Stop the bus! Can some non-politicians get on?

JOHN CURRIE argues that despite all the excitement in political and media chattering classes about the forthcoming independence referendum, out in the real world, most people haven’t given much thought to it.

I am someone who has a normal job (a Project Manager in a bank), doesn’t normally write blogs for political websites, and only dips his toe into politics at elections and through voluntary Community work.  I consider myself a patriotic Scot, but also a pro-devolution Unionist and I am alarmed at the way the SNP have done the running on this, and if Labour (the only Unionist party taken seriously in Scotland) don’t work out a strategy shortly, it won’t be so much a case of David Cameron lost Scotland, more like Scottish Labour lost Britain.

The new Scottish Labour leadership must not run scared of the SNP on this issue.  Labour has a head start as, generally speaking, people don’t really like major change. The SNP know this, which is why they are trying to muddy the independence waters with a “devo max” question, and lash out when sensible questions are asked and criticisms are made of their independence stance.

To prepare the ground for a successful referendum campaign, Labour must use focus groups and talk to voters to understand why it lost so heavily in May 2011.  It must reshape its policies so that it stops being a central belt party. It must stop being seen as just representing public sector unions. It must present itself as a potential government in 2016, and start gaining in opinion polls in the lead up to 2014.  That way the public are more likely to listen to the Labour message on independence.

I suspect the Scottish electorate would like the right questions asked along with some cold hard facts, so perhaps the powers that be in Scottish Labour would like to consider the following:

  • Pretending the sky will fall in after independence is insulting, grates, and backfires politically.  The morning after everything will still be the same outside the living room window.  Scotland could go it alone as a separate state.  In population terms, it is much the same as Norway, Finland or Denmark.  The question is should it?
  • Would Scotland receive automatic EU entry?  Opinions differ – what I would like is a straight answer from the EU itself.  If entry is not automatic, Spain might veto our entry to avoid setting a precedent for Catalonia or the Basque country, and our membership bid might be held hostage to issues over which we have no control (for example, I understand Greece hinted at blocking the accession to the EU of various East European countries if Cyprus wasn’t admitted at the same time)
  • If independence is about economics, what is the point if the country is tying yourself to monetary unions over which you have no control (like the wacky idea of keeping now-foreign Britain’s currency post-independence) or very little control (the euro, if Scotland ever joined the EU).  The negative consequences of this need spelt out.
  • How would Scotland pay for itself?  I suspect the country could, but with difficulty.  I would like to see independent analysis done by a respected (and neutral) US or European university. This would provide light on the economic question that is supposedly key to the vote. I suspect an independent Scotland would have similar public services to the Republic of Ireland (i.e. less), with higher VAT, higher prices, and having to pay for services we take for granted as being free, such as visiting the GP.  The politics might become as corrupt too!
  • The SNP love the idea of an independent Scotland with a seat at the UN.  Is that the limit of our ambitions?  I prefer the idea (and security) of being part of a big, globally significant, country, and we’ve had more than our fair share of UK Prime Ministers in the last century. Real patriotic Scots like to rule England too!
  • On a similar note, can you imagine what the TV will be like?  I suspect it will be insular in outlook, and a similar drive will take place in Scotland to force people to learn Gaelic if they want public sector jobs.  Apart from TV, other things will take place to make Scotland “different” from potentially being on a different time zone to England, as they will surely change their clocks down south, to road numbers and road signs.
  • The SNP want the “devo max” question on the ballot, because they want a consolation prize.  I think this muddies the waters, and is there to split the unionist vote. However, if they spelt out what was, and it seemed to be popular, we should not object to the question being asked in a separate referendum on a separate date (if a referendum was deemed necessary for it).  This does seem to be the most popular choice, and Labour will pay in the court of public opinion if they block it.
  • A question that is never asked is “Why would we want to separate?” We are not like the states that emerged from the former USSR, where Russia oppressed Estonia, Latvia, etc.  They were right to demand independence, and it was great that they got it.  However, England does not oppress Scotland.  The proof of that is the simple fact we are having this debate.

I like England, most English people I’ve met are very friendly, and I feel embarrassed about the amount of Scots that seem to have a “chip on their shoulder” about everything English.  It is true their commentators can drive a Scot nuts at World Cups when they go on about 1966, but seriously, I think the English would celebrate Scottish success at a World Cup (as long as it is not against them!)

So, what is it about the rest of Britain that causes the SNP to want independence?  Is it just economics and political power for them?  If that’s the case, some patriots they are.

John Currie is a member of the Labour Party and acts as treasurer to the Glasgow South Labour Party.

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95 thoughts on “Stop the bus! Can some non-politicians get on?

  1. i also like the england,i also like france,spain,wales denmark, sweden i could go on.if labour want the best for scotland why do they want us to be subjected to a tory goverment every few years as happens being in the uk.

    1. This argument is pretty poor yet the nats seem to keep trotting it out. This seems to be a major reason for some to support independence. First of all, the idea seems to be that Labour want Tory governments – we don’t. We don’t want Tory, Lib Dem or SNP governments; we want Labour governments and we want Labour governments at Holyrood, Westminster and Cardiff to tackle poverty and inequalites. This argument is a clear mud-slinging tactic by nats but I’m guessing it must be that positive mud that they’re using?

      Secondly, this argument tries to create the impression that independence would stop right/right-centre governments gaining power. This is a falsehood as I’ve said here before. There was sizeable support for the Tories pre-1997 and although people went off the Tories they are still ideologically on the right/right-centre. This means a party expressing those sorts of policies (probably not called the Tories) would become one of the largest parties in an independent Scotland. As with all democracies, when people get fed-up with the current government they vote for the next party that are most likely to take power away from that party. The strange thing with this argument is that the Tory vote mainly transferred across to the SNP as they promote right-centre economic policies and if the SNP disbanded post-independence it would be SNP members who join such a party – so far nats to say they would end Tory governments while some in their ranks would start up a Scottish equivalent post-independence is incredibly misleading.

      If anything devolution is the best option to protect people in Scotland from the Tories. I just wish we had a government at Holyrood who would use devolution effectively to negate the negative effects of Tory-led policies as the SNP are certainly not up to the job.

      1. You wish you had a government in Holyrood that would focus on trying to negate the effects of what the government in Westminster is doing?

        Do you seriously not see how bonkers that is? Two rival governments of the same country trying to undermine each other?

        Wouldn’t it be much simpler just to have one government elected by people in Scotland – and whoever wins the election forms the government. It’s the way most other people do it!

      2. See, to be totally honest, I’m neither nailed to the SNP’s mast or the Labour mast nor any other party. It doesn’t matter what the “Labour party want”. This is about giving whoever the Scottish Government is a clear, unambiguous mandate from the people who live here. That could be a centre right party, a left party, a communist party, a fascist party, a centre left party a central party, a pirate party, a green party, an anything party. It doesn’t rankle with me what it is because that’s democracy. I have my own opinion on it and would vote according to the options available. What matters is that the Government of Scotland is accountable – and can be voted out – by the people of Scotland. Do you not trust the people to hold whatever party is in power to account?

        We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking the Scottish people need protecting from anyone. The Scottish people will vote, in good faith, like any other citizen of a country for a Government to represent them. And they’ll have the ability to throw them out too. No need for protection from heehaw. If it’s a centre right party that the people vote for – so be it. If it’s a centre left party – so be it.

        Protection! Protection from ourselves? The people of Scotland are quite capable of voting according to their own individual beliefs.

      3. During all of the Blair/ Brown years, I was a Social Worker. I worked for one Labour controlled council, then moved to another Labour controlled Council. I saw no diminution of poverty, deprivation, or inequalities. After Mr. Balls’s statements last weekend, I hold no great hope that that situation is likely to change, in the unlikely event of a Labour Govt being returned at the next Westminster Elections. Incidentally, I didn’t see anything to address any of these issues coming out of the Labour/ Lib Dem coalition at Holyrood either. That GMcG is why I am a member of the SNP, and will vote for Independence in the referendum,not because I’m anti-English.I’m anti nothing, just very pro Scotland.

      4. “we want Labour governments and we want Labour governments at Holyrood, Westminster and Cardiff to tackle poverty and inequalites.”

        This is a noble aim, but I don’t believe the Westminster Labour party shares your views on poverty and inequality, and it might never again.

        Even if you get a Labour govt into Westminster at the next GE we will all still face more “Tory” cuts, since half the Tory policies going through at the moment are just extensions of old New Labour ones, and the current Labour leadership at Westminster seem to support (barring a few grumbles) everything Cameron does.

  2. A few good points there, I think.

    However, I’m getting a bit sick to the back teeth of the anti-English thing. This is not what this is about; we can have friendly banter but not be hateful. We can rule on our own affairs – a basic principle – the norm, if you like, for countries without that being an expression of distaste towards our nearest friend.

    I am honestly really getting quite annoyed at the insinuation that just because I support independence somehow I am a parochial, inward looking, backwards looking person. I speak more than one language, have lived abroad, worked abroad and learned (or at least tried to!) about other cultures of this world. I enjoy the company of people proud of their country(ies) and people who couldn’t care less. This is about putting democracy at the heart of the Scottish Parliament and giving the people in that Parliament the ability to exercise their duties based on a mandate of the people.

    Whether we like it or not democracies are built around countries. That is not nationalism. It’s a basic observation of reality. Is it the Unionist position that the only viable, outward looking nation is Britain? That’s fine. It’s an opinion. However, to suggest that just because someone disagrees about which nation is best suited to the needs of people living in this wee outpost isn’t nationalism. It’s just another opinion.

    1. Well said. I am sick of labels like “progresives” and “separatists” which are meant to rob you of credibility before any debate has commenced. I also have plenty of foreign friends and admire many countries, but I feel no sudden urge to hand over the management of my affairs to their governments as some form of gesture politics.
      John is right on many points concerning Labours approach but I’m not holding my breath about seeing them adressed as I see no evidence for unity of vision at the top.

  3. A question that is never asked is “Why would we want to separate?” We are not like the states that emerged from the former USSR, where Russia oppressed Estonia, Latvia, etc.

    Why should Scotland be charged for the use of embassies to promote Scottish goods when we already contribute to there running, upkeep and promotion of other industries over the border?

  4. Agreed… a few good point on here, but i agree with R pollock – the anti english issue doesnt exist to the level that is being mentioned. This constant “chip on the shoulder” the scots hate the english mentality isnt healthy in this debate. So some narrow minded people have those views about the english… I have no doubt that there are people in England who have obscene and unfounded prejudices about the scots…… should that determine the level of debate?

