Archive for Scotland

This is the only chance you’re going to get of getting independence, don’t fuck it up

The Scots go to the polls tomorrow to vote on their independence and the polls are all too close to call it either way.

There’s just 2-4% between the yes and no camp in the polls with a 3% margin of error and 4-8% undecided. It’s going to come down to which side the don’t knows plump for tomorrow and which side is most motivated to go out and vote on the day. A distrust of the postal voting system rife with fraud will probably result in more yes voters preferring to vote in person tomorrow and physically casting your ballot in a polling station feels more real, like you’re actually taking part and not going through the motions. The yes camp have probably got the edge on the no camp when it comes to motivation.

Many promises have been made by Cameron, Clegg and Miliband to give more power and money to Scotland, including agreeing to Gordon Brown’s three demands for more money and influence for Scotland in the event of a no vote. The problem is, none of them have the power to deliver those promises. They can make personal pledges and even declare them to be party policy but there’s a general election in less than 8 months and MPs representing English constituencies are getting a little uneasy about how far the English can be pushed before it starts inflicting damage on them at the ballot box. One Tory MP has promised a “bloodbath” when the new powers Cameron has promised for Scotland are up for debate in the British parliament. More people than ever are demanding an English Parliament and expressing their disgust at the unfair treatment of England. There are votes in supporting equality for England and MPs in England will be doing their sums and wondering if they can afford not to support an English Parliament.

I would like to implore our neighbours north of the border to do the right thing and vote for independence. If you vote no you won’t get another chance for a couple of decades at least. When you find out that the promises that have been made are empty and you won’t be allowed to have your cake and eat it if you vote to stay in the union it’ll be too late to do anything about it. There’s no point staying in a loveless marriage for the sake of the children, it’s best to part on good terms before it turns completely sour. This is the only chance you’re going to get of getting independence, don’t fuck it up.

Gordon Brown demands more money and influence for Scotland

Gordon Brown might not bother going to vote in the British Parliament more than a few times a year since he lost the last election but he’s still capable of screwing England over. Today he made the following demands for the British nationalist parties to sign up to before Thursday’s Scottish independence referendum:

  • A permanent role for Scotland in the evolution of the UK
  • A guarantee of "fairness"
  • A guarantee that the Barnett formula will survive and Scotland will be able to raise taxes to protect spending on the NHS if necessary
The former prime minister has already argued that the UK is on course for major constitutional change even in the event of a No vote. He wants a guarantee that any future constitutional change will be made with Scotland’s involvement. Some will fear that without such a guarantee, calls for more powers for England could be debated without Scotland being consulted.
Gordon Brown wants politicians of all unionist parties to sign a statement that the aim of a “modern union” will be one that secures “security and opportunity for all” by “sharing equitably the resources of the nations and regions”.
Nationalists are likely to point out that there can be no such guarantees given that the unionist parties have not reached agreement on which powers to give Scotland in future.

I didn’t think it was possible for Gordon Brown to be any more offensive or detached from reality than he has been over the last few years but he’s really excelled himself. We didn’t vote for him, we don’t want him yet he still pokes his nose into English affairs (or “the regions” as he calls England) making demands for his beloved Scotland.

English people have had no input whatsoever into the promises the British government have made to give Scotland extra powers if they vote no so why should Scotland have any influence over how England is run? And why should the Barnett Formula – an arbitrary, temporary way of giving Scotland extra money drawn up on the back of a fag packet in the 70s – be guaranteed forever? It isn’t based on need, it’s based on greed; the irrational belief that the Scots are entitled to a share of England’s wealth just because they want it.

Gordon Brown signed the Scottish Claim of Right in 1989, promising to put the interests of the Scottish people first and foremost in everything he did. He honoured that promise throughout his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer, during his brief but destructive stint as Prime Minister and he’s still honouring it now.

But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet. Smile at us, pay us, pass us by. But never forget.

