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The silenced socialists

Posted on September 12, 2013 by

Alert readers will doubtless have spotted the news that the UK government is to press ahead with the sell-off of the Royal Mail. After all, with brutal job cuts under both Labour and Tory/Lib Dem governments having put over 50,000 people out of work in recent years the post is now not just viable but profitable, and we couldn’t possibly have hundreds of millions of pounds in annual profits flowing back into the Treasury’s hands to provide public services for taxpayers when they could be flogged to private companies to enrich the wealthy.


The sale is overwhelmingly opposed by Royal Mail employees, and by the public at large, across party boundaries. But it’s far from unique in that regard. It’s just hard to see how anything can be done about it.

Because, as we’ve highlighted at some length on this site for a number of years, the UK’s catastrophically broken “democracy” offers no way for the electorate to actually vote for policies that majorities of them consistently favour. The Royal Mail, which voters clearly want kept in public hands, is just one case.

The sell-off of post delivery will almost inevitably lead to increased prices, and we’re being needlessly optimistic with the “almost”. Private-sector businesses don’t just need to extract profits – to keep shareholders happy they need to make MORE profits each year than the last, and that money can only come from one place: customers.

One needs only look at the deregulation of directory enquiries for a simple example in the field of communications. Everyone used to know the number for directory enquiries – 192. It cost a flat-rate 40p, and was highly reliable because the numbers came from a single unified and constantly-updated central database.

Modern directory enquiries are a bewildering mess of different numbers (can you name any other than 118 118?) which typically charge FIVE TIMES as much as the old fee, for qualitatively-inferior results which providers have a vested interest in delivering more slowly, and which are often laced with traps like the offer to “connect” you directly to your found number, which will result in you being charged at almost £2 a minute for your entire call, even if it’s to a business 500 yards away.

We’ve been having a little dig through some opinion polls for more examples.



Yes 69%
No 25%
Don’t know 6%

ComRes September 2013

Customer experience of privatised energy companies has been similar to that of directory enquiries – rocketing prices and poor services, often supplied by outsourced call centres which have the further effect of causing hundreds of thousands of job losses in the UK. The public, understandably, strongly wants to see utility firms returned to public ownership as rates of fuel poverty soar. There are alternatives to directory enquiries, but none to heating your home.

No electable UK party stands on a policy of renationalising energy companies.



Yes 70%
No 28%
Don’t know 2%

Gfk NOP September 2012

The public feels almost exactly the same way about Britain’s railways, once the pride of the nation and now the least efficient and most expensive in Europe. Only one UK rail franchise is currently in public hands – the East Coast Line, which is the most lucrative in the country, having doubled its profits since being renationalised.

Yet once again, the government is frantically trying to offload the company into the private sector, where it can suck hundreds of millions of pounds OUT of the national coffers. The electorate not only wants that plan stopped, it wants all the other rail franchises returned to taxpayer ownership too.

No electable UK party stands on a policy of renationalising railways.



Yes 42%
No 54%
Don’t know 4%

ICM July 2009

The poll we’ve used here dates back to 2009 because there are surprisingly few polls directly regarding Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Questions are sometimes asked in other contexts – for example, a BPIX poll for the Mail On Sunday in 2010 said 63% of UK voters backed scrapping Trident specifically in the context of saving money to reduce the deficit, and a YouGov poll in 2009 found that only 30% of respondents prioritised spending £20bn on a Trident replacement over building affordable housing or paying nurses’ salaries.

(With the actual cost of Trident replacement being five times that sum, we would expect the figure to be far lower if the poll was conducted now with the real cost.)

A much-cited Lord Ashcroft poll of Scottish voters in 2013 presented its findings as public backing for nuclear weapons, but only 20% of respondents actually supported the government’s plan to replace Trident with an equally powerful system, against 34% who wanted the UK deterrent abolished entirely.

(A further 31% backed a purely theoretical cheaper nuclear weapons system, which has since been ruled out as a possibility by both the Conservatives and Labour.)

No electable UK party stands on a policy of nuclear disarmament.



Yes 47% (“In the area where I live”: 31%)
No 50% (“In the area where I live”: 68%)
Don’t know: 3% (2%)

ComRes September 2013

We suppose we should applaud the honesty of people who said they were in favour of new nuclear stations, then immediately changed their minds when it was proposed that they be built where THEY lived. There’s a narrow majority against commissioning new nuclear power stations anywhere in the country, but when you suggest to people that one might be built near them personally it turns into a crushing margin of comfortably over two-to-one.

As the Fukushima disaster in Japan continues to unfold horrifically in all sorts of unforeseen ways, it’s hard to see that view shifting in favour of nuclear. Yet no electable UK party stands on a policy of stopping new-build nuclear power.

