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Trading partners

Posted on August 27, 2013 by

In an interesting addition to the independence debate today, Jim Gallagher (former director-general for devolution in the UK government, and senior adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on devolution strategy from 2007 to 2010) has written about the “positive case” from a business perspective for Scotland to remain in the UK.


His article for the Scotsman, entitled “Referendum comes down to money” is billed as “Rising to a challenge to make a positive case for the Union”. In it Gallagher argues that it’s only through membership of the Union that Scotland benefits from free trade.

Let’s see if he has a point.

“I am a bit fed up hearing that those who favour Scotland staying in the UK don’t make positive arguments. Even the Scotsman’s leader of last week made this point. So what is the positive case?

“Scotland has been part of a deep economic union for so long we take it for granted. At its heart economic union is about free trade – the movement of goods and services, people and capital, without hindrance, to all parts of the country. It’s hard to imagine a world in which Scots cannot move with complete freedom to take up jobs anywhere in the UK, or in which Scottish businesses cannot trade across the Border without the slightest obstacle.

But it wasn’t always so. Securing access to English markets was a Scottish objective as long ago as 1700. And it isn’t so everywhere. Even the European Single Market is still rife with trade barriers – ask any Scottish insurance company.”

The interesting thing about this argument is that the focus of the “positive case for the union” is the assertion that Scotland benefits by not having trade barriers within the UK. Technically this is correct; there are no barriers to trade within the UK. But the implication is that Scotland would find itself facing trade restrictions should it choose to be independent.

As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, freedom of trade is covered under access to the European Economic Area (EEA), which was set up in the 1990s by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union (EU).

The EEA unites the 27 EU member states and the EFTA states (except Switzerland) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable goods, services, capital, and people to move freely about the EEA in an open and competitive environment, a concept referred to as “the four freedoms”.

It’s actually membership of the EEA that ensures the necessary free trade and access to markets that Scotland will require as an independent nation, rather than being part of the Union. Gallacher does at least acknowledge the existence of the EEA, but tries to dismiss it as an irrelevance with his reference to “trade barriers within the European Single Market – ask any Scottish insurance company”.

Yet the barriers he refers to here are not barriers to trade in a traditional sense such as tariffs and restrictions on imports, but rather legal obligations which have to be met in each member country in order to be able to operate. That obligation would be no different between the rUK and an independent Scotland than it is now between the UK and France, or between Belgium and Germany.

“International borders do matter for trade, as we see in the EU, because laws and regulations differ. Estimates differ as to how big this effect is, but the example of the US and Canada is interesting. Despite being in a free trade area, it has been estimated that Canadian provinces are more than 20 times as likely to trade with each other than with equally distant US states.”

Scotland has always had a separate legal system from the rest of the UK, and therefore different regulations for companies to follow, yet cross-border trade seems to have survived since 1707 somehow. It won’t have escaped this site’s alert readers that business organisations warned of all manner of dire consequences like those cited by Gallagher as a result of devolution in 1997, none of which ever arose.

The article then goes on to argue that as the bulk of Scottish goods are sold in the rest of the UK (something that ISN’T true for Canada and the US, making the validity of Gallacher’s analogy questionable), independence would see Scottish companies become foreign suppliers and somehow find themselves blocked from trading south of the border. But as long as the UK remains within the EEA – either as a member of the EU or otherwise – trade will, and indeed must, continue undisturbed.

“Economists since Adam Smith have understood the benefits of free trade. Scottish businesses have a domestic market ten times our population. Young Scots have ten times the job opportunities. Scotland’s biggest export market by far is the rest of the UK, and our exports to it have grown much more swiftly than to Europe or the rest of the world.

As Adam Smith knew, free trade allows us to specialise in what we are better at: and Scotland has specialised in serving UK markets in everything from financial services to warships, and university education.

Once again Gallagher implies that freedom of movement will be curtailed as Scottish youths are denied access to jobs in the rUK. Yet this too would be a flat contravention of the EEA rules by which all member states must abide.

(No mention is made of the imperative to provide an economy that can support our youth domestically; rather, the argument is that having no industry of our own and requiring our youth to leave Scotland to find a job is somehow a benefit of the Union.)

Even the most rabid Tory anti-Europe diatribes don’t suggest leaving the EEA, for good reason. It’s the world’s largest free-trade zone and membership brings great rewards to the economies of those involved. Any country that sought to leave such a trading bloc would see its economic prospects worsen dramatically, as both domestic trade and foreign direct investment of EEA-nation companies setting up in the country to gain access to the market would take a nose-dive.

So if we’re not going to be cut adrift from international bodies post independence, the ‘barriers to trade’ quoted already exist, and current trading links and relationships will remain intact, what is there to be afraid of?

In fact independence could offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve Scotland’s trading links with the world. Just a few examples might include these:

1. By playing second fiddle to the UK, Scotland has always had its desires and needs weighed up (and sacrificed) for the needs of the larger UK body. An independent Scotland could negotiate its own treaties and ensure that the deals it signs up to are the best deals for Scotland, rather than the  rest of the UK.

2. On independence many countries will set up embassies in Scotland. Embassies are at the forefront of trade deals between countries and can help to not only promote the home countries’ goods within Scotland, but also support trade from Scotland going the other direction. Likewise, Scotland would be able to set up embassies to pursue trade in other countries for Scottish benefit.

3. Having control over our own finances would allow Scotland to borrow where needed to fund strategic infrastructure projects designed to increase trade. The most pressing of these would be in improvements in air links to the world, allowing Scottish businesses to bypass the bottleneck of London and interact directly with the world. This would not only improve business trade in the traditional sense, but also tourism both to and from Scotland.

The trade barriers and reduced employment prospects feared by Gallagher, then, are not only unlikely to materialise: they simply can’t. On the other hand, independence offers Scotland a myriad of opportunities to improve its trading environment.

Jim Gallagher was also secretary of pro-Union constitutional think-tank The Calman Commission. We do hope it doesn’t turn out “Better Together” bought him a sandwich or anything while he was writing this article and placing it in a Scottish newspaper.

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    133 to “Trading partners”

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      That picture looks suspiciously like it was taken from the top of Salvesen Tower in Blaikies Quay at Aberdeen Harbour.

    2. redcliffe62 says:

      There really are very few benefits now in staying under London political control.
      EU membership is key and that is why No keeps saying it is not guaranteed when clearly it is as the other stories would fail at the first hurdle if this was accepted.

    3. Gillie says:

      Jim Gallagher was paid over £170K pa in his role as Director General for Devolution in the UK Ministry of Justice, a political appointment created in direct response to the 2007 SNP victory. 

      Gallagher’s day job was to point out UK departments the direct threat to them from SNP government policies.  By all accounts he spoke, phoned and emailed Whitehall counterparts telling them, “you can’t trust Salmond.”

    4. callum says:

      A large Scottish located life assurer just setup a rather big operation in Poland, an EU country. I would say it was harder than setting up a south-of-the-border operation due to slight differences in various regulations (even though they are all sourced from EU directives).  However, there is a strong business case for setting up a flexible business in Europe because you can tap into 670 million new consumers.
      Bear in mind, that setting up a financial operation south-of-the-border is not all plain sailing either.  The difference in the legal system, particularly around debt and the judicial system means that the operation has to support multiple processes for Scots and rUK consumers.  So whilst it is not as complex as setting up in rUK, I would say that it is quite as straight forward as Mr Gallagher suggests.
      I’ve heard of awful scenarios where Scots banking consumers who have tried to take a financial product provider to a Scots court only for the financial product provider to insist on the hearing in an English court.

    5. Taranaich says:

      I always enjoy your contributions, Scott, and this is no exception. Great work!

    6. handclapping says:

      IMO the desire was to trade with the empire rather than England. Its all these petty lies and deceits that get my back up about BT. Yes they have a positive case for the Union, its crap and it doesn’t get better by adorning it with provable untruths.

