Having provided little clarity to date, KEN MACINTOSH MSP questions Alex Salmond’s economic vision for an independent Scotland.


The final deadline for income tax returns has now passed.  Cue for unwelcome hundred pound fines for some but also time for the Treasury to calculate how much revenue the fifty pence top rate of income tax has generated.

The fifty pence rate has become the source of much political debate in recent weeks and months.  There is a clear division in the Tory Liberal administration at Westminster between those who support the message it sends out about fairness in these difficult times and those who can’t wait to see the back of such supposed attacks on the rich.  Labour politicians have defended the principle that those who have more should contribute more, particularly as the alternative would mean even deeper cuts to our schools, hospitals and caring services.  Losing the fifty pence rate would also leave a big hole in the Scottish public finances – possibly to the tune of £200 million or more.

Why then the silence of the First Minister on the subject?

For the most part, the First Minister and the SNP have managed to avoid all of the big and difficult questions around separation.  It is not difficult to see why.  Last week when challenged on what he called the economic case for separation, the First Minister immediately ran into difficulties; on Scotland’s relationship with the Bank of England; on who sets our interest rates; on our currency, on public borrowing and more.  The SNP have no difficulty talking about the process leading up to a referendum but seem reluctant to engage in the argument that really matters, on what follows separation and the risks and benefits to Scotland.

I believe that what most Scots really want to know is how will separation affect their lives, their pension, their mortgage, their job – and the taxes they pay.  SNP Ministers constantly demand control over all the ‘economic levers of power’, but then refuse to say what they would do with those levers of control.

In the case of interest rates, the First Minister has admitted the first thing he would do on leaving the union would be to re-negotiate a new currency union, initially with the rest of the UK, then with the Eurozone. But where does he stand on taxation?  He talks of taking control of corporation tax so that it could be cut here in Scotland, the price would of course be a cut in support for the elderly, education or the police.  But what about personal taxation?  The First Minister talks about Scotland being a progressive country so defending the fifty pence rate should be a simple starter for him.

I have two concerns; one is that if the First Minister genuinely believes in a progressive society, he should be out there now defending the fifty pence rate against the Tories rather than just leaving the difficult arguments for Labour.  The SNP want to appear, and to appeal, as a modern progressive social democrat party, but without getting their hands dirty.  Talking about the benefits of a welfare state but without making the case as to how we pay for it is the clear sign of a populist approach, not a progressive one.

My second concern is simply to hear the SNP state, on the record, what their plans are for our economy post separation.  The SNP make out that we can oppose the Tory welfare cuts if only we were a separate country, but we know that we can’t have higher spending and lower taxes.  In truth there are people right across the UK, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who all oppose these welfare reforms. The problem is, not that they are coming from Westminster, but because they are coming from the Tories.

There are a lot of difficult questions for the SNP to answer but whether Scots will pay a fifty pence top rate of income tax should be an easy one for the First Minister.  It’s time he started answering. 


Ken Macintosh is Scottish Labour MSP for Eastwood and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth. Follow him on Twitter:  @KenMacintoshMSP

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88 thoughts on “Time to Start Answering Questions

  1. Ken,
    why don’t you try answering some of your own questions? Or do you think there will be no Labour party in an independent Scottish government?

    Maybe if you could just find something to be positive about you wouldn’t look like someone (and a member of a party) who has absolutely nothing to offer the people of Scotland other than sheer negativity.

    Maybe you could try saying what your party would stand for in an independent Scotland.


  2. Perhaps the Labour party should pay more attention to what they are doing instead of always looking to see what stand the SNP are taking.

    The NHS in England is in danger of being destroyed, the collateral damage to Scotland in Barnett consequential’s could do the same thing here, the welfare system is being dismantled on both sides of the border & the both our economies are being dragged down by the Tory/Liberal coalition.

    Where have Scottish Labour been during all of this, why are our MP’s not screaming from the rooftops in Westminster to show how much the people of Scotland are against all of these.

  3. Surely what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander?

    The 50p tax rate is only one issue. Whilst I think it should be maintained, there may be other ways of raising the same amount or more. Why should the SNP (or anyone else for that matter) be expected to pronounce on every piece of policy now, when the earliest they would conceivably have to address this question is 2015..probably even later than that.

    Should we expect the Labour party to issue detailed and costed proposals years in advance of the next General election?

    No… I thought not!

    1. Exactly. All the smart reports say that the 50p tax rates is here to stay till 2015 so who are Labour arguing with and why do they want the SNP to join in? Arguing against something that isn’t going to happen simply so that you can be seen arguing against it is pointless enough. Denouncing people for not joining in is taking gesture politics to a whole new level!

  4. Ken MacIntosh is deliberately confusing two issues in a typically negative piece in which he can’t bring himself to use the word ‘independence’ but continually speaks of ‘separation’. Having admired him during the Labour leadership contest, I had expected more than this offering.

    Ken MacIntosh needs to address the fundamental question about independence, rather than attempt to confuse the issue by asking what taxation policy an independent Scotland would have. The answer to his question, and others like it, is ‘whatever the people of Scotland vote for’.

    You see, the point about independence is that the people of Scotland will then get a government they elect that will do what the people want or face their wrath at the next election. Ken MacIntosh supports continued UK control of Scotland, where we often – like now – get governments we don’t support, dealing with issues in ways we fundamentally disagee.

    Once independent, Scotland will have the ability to have a taxation policy of its choosing. Why does Ken MacIntosh not want to give them this power?

    It is equally valid to ask Alex Salmod what his tax policy would be post-independence as to ask Ken MacIntosh what his tax policy would be post-independence. That question, however, is a different question from asking whether Scotland should be an independent state with the ability to make that determination for itself.

    Why are Labour politicians afraid to engage in the real question?

    1. People have a right to know, of course they do. But there is a difcerenfe between asking questions because of genuine inquisitiveness, and the scattergun approach that is being taken by those who have already decided they will vote no in the referendum.Unionists are convinced that there is a weakness in the independence argument, they just don’t know what it is. So they’re firing off all these questions, some of which are important, some of which are reasonable, and some of which are just downright inane. Those who still question the timing of the referendum are most certainly in the latter camp, incidentally.Nationalists answer these questions as sufficiently as is possible after all, the world is constantly changing (and one of the main reasons for independence is to allow Scotland to be better equipped for adapting to these changes). However, each answer is met with yeah, but what about this, and what about this, and this, and this? That’s not inquisitiveness, that’s trying to find a fault. Most of the questions we see are just attempts to trip up the independence argument. It’s like the difcerenfe between someone who uses a computer system in a normal manner to learn about it, and someone who pokes about at it, trying out every possible combination of button presses in an attempt to break it. The difcerenfe is software testers are just trying to make sure the system works properly, whereas unionists are hell bent on scuppering independence.The SNP doesn’t take an alright on the night approach. Some of us pro-independence bloggers may do that, but the party itself doesn’t. As Indy seemingly has to keep mentioning, most of these questions have had their answers laid out in black and white by the SNP over the years. It’s not their fault that a media which is all of a sudden interested in the independence debate has not bothered to do even the most basic of research, thus people like Salmond still have to keep repeating the same answers to the same questions, thereby denying the public the chance to be better informed.