We could go on. But we’ve chosen a quick cross-section of policies which are commonly regarded as the preserve of tree-hugging 1970s eco-lefties, completely discredited and mocked as relics of a bygone age of socialism.

Yet even after 34 years of neoliberal Thatcherism, of an overwhelmingly right-wing media shaping people’s consciousness and of Labour triangulating in desperate search of votes to the point where it can barely be distinguished from the Tories, the British public still appears to be doggedly socialist.

It doesn’t reflect that outlook at elections because it can’t – it has nobody to vote for who offers the policies the people consistently, across all parties, say they want. Labour was so traumatised by the surprise narrow defeat of Neil Kinnock in the 1992 general election that it panicked and abandoned everything it stood for, hurling not just the baby but most of its house contents out with the bathwater.

The loss of that counterbalance fatally destroyed British politics. The left-right tug-of-war which kept the UK fairly centred was disastrously skewed as most of Labour moved to join the ideologically Tory side, leaving only a few hardcore diehards hopelessly digging in their heels as they were hauled irresistibly rightwards and spectators watched on in bewildered dismay, left with no side on the field to cheer for.

A few even tried to fill the gaps themselves, but splintered, underfunded groups, isolated and hampered by ever more draconian restrictions on protest, could do little against dedicated political heavyweights working together against them. British politics appears beyond salvation. Only Scotland has an alternative.

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    93 to “The silenced socialists”

    1. Gillie says:

      The British public maybe doggedly socialist but they still keep voting for Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems.  You could add they are doggedly stupid in doing so. 

    2. Shirley says:

      Puts paid to the old argument they would only privatise nationalised industries that were haemorrhaging money.

    3. sneddon says:

      Good and timely article.  The mantra of ‘private good public bad’ is wearisome especially as it tends to come from people who’ve never had a real job in either sector.  The sooner we are away from the westminster junta the better and perhaps our example will give the rUK the push to start an alternative to the red/blue choices they’ve currently got.

    4. TheGreatBaldo says:

      Excellent stuff min…..
      It was the 1992 Election that Kinnock lost surprisingly to John Major though….

    5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      It was the 1992 Election that Kinnock lost surprisingly to John Major though….”


    6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      The British public maybe doggedly socialist but they still keep voting for Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems.  You could add they are doggedly stupid in doing so.”

      They have no practical choice. Under FPTP nobody else has a hope of getting elected.

    7. Murray McCallum says:

      After privatisation of Mail I await calls for State contribution to continue services to SW England, N.Wales and N.Scotland. This is the way these things always go.

    8. muttley79 says:

      Good article.  The MSM in the UK are as bad as the Tories and Labour.  By the way, Kinnock and Labour lost the 1992 election, it was not 1993.

    9. TheGreatBaldo says:

      The original said 93….;-)

    10. Doug Daniel says:

      I really don’t understand the Tory mindset. It seems that if something is profitable, it needs to be put into the private sector. But if it’s unprofitable, then it’s okay to take it in the public sector, sort it out, then spit it back out again.
      How can such a model possibly do anything EXCEPT put the country in debt?
      Government is not meant to be there to clean up after the messes left by the private sector. It’s there to ensure everyone has the same basic rights. In today’s society, electricity can easily be included in a list of absolute life essentials, along with water. People shouldn’t be able to profit out of people’s need simply to survive. And in such an interconnected society, public transport and communications easily come near the top as well.
      I’ll be voting for whoever offers putting these things back in public hands after the referendum.

    11. So, they are selling something we own, back to us?   

    12. Training Day says:

      How does this square with the BT assertion that as part of the UK we benefit by ‘pooling and sharing resources’?

    13. Rod Mac says:

      As with water , airports , Electricity all privatised by Westminster the likelihood is the Royal Mail will end up in foreign hands.
      Isn’t it funny that our Foreigner hating Unionists love the Johnny Foreigner when he is aiding and abetting the spivs in City of London for them all to gorge on the British family silver.
      Thereafter he becomes the horrible Johnny Foreigner

    14. handclapping says:

      Its simple folks, now they have GCHQ to spy on us they dont need the Royal Mail anymore.

    15. Rod Mac says:

      As with the Water companies ,Electricity generation and supply , airports.
      Royal Mail will no doubt end up in the hands of Johnny Foreigner.
      Now we all know how much our British Unionist chums hate Johnny Foreigner ,except when he is aiding and abetting the spivs in city of London to allow them to gorge at the expense of the British Family Silver

    16. Juan Bonnets says:

      A very important article, though sadly depressing.
      A cynical person might wonder why the UKOK parties don’t just join together, they claim to be Better Together after all, and formalise the elective dictatorship that the UK has become. Surely it would be much less effort than maintaining the sham that the UK is a representative democracy, freeing up more time and energy that they could put into enriching themselves and their friends by impoverishing everyone else.

