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Uncertainty uncertain (or is it?)

Posted on June 05, 2013 by

Along with more direct, overt scaremongering, it’s probably fair to say that the core theme of the “Better Together” anti-independence campaign to date has been “uncertainty”. Day after day sees the media and public assailed with neurotic demands for definitive answers about every conceivable aspect of an independent Scotland that in most cases couldn’t be answered by any nation on Earth, including the UK.


The No camp disastrously overplayed its hand with the “500 questions” fiasco, which saw it subjected to literally worldwide mockery, but it suffered an arguably even more wounding blow today with the release of some figures which blew gaping holes into pretty much everything it’s spent the last 18 months saying.

“The prime minister’s spokesman said David Cameron and the chancellor had both received warnings about a threat to foreign direct investment in Scotland.

“It is clear that one thing business never likes is uncertainty – whether that is legal uncertainty, political uncertainty or economic uncertainty,” the spokesman said. “Certainly the feedback [the prime minister] has had and the chancellor has had from business suggests this uncertainty around Scotland’s place in the union is having an effect.

“This relates to private conversations the chancellor and the prime minister have had. The chancellor is on record as saying he has talked to some of the largest companies in the world and this is what they were saying to him.”
(The Guardian, January 2012)

“By refusing to come clean on the timing of the referendum on separation, the SNP is causing real uncertainty which is clearly a major hurdle in attracting investment and returning Scotland back to stronger growth.”
(Richard Baker, Labour, BBC News, November 2011)

“Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore has echoed the Chancellor’s concerns that ‘uncertainty’ over the independence referendum is damaging investment. Mr Moore said Mr Osborne’s statement about the referendum ‘confirms what I and others have been saying for weeks’.

He added: “It’s not just what we have been saying. It’s about what people like CBI Scotland have very firmly put on the record and the concerns raised by Citigroup in their report on renewables three weeks ago. There is no escaping the fact that the uncertainty over the future place of Scotland, within the UK or outside it, is one of the factors that businesses are taking into account as they make forward-investment decisions.'”
(The Scotsman, November 2011)

Well, if all three UK parties are agreed, and the always-impartial CBI are on board too, it sounds like this uncertainty thing must be pretty serious.

“Foreign investments in Scotland reached a 15-year high last year, according to a survey. A total of 76 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects were secured in 2012, the largest number since 1997 and 49% more than in 2011.

There is “no sign of investors being deterred from coming to Scotland” because of the possibility of independence, according to professional services firm Ernst & Young, which compiled the survey.

It said that “if anything, the reverse appears to be true”.”
(STV News, June 2013)

Oh, right. But then those of us who actually pay attention to the media might have been able to figure out that uncertainty wasn’t necessarily that big a deal. After all, the very same person cited in the first quote above – UK Chancellor George Osborne – seemed to have had a dramatic change of mind just a few short months ago:

“The Deputy Prime Minister claimed that business leaders he has spoken to are concerned about the uncertainty being caused by a potential in-out referendum [on the UK’s membership of the EU].

But Mr Osborne has dismissed any suggestion that a referendum could damage the economy.

‘I don’t agree with [Nick Clegg] on this and I don’t think it’s any secret that Liberal Democrats and the Labour party don’t think people should be asked about our future in Europe,’ he told BBC News. ‘A lot of big British businesses and small businesses came out last week and said actually one of Britain’s problems are the taxes and regulations from Europe, and it’s affecting the entirety of Europe and we’ve got to keep up with Asia and America.'”
(The Telegraph, January 2013)

Of course, this is all easily explained by science, in the form of the Cross-Border Vortex which turns all politics upside-down along a line coincidentally stretching from Berwick to Gretna. But for some reason the Scottish media still invariably fails to take the Vortex into account when reporting on the pronouncements of the UK government with reference to Scotland. We suspect the independence debate would be greatly enlightened if they were to start.

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48 to “Uncertainty uncertain (or is it?)”

  1. Ray says:

    You know those “in public…but in private” statements Better Together still make regarding the Scottish government? Someone on the Yes side could easily put together a much more damaging series of graphics simply quoting the same people saying one thing in Scotland and the opposite in England. All in public. All within the same week, usually. And in Darling’s case, in the same interview! He’s a master, I tells ya.

    I think the Cross-Border Vortex should be registered as a World Heritage site.

  2. seoc says:

    An excellent depiction of the signpost. This illustrates neatly what the Unionist dilemma will likely be.
    Perhaps raucous laughter is a reasonable response.

  3. Tony Little (aka Aplinal) says:

    The uncertainty principle reminded me of Rowen Atkinson’s old Tory MP sketch.  here
    There is nothing so certain that the uncertainty will continue unabated.