    As to your last question the feeling i get is that its very clear;

    The issue is with westminster policies not the english!!

    Too much money spent and wasted on things which just dont wash with normal people. Too many lies, too much corruption! Thats the reason Scots want change! They believe they can do better!

    What labour need to do is give us an alternative as its already been decided that the status quo is not acceptable.

    I have no affilliation with any party; just giving my thoughts!…

    1. I’ve met plenty of English people who spout the ‘two world wars, one world cup’ line. Or the ones who refer to us as ‘Porridge Wogs’. That doesn’t mean I should stereotype all English people that way.

  5. ‘A question that is never asked is “Why would we want to separate?”’

    There is one fundamental basic reason – Democratic deficit.

    The UK government is almost always chosen by voters in England at a General Election. At least nine times out of ten, we are stuck with the party England voted for, like it or not.

    Unaccountability is the fatal flaw of being in a union with a country more than ten times your population. And it’s why the union can’t last.

    Enough’s enough.

  6. Some good points John. have you read the McCrone Report that stated that if Scotland became independent, it would be “embarrassingly wealthy”
    This report was buried by the then Labour government and was then kept a secret by both Labour and Tory governments for 30 years.

    That was an honest look at Scottish finances but unfortunately it was not an honest one.
    In light of this why would anyone trust the labour party had Scotland’s best interest at heart.

    They deceived Scotland for 30 years !!!

    1. yeah, I’ve read that report. The reason he used “embarrassingly wealthy” was because such reliance on oil would destroy manufacturing and tourism, through the strength of the currency.

      It helps if you read ALL the report.

      1. Without being rude can you explain your bizarre assumption of oil destroying manufacturing in Scotland just because that is what Westminster did under control of unionist parties to benefit the City.

        1. Well, I am basing it on a report which the SNP seems to think is so important and proves the case for indepedence. If you dont think its relevant, please stop quoting it (it is rather dated now).

          And bear in mind, what happened later was partly down to the same reasons McCrone said would happen in an independent Scotland. Appreciation of the currency as North Sea Oil came online.

          1. There is no logic to your statement
            You seem to think that because you repeat a piece of silly propaganda that others will be fooled into thinking the same as you .
            Please, Please stop this rubbish and spin and enter the real world.

      2. The solution to that conundrum is very simple. Do the same as Norway did – create an oil fund and invest the surplus income to be used in the future. With careful husbanding, the fund could last forever. Instead the UK pissed away the greatest windfall this country has ever had (and may ever have) in destroying its industrial base and in vain-glorious projects.

        1. Jim,
          McCrone considered this, he said (and I only quote his report because the SNP seem to think he’s the bee’s knees) that as the Oil industry became such a large part of the Scottish economy, you would need to spend more money on supporting the non-Oil economy with grants, and benefits to unemployed workers etc., that you wouldnt have as much money as you would think.

          Also, Norway has higher taxes which it uses for its ongoing costs, so doesnt need the oil revenue as much.

          1. The censorship of the McCrone report was a direct attack on the Scottish people and a rather sleazy and vicious political tactic by the then labour government. This political sleaze was then taken up by the Tories and you describe it as “the bee’s knees”.
            That is disgusting you should be ashamed of yourself.

      3. John Ruddy-There is an issue about the likely appreciation of a Scottish currency versus a UK currency but most unionists genuinely but foolishly believe that a Scottish currency would fall versus sterling-that is simply not the case and should be admitted.

        There is an issue about having a strong currency but it is a lesser problem than having a weak one-but the admission of the strength of a Scottish currency would weaken the case for the union in the eyes of the electorate and so will be denied by Labour.

        Don’t bother saying Salmond says he will keep sterling-this is only promised as a first-and not necessarily final-step

      4. Of course Scotland has such a fantastic manufacturing base now as part of the “union divident”…

        On Manufacturing, hopefully there will be a point to discuss this in the plebicite campaign as an Independent Scotland must have a better manufacturing base than it does now.

      5. So is it some labour supporters position that Scotland should not be independent because we would become so wealthy that the strength of our currency would be bad for tourism and manufacturing ?

        1. I didnt say that, but then being able to deliberately mis-interpret someone is a pre-requisite for nationalism.

          I said thats what McCrone meant by “embarrasingly wealthy”. He says so in his report. I take it from your comments that you havnt read it.

          We hear talk now of an unbalanced economy, but McCrone makes clear that an independent Scotland would have a vastly unbalanced economy, as the strong currency would decimate Scottish manufacturing and Tourism (what happened later on when the £ appreciated for similar reasons – although a high interest rate also contributed). The money from North Sea Oil would then be needed to prop up the economy (again simialr to what happened later).

          Its very interesting stuff, although of course very out of date. But please do continue to rely on this as the basis of independence.

      6. If you are right John, why did the labour party hide the report ? surely the fact that our tourist and manufacturing industries would be destroyed, would have been good reason for the Labour party to let the Scottish public know about the report ?
        Surely the labour party must warn the Scottish people NOW!!! about the destruction of our tourism and whats left of our manufacturing industry ?

        SURELY ?

        If not why not John ?

      7. As you can see from the reply you already got, for some at least you’re already the boy who cried “Wolf!”.

        The “Dutch Disease” should be impossible to catch if an independent Scotland were to be using or in some relationship with Sterling or the Euro and highly unlikely in the short term with a separate currency. Everybody is aware of the problem these days and Australia and Norway, among others, seem to manage it well enough. It’s not something that can be ignored but nobody – not even the Dutch – would choose to give up the resources which are at the root of it in order to avoid the problem.

        1. Since you, like your colleagues, have decided to mis-intereprate me (not for the first time), I will spell it out.

          This was the view of the sainted McCrone report.

          Obviously, if Scotland were to use Sterling, no such thing would happen. I think thats as plain as the nose on your face. The embarassment McCrone was talking about was not the fact that all Scots would be rolling in gold, but that it would cause hardship in many other sectors of the Scottish economy in the circumstances of a Scottish currency reliant on Oil.

          But then I have come to the conclusion that not only do nationalists not read other comments, they dont read the reports they rely on to bash other people with.

  7. I believe that you have made a real grassroots contribution, John, and you have said what you believe from what you observe, or think you observe.

    Really it would take a step by step refutation of each point where we disagree or agree, so I am just going to address one point.

    “a similar drive will take place in Scotland to force people to learn Gaelic if they want public sector jobs”: Really? Have you any source whatsoever for this view? I have never heard anything of the sort. If you are going to present a case, please support it with facts. Present to us instead what Labour’s approach will be to maintaining even the current level of gaelic teaching with the limited resources available. How will Labour address the decline in this indigenous language? (I am not a Gaelic speaker).

  8. What anti-English thing is that then?
    Are you perhaps making the same mistake so many Westminster Politicos, and the mainstream media, both in England and Scotland make? The SNP, and most of their supporters, are most certainly not anti-English. There is all the difference in the World between wishing to disolve the Treaty of Union, (That is the United Kingdom Parliament), and being anti-England. However, having said that the equally nationalistic supporters of the United Kingdom Parliament are very much frequently anti-Scottish. They are very much nationalist but their percieved nation is the United Kingdom. What else can you call the Embassies of the United Kingdom charging the Scots £3000, for use of THE UNITED KINGDOM embassies for trade presentations while the UK trade missions that act for England go for free. These obviously consider the Scots are foreigners and Not English, “Don’t you know”?

    I’ve been asking the question for around 65 years, “What are the benefits of Scotland being in the Union”? Know what – no politician, or anyone else, has ever made a satisfactory case. I live on in hope, though. Perhaps you might oblige?

    I will give you reams of reasons why not and not a single one of them will involve hate of anyone. Here is three of those reasons just to be going on with.
    The financing of Scotland proves beyond doubt that Scotland pays a great deal more into the United Kingdom Treasury than what she gets out. Here are just a couple of the wee tricks that Westminster uses to cook the books. The North Sea Revenues are between 95% and 98% from Scotland’s territorial waters. The difference in percentage is due to the wells shut down for repair. etc. Yet through the books the treasury counts Scotland’s share as only 8.5%. Why, when the share is obviously a geographic one, are the Scots only credited with a population percentage? Why, when the Crown Estate rentals and royalties belong to the Scottish crown, are they paid into the Treasury and handled from England as English? Why is the money taken as fines in Scottish courts paid directly into the Treasury and not shown as Scottish income? The point of all this is to show that the books are cooked. Add in the VAT, and all other tax paid by United Kingdom wide business’ through London City head offices and that is another big chunk of Scotland’s assets we get no credit for. What of TV licence money, Vehicle road tax, et al?

    Getting the picture? Not a single word of hate against England but lots of reasons for independence.

    If the Labour Party wants the slightest chance of ever getting regarded as an honest and fair Scottish party then they need to be able to debate upon such things. Your own bitter and twisted ditribe about SNP hate of English folks is typical of why they are now being thought of as not fit ever to hold power again,
    In point of fact the public has begun to view the three main unionist parties as the Tory Rainbow Alliance of red, yekkow and blue tories. After all they are banding together and not just to fight against the SNP.

    In case you wondered I’m just a Scot in the Street and not any kind of SNP official person. However, much more of this kind of stuff by Labour and I just might get off my rump and go out and fight for independence.

    So when are the Labour Party going to provide half decent reasons to vote for the Union?

    1. The key phrase is “most of their supporters”.

      You perhaps would hear less about this, if the SNP struck down those “supporters” who are anti-english. Remove their membership, take their views on.

      No, what happens when anyone points these views out to the SNP? We are told “nothing to do with us” – or worse “they dont exist”.

      Own up to the problem, and deal with it. Then you wont hear us complain about them.

      1. Smears spread by the labour party supporters aided and abetted by your friends at Pacific Quay.

        1. I have no “friends at Pacific Quay” as you say, I just speak as I find things. And I do find these things. Mainly on websites, but also, occaisionally, in person.

          i think your comment saying that these are just smears confirms my comment that the only response is “they dont exist”.

      2. You do realise that any one of us could go on the Daily Mail website or any other site where British nationalists vent their spleen, come up with a whole bunch of objectionable comments and then demand that the Labour Party own up to the problem and deal with it.

        Only I personally couldn’t be bothered because for one thing I am a grown-up.

        1. Well, I would expect the Labour party to disown that type of comment, and say that if there was evidence that those people were members of Labour, expel them.

          Of course, they couldnt expel you for making those comments up on the Daily Mail website, but at least we would know that the Labour party does not associate itself with such stuff.

          We dont know if the SNP dissaociates itself from such comments, as they claim that these comments dont exist, or that the people saying them are nothing to do with them.

