part of the human condition. Yet for so many people, the struggle is much more than that. It is a daily struggle against grinding poverty, dashed hopes and shattered dreams. And it was awakening to that struggling and suffering that brought me into politics.”

(The privileged son of a Church of Scotland minister and a doctor, it should perhaps be pondered that the right-wing Alexander’s experience of struggle and grinding poverty are roughly on a par with this site’s experience of performing top-level ballet. We’re also not sure he’s the best person to lecture anyone about families – we couldn’t help but note that the word “brother” was conspicuously missing from his “father, husband, friend” etc schtick at the start.)

“That was in Renfrewshire, back in 1982, because of my revulsion at the waste and humiliation of mass unemployment. I had seen my classmates’ parents lose their livelihoods as car manufacturing plant Linwood closed. I took a youthful leap of faith, believing that politics could be a force for good.

As the International Development Secretary in the Labour government – as I witnessed the life-saving work of UK Aid amidst the devastation of post-tsunami Aceh in Indonesia and the refugee camps of Darfur in Sudan – I was affirmed in that original animating belief.


So my questioning of government policy is always: what will this mean for those whose voices are never heard, those for whom austerity is not a phase but a lifelong struggle?”

Questioning of government policy, of course, being an exercise Alexander only ever undertakes when he’s not in government.

“I believe deeply that change is needed on both sides of the Border – and beyond our borders. Right across the UK, Tory economic policy and welfare cuts make many fearful and force choices between heating and eating for still more.”

Labour Politician Is Against Tories Shock.

“And here, the Nationalists’ Council Tax freeze is taking money from the poorest communities while forcing cuts to the public services they need most.”

That’s the Council Tax freeze which was in Labour’s 2011 Scottish election manifesto, of course, and also in the 2012 council-election manifesto, and which as far as we’re aware the party is yet to officially renounce. It has, to the best of our knowledge, no official current policy on local-government funding.


“When the Nationalists suggest their sole motivation is fairness they ignore whole parts of their record and whole parts of the UK.”

Um, the SNP are a Scotland-only party. Most of the UK is outwith their remit.

“Wales, Northern Ireland and great cities like Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester find no place amidst a cultural conceit that holds that everyone south of the Tweed is an austerity-loving Tory.”

A straw man and a red herring rolled into one. Nobody has ever claimed that ALL English people are Tories, though it’s an unarguable empirical fact that they’ve elected Conservative governments for 38 of the last 63 years.

But it’s not the point anyway. None of the places that Alexander lists are having an independence referendum, nor have they ever shown any inclination to do so. They appear to be content to accept whichever government the rest of the country chooses. Perhaps we ought to respect that.

“Instead, they rely on rekindling an outdated sense of victimhood with the claim that Scotland, as part of the UK, never gets the government we vote for.”

That seems to be a plain lie. We’re pretty sure that the SNP hasn’t once claimed that Scotland NEVER gets the government it votes for, as doing so would be self-evidently absurd. Scotland gets the government it votes for roughly 40% of the time.


“This coalition government will have less than eight months of its mandate left to run on referendum day. The polls indicate that the prospect of a change of UK government is real.”

Most analysts, however, reckon it’s a pretty long shot, as do the public.

“And on that referendum day a 16-year-old voting for the first time will have had a UK Labour government for three-quarters of their life.”

Yeah, and look at the state we’re in. Way to recommend Labour, there, Doug.


“As Scots, we understand the difference between anger with a transient Tory government and supporting the permanent break-up of Britain.

The Nationalists say ‘walk away and all will be well’. Yet while the clear majority of Scots, myself included, want change, we do not judge independence as the route to achieve those changes.”

Did we miss the referendum happening? It’s been a tough week.

“Our belief, my belief, is that when we see injustice we stand and fight to change it. For at a deeper moral level, walking away is not and never can be an act of, or the basis for, solidarity.

Nobody’s saying it is. It’s an act of self-preservation, of getting into a lifeboat when the ship is sinking. Doing so does not reduce anyone else’s chances of survival. There are lifeboats for them too. They just have to decide they want to use them.

Solidarity is my response to struggle. It is what we have with the neighbour and the stranger. For me, struggle and solidarity are the bloodstream and the heartbeat of change. Nelson Mandela’s transformation of his country was won by struggle and solidarity long before a parliament had anything to do with it.”

Wings Over Scotland wishes to make it clear that we fully endorse and support any policy of locking Douglas Alexander in jail for 27 years as a potential route towards the transformation of the UK. Or for any other reason.

“So too with progressive change here. The living wage campaign grew from small groups changing lives community by community. Its impact is now resonating in each of the parliaments across the UK but it did not need them to lead the change it began.”

That’ll be the same living wage, presumably, that Labour failed to introduce during 13 years in power, and which more than five million workers are still paid below. The Scottish Government, meanwhile, already pays the living wage to all public-sector staff whose salaries it sets.

“The ideal and the practice of solidarity is what most challenges the Nationalist notion that somehow Scotland needs independence because Scots are better at being fairer than the English, or at least, would be without the English around.

Tell that to William Wilberforce who led the fight to outlaw slavery.

Tell that to Emily Davison and the Pankhurst sisters who fought for women’s rights and equality.

Tell that to William Beveridge and Clement Attlee who created the welfare state.

Tell that to Citizens UK which set up and sustain the living wage campaign today. All of them stood in solidarity with others to bring the change they knew was needed, not just for themselves but for their neighbour and the stranger.”

This section encapsulates a bizarre offshoot of “proudScottery” often found among Labour politicians, which implies that, for example, Wilberforce would have found his fight against slavery impossible had Scotland been outside the UK. It’s a deliberate conflation of correlation and causation, suggesting that things which happened to take place inside the Union happened because of the Union.

Is it Alexander’s contention that an independent Scotland wouldn’t have votes for women or a welfare state, and would still permit slavery? Or is he claiming that the UK only adopted such reforms because Scotland was in it? Either way it’s a stretch.

“Heaney’s poem at its heart is about our connectedness. And it is in nurturing our connectedness with others that we are best able to be who we want to be.”

We’re not sure that Heaney – an Irish nationalist, remember – was saying any such thing, and he almost certainly wasn’t doing so in the context of a UK political union. Fortunately for Douglas Alexander, he’s dead now, so nobody can ask him.

“The United Kingdom today, as a political union, as well as a family of nations, brings Scotland the opportunity of connectedness. Connectedness in the form of deep economic integration – through free trade in goods, services, people and capital – providing wider opportunities for Scottish individuals and companies in a market ten times the size of our population.”

Something, of course, which would be completely unaffected by independence. In terms of trade, Scotland is part of something far bigger than the UK.

“That in turn helps explain why today 450,000 people living in Scotland were born elsewhere in the UK and 830,000 Scots live south of the Border.”

And? Freedom of movement is a cornerstone of the EU, and wouldn’t change.

“As Jim Gallagher argued recently it is also a smart economic strategy for a small nation in a globalising economy competing with countries the size of continents.”

Might that be the Jim Gallagher who was director-general for devolution in the UK government, senior adviser to the prime minister on devolution strategy (2007-10) and secretary of the Calman Commission? We’re not sure he’s the most impartial source.

“It also allows us to manage risks – like the threat to Grangemouth – and shocks – like the collapse of RBS and HBoS – within a larger, resilient economy.”

Wow. It’s almost impressive how diligently Unionists keep banging away about the RBS and HBOS bailouts no matter how many times the issue is comprehensively debunked by experts, relying as ever on the general public’s ignorance of the complexities of international finance to conceal the lie.


“Our economic union means we share a currency, and can pool our taxes and spending in fiscal union. As the Euro revealed, a currency union without a political and fiscal union brings very real risks.”

What the Euro in fact revealed is that such a currency union can withstand even the incredible stresses put on it by having to encompass economies as spectacularly diverse as those of Germany and Greece, let alone two as extremely similar as Scotland and the rest of the UK. The thousands of doom-laden predictions of the Euro’s demise issued by right-wing economists and commentators during the financial crisis continue to have been proven utterly wrong.


“Our fiscal integration in turn demands and sustains a sense of social solidarity through the sharing of risks, rewards and resources on the basis of need rather than nationality. 

It makes sense to spread the risks and the burdens over a larger population with pensions, health and social security able to be supported by general taxation levied across all the nations of the UK.

That social solidarity reflects a moral choice as well as a sense of belonging. We do not walk away from the poor because they happen to be poor in Preston rather than Paisley.”

We already know what this means, of course. Labour have explicitly and repeatedly told us that in the name of “One Nation” (and more to the point, winning an election south of the border), the Barnett Formula will be scrapped and Scotland’s budget will be slashed by billions of pounds so that the money can be sent to England.

“Those three dimensions of union – political, economic and social – are interconnected and you cannot simply cut away the political union and hope to keep the others.