    2. Well I suppose I am one of those high-minded vreots you are talking about Aidan. Last year I voted Lib Dem in the General Election. Last week, I did something I had never thought I would contemplate I voted SNP. Blaming the Labour parties problems on money just does not cut it. As Doug Daniels highlights it failed to get the Tories a majority last year. As such, cash is not king. No the reason I voted for the SNP is because Labour’s alternative was so poor as to barely register. Scottish Labour has an intellectual problem as has been noted elsewhere. It also has a policy problem. I was surprised Labour decided to offer a council tax freeze for 2 years, only to be trumped by the SNP. Granted both parties were bribing the vreots, but Labour could have taken a progressive stand and refused to freeze it. It would have put the SNP in the odd position of supporting a regressive tax (even though their long-term hope is LIT). Problem is Labour did not. In any event, even though I voted for them I doubt the SNP will be able to afford it. Furthermore, for a party that supports further devolution and ultimately independence, it shows an odd level of disrespect for local government in Scotland, as Simon Jenkins pointed out. I wonder whether some councils might try and break the concordat in future to make ends meet. Anyway, I am straying off topic a little. My point is you state that Scottish Labour lost because it failed to get enough cash and spend it wisely. As Duncan made the point earlier in this blog, the main reason you lost is because you lost the arguments. If I were to vote again for Labour it would be due to the following list of high-minded reasons’ which are as long as the supposed cardigans I wear. Firstly, Scottish Labour needs to have competent leader. Problem is that following the wipeout of last Thursday, there is hardly any left. The main point is to have someone who can hold Alex Salmond to account. I do not think that is either Jackie Bailie or Ken Macintosh. As such, there are big problems in this regard.Secondly, the most important brief will be finance. Scottish Labour needs to put someone in place who will be able to pick apart the SNP spending plans. As I have already argued on here in previous blog posts, these are strongly based on efficiency savings and I do not think there is much left to be cut without cutting jobs in the public sector. Mind you, Labour will be in a difficult situation since much of the policies supported by the SNP were also supported by Labour. Only plausible way out would to be hold your hands up.Thirdly, Labour are going to have to consider who they would want as coalition partners in five years, if they manage to get back enough seats. In which case open minds are going to be required. Even then Labour will struggle to win back some seats. For example, in this election Almond Valley was a supposed marginal yet ended up being a 5000 SNP majority. It also has no seats north of Dumbarton, barring list seats, which makes Labour look like a party of the central belt. In which case it will need to reconsider how it approaches strategy in the north. To conclude, I just hope that in five years, there is a Labour party there for me to vote for.

  5. Why did Labour create the biggest gap between rich and poor when they had the UK purse strings for 13 years?

    Why did Labour when in power with the LibDems send a billion pounds of Scottish money back to Westminster?

    1. I am so glad you asked these questions. First of all I should refer you back a couple of posts where you can find some helpful links that show Labour reduced all forms of poverty in Scotland (and across the UK) and also halted the rise in income inequalities (followed by a decrease in that gap in the final years of the Labour government at Westminster).

      Secondly. Labour in Holyrood delivered improvements in health, education, infrastructure, justice etc while creating a reserve of money to be used in times of need. If you remember, we had the foot and mouth outbreak which cost the country massively. The Labour led administration at Holyrood took the responsible decision to save money to use in the event of another event as damaging to the Scottish economy as that outbreak. Now I may be wrong, and I’m sure you will correct me, but that administration built up a fund of £900m-£1100m.

      The SNP came in and said they wouldn’t send money ‘back to Westminster’ and would spend the full allocation plus these reserves. The question now is this: what did they spend this money on? Why didn’t they continue to save?

      Just think of the cuts in the Holyrood budget (about £1.4bn right?) and how this fund could have protected so many jobs across the country. A competent SNP government? How competent is it to waste money that was put aside for a rainy day and leave us high and dry when the cuts bite with less protection from the Tories than we might have had otherwise.

      £1bn of savings could have delivered massive infrastructure and job initiatives to help get our country growing. The SNP spent that money and got very little in return for the taxpayer.

      1. “and also halted the rise in income inequalities”

        …or did the exact opposite, depending on whether you believe a Labour-biased website or a neutral one.

          1. My stats came from the IFS and Left Foot Forward only reported those statistics. If you go to the LFF site there is a link to the IFS report.

        1. What’s your take on the £1bn ‘sent back to Westminster’ Andy? Do you think it was competent or responsible of the SNP to waste that money as they did?

          Do you agree that money should be spent on creating jobs, providing a proper Living Wage rather than a gimicky LW, building schools/hospitals/roads or investing in colleges rather than decimating their budgets?

    1. So why is the UK government so absolutely desperate to hold onto Scotland if we’re largely worthless and would be in economic difficulty if independent? Is it love, kindness, charity?

      I can understand Labour wanting Scotland for its traditional more centre-left vote hence historical delivery of Labour MP’s but the Tories? I suspect energy security and oil ££££’s is closer to the truth. Working at a senior level in the energy industry this is very obvious to my colleagues and I.

      And why would Scotland need to borrow? GERS reports show it runs at a modest profit most of the time. It was prolific borrowing that created the current global economic crisis. In that sense, if borrowing was expensive for Scotland (which no rating agency has stated it would be by default – Scotland’s rating would ultimately dependent long term on government fiscal competence) would that not discourage borrowing, making balancing of the books a greater priority?

    2. So, Alex, are you suggesting that Scotland does not have the ability to succeed as an independent country?

      Once again, negative scare stories as the only argument against independence!

        1. You stated “there is no economic case for independence”.

          If you are not suggesting that ‘Scotland does not have the ability to succeed as an independent country’, please explain what you do mean?

          1. Any case for “independence” has to be that things would be better for the Scottish people if we were “indepemdent”.

            In the case of the economy, it would have to be that the Scottish people would be better off.

            No such case has ever been made. Unless you care to make it?

    3. Your “fact” is the three ratings agencies refusing to comment or get into specifics about an independent Scotland’s credit rating and unionist politicians considerately helping to make up for their lack of comment with dire predictions, based on absolutely no coherent, evidence based, argument?

      Wow. That really is plumbing the depths.

