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Wings Over Scotland

You’ll read it here first

Posted on October 10, 2012 by

If you’re interested in Scottish constitutional politics, you can save yourself a lot of time and angst by reading Wings Over Scotland. The mainstream media has agonised all year over procedural aspects of the independence referendum, but we came right out and called it when some people were still sleeping off their Hogmanay hangovers:

“We’re going to nail our colours to the mast and make a plain assertion – the referendum WILL happen, and it WILL be conducted on the Scottish Government’s terms. We suspect that in the interests of appearing reasonable, Alex Salmond will concede either the inclusion of 16/17-year-olds on the franchise or the involvement of the Electoral Commission – but not both – and the UK Government will ultimately grant the Section 30 order necessary to remove any possibility of legal challenge.

(Also, after a great show of pretend reluctance and protest, the Scottish Government will accept the UK Government’s insistence that the referendum must comprise just a single question, because that’s what the SNP actually wants – it just wants the Unionist side to be the one that rules out the popular devo-max option, rather than itself, and helpfully the Unionists are playing right into nationalist hands there.)

For all the heat and fury, it will be so. You can quote us on that.”

Nine months later, guess what?

Right-wing commentators are of course lining up to herald David Mundell’s slightly premature announcement last night of a referendum agreement as a “victory” for the UK Government, apparently unaware of the existence of the internet. So let’s look at what the months of negotiations have delivered in terms of each side’s goals.


SNP wanted: Autumn 2014
Unionists wanted: September 2013
Autumn 2014


SNP wanted: their preferred question
Unionists wanted: an alternative version
SNP will choose the question


SNP wanted: votes for 16/17-year-olds
Unionists wanted: no votes for 16/17-year-olds
Outcome: votes for 16/17-year-olds


SNP wanted: a single question
Unionists wanted: a single question
Outcome: a single question (duh)

That seems to be a pretty clear four-out-of-four 100% success rate for the Scottish Government in achieving its aims. The only thing the SNP could be said to have compromised on even marginally was the involvement of the Electoral Commission in the wording of the question, but as we also pointed out months ago, that’s an easy and painless concession to make, as it means nothing – the Commission has no powers to rule on the question, only to comment on it, as we noted at the time:

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

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

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

We’re going to go ahead and make another prediction: the Electoral Commission will say that the Scottish Government’s proposed question is fair, simple and clear. It may or may not quibble over the “Do you agree…” prefix, but will accept that the question as it stands is not objectionable, and the SNP will go with its original choice unaltered.

We and many others have tried and tried and tried and tried to explain Alex Salmond’s strategy to simple, dim-witted Unionists since the SNP’s election victory, eventually resorting to nursery fables to try to get it into their tiny uncomprehending brains. At times we’ve worried whether we should be giving the game away so openly, but fortunately it seems they’re all incapable of recognising the blindingly obvious truth even when it’s staring them in the face and hitting them with a cricket bat.

Judging by the contortions the No camp is currently twisting itself into to convince itself that it’s just won a resounding triumph, it looks as though we can safely continue. So remember, folks: if you want to know what’s going on in Scottish politics, you can either read the newspapers in six months’ time, or Wings Over Scotland now.

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    39 to “You’ll read it here first”

    1. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      So how long until we find out we REALLY ARE ruled by Lizards???

    2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:


    3. Steven of Milngavie says:

      I think I’ll stick with WoS, thanks. I’ve been using those months to prepare for the Reaper – er, 900-FOOT-HIGH TITANIUM SPACE LIZARDS WITH LASERS FOR EYES (caps necessary) invasion quite well. I now have a bunker two miles beneath the surface of the Earth, with recordings of Symphony of Science to keep me sane.
      Also works as a good protection from unionist insanity!

    4. Doug Daniel says:

      Meanwhile, Raymond “I’m only quoting what was said” Buchanan said on Twitter that “both sides” could claim a win. Unbelievable. Is it any wonder the media is in such a poor state when journalists refuse to see what’s staring them right in the face?