The UK is how we, as Scots, over 300 years, have lived in real solidarity with our neighbours without ever losing sight of who we are or being less able to be what we want to be. We never did become north Britons.”

Except we did – according to the UK government Scotland ceased to exist in 1707.

“The theologian Professor Donald ­MacLeod wrote recently: ‘The burden of proof lies on the apostles of negativity, who have consistently disparaged the last 300 years of Scottish history, as if the union had prevented all progress and sapped us of all self-respect.

“Listening to them, you would never believe that during these years we have successfully negotiated the industrial revolution, produced such world-class writers as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, nurtured leading scientists like Alexander Fleming, John Logie Baird and Sir John Clerk Maxwell and reared outstanding athletes such as Kenny Dalglish and Sir Chris Hoy.'”

Once again, correlation conflated with causation. Would Robert Burns have been a talentless illiterate without the Union? Would Alexander Fleming have been a humble shepherd? Would Kenny Dalglish have had two left feet?

[Also, alert readers have pointed out that Alexander has his Clerk Maxwells confused. The scientist was James, who was never knighted, not his advocate father Sir John. We did helpfully notify the Scotsman’s editor about the error, but 36 hours later they haven’t bothered to correct it.]


“So when people ask what would happen the day after Scotland rejects separation, I say this, we can begin the urgent work to build a better nation. We can be a small nation that does big things.

Just over half a century ago, America resolved to put a man on the moon. Nasa didn’t exist. The science wasn’t there yet. But a decade later Neil Armstrong took that giant leap.

It’s perhaps the best example of a nation setting what the writer Jim Collins calls a ‘Bhag’ – a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’.”

Uh-oh. We sense a theme coming. Though we’re impressed that the US space programme has now somehow joined the ranks of benefits of the Union.

“So having rejected a future involving years of negotiating the putting up of new barriers, and then presumably trying to take some of them down, we could and should turn our collective energies to a more constructive Bhag.

I see a Scottish National Convention beginning in 2015 as a mechanism to discuss not only powers but the purpose of those powers – to chart Scotland’s Bhag for our next decade.”

Yeah, that’s just what Scotland needs and wants in 2015 – another 10 years of obsessing about the constitution. We never fail to be amazed at the audacity of the No side in promising a sincere and in-depth study of Scotland’s devolution needs. It was only in 2009 that they delivered the last one, which after many years of careful deliberation concluded that Scotland should have control over speed limits and airguns and not much else.

We must admit, we’re not sure what dramatic event brought about such a Damascene conversion of so many Unionists to the apparent need for the Scottish Parliament to have powers which the Calman Commission in all its great and august wisdom had decided should remain at Westminster. Oh wait, yes we are.

“Last year, Scottish Labour Leader ­Johann Lamont spoke of her hopes that Scotland could again lead the world in education. For me, today, education – not separation – remains the best lodestar for our nation’s progress.

We struggle to grasp the relevance of education – which has always been independent in Scotland, and will continue to be so regardless of the referendum result – to continued membership of the UK.

Protestant reformer John Knox’s vision of “a school in every parish” was so that young people “could be the citizens we want them to be”. Yet last week’s report by the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) shows Scottish school pupils performance in maths, reading and science has stalled. A recent study revealed that just 2 per cent from the poorest fifth of kids get the Highers to go to the top universities in our nation.

It’s hardly surprising, given the standards of English they’re shown by their newspapers. “PISA” is an acronym and should be written in all capitals. And while we’re here, “Bhag” should either be all-caps (for the same reason) or all-lower-case (if it’s being treated as a word in its own right), not an unholy mix of the two. It sure as hell isn’t a proper noun.

In contrast, notwithstanding Asia’s spectacular rise, Finland – where everyone attends comprehensives – still features around the top of international league tables for educational attainment.”

Oh, right. Did Labour abolish private schools when in power, then?

“Having rejected separation, Scotland could commit to a Bhag involving a decade dedicated to matching Finland’s world-leading school results. That would be a ‘giant leap’ worth pursing over the next decade.”

As it would be in an independent Scotland. The Curriculum For Excellence, an attempt to achieve that precise goal, was initiated by the Labour/Lib Dem coalition at Holyrood in 2002 and implemented by the SNP Scottish Government in 2011. It didn’t require anyone to have “rejected separation”.

“The time to start this conversation about our decade-long goals for post-referendum Scotland is now.

For when my grandchildren ask what I did in the referendum, I want to be able to say that I worked and campaigned to make hope and history rhyme here in Scotland.”

“Hope” and “history” do not rhyme, nor are we aware of any plan to make them do so. We think Wee Dougie may have been reading too much poetry. But aside from that, what the hell is “make hope and history rhyme” actually supposed to mean?

“So I will cast a positive vote for a deep economic union that makes real sense in a globalising economy.

A positive vote for a principled and pragmatic solidarity that shares risks, rewards and resources across these islands.

A positive vote to sustain the deep connections between our political, economic and social unions.

A positive vote for Scotland remaining within a United Kingdom that has changed, is changing and will change again.

A positive vote for a strengthened Scottish Parliament that can deliver Big Hairy Audacious Goals supported by the strength and stability of the UK.

That’s a positive vote for ‘the best of both worlds’. 

Quack, quack, quack.

You can say “positive” a thousand times, but it still doesn’t make it mean No. The only “solidarity” on offer in the UK is solidarity of poverty. And as ever, Alexander dodges the key fact that Labour has no answer to: an independent Scotland and the rUK would both be perfectly capable of electing Labour governments.


Even if you’re naive enough to believe that Labour – whose last 13-year stretch in power saw the gap between rich and poor get bigger, not smaller – are the answer to poverty and inequality, that’s no reason to vote against independence. After all, independence would give Labour two bites at the electoral cherry every time.

We’re not Labour voters, but if we were we’d be noting the fact that Scots haven’t voted for anything resembling the Conservative Party since 1955 and doing the maths. Why gamble against the 60% chance of having a Tory government you don’t want forced on you? If England elects the Tories, how does it help people in Manchester and Liverpool for Scotland to suffer too? Manchester and Liverpool are getting them either way.

In 2014 it’ll be exactly 40 years since Labour last needed Scottish votes to win a UK election, and even then the actual effect was negligible – in practice, Harold Wilson’s 1974 administration needed the Liberals, not the SNP, to have a working majority at Westminster. Independence will NOT abandon anyone in Manchester or Preston or Newcastle or Liverpool to the Tories. England gets whatever government it votes for whether Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in the UK or not.

Douglas Alexander, then, just expended almost 2000 words to say “Vote Labour”. And we’re sure that’s a message he passionately believes in, even if we put our cynicism aside for a moment and assume that it’s nothing to do with the fat six-figure income he’d lose in a puff of smoke if Scotland voted Yes.

We’re just not sure why “Labour Politician Advocates Labour Vote” is suddenly (again) front-page news, or why it marks “the beginning of a new phase” in anything.

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    136 to “Scotland on repeat”

    1. Crag Evans says:

      I read this diatribe from wee Dougie last night and I could not make head nor tale of it. It was like some disjointed ramble of a drunk trying to impress a bored girl.

      if walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then 99% of the time it is a duck.

    2. Peter mirtitsch says:

      I noticed you you didn’t say anything about not doing LOW LEVEL ballet. ..
      Dobbie Alexander (and his sister) annoy the bejaysus out of me. He does a regular feature in the Paisley Depress, and can’t finish a sentence without blaming the SNP for the plagues in Exodus or something similar. ..

    3. faolie says:

      Up wi’ the lark Rev, with an excellent deconstruction as usual. I like this wee speech however, because it’s a POSITIVE CASE FOR THE UNION! Or rather, it’s dressed up as one. But it presents a great opportunity for us to shoot down this ‘impassioned’ defence of the Union and great reasons to vote No, because, as the Rev helpfully points out, most of it is complete bollocks and should appeal only to those who desperately want a reason to vote No.
      And that’s why it’s great. Because if that’s the best they can do, surely we’ve won. 

    4. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Looks as though the well has run dry and it is now t is only iemotion and greetin that’s left.
      I smell the beginnings of the endgame. This could have been written as the last throw of the Naw dice and we have months yet to run.

    5. Caroline Corfield says:

      You know the poorest parts of Newcastle don’t look or feel like the poorest parts of Glasgow. I’m sure the statistics prove poverty of the same level existing in many cities across the UK, but when I see what has been cut already in services, what never existed in Scotland to be subsequently cut, and not least what the priorities of local councils are, there is a real difference in how that poverty feels.

      Newcastle raises council tax from a relatively small area compared with its hinterland. It offers that hinterland facilities which they don’t contribute to, but Newcastle recently threatened not to set an arts budget at all. What it did set was pitiful. It doesn’t have the Burrell or the Art Galleries, it has the Laing, which is about the size of the museum at Paisley. It’s shut swimming pools and leisure centres and libraries just like lots of other places but its full of new PFI schools with sports facilities that open at night to generate income from the public at very reasonable costs, that money goes back to the schools which are academies now, not to the council – it feels like an American idea of ‘social welfare’.  