    4. Well put Alex. The Nationalists will never be convinced that Scotland is not Norway and never will be. They often ask why only Scotland among the many small countries cannot survive independence. They know the answer, and it has nothing to do with Labours performance in government. While it is true that we have been the predominant party in Scotland in UK elections, we cannot be blamed foreverything. The Scottish people have much to answer for.

      1. “The Scottish people have much to answer for.”

        Please expand on this for the benefit of your potential electorate.

      2. I don’t my country to just “survive” I’ve got ambition.

        I want us to prosper and flourish.

        For which you need a strong economy, and I haven’t seen anything from that nats that convinces that the economy would be any better if we were separate from the UK.

        The evidence seems to show that we would be worse off economically. And, forgive me, but I have no wish to make my people worse off even if it means I can swing my kilt with a bit more gusto.

        1. Please point me in the direction of this evidence.

          And no, unsubstantiated statements from Unionist politicians do not count as evidence.

          1. Hi Lyn,Thanks for the mention in this itenresnitg look at whether current discussions being held online can serve as the seeds of change we’ve seen happen in the past. I think there are two issues which may serve to weigh down and forward momentum from these conversations. The first and most obvious one is the increasing amount of noise that is present on the various social media sites. Having been on Twitter for a number of years, I’ve noticed the gradual evolution from discrete conversations and idea sharing to general link sharing and in some cases banal chatter. Of course, one of the positive aspects of social media is that we all have a choice as to what we’d to hear and so we can filter out the noise and focus instead on where discussions migh be had, and where connections can be made to take the conversation to the next level. This approach seems rather in keeping with these groups of Scottish intellectuals who no doubt also chose who and where they would interact so that they could develop their understandings and insights about t their world.The other issue we’re having to contend with, and which I addressed in my piece you mentioned, is the fact that we’re once again popularizing the notion behind the Great Man theory; that the changes we see around us are not the result of a collective effort, but the consequences of the actions, ideas or vision of a solitary figure. Of course, many studies have been done by historians and sociologists which have debunked this theory and have clearly shown that change or innovation doesn’t occur within a vacuum, but instead is the result of a shift in collective thinking and perception. Indeed, history is replete with examples of two or more individuals working independently and unaware of the other on the very same concept, idea or technological breakthrough.As such, if we are to have some form of enlightenment, it requires us to not only separate the signal from the noise, but also the understanding that change of any size requires a collective effort of sharing, discussion and reflection.

          2. Type your comment here Let’s not be urlttey naive about EU procurement rules. They get bent to meet pressure from the electorate which is why it is RN ships get built in Govan and Rosyth, the French Aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was built in France and 89 of the active 90 ships in the German Navy was built in Germany. No need to bend them. Article 296 of the EC Treaty has a specific exemption for military procurement.“(1)(b) Any Member State may take such measures as it considers necessary for the protection of the essential interests of its security which are connected with the roduction of or trade in arms, munitions and war material; such measures shall not adversely affect the conditions of competition in the common market regarding products which are not intended for specifically military purposes. Hence why the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (civilian) FPV Hirta was built in Poland while the River Class of Royal Navy Fisheries Protection Squadron were built in Portsmouth.The European Defence Agency, which is supposed to be promoting a market in defence procurement, has barely got off the ground. The UK amongst other is threatening to withdraw and the EDA has been scarred by disasters of pan-European projects like Eurofighter, A400M and Horizon.

      3. “They often ask why only Scotland among the many small countries cannot survive independence. They know the answer”

        I must have missed that meeting. Any chance you can fill me in on what it is?

    5. “Given the SNP dominance at Holyrood, the patentiol is there for policy to creep slowly but surely to the right.” The SNP will never be to the right of Labour. Labour are the party that doubled the starting rate of tax that hit the lowest paid, put up the sick tax (prescription charge) every year when they were in power. These are just two of the many right wing policies that the so called socialists followed.That aside, will Labour change? I very much doubt it, a start could have been made today when Alex Salmond was elected First Minister and a unanimous vote would have made no difference, but may, just may have signalled to the Scottish electorate that it was not just empty rhetoric but Labour had absorbed the lesson they were given on May 5th. Who would bet on any other outcome than Labour abstaining or voting against every proposal that is put forward by the SNP during this parliament.Will Jim Murphy change? Do turkeys vote for Christmas? The Labour MPs will defend Westminster until their last political breath, until it looks like their own seats are in danger, then self preservation will take top priority over any other consideration.BTW I thought that Iain Gray made a very measured and well balanced speech today, it looked like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Patrick Harvie was also very good, ditto Margo, as for the other two, forget it.

    6. Well I never join in the catcalling about peolpe who screw up their millions and billions because I regard myself as a fairly competent person but you know what, put me in a hot Newsnight studio broadcasting live with blooming Gordon Brewer barking questions at me n something that is not my area of expertise and there is every chance that I would not only mix up my millions and billions but quite possibly wet myself into the bargain! That’s why I have never tried to become an MSP of course. blockquote> Funnily enough, I was going to include Humza in my comedy list of shame for his conduct during the leaders’ debate, one week before the election. I believe the exact Twitter message, upon watching a poor performance from Labour’s leader, was: ‘Let’s all laugh at Gray, let’s all laugh at Gray, na, na, na, na’.I can’t say I know much about Humza so I’ll have to take your word for it on his plus points, but that public catcalling is not indicative of the calibre of MSP that Scotland is looking for and, for me, is typical of the petty student politics style squabbling that, I think, often holds Scotland back and that better qualified individuals are better placed to rise above.As for lawyers getting their millions and billions mixed up; in my political party dream team it would be the business peolpe and accountants that would get put out to bat to discuss something as important as the Scottish Futures Trust, so I don’t take your point. And even then, a lawyer is trained to have an attention to detail so it’d be a rare error even from that quarter.

  6. “My second concern is simply to hear the SNP state, on the record, what their plans are for our economy post separation.”

    Given that this site is for discussing the way forward for Scottish Labour, I would similarly like to hear Labour state, on the record, what their plans are for our economy post independence, should that occur. Or are Labour planning to disband if Scots vote for independence?

    People do realise that there would be parliamentary elections in an independent Scotland; I find it odd how everyone seems to think the SNP would win these in perpetuity. In fact, one would expect the more left and right leaning voters supporting the SNP to drift off back towards other appropriate parties such as the Scottish Socialists, greens, some new centre-right Scottish Party (e.g. Murdo’s idea). Under PR, this would likely mean they’d need to go into coalition with other parties to form government. Certainly, under PR, maintaining a majority would be extremely difficult and so highly unlikely.