      Alex Salmond could have tattooed “I ONLY WANT A SINGLE QUESTION” and bet the whole of the Scottish block grant on the referendum having only one question, and folk like Buchanan would STILL be claiming he wanted two questions.

      As always, the best way to hide something is in plain site. What better way to confuse everyone about your true intentions than to answer questions truthfully?

      Some of the comments on this article are hilarious by the way. Unionists in meltdown. I think it’s only just struck them that it’s ACTUALLY happening: 

    5. YesYesYes says:

      Ah, but Stuart, you’ve omitted the most important piece of information that our old friend Ian Smart has been trying to drum into us for the last nine months. You see, there isn’t going to be a referendum. It’s just that Alex Salmond hasn’t told anyone yet.

    6. Doug Daniel says:

      Oh, and for anyone who is wondering how Ian Smart is handling the news…

      Try not to laugh too hard. 

    7. YesYesYes says:

      @Doug Daniel,
      Oh dear, talk about hanging yourself out to dry. Can’t someone have a word him? Let it go Ian, let it go.

    8. uilleam_beag says:

      Doug – do my eyes deceive me? Is that a BBC article on a Scottish issue that actually allows comments???

    9. Muttley79 says:

      Looks like the phony war is almost over.  That is a plus in itself, situation were getting stale.  Hopefully the Yes campaign can step up a gear and really start getting the message over.  Will be interesting to see how they manage this with the media being so hostile.  The middle class need to be won over, not a easy thing to achieve.  Next two years are obviously going to be massive.  I am nervous already….

    10. Morag says:

      Meltdown on the BBC?  There’s someone saying we won’t be able to afford an NHS of our own, and that since all the hospitals in Scotland will belong to England post-independence we better start building some new ones quick.

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    11. Doug Daniel says:

      There’s also the old favourite that if we only want 8% of debt then we only get 8% of the oil that lies in Scottish waters.

      Unionists in geography fail shocker… 

    12. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      A handy pictorial guide:

    13. YesYesYes says:

      I see that David Cameron has only been speaking for five minutes but, already, he’s started to morph into Ed Miliband.

    14. pmcrek says:

      We should be over the moon that the press are triping over themselves to claim a unionist victory over the SNP by denying the Scottish electorate a rather popular option on the independence referendum ballot.

      If they publically claim victory then its clearly their fault devo max is not an option. Hook, Line and LMAO.

    15. Bill C says:

      Congratulations Rev, when I read your article way back at the turn of the year I thought you were being a bit optimistic, forgot that Big Eck is smarter than your average politician. Keep up the good work.

    16. Aplinal says:

      Well, I am crying for the deficit in the mentality of ordinary people.  It is these people that have to be convinced.  Unfortunately 300 years of being told that we (Scots) simply can’t do anything without the guiding hand of the Westminster political class will take a lot of undoing.  The next year will see a whole plethora of scare stories (as usual) but with personalisation coming to the fore.  Does anyone really think that Lamont’s latest outbursts in Holyrood are NOT orchestrated? I am sorry to think this, but feel that we are entering a sad period of Americanised political “debate” that will become far worse before it gets better.
      ps.  Why, Oh why! will the Presiding Officer not slap down on these personal insults and intrusive speeches.  If you have a question, ask the bl**dy thing!
      I had the misfortune to decide to listen to Call Kay(e).  Frankly I do despair of the Scots if these callers are a reflection of what ordinary Scots think.   Misinformed, ignorant, and ‘brain-washed’.  It will be a hard fight in the next two years.
      The only glimmer on the horizon is the White paper scheduled for November 2013.  THEN the fight will start in earnest with FACTS that have to be disputed.  We will still have most (all?) the MSM against, and the BBC is unlikely to be any less biased than now, so a simple fact-sheet needs to be posted to every household in Scotland.  Most people are not like us – i.e. political junkies 😉  They will need a straight forward message that Scotland, not only CAN make it on her own, but if we are to make it, it HAS TO BE on our own (Geo-politically, that is).  Otherwise we will drown as the UK-Titanic sinks into the abyss. 
      Hail Caesar!