  4. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Tony Little (aka Aplinal) says:
    5 June, 2013 at 10:57 am

    The uncertainty principle reminded me of Rowen Atkinson’s old Tory MP sketch.  here
    There is nothing so certain that the uncertainty will continue unabated.

    and Heisenberg was probably right too.

    If you were daft enough to follow the link and read the piece the answer is, no I don’t understand it either. Luckily I managed to dodge that question several times in exams at Uni

  5. The Man in the Jar says:

    I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure!

  6. Marian says:

    Fact is that all the stuff and nonsense emanating from the NO campaign and their proxies is designed to undermine and destroy the self confidence of the people of Scotland and thats about it as far as their campaign goes for they have nothing else to say to defend the union.

  7. Max says:

    Well we have David Cameron’s “Broken Britain” references south of the border and “Unbreakable Bonds” references north of the border. 
    So what is unbreakable that can be broken? 

  8. Desimond says:

    Spare a thought for poor wee Johann….whats she gonna moan about at FMQ…health waiting times…”oh theyre longer in England”…using Private healthcare firms to reduce queues .. “Well patients needs and all that”…”This Independence sideshow is derailing business confidence and investment!”….”Sorry, what was that?”

  9. uilleambeag says:

    Neatly skewered, Rev Stu. The Cross-Border Vortex is a curious phenomenon indeed. 

  10. Whether it’s nuclear weapons, the Red Menace, 45 Minute WMDs, Paedohysteria, nutters with a knife in the street or constitutional change, all Wasteminster has known for the last 40-odd years is the politics of fear.

  11. HandandShrimp says:

    I think the primary difficulty with the Better Together arguments is that they are a shower of duplicitous bar stewards. This natural impediment impinges on just about everything they say and do.
    I wouldn’t trust the time of day from them. I see they have come seriously unstuck on their inward investment lie. A 15 year high, so better than any point when Labour in charge of Holyrood during an economic boom. That actually is quite an achievement (for both Labour then and the SNP now). 

  12. Luigi says:

    In order to scare the natives and secure a no vote, the unionist parties and their MSM are burning all remaining bridges. We are fast approaching a point at which there is no going back. No more bridges to burn! A no vote means nothing – by September 2014, the Scottish people will be expecting something. How did the unionists get themselves into such an impossible mess, a desperate, no-win situation?

  13. scottish_skier says:

    Given the essentially identical manifestos, maybe Labour should just join with the Tories?
    Here in Scotland we already have right-wing Labour-Tory coalitions at council level designed to keep out the centre to left leaning SNP.
    I know this had been joked about a lot, but maybe this could work in Westminster to keep UKIP at bay? They are a threat to both the Tories and Labour now. With the Lib Dems finished, time to close ranks?
    After all, Labour have not been opposing the Tories on anything really, plan to stick with all their cuts/spending plans, and are offering support to them on the snoopers bill, which is essentially entering a coalition with them.
    Ed could be deputy PM. Balls could job share with George.
    Of course what would likely mean the extreme right eurosceptics in the Tories defect to UKIP, but would still give a Labour-Tory coalition a strong majority.

  14. clochoderic says:

    Stairheid Rammie is lying her head off live on the BBC right now.

  15. HandandShrimp says:

    It is a compulsion – they do this even when there is no apparent advantage to be gained from doing so.

  16. Davy says:

    Stairheid Rammie, is getting tied up in knots by Andrew Neil, it is actually painful to watch but still fun.

  17. Breastplate says:

    Time And Relative Dimensions In Scotland

  18. Dinnatouch says:

    Apparently the high levels of foreign investment in Scotland is because the referendum has already been lost. Well, that’s what the lunchtime news bulletin on Radio Clyde said. 

  19. alex taylor says:

    According to official figures, Scotland contributes 9.9% of UK GDP and gets back 9.3%.
    Can anyone help me with how much the 0.6% surplus we give is in pound notes? I had a go but the figures were too big for me and I don’t know if we’re dealing in US millions, billions, and trillions or the UK version.

  20. HandandShrimp says:

    LOL – and the reason Labour couldn’t attract this sort of investment during a boom was because they hadn’t realised you need the threat of an unsuccessful referendum to encourage investors.
    They are liars plain and simple

  21. molly says:

    Desimond, don’t worry about wee Johann ,she’ll moan about whatever the BBC correspondents FOI requests have been this week .In fact ,in these ‘austere’ times, it saves money does’nt it ? Brings a whole new meaning to BOGOF

  22. JLT says:

    This is a rich gold seam for the Yes campaign to dig up and use. They should cast it back at the No campaign. The more of these stupid theories are debunked, the more the fear factor will disappear. Hopefully, people will cotton on, and realise that voting Yes is the only way.

  23. Iain says:

    I believe Donald Rumsfeld has a wee holiday butt’n’ben in the foothills of the Cross -Border Vortex.

    ‘There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
    There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.’

