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Deserving of pity 80

Posted on August 05, 2013 by

A reader recently sent us an article from Humanitie, the magazine of the Humanist Society of Scotland, in which (apparently after much delay in finding anyone willing to put the No camp’s case) a “Better Together” activist made the case for the Union, in response to a Yes piece in the preceding issue. You can read it by clicking the image.


We’ve carefully redacted the person’s identity, because we don’t want to make this personal. But reading through the litany of tired old falsehoods, we were overcome not with anger or even contempt, but with sorrow.

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Chancer calls bluffers 67

Posted on February 15, 2013 by

There’s a rather interesting story buried deep down in the dusty undergrowth of the Scotsman’s politics section today, featuring Jeremy Purvis of the cross-party “Devo Plus” (remember THEM?) group, which apparently marks its anniversary this month.

Purvis’s campaign (also featuring former Tory Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson and, um, we’re sure we’ll recall the others shortly) pretty much died at birth – its Twitter account last saw action on November 30 last year and we can’t even tell when the website was last updated because it has no timestamps, but it was a LONG time ago. He seems to have sensed an opportunity today, though, and has called on what the Scotsman rather startlingly refers to as “the anti-independence parties” to support Devo +’s proposals to devolve full tax powers to Holyrood in the event of a No vote.

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When no means yes 34

Posted on January 24, 2013 by

Poor old “Better Together”. We already knew they had some difficulty with basic counting, but today it seems their reading isn’t up to much either. Desperate to deflect attention from the hideous hole they’ve dug themselves into over Europe, they’ve seized on the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showing (depending how you spin it) almost three-quarters of Scots in favour of devolution rather than independence.

There’s only one problem: the cited source for those figures doesn’t say that at all.

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Raspberry or rhubarb? 45

Posted on January 21, 2013 by

There was an interesting article in today’s Herald entitled “SNP snub plan for more tax powers at Holyrood”. It centred around the latest report from the Institute of Public Policy Research, advocating a new form of further devolution settlement (dubbed “Devo More”) as a solution to Scotland’s problems rather than for independence.

The article itself was devoid of any analysis of the report’s findings, though in fairness to the Herald it did note that the IPPR “has close ties to Labour”, thereby alerting suspicious readers to potential bias within the document.

As far as many independence supporters are concerned, any offer of further devolution at this point is merely an empty promise of “jam tomorrow”. Had any Westminster party seriously intended to increase the level of devolution to Scotland, runs their argument, then they could have done so during the Calman Commission, the Scotland Act or more recently by including an offer of further devolution on the ballot paper for the 2014 independence referendum. They did none of these things.

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Ian Davidson calls for second question 13

Posted on August 11, 2012 by

We’re indebted to keen Wings Over Scotland reader “Holebender” for digging out this little nugget. Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, is at the forefront of Labour’s demands for the Scottish Government to hold a single-question referendum on Scottish independence, regardless of whether the Scottish electorate might want a third option. But it turns out Ian hasn’t always been quite so keen on restricting voters to straight yes/no choices.

Back in February 2008, he wrote to Nick Clegg about the Liberal Democrats’ proposed referendum on UK membership of the EU. You can find the full original text of his letter at this page on the Conservative Home website. Just for a bit of fun, though, we’ve reprinted it below with some extremely minor adjustments.

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Have the Unionists finally gone mad? 21

Posted on July 20, 2012 by

We know it’s the summer silly season for politics, but there’s a difference between “silly” and “stark slavering buggo”, and we suspect some in the “No” camp might have just jumped the shark. (We’d say they’d been out in the sun too long, but, y’know.)

We have some sympathy, because it can’t be easy being a British nationalist in Scotland at the moment. Despite massive blanket coverage of the Jubilee and the Olympics, and despite the Scottish Government having to wrestle with some difficult and controversial legislation on top of a sustained and co-ordinated smear campaign about Rupert Murdoch, the Unionists have made barely a dent in the popularity of either the SNP or the First Minister (who still remains the most trusted party leader anywhere in the UK), and scarcely any progress in terms of referendum polling either.

As we’ve previously noted, 2012 is likely to prove the high-water mark of “Britishness” for a generation, and if the FUDs can’t build a significant lead now, when every last star in the sky is aligned in their favour, then they’re going to be fighting an extremely difficult uphill battle over the next two-and-a-bit years, and particularly in 2014 when Scottishness will be very much to the fore thanks to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and of course Scotland’s inevitable qualification for, and victory in, the World Cup in Brazil.

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The third question 18

Posted on July 01, 2012 by

We’re bored of the “debate” about a second question in the independence referendum. The facts are plain and beyond any sensible dispute:

(a) the SNP has a majority government, and therefore a legitimate democratic mandate to conduct the business of government – including the referendum – any way it wants.

(b) The party’s 2011 election manifesto promised a referendum – it did NOT, contrary to the No camp’s constant assertions, specifically promise a single-question one. (A lie the media bizarrely never challenges.)

(c) All referenda in the United Kingdom are advisory rather than legally binding, so the reservation of the constitution to Westminster under the Scotland Act is therefore irrelevant, and

(d) …is in any event over-ridden by the universal principle of self-determination enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Declaration Of Human Rights.

So that’s that. This blog, however, neither supports a two-question referendum nor believes for a moment that there will be one. As we’ve said numerous times, Alex Salmond has manoeuvered the Unionist parties onto the ground they instinctively want to occupy anyway – that of denying the people of Scotland the right to select their preferred form of government from the full range of choices – and has neither the desire nor the intention to actually put a second question on the ballot paper, which would all but guarantee the failure of the goal for which he has worked his entire adult life.