    7. Dan Huil says:

      Gallagher implies “Scotland would find itself facing trade restrictions should it choose to be independent.”
      Yet Elvidge [see today’s Herald] “claims the international community would aid a newly independent Scotland… ensuring it received a fair financial deal.”
      Unionists are,to say the least,confused.Is it in the hope their confusion contaminates the electorate?

    8. Dcanmore says:

      I’ve heard this argument several times now in which Scotland can only be a success within the UK. It’s as if Scotland is put into a glass box for its own good and must trade through a middle man (ie London) or there will be no trade or success at all. Even the smallest independent European countries debunk this theory. He might as well say that Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary could only be a success within the Soviet Union and Scotland is no more than a Crown Dependency. No, something else is going on here.
      Scotland, within the UK, is artificially kept at a certain economic level so not to compete directly with the North of England, Northern Ireland and possibly Wales and collectively they are all kept at a certain level so not to damage the growth of SE England. I believe with independence Scotland’s economy will grow and outstrip these other places at a fast rate and that could have dire effects for them too. It is possible in the post-industrial world that Scotland is in the best position, taking full advantages of its resources, to have a growth rate that would embarrass the rUK (see McCrone Report). This is what they’re really frightened of because the SE England would need to absorb that economic fallout which could lead to the eventual breakup of rUK anyway. This is why undermining the confidence of the Scottish people is paramount.
      Same old same old ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’, this is what this article by Jim Gallagher is really saying but just another way of getting it across. Ultimately it’s the grip of London over Scotland that must be maintained if the UK is to survive this recession and Scotland must be kept in its box and not be an economic threat to other parts of the UK, and that folks was the job of Scottish Labour at Holyrood (returning unspent billions to Westminster instead of reinvestment) until the unthinkable happened in 2007 and 2011. 
      VOTE YES 2014…
      because for Scotland’s sake we have to.

    9. Brian Powell says:

      As he is a former adviser to Gordon Brown could this be part of the Gordon Brown initiative to show the Union works? Brown talked about it around about the time he was doing his, “Ditch the Tories, not the Union” bit of gobbledegook.
      Brown advisers briefed against Blair, and spun news to get at Blair, so anything these advisers say can’t be taken seriously.

    10. Arbroath 1320 says:

      I’m just thinking here about another recent newspaper article. Perhaps one or two on this site may have heard about it where a well respected professor wrote an article on independence and received a massive payent of a whole £100 for his efforts from YES Scotland.
      Now that the very nice pro union Jim Gallavher has written this piece for the Scotsman I just have to ask five questions, pretty obvious I know but I’ll ask them anyway.
      1) Did the Better Together camp ask him to write this article?
      2) Did Better Together pay him to write the article?
      3) If not did the Scotsman pay him to write the article?
      4) Will anyone ever admit the truth to any payment being made for this article?
      5) will we see the same fiasco on the T.V. channels over this article as we did over Dr Elliot Bulmer and his article last week?

    11. Peter A Bell says:

      This would only be an argument for the union if the union was a prerequisite of free trade. It may have been 300+ years ago. It isn’t now.

      What Jim Gallagher is offering here is not the “positive case” that he imagines – or hopes that we’ll imagine. What he offers is the same as has been advanced by many other unionists – a thinly veiled threat of low-level economic aggression by the rUK should Scotland have the temerity to normalise its constitutional status.

      What else could it be? What else would create the disruption to trade that is predicted?

      And it’s not the only thinly veiled threat. We also have the old nonsense about how breaking the political union must inevitably also break not only the economic union that allows free trade but the social union that binds families and friends across borders. No explanation of why this should be, of course. No explanation of why, when families and friends maintain relationships across the borders of every other nation on the planet, Scotland/rUK is somehow going to be different.

      There is no “positive case” here. Just the same old negativity in a flimsy disguise.

    12. handclapping says:

      Why does the Scotsman tell us about Gallagher’s Governmental prowess? Is it to add gravitas to the speaker? They could have pointed out that the Calman report, for which he was secretary, in the end satisfied neither the Scottish nor the British Governments, but that is rather like pointing out that Blair MacDougall was the organiser of David Milliband’s push for the Labour leadership.
      Why does the Scotsman not tell us that Gallagher is / was a director of an insurance company? Insurance is a service dependent on sharing and so any unsharing is a threat to the very concept of insurance. Unlike Bulmer money may not have passed but any piece on the referendum by an insurance man is money talking so why were we not told?

    13. Nkosi says:

      @ Arbroath 1320
      I assume that is a rhetorical question, because there is only a snowball’s chance in hell of them ever being answered truthfully by the people you are asking 🙂

    14. muttley79 says:

      Nothing I have read from Gallacher has persuaded me that he is not a British nationalist.  This article has not changed my opinion one iota.  I think what we have seen, and will continue to see in the year before the referendum, is a lot of people who benefit from the Union in Scotland, coming out with these kind of arguments.  They are basically protecting their own careers, reputations, and perks.  This applies to more than just the No politicians.  It covers every area of public life in Scotland.  There may be a few who genuinely support the Union for emotional reasons, namely their British identity, but most will not be doing it for altruistic reasons.  Gallacher has actually admitted inadvertently that the jibe about the positive case for the Union from independence supporters is getting to them.     

    15. Juteman says:

      AS played a blinder by having a long campaign.
      Every NO scare has been shown to be nothing but empty rhetoric.
      If by some miracle the NO side win, then we will have shown the world how stupid and feart we are. What a minter!
      It would be a case of, Scotland the Brave, my arse.

    16. Murray McCallum says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but I am sure I have heard the UK government say we must look beyond the EU (let alone the UK).  The Far East often crops up as the “growth market”.
      I can’t see any particular benefit of selling our products under the umbrella of the UK? Do German companies sell their products to China on the basis that they are part of the EU?  We need to build our own networks where the UK has basically failed.

    17. gorodz says:

      Sorry … but as they say Jim Gallacher is not impartial (did he get paid for this by the way ?) and it read like a very poor piece from a blog site. (obviuosly not Wos)
      It is very poor when someone who has made a living from politics cant even undertake  an unbiassed perspective opening to their work and then produces complete and utter tripe for the most part.
      “Referendum comes down to money”,  some advice Jim … in love it really shouldn’t come down to money.And some of us love our Country
      Largely heartless material based on fear and very little facts. Wouldn’t be a Labour man by any chance.
      All barriers blah, blah, blah and we are at our best when serving the UK ????
      Labour  = Servile = for the greater good of Blighty
      God hope this gets them wet over at BT central because it wont set the heather onfire anywhere else.

    18. Thepnr says:

      I don’t worry too much about the articles printed in The Scotsman, Herald or Guardian as so very few of the people that matter read these papers. The people that matter are the traditional Labour vote and who may be currently soft No’s or undecided.
      Their news comes mainly from the BBC and STV or the Record/Sun. Between these four the only media outlet that truly worries me is the BBC but there must be a way of exposing its bias with regard to the referendum to ensure a more fair hearing as we come closer to the day.
      We, the grassroots will somehow have to organise ourselves and bombard them with complaints until their bias is finally exposed. I’m open to better suggestions for a campaign against BBC bias.

    19. les wilson says:

      Another good piece!

    20. Thomas William Dunlop says:

      On the bottom line with Trade issues should be that the British pond is too shallow and small now that there is no empire into which “trading” made sense. Scotland as a trading nation needs to have dynamic links with the rest of the world and this should be as broad as possible.
      Furthermore, it could also get a lot worse if Isolationist of UKIP get their way and remove us from the EU. When that happens we will all be whipped into to shape and turned into the Hiati of Europe in no time at all

    21. Bobby McKail says:

       Has the Alien Act been ever been repealed? 🙂

    22. Vronsky says:

      Interesting little questionnaire here.  Anyone fancy telling some lies?