    And known knowns in SW1 that become known unknowns in EH8

  24. creag an tuirc says:

    …and Douglas Fraser over on BBC can’t help throw a negative into the positive
    “The survey found Scotland doing well out of US outward investment, as well as France, Norway and Sweden. That may have a lot to do with the current strong investment levels in oil and gas. But investments from India and China don’t put Scotland in such a positive light

  25. HandandShrimp says:

    Darling, Lamont and Osborne were quite clear, the referendum would deter investment. They claimed to have inside business information that told them it was detering investment…They lied! They are liars!

  26. Luigi says:

    Announced today on BBC Radio Scotland:  Massive investement in Scotland, outperforming all other areas in the UK, except for London (Ernst & Young report?). Apparently, a lengthy referendum debate has not scared away any investment from Scotland, as we were warned repeatedly last year. Ah, wait a minute, wait until the debate heats up they say, then the potential investors will be scared away. Right?

  27. MajorBloodnok says:

    If the UK leaves the EU you can be damn sure that the foreign investment from the US, India and China won’t increase.  And in fact a Scotland in the EU with the RUK outside of it would surely benefit Scotland – as English speaking connections to the EU are precisely what US companies want.
    Mind you I see that the BBC is desperately searching for some sort of dark cloud to obscure the sliver lining as usual.
    By the way scottish_skier – what a frightening and yet entirely logical solution to the outcome of the next GE for Labour to seek to join with the Tories to keep UKIP out.  The Tories would lose a few of their nutters who’d join UKIP but Cameron could have a new whipping boy when the Lib-Dems evaporate, although I suspect that some of them would just get it over with and join the Tories when they see what their prospects are (Nick Clegg for one).
    Glad we’ve got a choice next year to get away from that shower.

  28. ukip free zone says:

    Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them.
    Nineteen-Eighty Four
    part 2  chapter 9

  29. Macart says:

    Fear and lies – Lies and fear. Without the media to wipe their collective arses their shit would drown them in a matter of minutes.

  30. Craig says:


    According to the GERS2011-12 figures. The 9.9% income transcribes to about £56.8 UK billion.
    The 9.6% expenditure transcribes to about £64bn.

    This would have resulted in a fiscally autonomous Scotland having a deficit of about £7.7bn last year. You might find the No campaigners pinning onto this point and stopping here.

    However, the UK is also running a fiscal deficit. In fact, Scotland’s 8.4% population share of the UK’s £120.9bn deficit last year amounts to about £10.1bn.

    Take the difference and divide by Scotland’s population and you find that you, personally, have subsidised the rest of the UK, via your taxes, to the tune of almost £460 last year alone.

  31. alex taylor says:

    Thanks for that.

  32. Jiggsbro says:

    They claimed to have inside business information that told them it was detering investment…They lied! They are liars!
    “Politicians in ‘liars’ shock”. In other news, “Fury as bears found shitting in woods”; “The Pope ‘is Catholic’ outrage”.

  33. Dal Riata says:

    From an online psychiatric site: 
    “The Definition of a Compulsive Liar
    A compulsive liar is someone who lies with ease and finds comfort in it. The person will fib about everything and anything with no conscience whatsoever. Lying has become an addiction, and the person doesn’t even think about the lies he or she tells. The person will even continue to lie if you present the truth in cold hard facts. Getting a person to admit he or she lied is almost impossible.”

  34. themadmurph says:

    I thought it was “Broken Britain” south of the border and “Britain works” when the border vortex kicks in!

  35. Training Day says:

    As concise and punchy a summary of No Scotland’s hypocrisy as you’ll get.
    And a perfect antidote to me accidentally straying into the zany comedy relief of Alan Cochrane’s latest column.  Gogol’s ‘Diary of  a Madman’ has been rewritten..

  36. John Lyons says:

    A total of 76 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects were secured in 2012, the largest number since 1997 and 49% more than in 2011.
    Really? Did something nice happen to Scotland in 1997? Oh yes, that’s right we got our own parliament. Funny that eh?

  37. Jamie Arriere says:

    Whatever did happen to the ‘Big Society’?
    Did it come up the cross-border vortex, saw we had a reasonable one of our own, and then thought ‘Fuck it, I’m no going back’ and disappeared?

  38. SCED300 says:

    Starting to do the Desperate Nos rounds is the story that Companies are investing in Scotland because they know now that Independence will not happen in 2014.
    And we all know that Companies make major job increases and more investments because of what they read in the papers last week, though it was only last week we were being told they wouldn’t invest because of the Independence vote in 2014.
    The No people probably think that will be believable because it is how they work, as seen in the Margaret Curran interview: a couple of weeks ago Osborne’s plans were unfair and a disaster, now Labour will be sticking with Osborne’s plans.