RBS and Lloyds moving to England will have no effect on Scotland

RBS and Lloyds have both said that if Scotland declares independence, they will move their registered offices to England.

The British nationalists have seized on this as a reason to vote no to independence but actually, what problem does this cause? Lloyds is already headquartered in London but employees a disproportionate number of staff in Scotland. RBS has relocated a large number of jobs from England to Scotland since the English taxpayer bailed them out. Both banks have restated their commitment to keeping as much of their operations as is possible in Scotland regardless of where their registered offices are.

Both banks have cited currency and credit rating uncertainty in their decision to move their registration to England if Scotland declares independence but both have omitted to mention the real reason: EU law says that they have to have their registered office in the country in which they do the majority of their business and that’s England for both banks. If RBS and Lloyds want a UK banking licence they’ll have to comply with EU banking law and that means registering in England. If they didn’t move their registered office to England and Scotland joined the EU then they would have to move their registered office to England to comply with EU banking law.

I don’t doubt that both banks are concerned about the implications of a Scottish currency and the impact on credit ratings but as most of their holdings would be held in sterling and most of their business transacted in the rump UK it shouldn’t really make that much difference but again, EU banking law requires them to be risk averse. The fact that both banks are part-owned by the British Treasury undoubtedly comes with a heap of pressure from the British government to support their position.

The bottom line is, if RBS and Lloyds move their registered offices to England it will have no real effect on Scotland. The number of Scottish jobs are almost certain to remain the same, as is the rate of job transfers from England to Scotland.

RBS - This is home

Cameron flies the Scottish flag over Downing Street

David Cameron is flying the Scottish flag over Downing Street until after the Scottish independence referendum to show them that they are the only thing of importance to him.

This is just getting ridiculous now, it’s like England doesn’t even exist. Cameron, Miliband, Clegg and the rest of the British establishment are entirely consumed by the Scots and their independence referendum and seem to think that they are the only people that matter. What about us? What about what we want?

I don’t want the Scottish flag over Downing Street. I don’t want the British flag over it either. I want the Cross of St George flying from that pole as the residence of the Prime Minister of an independent England.

A Scottish no vote will be the end of the union

A YouGov poll released Saturday night is the first to show a majority yes vote for the Scottish independence referendum. A further poll by TNS-BRMB has it at 50/50.

The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found a statistically negligible 2% lead for the yes camp which means that the referendum could go either way. It was enough to prompt yet another promise of more devolution of powers to the Scottish government from the Brits though with a pledge to hold another Scottish Constitutional Convention to decide what extra powers the Scots want if they vote no over and above the extensive new powers already promised to them by the British government.

If the Scots vote no on September 18th the union is done for. The democratic deficit in England will turn into a huge democratic gulf with Scotland having all the benefits of independence with none of the responsibilities and England still the only country in Europe with no representative national government under a British government so consumed with pandering to the rebellious Scots that they have forgotten we even exist. The people of England are finally seeing that England means nothing to the British, we’re just there to make up the numbers and pay the bills. Giving Scotland yet more powers on top of the extra powers they’re being bribed with to stay in the union whilst refusing to even acknowledge that England has wants and needs is one insult too many.

I’m glad the yes camp is in the lead and I hope with all my heart that the lead increases in the run-up to the election and that the Scots vote for independence on the day. With a bit of luck that will precipitate the end of the union and the return of democracy to England.

Future of England Survey

Tucked away on the BBC News website is a video mentioning the results of the Future of England Survey conducted by the Universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh for YouGov.

With the Scottish independence referendum a month away you’d thing a poll on English attitudes to devolution, independence and the relationship between Scotland and England after the referendum would be major news but no, it’s hidden away in the video “features” section. I can’t find an actual article about the poll at all, just this video which is using a new interactive video format the BBC are trialling which doesn’t work on mobiles or in Internet Explorer, thus limiting the already limited prospective audience who watch video even further.

The findings of this survey are very interesting and as far as I’m aware it’s the only survey of English opinions on the subject of Scottish independence and English governance that have been carried out during the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum.

