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Joining the dots 242

Posted on November 23, 2013 by

So we’re pretty embarrassed that we’ve only just put these two things together. We’ve been spending a fair bit of time recently pointing out that there’s almost no chance of the Barnett Formula – in essence, a mechanism for returning to Scotland some of the excess money it sends to Westminster in the form of oil revenue and tax receipts – being retained after the next UK general election.

We’ve also spent a good six months highlighting that the possibility of Holyrood being given “more tax powers” after a No vote is actually a trap, not in reality offering more power at all, but more responsibility. (Because it does you no good to have to collect your own tax revenue – the power lies in deciding how your tax revenue is spent.)


And duh, it’s taken us till now to see the connection. Boy, is our face red.

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Quoted for interest 95

Posted on November 21, 2013 by

Here’s the Labour First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, one year ago:

“Asked if he could see Barnett reformed without touching the current generous allocation of funds to Scotland, Mr Jones said:

‘It would be difficult to envisage a situation where there would be widespread Barnett reform with an independence referendum pending in Scotland, and with a Scottish Chief Secretary to the Treasury I think that’s unlikely. The problem has been in years gone by that you can’t address the Barnett Formula unless you address the whole of it.’

The First Minister said it was difficult to predict a timescale because there was no timetable for the first step – Barnett reform. Asked whether he got a sense from Danny Alexander that he had an appetite for reform, Mr Jones said:

‘No, I don’t – and I can understand why. He’s a Scottish Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Reforming a system that wouldn’t help Scotland is not something that would be high on his agenda. I certainly can’t see it happening before 2014 and the Scottish referendum.‘”

Jones is all over the papers today with his bizarre delusions-of-influence assertion that he would have some sort of veto over a Sterling currency union between the rUK and an independent Scotland (“Wales could block efforts by an independent Scotland to join a pound-sharing pact”, reports the Scotsman).

For perspective, imagine Alex Salmond being given a veto over the result of a UK referendum to leave the EU. Stop laughing, the article’s not finished yet.

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It’s a trap! 106

Posted on November 01, 2013 by

Blair McDougall, director of “Better Together”, Dundee University, 30 October 2013:

“UK ministers are not going to fall into the trap of acting against Scotland until Scotland decides to leave the United Kingdom”


You heard it straight from the horse’s – well, let’s be kind and say “mouth”, folks.

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Quoted for proof 154

Posted on September 26, 2013 by

Because we keep telling you what a No vote really means:

“That is why I am talking quite passionately about getting English Labour MPs back up the road and for me, sitting down with Neil [Findlay] and Richard [Simpson] and Rhoda [Grant] and others and saying, let’s get health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales.

Wouldn’t that be a good thing, pulling in the same direction as opposed to pulling our separate ways?

Devolution, in its early days, was about doing something different and it needs to enter a different phase where we start talking again more about a UK-wide policy because in the end, that helps everybody.”

That’s Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham talking to Holyrood Magazine this week, in comments strangely unpublicised in the rest of the Scottish media.

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Throwing mud in glass houses 114

Posted on September 24, 2013 by

There’s been a certain amount of hoo-haa within the independence camp this morning about a Telegraph piece reporting comments by Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran in which she appears to cast doubt on whether devolution has been a good thing for Scotland at all.


We’re not sure why, because they’re nothing we weren’t telling you almost a year ago.

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The thieves of devolution 58

Posted on October 16, 2012 by

It’s probably fair to say that the opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament have reacted badly to the SNP’s victory in two consecutive Holyrood elections, especially the 2011 one in which the nationalists secured an unprecedented overall majority. Scottish Labour in particular has never really fully come to terms with its rejection by the electorate in a place where it has regarded power as a birthright for half a century, as can be seen by its constant demands to be consulted over legislation despite the voters unequivocally choosing to exclude the party from government and placing their trust in the SNP alone until at least 2016.

Despite enacting some highly controversial policies in its first 18 months as a majority (minimum pricing, the anti-sectarianism bill and equal-marriage legislation), polls consistently suggest that if anything, the gap in popularity between the SNP and Labour is growing as Johann Lamont’s party indulges in factional infighting and alienates its core voters by adopting neoliberal policies from its UK parent.

Meanwhile, the Tories continue to flatline in Scotland as they’ve done for most of a generation, and the Lib Dems suffer the consequences of a massively unpopular Westminster coalition and a third successive leader who seems more consumed by hatred of the SNP than any commitment to seeing his own party’s policies advanced.

So it shouldn’t come as a great surprise to any passing neutral observer that the Scottish opposition has all but given up on any hope of defeating Alex Salmond democratically at the ballot box, and quietly embarked instead on a new strategy: to steal power from the nationalists by bypassing Holyrood altogether.

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One nation under St George 60

Posted on October 03, 2012 by

We’d be getting a little nervous at the moment if we were citizens of Northern Ireland who wanted to stay part of the United Kingdom. Because over recent weeks and months, the concept of the UK has been increasingly pushed aside, in favour of that of Great Britain. (A construct which, of course, excludes the entire island of Ireland.)

The home team at the London Olympics, lavishly celebrated at the Labour conference yesterday, was branded “Team GB”, rather than “Team UK”, and although there are three devolved administrations and parliaments within the UK, only two of them were featured at the same conference’s “Better Together” session.

The situation in Northern Ireland is none of this site’s concern. But it’s not just the Unionists across the sea who ought to be worried. Because on the strength of what Ed Miliband said in his keynote speech yesterday afternoon, Scotland and Wales face a future of being absorbed, in every practical sense, into a Greater England.

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