    17. X_Sticks says:

      The Tree of Liberty says:

      “So, they are selling something we own, back to us?”
      No, they are selling something we own to their rich pals for a knockdown price.  The last of the family silver. Thatcher and those who came after sold off most of our national heritage.

    18. X_Sticks, agreed, the point I was trying to make, it shouldn’t be theirs to sell, it’s ours! They are also trying to keep the workforce on side by giving them a bribe.

    19. balgayboy says:

      If (god forbid) there is a no vote next year I think it will be bye bye to Scottish Water as a public company soon afterwards.

    20. Gillie says:

      Westminster politics is failing the majority. Not even a supposed Coalition government is reflecting people’s concerns. Tory ideology holds Westminster fast.
      But people are unwilling to change the political system. They continually vote for Labour, Tory or the Lib Dems, parties that offer very little and who act the same. They refuse to change FPTP for another voting system, remember the Alternative Vote referendum, 2011? 
      Are the electorate really that stupid to see that only way they can change the behaviour of politicians is by themselves behaving differently? 
      We need to remember Scotland only elects MPs and not governments. It is England that always gets the government it deserves,  it is the Scots who suffer politically as a consequence.
      If the English won’t or can’t change their behaviour in the ballot box then it is up to the Scots to change theirs. We don’t have to tolerate a broken English democracy, we can go our own way and create a more robust and equitable one for ourselves. 

    21. CameronB says:

      I know “The Shock Doctrine” has been linked to before on this site, but I think it deserves a re-post.
      Or for an alternative view, there’s always Prof. David Harvey.
      The End of Capitalism?
      Or Prof. Harvey on ‘our’ own BBC’s HardTalk.

    22. Garve says:

      I think you’re wrong to say that East Coast is the only state-owned railway in the UK. Northern Ireland Railways is state owned, and unlike operators in GB, it owns and runs the tracks as well as the trains.
      I’ve not found it easy to find comparable figures. According to Wikipedia NI Rail has 99% of trains arriving within 5 minutes of the intended time.
      If I understand the Network Rail figures correctly, none of the GB operators come close to that.
      I’m old enough to remember the state-owned British Telecom amongst others. Even as a lefty, I can’t deny that some privatisations have led to better customer service, but the UK’s rail service, in Great Britain at least, is an utter disaster. I genuinely hope in an independent Scotland it is brought back under state control.

    23. Tasmanian says:

      Tsk. Creating a banner with the British Rail logo reversed? Sacrilege. Bonus points for getting the right typeface though, or at least one close to it.

    24. handclapping says:

      Interesting to try and make lists of what else they’d sell or not.
      Not for Sale – GCHQ, Paris Embassy, Wine Fund, Plymouth
      Would sell if they could – Windscale/BNFL, anything in Scotland, RBS,
      For Sale – Lloyds,
      Should be sold – 10 Downing St. Whitehall, Houses of Parliament and move somewhere cheaper

    25. Desimond says:

      Arfur Daley in Minder “Now that Mrs Thatcher, there was a saleswoman. She managed to get the British Public to buy something they already owned”.

      The empty faces on screen telling us how this is a good thing will once again have some of us wondering “Why oh why?” while others watch on thinking “Oh well, what can you do eh”

    26. As you mention nuclear power are MSM is letting everyone down in what is really happening in Japan.

    27. History tends to show that when voting or public opinion goes along with what the rulers want then all well and good.
      If it doesn’t, then they’ll do it anyway unless they’re stopped.

    28. creag an tuirc says:

      What really grinds my gears is if we gain our independence our share of the assets we contributed to are gone. Britsh gas, steel, telecom, rail, mail etc. all gone. It’s like getting a divorce and your other half has sold everything you bought together on ebay.

    29. Erchie says:

      It is part of the Neo-Liberal Dogma, an act of faith, which no more needs to be tested than the Ancient Greek “knowledge” that women have fewer teeth than men.

      in this case, the creed as expounded by Thatcher says “Everything is done more efficiently in the private sector purely as a fact of it being in the private sector”
      The fact that this is demonstrably untrue, and provably so, does not dent the creed. It remains, a failed, bankrupt excuse for personal corruption and enrichment at the cost to the taxpayer

    30. Marcia says:

      All of us who read this site  will have to engage with the voters of Scotland that  there is an alternative to this and future privatisations.