  • English Identity
  • Independence
  • What if Scotland votes yes?
  • What if Scotland votes NO?
  • English governance

Which, if any, of the following best describes the way you think of yourself?
English not British 11
More English than British 20
Equally English and British 41
More British than English 12
British not English 6
Other 4
Don’t know 5
Recently, people in England have become more aware of English national identity
Agree strongly 11
Tend to agree 34
Total Agree 45
Neither agree nor disagree 27
Tend to disagree 16
Strongly disagree 4
Total Disagree 20
Don’t know 8

Should Scotland be an independent country?
Yes 19
No 59
Don’t know 22
Should England be an independent country?
Yes 22
No 59
Don’t know 18

An independent Scotland should be able to continue to use the pound
Agree strongly 9
Tend to agree 14
Total Agree 23
Neither agree nor disagree 15
Tend to disagree 18
Strongly disagree 35
Total Disagree 53
Don’t know 9
People should be able to travel between England and Scotland without passport checks
Agree strongly 45
Tend to agree 24
Total Agree 69
Neither agree nor disagree 11
Tend to disagree 6
Strongly disagree 7
Total Disagree 13
Don’t know 6
The rest of the UK should support Scotland in applying to join international organisations, like the EU and NATO
Agree strongly 9
Tend to agree 17
Total Agree 26
Neither agree nor disagree 26
Tend to disagree 16
Strongly disagree 20
Total Disagree 36
Don’t know 12
The UK’s standing in the world will be diminished
Agree strongly 9
Tend to agree 27
Total Agree 36
Neither agree nor disagree 24
Tend to disagree 19
Strongly disagree 10
Total Disagree 29
Don’t know 10
Relations between England and Scotland will improve
Agree strongly 3
Tend to agree 7
Total Agree 10
Neither agree nor disagree 26
Tend to disagree 35
Strongly disagree 18
Total Disagree 53
Don’t know 11

The Scottish Parliament should be given control over the majority of taxes raised in Scotland
Agree strongly 11
Tend to agree 31
Total Agree 42
Neither agree nor disagree 21
Tend to disagree 17
Strongly disagree 8
Total Disagree 25
Don’t know 12
The Scottish parliament should be given the power to decide its own policies on welfare benefits
Agree strongly 11
Tend to agree 29
Total Agree 40
Neither agree nor disagree 22
Tend to disagree 17
Strongly disagree 9
Total Disagree 26
Don’t know 11
Would you say that compared with other parts of the UK, each of these gets pretty much their fair share of government spending, more than their fair share, or less than their fair share?
England
Gets their fair share 25
Gets more than their fair share 8
Gets less than their fair share 31
Don’t know 36
Scotland
Gets their fair share 20
Gets more than their fair share 38
Gets less than their fair share 4
Don’t know 38
Levels of public spending in Scotland should be reduced to the levels in the rest of the UK
Agree strongly 25
Tend to agree 31
Total Agree 56
Neither agree nor disagree 21
Tend to disagree 6
Strongly disagree 3
Total Disagree 9
Don’t know 13
Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on laws that apply only to England
Agree strongly 35
Tend to agree 27
Total Agree 62
Neither agree nor disagree 15
Tend to disagree 9
Strongly disagree 3
Total Disagree 12
Don’t know 10