      Nowhere In Newcastle looks like East Keppoch, nowhere feels like Ferguslie Park. That look and feel affects you psychologically as much as a lack of two pennies to rub together in your pocket does, and add that to the fact the Scottish poor experience the constant denigrated in their press of ‘too wee, too poor and too stupid’ that the rest of us also do. Hope might be that patch of blue between the bars, but what happens to hope when you never feel like looking up even though you’re not in jail?

    6. Neil says:

      Could this be a move for Douglas to replace Alistair?

    7. Marian says:

      When you strip out the Kinnock style windbag stuff from his piece it becomes very clear that these are the words of a man worried that what Labour are presently offering is not going to be enough to win the referendum and the next election(s) in Scotland.

    8. Stuart Campbell wrote: “. . Which means that roughly every two months we have to endure a vacuous torrent of middle-management duckspeak . . ”
      Certainly drives me quackers.

    9. Ted says:

      Blinkered political dogma – try and impress with grand sounding phrases, remember “only Labour can save you from the Tories”, their fervent appeal during the last GE.  Done a fantastic job so far.

    10. Graeme Purves says:

      Douglas Alexander is a sanctimonious bore!

    11. orkers says:

      Someone should stand you a slap up dinner as a reward for wading through that sea of pish.
      You’ll be one of the few that bothers.

    12. Red squirrel says:

      Positive vote for Labour to hold onto their Westminster gravy train.  But positive case for the union? All we get is quack quack quack.

    13. Seasick Dave says:

      Reading it felt like looking at one of those colour blindness cards with the numbers hidden amongst coloured dots.
      You had to squint to find anything of value.
      The ‘hope and history’ rhyme was the best bit.

    14. Holebender says:

      Who the fuck is Sir John Clerk Maxwell? Is he in any way related to James Clerk Maxwell (never knighted) of the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge fame?

    15. Linda's Back says:

       The 11% pay increase explains why Westminster MPs are hostile to independence as they will be out of a job after independence and their cushy retirement part time job at £300 a day in House of Lords will no longer be available to augment their generous pension.
      “Brazen” MPs have given themselves an extra week’s holiday to campaign in the run up to the Scottish referendum contest and that they will only work for 145 days at Westminster next year.
      Last month the Sunday Times reported that each Westminster MP costs the taxpayer £600,000 a year and the total cost of House of Commons and House of Lords comes to £480 million a year.

      So that’s another £40 million pounds a year we will save after independence.

    16. patronsaintofcats says:

      Hmmmm…and the same day in the Observer:
      “Revealed: Labour Party power grab puts old guard back at the heart of election strategy”
      “It is a massive power grab by Douglas,” said the source. “It looks like a return to New Labour tactics and the old caution, with everything driven by focus groups. There will be a massive row about this. Key people have been sidelined.”
      i dont think Dougie will have time to front the BT campaign, too many backs to stab down south.

    17. Owen says:

      Who’s John Clerk Maxwell and what did he get knighted for?

    18. Tamson says:

      Don’t forget Wee Dougie’s awesome record as an election campaign co-ordinator/director. I think he’s had a signiicant role in every Labour UK or Scottish election since 2007, and they’ve lost all of them. He was also, along with Jim Murphy, one of David Miliband’s leadership campaign managers.

    19. Ken500 says:

      This would be the Labour/Unionist Party of illegal wars,redundant weaponry, Trident,tax evasion, banking fraud, lies, electoral fraud. The worse of both worlds. Pathetic.

      Do they really think people are being taken in. Fool the people all the time. Not likely.

      Scotland is now paying off UK debt disproportionately. Oil tax revenues are down because of UK Treasury interference. Osbourne/Alexander increased Oil tax 11% (£2Billion) in the 2010 Budget, so Oil Companies stopped investing and cancelled projects. Taxed at 60% to 80%. Multinationals in the City of London tax evade. HMRC not fit for purpose. Scotland is paying £4Billion on loan repayments on debts it didn’t borrow and spend. The rest of the UK is borrowing and spending £121Billion more than Scotland. £8Billion is going to the UK Treasury from Scotland (unaccounted)

      Deficit is said to be cut £15Billion next year. Where will the money come from? more cuts in essential services? Scotland should only be paying pro rata £1.5Billion in debt repayments. What happened to the £28Billion (with £10Billion liabilities) Royal Mail Pension Fund including Scottish 9% assets. This now becomes a liability. The UK Treasury pushing the debt down the road.

      Scotland raises enough and spends the same £60Billion in – £60Billion out and would be in surplus if Independent. Saving £1.5Billion on Defence. Putting a tax on cheap drink would cut consumption, would save on healthcare and social cost. £1.5Billion = Saving £3Billion.Revenues raised in UK £572Billion. Total spending in UK £693Billion. The UK Treasury is borrowing and spending £121Billion more in the rest of the UK, while Scotland pays for it.

      No austerity in London S/E, no cuts in public spending, budgets protected, 4% unemployment and more borrowing and spending, while the rest of the UK, especially Scotland, pays the price. Worst of both worlds.

      ConDems have cut taxes, especially for the wealthy. ConDems elected to protect NHS/Education have cut funding on both. They are borrowing £6Billion more to fund increased University fees.
      Cut NHS funding in real terms. ConDems are privatising NHS/Education and essential services, costing more. People in the UK have a commitment to NHS and education being funded from taxation.

    20. Holebender says:

      AND, btw, NASA did exist when Kennedy made his speech about going to the moon. NASA was formed in 1958. See

    21. gerry parker says:

      That sort of content is exactly what the word “Drivel” was coined to describe.

    22. Andrew Morton says:

      The pedant in me says it’s James Clerk Maxwell and I don’t think he was ever a knight.
      Oh, by the way, it was 1955 when the Unionist party got more than 50% of the vote.

    23. Ken500 says:

      Alexander disenfranchised Scottish voters in the 2007 Election. Some councils did not receive the postal vote forms in time. They must have been needed in the Central Belt? Gerrymandering and electoral fraud? Votes are non transferrable.

    24. Erchie says:

      You forget Douglas Alexander’s over-riding qualification that make him deserving of where he is.
      He had a father, and that father was connected to Gordon Brown’s father. Typical Labour, more like a crime family than a meritocracy

    25. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      both Ministers, of the Kirk.

    26. scaredy cat. says:

      This man is speaking absolute garbage, but he uses the one argument from the no side that worries me. Many people still believe that we, in Scotland, can help to save the poor in the North of England from Southern Tory voters.
      Scots have great compassion ( just look at our charity giving). The guilt trip could work for them.

    27. All this Labour tripe about “struggle”, often from Establishment stooges who’d shy away from saying boo to a goose. It’s a bit like the Hothersall position on Trident. God forbid that Scots should take an action which will achieve the aim of getting rid of Trident. What then would the Wolfie Smiths of Labour have to “struggle” against?

    28. Taranaich says:

      I’m trying my best. I really am. But as I said somewhere else, this hypocritical lying about how the Scots are selfish and “abandoning” the rest of the UK is far and away the most despicable thing about certain elements of Labour. I try hard, so hard, not to hate people. I don’t think I even hate the likes of Darling. But there’s something particularly hateful about supposedly left-wing individuals who would sacrifice the wellbeing of millions in the name of “solidarity.”
      The ideal and the practice of solidarity is what most challenges the Nationalist notion that somehow Scotland needs independence because Scots are better at being fairer than the English, or at least, would be without the English around.
      This is nothing to do with the English. This is nothing to do with divorcing ourselves from the English people who are suffering just as much as we are. This is everything to do with refusing to enable the monsters in charge at Westminster.  Shame on you for daring to perpetuate the dangerous and damaging strawman that seeking national responsibility and independence is because of some petty grievance with the English people.
      In Alexander’s attempts to exploit and manipulate solidarity between the Scots and English – which already exists, as evidenced by the fact that so many Scots and English folk get along famously – he is effectively enabling the Tories.
      Perhaps I don’t hate Alexander, but I sure as blazes hates what he’s saying, what he’s doing, and everything that he stands for in this twisted caricature of “solidarity.” It isn’t anything of the sort.
      He makes me sick to the core.

    29. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      @scaredey cat
      There are stirring in the NE of England, at academic and non party business level moving to create a general movement about how their region should respond to a Yes vote.
      They see that as their best chance to hitch their wagon, economically that is, to a reinvigorated and booming Scotland. One example offered is the idea of a fast rail link from Newcastle to Edinburgh and beyond.
      I think that makes great sense to me.

    30. gerry parker says:

      @scardy cat.
      I’d take Northumberland any time, Cumberland I’m not so sure of.