    23. Richard Cain says:

      That’s it?
      THAT’S the positive case for the union that we’ve been promised for so long?
      Oh dear, Jim Gallagher has really let the cat out the bag now.

    24. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

      Not just EU and EFTA but globalisation. Trade has been international for many years 
      The US want the UK in the EU to enable their companies access to pan European markets. This would enable them to hedge between sterling and the euro.   

    25. Murray McCallum says:

      On subject of trade (and indeed partners) it looks like all this speculation over Syria has driven up our oil price. That’s a bad thing, right?

    26. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Absolutely Nikosi, I only asked the questions in light hearted jest. Let’s face it no one from Better Together or the Scotsman has seemed able to be truthful in the past so why change the habits of a lifetime. 😆

    27. HandandShrimp says:

      The Scotsman publishes a pro-Union article. In other news bears are discovered to be al fresco arboreal comfort station practitioners.

    28. Alba4Eva says:

      I am starting to get really stuck on my choice for a banner on September 21st now… do I go for the Keep out of Syria issue… or choose the BBC propaganda… or question what the positive case for the union is… or an anti bedroom tax banner… or target continued austerity cuts… or steeling Scottish oil… or nuclear weapons… or…. OH FORGET IT… I am just going to wrap a big St Andrews flag around me and smile lots.

    29. Morag says:

      I don’t need a flag, I’ve got a rugby shirt which is the flag.

    30. drygrangebull says:

      for Sneddon….Burdiehoose  rocks!!..but has anyone noticed the world  just now. America is trillions of dollars in debt, Britain and France are up to trillions as well. China and Japan are dumping billions of dollars of U.S. bonds per month,(and will probably go to war for some islands) Detroit going bankrupt as well as a lot of American cities, Germany cannot even see their gold in the vaults of AMERICA !!. look, all I am saying is-the best way to deflect from domestic strife is to manufacture a bogey man. And it ties in with history….. SO MUCH.
      Does anyone think this is the best of everything, countries need war to deflect from domestic issues. Believe me, I read a lot and the world is on the abyss and it scares me…Maybe put a bet on the referendum being cancelled as the world will go to shit.
      Has anyone seen Wag The Dog….?

    31. Edward Barbour says:

      The belief that England (as well as wales and Northern Ireland) is the biggest trading partner to Scotland is highly inaccurate

      Ive stated several times that this perception is completely wrong I’m sometimes directed by unionists that it must be true as it is stated in GERS. If this is true and I have to confess I haven’t found anything in GERS about trade. Then can only conclude that the Scottish Government are being miss-lead (unwittingly) by their civil servants as I would consider that they are relying on HMRC data themselves, but are unaware that the HMRC data is flawed as it is incorrectly skewed. One example being the HMRC Export Trade tables for the UK ‘regions’ which places Scotland well down and the South East of England highest. What people don’t realise is that this is based on values of exports shipped through ports and airports. So as air cargo has the highest values, that in itself influences the figures as the bulk of exports by air from the UK are shipped through London airports!. The bulk of Scottish exports by sea are shipped through English ports. So its little wonder that Scotland doesn’t get a showing. Only after independence will these figures ‘correct’ themselves

      I’m happy to discuss or explain further as exports and imports is my area of expertise and know how it all works

    32. sneddon says:

      drygrangebull- Ah Burdiehoose.  Many were called but few were chosen 🙂

    33. G H Graham says:

      Never raised is the ease with which manufacturing companies in Scotland & England relocate their production units to former Soviet Bloc countries like Poland, Romania & the former Czechoslovakia. The objective of course is reduce labour costs but the access to the markets to which the products are delivered remain.

      And not once have I ever heard of a buyer refusing to trade with a company because its goods are made in another country. Companies & organisations will seek to buy/sell products at the right price at the level of quality required to be delivered when they are needed regardless of where they are produced. And trade tariffs are usually factored in to the selling price if they exist anyway. Now a tariff may affect where a company sets up an operation but it will never prevent it from selling if the right price can be achieved.

      The suggestion that businesses in England would decide not to buy goods & services from companies in Scotland because of which government is in charge is childish rubbish. After several hours of research, I couldn’t find one whisky distillery in Portugal or Finland so I guess the English will just have to keep sending purchase orders for Stags Breath to Scotland until some entrepreneur in Denmark is able to offer something cheaper & better.

    34. DMyers says:

      Basically, Jim (and I know you’re reading this), you’re talking bollocks.

    35. Alba4Eva says:

      Just downloaded and about to watch Wag the Dog… hope its good?
      I’ll get back to you at the end.  :o)

    36. kendomacaroonbar says:

      There has to come a point where we all stop giving these daft unionists an unwarranted degree of gravitas by actually getting bent out of shape by their comments. 

      Same goes for the excellent (Stu ‘pendous ) poll… why should we feel the need to seek approval from the mad prof when it’s patently obvious that no courtesy or consideration is given to the pro indy argument ?

    37. Jen says:

      Edward Barbour says:
      27 August, 2013 at 7:08 pm
      that this is based on values of exports shipped through ports and airports. 
      Why does everything go through English Ports and Airports?  Is there a reason why stuff can’t go through Scottish Airports and Ports? Can Westminister harm Scotland when independent if everything goes through their ports?  How vunerable are we?
      Sorry to ask but you did offer!  
      I see this article as another part of the too poor, too stupid, too wee campaign.  They never seem able to see the possibilities outside the Union and within the EU.  The world has moved on since the empire.

    38. Hetty says:

      I just posted this article to facebook, saying I just hope some people will inform themselves of the actual truth about trade, treaties and trident. It’s getting very trying all of this blatant deception and lies from ‘no’.

    39. James Morton says:

      This again confirms something I have been tweeting and posting about for sometime now. Unionists are actually incapable of defining a positive case for the Union, unless it is one of how Scotland “benefits” from the union, but oddly does not contribute towards. For Callagher, the postive case should have been what Scottish trade brought to the Union, not the other way around. It’s the idea of dependency as a positive boon and we would be mean spirited and spiteful to turn our backs on it.

    40. Luigi says:

      If it’s any consolation, it is much more tiring for BT.  Aside from having less boots on the ground, maintaining a lie is exhausting.  The MSM is certainly providing life support to BT, but the patient is already comatose.  A zombified movement with another full year to go.  Many won’t last the course.

    41. HenBroon says:

      I trust that every effort will be made to ensure that The Scotsman’s editor is aware of this excellent article by Scott Minto and that they are urged in the interest of balance to publish it with equal prominence to that of the dreadful lies by  Jim Gallagher (former director-general for devolution in the UK government, and senior adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on devolution strategy from 2007 to 2010)
      It is evidence of the hysteria breaking out amongst the unionists that they continue to insult the intelligence of Scotland’s voters with this regurgitated pap. No wonder they are scurrying around hiding and avoiding debate they know they are losing and their humiliation will be complete next year when Scotland rejects their childish tantrums.
      THE City of London will use its lobbying power and political clout to ensure trade and business ties do not suffer if Scots vote to break away from the UK, its Lord Mayor says.
      Roger Gifford said it was important to reassure international firms that the outcome of the 2014 referendum would not jeopardise their valuable business links with Scotland.
      The City of London is the only part of Britain over which parliament has no authority. In one respect at least the Corporation acts as the superior body: it imposes on the House of Commons a figure called the remembrancer: an official lobbyist who sits behind the Speaker’s chair and ensures that, whatever our elected representatives might think, the City’s rights and privileges are protected.”[1]
      One final thing, about two years ago I heard this pap being punted on a Radio 4 programme by Alistair Darling who has been preaching this as a mantra ever since. It was shot down in flames instantly by the then CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, who pointed out the bleeding obvious. He said that companies such as his who were in the international game were smart and savvy enough to deal globally across many varying tax and legal regimes of various political persuasions, that is what made them successful. It is something companies have done for centuries. I cannot believe just how thick Darling has been exposed as being. No wonder the UK went bust under his hand. He makes the classic Labour mistake of assuming we are all as thick as they have proved them selves to be.