    17. Muttley79 says:

      Sadly I think most of the arguments that have and will be put forward by the No campaign are basically predicated against change.  The problem with this is that change happens anyway.  Unionists can’t even view independence as a realistic option as they are so afraid of constitutional change.  Individuals have even had to start making up ridiculous claims that there is not going to be a referendum!

    18. pa_broon says:

      I can’t read the comments on BBC articles regarding the referendum, they’re just too depressing. With user names like ‘afreethinker’ and ‘the sword of truth’ given the content of their commentary, trading standards should probably be informed, the irony is off the scale.

      I would just laugh, but many of these people will be able to vote and they haven’t got a clue. Going by some of their views, I wouldn’t trust them with cutlery.

    19. Morag says:

      Most of them won’t be voting because they don’t live in Scotland.

      The heap of ignorance on there is beyond belief.  It’s not worth logging on to correct any of it, because it appears faster than you can read it, never mind reply to it.

      One constant refrain is, OK we’ll let Scotland be independent but only so long as no more English taxes go to Scotland and they lose their representation in Westminster.  (See how they like that then!)

      What do these morons think the word “independence” actually means?

    20. Andrew says:

      Shame when one can comment about Scottish issues on but not on

    21. Jeannie says:

      Well, that’s the easy bit done – the real work starts now. We’ve got something to sell and we need to make it attractive enough to buy.
      I have no personal experience in sales, but it seems to me that people buy on the basis of need, want and affordability and ,so far, most of the unionist scare stories have revolved around this premise, e.g.
        1.create a need to be better together – we couldn’t have fought off Hitler if we were separate
      2. create a want to be better together – a 300 year old successful union, Olympics, Queen, family, etc.
      3 affordability – what you want and need is only affordable if we are together.
      We will have to show people who are undecided  that they need, want and can afford independence and create a narrative around that rather than constantly trying to react to the rubbish spouted by the unionists and the MSM, e.g.
      You need independence because…………e.g. Westminster has to make decisions which benefit the majority and they are in SE England; democratic deficit in being ruled by Tories – we won’t let them govern in Holyrood, so why do we let them govern us from Westminster
      You want independence because…………e.g. you’ll be able to make decisions which benefit you, your family and friends, you can create something new, start again, do things better
      You can afford it because……………….we’ve had a balanced budget for years, we have lots of natural resources, oil, gas, fishing, agriculture….a well-educated workforce…, life sciences….a mature civil service..everything you need to run a successful economy
      And let’s not forget those impulse buyers… a sweetener nearer the time of the vote.
      Y’upferrit? Ahmupferrit!

    22. McHaggis says:


      Ian Smart has a particular view on politics which is fair enough.

      On the question of there being (or not) a referendum he has actually stepped so far beyond any credibly supported position I personally feel he is now just trolling.

      ‘trolling’ not being what the more clueless mainstream media think it is (saying bad things to people), but the real and proper meaning – posting information or opinion so contrary for the simple reason to get others to rise to the bait and begin an argument.

      The finer online trolls can catch the unwary before they even know they are being trolled and the original troll often just steps back and watches the fighting he or she started. Kind of like going into a forum for caravan users and opining that caravans should be banned from the roads apart from the hours of midnight to 4am.

      Ian’s troll is far too transparent to be anything other. 

    23. TYRAN says:

      It’s all show, just like a soap opera or wrestling. They are already sorting out an independent Scotland and England in the background.

    24. balgayboy says:

      Come on guy’s, we’ve been through all this nonsense before the 2011 SG election and will have to endure worse in the roll up to 2014…these so called Scottish people (being polite) who had the whole unionist media machine working for them then in 2011 did not stop the SNP landslide victory in 2011 and it will not stop the YES vote in 2014.
      Let these unionist imbeciles rant on, the truth will out and the people of Scotland will correctly decide.. they will see through the lies off one nation, bitter together, subsidy junkies, welfare dependant and a drug addicted nation portrayed not only by uk wastemonster but also by our so called fellow kinspeople in the scottish media, our elected (at our expense) mp’s, msp’s and their fellow travellers not excluding the shitbags in BBC Scotland that are also financed by the good people of Scotland to pay these mercenaries to lie to the same people while collecting their generous salaries. These people could not lay in bed straight.