    Are Labour prepared for independence? Are they forward planning? If Scots do vote YES but Labour have no manifesto for an independent Scotland it could be the end for Scottish Labour – or at least the start of many wilderness years. Surely, at least behind closed doors, Labour are planning for this eventuality and will soon release their ‘independence manifesto’ so Scots can see what independence might look like under a Labour administration? As Scotlands second party, Labour owes this to the people of Scotland I feel.

  7. Nice try Ken, but not nearly good enough. To paraphrase wee Eck, let me give you some gentle advice.

    First, the continual use of the term “separation”, as a more pejorative synonym for Independence, merely cheapens your argument. This may play well in the Conservative clubs of the Shire counties, but has no resonance for the people of Scotland. It simply appears that, being aware of the weakness of your own proposition, you need to resort to some sort of negative branding in order to shore it up. Besides, even if the SNP pined for separtaion, which we do not, it would be quite impractical since England is much too heavy to move.

    More seriously, your complaint that the SNP is not dealing with the big issues of independence would carry some weight, were it not for the following 2 factors:
    All the anti-independence parties, including Labour, have spent the last four weeks attempting to derail, control, gerrymander and even block the referendun in every way possible. Clearly some effort has been required of the SNP to ensure that this does not happen, making it appear to the public that the debate is all about process.

    The same period has seen an epidemic of scare stories designed to convince the public that, whetever the merits or otherwise of independence, the risks are simply far too great. Again, effort has beed required to provide some balance to or refutation of these.

    Both of the above have obscured the real substance of the argument, and both have been counterproductive for the unionists. The perception of Westminster interference in a Scottish issue and the repitition of the “too wee, too poor, too stupid” argument has led to a steady rise in both support for independence and membership of the SNP. Since they are inefective, one might expect that they will also be short lived.

    In addition, simply asserting that the SNP is not dealing with the the big issues does not make it true. A good many questions on substantive issues, regularly posed and re-posed by anti-independence parties, have been answered long ago. Repeatedly asking the same question eventually annoys voters who have already heard the answers, and would like to move on to new more fertile ground. The currency will be the pound, we will remain a member of the EU and the pandas will stay in Edinburgh.

    The SNP will increasingly put more meat on the bones of independence, and provide more detail of their vision for a post referendum Scotland, over the next two years. The big questions would seem to be, is there a unionist vision for Scotland and, if so, when will we begin to see it artuclated. The Labour party, in partucular, seems to be retreating into some sort of Calman light status quo, with vague offers of post referendum review. For many of us this invokes the shade of Douglas-Home.

  8. Very good piece Ken. These questions continue to remain unanswered and the longer this continues the harder it will be for the SNP to win the referendum.

    1. Aye, its quite a skelping yourself and yer man Ken are taking over this article, so just to make easy for you & Ken !! Why has Ken not asked this question about the 50p income tax rate during First Minsters Question Time ? or at least reprogrammed his boss to do it. I am sure an answer would be forthcoming, but it may not be what you expect and could end up ruining one of your scare storys. But why not go for it ??

  9. Would this be the same treasury that, under the previous Labour government, couldn’t even keep track of the £11 billion it had written off in unpaid taxes, to go with the £105 billion in uncollected tax and left the country in debt of over £1.2 trillion? Forgive us if lectures on economic competence and understanding of tax and spend from the Labour party ring a little hollow these days.

    Have you asked the First Minister what his views on the 50p tax rate are Ken? Have Scottish Labour been talking about this is the Scottish Parliament? It’s a reserved matter is it not? What leads you to believe the SNP would scrap it after independence? And, I know recent polls and elections have been pretty damning for the Labour party in Scotland but the SNP and Alex Salmond wouldn’t rule an independent Scotland in perpetuity, you know?

    And I’m a bit confused: Have the SNP avoided “all of the big and difficult questions around separation” or have they just given answers you’re not happy with? (Pretending for a moment you’d admit to being happy with any aspect of independence).

    I’d like to hear some answers from the Labour party actually. What would be the best currency option in an independent Scotland? What would be so wrong with keeping the pound? (When the BoE is independent from government anyway). Does Scotland, as part of the UK, not ‘own’ part of the ‘asset’ that is the BoE? Why would the BoE have a worse relationship with Scotland than the rest of the UK, after independence? If they didn’t have a problem with the last Labour government running up colossal debt, why would it place unreasonably strict borrowing conditions on an independent Scotland?

    Your point about corporation tax is, of course, very disingenuous. For a start, would the EU stop Scotland lowering CT or would it not allow us entry in the first place? Why would lowering CT “of course be a cut in support for the elderly, education or the police”? One of the reasons I support independence is that we could cut the staggering amount of money we spend on the military. Scotland’s annual share of military spending is around £3.7 billion (I’m not even sure if this includes Trident), around $0.6 billion more than Sweden, who have almost double our population. (Bang goes the economies of scale argument). Could saving substantial amounts here not cover a decrease in CT, which would, in turn, be a boost for businesses in Scotland and help attract businesses to Scotland, leading to more jobs?

    Westminster has become a choice between Tory cuts and attacks on public services and a financially incompetent Labour party who can’t even keep track of just how badly they’re running public finances and run up mammoth public debts. Haud me back!

  10. Now,

    The sepration thing is interesting- but we neen facts

    I think the facts may, or may not be skewed;
    For example- almost all the people that work for the large chains (supermarkets etc) have head offices based outside Scotland. As a result of this their pay is counted income from another part of the UK.

    I understand the Labour argument- “Calman is great- look you can issue speeding fines”
    As far as Calman goes it’s not even anything like far enough

    What I want to see is the Labour party coming up with their own devolution proposals- Calman is a ‘dead parrot’
    Stop saying how bad others are- start saying what you want (you don’t have to go into detail, just say what powers you think should be devolved to Scotland)

  11. I’m afraid if this is the best Labour have to offer they “are all doomed”. Shame really their current leaders at Westminster and Holyrood are always good for a laugh! Get on with some policies for Scotland before you are a complete irrelevance as a party – Scotland needs some sort of decent opposition!

  12. Ken.

    It might be just me, but aren’t there a large number of what we should describe as Blairite MP’s who advocate the dropping of the 50% tax rate. Thats people in your own party, and I might be guessing here but people firmly in the Milliband D camp.

    The SNP might be split on this issue, they might not be split – but we know that Labour are hopelessly split on this issue.

  13. Nigel Ranter,
    take a minute and think about what you are unwittingly saying when you state “The Scottish people have much to answer for”.
    You are blaming the Scottish electorate for the mess you think we’re in.
    The Scottish people are not in a mess.
    All political parties have to believe their vision can make things better; thats what politics is about. But as a consequence of Labour’s relentless negativity (e.g. Ken McIntosh’s article) Scotland is swinging towards independence. They are excited by the prospects of the referendum.
    When a political party looks around for the reasons why they are loosing support to their opponents, and start blaming the electorate, then that party is in trouble.