    42. Tearlach says:

      One way of seriously annoying certain Torygraph readers (and members of the Calam Commision) is that the best way of looking at the UK is that it was a very early form of the European Union – formed in 1707 – and then added to in 1800, as an economic and political union to do two things – prevent war, and promote free trade through a single currency. Sound familiar? Yep – Jean Monet was 250 years late in coming up with the idea of free trade zones and economic growth through free movement of goods, services and people.
      And what’s the Pound Sterling – it’s only a 300 year old version of the Euro.  
      But something that many folk seem to have missed is that in joining the EEC in 1974 (as it was then) the UK and Scotland joined a loose political union that has turned out to be a bit of a game changer. The sort of benefits that the UK used to supply to Scotland – especially access to markets and capital, and free movement of labour have long gone.
      The Euros problems are issues of today, and will be sorted out one way or the other, but the basic principle of the EU – free trade, free movement of people and capital, joint institutions and the wider European Institutions of justice and fairness will remain, whether you are in the EU, or like EFTA (Norway, Switzerland ) more of an associate status.
      So Scotland does not need the UK, as we have the EU. Thats a point that really annoys some folk when its pointed out, like Gallagher.
      You see that’s its clear that smaller EU and EFTA nations – such as Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and even Iceland have many more fiscal and economic tools at their disposal to ensure that their populace are ready to face up to the challenges of developing modern, open, knowledge based economies than anything that can be seen coming out of Westminster. (And doing that without being burdened with the trappings of empire – two lame duck aircraft carriers anyone?). They can regulate their own banks (for better in the case of Norway, or for worse, in the case of Iceland, but at least they can regulate their own banks) set Corporation Tax levels, invest the profits from a commodity – oil – in a high yield savings policy, or like the Danes use a public-private-community partnership to create a world lead in a Manufacturing industry like on-shore wind turbines.
      So success through National self determination all within the common framework of European confederation. A nice model for Scotland to follow.

    43. velofello says:

      @ Edward Barbour:a concise article on claimed vs true source of UK exports turnover could be hugely beneficial to support the Yes campaign. i’m aware of the deceit but don’t have specifics to forward.Why not write and submit an article to the Rev? 

    44. john king says:

      “On subject of trade (and indeed partners) it looks like all this speculation over Syria has driven up our oil price. That’s a bad thing, right?”
      have you any idea how dangerous this volatility of oil prices is to us?
      where do you think we can store all the extra money?
       we’ll have to hire storage, 
      do you have any idea how much that costs for gods sake? 🙂

    45. Hetty says:

      Yes thanks it’s consolation to know that they have nothing positive to offer Scotland and that’s why they are panicking. The doubters and ‘no’s’ do get very defensive, for a reason, ie they have already proven they have absolutely nothing positive to offer Scotland within the UK.

    46. Chic McGregor says:

      @Peter A. Bell
      Perhaps some of them genuinely think they can return to the scenario of c 1700 where there was the anti-Scottish Alien Act and Scottish vessels trading with Europe were arrested on the high seas.

    47. Kenny Campbell says:

      In summary, “How very Dare You Scotland” we won’t buy your stuff now…..

    48. Ian says:

      Without wanting to split hairs, there are now 28 EU states with Croatia having joined on 1st July and Switzerland is not a part of EFTA. The Swiss have entered into various agreements with the EU and EFTA but can withdraw from them at any time for a specific period as long as prior notice is given.  Scotland will becone the 29th EU member state after independence and will be a full partner in the single market.  There will be no barriers to trading with the rUK. If the rUK attempts to distort the single market by imposing tariffs on Scottish goods and services, Brussels will react by imposing heavy fines on the rUK government. The same rules apply across the entire EU and there are no exceptions. 

    49. Robert Louis says:

      Great article, Scott.
      This is an excellent and concise break down of the ill-founded flim-flam put forward by unionists as a supposed ‘positive case’ for the union.  It needs asked in whose mind does ‘you won’t get this… and you won’t get that… if you vote yes’, ever come across as ‘positive.
      I find it remarkable the verbal contortions being used by unionists in their misplaced attempts to concoct a positive case for Scotland being run by London, England.  As Juteman pointed out above, Alex Salmond has played an absolute blinder by insisting on such a long run up to the referendum, so the inconsequential nonsense promulgated by ‘Bitter together’ can be exposed repeatedly for what it is, utter pish.
      Truth be told, it becomes clearer with every passing day, that there really is NO positive case for the union.  It is a relic of the past, and no longer meets the needs of Scotland.

    50. Kenny Campbell says:

      Tariffs are illegal inter EU. The reason there is so much resistance from the powers that be to the Euro is due to the fact that individual QE which leads to stealth devaluation is no longer an option. Meaning we can’t be robbed quite so easily.
      The Euro will stand and survive, why does no-one in the Torygraph ever point out that the GBP is 20% weaker against the Euro than at inception, its not the Euro that is in danger of extinction its the GBP. 

    51. Alba4Eva says:

      Wag the Dog“… good film, but frightening that it was 1997… another ‘1984’ style prediction of what was about to come in 2001 and the years to follow!

    52. Ivan McKee says:

      Great article Scott.
      More reading on the ‘Barriers’ issue for anyone interested.

    53. Murray McCallum says:

      Ian says
      Switzerland is not a part of EFTA. 
      Switzerland was a founder member of EFTA and remains a member.
      Describing Switzerland as an open and/or competitive market sounds like a bit of a bad joke to me.

    54. Sunshine on Crieff says:

      Using Gallagher’s reasoning, shouldn’t the likes of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands be clamouring to join the UK? Clearly, being governed from London, having all their revenues paid into Westminster’s coffers, and having the UK exchequer decide on their levels of spending is what these countries are currently missing.
      Just think of all the job opportunities their young people are missing out on! Oh, wait…

    55. wullie says:

      According to HMRC
      Scotland exported 550 million pounds of whisky
      England exported 2.6 billion pounds of whisky
      It appears statistics are based on the port where the goods leave.
      Not their point of origin
      Still think we are better together
      Sorry Rev cant remember where I got this

    56. Sunshine on Crieff says:

      ‘Scottish’ Labour have linked to the Scotsman article on their facebook page, and, going by their introduction to the link, seem to think that being secretary of the Calman Commission – that body that thought control over air rifles and speed limits was a sufficient extension of powers for Holyrood – confers credibility.

      “Looking for authoratative information on referendum debate? Jim Gallagher was director-general for devolution in the UK government, senior adviser to the Prime Minister on devolution strategy (2007-2010) and secretary of the Calman Commission. Thoughtful insight.”

    57. Chic McGregor says:

      See, I don’t think money is the big concern which most exercises the fear-centre of your average imperialist dinosaur’s brain.
      It is a big factor, no denying that, however, I think they are much more concerned about what impact a future, rational, fair minded, efficient Scotland could have on that whole rotten edifice south of the Border they have lovingly crafted over centuries.
      Great Britain has benefited, from a defence aspect, from being an island, but that same geographical fact has also allowed its people to become one of the most mis-informed and deluded populations on the planet.   
      The greed layer in society has never been expunged in the way it has in many European countries.  They still have absolute control over the media, history and mostly, cultural output as well.  They are in charge of the myth building, they largely decide what this island learns of the rest of the world or doesn’t.  
      Their cosy view of a life where the ordinary plebs exist only to serve an elite has already been under threat from more normally governed countries where the well being of the ordinary people is at least recognised as being integral to the well being and economic success of the nation as a whole.
      An independent Scotland, especially if it moves towards something like the Nordic Model, must have broken the clappers in their alarm bells, since the benefits of its future governance would prove almost impossible to hide from the ordinary English person despite the elite’s mastery of control.
      They must realise that the gravy train is coming to a stop some time, but preventing Scotland from attaining normal levels of self-government could buy them another 30 or 50 years before they are really rumbled.