But more than that, a two-question referendum is unacceptable no matter which side you’re on. If we’re discounting the simple and reasonable “Yes-Yes” formula of the 1999 devolution referendum – as it appears we must on the grounds of Willie Rennie’s mendacious and disingenuous “51% rule” – and insisting on either-or voting, then the only legitimate number of questions for the referendum is either one or three.

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Revealed at last: the positive case 53

Posted on June 25, 2012 by

Attentive readers will know that here at Wings Over Scotland we’ve been exhaustively detailing the 32-year trailer campaign for the fabled “positive case for the Union“. Well, despite our cynicism it’s finally here – the “Better Together” website, launched today, has a whole page devoted to describing the positive case (or as they’d have it, the “+ve” case, which the page URL mischievously translates to “-ve”) in detail.

Stand by to be blown away.

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A quick quiz 40

Posted on June 22, 2012 by

Can you spot what’s strange about this statement, viewers?

“We believe that the process of setting a single question should be taken out of the hands of elected politicians and given to relevant experts the public can have faith in.”

It comes from the mouth of Scottish Labour “leader” Johann Lamont, and forms part of her latest demand – along with her two partners in the Unionist coalition – that the Scottish Government should allow the defeated opposition parties to dictate the terms and conditions of the implementation of the flagship policy behind which it was so resoundingly and unprecedentedly elected a little over a year ago.

(Note in particular the sneaky way the overt demand also slips in a covert demand.)

We’re pretty sure that a general election is already, pretty much by definition, the primary means by which the public expresses who it does and doesn’t “have faith in”. We have, on the other hand, absolutely no way of knowing how much faith that same public does or doesn’t have in the ironically-unelected Electoral Commission, which is appointed by – who’d have guessed it? – the UK Parliament. And just by the by, below are a couple of other relevant snippets from the Commission’s Wikipedia entry:

“The Electoral Commission has a number of responsibilities in relation to referendums. These include:

  • commenting on the wording of the referendum question (the government is responsible for proposing the wording)

The Commission has no legal position in the legislation concerning referendums proposed by the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.”

Our emphasis, there. So, and we admit this is just a crazy madcap idea we’re putting out there, maybe the business of government should properly be conducted by the people the electorate have democratically chosen to do the job, no?

Salmond, Murdoch and Occam’s Beard 35

Posted on June 14, 2012 by

It’s been remarkable watching the awkward reactions of Alex Salmond’s detractors to his appearance at the Leveson inquiry yesterday. Over two hours of questioning didn’t manage so much as a scratch on the First Minister, with even ardent Unionist hacks forced to admit that Salmond was “skooshing” the proceedings and describing it as an “effortless stroll” for the SNP leader. Even the Herald’s Iain Macwhirter, a normally-intelligent commentator recently driven half-demented by hatred for Murdoch, was forced to concede that Salmond had sailed through unharmed.

With opposition politicians and activists (and even some supposedly-loyal nationalists) having long been forecasting a humiliating inquisition for Salmond at the hands of Robert Jay, there’s currently a great deal of sour muttering and embarrassed shuffling of feet going on in Unionist ranks, personified on Newsnight Scotland last night by Labour’s unfortunate Paul Martin, who didn’t seem to quite know what to do with himself except mumble some vague waffle about there having been no conclusive proof that the Scottish Government maintaining cordial relations with one of Scotland’s largest private-sector employers would likely be beneficial to Scottish employment.

The depressing thing about the opposition’s reaction is its sheer petulance and intellectual bankruptcy, typified by a thoroughly dispiriting argument we had yesterday. It doesn’t matter how comprehensively, how often or by whom the SNP are cleared of any sort of wrongdoing, or how many rational, logical, sensible explanations for things are offered – Labour and the other opponents of independence simply turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, flatly refusing to accept any reality they don’t like and endlessly repeating their demands for “answers”, even though they’ve just been given them.

For the record and easy reference, though, we’ll quickly run through them again below.

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The positive case for the [BLANK] 34

Posted on May 17, 2012 by

An unexpected development!

THE word “Union” will not feature in the title of the cross-party campaign against Scottish independence.

The key plank of the group’s campaign emerged as Blair McDougall, a former aide to former foreign secretary David Miliband, was recruited to manage it. The six-strong campaign organising committee, which includes Anas Sarwar for Labour and David McLetchie for the Conservatives, has undertaken public research on what to call the pro-UK campaign.

A source said details were still being finalised but added: “I don’t think the word ‘Union’ will feature in the name.”

Would anyone like to help them out with some suggestions?

Labour’s long spoon 5

Posted on April 27, 2012 by

The following is a transcript from an interview with Scottish Labour “leader” Johann Lamont on BBC Radio Scotland’s “Good Morning Scotland” on Wednesday 25th April, concerning the relationship between Alex Salmond and Rupert Murdoch. (2h12m in.)

GARY ROBERTSON: Would you, if you were First Minister, be meeting Rupert Murdoch and others to talk about jobs in Scotland?

JOHANN LAMONT: Well, you would have to meet with people to talk about jobs and so on.

GARY ROBERTSON: So you would have had the same relationship, then?

JOHANN LAMONT: I would make this point: that we have all learned a lesson about dealing with Rupert Murdoch, and that is you sup with a long spoon.

The picture below comes from the Sun, in a 2011 feature entitled “Red Ed Is Dead“:

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