    31. Barney Thomson says:

      “Only one UK rail franchise is currently in public hands – the East Coast Line”
      As Garve says above, this is not strictly correct. Apart from the Northern Ireland position, large expanses of our Rail network are owned by the state railway companies of France, Germany and the Netherlands, either wholly or in partnership.
      (as to power, EDF Energy is 85% owned by the French Government)

    32. gerry parker says:

      Well – there’s another kitten drowned in the bucket then.

    33. Vronsky says:

      Excellent piece, Rev.  The solution (as some of us have pointed out) is demarchy. In the meantime, here are a couple of informed sources on Fukushima and the developing nuclear nightmare.

    34. seoc says:

      The Labour Party abandoned all pretence of Socialism when Thatcher appeared in Downing Street.
      The ‘Scottish Labour Party’ – what ever that is – just does as Westminster tells it to say/ do.
      Let’s get out of this sinking mess. Vote YES.

    35. HandandShrimp says:

      So has Ed the Magnificent committed to re-nationalise Royal Mail or is it hand wringing “oh its all too difficult” time again?
      It doesn’t matter if Labour get elected they never reverse anything the Tories do anyway and consequently the Tories only need to get in every so often to fundamently change our society. The fact that the Tories get in 60% of the time is neither here nor there.  

    36. Edulis says:

      Remember please that it was Peter Mandelson, now Lord Mandelson that first raised the issue of part-privatasion of Royal Mail, because it wasn’t making any profits and it had a hole in its pension fund. I think at that time there was legislation to allow the private couriers to muscle in on the parcel service. How things have changed with internet shopping. The Royal Mail is now making massive profits on the basis of a universal service and we in the Highlands are charged as much as £20 p&p for a small parcel and £50 p&p for a large one.

    37. megsmaw06 says:

      I noticed The Poke got a wee jab in too with their fake “Great British Privatisation Commemorative Stamps”:

    38. Desimond says:

      Is there any example whereby privatisation and the introduction of the beloved “competition” has actually benefitted Joe Public?

    39. Vincent McDee says:
      ““We don’t have any direct contact with him (Rev). He is not part of Yes Scotland.”
      Another case of the Ghost Sub-editor not reading the article before writing the headline.

    40. Hetty says:

      I have always wondered how these people in westminster have the audacity to sell off what is not theirs to sell. I refuse to pay to see the art at the ‘queens’ gallery from the ‘royal’ collection, when in fact it should be free to see what we are paying for already!
      Perhaps the voters who insist on voting for these con-men and women, are like victims of abuse who very sadly cannot break the cycle without the right support and counselling.
      Time for people to see through the lies and deceit from that lot in westminster, which is getting worse by the day.

    41. David Officer says:

      I’d just like to point out that Scottish Greens stand on most of those points (not sure if we have an official position on renationalising energy companies, but I’m sure it would be popular with us!), although Stu isn’t a fan but we have elected representatives.  Clearly we’re not in a position to be elected in Westminster using a FPTP system but could form a coalition government in future Scottish Parliaments and are an effective voice for social justice in the current one.

    42. CameronB says:

      It doesn’t matter if Labour get elected they never reverse anything the Tories do anyway and consequently the Tories only need to get in every so often to fundamently change our society. The fact that the Tories get in 60% of the time is neither here nor there. 
      Surely the Scottish public are aware of how a Ratchet works? The tool of choice for all dedicated incremental-ists.

    43. Dramfineday says:

       I wonder what your old chum Duncan H thinks of this rev? Wow, if Labour would only have the courage to reintroduce nationalisation as part of their modus operandi they could get a shed load of votes. Still, they wont, chickens rule and all that. So bye-bye Royal Mail and hello Swiss Post or some such.
      Perhaps our posties and their families will reflect on this, come voting day.

    44. CameronB says:

      While I’m at it.
      The Concept of Fiat Money Explained

    45. Desimond says:

      Seems it isnt even a Tory plan…
      .. below taken from here
      Royal Mail privatisation – another Lib Dem policy delivered
      Here’s what the Lib Dem manifesto says on the subject

      Give both Royal Mail and post offices a long-term future, by separating Post Office Ltd from the Royal Mail and retaining Post Office Ltd in full public ownership. 49 per cent of Royal Mail will be sold to create funds for investment. The ownership of the other 51 per cent will be divided between an employee trust and the government.

      So the proposal was to split the two, retain Post Office Ltd and privatise Royal Mail (with under 50% remaining in government ownership).
      As Cable has said, the plan has modified slightly following further reports on the Royal Mail:

      Outside investors will hold the most shares, and the rest will be offered to Royal Mail staff. Pension liabilities will be taken on by the government.