    31. Craig P says:

      Remember when Dougie’s sister was touted as an intellectual Titan? Look how that turned out.
      I think Dougie is smarter, in that he always made sure he hung onto the coat tails of a more powerful politician, so as to not expose himself. He will not make the mistake of leading the no campaign, and should Scotland vote Yes, after a short period of behind the scenes negotiation to see if a patron can set him up in the House of Lords, he will use speeches like this as evidence that he wants the best for Scotland (probably with the angle that he hold a ‘broader outlook’ than most SNPs) and will shamelessly attempt to attach himself, like a tick, to the body politic of Scotland.

    32. Ken500 says:

      The Council tax freeze is UK wide. Equal and progressive income tax is supposed to be fairer. Under the UK Treasury there is no equal, fair and progressive taxation because of tax evasion. HMRC is not fit for purpose along with the fraudulent banking sector.Right wing Press and corrupt UK government.

      The Scottish farmers have been defrauded by the corrupt UK gov. Funds especially given to the Scottish farming sector by the EU have been distributed to wealthier farmers in the south. Scottish farmers receives the lowest CAP payment of any country in the EU, as part of the UK. The UK Treasury wanted the CAP payments reduced. During the negotiations the EU awarded Scotland a higher allocation. The UK Treasury took the allocation and distributed it to the wealthier farmers in the south to alleviate the cut in CAP payment. Carmichael endorsed this policy. The UK Farming Minister had the cheek to make a statement about ‘Better Together’ Despicable.

    33. Macart says:

      Alexander knows nothing of poverty or struggle. He along with the rest of Scotland’s Labour MPs fail to recall quite regularly that despite their years of unchallenged and unquestioned power in Scotland they have singularly failed to deliver social justice. They have singularly failed to deliver economic stability or success. They have singularly failed to protect Scotland from the worst excesses of Westminster austerity, opportunism or corruption.
      That Mr Alexander seems content and indeed happy to marry Scotland to a system of governance that that has caused so much pain to the people of Scotland speaks volumes. That the media of our country are complicit in this endeavour also speaks volumes. Bought and paid for comes to mind, joined at the hip through thick and thin Westminster politics and the Scottish media. As the article states he has worked at nothing outside of politics, achieved nothing whilst in politics and has built a career for himself on the backs of an electorate he seems content to see chained to crippling austerity, when there is an option available to lift that particular curse. 
      Party before people and not fit for purpose.

    34. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      @Craig P
      Dougie is not smarter I think, wee rubber lips was a graduate of INSEAD, no mean feat, but Dougie is just mair sleekit and totally untrustworthy.

      He never does anything unless it benefits Dougie, today, tomorrow of next week.

    35. Monty Carlow says:

      “So when people ask what would happen the day after Scotland rejects separation, I say this, we can begin the urgent work to build a better nation. We can be a small nation that does big things.”

      Douglas Alexander explains why we haven’t been doing it for all these years – we’ve been waiting on the SNP government to come along, hold a referendum (against unionist opposition?), so that we can vote No, and then, we can begin the work (now urgent) of building a better nation.

    36. HandandShrimp says:

      I see Douglas continues to use the loaded “separation” word. I have no time for him at all. I doubt there is a more career minded insincere politician in Westminster.  He is more like a young Mandelson than a Mandela.
      I heard on the radio this morning that Professor Higgs is a don’t know who will vote Yes if the UK looks like it might leave the EU.

    37. Alastair wright says:

      Believe it or not Jeremy Paxman summed up why we need to vote yes on the one show this week – he wants to be able to vote ” none of the above” at Westminster elections. Seems to me next September is our opportunity to do just that and if it results in drivel merchants like Douglas Alexander getting a P45 (or whatever WE call them) so much the better.

    38. Wee Jonny says:

      As soon as I read “Nelson Mandela” I stopped. What an absolute prick of a man. 

    39. Craig M says:

      Did I miss something or did Alexander not mention Keir Hardie? He usually does. Must have been an off day for him then.
      Basically Alexander talks shite.
      It’s the usual professional, champagne socialist rubbish. Alexander doesn’t give a damn about solidarity, except when it concerns fellow Westminster MPs and keeping his and their careers on track. When Alexander actually does something that helps lift the tens of thousands of Scottish children out of poverty, then I’ll give him a nod of approval, but until then I judge that Alexander accepts child poverty in Scotland as collateral damage and a price worth paying for his big job in London. 
      One of the previous contributors observed that Alexander is smart in playing a clever game that ensures he is not exposed as the charlatan that he is. That is absolutely correct. Alexander is just a parasite, with nothing to offer ordinary people, regardless of whether they are in Scotland, England or, indeed, in the wider world.
      A self serving, career politician who would sell his sister…..opps…he’s already done that. Sell his granny to ensure his place at the top table. 

    40. NorthBrit says:

      I will not listen to anything from anyone on the No side until they stop referring to independence as separation.
      But I might change my mind if they are prepared to be consistent.  It would be helpful if our impartial press could ask one of them a few simple questions:
      1.  Were these the Scottish Wars of Separation?
      2.  Was Robert the Bruce a separatist and are you therefore prepared to denounce him publicly (as a proud Scot)?
      3.  Are you prepared to go to Alabama on the 4th of July and make a speech referring to separation day?

    41. Vronsky says:

      I sometimes see the Labour contingent at Westminster referred to as ‘big beasts’, ‘talent’ that would be returned to Scotland as an asset after independence.  It’s an illusion of distance.  They are unprincipled spivs like Alexander and Darling, or dangerously delusional like Brown.  Service at Holyrood would quickly unmask them, as it has done others of their tribe (remember the other, ‘galactically bright’, Alexander?)

    42. Les Wilson says:

      I guess his “struggles” will be right up there with the totally deprived upbringing of ED, and Dave Milliband, and actually similar to a lot of labour MP’s. 
      Why do you think they renamed as “New Labour”?, because it certainly does not resemble Old Labour ! These “New” guys are mostly now career politicians, from “better” backgrounds ,never having had a job in the real world, and would probably not been capable of keeping one anyway.
      Labour, the most deceitful party.

    43. HandandShrimp says:

      I have had a wee explore around the Facebook sites of Yes though the help of Better Together St Kilda (a wee site I am fond of and which is very much in the style of BBC Scotlandshire). British Unity, Traditional Britain, and similar have been entertaining to read. A surprising number of the regulars on Better Together pages seem quite odd characters, many with double barrelled names and many not living in Scotland. The death of Mandela has proved particularly challenging because of course the UKIPy types that frequent these pages really let rip causing mass deletions and scrapping of tribute columns. This is perhaps not so off topic after all because while Douglas extols Mandela the very people he and Labour are happy to get into bed with and accept their money to fund and man their sites are vehemently opposed to all he says he stands for…although to be fair he only he says he stands for these things so perhaps the conflict is not so painful after all.

    44. Robert Kerr says:

      Just what goes wrong with the “sons of the manse”
      Dougie, Gordon and Vidkun.

    45. Taranaich says:

      @NorthBrit: But I might change my mind if they are prepared to be consistent.  It would be helpful if our impartial press could ask one of them a few simple questions:
      1.  Were these the Scottish Wars of Separation?
      2.  Was Robert the Bruce a separatist and are you therefore prepared to denounce him publicly (as a proud Scot)?
      3.  Are you prepared to go to Alabama on the 4th of July and make a speech referring to separation day?
      Oh, but of course not, North Brit: don’t you see? That sort of thing is ok, because they weren’t about “breaking countries apart,” they were about making countries “whole” again! Every other country becoming independent is good and wonderful and deserves to be celebrated, except Scotland, because it’s not independence, it’s separation.

    46. HandandShrimp says:

      PS give Better Together St Kilda a like click – they deserve it. As they say, they are the only Better Together site banned by Better Together 🙂

    47. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      @Robert Kerr
      Remember that Stalin was a former priest.

    48. HandandShrimp says:

      Bugger – need a coffee to wake me up. I was of course exploring No sites. There is no way on this or any earth that Traditional Britain is a Yes site Doh!

    49. Juteman says:

      I can’t stand the wee nyaff.
      He is a bad example of PR coaching. All his mannerisms, and especially his hand movements, are so obviously taught and not natural.

    50. Dal Riata says:

      Utter tripe from Alexander. ‘Vote No to save England from itself… please, comrades…’ ‘Vote No and we’ll all get together round a big table and give you…um, eh… stuff. But Westminster will still be the boss, sorry about that [giggle]…’
      Labour and Alexander on their knees pleading for Scotland not to ‘leave’. Absolutely pathetic. 

    51. Elliot Bulmer says:

      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the problem is not that ‘everyone south of the Tweed is an austerity-loving Tory’. Rather, it is that the state that holds effective power south of the Tweed doesn’t respond very well to what people think or want, and is run by and for an oligarchic clique whose interests are very well served by privatisation, austerity, cuts and war.