          A nice simple disassosiation would be a start. Its like a football club saying, when some of its supporters start chanting abuse that “its nothing to do with us” or “no one chants abuse while wearing a XXX shirt”. Laughable.

      3. Is this what supporting the labour party does to you John ?
        Is this who you really are ?

        I have known quite a number of people who say they hate the English and some of them are labour people.

        speaking about being anti English though, do you not think that Johann Lamont should resign for accusing everyone who supports the SNP as racist ?
        We all know that according to the labour party, if a politician accuses the political leadership of parties of being anti Scottish that this is the same as accusing everyone who votes for these parties as anti Scottish, so surely Johann is accusing everyone who supports SNP as racist, when she accuses Alex Salmond as hating the tory leader because he’s English.

        John the labour party thinks that ordinary Scots don’t notice these hypocritical smears, but they do and if your party continues with this, they will continue to lose support.

      4. “Own up to the problem, and deal with it. Then you wont hear us complain about them.”

        What a touching myth. You know as well as I do that something not existing has never stopped Labour whining about it, and never would.

        “Remove their membership”

        Can you demonstrate a shred of evidence of anyone making anti-English comments actually being an SNP member? Can you cite us a single specifuc example from less than 20 years ago? See what I mean about Labour’s ability to complain about things that don’t exist?

        Please, argue your case without insulting our intelligence.

        1. So rather than saying “If anyone saying things like this were found to be members of the SNP, they would be expelled”, you’d much rather try and say such things dont happen?

    2. Robert,

      You misunderstand – or are misrepresenting – the way the UK is financed. All the money goes into a common pot and then is redistributed to the different nations/regions/local authorities of the UK. This does not mean that revenue generated in Scotland is not recognised as being generated in Scotland in regional GDP statistics (see the ONS website). The same also applies to all English, Welsh and Northern Irish revenue – it all goes in to the same pot as the Scottish revenue. The current system is means effectively that richer parts of the UK subsidise poorer parts of the UK.

      It may be that you would prefer to have system where the finances of each nation is ring-fenced, which is possible BOTH under devo-max AND under independence and each nation has full fiscal autonomy.

      Now the question is under which system would Scotland be better off? According the regional GDP figures Scotland has a GDP per capita very similar to the UK average and England has a slightly higher GDP per capita than Scotland. Scotland also has higher spending per capita than the UK average. But does Scotland generate a higher per capita revenue than the UK as whole? There is intense debate about this but there are no indisputable figures to show it either way – it is possible that Scotland generates a higher revenue that the UK as a whole but it is stilll likely that it is lower than that of England, or at least London and South East England. Yes North Sea oil is a very important part of the Scottish economy, but it is a small part of the UK economy because the UK economy is so large and diversified. (BTW approximately 90%, not 98% of the North Sea oil and gas is geographically in Scottish waters, as 50% of the North Sea gas is in English waters. 98% of North Sea oil is in Scottish waters).

      Now, in an independent Scotland, should Aberdeen and the Shetlands subsidise Glasgow? Of course, you might say – why, because they are all part of Scotland and it is all for the common good. Precisely! And this is also the philosophy behind the Union.

      So, ultimately it is question of identity. Do you identify as British or not? Do you feel you share a common identity with the Welsh, English and Northern Irish? Do you want to have British passport or a Scottish passport? … I identify as British. It is in part because I am a mix of English, Scottish and Welsh and unusually I speak Welsh and Gaelic as well as English.

      To me question of identity is more important than that of politics. Even if Scotland is different politically from most of the South of England, the Union does not thwart Scotland’s political will, since devolution (let alone devo-max) allows Scotland to develop in the direction it wishes. No other part of the UK has the degree of self-determination that Scotland has, least of all England. Westminster does not represent England as a whole any more than Scotland, because it does not have PR. Moreover, after independence, Scotland may elect right-wing governments. England may also elect left-wing governments.

      1. With respect it is not reasonable to expect a country to organise the distribution of political power to suit whatever issues you have with your personal dentity.

        It doesn’t actually matter in the slightest whether someone is Scots, English, Welsh, Irish, Pakstani, Polish, Chinese, French, Spanish or any combination of the above.

        The only real question here is whether we think that power over reserved areas in Scotland like welfare, pensions, defence etc should continue to stay in Westminster – meaning that power can end up in the hands of a government which people in this country did not vote for and can be used in a way that people in this country do not approve of – or whether the Scottish Parliament should take on those powers making Scotland an independent country.

        The SNP case is that the Scottish Parliament should take on all those powers and that decisions on reserved matters should be taken in Scotland. The reason for that is quite straightforward – it is that decisions will be better because nobody is better placed to take decisions about Scotland than the people who live here. We already have all the infrastructure of a nation state – we have our own parliament, our own government, our own legal system, our own distinctive institutions. Becoming independent would actually not be that big a deal, we won’t need to reinvent the wheel.

        If your argument against that is that you want to go on having a British passport then fine You can go on having one. Scottish citizenship will not be compulsory. If you want to go on living in Scotland as a British subject there’s no problem with that.

  9. Then I would like to ask whether, if he were living in Austria is, would he be campaigning for Austria to be allowed to join up with Germany and be governed as a single state from Berlin – after all, both countries speak German. If not, why is independence good for Austria but bad for Scotland?

  10. Pretending the sky will fall in after independence is insulting, grates, and backfires politically. The morning after everything will still be the same outside the living room window. Scotland could go it alone as a separate state. In population terms, it is much the same as Norway, Finland or Denmark. The question is should it?


    Would Scotland receive automatic EU entry? Opinions differ – what I would like is a straight answer from the EU itself.

    If independence is about economics, what is the point if the country is tying yourself to monetary unions over which you have no control (like the wacky idea of keeping now-foreign Britain’s currency post-independence) or very little control (the euro, if Scotland ever joined the EU). The negative consequences of this need spelt out.

    AS IT STANDS WE HAVE MORE CHANCE OF CHANGING THE WEATHER ON THE MOON than influencing the Bank of England- it generally focuses on what’s better for the south east of England. So little change but if we get control of all the other levers (tax etc) it makes all the difference

    How would Scotland pay for itself? I suspect the country could, but with difficulty.
    THERE IS AS MUCH OIL OFF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND as the east, it’s about making control of your resources- for example developing other industries (such as carbon capture and storage- would the Calman proposals going through westminster, as supported by some unionist parties have helped the CCCS project at Longannet?)
    CCCS may have been a success, but we may never get to know
    There is also great money to be made in energy – we have masses of renewable scope, and can sell it to Europe- remember Germany is going non-nuclear. There are plans for another interconnector to mainland europe
    I don’t just mean wind, how about Hydro (water power) and Hydrogen as a fuel (using spare electricity output from renewables and making hydrogen that can be burnt to make energy when required)

    The SNP want the “devo max” question on the ballot, because they want a consolation prize.
    IN THIS ERA OF MONEY SAVING, why can’t we have one referndum with 2 questions?
    We had it for the reformation of the Scots Parliament, and we didn’t get information overload.
    The questions (DEVO MAX / Independence ) are linked.
    Do you think there will be a referendum if Scotland votes no for independence-Scotland will have the ‘tail between its legs scenario’?
    A 2 option referndum is really the only option between full independence and more tory rule from westminster.
    You can bet your bottom buck the line will be- “choose independence or 5 more years of tory rule and recession” it may backfire on the unionists.
    Why should we have to want until around 2020 to have another choice when we are making one in 2014?

    A question that is never asked is “Why would we want to separate?”

    However, England does not oppress Scotland.
    The press (BBC included) seem to make Scotland second shrift- look at what happened as they were about to announce the Scottish Labour leadership result on BBC News (apparently the weather is more important than Scotland)

    Scotland does not get good results from the BBC- we are about to need increased output with regards to the referendum campaign, but BBC in London are cutting jobs and output in Scotland. They have also stopped comments on the BBC Scotland political blogs (freedom of speech anyone)

    1. On the question of currency control and the BofE’s unwillingness to co-operate with an Independent Scottish government – do you think the Bank would be happy if Scotland removed the entire value of oil extraction (not just the PRT) to another currency, and the resultant effect on the Balance of Trade in Sterling? Remember the days when the Balance of Trade dominated the political and economic policies of British governments? The thought of returning to those days would keep the Bank co-operative!

      1. The reason you dont hear much about the balance of Trade these days si that it has long since ceased being something politicians care about.

        The Uk ran a trade deficit of just over £30billion in the year to November. If they wernt worried about that do you think they might be worried if it was £40 or £50billion? We already import more oil than we export in any case.

        In fact, there is a benefit for the Bank and the Treasury here, with a trade deficit like that, it keeps demand for Uk Government bonds higher. Our export partners have to do something with all those pound notes we’ve given them after all.

  11. It’s true that people don’t like major change – but have you not considered that this is a reason to vote for independence, not against it? It’s noticeable that when Labour talk about what is good about the Union they talk about historic achievements like the NHS. They don’t talk about what is happening now – and no wonder because the NHS on a British level is being systematically dismantled. And the core principles underlying the Welfare State are also being systematically dismantled. So there’s not a lot of point on saying we achieved this together as one nation when the achievement is being radically changed so that it becomes unrecognisable. If folk want to maintain the NHS as a public service free at the point of need, if they want to maintain the principles underlying the Welfare State there is no safety sticking with the Union.

    So that’s a political point to consider. But on a personal point I would like to ask John have you ever lived outside Scotland for any significant period of time? Because I think you have a misconception about the SNP being parochial. In point of fact for me – and for many other SNP members I know – it was mainly the experience of leaving Scotland that made me a nationalist, because coming back Scotland did feel parochial. It felt like a bit of a backwater. It felt like we were observing the big wide world but somehow we weren’t really part of it That is much less true now because of devolution. I don’t think anybody could deny that the more political autonomy Scotland has taken on, the more confident and vibrant the nation has become. There’s an obvious lesson there surely.

  12. I can assure you John that the Estonian people did have exactly the same arguments including the one about being part of a bigger country. Estonia has flourished since independence. How do I know? I was there both before, the KGB followed us then, the fear and dread was palpable, and after when joy really was unconfined. I suggest you visit Tallinn, it is an inspiring tale, we are fortunate indeed in comparison. But are you suggesting Scots are less capable of being successful with many times more wealth and talent? It seems you are.

  13. John I think you are spot on about Labour losing it, the fact is that by letting the Coalition raise the legal threat Labour has been sidelined in the debate, have no voice and no influence except via the now agreed Holirood inter party discussions.