    46. HandandShrimp says:

      The Concept of Fiat Money Explained
      Money which does not work on a cold and damp morning?

    47. HandandShrimp says:

      The Lib Dems would sell off Scottish Water in a twinkle of the eye too. They are not the nice party everyone used to think they were. God knows what people like Charles Kennedy think of the direction they have taken.  

    48. CameronB says:

      Money which does not work on a cold and damp morning?
      Hopefully a little more helpful and its only about 4 minutes long.

    49. kininvie says:

      It’s worth remembering that a big advantage of privatisation is that it allows politicians to deflect blame from themselves when things go tits up. It’s much easier to haul the private sector bosses in front of a parliamentary committee than to face up to outraged constituents. So don’t expect many renationalisations any time soon…
      And, of course, state-owned industries can end up providing a further trough for the swillers. There’s nothing magic about them. Glasgow council is a state-owned industry, after all. The truth is that corruption, greed, idiocy and exploitation can creep in anywhere.
      No, the lunacy of privatisation is not in the fact of it, but in the mantra of ‘choice’ and ‘competition’. Try explaining that to a rail commuter forced to travel at peak times. Or anyone trying to change their ISP in a hurry, or attempting to find a 3G signal anywhere outside urban areas… But, essentially, these are failed privatisations, either because the concept was wrong (rail), or because the terms of the initial deal were too lenient (mobiles). Not because privatisation is, of itself, an evil to be avoided.
      There are some shining examples, and I would cite the aviation business as one. Air fares are a fraction of what they used to be in the days of the state-owned airlines, and if you wish to fly with Ryanair or else avoid it like the plague, there is usually a way to do so. For my sins, I sat as a consumer representative on the old European Civil Aviation Council, and the stitching up that went on between national governments and their flag carriers was unbelievable. All that was junked, and we have all benefitted.
      Effectively, I’m neutral about the whole privatisation shindig, but I’m quite certain that privatising the mail is a bad idea, simply because there is no obvious benefit to anyone apart from the Government and whoever buys it.

    50. CameronB says:

      What’s with these short edit windows Rev?
      I was going to say I thought it linked with Prof. Harvey’s “nexus of debt management” concept.

    51. panda paws says:

      I agree with the article but to be honest
      neo-liberalism sucks for everybody other than the 1%. Vote yes to tell it to GTF.
      pretty much covers it 🙂

    52. HoraceSaysYes says:

      Just a wild thought – Is there anything explicitly preventing the Scottish Government from buying the Royal Mail when it’s sold off?

    53. HandandShrimp says:

      Sorry Cameron
      Can resist all but temptation….studied Economic History at Uni so I feel I should be shown mercy and be allowed to make the occasional opaque remark.
      “Money is as money does” is the other favoured gem.

    54. CameronB says:

      No need to apologise, I thought it was funny.
      As a student of Economic History, do you have any views on the apparently simultaneous rise in both the quantity of ‘money’ and the dominance of neo-liberal policies?

      Or I could just be checking to see if you’d clicked my links? 🙂

    55. G H Graham says:

      The free market only works to a customer’s advantage when there is free access to the market & where a competitive infrastructure can be developed at a fair cost.
      This is all but impossible for utilities (electric, gas, water) & universal door to door mail delivery.
      Thus we have a broken energy market & soon, a fractured, inefficient mail delivery system where residents on Mull might one day have to get the boat to Oban just to collect a postcard sent from Kilmarnock.
      Only British governments have the capacity to exercise such blinded stupidity on a national scale to the detriment of its own citizens.

    56. HandandShrimp says:

      I haven’t read them yet but I will take a peak later
      On money supply, I think it is less conspiracy and rather more needs must. The rather significant devaluation of both the dollar and the pound will have some difficult implications down the line but it is one way of loosening the stranglehold of debt and keeping the economy afloat in the immdeiate term. In effect it is a way of baling the boat out (but it doesn’t answer why it was holed in the first place). People should stop and ask themselves “if the Euro is in such a mess why is it worth 25% more than it was before the recession”. The answer is of course because we have devalued the pound through QE. Just imagine what the Euro would be worth if it wasn’t in a mess.   

    57. G H Graham says:

      I would say Kininvie that the airlines are competitive to our price advantage because it is relatively easy for them to build a competitive infrastructure. The capital to build a fleet is available as are the planes.
      The airports themselves are not competitive however because it is almost impossible to build an airport next to another one. Again, we see the detrimental effects of a single entity controlling most of the major hubs across these isles.
      Services that required fixed, capital intensive investments, that cannot be easily replicated aught to be state controlled, period.