    58. Thepnr says:

      Yes I was looking for that as well but couldn’t remember where I read it or how I found it originally. Another point is just this week two large offshore platforms have been installed in the Scottish sector of the N. Sea in the Elgin-Franklin field. They were built in Italy at the cost of £100’smm and are classed as imports.
      Absolutely no reason that they couldn’t have been built in Scotland. Three others all happening now and being built abroad so more imports. BP Clair Ridge, BP Schiehallion and Total Laggan Tormore. Altogether £billions more imports that we in Scotland should be building.
      Not to forget Bamff FPSO and Everest Producer FPSO both being outfitted and upgraded in a German shipyard. Blohm & Voss where the Bismarck was built.

    59. Murray McCallum says:

      Sunshine on Crieff
      Using Gallagher’s reasoning, shouldn’t the likes of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands be clamouring to join the UK?
      A real example is Malta.  They were offered representation in Westminster and walked away from it. They opted to be an independent country – same way any sane people would.

    60. Dorothy Devine says:

      My donation is on its way via a circuitous  route – bank transfer wanted £24 to do the deed.
      Fortunately I have a pal who has an on line account and she will transfer funds to your account to use in any way you see fit.

    61. The Rough Bounds says:

      Hey everybody, seen the news? It looks almost definite that we are going back to war again in yet another Arab country on dodgy evidence regarding chemical weapons. Bedlam, mayhem, carnage, slaughter, bombs going off target and hitting the Chinese embassy again, lies and more lies, illegal ‘daisy cutter’ explosive devices, Shi’ite fundamentalists against Sunni fundamentalists, and yet more crackpot suicide bombers hoping to gain access as ‘martyrs’ to their non-existent heaven. Oh, deep joy!
      The benefits of being in this ‘union’ with England are surely boundless.

    62. Graeme Purves says:

      ‘Just back from the cosmopolitan city Tallinn.  Estonia appears to be coping very successfully with the challenges of trading internationally.

    63. Murray McCallum says:

      The Rough Bounds
      Aye, it’s almost as if the cruise missiles have a use by date. Talk about shades of grey in a conflict. Not sure how bombing people will help.

    64. Jimbo says:

      …or in which Scottish businesses cannot trade across the Border without the slightest obstacle.”
      Scottish business bosses must be getting really fed up being told by the unionists that they are incompetent, and incapable of overcoming obstacles to cross border trade.
      We sell merchandise from Italy, France, USA, Mexico, China etc. Those foreign businesses don’t seem to have a problem getting their stuff to Scotland. It must just be Scots businessmen/women who are too thick to deal in cross border trade. 

    65. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @Ian – “Switzerland is not a part of EFTA”
      Actually it is – 
      Its just not part of the EEA via EFTA and instead opted for bespoke agreements with the EU and EFTA over EEA issues…
      Thank god for anacronyms…
      You are right on the members of the EU though… I forgot about Croatia.

    66. The Rough Bounds says:

      Indeed, ”Those who in quarrels interpose, must often wipe a bloody nose”.

    67. beachthistle says:

      @Chic McGregor
      Bang on. And Labour don’t seem to have any inkling that they are being duped, being set up as stooges to defend the UK Establishment elites and their power retention systems. You’d have thought that being on the same side as the Tories would’ve been a big enough clue for them..

    68. Tearlach says:

      @Thepr – all is not doom and gloom on the O&G front – the FPSO Haewene Brim is currently in the drydock at the Nigg Energy Park in Easter Ross getting an extensive refit and upgrade. Nigg is owned by the Inverness based Global Energy Group, bought from KBR just 2 years ago, it now employs 2000 people. Global employ 4000 people around the world, are on track for a £500M turnover in the next two years, yet only started in 2007.
      The FPSO in Nigg is the first to be in a UK port for 15 years.

    69. Braco says:

      Edward Barbour,
      a concise article on claimed vs true source of UK exports turnover could be hugely beneficial to support the Yes campaign.
      I completely agree with Velofello. I would love to read a factual account of the export system as it currently affects Scotland’s headline figures. I am aware that England currently exports many times more Scotch Whisky than Scotland currently does, for example. An amazing feat to achieve without a Scotch whisky distillery to their name, don’t you think?
      It might also pull the rug from under this ‘rUK is by far Scotland’s biggest export market’ line that is constantly being punted by betterNO. Doesn’t make sense to me, as Scotland’s exports apparently currently account for 40% of the entire UK’s balance of payments (deficit). Would be interesting to get a more detailed understanding of this subject too.
      Something nobody in the media seems to want to ask the ex chancellor and leader of the betterNO campaign is just how he sees the markets reacting toward the rUK, should it eject a newly independent Scotland from the £ Sterling and see it’s balance of payments deficit nearly double overnight, while at the same time sustaining the loss of trillions of pounds of future collateral for it’s borrowing in the form of Scotland’s oil.
      Another related issue is the fact that most of Scotland’s oil is sold inside the UK for internal domestic consumption. As these purchases are currently made in £ Sterling it has no effect on the UK’s existing balance of payments deficit.
      If however, a newly independent Scotland is ejected from £ Sterling and uses it’s own currency or another currency, then rUK will still have to purchase the same amount of oil but now in a foreign currency. This will increase even further rUK’s balance of payment deficit, over and above the 40% or so added by the Scots export trade lost to the £ Sterling balance sheet, as described before.
      This would all be catastrophic to the rUK’s international borrowing rates with a similar knock on effect to it’s economy (and ours, and Europes etc)! This is why it’s so ridiculous that the rUK and it’s treasury are being allowed to peddle the idea that an Indy Scotland could ever be ‘ejected’ from a £sterling zone.
      In fact they will move heaven and earth post YES to insure such a thing never happens (over the short term at least, in order to try and manage slowly, over time any diversion of our economies and their currencies).
      The debt that the UK is labouring under makes it incredibly vulnerable to the slightest rise in it’s international borrowing rates.  Therefor spooking the markets with an overnight doubling of it’s balance of payments figures, along with a similar loss of natural resources in the form of trillions of pounds worth of oil reserves (and their accompanying tax income) is probably the most important consideration (worry) rUK will have when sitting down at that negotiating table with a newly independent Scotland’s negotiating team.
      Forget trident and the MOD.    

    70. Thepnr says:

      I Know about the FPSO in Nigg and that is my main point, the yard was more or less empty for many years apart from Isleburn building mainly small subsea structures. It lay empty for all those years not because the work wasn’t around but because the American owners KBR weren’t interested in bidding for any work for that yard at any price.
      Now under Scottish ownership the future looks brighter but we still have to persuade the big Oil companies to place their contracts here in Scotland, hopefully an independent Scotland will be capable of that.

    71. Boorach says:

      On the subjecct of the Nigg yard. Planning consent has been applied for big expansion to the existing facilities and is likely to be nodded through by Highland Council

    72. fordie says:

      Badger cull. O/T.  Please help. No scientific evidence to merit this cull, in England. (No TB in badgers in Scotland thankfully). Check out the scientific view @ .
      Twitter and FB please.
      Sign the petition at

    73. G H Graham says:

      Unionists defend the benefits of the union invariably from a Scottish perspective. The benefit always appears to be in Scotland’s favour such that without the union there would be some deficit or deficiency or additional cost etc.
      Interesting, I have not heard a single unionist explain one example where the remainder of Britain benefits from having Scotland in the union. Odd that it’s always a one-way benefit, never reciprocal.
      The reality is that England benefits hugely from Scotland financially but Unionists won’t reveal the truth about what those benefits are because it would demonstrate without any doubt how strong Scotland would be if independent.
      This avoidance of the duality of the union benefit is the most revealing clue of all.
      So next time, ask a unionist to explain to what degree England gains from Scotland’s membership in the union.