    1. richard mackinnon,

      When the SNP took over in 2007 they inherited a mess, but it was not OUR mess. The Labour Party made (almost) all the right decisions so why did we fail? The Scottish people did not take our lead and act accordingly. Just like a football manager who trains his players well and chooses the correct tactics, he is helpless when the players ignore what he had to say and fail miserably on the day.

  14. There we have it another two of the Ken McIntosh Mystic Conundrums which in the greater scheme of things are as relevant as George Osborne’s understanding of poverty.
    Like the other unionists he knows better what Alec Salmond should be doing better than the man himself.
    Ken McIntosh talks about changing tax levels and welfare cuts as being only tory policies. Does he not listen to what his own leadership are saying.The red tories led by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have no intention of reversing blue tory policy. If Alec Salmond was to get more involved then he would be accused focusing on the wrong things which are reserved. The problem with Ken McIntosh and the other scare mongering unionists is that they have no real economic argument. All they have to offer is the emotional card which is doing more to promote the independence than hamper it.
    We also have wee Alex Gallagher the 1980’s CND hero who has become one of the biggest advocates of nuclear power in Scotland. You people need to decide what it is you stand for and who you represent. It is not the working class.
    The only protection and opportunity of avoiding UK poverty and desperation is through independence.

  15. KEN

    Cybernats out in force today you must of hit a nerve in the Nationalist body politic.

    And to use the Banned word ‘Separation’ four times as well and separate once which although not in the same category as ‘Separation’ is non the the less disallowed by the Nationalists linguistic censor.

    Much more of this and you will skirting close to being ‘Antiscottish’

  16. It is very strange how probing political questions about the shape of a future Scotland seem to have the SNP support forming a shield wall and declaring that it is anti-scottish or scaremongering to ask such questions.

    Surely if the entire reason for the existence of your party is to govern an independent scotland it might have been prudent to spend all that time leading up to this moment finding out some answers to basic questions.

    It is almost as if they are saying “vote yes” and then we will work out what to do with independence.

    We need to have the debate before the vote. First step might be to get some guarantees from the EU about status as independent country (will we have automatic entry, will we be forced to take on euro if not) then from Bank of England to see how the financial constraints around borrowing/inflation etc will be handled.

    Then they might try giving contracts to scottish companies instead of the forth crossing contracts for steel going to china, spain and poland.

    Then sustainable energy supply, their renewables plan is mental and not sustainable at the moment as well as costing more than we will see back in our lifetime.

    Then what kind of economy will scotland have after the oil and gas dry up in 30-50 years depending on which reports you read.

    And maybe trying to ensure that the they stop starving councils of their income by ending the ludicrous council tax freeze. No answer to any of these things so far.

    Just shouting at the parties who disagree with you that they are scaremongering will only work for so long, even the brain dead will eventually realise there are no answers to these questions forthcoming and realise what a risk they take.

    Stop trying to shut down debate and engage in a dialogue. That is a two sided conversation where people are allowed to disagree and present different points of view, for those who are unaware.

    1. “Stop trying to shut down debate and engage in a dialogue. That is a two sided conversation where people are allowed to disagree and present different points of view, for those who are unaware.”
      This bit made me laugh. This is coming from a supporter of one of the parties that campaigned for so long NOT to even HAVE a referendum. The whole basis of which is to give the people a chance to voice their opinion and in doing so have a big debate about the issue. Also, as a member of the working class, the council tax freeze is not ludicrous and helps me have enough money to both pay my bills and eat. Especially during this recession. One I didn’t ask for or help create since I was 16 when it hit in 2008.

    2. “Surely if the entire reason for the existence of your party is to govern an independent scotland”

      How hard is it to understand self-determination? The referendum – and the raison d’etre of the SNP – is about self-determination, not who governs an independent Scotland. The Scottish people will determine who governs an independent Scotland, based on policies put forward at the time (at least 4 years from now). Scottish Labour would – unsurprisingly – not tell us now what tax rates they might impose if they formed the government. To pretend that the SNP should is disingenuous at best. To assume that they would form the government is defeatist. If this is still the best Scottish Labour can do – dishonesty, negativity and defeatism – then I have no doubt that the Scottish people will respond in the same way as they did last year.

    3. Your entire post is buils on a false premise so is unworthy of even the most basic consideration.

      “if the entire reason for the existence of your party is to govern an independent scotland”

      The SNP’s goal is to achieve independence for Scotland. Who governs an independent Scotland is up the the electorate so future policy within an independen Scotland cannot be dictated by the SNP.

    4. The SNP has presented positions on all of the questions in the booklet, “Your Scotland Your Future”. It does not answer every question but it does explain views and options for many of the questions that are asked: defence, currency, economy, energy, international relations, incl EU…

      It is perfectly right to question every one of these positions. BUT it is also necessary to present alternatives. Labour is completely failing to do this and should the referendum vote be YES, Labour and the other opposition parties will find themselves, like the Tory party did after Devolution, to be unwilling and grudging participants with no ideas to offer.

  17. I am afraid that all those calling to hear what Labour will do post-referendum are wasting their time. Labour cannot admit to the possibility that Scotland will vote for independence. To do so would be to recognise that there is no future for the MPs or Lords and all of the support structure and patronage that surrounds them. Given that so many of the activists and thinkers within Labour are so inextricably bound directly and indirectly to these MPs and Lords, they are understandably scared of admitting that they have backed losers. So all we will see is bluster and denial when what Scotland needs is principled opposition right now and preparation for the changed political landscape when it arrives. The irony being that the louder the bluster, the more defiant the denials, the more certain it is that changed landscape will hove into view. Meanwhile Scotland and her people suffer.
    So sorry folks, you are not going to get any plans for the future out of Labour because they can conceive of no future other than one in which their plans are handed down to them from the London HQ.

    1. Having chatted to seavrel labour party members and supporters over recent weeks all voiced the opinion that the SNP should have been attacked as being soft on crime. Even in the face of the evidence that crime is at an all time low they still thought that was the way to go, something that is natural right-wing tory ground. This uniformity epitimised to me how far remover labour really are from ordinary people.Still the persistant claims again despite the evidence to the contrary that the SNP is rippin aff Glesga and only labour can stand upto the Tories blah blah blah. That the SNP are a different party depending on what part of the country you are in was nonsense also.What bugged me most however was that despite the obvious position on the right labour were still claiming that the SNP are tartan tories. The same old sloganeering undoubtedly rallied much of the auld guard which probably will vote labour in the main until they pop their clogs. It played to the lowest denominater, tribalism and loyalty, nothing new was put forward.Kidding people on (putting it politely) seemed to be the central thread running through everything labour done, ecapsulated by the ludicrous promise for mandatory gaol sentences that were not mandatory, with no real plans on implementing the folly.The independence campaign will be interesting, will labour shoot themselves in the foot by going all out for the union despite many of their supporters and members pro-independence and probably the majority not bothered one way or the other?