    25. Jeannie says:

      You’re right, Balgayboy.  We’ve done it before and we can do it again. But we need to keep ourselves focused on the goal and keep getting the positive messages out.
      One other thing…..we could really do with more good songs as well, though.  Never underestimate the power of the Folk Song Army (courtesy the great Tom Lehrer) – “Ready, Aim, Sing!”

    26. mato21 says:


      At the conference last year A.S said we would have No Limits when we got independence The following was poem inspired by these two words taken up by Weegiewarbler (Hazel Lewry) and put to music
      Hope the link works


    27. John Lyons says:

      I just cant help thinking Westminster is dancing to the SNPs tune here. The PM has to come up here to Edinburgh for the meeting? Who is in charge? Cameron or Salmond?

      My worry is the SNP are easily better than their unionist counterparts, wether they are Msp or MPs, but are they convincing enough ordinary folk?

    28. Jeannie says:

      Thanks for that, Mato, really enjoyed it.  Amazing how songs grab the emotions in a way that arguments just don’t.  I’ll put the link on my facebook page – it’s a great song and a good way to get the message across. 🙂

    29. Steven of Songnam says:

      I’m just scrolling through the independence vs union videos on YouTube, looking at the fingernail images. It is fascinating that people (whether on the series of tubes that is the internet, or on TV) keep pitting the flag of Scotland against that of the UK to represent the debate. Which makes perfect sense unless you think that it makes the choice look like it is between either Scotland or the UK.
      So I’m surprised pro-union haven’t switched to using only the St Andrew’s Cross with “union or independence?” blazoned across it, or something similar. I suspect that if the debate is framed as a choice between that which is Scottish and that which is British, it will favor independence. 
      After all, the unionists don’t want to obliterate Scotland politically, do they?
      …Do they?

    30. scottish_skier says:

      Referendum negotiations going just swimmingly. Aye.

      Next will be what a yes vote will mean in lovely precise detail with confirmation from the EU, BoE/George, NATO etc as appropriate. Probably the UN too; certainly they’ve got in early with their office in Edinburgh.

      It will all come down to the economy. Oh no, hold on, Scots already with the Scottish Parliament to control that. Must be foreign affairs and defense then? See above. 

    31. Michael Neil says:

      The phoney war is over, all the Unionists have left is some damp powder. The only English who have a voice in this are those living here. I’m one, and I ‘ll be voting yes and more to the point I have always voted Labour.

    32. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @Michael Neil – Good Man. Nice to have you onboard.

    33. Ian Brotherhood says:

      The ‘No’ campaign should not be underestimated – please refer to John McAllion’s comments (he’s the final speaker) in this recent speech.

    34. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      That link is an empty video.

    35. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Here’s a transcript from near the start of McAllion’s recent speech to an SSP meeting in Edinburgh.
      “If you go onto the ‘No’ campaign’s website you’ll search in vain for the word ‘no’. The website is awash with positivity, phrases that we’re all now becoming accustomed to hearing across this country. You know the ones – ‘Better Together’, if we’re both Scottish and British we’ll get the best of both worlds, that we’ll be stronger, that we’ll be more secure, we’ll be more stable, we’ll be more successful if we remain a part of that family of nations that come together to make up the wonderful United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
           The website is full of that kind of thing. They even have a video which is politician-free. They’re not daft. They know that the public don’t want politicians, so they don’t even let the politicians in their videos. Their video is mainly middle-class successful types. It’s very carefully produced. It has gender-balance. It has age-balance. It has a voice for the ethnic minorities. It even allows a voice for genuine working class people, people who go on and say ‘We love Scotland. We love everything about Scotland. Scotland’s a great place to live and we’re as patriotic as that lot over there in the ‘Yes’ campaign. It’s just that we want to be British and Scottish at the same time.’ And that can be quite an appealing message for a lot of people who are not political and are in that middle 30% who haven’t made their mind up yet.”