      Notice I say ‘the state’ and not ‘the government’. The UK government might well change in 2015, but it will make little difference, because the state will remain the same. This is a state that cannot effectively protect civil liberties (kettling, anyone?), that relies on a grossly disproportional electoral system, and that rests on the secretive powers of the crown to keep power in the hands of its own sort. This is the state that could not even reform its medieval house of lords.

      There is no hope for solidarity and social justice in the UK state as currently ill-constituted, because oligarchies do as oligarchies are. There is no hope, at present, for reconstituting the UK on a more democratic basis.

      The only hope for democracy, and through democracy for social justice, is a new state – a state that rests on ‘the whole community of the realm’, not a rich and privileged few. We have one option on the ballot that gives us an opportunity to build a new state. That option is marked, “YES”. 

    52. art1001 says:

      So Alistair Darling and the CPPR and IFS says we are too poor to be independent. Presumably that would mean that the poor of rUK would be better off if we departed and tried to fend for ourselves.
      Now we have wee  Dougie (jaiket on this time as he is thinking not getting down to business on a train) saying the opposite and say we would be betraying the poor in the rUK if we did not give them access to our resources to share. These are two contradictory positions. 
      Typical Labour – they do not even care about truth. They just fire off any old crap at any time hoping that it will appeal to someone or other and swing their vote.
      Even with independence Dougie could start a rUK solidarity party to advocate giving the odd billion here and there to the government of the rUK to spend as they see fit. That would at least allow us to put ‘solidarity’ under proper democratic control. Would be good if someone were to suggest this to him as a way of solving his dilemma and drawing him into the YES camp.

    53. NorthBrit says:

      Unfortunately your excellent repetition of the Better Together nonsense about other countries in this case doesn’t apply because two out of my three examples are, in fact, Scotland. 
      Noting also in the case of the USA, it had never been a separate country before independence, so the separation point would be even stronger.

    54. HandandShrimp says:

      What they mean by Better Together is that we pool our resources together so the UK is wealthier and therefore able to afford 11% pay rises for MPs and the UK press get to accuse Scots of being scrounging beggars addicted to deep fried heroin. It is a win win situation. If we become independent we will look after ourselves with our own resources depriving the UK of these very resources and a useful scapegoat to pillory in the press. Thus the rUK would be doubly worse off.

    55. Lochside says:

      Alexander is a nematode. And like all parasites should be removed from the host and placed in a Bhag (preferably a hairy one) and disposed of safely.

    56. Robin Ross says:

      @Graeme Purves
      ‘sanctimnonious bore’
      sums up the tenor of this piece. Douglas Alexander talks of ‘connectedness’ and name drops Darfur and Aceh with no sense of irony that one does not need to live in the same nation state to feel a sense of connectedness with others.  Indeed, an independent Scotland would have greater freedom to develop appropriate connections both within these islands and abroad than it has at present, shackled as we are to a Parliamentary system which is still overshadowed by its imperial past.

    57. Helena Brown says:

      This Labour Party and it’s “Scottish Minions” suffers from schizophrenia, it says one thing here and another in the South. Needless to say it’s message in the South is one which hopefully will work on the Conservative leaning voters. Once it is elected it then forgets about those who it managed to fool up here.
      It has not positive message for Scotland, only more and more fear. I think this is ceasing to work and I for one am reluctant to correct them, let them continue.
      Dougie Alexander has been nothing but a failure, he along with is Sister must have accumulated any number of enemies within their party of choice. It wasn’t the SNP who got rid of her, it was the likes of Jackie Baillie. I imagine should Dougie put his head over the precipice he would lose it as well.
      A little aside, the Save Pitcorthie School Petitioners were out in force in Dunfermline High Street, yesterday. Unfortunately nobody asked me. I was ready for them.

    58. NorthBrit says:

      Just realised you are quoting our impartial press!
      Apparently Irish nationalism is all about putting bits of a country together.  So that’s what 1916 and the Irish War of Independence was about.  Who knew?
      I would love to see Kenny Farq expound his eccentric view of history to a fascinated Dublin audience.

    59. Seasick Dave says:

      “That was in Renfrewshire, back in 1982, because of my revulsion at the waste and humiliation of mass unemployment. I had seen my classmates’ parents lose their livelihoods as car manufacturing plant Linwood closed. I took a youthful leap of faith, believing that politics could be a force for good.
      As the International Development Secretary in the Labour government – as I witnessed the life-saving work of UK Aid amidst the devastation of post-tsunami Aceh in Indonesia and the refugee camps of Darfur in Sudan – I was affirmed in that original animating belief.
      **** So, in 1982 Linwood closed and Dougie joined Labour to make a difference.
      30 years later a natural disaster hit Indonesia and Dougie was there.
      What has he done in that period to improve the lives of people in Linwood and, more generally, people in Scotland?

    60. crisiscult says:

      I don’t know why this guy, and many other Unionist politicians, remind me of a handful of  the ‘Scots’ I met abroad. Example: British Ambassador in country X (won’t say which) plus 15 year old daughter. (large) Home in Perthshire. Father head of a clan. Daughter – American/English accent; can’t remember how much time she said she spent in Scotland but not too much. When I met her, and her father, it was quite a long time before the prospect of independence had arisen but in our conversation about Scotland I was aware that these people had almost no connection to Scotland as a place to live (I mean living like going to the shops, local pub, local church, concerts etc), but a very strong connection to Scotland as an idea and a brand. A kilt and bagpipes at special occasions is great, but when you work for a large corporation like GB, you definitely don’t want it splintering to create some local shops – your career would seriously hit the skids.
      I know this is obvious to many of the people here, but I’d like to get that message out to people on doorsteps that the ‘proud Scots’ they hear waxing lyrical in the newspapers have much less in common with us than all the terrible foreign immigrants they keep trying to threaten us with.

    61. Craig P says:

      Taranaich, North Brit. Just finished reading a book on the American Wars of Independence from the point of view of black slaves. At least one Brit calls it ‘separation’. 
      BtP – yes, more cunning than his wee sister, maybe not as brave or intellectually smarter, though having seen Wendy in action as LoLitSP you’ve got to wonder if INSEAD sells certificates sight unseen like those dodgy American theological colleges…

    62. MochaChoca says:

      Andrew Neil: “Alastair Darling won’t be replacing Ed Balls this side of the referendum” (fuck, that sounds like I’m predicting a NO vote as a foregone conclusion, better add in) “even after it maybe difficult…….” 

    63. Robert McDonald says:

      Sir John Clerk Maxwell opened the Glen Loin youth hostel in 1932 – and tttttthat’s all folks.

    64. Tinyzeitgeist says:

      Wee duggy, always the besuited nu labour spiv’s spiv.

    65. Andrew Morton says:

      When I read Douglas Alexander’s sermon a little alarm bell went off in my head. So I went back through Derek Bateman’s blog posts and Bingo there on 23 September was his prediction of this very thing. It ends,
      In the event of a No vote:
      “All the pressure will transfer overnight to Labour. Instead of Unionist demands on Yes for detail after detail, it will be nationalists demanding detail and action from a Labour party unable to deliver and very possibly unable to win at Westminster. The tables will be turned and I suspect there will little support from the media who will also begin a relentless pursuit of Ms Lamont, producing a pressure she shows little sign of being able to handle.
      How to reduce such scrutiny? By pointing to Douglas’s big tent, of course. You take the heat off by simply saying that this needs us all to decide together. It’s not just up to Labour. It is Scotland’s issue to solve. In that scenario Johann is just one of the contributors who will all be in it together. She doesn’t need to lead, doesn’t need to innovate or inspire. She only has to sit nice and let others do the work.
      Is Douglas Alexander capable of devising such a plan? Sorry, that is rhetorical.”

    66. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      @Craig P
      INSEAD sell certificates sight unseen, doubt that but it just makes her someone good at book learning and in France it is a very intellectual process. The perfect example of that is Hollande who is an Enarc of the Science Po. No other job than being just that and following the sausage line to becoming President. Great intellect but a political imbecile, despite his doctorate. He lived in a very French intellectual bubble totally separate from the people he expects to inherit, as is his birthright.
      if you could resplice the DNA of the two, you could have the making of an effective politician, if they had had a real life before politics.   Dougie and Wendy that is. Then again you might have got a Tony Blair.

    67. MinesAn80bob says:

      Danny Alexander does alternative Scottish history for his list of great Scots by including SIR JOHN Clerk Maxwell as one of our great scientists, which is completely wrong on several counts.

      There was a sir John Clerk Maxwell, but he was not a scientist.

      James Clerk Maxwell is the person wee dougie meant and he was one of the worlds (never mind Scotland’s) greatest scientists.

      In an off the cuff remark you could accept the above as a momentary error but this was  in the middle of a written piece that you would have thought he had taken some time over.

      James Clerk Maxwell was never knighted so was never a sir, perhaps wee dougie was projecting his own dreams of ermine into his wittering.