    Leslie Riddoch skewered both Lor Wallace and Johann Lamont by acusing them of not doing their jobs by not offering the electorate their vision for Scotland’s future.
    These Holyrood talks are crucial to Scottish voters

  14. As someone from the same kind of starting-point as John Currie, I think this is a measured, sensible and intelligent contribution. I’d like to pick up on this bit:

    “The SNP want the “devo max” question on the ballot, because they want a consolation prize. I think this muddies the waters, and is there to split the unionist vote. However, if they spelt out what was, and it seemed to be popular, we should not object to the question being asked in a separate referendum on a separate date (if a referendum was deemed necessary for it). This does seem to be the most popular choice, and Labour will pay in the court of public opinion if they block it.”

    My view is that LABOUR should answer the question Grahame Smith of STUC very sensibly asked the other day: what is “devo-max” (a term I dislike, btw, since it reminds me of unleaded Pepsi)? I dislike leaving the running here to the SNP: Labour needs to take the initiative and take charge of defining where devolution could go — emphasising that such devolution requires a *cross-UK* discussion, because it would impact on everyone in the UK family. “Devo-max”, obviously, has implications for everyone else in the UK. After all, it was a Labour Government which delivered devolution (with as I recall remarkably little assistance from the SNP), and we can be imaginative again. Salmond has said that he is leaving the question of campaigning for “devo-max” to others; let’s take him at his word, seize the initiative from him, and make the case for *building* devolution to deliver the kinds of things ordinary folks need.

    We could take the solidarity line, arguing that our approach could be to the benefit of ALL parts of the UK. (Good Labour word, solidarity.) Have you noticed that the SNP rhetoric is so often about rule from *Westminster*? Reckon folks in, say, Newcastle have some issues with “Westminster” too. Let’s ask the SNP: why can’t we work in solidarity with (say) our friends in the north of England? Do you want to abandon them to “Westminster”‘s tender mercies? Although he got slapped down pronto, and I resist taking a LibDem’s advice, Simon Hughes’s comments the other day are worth exploring. Wasn’t George Foulkes saying something similar back in May?

    Oh and Hector: you never know, an independent Scotland could start voting Tory (or the equivalent) again! Scottish voters often did in the past — many still do, despite everything — and hey, they just might again. Just as one shouldn’t accuse nations of being *intrinsically* a force for bad one shouldn’t assume that they must be *intrinsically* a force for good! I don’t know, but neither do you.

    1. oh and ) perhaps you can advise.when was last tine scotland voted different from england,and this is in no way anti english,and the party scotland voted for held power at westminster?in an indepedent scotland we would get the party we voted for what ever its political colour.

  15. I’m afraid Mr Currie is not in possession of the facts. The Republic of Ireland has far better public services than the UK – the state pension is nearly twice that of the UK. There are many other benefits that Mr Currie appears not to know about. The childish old football stuff had to come up sometime. If Mr Currie thinks that we are in some way worse than the English he should read the posts on the Daily Mail and the Telegraph just for starters. I stood in a pub in Malta, full, apart from me of English football supporters. When Brazil scored against Scotland (1998) to a man they jumped cheering into the air. Mr Currie another example of the Scottish “cringe” that has held us back for so long!

  16. “I suspect an independent Scotland would have similar public services to the Republic of Ireland (i.e. less), with higher VAT, higher prices, and having to pay for services we take for granted as being free, such as visiting the GP. The politics might become as corrupt too!”

    Suspect – but absolutely no evidence or argument to justify the suspicion.

    The lack of belief in Scotland is betrayed by the suspicion that in an independent Scotland the politics might become more corrupt. Is it taking Westminster to stop political corruption in Scotland ??

    Or is John Currie’s insider knowledge of Labour in Scotland worrying him?

    It is these snide remarks that Unionist supporters simply cannot refrain from that continually undermine their case.

    Independence is a normal state of affairs. If you do not think so, bring positive arguments as to why this should not be so.

  17. Labour Hame is to be congratulated in allowing this debate to take place (though several of my recent posts have been blocked).
    What I suspect this is doing more than anything is exposing the infantile level of much of the unionist argument and the fact that traditional Labour supporters are just as aware of this as anybody else.
    It is also establishing that Labour is not constitutionally a unionist party though indeed there are unionists – mostly those elected to positions – who think the union provides them their own positions.
    How long will it be before the Labour hierarchy put two and two together and come to the inescapable conclusion that they are making idiot arguments in favour of a psition that the Scottish people are walking away from?
    Scottish Labour is on the wrong boat and it is sailing into oblivion.
    I am a little disapponted that Henry McLeish,a man I have a lot of time for, has not yet taken the step his logic suggests, but my fondest memories are of Jimmy Reid and Kay Carmichael (a former chair of Scottish Labour) who took the step and both left us as card carrying members of the SNP.

  18. Has John Currie been to the Irish Republic?
    Does he think that insulting Ireland is a good idea. Despite its troubles it is still several positions higher than UK in all the international tables measuring standards of living and social wellbeing. Its wages are still higher than Scottish wages and it is less indebted than UK on a percapita basis. Its problems were caused by too close an association with the UK/US banking axis and the amount of UK money in Irish banking funding a ridiculous housing bubble.
    They are not likely to make that mistake again and I am willing to bet their economy will start to grow much sooner than the UK economy as Iceland (who told their bust banks to feck off and let them collapse ) is already doing with an annual growth rate of 6% a the moment.

  19. I think the ultimate answer to some of the questions you pose around why “some” people want to achieve independence for Scotland is that the wheels have fallen off the Unionist bus.

    I urge Unionists to read Anthony Barnett’s excellent artice on the site OurKingdom entitled “Time to take Britain out of our greatness”. A real tour de force of why Great Britain is an increasing irrelevance.

    As an ex-pat Scot living in the South of England, I’ve been horrified by the cack handed way Labour in particular have handled the referendum issue; they have been totally outmatched by Slamond and the SNP. Placing yourself on the same side as the Tories and the LibDems will prove to be a huge mistake.

    Another aspect of the debate you don’t address is the positive effects Scottish independence could have on England; the break up of the UK will no doubt lead to some major constitutional soul searching in the rump UK too, and not before time! The creaking, quasi-medieval polity which has misgoverened the UK for too long is well past its sell by date. The Scots would be doing the rest of the UK a service by euthenasing the UK in 2014.

    If I had a vote, I’d definitely vote “Yes”, and hope my fellow countryment do too.

  20. John, if you want a question on Devo Max (or whatever )in a separate referendum, Labour can get to-gether with the LibDems or whoever, formulate a policy and put it to the electorate. This can be done as quickly as you like, you dont have to wait two years for the Independence referendum and you will have stolen a march on the “forces of darkness”. Will this happen? I dont believe so. I dont think any of the UK parties wish to give up political and fiscal hegemony if they are not forced to. I think talk of further devolution, but later, is a ploy to cheat people out of the Devo Max option in the referendum.

  21. It is not only the snp who want independence according to recent polls over 40% and rising of scottish voters want it too

    1. Yes, I’m a bit of a poll geek and support for independence exists consistently among Labour and even Tory voters. For Labour voters, it’s about 20% min, Tory 10% min; commonly quite a bit higher in some polls.

      The recent ICM poll had Glasgow – a traditional Labour heartland – with this subset return:

      45 Y
      34 N
      22 Interested but ‘unsure’

      That would deliver a well over 60% yes (unsures invariably vote yes in majority) and is consistent for glasgow in terms of previous polls.

      Maybe Labour should represent their voters better and set up seperate pro- and anti- independence campaigns? The danger of not doing so is to see more of their traditional voters shift to the SNP, Greens, Scottish Socialists etc. After all, this is not about party politics, but the future of our nation.

  22. Sorry to tell you this, John Ruddy, but you seen to be rather short on either memory or actual facts. Way back when there was an outbreak of, “The Scottish Liberation Army”. They had nothing to do with the SNP and any party member expressing any such views were certainly thrown out of the party. Then there was, “Siol nan Gaidheal”, also thrown out of the party. However, to the best of my knowledge there has been no one killed by an SNP member. Now though, Have you heard the strange tale of the late Willie MacRae, an SNP member and anti-nuclear activist?

    Found shot dead in a car up by Glen Shiel, thing was the car he was in was obviosly being driven for it had run off the road. Willie was shot witha gun that was found some way from the car. Can you figure out how someone could be driving a car, take out a revolver, cock it and shoot himself in the head and throw the gun a fair distance away in the heather? Willie was known to be under observation that day by MI5. Yet the police report said he killed himself but the evidence has never been produced and no number of requests for an enquiry have ever been screwed out of the police or government

    1. I dont need reminding about the Scottish national liberation army. I have to walk past some of their graffiti every day. I never said that any members of the SNP have killed anyone, but then I guess putting words in someone elses mouth is a good debating trick to use.

      I hadnt heard about the case of Willie MacRae, and what you have said certainly does ask some tough questions, questions which definitely need anaswering, but if you have evidence about a suspicious death, you should present it to the authorities – the SNP are in charge so you shouldnt have a problem. Again, I dont see the connection between what I said and what you have talked about.

  23. The paradox is that not all SNP supporters support independence (though the vast majority does) and not all supporters of the Lablibtory alliance oppose independence. In a survey done in my constituency over five years ago over half the respondents identiying as Labour or LibDem replied they were likely to vote YES in an independence referendum and about 20% of identified Tories did the same. As this was obviously an SNP survey the returns (in a freepost return) were self selecting but they were very significant indeed.

  24. “I suspect it will be insular in outlook, and a similar drive will take place in Scotland to force people to learn Gaelic if they want public sector jobs.”

    Do expand John. Where did this information come from. Or did you just make it up?

  25. On the question of the cost of the referendum, it was announced today the London Olympic games opening ceremony is costing 27 Million quid! At 10 Million the referendum is good value – and with Devo Max on the ballot that’s just £5 Million a question. The Scottish working class had no vote in 1707 but there voice will be heard this time. The NO side is de facto being led by a bunch of Lords such as Forsyth Wallace and Foulkes. If Labour dont get on the side of the people it will never be forgotten.

    1. Bear in mind the English working class also didnt have a vote in 1707. Its not just a scam to pick on the Scots.

      The difference is that nowadays, Lords arnt just people who are there because they were born to it. The heredetaries only number 90 – and when one dies they have to have an election to decide who takes over! (Interestingly enough, using a form of proportional representation!). Most Lords these days are of course appointed, agreed, not as democratic as it could be, but still an improvement on what it was in 1707.

      In fact, I beleive Cameron has decided that the opening ceremony wasnt big enough, so he has doubled the budget for it to £80m (it had presumably increased to £40m at some point).