  39. Dal Riata says:

    On a visit to the supermarket this afternoon, I saw a pile of Scotsman newspapers looking all forlorn, and out of sheer curiosity had a quick scan of one of the front pages. The story is there, right enough, about Scotland’s increase of business investment. But within the first few lines of the article, it (or someone quoted?) states something along the lines of, “…thanks to the coalition government, this shows that Scotland is better off as part of the UK.”
    Basically, they were saying that the increased business investment and positive outlook for Scotland’s economy is because it is part of the UK (and not despite it being part of a failing union!)!
    Fantastically delusional…or, most likely, just more compulsive lying.

  40. CameronB says:

    Sorry OT. Re. Ray’s Cross-Border Vortex World Heritage site. You can be confident there will be no need to ‘place market’ the inter-dimensional zone, as it will be a tourist attraction in itself. You’ll see. Tesco will have a Metro up as quick as a flash. You should rejoice in the knowledge that the b&b industry in the Borders can relax, knowing it at least can look forward to a certain future.

  41. Gfaetheblock says:

    Obviously impossible to model, but with the polls consistently low for independance, it would be interesting to know if the Yes campaign was getting high 50s rather than low 30s in the polls how the investment figures would be looking.  Folk I know in corporate world are very relaxed about the impact of independance as they simply don’t see it happening.

  42. Seasick Dave says:

    This cross-border vortex does not work in isolation.
    We also have solitons to contend with, ironically in the Union Canal.
    Basically, what is means is that, without Westminster, we have no defence against these rogue waves travelling our canal system. Only by voting No, can we remain safe.

    soliton is a self-reinforcing solitary wave that maintains its shape while it travels at constant speed. Solitons are caused by a cancellation of non linear and dispersive effects in the medium. 
    The soliton phenomenon was first described by John Scott Russell (1808–1882) who observed a solitary wave in the Union Canal in Scotland.

  43. Holebender says:

    Right, Gfaetheblock… this intense relaxation about the non-happening of independence explains why investment is so much higher now than in, say, 2003 when there wasn’t even a referendum in prospect. You’ve convinced me!

  44. Seasick Dave says:

    I’ve read Gfaetheblock’s comments before and he/she seems very relaxed about the future under a Westminster Government; in fact I think he/she relishes the prospect.
    Not for him/her, the prospect of a different future for Scotland, just the confirmed cuts and reductions in our budgets by an increasingly right wing government and the prospect of UKIP urging more reactionary measures against immigrants and Europe.
    Don’t forget, of course, the clueless Labour administration, the ones who caused all the damage in the first place, striving to convince us that life is better under Westminster rule.
    I’m sorry, Gfaetheblock, but your hopes for the future don’t match mine.
    Hopefully before September 2014 you will maybe open your eyes and see that we can be a more prosperous and fair nation.
    BTW, its independence not dance.

  45. gfaetheblock says:

    Holebender, that is why I think it is impossible to model, there will be a myriad of factors that impact investment decisions, likelihood of independence would be one currently, but ROI, subsidies, stability of regulatory environment, transport, infrastructure etc would all be major factors. I am not trying to convince you, but I am pointing out that I am not experiencing or hearing of any major investment decisions taking the potential of change that independence would bring as a consideration.
    Dave, we may have different views, but I didn’t realize that a typo was cause such offence. Apologies.

  46. Seasick Dave says:

    Good morning G
    No offence taken! Just being pedantic – Sorry.
    I just hope that you can see that independence offers the possibility of a better future.
    We have five million souls to look after in our wee corner of resource rich Earth, England has 50 million to look after in a similarily sized patch.
    It doesn’t take Brahan Seer vision to see that we can look after ourselves better than Westminster can. If you listen to the noises coming from there, every one is mocking of Scotland and its aspirations to become a normal, independent country. To them, Scotland exists to be exploited, pure and simple, and us punters are simply fodder to be harvested for votes or foreign wars.
    Staying with Westminster rule dooms us all to a grim cost cutting future which has been confirmed by all the Unionist parties.
    Vote YES for a better future.

  47. Macart says:

    Aye spooky how this investment never appeared when there wasn’t a snowball’s chance of a referendum. Which leads you to one of two conclusions:
    1. The Westminster parties in charge for all these years were chronically incompetent
    2. They weren’t doing their jobs in attracting said investment because they deemed it a waste of their time
    Last I heard business was all about competition and providing the right mix of environment, infrastructure and tax regime. Perhaps the SGs proclivity for investing in infrastructure projects, engineering, education and a business tax friendly independent Scotland has brought some friendly interest. Hmmm?

  48. Training Day says:


    Are you seriously suggesting that investment is up because companies and ‘folk you know’ in the corporate world have the reassurance of a miniscule number of polls conducted on independence some 18 months or so before the referendum? Wow. Right enough, I re-mortgaged my house to place a bet on Iain Gray becoming FM because polls in 2010 reassured me he would do so.

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