    2. not much to disagree with you here malc the west of slcotand seems in quite a static position, with (notionally) only a couple of really tight seats. People will always say this or that seat will b close based on (insert your own campaign chat here), but realistically i think it is as you suggest.Labour and the Libs are the potential losers here, as my model shows the same as yours, with the snp and tories pick up ane extra list of they lose the tight constituency. Labour only pick up a list seat when they lose 3 constit (and even that is close).Interesting side issues as you say. the libs need one of the Tories or snp to pick up a constituency to get a list seat.For the SNP to go better than five, they really need te tories to pick up eastwood as they would require two wins in the constituencies (possible but unlikely).Eastwood is an interesting one. As per the boundary report the tories now have an 11.2% notional majority, though are fighting against an incumbant MSP not relying on the list to get in the back door. I imagine a battle royal is going on. On the TNS/STV poll, UNS has the tories still holding on by almost 2% so this could be very close indeed. I usually take it that the tory vote stays very static for Holyrood (they have been very similar in each of the 3 elections mid 15%) and even with westminister gov, i think they will be there again. There vote turns out every election, so i feel if labour want to win eastwood, they need to be getting more than the notional troy vote from 2007. they cannot rely on troy vote reducing.

  18. Sorry but theirs something of the Tony Blair false smile, look about Ken McIntosh.
    Surely the labour supporters can’t be conned into voting for this type of man as leader again.

    I knew that Tom Harris wouldn’t get the leadership gig, but he is the only one who has any genuine ‘presence’ and in spite of his ‘joke’ about Hitler that backfired, he would have instilled some back-bone and direction into the Labour party in Scotland (or is it North Britian, Gordon ) ?

    What a disaster for you guys that you ended up with Johann.

  19. Nigel Ranter ” They often ask why Scotland amongst all the small countries can not surviveIndedependence.They know the answer- em no I don’t. Please clarify for me why Scotland ‘could not survive ?’

    1. Meg,

      Come on, you know as well as anybody that the Scots are the Red Indians of Europe. They are quite happy on their reservations being looked after by the United States, but they remain a proud people nonetheless. Why can’t we be satisfied with our own situation as a junior partner within the Union? We can be proud and dependent – or bankrupt and independent. I know what I would choose.

      1. Sir,

        I know there are politeness guidelines, so I’m not going to make a statement just ask you a question. Are you a racist or an idiot?


  20. “There are a lot of difficult questions for the SNP to answer but whether Scots will pay a fifty pence top rate of income tax should be an easy one for the First Minister. It’s time he started answering. ”

    The amusing thing about all these questions is that they assume Labour will lose the 2016 election. Stay positive, Labour!

  21. You want economic proof that independence would be good for Scotland how about starting with the LABOUR/CONSERVATIVE-WESTMINSTER McCrone Report which I QUOTE – “An independent Scotland in control of all her oil revenues would have the strongest currency in Europe with the exception of Norway and What is quite clear is that the balance of payments gain from North Sea oil would easily swamp the existing deficit whatever its size and transform Scotland into a country with a substantial and chronic fiscal surplus.” AND “It can be credibly argued that Scotland would be more prosperous should the Union of 1707 be repealed”. This report was CLASSIFIED by the LABOUR (James Callaghan) government of the day to (their words) stop the SNP from gaining Scottish independence.

    1. How about you read the other bits, where it says that an independent Scotland would be damaged by having Oil as such a large part of its economy? Or is selectively quoting second nature?

      1. OMG was that a serious reply, starting point 1970s Norway (4.8 million people) not a rich country. Where is it now, a $500 billion sovereign wealth fund. I’m not saying that this would be the case for Scotland but the chance to choose to build our economy on the back of oil would have been good.

        The secrecy of the McCrone report was a serious disservice to the Scots and an affront to democracy.

  22. This is interesting:


    Apparently the SDA have written to the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) raising concerns over Westminster breaching international law with regard to the forthcoming referendum. I imagined this would happen at some point what with the whole ‘You can’t have a legal referendum without Westminster’s permission’ thing. Reminds me of the Soviet Union when Lativa etc wished to regain their independence. CoE involvement? That would be embarrassing for Westminster, but it looks like it may be needed based on recent shenanigans.

    I look forward to the day my country becomes a democracy.

  23. Scottish Budget passed in Holyrood by 70 votes to 52. Appears Libdems voted with the Government while the Labour/Tory Alliance voted against!

  24. I’ve got 2 points to make; Did Ken oppose the doubling of the 10p tax rate by labour hitting the poorest hardest and secondly,isn’t income tax is a reserved issue so surely labour wouldn’t want Alex to stick his nose into something that doesn’t concern him!

  25. Most of the Labour Party (and the Tories and LibDems) already know this which makes their continuous nonsense about Scotand’s economy inexcusable.
    They are intersted only in thier comfy place in the system.

  26. I find the questions here quite strange – surely the point that your making is that the Scottish Labour Party would campaign and canvass for the 50p top tax rate in an independent Scotland? Perhaps others will campaign for the top rate to be increased to its 1960s rate of 97.5p. In that scenario the Scottish electorate will have more democratic control over than we currently have as to who is in government to define these taxes.

    It strikes me that you should ask yourself what could Scottish Labour do with the power of an independent parliament. The rhetoric is that you would do it differently from the Westminster government, so why not push for that power?

    It also surely isn’t true to say that to increase spending that you have to increase tax rates across the board? There must surely be areas where a certain level of government subsidy can help accelerate economic growth to ensure a long term sustainable return on this investment. The renewable energy sector in Scotland is surely an area that this is relevant to.

    Rather than focus on what the SNP would do in an independent Scotland, I would like to hear more about what Scottish Labour (and a couple of other mainstream parties) would do if the Yes vote is successful. This shouldn’t be treated like an standard election where politicians ‘don’t consider losing’. The referendum shouldn’t be about party politics – it is the constitution – and it is incumbent on all elected representatives to look objectively at what would be best for their constituents and also the societies of Scotland and the UK. There certainly seems to be a valid case that reducing the size of the UK political structure will improve the governmental focus on social welfare rather than the highly debatable merits of acting as a world ‘superpower’. Is it not significant that 5 of the 6 nations with a Treasury surplus are either similar in size, or smaller still than Scotland (ref http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/feb/21/corporation-tax-rates-world)?