    74. Morag says:

      I take great exception to hearing my professional colleagues who have agonised for years about the pros and cons of a badger cull described as “mindless”.  If you don’t want a major punch-up, I suggest we drop that off-topic interjection right now.

    75. Linda's back says:

      Was Jim Gallacher paid for this article?
      He also raised the old chestnut about Scotland not being able to bail out the Scottish Banks.

    76. G H Graham says:

      A badger cull will only result in a glut of expensive sporrans.

    77. Alba4Eva says:

      The comments (numbering 2020… is that an omen of 20:20 vision by the public?) in this BBC article are heartening…
      If Westminster think that millions on the streets was troublesome when they were getting involved in Iraq was bad, I hope they know what the public feeling and reaction will be if they even try…  ps. can someone tell me what randomly firing a few missiles into a country in the midst of a chaotic and bloody civil war will achieve anyway?

    78. Morag says:

      I was following the Wings Twitter feed, and saw Stu get into a short conversation with someone I know slightly IRL.  A good friend of a good friend.

      This guy, whom I believe is quite intelligent, asks whether “they will let us keep the oil revenue,” then says “Want to vote yes, but folks I know who’re against it keep asking me where the money will come from.”

      Sometimes, don’t you just want to jump down the screen and throttle people?  How can such ignorance be so widespread?

    79. Betsy says:

      I too followed the Wings twitter feed earlier on. All I will say is that ever since I found out Pat Kane was an indy supporter I felt bad about scrawling ‘wank’ over a Smash Hits poster of him that some dullard put up in school. And even worse when I think of my mocking of ‘Looking Out for Linda’. I don’t now. I was right all along. 
      I’m not surprised certain unionists would like to portray this site as nasty and extremist but it’s very disappointing to find to many in the Yes camp so willing to pander to them. 

    80. @Morag
      Yes I been trying to keep up with the attacks and it seems strange how gullible some people are.

    81. fordie says:

      Morag says:      ‘I take great exception to hearing my professional colleagues who have agonised for years about the pros and cons of a badger cull described as “mindless”.  If you don’t want a major punch-up, I suggest we drop that off-topic interjection right now.’ 
      1. I didn’t describe them as mindless. Refer to the link. 2. This description is via those scientists who know. 3. I’m a scientist. 4. Don’t a) patronise me or b) attempt public bullying. If you want to have a discussion, go into quarantine.
      As before all who are interested, protect wildlife that can’t protect itself.

    82. Morag says:

      Well, the conversation with Gary and Charlie Stross was nothing to do with the Pat Kane etc spat.  I just had this, “for God’s sake, I know these people and how can they be so bloody dense” moment.
      There are certainly some idiots on the Yes side.  Stu doesn’t tolerate fools gladly – or at all, really – and they just wind him up on purpose.  I disagree with him about Hillsborough as well, but I can’t see that an intellectual disagreement about something that is a fairly abstract matter should be the cause of such venom.
      And that line about the easy level being for girls and homosexuals is just funny.  I’d threaten to give him a smack in the mouth for it, and that would be the end of it.

    83. Morag says:

      Fordie, this thread is not about the badger cull.  If you pile into a thread about cross-border trading with a totally off-topic post which is highly inflammatory, and frankly cruising for a bruising, then you have to expect to be called out on it.
      We could discuss the reasons for the badger cull in a civilised manner, somewhere else where it’s appropriate, and the conversation would go on all night.  But not if you are so blinkered and intolerant to start your pitch by describing thoughtful and professional people who happen to disagree with you as “mindless”.

    84. @ fordie
      signed Westminster knows better than nature!

    85. Morag says:

      Nature is disease and early, painful death.  You’re welcome to it.  I have devoted my professional life to combating that aspect of nature, and I’m proud of it.

    86. Breastplate says:

      Absolute nonsense  from the No body. 
      I think the technical term is Uttefeckinshite by proxy

    87. @ Morag says: 
      27 August, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Nature is disease and early, painful death.
      And without it you and everyone else would be dead.   Disease is about living.

    88. Thistle says:

      @ Edward Barbour please write an article.

    89. Morag says:

      I’m going to descend into RevStu levels of profanity if I have to cope with some sheltered molly-coddled product of a hundred years of advances in preventative medicine propound the view that disease should be left to rage unchecked because it’s “natural”.

    90. Breastplate says:

      Edward Barbour, I’d like to read such an article too. 

    91. Murray McCallum says:

      I been trying to follow the twitter stuff going on the Wings account. Seems a lot of people do not actually read details properly and simply look at other peoples’ poor, or even purposely misleading, summaries of what has actually been written or said.
      I don’t agree with everything that anyone says or writes. That’s normal (I hope). The people that do believe everything that someone, or some organisation, says tend to be political hacks.  The type of folk who can destroy a political party or movement.

    92. velofello says:

      Morag: descend into RevStu levels of profanity! Arise Morag, arise.
      Time for some music to sooth the nerves? I have this melody in my head but i cannot decide on a key, i have the title of the tune however, antibiotics.

    93. molly says:

      I know absolutely nothing about ports ,except saw a clip on breakfast news a couple of weeks ago showing the expansion to the deep water quay in  Liverpool docks. ,To  quote the FT ,this will lure trade away from the congested south”. To ask a really obvious question, why do exports from Scotland have to leave via English ports ?

    94. @Morag
      You are looking  at it from a narow angle which is exactly the same angle people are attacking the Rev on twitter.
      Try looking that humans have created an environment of overstocking cattle in a confined space exacerbating the prevalence of a disease which we blame on badgers for spreading yet we are the cause by doing things unnaturally for financial gain.

    95. fordie says:

      @ Morag. You’re boring me now and I’m sure all else who isn’t interested. My post was O/T. I don’t need your permission to do this. And yes, I know that nature is cruel. This ain’t nature.
      My post wasn’t  ‘highly inflammatory’ – only from your perspective it appears. Don’t tell me that I am ‘cruising for a bruising’. Entirely inappropriate. Back to the bullying.
      ‘We could discuss the reasons for the badger cull in a civilised manner’ ? As per previous post, go to quarantine. I’m sure I can out-science you
      I am not ‘blinkered and intolerant’- you sound like a UKOKer. I didn’t describe ‘thoughtful and professional people who happen to disagree with you as “mindless”.’ The link did. The link was there for those who were interested to refer to.
      Apologies to others. But in you wish to protect wildlife that can’t protect itself, see above.

    96. Murray McCallum says:

      When the scientist tasked by the UK government to research this over the last decade can’t seem to stand up and say this cull is the correct approach then there is clearly a problem.
      Also there seems to be no appetite to understand, or learn from, what TB free farmers (in TB hot spots) have practiced, e.g. steps to keep badgers away from feeding troughs.
      It looks like a political step to me.

    97. Jamie Arriere says:

      Badger cull – not interested!!! Please vacate the thread!

    98. CameronB says:

      Perhaps now you see the futility in trying to describe a unicorn.

    99. Etrigan says:

      O/T Anyone got a link to Scottish Independence March + Rally posters I can print out? Want to blitz local shops with them.

    100. fordie says:

      @Jamie Arriere
      No. You miss the point. This is a forum for free speech – particularly re Indy. If you’re not interested in other folks posts, o/t or not,  don’t bother posting a comment in response. Post something that matters to you, and which might matter to others, and don’t do down other folks posts.

    101. Chic McGregor says:

      “Badger cull”
      Does that mean we will be seeing more of Darling on this, the safe side of the border?