    58. Roger Mexico says:

      Latest polling on Royal Mail privatisation is only from this Sunday, by YouGov for the Sunday Times:
      To what extent would you support or oppose plans to privatise the Royal Mail?
      TOTAL OPPOSE 70%
      Even Conservative voters oppose 57% to 35%.  YouGov’s Scottish sub-samples are dodgy at the best of times, but that figure was 75% to 11% against.
      One question I don’t know the answer to – could the current Scottish government announce before privatisation that, if independence as obtained, that they would re-nationalise the Mail service in Scotland on such and such terms?

    59. CameronB says:

      They’re all video lectures. Although an hour an a half long, I think David Havey’s “The End of Capitalism?” is definitely worth investing the time. It covers lots of themes that are regularly discussed on WOS.

    60. BillyBigbaws says:

      I’m starting to wonder if the outsourcing of jobs to other countries by private companies is what New Labour hacks mean when they talk about “international socialism.” Since Labour ditched it’s membership of the Socialist international, that seems to be the only kind of internationalism they still practice as part of official party policy.

      The privatization of the Ministry of Defence’s Research and Development wing shows that absolutely nothing is safe from the “private good public bad” routine. They even appointed the former head of a foreign intelligence service (George Tenet, CIA) as a non-executive director on the board of the company – a great way to guarantee our national security. I know the US are our allies, and are allowed and encouraged and helped to spy on us anyway by the UK Government, but still…

    61. X_Sticks says:

      From Seagetagrip over on Newsnet:
      “Margaret Curran MP, shadow secretary of state for Scotland, and journalist and blogger Natalie McGarry go head to head over whether Scots should vote for or against independence in next year’s referendum.”…/…

      With comments….

    62. HandandShrimp says:

      Yahoo and comments are a heady mix. It is troll city over there. With caps lock on and the book of random spelling to hand the swivel of eyed put their underpants on their head and a pencil up each nostril.  

    63. CameronB says:

      Thinking Aloud: Scottish Independence @ 6:40
      That’s the result called then, so lets just stay in the pub and not bother with the march.

    64. X_Sticks says:

      HandandShrimp says:

      “Yahoo and comments are a heady mix.”
      Yeah HandandShrimp, Yahoo a bit like the Mail with even more maliciousness if that’s possible!
      I haven’t watched it yet – still at work – no doubt Stairheid will send my blood pressure through the roof. I’ll need to be careful not to break the monitor either!

    65. mutterings says:

      From a Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management email advert:
      Royal Mail Share Offer – register your interest
      Royal Mail has announced its Intention to Float on the London Stock Exchange and we have been appointed as an intermediary for private investors.
      Royal Mail has not announced when the Share Offer will open, but the Offer Period is likely to be short and investors may need to act quickly.

    66. tigertiger says:

      I’d add drug legalisation to that list. There have been a few polls about this and it’s generally at least half or more in support of legalisation, or at least decriminalisation. Yet the government refuses to entertain or even seriously discuss the idea, and sacks people who don’t toe the line.

      I like this one:
      because even 45% of Daily Mail readers supported it.

    67. CameronB says:

      If we are talking about critical analysis of contemporary social problems, what minimum alveolar concentration would you rate the various commentators and opinion shape-rs?
      Minimum alveolar concentration or MAC is a concept used to compare the strengths, or potency, of anaesthetic vapours;[1] It is defined as the concentration of the vapour in the lungs that is needed to prevent movement (motor response) in 50% of subjects in response to surgical (pain) stimulus.
      Other uses of MAC include MAC-BAR (1.7-2.0 MAC), which is the concentration required to block autonomic reflexes to nociceptive stimuli, and MAC-awake (0.3-0.5 MAC), the concentration required to block voluntary reflexes and control perceptive awareness.

    68. Andy-B says:

      Could we nationalise major transport, power, and other important utilities suppliers in an independent Scotland, I say yes as long as we ran them properly.
      Good piece Rev.

    69. kininvie says:

      It was my understanding that no one really knows why general anaesthetics work – just that they do (luckily).

    70. CameronB says:

      I don’t have a medical background, so don’t have the faintest idea myself. I just came across MAC when doing a search for something else, and thought it provided a useful empirical scale by which to judge pundits and journalists. 