    Ultimately, regardless of your view on the merits of the UK structure, I ask that you look inward for answers to these questions before asking them of your peers.

    Best regards,
    Stuart Darling

  27. Having provided little clarity to date, KEN MACINTOSH MSP questions Alex Salmond’s economic vision for an independent Scotland.

    I don’t mean to be pedantic but the split in this first sentence makes it sound like the lack of clarity to date is the fault of KEN MACINTOSH MSP. i’m sure that was not the author’s intention but it made me laugh anyway.

  28. ‘Having provided little clarity to date, KEN MACINTOSH MSP…..’ you need a sub-editor. I’m sure that’s not what you meant to say!

  29. It’s strange that some of the unionists on this site are saying that Ken must have hit a nerve, cos us nationalists are responding to Kens article.
    What you guys seem to have quickly forgot is that it was your own party that promised you guys that they would be bringing forward a ‘positive vision for Scotland’
    Remember Jim Murphy ? (what ever happened to him?) Remember the labour parties biggest ever route and branch review that would look at what went wrong after the May 2011 election landslide ?
    After months and months of investigation the main finding was that the voters were sick of the labour parties negativity and smears towards the SNP and in the words of several labour party people, you needed to start bringing your own vision for Scotland !
    Since then Jim Murphy who was high profile for a few months has disappeared, (he knows that the labour party is beyond repair) and the labour party on Scotland has reverted back to negative anti SNP smears.
    Your support has dropped to it’s lowest ever level in Scotland and yet the same negative approach continues.
    What we are responding to is kens negative spin and smears, because unless the labour party in Scotland release a statement saying that you disagree with Jim Murphy and think negative campaigning will eventually win the day for labour, or words to that effect, then the like of Kens article will continue to be not only anti SNP but anti labour party.

    Why wont the labour party bring forward the positive vision for Scotland that you have repeatedly promised the people of Scotland?
    can it be that you now know their isn’t one ?

  30. Labour have become natural born losers. They find themselves north and south of the border on the wrong side of the arguements. This is not opposition this is just being wrong.

  31. “Having provided little clarity to date, KEN MACINTOSH MSP questions…”

    I was surprised at this frank admission and was expecting Ken MacIntosh to start the process of providing clarity. I was sadly disappointed, but mostly in the use of a dangling participle.

    What we are patiently waiting for is some explanation of how Labour in Scotland is preparing itself for independence. How will the party position itself? Liam Byrne recognises (in his recent pamphlet on the new centre ground) that Labour must attract middle class voters. The SNP seem to have captured the centre left in Scotland. Are we going to see the complete disappearance of the Labour party in Scotland and the emergence of a centre-right grouping? For sure the old left/right is not going to exist in an independent Scotland.

    We really would like your views on this, Ken.

  32. “Having provided little clarity to date, KEN MACINTOSH MSP questions…”

    I was surprised at this frank admission and was expecting Ken MacIntosh to start the process of providing clarity. I was sadly disappointed, but mostly in the use of the dangling participle that completely threw me.

    What we are patiently waiting for is some explanation of how Labour in Scotland is preparing itself for independence. How will the party position itself? Liam Byrne recognises (in his recent pamphlet on the new centre ground) that Labour must attract middle class voters. The SNP seem to have captured the centre left in Scotland. Are we going to see the complete disappearance of the Labour party in Scotland and the emergence of a centre-right grouping? For sure the old left/right is not going to exist in an independent Scotland.

    We really would like your views on this, Ken, and not on what you think the SNP is getting wrong.

  33. Oh! Dear! Are you sure you should be talking on subjects you are really not too well up on, Mr MacIntosh? You seem to be, if you will pardon the expression, “Labouring”, under several misunderstandings. Well either that or you are deliberately fallacious. You see you have made several rather untrue assupmtions, or have, as a great statesman once described it, used several, “terminalogical inaexactitudes”. et us examine a few of them. You said in your reply to John Swinney’s budget presentation, “The SNP want to be, “Seperate”, from the UK but want to retain the benefits the UK gives to Scotland. Then you list of a few of these things you claim the UK gives to Scotland. What though is the truth and do you know what it is?

    The Treaty of Union had onlt two equal sovereign nations as signatories. England, (we will call them greater England just now as they included the English princedom of Wales and the English monarch wore the Irish crown by act of the Irish Parliament). And Scotland, who had sent Jamie Saxt down to ascend the Throne of Greater England. So the Treaty of Union is what created the Union of The Parliaments that was, “His/her Majesty’s Parliament of The United Kingdom of Great Britain”. Two equal partners in one Parliamentary Union. No mention that Scotland was going into a parliament with a superior nation. Not only that but the Treaty itself makes it clear that the Pound Sterling is to become the UNION currency – It is thus NOT ENGLISH nor is it SCOTTISH. It is in law, The Currency of Her Majesty’s Governmenent. As is the Army, Navy, Air Force and Civil Service. The things made sacrosanct by that treaty are also clearly stated Scottish Law, Scottish Education and Scotland’s freedom from the, “English”, Established Religion. To name but a few.

    So why are you attempting to say, that a union that ends the instant Scotland becomes Independent, gives Scotland anything that is bot alrady Scotland’s by right? The armed forces are her majesty’s and she remains our Queen. The Government Westminster Government is her Majesty’s and she remains our queen. The Bank of England was nationalised in 1946 it is not English nor is it the United Kingdom’s, if for no other reason than that Gordon Brown made it an independent, government owned, company. Your other implications on, “Scottish Banks”, is also utter verbal prestitdigitation. All banks in the United Kingdom, (except the Airdrie Savings Bank), are Public Limited Companies and that means they have floated shares on the Stock Market. They are thus owned by multi-racial shareholders. They do, though, register to pay tax to, “Her Majesty’s Treasury”.

    So, Mr MacIntosh, you are either quite ignorant or a liar. By The Way. There will be no Rump UK when a partnership of only TWO ends there is no rump.

  34. 7 mentions of SNP and only 2 of Labour in this article.

    Sums up the problem with this site. Rather than talk about how Labour are going to re-invent themselves and actually win elections, its all about how bad the SNP is.

    negativity, negativity, negativity.

    1. So.

      The SNP wants to break up one of the most successful political and cultural unions in history and it’s Labour that is “negative”…..

      Funny old world you live in. Or is it Anti-Scottish to point that out?

  35. NGEL RANTER,What colour is the moon on your planet?for trying to blame the people for labours troubles is beyond the pale,then to compound your stupidness by saying the people shouldnt have stopped beleiving labours brainwashing,so its their own fault.But the worst is to compare the scottish people like red indians living on a reservation, and that we should be happy living on englands hand outs, and that we should be happy to accept our role ,as the junior partner in the union and just in case you didnt know, the union was signed as a union of two eqaul nations.