    102. Taranaich says:

      Regarding the Twitter arguments: I think the problem is that Rev’s original argument is very, very easy to misconstrue if you don’t read it carefully due to the way it was written (specifically, the fact he was aware this might be controversial but that he had to get it off his chest, so to speak). When immediately given that information, people will think “oh, an unpopular opinion on a tragedy? There are a number of things that could be meant by that.” And thus people will instinctively attach certain preconceptions, usually negative.
      For example, say if I said “there’s something about the Hindenberg I need to get off my chest: it won’t be popular, but I have to get it out of my system.” What could I mean? Could I mean the Hindenberg was sabotaged? That it was murder, not a terrible accident? That the passengers were secret Weimar agents who needed to be gotten rid of?  Then I go on to say “the reason 35 people died was because they got on board an airship which used hydrogen gas which caught fire.”  There’s nothing inherently damning about that statement of what are generally considered to be the facts, but you could interpret that any number of ways based on what was said before, including “a HA, so you’re saying it’s the victims fault they died?”
      Same thing here, I think.

    103. Edward Barbour says:

      Jen says
      27 August, 2013 at 7:39 pm
      Basically the reason the bulk of Scottish Exports (and imports) go through English ports and airports is purely down to under investment of a proper port/airport/transport structure in Scotland, by consecutive UK Governments

      Take Airports. Since the end of the 2nd World War, the emphasis has been on developing London airports. Scotland was/is seen as a ‘province’ or ‘region’ along with the rest of the UK. Prestwick, which was a war time staging post. Post war had trans-Atlantic flights.  Development of Renfrew (Glasgow) and Turnhouse (Edinburgh) was stifled. They were feeder airports and not allowed to have any Trans-Atlantic connections. The only reason that Prestwick did, was the fact that post war through to the jet age, aircraft did not have the range to complete the flight to London. Then the aircraft such as the 707 and DC8 came along, so the necessity to stop at Prestwick quietly dwindled. The UK Government wasted money in developing the terminal at Prestwick, instead of encouraging direct flights to either Glasgow or Edinburgh. In fact the money put into Prestwick was a sop to the Scottish people as airlines didn’t see the point in stopping off any more at Prestwick and they were not allowed to fly into either Glasgow or Edinburgh. (I remember one episode, in the late 60’s/ early 70’s just after Edinburgh Turnhouse was sold by the then Ministry of Trade to the fairly new British Airports Authority. An American Airline called Capital wanted to do direct summer flights from the US to Edinburgh. They were told that they couldn’t do that as they needed to stop off in Prestwick. Naturally that killed off the idea. Prestwick has continued to slump, despite being the perfect airport with perfect prevailing weather, it’s in the wrong place.

      Air Cargo is transported in either ‘all cargo’ aircraft, which provide sizable capacity in the main deck (where the passengers usually sit) as well us under deck (where passenger’s baggage goes). Or is carried on passenger aircraft, sharing the space with passenger baggage under deck. Capacity is governed by the size of aircraft.  So for cargo it’s important that you have the right flight connections to the destination you want to ship too. So, as has been the case, Scotland has not had proper regular scheduled flights by large aircraft to the destinations that you want to ship cargo to. So cargo has been and still is trucked overnight to London for onward connection. (A recent BBC fly on the wall programme, ‘Airport Live’ about Heathrow, showed Scottish Salmon being loaded on board a Virgin Atlantic flight to the US. Interestingly the Virgin Atlantic ground crew admitted on camera that this was regular and was one of the largest exports that Virgin handle).

      Scotland’s sea ports have been similarly miss handled. Lack of investment by consecutive UK governments, which ensured that Scottish ports were passed by. Both Leith and Grangemouth are restricted due to tide, with access restricted due to lock systems.  Container ships have got larger, much larger. The main deep sea ocean container vessels are too big to get through and need deep water berthing. Leith and Grangemouth can only take smaller ‘feeder’ ships. So Scottish Exports by sea are either taken by feeder vessel to Rotterdam or Antwerp. Or in the main railed or trucked down to the English ports of Felixstowe, Thamesport or Southampton to load onto container ships there. In another sop to the Scottish people. At around the time that ted Heath was taking Britain in to the Common Market, the Scottish office talked up a plan to have a ‘land bridge’ of industry, developing the port of Greenock and a deep water port on the east coast and in between Customs Free Zones. The idea being that goods and raw materials entered from North America through Greenock. Were processed and goods manufactured in the centre in these ‘free zones’, then sent on from the East coast port to the rest of Europe. It never happened of course, it was another pipe dream. Instead and later UK governments developed free zones in England at the ports of Liverpool, Sheerness, Southampton and Tilbury. (Oh yes there is one at Prestwick, but cargo is invariably trucked in and out).

      Because of exports by sea having to be sent by feeder to the continent or to be trucked down to English ports, does place Scottish exporters at a distinct disadvantage from their English counterparts as the cost for transporting containers to ships is that much higher!
      There is a glimmer of hope for Scottish exporters, as Babcock International seek to develop Rosyth as a deep water port. This has drawn criticism from Forth Ports, no less who run Leith and Grangemouth

       The way to any countries success in trade & commerce is its transport, port and airport infrastructure. You only have to look at the amount of money poured into the English South East, with M25, M5, M4, M3 and various dualed roads that connect the industry with ports and airports.
      It should go a miss that the UK government are looking at the future of the London Airports as they wasn’t to maintain London as a hub for the whole of the UK, as its critical as far as they see it for ‘Britain’s’ trade and commerce. The stark fact is, it will only benefit England and more precisely England south of Birmingham and east of Bristol!

      As regards your question of how vulnerable are an independent Scotland’s future exports that are shipped through English ports and airports. The answer is simple, they are no more vulnerable than they are now when the ship through continental European ports and airports. But it will be up to a future government of an independent Scotland to push development of current infrastructure in Scotland, so that Scotland has more connectivity with the world.

      One thing is for certain and that is, if Scotland does end the union with England, it will affect the trade figures of England. Even with Scottish exports transiting through English ports and airports.

      You have to understand that currently all UK exports stats are compiled by HMRC based on values and commodities of goods exports from UK ports and airports. It allocates the values against the port or airport that is shipped from. When goods are shipped from the UK to a World destination through a European port. HMRC still count that as an export to outside the EU and allocate to the UK port. But if the union ceases to be. A Scottish HMRC will report all exports that depart Scotland, even if they transship an English port or airport. But the English HMRC cannot would no longer report these as an export, as technically they are ‘transshipping’ under Scottish HMRC control, in exactly the same way that Belgian or Dutch customs cannot and do not record any exports from the UK currently as they are treated as ‘transshipment’
      Apologies for providing such a read, but you did ask J

    104. Bubbles says:

      A proper commercial and ferry terminal is one of the first things I’d like to see built in a free Scotland. It’s ridiculous that an island nation should be without one.

    105. Tony Little says:

      Edward Barbour
      Thank you for that. An interesting contribution.  Over on the Herald I posted that one of the things a newly Independent Scotland needed to do was improve its infrastructure, but I was looking at Airports, road and rail.  You comment has made me realise how little I had considered sea routes as a vital aspect of that.  Strange how the most obvious (we are an Island) is often overlooked!
      Thanks again.

    106. Silverytay says:

      Edward Barbour       
                                    Thanks for a great article , the Rev should put your article up on its own as this is the type of information that we have to get out to the electorate .
      We need to let people know that Scotland is suffering due to decades of under investment and that only independence will allow us to rectify this situation .

    107. john king says:

      Does anyone think it not a little strange that as soon as UN inspectors get off the plane in Damascus that Assad’s regime perpetrate the biggest and most filmed chemical attack up to now? this does not smell right,
       I wonder what the Sun poll of people in England (50% against involvement)would be if it were asked in Scotland ,
      that would be a very revealing peice of information imho

    108. john king says:

      sorry Mr Barbour to have omitted mention of your post which I  also thought was very thought provoking and illuminates a little talked about aspect of how Scotland is being lied to and and disadvantaged 

    109. Murray McCallum says:

      Edward Barbour
      A good chunk of information posted there.
      The UK news seem to give the impression that the top (or maybe only) priority in the UK is airport expansion in London.