    68. Gav Bain says:

      Fantastic beakdown Rev.  What makes your effort so valuable is the speed you are able to get a rebuttle out there.  Very impressive, and much appreciated.
      Alexander is in danger of letting a cat out of the BHAG.  So many of those have been thwarted already due to Westminster’s leash.

    69. Robert Kerr says:

      The progression of physics greats
      Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Higgs etc.
      But politicians aren’t scientific/technical. 
      And some are innumerate as well.

    70. Norrie says:

      Thanks for the idea
      Alexandia Nematoda

    71. Doug Daniel says:

      “Nelson Mandela’s transformation of his country was won by struggle and solidarity long before a parliament had anything to do with it.”
      That “struggle and solidarity” presumably includes the various bombings by MK, the military wing of ANC that Nelson Mandela helped set up, yes? Coupled with his reverence for Irish Nationalism, it seems Mr Alexander would be a convert to Scottish independence, if only the SNP had a military wing that blew shit up. Maybe someone should tell him about the folk who used to blow up post boxes?
      Dickhead here (it pains me to refer to him by the name which I was also given, so I’ll use childish insults instead) seems to be calling for some sort of resurrection of the Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the Soviet Union, except he wants them to be 10-year plans. Well, I can’t say I’d be completely against that. Let’s set out some possibilities:
      10-year plan to reverse Scotland’s population problems – including increasing immigra… oh.
      10-year plan to remove nuclear weapons from Sco… oh.
      10-year plan to give women full equality in the workplace. We’ll start off by funding more childcare to get more women into work and reinvesting the tax receipts which flow into the Scottish treasu… oh.
      10-year plan to reindustrialise Scotland. Okay, maybe we could do this one. We’ll start off by using our tax powers to… oh.
      10-year renewables plan. Right, we can DEFINITELY do this one because Scotland has full control over renewable energy policy, and always will do, unless of course the House of Lords suddenly decides to remove some powers, but that’s never going to happ… oh.
      10-year welfare plan? Damn.
      10-year local taxation reform plan? Bugger!
      10-year plan to keep Labour MPs in the style to which they’ve become accustomed for two whole Westminster election cycles?

    72. Anything this wee tit writes or says can be ignored as the demented ramblings of someone worried about losing his place at the trough. 

      “Because of my revulsion at the waste and humiliation of mass unemployment.”  Aye, Dougie – and because of your abject terror of becoming one of these statistics.  Unemployable little erse.  Lots of body parts he could be compared to in fact.

    73. Brian milligan says:

      The man is cutching at straw, as he finds himself in deep water and ubable to survive his desires. Who the fxxx votes for this bafoon. SAYS IT ALL for the bt campain and its, contradictory infighting.

    74. gordoz says:

      I am the most pleased about this as I feel wee Mr Alexander is another one of Scotlands pious, great Labour  political ‘sons of the manse’ who have always cast their eyes ambitions beyond their own homeland ( nothing wrong with that ) but who then cannot love or see the value of Scotland compared to their British ambitions.

      Surgical Rev  – really enjoyed this disection of weasel words from a complete waste of space individual  vaccuous to the extreme.
      Another Proud scot.

    75. Ian Mackay says:

      John Clerk Maxwell was James Clerk Maxwell’s father. He was a lawyer, and like his son was never knighted.

      Sir George Clerk of Penicuik was James Clerk Maxwell’s uncle and a Tory MP.

      James Clerk Maxwell is one of the most important scientists who ever lived, ranked alongside Newton and Einstein.

      Its funny that Douglas Alexander complains that science has stalled in Scotland. It certainly appears to be stalled in his education.

    76. Hetty says:

      Three words come to mind, wolf, sheeps clothing. My female intuition tells me he is next head of bt, next head of uk Labour, and next Labour PM, in about 2020. the reason the msm like him is because he is relatively young and on a scale of 1-10 regards looks, about 5 but really nil because he is so selfish. Sorry, just a thought!  Politics UK is not about brains or intelligence, its about self seeking careerists who really enjoy their cosy, incredibly overpaid utterly privileged positions. 

      The Scotland on Sunday piece has the pretence of the poetic oozing from it, (the opposite to a sincere and worthy poetry)  and the desperate attempt at the emotional pull, smacks of spin of a different kind. If he was writing an essay for an exam I would give him just 2/10 for insincerity and the utterly transparent lack of conviction here. 

    77. Tîm Criced i Gymru says:

      Rev says:SCOTLAND on REPEAT
      Isn’t that ‘,,,repeat prescription‘? because, according to all ‘n sundry at NO, Alba is virtually terminally ill, and needs constant 24 hr. care from an outside agency? (With deep apologies, respect and sincerest wishes to all those in that predicament on a personal level btw)

    78. george bowling coming up for air says:

      I notice he uses the argument about supporting the poor in Preston as well as Paisley. But I never really understood why that should justify the UK state in particular. After all, why stop there, why not show solidarity with the poor in Peru, or maybe with the textile workers in Bangladesh who are paid pennies an hour? The logical if unwieldy endpoint would be a world state.

    79. Bunter says:

      I think this clown represents Paisley and yesterday I had the mispleasure to walk down Paisley high street, one of the few Saturdays left to do your Xmas shopping. A more desolate and depressing sight would be hard to find. When I was young, everyone flocked to Paisley at the weekend as it was a hive of activity, lots of great shops, cafés, cinemas etc. Now with Paisley and Renfrewshires famed manufacturing industries laid waste, it’s now a centre of unemployment and minimum wage part time work Its  high street is full of charity, bookies and pawn shops.  The fall from grace of this historic town and it’s environs over the last 20 years has to be seen to be believed. If we vote NO, what hope is there for the good folk of Paisley, represented by the type of unionist waste of space such as D Alexander and Oor pal Terry, who continually con voters.

    80. call me dave says:

      We sparks know well the joys of ‘Maxwell’s corkscrew rule’ and the equations related to flux density and movement of a conductor in a magnetic field.  How motors work.
      We had a few great scientists then and now too.  When independent we will still be able to teach the world a thing or two.
      As for Dougie, we are all past that kind of emotional blackmail.  The union is not equal and Scots are moving towards independence. Not a moment too soon.

    81. Training Day says:

      This latest piece of Tartuffery simply regurgitates the central and unchanging theme at the heart of everything Alexander says:  a pious conviction, instilled from birth, that the ‘elect’ (like him) know better than everyone else, and that they affirm their elect credentials by selflessly tending to the unthinking flock around them (requiring very little by way of reward, yer lordship) – ‘a burning and a shining light to a’ this place’.  It’s the same vacuous homily as that delivered by Alexander’s father at Dewar’s funeral, as a group of Labourites and media fellow travellers inhabiting the same bubble convened to wet themselves about inchoate notions of ‘social justice’.  In short, it’s pish.
      As for the idea of Douglas ‘I have lain in the mud, I have struggled like the ordinary soldier’ Alexander..pass the sick bucket.

    82. a supporter says:

      “Which means that roughly every two months we have to endure a vacuous torrent of middle-management duckspeak such as the one Scotland on Sunday has inexplicably chosen to make its front-page lead this morning.” 

      A really exceptional comment which sums up wee Duggie succintly. He’s a nonentity.

    83. Mealer says:

      you and the Tories really need to get your proposals into a published document for my consideration.I need a firm commitment that UK will give up trident,give up its pretence at being a big power…..and give Scotland full fiscal autonomy including oil and whisky revenues.Give me cast iron guarantees before the referendum and I might consider NO as an option.But it needs to be single legal agreement signed by Cameron,Clegg and Miliband mind.

    84. Murray McCallum says:

      Great article Rev Stu and comments from readers.
      Douglas Alexander is a great asset in the UK diplomatic corp – talk a lot but say absolutely nothing. Ignore the facts at all cost and re-write history at every opportunity. His persistence with the union to improve the welfare of Scots is mind numbing.

    85. Mad Jock McMad says:

      I read this and ended up doing a Swinney banging my head on my desk  …..

      The one word I have not seen used to describe this rambling, incoherent and disjointed essay is – ignorant. That is the state or fact of suffering from ignorance from a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.

      In Dougie’s case, on the evidence of this essay, he clearly lacks both knowledge or awareness concerning the subject matter of his essay. He was educated enough to know how to cobble together a whole load of disjointed and erroneous statements in an attempt to justify his argument – so I must assume some level of education.

      Yet a truly ignorant essay has been set before us – a ‘fail’ in any reasonable assessment of content and argument.

    86. Les Wilson says:

      For all his talk of sharing our money, I honestly think that Scotland would be able ( after a period of time ) to help here and there if worthy. However, I can never get this idea of sharing our money to poorer areas of the UK, is that not the job of Westminster?

      For me, the most important issue is to remove poverty of all kinds in our land, our Scotland, to improve the lives of our people, their health, their education, our infrastructure. I think charity begins at home.

      If we say yes, and embark on our much needed improvements, and our economy improves as a result, THEN, I have no objection to help some poorer areas, but before that I would need evidence that rUK is also trying it’s best to improve the lives of these people also, and that we are not just being used in order to save Westminster spending where it should.