  36. To those labour voters still seeking an economic case for Scottish independence-you are all being lied to by your own party. You have been told that revenues from North Sea oil and gas raise around 6-11billion per year (depending on the year reviewed). The real figures are more shocking.
    I enclose an excerpt from a commons debate initiated by the Conservative MP Nicolas Soames in 2011. NICHOLAS SOAMES SECURES ADJOURNMENT
    HC 1018-i and -ii.]
    “The taxes forecast to be raised from the industry in 2011-12 include some £6 billion in income tax, national insurance contributions and corporation tax paid by the supply chain companies, with an additional £11 billion from taxes on production itself. That amounts to 25% of all the corporation tax received by the Exchequer. The production of indigenous oil and gas improved the balance of payments by £35 billion in 2011, thus halving the trade deficit, and the supply chain added another £5 billion to £6 billion with exports of oilfield goods and services. Incidentally, that is an aspect of the industry that is doing extremely well here and overseas, and it is flying the flag for Britain effectively”.

    Also in the same debate he mentions that this industry employs over 400,000 people in the UK with more than half outside Scotland. When North Sea oil and gas (UK export No:1) is combined with Scotch Whiskey (UK export no: 3), you see that scottish exports alone more than halve the entire UKs trade deficit.

    When will you guys wake up and smell the coffee? The progressive and inclusive policies that you’d like to implement become much more feasible with the extra 11-12billion per year that would be accrued to an independent Scotland.

  37. Yes, losing scotland would nearly double the trade deficit of the UK which “might” cause sterling to tank. So this is a serious concern for the whole UK. This is definitely not a joke. May be better for Scotland to have devo-max (full fiscal autonomy with 0 MPs at westminster) – basically a currency union – like the isle of man. I’d certainly think this is more logical than MSPs at holyrood and also MPs also at westminster.

  38. Ken, do you not think that your own supporters deserve answers from the Labour party leadership in Scotland as to what a shambles Glasgow council labour group has become?
    Is the claims that it was a directive from London that caused the deselection of labour councilors and that a clique in Glasgow council used this as an opportunity to get rid of some enemies within the labour group, not important enough to comment on ?

    Is bullying a woman and using threats to her disabled sons job, not deemed important enough for comment ?

    Could you release a statement please, or do you even read this article’s comments, cos if you don’t it would indicate that you want to tell people what to think and are not interested in hearing any other views.

    Over to you Ken.

  39. Oh and while your at it Ken, can you give an answer to the people who have raised concerns that you took an illegal payment from a group for your ‘leadership campaign’

    We deserve an answer Ken…over to you !

  40. It’s not only seady in the Glasgow Chambers.

    THERE is a dispiriting sense of deja vu to our report today of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets. We have found cases of up to a dozen people being improbably registered for a single small flat or bedsit. If eight people are being registered for a single bedroom, to take one instance we report, it should, by rights, trigger concern with the registering authorities. Yet the authorities in question are the Tower Hamlets electoral staff. And this borough has a troubling record.
    The Metropolitan Police investigated claims of voter fraud after the borough’s 2010 mayoral election; no-one was convicted. Prior to the last general election, some flats in the borough appeared to have a dozen voters on the register of whom the actual occupants appeared to have little knowledge. In the 2006 election, a tower block had its postal votes stolen. How can we now be witnessing yet another potential voting scandal in the borough?
    Some previous voting scandals in the borough have been over postal votes. In order to boost turnout, the last Labour government made it much easier to use a postal vote. It is not clear how far the irregularities we report today are to do with postal voting. What is obvious is that in a closely fought mayoral contest, the outcome could be decided by a relatively small number of votes. It is all the more important, then, that the register should be properly maintained and scrutinised for this election.
    Voter fraud is notoriously difficult to prove, as previous police investigations in Tower Hamlets showed. But a 2009 Act gave the Electoral Commission far more extensive powers to investigate and supervise the election process. It does not appear to be using them sufficiently rigorously. The Commission advises electoral registration officers but it should go further and investigate whether its advice is being followed in cases where there are doubts about the integrity of the registration process.
    Electoral fraud is a criminal offence and an affront to democracy. The police should be investigating. It would be intolerable if an election were decided on the basis of votes cast by electors wrongly registered.

  41. Good post Aidan, definitely a valid point you’re amking, at the very least.I had a look at the money spent in the 2007 election and there was an unmistakable correlation between cheque receipts and the number of MSPs. I look forward to doing the same for the 2011 results when the figures comes through.However, they say that those who ignore the mistake of the past are forced to repeat them’ and that could be the case here. Are the SNP popular and successful because they have money or does the SNP receive money because it is popular and successful? In other words, if Labour had made a better fist of 2007-11, would it have enjoyed better funding this time around? And I don’t think Labour get to complain when historically they have enjoyed better-resourced campaigns than its opponents. I do agree that funding can make elections unfair, (if you think Labour is hard done by, just look at the Greens!). An interesting suggestion I heard recently was that, under AV, a first vote for a certain party would also come with a32 of state funding and outside donations, at least over a certain limit, could be banned.If one person’s a31/2m donation can swing an election (although there’s no evidence here that it did), then most would surely agree that that can’t be right in a fair and equitable democracy.

  42. For what it’s worth, Salmond has talked of how anmrol it is for newly independent nations to stick with the currency of the state they’ve become independent from initially, using Australia and Ireland as examples. Of course, when you look at the history of these currencies, you see that they began with an Australian pound and an Irish pound, both of which were pegged at 1-to-1 with the British pound. Australia ended up creating the Australian dollar, while Ireland just broke that link by joining the ERM.So it seems to me the idea is we’d have a Scottish pound pegged to Sterling. I imagine the only reason Salmond isn’t specifically calling it a Scottish pound is to avoid scaring the children and horses, as the media will pick up the story and run with it as meaning that the SNP want Scotland to have a brand new currency starting from scratch called the Scottish Pound, rather than the reality of what Australia and Ireland (and EVERY SINGLE OTHER NATION IN THE WORLD THAT DECLARED INDEPENDENCE IN THE 20TH CENTURY) did, which was essentially to keep the same currency, but just have their own banknotes. Which, erm, we already have Go on folks, have a look at the histories of the currencies of nations that declared independence in the 20th century, especially the former Yugoslav countries, where they all introduced their own version of the dinar, but which were all equivalent to 1 Yugoslav dinar.The most annoying thing about unionists/devolutionists/whateverists demanding to know every single little detail about how independence could possibly work is the bizarre idea that it’s a completely alien concept which has never been tried out before. Loads of countries have become independent, so there are a wealth of examples to look on and see how it will work for Scotland.

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