      Pity the scale doesn’t go all the way up to eleven. 🙂

    71. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      You don’t have to nationalise transport. you only have to nationalise the routes then tender them out on the basis that the profitable ones are paid handsomely for and the unprofitable but socially neccesary ones have a sliding subsidy. If all the routes were nationalsised (road,rail, air, rivers and sea, ferry) we could do as other sensible European countries do and design a functioning transport network with proper coordination and through ticketing etc.
      I believe our ferries should be considered part of the road network,should be funded out of the roads budget and cost no more to use than our roads  

    72. CameronB says:

      Dave McEwan Hill
      I don’t wear a bunnet, but I appear to have a bee for one. Though I actually agree with the aims of the EU’s Common Transport Policy (to improve the development potential of peripheral regions through better transport links), HS2 is only going to damage Scotland. There are no plans to extend the link anywhere north of the north midlands, yet we enjoy the privilege of helping to pay for this ‘national benefit’.

    73. AnneDon says:

      I assume this is so the Gidiot has some cash to bribe the electorate with in 2015? No other logic to it.

    74. Rupert says:

      So your answer to the crisis facing the UK is for Scotland to say “Cheerio? We’re alright pal” and to leave the good honest working people south of the board to live with out any hope of reformation. 
      so much for solidarity 

    75. Red squirrel says:

      It’s just wrong.  Essential public services belong to all of us – it’s time our government worked for us, not pandered to the interests of corporations. 
      Isn’t renationalising the Royal Mail one of the priorities when we get independence? 

    76. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      We should make that statement now. The mail service in Scotland will be taken back into public hands after independence (if the SNP are the Government)

    77. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “So your answer to the crisis facing the UK is for Scotland to say “Cheerio? We’re alright pal” and to leave the good honest working people south of the board to live with out any hope of reformation.
      so much for solidarity “

      The people of England are responsible for who they elect and for the state of their own political parties. It doesn’t help them one bit if Scotland suffers pointlessly. What MIGHT help them is an independent Scotland proving there IS a viable alternative.

    78. kininvie says:

      @G H Graham
      Curiously enough, airports are competitive. Once O’Leary had the genius to realise that folk didn’t mind ending up thirty miles from where they wanted to be, providing the fare was cheap enough, all kinds of tiny regional airports have sprung into life. Sure, they’ll never compete with Heathrow, but they are providing a service, creating jobs and (because of their size) offering a somewhat nicer experience than the big boys. Look at what Southampton has become, since Flybe made it a base. Or look at the Brive or Limoges airports, set up to cater for the Dordogne holiday trade – they’ve only come into existence since the liberalisation of the aviation industry. Even Inverness has been transformed, thanks to Easyjet & Flybe.

    79. Murray McCallum says:

      “So much for solidarity”
      Like the way Scottish New Labour MPs inflicted tuition fees on English families?

    80. Rupert says:

      Rev Stuart Campbell
      that would be fair enough if England and Scotland were politically separate historically. But they are not, and it’s not just England, it’s also Wales. Our political parties and our government are drawn from our combined people’s, votes gained from our combined peoples, the political system developed from our combined histories and laws and political stances. 
      Like I said saying Scotland has an answer to to the stagnation going on in westminster and that is withdrawal only severs to strengthen the right wing in England and Wales and leaves the working people with a future that does not include the support of the working people of Scotland. Which in my opinion is a sad state of affairs.

    81. the journeyman says:

      Maybe those who don’t votnecks there’s no one to vote for have been right all along?

    82. Bill McLean says:

      Rupert – I could be convinced if you can tell me of any great sacrifices made by English people  for us, or indeed any other part of GB. If you believe in democracy then you have to accept that England is and always has been more right inclined than Scotland and that we have had to endure Tory Governments in Scotland that we did not vote for – your argument is therefore invalid! Unless of course you only see this problem with one eye. I believe in a more  socialist society being the only way to bring more equality to people unfortunately England does not agree with me or, unfortunately, you!

    83. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      The notion that Scotland should intervene and inflict Labour Governments on England that England quite obviously does not want is deeply anti-democratic and I can think of no better way to make many English seriously dislike the Scots.

      In fact it is stupid (and it also suggests that the Labour party in England is worth supporting because it somehow is a radical, left wing political party, which patently it is not)

      And it is just as offensive as England inflicting Tory governments on Scotland. 

    84. joe kane says:

      How many times does it need repeating to uninformed commenteers that the voting Scottish public has had next to no influence on the politics and governments of England and Westminster since at least World War II, and any influence they do have is currently diminished even more given the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster is at an all time low. Scots are not responsible for the right-wing or left-wing inclinations of English people. English people are.