    110. john king says:

      Edward Brbours post reminded me of a little fact I posted on the Telegraph some time ago, because I took some time to count up the amount of motorway miles in England and Scotland and appears (no one should be surprised by this) that Scotland has approximately 1/10th of the motorway miles of England
      they have something in the region of 4000 miles of motorway, while Scotland has little more than 400,
       the most obvious lack being the a9 (to the oil capital of Europe no less) the a1 (still only dual carriageway) to the capital of Scotland is a national disgrace and must make us look to the the tourists who risk their lives to come to Scotland with their caravans from the continent like a backwater, which to Westminster is exactly how we’re seen

    111. Geoff Huijer says:

      Thank you Mr Barbour. Excellent post.

    112. Mosstrooper says:

      Fordie et al,
      We are fighting for the soul of our nation and facing an implacable enemy with no concern for our history or culture and you are wringing your hands over badgers in the deep south of England.
      Get a grip FFS. take it elsewhere
      With Independence there will be plenty of opportunity for tree hugging should that be your bag. FOCUS people FOCUS.

    113. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Apologies for providing such a read”

      Nothing wrong with a long read, but PLEASE try to put them in paragraphs, folks.

      (Have fixed it up.)

    114. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      I actually had a section on shipping just after the airport section in the article but it was cut for size purposes…
      “Second most pressing would be the improvement of port and shipping services to which Scotland, despite being an island nation, could do better. In fact the main ports for the shipping of goods from the UK are Felixstowe, Southampton by value and Grimsby and London by tonnage. This is wholly unacceptable in a globalised world where over 80% of trade is conducted by sea.
      “Scotland has 17 major and 11 minor active Scottish ports with Scotland being the second largest contributor to freight traffic in2012, handling 15% of the total tonnage through UK ports at 76.1 million tonnes. Of course this is not necessarily a true reflection on the health of trade given the Aberdeen Oil and Gas industry accounts for a large proportion of that tonnage through equipment and Oil (43% of total UK tonnage shipped is classed as ‘liquid bulk traffic’ – without further explanation of how this breaks down), and the percentages are also skewed by the rUK being a poor exporter in comparison to Scotland.



    115. Braco says:

      Edward Barbour,
      just to add my thanks to everyone else’s for a very interesting, knowledgeable and useful post. I will be quoting it for sure.

    116. Braco says:

      And of course to Scott Minto for another of his (as usual) very high standard articles. Thanks Sneekyboy!

    117. Morag says:

      Fordie, you were the one who chose to go OT with the badger cull post.  You seem to have imagined you’d meet no opposition, and now you have, you say you’re “bored”.
      There are many and complex arguments on both sides of the debate.  That’s why it’s taken many years to take the decision to go ahead with the cull.  Insulting the people who have been having this debate and who have reluctantly come to a very difficult decision as “mindless” isn’t an argument though.  It’s dog-whistle politics.
      Railing against modern farming methods that have sustained the population of our cities for many decades isn’t an argument either.  Nor is the word “antibiotics”, which merely reveals a depth of misunderstanding of the entire subject which is simply depressing.
      This thread is about trade barriers, and that’s why I (and I imagine most other people) have been reading it.  It’s the height of bad manners to leap into this discussion with an inflammatory and insulting post, and start a completely unnecessary conflict about something that doesn’t even affect Scotland.  Now excuse me, I have some actual farm animal medicine to attend to.

    118. The Rough Bounds says:

      What the hell is all this crap about badgers? The English are perfectly capable of sorting this out by themselves; they don’t need us poking our noses in and telling them what they ought to do about badgers and bovine TB.

    119. Silver19 says:

      Talking of container terminal I guess Charles Hammond chief executive of Forth Ports does not want Scotland having these facilities I wonder why. Story back in June of urging Salmond to block plans of port container at Rosyth:-

    120. Edward Barbour says:

      Thanks all, for your appreciations
      Apologies Rev Stuart for my Grammar , not one of my strong points.

    121. Morag says:

      What the hell is all this crap about badgers? The English are perfectly capable of sorting this out by themselves; they don’t need us poking our noses in and telling them what they ought to do about badgers and bovine TB.
      Precisely.  Very well put.

    122. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Apologies Rev Stuart for my Grammar”

      Nowt wrong with the grammar. Paragraphs are formatting, not grammar 😀

    123. Albalha says:

      On the movement of Scottish goods I was speaking to a driver in Ullapool recently. French and Spanish boats head to the North Sea for deep sea fish catching.
      They are then landed in Loch Inver, driven to Southampton and taken, in his case to Lorient in Brittany. A three day round trip, though, apparently, more efficent than the French/Spanish boats taking the catch back to their bases.
      Leaving the fish catching and consumption aside will the planned developments at Rosyth mean Southampton can be avoided?

    124. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “What the hell is all this crap about badgers? The English are perfectly capable of sorting this out by themselves; they don’t need us poking our noses in and telling them what they ought to do about badgers and bovine TB.

      Precisely. Very well put.”

      Pretty sure this should be in Quarantine by now…

    125. Morag says:

      I had the good fortune to sail to Zeebrugge from Rosyth, with my car, in 2010 when the ferry was still operational.  I have some criticisms of the service, but the ability to get to the continent overnight, in comfort, and begin my driving in Belgium, was absolutely invaluable.
      I think the company did themselves no favours at all with their pricing policies, which must inevitably have put a lot of people off choosing that route.  However the route itself is fantastic and I really wish it could be re-opened.

    126. Morag says:

      Pretty sure this should be in Quarantine by now…
      Pretty sure it should have started there.  But what are we supposed to do when someone posts a completely off-topic post which is both insulting and inflammatory?  Just let them spout nonsense without challenging it?

    127. AberdeenLoon says:

      @ John King
      A90 to Aberdeen
      Aberdeen will hopefully be building a new deepwater port a couple of miles south of the existing harbour in the near future, hopefully this will in some way help the larger cargo ships that are often berthed in Aberdeen Bay easier acces to drop their loads off……just need to get the roads sorted after that 🙂

    128. Albalha says:

      Re Rosyth/Zeebrugge, my folks did it at least twice. I think these routes need proper subsidy in the early days, because as you say, it was costly.

    129. Morag says:

      When I first looked it was very pricy, and I hesitated to book.  I left the browser window open though, and after I’d sorted out my leave dates and had a think about air fares and car hire costs and the hassle of changing planes and so on, I decided I’d go for it.  I clicked on “refresh” and the page reloaded with an absolute knock-down steal of a bargain.  It had gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.
      But how many people were deterred by the original high price and never came back?  How were they making money once they’d brought the price down SO far?  It was really, really bad strategy.
      Then there was the overnight accommodation.  They sold it by the 4-berth cabin, not by the berth.  If you were travelling alone, there was no way at all to arrange to share a cabin and split the cost.  The cost of a 4-berth cabin would have made the jouney horrendously expensive, so I spent both nights (outbound and homeward bound) in a sleeping bag on a lilo in the seating accommodation.  So did a lot of other people.  They hyped their “no sharing of cabins” thing as a great positive point, but it’s not so positive if it’s going to cost you over £200 for a bed for the night.
      The two crossings I made were very busy, but they were weekend sailings in August.  They really, really needed to look at their pricing policy, and what their passengers actually wanted.  It was a fundamentally great way to travel, and I’m really sorry they discontinued it.

    130. Chic McGregor says:

      Badgers off topic.  OK so try this.  I might very well be called a ‘badger’ right now because in my spare time I am working on a Wings over Scotland badge for personal use which will be cast in silver.  
      I was intending to export one badge South of the Border, but current trade restrictions are in place because I do not have a P.O. box address to send it to.

    131. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      Interesting Chic. Use the contact form and I’m sure the rev will give you a postal address.

    132. Chic McGregor says:

      OK Scott, will do when its finished.  Its just a relief version of the standard logo.

    133. drygrangebull says:

      @Alba4Eva  Wag the dog is an eye opener, and I am glad you enjoyed the film 8)

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