  26. Nae bad, only 12 scare stories within one article. With the winner being the one about having to “pay to see a GP”, though I have to admit it was a closely followed by having to “learn gaelic if they want a public sector job”. Do you honestly expect your fellow Scots to believe any of that nonsense, if thats the type of argument thats expected to keep us in the union, BRING IT ON I say.

  27. John the political and economic questions you pose are worthy of consideration although I don’t necessarily agree with your replies to self. However, your cul;tural anxieties reflected in issues like compulsory Gaelic, changes to road signs and kilted TV are very poor quality. Surely if you’ve thought and reflected on these issues at all you must be way past any of these first level worries about insularity and ‘chips on shoulders, – that’s that old James MacMillan argument which is just a rehash of the too wee, too poor, too stupit argument all over again. You need to rebalance your argument and accept that the cultural argument against independence has already been lost. Nobody wants a culture war between Scotland and England but most Scots including new Scots like the feeling of distinction from those south of the border – not cos they dislike the English but because cultural distinctiveness itself is enriching. We are a ‘better country’ than you give us credit for.

  28. Good post John, a couple of points though.

    Firstly, the SNP haven’t been making any running on the issue of the plebicite. Any time the issue has come up in the media, it has been raised by the “pro-union” parties. The SNP have been happy to discuss the issue, but the issue has never really been raised by them – even the date of the referendum came out after a bungled attempt by Cameron to enter the debate.

    The last point is that “Scottish Labour” have not (to date) lost Britain. The Labour party as a whole must bear that responsibility if there is a yes vote in 2014. Milliband’s positioning on this issue has been absolutely shocking. In standing shoulder to shoulder with Cameron – while not questioning his tactics or pushing the case for further powers – Milliband the younger has effectively sold Scotland down the river. As a result – if there is a no vote don’t be surprised to see a move to scrap the Barnet Formula after the next Westminster Election.

  29. I think the quality of the debate so far has been abysmal. Today I was catching up on a Question Time I missed from 12 January in which Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Alexander both appeared. I found Alexander’s ill-manners towards Sturgeon disgraceful. (I personally would have applauded had she smacked him one because he richly deserved it.) I also waited and waited for him to respond to the hostile English voices in the audience who (encouraged by Kelvin McKenzie) wished to repeatedly imply that Scotland merely takes from the Union and is subsidised by the English. Why did Alexander allow that comment to pass unchallenged? Why was he not telling McKenzie and the English audience that Scotland contributes to the Union and how? Is the Labour Party not permitted to say in public what Scotland contributes to the Exchequer in case it helps the Yes vote? If that’s the policy then Scottish Labour should be ashamed of themselves. Alexander said at least three times during the programme how “proud” he is to be Scottish. So, again, why did he sit there and fail to defend Scotland against idiotic English people present who clearly have not studied the figures as they labelled Scotland a taker in the Union. The English are NOT subsidising Scotland. If Scottish Labour politicians sit silent every time this is said, in case they come over as “nationalists” then they are not fit to represent us. If they wish to defend the Union that is just fine but if it means they will allow misguided people south of the border to label Scots scroungers then I think an awful lot of Scottish Labour voters will part company with them.

  30. “The politics might become as corrupt too!”

    And we don’t have corruption in politics here? You jest, surely?

  31. I think the unionists need to start giving the facts (not the facts as they believe, but the actual hard statistics)

    I reckon that may freedom of information requests will go to the UK HMRC over the next while,

    How much NI and TAX had been paid in Scotland – including people working for big supermarkets etc that will show tax paid in England as their HO is down south
    How much was raised in stamp duty, alcohol tax, tobacco tax etc

    I reckon if we were so poor they would have sent out the information to all and sundry

    We need facts and nothing but the facts
    For any government that should be easy enough to get

  32. This man along with the rest of the Labour propagandists has sold his soul to the Labour gang and now sings that same song and shouts out that same scaremongering propaganda. Labour is the party of FEAR, working hand in hand with the Tories, whom they are now best of friends with and lining up their policies and propaganda with. You couldn’t get a sheet of paper between them these days, they have all moved so close to each other. They’ll frighten and bully you out of trying to spread your wings and go out into the big wide world, like an abusive husband trying to keep the battered wife he is so jealous of. They have no good reasons for you to stay but they’ll try to make you scared to look out the front door so you don’t leave. That’s the best they can do.

    He asks questions he doesn’t really care about. He doesn’t care about what would be best for Scotland, only the Party. He wants his Party to win, not the people of Scotland. If every sign pointed to Scotland being better off alone he’d not change his tune. He’d dance to and repeat whatever London HQ told him. Labour will stand idly by as the NHS is dismantled, services are sold off and Scotland is driven into the poor house as the London coalition of Labour, Lib Dem and Tory work together on it all and none of them dare speak out against it. They hold hands and sing from the same sheet. Phoney enemies, true brothers – Tory, Labour and Lib Dem. Unionist = London led and London worshipping. “Do what the whips say and spread the word or you’ll be stuck in that distant, foreign and vile province north of England”.

    Once he joins a party he’ll follow it like a religion and never waver no matter how nutty his gods in London sound or how detrimental to Scotland the policies are. All that matters to the Party man is the Party. This is why so many communist countries ended up such toilets. The Party before the people. Rational, honest weighing of the options and the betterment of the people or humanity is not considered at all. This is why they resort to fear and hype. This is why they simply bow and scrape to the London leadership and turn a blind eye to years of failure (good luck findind the honest Labour man willing to criticise his own party as he’ll vote for them anyway).


    “No further tax powers for Scotland, says David Cameron”

    “SCOTS have been warned a substantial increase in financial powers for Holyrood is not an option if Scotland wants to remain within the United Kingdom.”

    This kind of kills the ‘We can discuss more devolution of powers after the referendum’ argument does it not? According to the UK government, there will be no more powers. Or do Scots just pray that Labour might get back in power at some point down the line and give Holyrood power over, e.g. air guns?

  34. You could add to your questions that “Michelle Mone and her business” will leave Scotland if we get our Independence, but I ought to warn you she’s abit of a “serial leaver”, and also this may be looked at as a positive.


  35. Now that d. Cameron has said he will pay no attention to devomax will Scottish Labour “pick up the baton” and run with it OR are we going to side with the Tories

  36. It gets better annie, the latest poll says %51 yes for independence and only %39 no !!!

    it’s coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Dear Mr Currie,

    I am a Scottish Nationalist and one of the despised “CyberNats” that the Unionist Politicians love to hate (although I still don’t know why). I hope my considered post is kept on as we on Newsnet Scotland allow and welcome considered posts from Labour contributors. It is my sincerest wish that we get this debate going at a grass roots level and in fact get our heads together because I amongst many of the Members and Supporters of the SNP used to be Members and Supporters of Labour. I, just like you, have a normal job (an audio and communications engineer) and I don’t write a blog, however, I did write an article for Newsnet Scotland on the background to the McCrone Report that you’ve probably heard of. I also consider myself to be a patriotic Scot. And that’s where our stories diverge. I am pleased that the SNP have pushed the independence question thus far. However, I agree that we need a good opposition and one that can attract voters in order that a balanced political state can be achieved in the future – and even win future elections. The problem is that Labour seem to have pushed themselves away from this position and if independence happens, there will be no end of parties lining up to take Labours rightful place. Labour can still come back from where they are now. It would simply take a change in how they view this independence issue.

    It would be sensible for me to argue why I support independence but that may cause offence to the readers of these posts and that is not my intent, suffice to say it is nothing to do with “Braveheart” or facepaint. If you do want my opinion then you must ask for it as I consider you and others within the Labour Party Membership as Scottish people who, given the right arguments for, would end up supporting independence anyway because I believe that you are very capable in taking part in a reasoned argument and as a result would consider your individual position within that argument and, evaluating whether you stance had changed as a result. That is all I want to say for now. I’ll return on this or other threads and will make a real effort not to offend anyone. Let the debate begin and let’s keep it sensible because everyones’ opinions are relevant. This effects my family as much as it effects yours.

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

    1. I have to disagree with your version of event over at NewsNet Scotland. There is certainly nothing like the open debate we have ont his site.

      My own membership has been removed, and no matter how often I try to re-register, I am not allowed back. (You need to register to make comments).

      1. John, I’m very sorry to hear that. I have no idea why you were removed. As you can see, in order to come to debate issues that we have now I am very respectful (I would be anyway, but that’s just me) and try in my own way to give a point of view softly because if I was to browbeat someone until they submitted, that would achieve nothing at all.

        The idea here is that we speak softly to one another and by doing that we avoid emotions coming in to play. I have spent enough time in the debate and so can answer a lot of questions “from the hip” so to speak. I will stay available as much as I can but please accept that sometimes I have to go and earn a crust.

        I chose this article to respond to and thank Mr Currie for writing it, it’s a good article and covers a lot of the questions that people want answered.

        If I cant answer, I’ll tell you. If I’m wrong , I’m wrong and I’ll tell you. This is not a time for breaking trust and trust is what this is all about. We have to learn to trust one another.

        I’ll say again John, I’m sorry to hear what happened at Newsnet. I will be trying my very best to ensure that it doesn’t happen here to me by minding my P’s and Q’s.

        Kindest regards,

        David Milligan

      2. I got nodded of Newsnet because i did not believe Alex Salmond 100%.They nodded my second ever post and i did not swear or do anything other than disagree with the SNP.

        Andy Edinburgh

  38. Dear Mr Currie,

    I unfortunately need to leave and come back from time to time as just like you I have a crust to earn. I will continue with the debate now and try to handle each point that you put across in your article as best I can.
    “Would Scotland receive automatic EU entry? Opinions differ – what I would like is a straight answer from the EU itself. If entry is not automatic, Spain might veto our entry to avoid setting a precedent for Catalonia or the Basque country, and our membership bid might be held hostage to issues over which we have no control (for example, I understand Greece hinted at blocking the accession to the EU of various East European countries if Cyprus wasn’t admitted at the same time).”

    I think that your question is very good and unfortunately getting a straight answer here may be impossible as it would need the voting intentions of each member state that would vote, however, we have been told that by being a successor state as we would be that it would take a majority vote to bring us into the European Union with our own place at the table. That is not the normal state of affairs where a "black ball" or "veto" could be used and a show of hands would (figuritively speaking) be enough. Also as a successor state we would go in under the same conditions that had been in place with the UK. That would mean that we would not be forced to adopt the Euro as our currency. Even if that condtion was foisted on us by Europe, all we would have to do was say that we will adopt the Euro but not just now. There are related precedents covering this stance already within Europe.