    87. crisiscult says:

      george bowling coming up for air – Thank you for that. I get so frustrated with the seeming obliviousness of these so called socialists to their inconsistency. Why arbitrarily draw borders where the current UK has them? As you say, world state is the logical direction of their argument, yet the same people seem to be worried about foreigners and immigrants. Can I just once hear someone in the Better Together movement say the phrase ‘Listen, I’ll be honest, I’m a British Nationalist and that trumps Scottish independence any day of the week’.  

    88. Vronsky says:


      “Just what goes wrong with the “sons of the manse””

      It seems a long-known phenomenon.  There’s an old Scots saying which runs something like: ‘The weans o the manse are ay least mensfu’.  ‘Mensfu’ means gracious.

    89. Bobby Mckail says:

      Poor wee Dougie, he went to watch how Obama’s team worked behind the scenes & came back to Scotland with hope rhymes with history. He’s been sold a pup!

    90. Jimsie says:

      crisiscult. Yes you get bizarre behaviour from Scots abroad. My sister who lives in Adelaide went to a performance the other night of Last Night of the Proms with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. The performance featured a Scottish tenor Jamie McDougal. This hero appeared in a kilt and did a kitsch medley of Harry Lauder songs which made sister cringe. Second half he appeared in a union flag pattern kilt !. Sister had enough and walked out. Her Aussie friends who saw the show thought the man was a joke.

    91. msean says:

      Uses the word “deep” quite a lot,what does  that mean  in newspeak?There is an alternative way to keep out the tories,it’s called voting yes.

    92. Jimsie says:

      I should have said earlier Stuart. Another brilliant dissemination and demolition from you .

    93. msean says:

      And as for the supposedly unrefusable,unreturnable, it’s not up to me, 11% wage rise,there is nothing to stop it being donated to charities in their local constuencies,say for instance a foodbank.

    94. Holebender says:

      Only a few days ago unionist politicians were berating the Scottish Government for not using their existing powers and setting up 24/7 childcare (or whatever it was) now rather than waiting for a yes vote.
      Why does Dougie have to wait for a no vote before setting up his urgent let’s make Scotland better (together) panel? I’m reasonably sure the UK has all the powers (and revenue) needed, so why the delay?

    95. DougtheDug says:

      “I see a Scottish National Convention beginning in 2015 as a mechanism to discuss not only powers but the purpose of those powers”
      So does this mean that Labour are not going to discuss or offer any more powers to Scotland before the referendum in 2014?
      Strangely enough I remember Jenny Mara saying on BBC Good Morning Scotland on the 27th of November that Labour and Better Together were going to be looking at/offering more powers in the Spring of 2014.
      The idea that powers must have a “purpose” before they can be given to Scotland was something that she kept going on about as well. It would appear to be a Labour meme. Scotland must describe exactly what it’s going to do with a power before it can be given.
      What you don’t see in Dougie’s quote are the words “more” or “additional”. In fact if Westminster decides that an existing power has no “purpose” then they might in fact take it away. Planning and Nuclear Dumps/Power Stations anyone?

    96. Lanarkist says:

      Agree Les Wilson,
      Like Norway at present who invests oil revenue in companies and enterprises outside of Norway to prevent overheating of their economy, they merely use 4% of the returns from these investments without recourse to any of the oil revenue.
      Eventually Scotland after a period of reorganisation leading to stability through initial investments will need a mechanism to invest outside our country and England, Wales and N.I could be invested in for modest returns by creating and investing in companies situated in poorer areas, not charity but enterprise, as N.E. England is slowly waking up to.
      By reclaiming State Sovereignty, Scotland could restructure national wealth and well being and positively assist in the rejuvenation of other parts of Britain through investment, trade and business. This would allow poorer communities to improve through positive means providing a return for all concerned rather than Westminsters approach of collective penury and targeted charity.
      I know which option I would choose.

    97. liz says:

      I have never been able to stand Dougie Alexander – ha has always come across as completely insincere.
      I agree with Bunter above – he has been MP for Paisley since 1997 and that town suffered a credit crash during the credit boom.
      I don’t think he cares a fig about Paisley,he just cares about getting voted back into Westminster.
      What he does do is to try to make us feel guilty about deserting the North of England as they know this is something that can be played on but even in the NE more than 30% voted for the conservatives during the Thatcher years.
      I think he has been emboldened as the Observer today points out the Blairites are back in charge of New Labour – but do people still believe Alistair -sexed up document – Campbell?

    98. Jamie Arriere says:

      He refers to Wilberforce, Emily Davison and Beveridge as exemplars of English fairness – however, I note that there were SIXTEEN years between Emily Davison’s death and the granting of the vote to women over 21.
      Our brief experience of a decade of devolution has shown that we have reached destinations generally (not in all cases) sooner than the rest of UK, in terms of smoking in public places (Independent Ireland were even quicker), banning foxhunting, freezing council tax, free personal care for the elderly, even taking green levies out of utility bills (Nicola got there 2 months earlier) and acting on alcohol minimum pricing.
      I would severely doubt any man like Wilberforce would have the same success (it took his entire lifetime to succeed) against today’s vested interests, Westminster party regimentation, dirt-digging distortive media and secular godless society.

    99. Les Wilson says:

      Alexander achieves a standing well above his abilities. He is just another opportunist who feathers his bed with our money.

    100. Jamie Arriere says:

      Hope doesn’t rhyme with history.
      It rhymes with rope and dope and isotope!

    101. Jamie Arriere says:

      “Struggle, solidarity and social justice – three things that mean for me, we as Scots do better together as part of the family of nations within the UK than we do alone.”
      Substitute “world” for “UK” and we might actually agree with him here.

    102. Morag says:

      Hey, lay off the weans of the manse, there.  We’re not all Dougie and Wendy and Gordon, you know!

    103. wullie says:

      These sons and daughters of the manse, the Alexanders, the Broons. Doing the Church of Scotlands bidding. Church of Scotland foot soldiers, continuing to stab the flock in the back, their church, the only church on the planet to have dumped  its entire flock for its on selfish ends in 1707. Expect nothing more.

    104. muttley79 says:

      It is indeed true that the MSM in Scotland treat wee Dougie Alexander as a political visionary.  The truth is of course completely different.  Alexander rose through the ranks of SLAB, and then British Labour, thanks to the patronage of Gordon Brown.  Dougie is not known for his independent thinking.  If the Scotland on Sunday was actually involved in journalism, and not merely being political propagandists for the Unionists, they would have assessed and been critical of Alexander’s standard schtick like this years ago.  Alexander is a politial waffler.  He has almost no personal political achievements to his name.  Dougie can be relied upon to parrot the line that is currently in favour with the leadership of British Labour.   
      Incidentially, it was good to see a post from Elliot Bulmer on here. 

    105. Caroline Corfield says:

      Goan yersel Elliot Bulmer! It’s exactly that.

    106. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

       Better Together for England and Scottish Labour MP’s. That seems to be his message.

    107. Onwards. says:

      Just absolute waffle…. the gist of it is the same old argument that Scotland has solidarity with the rest of the UK, particularly working class cities and socialist campaigners.

      As if no other country has such places or people, and we would be cut off completely from the rest of the world after ‘separation’

      Logically he must be considering that the UK should apply to become a new state of the USA, because many of us have solidarity with great cities such as Detroit and Philadelphia, and figures such as Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln.

      Basically we are being asked to limit Scotland’s potential, and not have the powers or money necessary to achieve anything bigger on our own.
      Of course, self interest has nothing to do with his position.

      If the wrong Miliband fails to get elected, chances are a new BritScot might be helpful as labour leader, to keep the surly northerners voting the right way.

    108. Jamie Arriere says:

      I remember watching Obama’s first election campaign with all its “Hope” and “Change you can Believe In” rubbish, and kept thinking “Where’s the beef?” The same applies to Alexander’s fluid florid rhetoric above, and I keep thinking “Aye, but we remember what you actually DID, you little no-mark!!”
      Always keep in mind when listening to ScotLab supposed big-hitters the yawning gap between their pseudo-socialist aspirations of solidarity, and their total lack of economic equity, incompetent management, military adventurism and cynical self-interest & hypocrisy – which has been the hallmark of Westminster over the last 40 years.

    109. joe kane says:

      It’s basically the same piece Alexander has written at least half-a-dozen times over the course of the referendum campaign…

       – Danny’s printed Periclean orations to the nation are actually written by one of those very clever computer programmes which mimics specialists texts and genres, such as The Postmodern Generator, in order to expose and mock the superficial emptiness of some such exercises. For aspiring Labour-bots they’re an essential part of their career advancement strategy. That and being prepared to stab your sibling in the back (cf Miliband, Alexander).