      Reference –
      Why Labour doesn’t need Scotland 
      Wings Over Scotland 
      10 Jan 2012

    85. Rupert says:

      ill McLean you have to accept that England is and always has been more right inclined than Scotland
      I believe that Scotland has a history of being pretty much the same as England and Wales in voting, with a swing away from the Tories since thatcher see here

      Dave McEwan Hill
      Inflicting a tory government on anywhere where they were not voted in goes against the grain but thats the political system we have.  I didnt vote Tory but I got a tory government.  Just the same way that if, when the voting is done, those living in Scotland vote to stay put it would be unfair on you or those who vote for independence.  But its all we have unless we all start making our own little fiefdoms!
      Joe Kane
      2010, Labour has 41 scottish MPs, Tories 1 and Libdems 6 and 6 SNP which for a population of 5.2 million gives you 96296 votes per MP where as the rest of the UK gets 88039 votes per MP which I admit more England/Wales centric but most of those votes are from Urban centres of which there are more in England/Wales (and not to forget northern Ireland)  So yes the labour votes are important.
      Just a thought, is Scotland prepared for the influx of people who have socialist leanings moving too Scotland if separation should happen? We could see a mass exodus from England/Wales.  Or will the boards be closed?

    86. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I believe that Scotland has a history of being pretty much the same as England and Wales in voting, with a swing away from the Tories since thatcher”

      You believe wrong, then. I advise reading Road To Referendum by Iain Macwhirter, which is very informative on 20th-century Scottish politics. Last I looked the e-version was still only a quid.

      “Just a thought, is Scotland prepared for the influx of people who have socialist leanings moving too Scotland if separation should happen?”

      Yes. There’s plenty room.

    87. Rupert says:

      Excellent, because I am looking to buy up there right now!

    88. Bill McLean says:

      Rupert – Scotland started to swing away from Conversatism before Thatcher and thankfully this continues! It is clear that you don’t know much about Scotland or you would have understood that voting for Conservatives was due to a phenomenon known as the Scottish “cringe”. There are a good many Scots who still believe that crap thrown at them from the elite in England and relayed by the cringers who still live here. This came about by being told by those from Westminster and the south that we were too small, too stupid and too everything else to run our own affairs -just like so many other colonies and ex-colonies.

      You still are unable to tell us why we should sacrifice our freedom for your dream of a socialist Britain. How much socialism has England/Britain shown to us or indeed the rest of the world? We are leaving, like almost everyone else has, hopefully soon and make a better life for our people. Sorry if you don’t like it but indeed please move here if you feel you life will be better – i’m sure in an independent Scotland it will be. Please don’t ask Scots to make any more sacrifices for the well being and security of England than we already have. Good luck! 

    89. Rupert says:

      See there in lays the problem, I think of my self as British, not English and as a Briton I feel that together we are stronger. 
      It will be a sad day if/when Scotland leaves, I love that Scotland is part of Britain, the same way I love that Wales, Cornwall and northern Ireland are part. 
      Is Nationalism Banal? I think not.

    90. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “It will be a sad day if/when Scotland leaves, I love that Scotland is part of Britain”

      Scotland will still be part of Britain. It won’t be part of the UK. You’ll still be able to visit just the same as you can now.

    91. joe kane says:

      I’ve no idea what that your reply is supposed to mean Rupert but I’ll try again for the second time – Scottish voters have no influence on which party is in government in Westminster. The single exception being at the beginning of the 1970s which lasted just months. Try reading the Rev.’s WOS article I referenced.

    92. Bill McLean says:

      Rupert – you “think of yourself as British” – so where is British socialism? When was it ever? Your nationality is English – if you want to take this argument to its ultimate why not just call yourself a “European”. That is not what you want! You want to continue to be a Briton – of course you are a Briton. You were born on the island of Britain! But again that is not what you want – you want us all to stay with England as you feel together we are “stronger”. Well that strength has caused havoc in many parts of the world and did nothing for the ordinary people in “Britain”!
      I don’t read answers from you only empty statements that mean nothing in the context of the independence debate! In reality “British” is not a nationality. UK of GB and NI is an artificial construct in fact a state. When Scotland is independent I will still be a Briton if I choose to call myself such. Britain the name of an island. First called Vrettanikos by a Greek geographer then Brittania by the Romans. I will however choose not to call myself a Briton – connotations around the world are not too good!

    93. Iain Robertson says:

      Bill’s reply is spot on. Many people conflate Britain with the UK. The former is a geographic entity, the latter a highly centralised and anti democratic power structure created out of the subjugation of Wales and Ireland and the subsequent sell out by the Scottish ruling elites at the Union of theParliaments. It is currently manifested by an unholy alliance of neo liberal ideology, the City and the largely hidden array of Crown Powers. To break from this, ie the UK, is to weaken this elite and so free ALL of the people of Britain from its thrall. So if Rupert wants the best for the people of Britain he should be voting yes.

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