    A rumour has been started regarding the thing with Spain vetoing our entry into Europe but given what I said above, it would take more than just Spain to keep us out. It seems that the story originated in London by one of the chaps that wear blue ties down there and when the Spanish Foreign Minister was asked directly he said it was complete nonsense. I can see what you are saying though, that some countries may use it as a political lever to gain advantage at the time. I don't have a crystal ball and can't answer that one.

    That is all I have time for at the moment, wife's due back and I haven't started the dinner and she's bigger than me!

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  39. Dear Mr Currie,

    I’ll continue now as the wife was quite pleased with the fish paella that I made her. She is now in the living room and has taken rightful possesion of the TV remote.

    Here we go….next part.
    “If independence is about economics, what is the point if the country is tying yourself to monetary unions over which you have no control (like the wacky idea of keeping now-foreign Britain’s currency post-independence) or very little control (the euro, if Scotland ever joined the EU). The negative consequences of this need spelt out.”

    That’s a cracker of a question. Independence is most certainly about economics. I’ll go into that bit perhaps a bit later on but for now I’ll restrict myself to the subsequent questions. There’s a bit of a misconception over the Bank of England. It’s in the name. It should be called the Bank of the British Isles and Northern Ireland or something like that. It is owned by everyone in the UK and still holds quite a bit of gold bullion in its safe. It used to be directly controlled by the UK government but was made independent of that control by Gordon Brown to allow the setting of interest rates in a way that was detached from the government. This means that the UK government doesn’t have anything to do with this economic lever. If and when Scotland goes independent, we would still be able to use Sterling as our currency because it’s a fully tradeable currency. We would of course have fiscal independence and able to make our own choices as to public investment and borrowing and the only thing that we would have to do is not allow borrowing to get out of control. If we borrow too much then we risk the interest rates going up and that’s bad news for almost everyone. We would have exactly the same set of circumstances where the Bank of England meet once a month or once a quarter once things settle down to agree and set the interest base lending rate. So there aren’t any scary parts to this issue. The remaining UK would also benefit from us using Sterling as the strong balance of payments that we believe tha Scotland would have due to the trading of oil and gas from our shores would benefit and stablise Sterling as a currency. This set up could continue for many years if we wish and if and when we decide that this isn’t working for us, we could go and choose or invent another currency – or take on the Euro if that’s what we want to do. The choice would be ours. I would personally prefer an invented currency tied not to bank debt or backed by gold but one that’s debt free and tied to nothing. That does mean that an entire government department would have to be set up to control the money supply. But there again, that’s just me.

    I thank you again for your time,

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  40. Labourhame is beginning to be a real source of real debate on something approaching a rational basis. Quite unlike our own dear Labour members here in Scotland. There may be hopes for the Scottish Labour Party to be a real opposition to the SNP so that the job doesnt have to be left to the Daily Mail and the BBC.

  41. Dear Mr Currie,

    Sorry for the break but events of the last day meant that I had to concentrate on what was coming into CyberNat central (aka Newsnet Scotland).

    Here’s the next part.
    “How would Scotland pay for itself? I suspect the country could, but with difficulty. I would like to see independent analysis done by a respected (and neutral) US or European university. This would provide light on the economic question that is supposedly key to the vote. I suspect an independent Scotland would have similar public services to the Republic of Ireland (i.e. less), with higher VAT, higher prices, and having to pay for services we take for granted as being free, such as visiting the GP. The politics might become as corrupt too! ”

    This question would have been more difficult to answer without the stuff that’s come through over the last 24 hours and I would recommend that you take time to read the article by John Jappy in Newsnet Scotland. THe unfortunate thing here is that it talks about the past and you quite rightly would say that it’s the future we’re interested in. The problem is that with reference to my non-existent crystal ball, I can’t say what will happen in the future whether we stay in the Union or go independent. All any of us can do is look at the evidence that is presented to us which will always by its very nature look at the past and draw a conclusion as to how this would play out in the future. The article is here (if Labourhame will kindly allow me to link to it for convenience, yet again no offence intended to any of you)

    I could cite the McCrone Report which I hope you have read and throw in the tuppenceworth of several professors of economics but the whole thing ends up being a bit of a yawn and too difficult for normal folk to follow who have got better things to do with their lives. The GERS report can be looked at, however, the treasury have used a wee bit of creative accounting in this annual statement and quite a few bits of the money that Scotland generates aren’t attributed to us. There are also costs which detract from our financial position quite considerably such as the whole cost of the Trident Submarine System being popped on our economic laps. It seems that there is quite a bit of obfuscation going on here and we’ll probably never know the full extent of it unless we get independence.

    There’s also the no small matter of the UK bail outs and the deficit of over one trillion pounds. The size of our population is the point here; if we assume that we have to take our fair share of the public defecit with us which is only fair then it will be calculated out on a “per capita” basis and as there’s around 8.4% of the UK population living in Scotland, that would equate to 8.4% of the £1 Trillon Pounds (£1000 Billion Pounds) or a total of £84 Billion Pounds of debt and that would obviously include our share of the bank bailouts which should be smaller but for ease of explanation I’ll keep those at the 8.4% figure. That’s a staggering £152,728 for every man, woman and child living in Scotland. That’s bad by any assessment and bodes badly for an independent Scotland who would be busy with the very real process of balancing the books so that we could continue in our present level and standard of living. However, there are two sides to a balance sheet. Don’t forget that there would be a negotiated settlement here so that the countries of the British Isles and Northern Ireland could live together. But what of the assets? The total asset value of UK plc makes the Oil and Gas resource, and the entire national debt pale into insignificance. Scotland would similarly to our share of the debt, be entitled on a “per capita” share of the assets. Now I’m not going to give you a list of everything but if you just sit down and ponder a bit you will be shocked at the number and value of assets that there are and don’t worry, we wouldn’t want 8.4% of Big Ben. I’m talking about saleable assets that we all own collectively as citizens of the UK. Now I’m not going to make a silly stupid statement that says we would be owed money by the rest of the UK but this would assist us in a negotiated settlement. We could in effect be good neighbours straight away and concede quite a bit of the assets to smooth the talks if we wished.

    There’s no getting away from it, things couldn’t possibly be as bad as they are now. It is a given even by some of your Labour leadership that Scotland could go it alone and be successful. But I don’t think that even that cuts to the heart of your reluctance to support Independence, the money that we would gain as a direct result of being independent that would deal effectively with child poverty, mass unemployment and terribly bad and expensive social housing are all good things to aim for and achieve but why can’t we achieve these things whilst part of the UK? The answer (in my humble opinion) is that because we live in a world where people can be greedy, it is human nature for the people in power to draw all money and therefore power to themselves which means that as we have seen in the past, London and the South East of England gains out of the deal quite considerably. If any of the administrations of the past 34 years in Westminster had started an oil fund similar in nature to that of Norway’s, the very things that make up our stack of present problems would have been dealt with and with relative ease.

    As to our services, we would adopt a model that is similar in nature to that of one of the Benelux countries where the social state is a bit more helpful to the folk that need it. The NHS would still be free and protected from the vagaries and whims of future governments to make the health of the people the number one item on the list. Prices would only rise if the standard of living increased and so too would wages then.

    As to corruption, well as people have seen with the events of the past years in Westminster with the expenses scandal etc etc etc that corruption is something that is always present in every government I would imagine, and all we can hope for as citizens is that there are a few honest men and women in key positions in order to promote openess, honesty and good practice.

    I’ll continue in this fashion with each question that you’ve posed. Thanks again Labourhame for allowing me to enter your arena and give my point of view and debate without fear or favour, this major issue that will have a deep effect on each and every one of us.

    I thank you again for your time,

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  42. Dear Mr Currie,

    Whilst I have the time I’ll try my best to answer the next part. Thanks again to the Labourhame moderation team that have allowed me to enter into your arena and try to answer a few of your questions so that a clear, unfettered by feelings and emotions debate can take place. I believe that the question that we all face transcends mere party politics and so it is important that we all get a chance to ask and answer questions that may be difficult to answer in order to make an informed choice when it comes to staying with the Union or gaining independence. You may disagree with my political choice vehemently but I come to you with both hands open in an effort to cut through the noise of the larger political debate. Just like you, I want the best for my family but not at the expense of others who may be less fortunate in this life. My hope is that if we gain independence, Scotland will do well and all our lives will be transformed. The Black Report commissioned by a Labour administration at the time looked at research into the causes of socio-economic inequalities and the effect that these factors had on the health and well-being of people in all sectors of society. I wish these factors to be tackled head-on by all the figures in the Scottish Parliament but to do it properly there has to be change, a change in how we govern ourselves, a change in how we finance society as a whole and a change in the thought processes that led us to this point in time. I believe we need to take charge of our small country and put our talent and resources to work for, first ourselves and secondly for others. That sounds a little bit selfish but as Glasgow has the highest rate of child poverty in Europe, I feel it is high time for these childrens sake that we consider that charity has to begin, for a while, at home.

    I sound like I’m describing the road to a virtual heaven on Earth but I’m not. Scotland as a separate nation will achieve plenty but will also make mistakes. That is life. We need the values encompassed by the Labour members and supporters to take this journey and as such it is not my place to ask you to alter your stance on independence, that is entirely your decision alone. I think however, that you would regain a high place in the political landscape in Scotland because people have trusted Labour in the past and by doing this would once again. You would reconnect.

    Now with that said, I’ll continue.

    “The SNP love the idea of an independent Scotland with a seat at the UN. Is that the limit of our ambitions? I prefer the idea (and security) of being part of a big, globally significant, country, and we’ve had more than our fair share of UK Prime Ministers in the last century. Real patriotic Scots like to rule England too! ”

    I don’t have world domination on my mind. My place in this world is humble. I do however, like that idea that an independent Scotland could stand on its own two feet without its people being called “subsidy junkies” on question time. But I think you feel the same way about that one.