    36. Adrian B says:

      Ian Brotherhood,

      I understand what you are alluding too, however this is one of their problems. There is no debate allowed on these sites, whether it is Labour Hame or Better Together, what you see is a stage managed presentation which puts one view on the page. The problem for them is that it is a particularly narrow view with limited scope of discussing the issues that surround the upcoming referendum. There is zero reason to log in on a daily or weekly visit to get updates.

      They have tried several times to gather enough support to hold a Rally and March – they have all failed to gather sufficient support.

      They did a weekend of signing up  throughout Scotland. It seemed by all accounts that they turned up late and went home early. Labour and Tories struggled to share a stage with each other and that was before Johann Lamont lurched further to the right to align Labour in middle England further onto the neoliberal policies of the “I’m all right Jack” Tories.

      Better Together is not a winning argument – It’s a slogan and slogans don’t inspire people to think. As time moves on you will find that people will get switched off from ‘Better Together’ as it doesn’t address any of the issues that surround the Referendum, it doesn’t answer any of the questions that normal voters are going to ask about how an Independent Scotland will be shaped. 

    37. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Adrian B –
      Thanks for mentioning LabourHame – I hadn’t visited it before.
      In the duff link I tried to post, McAllion goes on to explain that the undecided will have powerful forces concentrated on securing their votes. (I can’t transcribe it all, but if you google Scotland:Why You Will Be Better Off With Independence it should be the first result.)
      Let’s face it – if so-called ‘revolutions’ can be instigated and promoted by the adoption of this or that colour, who’s to say what tactics might be employed as the grab for votes gets more desperate? ‘Better Together’ is a lousy slogan for sure, but pretty meek – how long before the dirty-tricks-brigade are drafted in?

    38. Adrian B says:

      The dirty tricks brigade have been at it for longer than you and I have been alive. It will not stop just because we wish it would. It will escalate over the next two years. What we have been getting is a Unionist story spun out into the news at the end of each week. The media pick up on it and the story roll’s over the weekend and into the start of the following week. It then becomes forgotten about and the next spun story kicks off again.

      We have got through it so far and we will continue to do so. All these stories are distortions, lies, scare stories with unbelievable twisted logic. The more news you seek, the more it becomes obvious that the Unionists are panicking about their position. Logic would dictate that would lead to a different position being taken. As it’s not I think it is more than fair to assume that a no vote is not going to be better for the Scots – we will have to tow the line from Westminster and that means losing good policy that suits you and me gets replaced with something that we did not vote for. I am watching BBC parliament, House of Lords ‘future of the United Kingdom debate’, this isn’t a debate it’s a cross party Unionist think tank on attacking the SNP and their “seperast agenda” -all paid for of course by the taxpayer.

      A quick and belated ‘Welcome to this site’ sir, I hope that you will continue to look in and comment occasionally. If you have any questions that you would like answered then just ask, sharing information and understanding is important. Despite many differences we all share at least one common goal – Independence for the nation and people of Scotland.

      I am not sure which sites that you have already visited, so here a few suggestions. They all have their own distinct flavour.


    39. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Cheers Adrian B, good stuff.
      I’m familiar with Newsnet and BellaC, but not the other two – will certainly have a swatch.
      Have to say, it’s been such a long time since I felt anything like this sense of excitement and anticipation. I’m old enough to remember the 79 referendum, the rotten weather on the day, the realisation that it was all over. I was only 16 at the time. My grandfather was one of the original SNP, was buddies with Willy Wolfe, Wendy Wood etc. His health was already fragile as the referendum neared, but I believe the result broke his spirit – in the following years he withdrew from party activities, suffered alternate strokes and heart attacks. Maybe I shouldn’t take it so ‘personally’, but can’t help it – this opportunity could not have been foreseen by anyone. I certainly didn’t think we’d ever get another shot at it, so yes, you’re spot-on – whatever differences any of us may have with each other, there probably won’t be another chance. If only we can get that across to people, shake them awake long enough to realise how important this is, there’s no reason why it can’t be made to happen. And if it does? It’ll be thanks in no small part to spaces like this. 

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