      I believe there’s actually a prolific Scottish Labour-bot tweet generator which can mimic real-life responses and even get into long-winded, tedious, time-wasting, logic-chopping arguments that always end up going nowhere. It even has a human name to fool the gullible. It’s so life-like it’s difficult to tell it apart from an actual real human tweeter.

      Reference –
      The Postmodern Generator

    110. JLT says:

      From the Scotsman…
      ‘Claiming that the SNP’s council tax freeze is taking money from the poor and cutting public services, Alexander says poverty has to be tackled on both sides of the Border.’
      Yep! Douglas wants us to remain in the Union, so that we can all be poor together! That says it all to me. Labour’s vision of Britain.

    111. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Joe Kane
      Douglas I think you mean. Danny is incapable of composing such impressively meaningless tripe

    112. Holebender says:

      Joe Kane, I’m curious to find out how this Labour bot manages long-winded tweets while constrained by a 140 character limit.

    113. joe kane says:

      Douglas I think you mean.
      – Thanks Dave. It’s easy to get these indistinguishable Westminster-bots confused.

    114. Frazer Allan Whyte says:

      Teaching academic writing in a foreign country I sometimes have to tell my, university, students “all sentences must have a meaning” and I tell psychology and science history students “correlation does not imply cause and effect.” I want to thank WoS for publishing this DA person’s speech? article? blather? as it will be great lesson material on how not to write. It will have them giggling in what are otherwise not particularly entertaining classes.
      Are you sure Scots actually voted for him? Are you sure he is not a “Yes” plant to discredit the “no”? Are you positive the newspaper in question has not just died and been reincarnated as a satirical magazine? Also can we have an automatic playing of Glasgow’s Weicome to Nelson Mandela whenever such as this hack take his name in vain – it would be a great service. 

    115. handclapping says:

      It could have been worse. It could have had full academic references in line. No silly me how do you reference an outright lie. Pass the sick bag.

    116. TheGreatBaldo says:

      or why it marks “the beginning of a new phase” in anything.
      Well to be fair it’s the first time since 2011 excluding disasters or Royal birth’s that either ‘The Scotsman’ or ‘Scotland on Sunday’ didn’t have……
      “SALMOND/SNP ACCUSED….” or “BLOW FOR SALMOND/SNP”……. as it’s front page lead
      Experts are predicting this new phase of the campaign will last about 24 hours….before disappearing into one of those ‘Black holes’ we keep hearing about…

    117. CW says:

      ‘It’s perhaps the best example of a nation setting what the writer Jim Collins calls a ‘Bhag’ – a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’.’

      Is this some kind of joke?

    118. ScotsCanuck says:

      I was going to write a pithy response to wee Dougie’s observations on poverty, social justice, Scotland, tbe Universe & everything ……………….. but I can sum it all up in two words

    119. TJenny says:

      O/T – Good news, the lovely Natalie McGarry is standing as SNP candidate in Cowdenbeath by-election.  Lets hope the Cowdenbeathers don’t go the way of Dunfermline voters. 

    120. Andy-B says:

      Good disection Rev, of the weasel of a man called Douglas Alexander, he’s advancing through the ranks due to his ability do as told by his peers.
      So many Scots like him prepared to stab Scotland in the back, it a wonder we’ve made it this far.

    121. Murray McCallum says:

      Wee Dougie reminds of Douglas “Scotch on the Rocks” Hurd. Not as big as Hurd. More a small Hurd.

    122. Robert Kerr says:

      Apropos DA as GB’s “protégé”  I noted some years ago in the Herald forums that DA was GB’s “rimmer”.
      I took that to refer to the Red Dwarf character  Arnold Rimmer.
      But again…… 

    123. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Murray McCallum
      Small Hurd.

    124. Mutters says:

      Reading this guff, I immediately was reminded of Jim Hacker prancing around his office in Yes Minister, hands gripping his lapels as he spouted pompous nonsense about “Our Island Story”!!

    125. Ivan McKee says:

      I have a sneaky suspicion that everything DA writes for a Scottish audience is with a view to positioning himself for the 2016 election after a yes vote. I suspect he has no intention of dying in a ditch for the unionist cause and is just making sure he has all the bases covered.  No principles here remember.  Only naked self interest. 

    126. Thepnr says:

      This article and the comments are simply brilliant in my opinion. This is why the Yes campaign will win the referendum. Much appreciated.

    127. Bertie K says:

      @Thepnr, I wholeheartedly second that

    128. ScottyC1314 says:

      As said above, wee Dougie’s piece is just a re-hash of the same drivel he’s spouted time and time again. It’s easy to hide behind a newspaper…..if you really want to step up to the plate Dougie here is what you do… contact the SNP and all media outlets and ask our Nicola for  a debate….I am sure she will happily oblige 🙂 

    129. clochoderic says:

      It is worth remembering how Wee Doogie got into parliament in the first place. He was parachuted in after the highly dubious suicide of the local working class MP Gordon McMaster who, it is alleged, was bullied and smeared by his own Labour Party.
      Talk to anyone local who knew him.

    130. redcliffe62 says:

      It is clear may people are in the do not know/do not care/d not believe it will make a difference campaign for the referendum. what is certain is that 30-odd per cent will turn out and vote yes.
      The real issue I see, with a soft NO vote, is whether more than 30% will actually turn out and vote NO?
      Shettleston by election at 17.5% shows the apathy and there will not be more than a GE vote in Shettleston next tine, probably on a par with Euro elections.
      The 1979 vote gives a clue about turnout as well.
      My question therefore, is how low does the vote have to be for that 30 plus percent voting YES and actually turn up to have a majority. if there is a 65% turnout then 33% of actual voters voting YES will do it. That is eminently possible. Even a scare campaign demanding non Nats turn out and vote or Scotland is doomed will struggle if no improved financial offer is made.
      Perhaps Blair can come out again and say Scots families will be thousands of pounds worse off which was his exact line in total crap the last time? Play that back now as an ad for the YES campaign would be my advice.

    131. wee folding bike says:

      Labour have selected my old MSP Karen Whitefield as their candidate for Falkirk MP.
      I’m not often lost for words but…

    132. Taranaich says:

      @NorthBrit: Unfortunately your excellent repetition of the Better Together nonsense about other countries in this case doesn’t apply because two out of my three examples are, in fact, Scotland.
      Noting also in the case of the USA, it had never been a separate country before independence, so the separation point would be even stronger.

      I know, I was indeed quoting our wonderful media, but particularly Mr Farquharson, who seems incapable of any sense of nuance or applicability. 🙂

      @CraigP: Taranaich, North Brit. Just finished reading a book on the American Wars of Independence from the point of view of black slaves. At least one Brit calls it ‘separation’.

      I think it would be useful to go back and look at historical independence movements (successful and unsuccessful) to see how many of the arguments we see from Better Together are trotted out, and make a big proper piece about it. I’ve already noticed a lot of them being brought up by indy folk, particularly UK propaganda in India:

      That poster’s uncanny, isn’t it? I wonder if we can find some more stuff from this list of countries which decided they weren’t Better Together:

      @DougDaniel: Dickhead here (it pains me to refer to him by the name which I was also given, so I’ll use childish insults instead)

      I hear you: my first name’s Alexander, so I have not only his surname, but that of his Brither Frae Anither Mither Danny soiling it!

      Also, I just realised:

      “I believe deeply that change is needed on both sides of the Border – and beyond our borders. Right across the UK, Tory economic policy and welfare cuts make many fearful and force choices between heating and eating for still more.”

      Now wait a damn minute, wasn’t Douglas Alexander one of the 10 Scottish MPs who didn’t bother to turn up to vote on the Bedroom Tax – you know, one of those horrible Tory policies which you criticize?

      So not only is he daring to lecture Scots on the importance of “solidarity,” but when it comes to ACTING on that very solidarity he speaks of by acting to axe the hateful Bedroom Tax, he doesn’t even bother to show up. A man who couldn’t even be bothered to SHOW UP FOR WORK TO DO THE JOB WE PAY HIM FOR and make a stand for the very poor people who he claims to think so much about, you DARE to lecture us on OUR “selfishness” in wanting self-determination!?!

      Manipulative, deceitful creature.  Scum.

      @cynicalHighlander: Great link!

    133. desimond says:

      All this was missing was Douglas perching on a bar stool, turning to face Camera 3 and singing “I believe that children are our future…” ( in a William Shatner style of course).

      Im sure Heaney and Mandela would have been so proud to see themselves in that article.

      Do you think Douglas wakes up in the morning thinking “What good can I do today?” or does he wake up thinking “Hey, I’ve met Obama!”

      I see Jim Murphy popped up on Scottish Politics under the remit “You used to stay in South Africa”..and then they showed the coverage of him at the Clutha. The new Better Together front man to be announced over the quiet Xmas period anyone?

    134. Onzebill says:

      Can anyone tell me where the figure of 830,000 Scots who live in England came from as mentioned in Alexander’s speech?? I’m sure that around two years ago the figure was said to be around 530,000

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