    It is a given that we would be entitled to a seat in the United Nations as a separate nation and I welcome that. Our armed forces would be similar in size to that of Norway or Sweden and as such would do our part when called to support the requirements of the UN. But that isn’t the limit of our ambitions. Scotland has given through her sons and daughters much to the world. The list of inventions attributed to the people of Scotland beggars belief and this was achieved through the enlightenment brought forth by free education which should remain free to the limit that it is now and be added to to encompass many other circumstances and thus generate the body of ideas that Scotland has become world famous for. The world has many problems at the moment, it has always had problems with food and resources distributed unequally around the globe. Add on top of that a global phenomenon that we call the “Greenhouse Effect” and those scarce resources in certain places become impossible to keep the hold of or gain. In Scotland, right now, a fledgling industry is being built through foreign investment. It is called “Renewables” as I’m sure you know. The very idea that we could produce power from the movement of the moon around our planet has become a reality and is one where the ingenuity of our people has come to the fore. This is an industry that over the coming years will flourish and will add dramatically to our exports. If we wish it, we can lead the world in renewable technolgy and in this way we will give the world another gift. We need a political will to make this happen and if you asked the question of Alex Salmond what he would rather have, whether it was to be the Prime Minister of the UK or have a burgeoning renewable industry and he would undoubtedly say the latter. In building this heavy industry we would reindustrialise Scotland and a lot of the social problems we have now, would as a result, abate. So, as a real patriotic Scot, I do want us to rule the world but not with an army but with our technology, exports and ingenuity. And compassion, we can become world renouned for that too.

    I thank you again for your time,

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  43. Dear Mr Currie,

    Your next question would require the voices of everyone in Scotland to have a say but here goes anyway.

    “On a similar note, can you imagine what the TV will be like? I suspect it will be insular in outlook, and a similar drive will take place in Scotland to force people to learn Gaelic if they want public sector jobs. Apart from TV, other things will take place to make Scotland “different” from potentially being on a different time zone to England, as they will surely change their clocks down south, to road numbers and road signs.”


    I imagine that the TV would be pretty rubbish like it is now. But that’s just me. We would still have Sky, still have Virgin, still have the BBC and ITV. However to add to that would be a smattering of regional channels with possibly in the future a national countrywide channel. The make up of the channels I suppose is important as a lot of people use it as their only source of entertainment. Some people like Corry some like Eastenders, some like Nature programmes and some like Documentaries. In the global world of entertainment, news, documentaries and current affairs programming the choice is mind boggling and as one who has (I think) 120 TV channels to choose from, I spend my time running right through every one of them to find that there’s nothing on for me to watch. Besides which Mrs Milligan tends to control the TV in our house, but we wont go into that. What I am trying to say is that te choice that you have now would be the same if we had independence, and equally as bad. I imagine that the BBC would still like to have their programmes shown in Scotland and the difference here would be how we pay for it. Perhaps you could answer that one for yourself as it would either be a Scottish TV Licence similar to the cost of the one you buy now or, you could pay for it through your Virgin or Sky package. You choose which one you think would be the most sensible and fair.

    On the Gaelic language issue, I can only say that being from the Clydebank area, we dont have many Gaelic speakers in this neck of the woods, however, it seems to be a language that some people are almost fanatical in their wish to keep it alive. As the people who speak Gaelic is less than 5% of the population, I can’t see all our roadsigns being changed and people having to learn Gaelic to take public sector jobs. I believe in live and let live. If the Gaelic speakers wish to continue then I have no problem with that. What I would have a problem with is if it started to be forced on us. There are one or two lobby groups who would wish wider use of the language and good luck to them but if the Scottish Government voted on such a major change, the backlash would be thunderous, you see, the language that most of us speak is English and the kids want to take part in a global communications arena just like they do now, so how could they do that if speaking a different language? English or the version of it called “Scots” takes in Glaswegian, Doric and a whole host of dialects but with English as a base. I can possibly see that it is these dialects that will continue to evolve as the needs of the spoken word change. There is definitely a case for if someone has to work in an area where Gaelic is spoken and nothing else that it would be sensible for them to learn the language but that is just common sense.

    The time zone thing as you describe it is a major issue to those people who live along the border between Scotland and England. At the moment we have the same changes to Summer Time and Winter Time which is set to create an extra hour of light in the morning in the Winter time, this is why it suddenly gets dark coming home from work etc at that time of the year. In Glasgow that I live near I personally think its a bit of a pain but the more North you go the more of an issue daylight hours becomes. In the past it was people in teh more Northerly areas that argued against any change to the hour on, hour off situation. If England changed this, we could if we want go with the change. It would be down to pure debate. In the end it would be our choice.

    I think that change can be both a good and a bad thing dependent on circumstances. No one and not least myself would want to tell you that nothing would change but I know that our ability to accept and benefit from some of these changes is second to none.

    I thank you again for your time,

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  44. Dear Mr Currie,

    I will get straight on to the next part of the debate.
    “The SNP want the “devo max” question on the ballot, because they want a consolation prize. I think this muddies the waters, and is there to split the unionist vote. However, if they spelt out what was, and it seemed to be popular, we should not object to the question being asked in a separate referendum on a separate date (if a referendum was deemed necessary for it). This does seem to be the most popular choice, and Labour will pay in the court of public opinion if they block it.”


    This is in my view central to the debate although not the centre. I don’t wan’t DevoMax/IndyLite/FFA or any of these variations for one simple reason because they would leave us pretty much where we are now. Besides which, if it were to be a part of a referendum it would have to be properly debated by the Scottish Parliament, first in a Parliamentary Committee to formulate a white paper and then in the main chamber by all the parties. It would then be presented as a Bill to the House of Commons for debate, ammended and voted on and then sent to the House of Lords where it would be debated, ammended and possibly thrown out. It would become a political game of football where the ball is passed up and down the field. It is something that would have to be “gifted” by Westminster to the Scottish people.

    I believe in people power. Ever since I saw the TV pictures coming from the Berlin Wall being demolished and then reflecting on what Ghandi was all about. There is a case for “doing it anyway” and using the political will of the people to effect change in the way that they want. But that couldn’t happen at the moment because no one has yet defined what DevoMax/IndyLite/FFA is about.

    Well lets try to do that; what we would be asking for is all powers (and that would have to include borrowing powers to allow Scotland to properly run its own affairs) to be transferred to Holyrood, anything that falls short of that means that Scotland is still trying to do a job with one arm tied behind its back, there would also have to be some kind of arrangement to prevent Westminster clawing powers back. There would still be a Westminster Parliament but without the Scottish contingent of MP’s that sit there now. In other words it would be a semi-federal arrangement, similar in makeup to the USA. Westminster would deal with England, Wales and Northern Ireland just the same as it had done before and would be responsible for Defence and Foriegn Affairs for all the nations within the UK.

    There, perhaps a bit simply described but nonetheless a good starting point. From this point we can start “testing” our model to see where and if it would break down.

    Let’s then look at the responsibilities left to Westminster.

    Defence: There would still be a British Army, Navy and Air Force just the same with regiments and naval personell and pilots etc pulled from all over the UK. No problem here. It seems to work so far.

    Foriegn Affairs: Westminster could decide to go to war with another country. This is an area where I feel that it breaks down. Let’s say that Argentina decide that they want the Falkland Islands back again. Certain incursions are made and Westminster decide that the best form of defence is offence and decide this time decide to attack mainland Argentina. If we agree, no problem. If we disagree we would still have to prosecute a war that we didn’t want. Scotland would yet again send its Sons and Daughters to far flung reaches of the world to possibly die in a conflict not of her making. And the money that we would pay for Westminster to run Defence and Foriegn Affairs would rise exponentially as the conflict grew in size. Yet again, a bit over simplified but it gives us a basis to work on with some “real” examples.

    Let’s look at the other side of the coin if we were independent.

    So due to circumstances, Westminster decide to wage war on Argentina. They would still have the ability to do so. And it may be that we would agree on this course of action and commit our armed forces to fight in an alliance with the rest of the UK (don’t forget the UN dimension though). If we didn’t agree, we could sit this one out. Or we could send our forces just to protect the folk in the Falklands in a defensive role. It would be our choice.

    If we look at another scenario where the UK gets attacked, common sense and logic would tell us that if an aggressor managed to invade England or Wales or Northern Ireland that we would join our next door neighbours in the fight to push the invader out and visa versa if Scotland were attacked because none of the countries on these islands would want to sit next to an aggressor who might want to expand their operations after establishing a bridge head.

    So on with the point of your question (or your point) Mr Currie, why DevoMax and why are the SNP pushing it? The number of polls carried out on this have cosistenly shown a large body of people would like to at least consider that position. In human nature people sometimes prefer a middle ground because it represents the choice where they feel they’ll get the biggest improvement and the least change to their lives. I can’t fault that. Democracy is supposed to be about listening to the people and formulating a political position to manage the aspirations of the people. The SNP sit far to the side of the DevoMax etc etc position as they (and I) want full independence because that is the only solution that will work for the benefit of Scotland in my opinion. It would be very wrong however, if the choice wasn’t there.

    Lord Foulkes was on TV this morning saying that we could have a question on independence and if that was answered “no”, then a further referendum could be set asking about DevoMax etc etc. That means that it would have to be defined, debated and accepted by Holyrood and Westminster. Why run two referendums as that would cost another £10 Million? We’ve got 30 months or so to go so why not do the work now and have the questions on the same ballot paper. The only difference that this would make would be the time interval between the voter asnwering one question and then another. And one less trip to the polling station.

    It is important that this issue is dealt with seriously by all sides and that we all look at what is best for the Scottish people, no tricks, no cards up the sleeve, nothing. All politicians have to take their party out of the debate for a costitutional issue like this.

    Notwithstanding all of that, David Cameron recently stated quite catagorically that there would be no additional powers for Scotland anyway. In answer to that (as I’m sure he’s not listening), I would return you to my statement that “I believe in people power”.

    I entirely agree with you Mr Currie that it does seem that the SNP are looking at it as some kind of a “consolation prize” but I could be very wrong, I’m an engineer, not a politician. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be a consolation prize for Labour as they could run with it and pick up a huge support in the process. They may even take centre stage on this issue. The number of Labour MP’s in Westminster could be usedeffectively and positively to gain an agreement on framing DevoMax and passing it as a Bill which could be taken to the Queen for signature just waiting for the Scottish people to vote on it. The SNP couldn’t very well block a choice that they thought was good democracy in the first place and it would gain assent that way. By doing this, again, you would reconnect with the voters in Scotland. In 2014 Scotland would either have full independence or be part of the UK with all the powers needed to get on and fix things. The Scottish Parliament would have another very popular party in its midst and one that given half a chance would win the next Scottish election. In the meantime they would present themselves as a positive opposition and be fully engaged with the debate. Now hows that for the prattlings of an SNP supporter?

    I will still be arguing for independence as that is (for me) the clearest way for Scotland to progress and progress we must. Relatively few people want to turn back now.

    I thank you again for your time,

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  45. Dear Mr Currie,

    The next part drives right into the heart of the matter.

    “A question that is never asked is “Why would we want to separate?” We are not like the states that emerged from the former USSR, where Russia oppressed Estonia, Latvia, etc. They were right to demand independence, and it was great that they got it. However, England does not oppress Scotland. The proof of that is the simple fact we are having this debate.”


    The reason that people like me want separation/independence/reattainment of nation status etc etc etc is simple, the Act of Union 1707 has worked against the Scottish people. If the Union had been set up fairly then there would have had to be an equal number of representatives from each of the two countries sitting in Westminster when the Union was kicked off. As it was, the Scottish voice was drowned out. That is unfair and undemocratic.

    Adding to this, we have seen a situation where due to the skewed seat of power, Scotland doesn’t benefit from her own resources and we have seen an unfair advantage given to London and the South East of England through succesive parliaments. Our people are left in a terrible state whilst money is pulled from Scotland to fund any number of projects that benefit the South of the UK. Think about that one for one moment. It could even be argued that the North of England is in a similar state but that is possibly where the argument for independence has a benefit for England. If Scotland removed assent for the Act of Union 1707 then the Westminster Parliament would have to deal with the situation in the North of the country and as a result the Northerners would ultimately benefit by a re-balancing of finances.

    There have been many times when the administration in Westminster have “covered up” the true economic position of Scotland and in fact they are still doing it today as can be seen if any of you download and do a bit of digging in the “GERS” report. This is just human nature at play again. Scotland produces a lot of wealth for the UK and contrary to popular belief, more than pays her way. The Nationalists in Scotland were responsible for the obfuscation of Westminster because as the Nationalists in Scotlands voice grew and there was a very real prospect that they would seek independence, Westminster could not afford to lose (certainly in the 70’s) such a golden goose when in all respects they were pretty broke. I’m trying not to judge here but instead trying to see both sides of the situation. So, it’s a given that the UK has benefitted from the oil and gas revenues. The figure that is generally settled on is somewhere between £300 – £323 Billion over the last 34 years. Solid estimates give another 40 years of oil and gas production in Scotland and given that the price for these commodities tend to go up as they become more scarce, that means that an independent Scotland would have the wealth to tackle all the really nasty problems that Scotland has at the moment. Our lifestyle would improve and we would have a more egalitarian society. Problems don’t always go away no mater how much money you throw at them but child poverty and mass unemployment and costly, poor quality social housing are all inextricably linked and therefore the wealth of our nation and a reindustrialisation would have a resoundingly positive impact on the lives of those at the bottom of the social strata, and then position them to take up the opportunities that would exist. You see (and I’m sure you know), child poverty lies at the bottom of a pyramid of social and economic disfunctionality and the only way to tackle it is to deal with all the root causes. Without independence, all we can do is tinker round the edges, no more than that and it doesn’t matter who is in power in Holyrood, the situation would remain the same because Westminster would never give us the wealth that would be needed to sort it properly.

    So to give an answer to your original statement on this issue, I would ask that we define the word “oppression” in our case. We seem to have free speech (we’re having a free debate) so no problem there. However we don’t have the ability to help our own people and Westminster are certainly not going to cough up the cash for us to do it so there is a problem there, and because we have been lied to about our true financial position in an effort to keep us under control, I would in this sense call that a form of oppression. I don’t feel oppressed personally, but that’s just because of my particular circumstances, however, I can’t ignore the plight of people who are unable to break out of their circumstances because opportunities don’t exist for them to do so. It is down to you and me Mr Currie, to find a way to give these people a chance in life so that we don’t have any more lost generations due to deprivation and mass unemployment. We are, underneath all these political clothes “socialists” and if we ignore those at the bottom our society then it cheapens us all and society as a whole suffers.

    That’s why I’d like us to separate and become the Scotland that I know we can be, a Scotland that we all know where we’d like to live and prosper in. If someone came along and told me a way where we could achieve all this without independence then I assure you I would be listening. Promises though, are not enough, “jam tomorrow” has been tried before and we were lied to on that one. This time whatever the answer, it has to be for keeps and it has to be for Scotland.

    I thank you again for your time,

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  46. Dear Mr Currie,

    Here we are at the final bit of my response to your well-worded article. It is my earnest wish that no one and least not you have taken any offence at what I have posted so far or am about to post.

    “I like England, most English people I’ve met are very friendly, and I feel embarrassed about the amount of Scots that seem to have a “chip on their shoulder” about everything English. It is true their commentators can drive a Scot nuts at World Cups when they go on about 1966, but seriously, I think the English would celebrate Scottish success at a World Cup (as long as it is not against them!)

    So, what is it about the rest of Britain that causes the SNP to want independence? Is it just economics and political power for them? If that’s the case, some patriots they are.”


    I do a fair amount of my work in England (90% ish) and never have a problem with any of the people that I meet there. They’ve got a great sense of humour and the ordinary bloke or lass in England is a “good egg” in my experience. I have very good mates down there and I also have family that live there. I think I met someone once who had a chip on their shoulder over “the English” but that’s it and I think she was from a remote area of Scotland where quite a few properties had been purchased by absentee owners. That’s it though. I have never met anyone since who has said a word in anger about the English and I spend a fair bit of time in the Scottish Nationalist world. I think that some folk still see the Nationalists as kilt wearing, face painted “bravehearts” who have more in common with shortbread biscuit tins than real human beings. They also believe that these previously decribed scallywags would like to march down to England and bloody a few noses. Well I’m not going to lie to you, it’s possible that this particular description of person has got to fit somebody, somewhere – it’s just that I’ve never met them.

    I think in truth that the typical Nationalist has moved on from this silly state and grown up. However, what has happened is that the perception of them hasn’t changed with time.

    If you go on to Newsnet Scotland (apologies to John), you will find that any comments where they get heated are directed at Westminster and I’ve never seen a post that insulted the English people. The nearest that I’ve seen though was recently during the initial shots fired over the referendum between David Cameron and Alex Salmond, one of the usual posters went onto the “Mail” website and was verbally torn limb from limb. As he said himself “the point here is that these people are in the minority and they would be better turning their vitriol on Westminster because what they kept on about was university tuition, free prescriptions and free care of the elderly and the subsidy junkie myth was used over and over”, he didn’t get into a slanging match because there’s no point.

    So, we like the English and have no problem with them. What’s the big problem then? Surely it can’t be the 1966 thing? No, it would be laughable if that were the case, although I did once hire Geoff Hurst (the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final) to do an after dinner speech at Foxhills Golf Club just outside London. He spoke for two hours about the last three minutes of the 1966 world cup final. Even the Englishmen were falling asleep. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as that, it just seemed like it – zzzzzzz.

    The common denominator is and has always been money and power. An ordinary Scotsman is much the same as an ordinary Englishman, by and large they like to see fairness in any situation, that’s why we always shout loudest for the underdog.

    Power because of the undemocratic formulation at Westminster and money because we dicovered oil and got poorer as a result. How can we live in such an energy rich country and have people that can’t afford to keep themselves warm or can’t afford to put fuel in the tank of their car (if they’ve got one).

    To sum up, I only have a problem or an issue with one part of Britain, it’s called Westminster.

    I still consider myself to be a patriotic Scotsman irregardless of your last statement Mr Currie. Keep it clean. I probably want the same as you, it’s just that we differ in how we would attain it. And British is just a title after all, having that title doesn’t solve any problems and in my eyes, it holds us back from what we ultimately want to attain. The choice that we make now will have an effect many generations from now. How will they look back on us?

    I thank you again for your time, yet again I thank the Moderation Team at Labourhame for allowing me to post here and hope that at least a few of you can join the debate. I would also like to see Mr Currie (this is not any kind of a challenge) do a further response as it might be helpful. We can only benefit by talking in this way.

    Kindest regards to all,

    David Milligan

  47. I am viewing this site for the first time due to a link from NNS. I am impressed that I am reading it on Labour Hame. I would like to read more feedback from the labour perspective. We, joe public, that depend on the Scottish media for our information do not get enough quality debate. All we get is bickering and point scoring.

  48. I am someone who has a normal job (a Project Manager in a bank) ? .Well I am on the minimum wage,.and in the area I live its a normal job, in-fact its as good as it gets for most . Polls are showing areas like this turning out to have the highest level of pro independence support. Why the British state is dismantling the health service, the benefits system, its introducing fees into the higher education system, well the leading political figures in the British parliament are behind this right wing agenda, not just the Tories but labour leaders have turned out to lead the charge well at the same time they call us the undeserving poor they join the Tories in the greed ridden rush to find new ways of taping into public funds for their own personal gratification. You should hold your head down in shame. in your defence of the indefensible

  49. Dear Mr Currie,

    I have set the “Why separation?” part of my response up as an article on Newsnet Scotland and would invite you and any readers or posters here to enter into the debate either here or at Newsnet Scotland.

    If the moderators would kindly let me attach a link to this for ease of use by the folk that wish to use it.

    Kindest regards to all and thanks again to the Moderators for allowing the dabate to be opened up to non-politicians.

    David Milligan

  50. Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere as I haven’t read all the comments.

    John, how exactly can the treasurer of a Labour branch describe themselves as only dipping their toes in politics around elections? Given the general awareness, interest and involvement in politics in this country, your example probably makes you one of the more politically active people in Glasgow, if not Scotland.

    It is of growing concern to me how so many unionist campaigners seem to base their argument on imperialistic logic, particularly as the UK is a declining global force anyway. In the coming years Brazil, India, Mexico and a host of other countries will further close the gap and even overtake the UK in power and influence, regardless of the outcome of this referendum.

    Personally I would welcome dismantling the war making power of one of the biggest war mongerers in Europe. A country which is not only happy to invade other nations with little justificiation, legality or consistency but also happy to tout its armed wares to dictators and despots prior to removing them.

    Also, whilst I do appreciate the growing consensus that scare mongering is a mug’s game for the Unionist parties; please refrain from defining Unionist as ‘liking the English’. I have English family, friends and have visited England many times. Painting me and other nationalists as anti-English in that way is every bit as base, stupid and insulting as the scaremongering from Westminster.

  51. There’s one serious economic question, but nobody wants to answer it. I did ask one Labour candiate in May- a decent, thoughtful sort of person – who told me he did n’t have an answer. I asked another politician and got a mouthful of abuse. I’d have probably got a smack in the face, but I’m a pretty big bloke….
    The question is, ‘if the Union is so good, how come Scots are poor and Danes are rich?’
    They do have higher taxes – though not by much when you take the overall tax picture into account – but they also have higher salaries and considerably more disposable income. Are they richer because they don’t have world-class education, engineering, tourism, life-science, avionics, fishing, publishing and agrcultural industries or are they richer because they don’t have oil?

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