With all the changes going on in the way different parts of the United Kingdom are run, which of the following do you think would be best for England?
For England to be governed as it is now with laws made by all MPs in the UK Parliament 18
For England to be governed with laws made by English MPs in the UK Parliament 40
For each region of England to have its own assembly 9
For England as a whole to have its own new English parliament with law-making powers 16
Don’t know 17
Thinking about possible arrangements for making laws for England two options are often mentioned. If you had to choose which ONE would you prefer?
For England to be governed with laws made solely by English MPs in the UK Parliament 36
For England to be governed with laws made solely by English MPs in the UK Parliament 25
Keep things as they are at present 22
Don’t know 17
A Secretary of State for England in the UK cabinet
Agree strongly 22
Tend to agree 31
Total Agree 53
Neither agree nor disagree 23
Tend to disagree 7
Strongly disagree 4
Total Disagree 11
Don’t know 12
UK government ministers for each of the regions of England
Agree strongly 18
Tend to agree 33
Total Agree 51
Neither agree nor disagree 22
Tend to disagree 10
Strongly disagree 6
Total Disagree 16
Don’t know 11
An English Parliament
Agree strongly 26
Tend to agree 28
Total Agree 54
Neither agree nor disagree 20
Tend to disagree 9
Strongly disagree 6
Total Disagree 15
Don’t know 10
Changing the rules in parliament, so that only English MPs can vote on laws that would apply only in England
Agree strongly 40
Tend to agree 29
Total Agree 69
Neither agree nor disagree 14
Tend to disagree 5
Strongly disagree 3
Total Disagree 8
Don’t know 9
England and Scotland will still continue to drift apart
Agree strongly 8
Tend to agree 29
Total Agree 37
Neither agree nor disagree 29
Tend to disagree 17
Strongly disagree 4
Total Disagree 21
Don’t know 13

There is clear support here for preventing MPs not elected in England from voting on English laws and for cutting the amount of taxpayers’ money Scotland gets so England gets its fair share. Most people want to keep open borders with an independent Scotland but don’t think they should be allowed to keep the pound. The majority are in favour of Scotland getting more powers over taxation and benefits spending and think England should have its own parliament. Over half think each English euroregion should have its own UK government minister but less than 1 in 10 think England should have regional government.

So, if the UK was a truly representative democracy with a government that listened to what people wanted and acted on it we would have a devolved English Parliament with a Secretary of State for England in the British government along with a minister for each English euroregion and the £11bn or so subsidy that’s given to Scotland would be abolished and shared equally with England. What we have instead is an ever increasing bill for Scotland’s profligate spending, MPs elected in Scotland making laws that only affect England, no English government of any sort and a sustained campaign to break England up into artificial regions.

Stone Cross St George's Day Parade

What does Scottish independence mean for England?

There has been very little coverage of next month’s Scottish independence vote down here in England (much like the Scottish devolution vote in 1997 actually) and what media coverage there has been from a purely Scottish viewpoint. So what does it mean for England?

The important thing to remember is that a No vote in Scotland will be a disaster for England. I don’t mean because Scotland will continue to drain English taxes to pay for their unsustainable public spending and prolong the forced marriage for at least another 50 years but because it will lead to a widening of the democratic deficit in England and we won’t get another chance in our lifetime to finally put the union out to pasture with all the other anachronistic supranational bureaucracies that have expired in recent years.

The British government have already promised extensive new powers to the Scottish Parliament in the event that they vote No on 18th September. They’re getting even more tax raising powers to go with the ones they haven’t bothered to use for the last 17 years and they’re getting some powers over the Scottish benefits system. All three Scottish LibLabCon parties have signed a declaration promising more powers for Scotland and reiterating their commitment to a strong and powerful Scottish Parliament:

We support a strong Scottish Parliament in a strong United Kingdom and we support the further strengthening of the parliament’s powers.

The Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have each produced our own visions of the new powers which the Scottish Parliament needs.

We shall put those visions before the Scottish people at the next general election and all three parties guarantee to start delivering more powers for the Scottish Parliament as swiftly as possible in 2015.

This commitment will deliver a stronger Scottish Parliament in a stronger United Kingdom.

The British Labour, British Conservative & Unionist and British Lib Dem parties have no vision for England other than taking powers off local authorities and giving them to unaccountable, ineffectual regional and sub-regional quangos. There is no intention of recognising and respecting the sovereign right of the English people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs.

The British nationalist Better Together campaign is only interested in making the case for the union in Scotland and only Scottish politicians have been allowed to front it – Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, John Reid, David Cameron, Michael Gove. UKIP wanted to join the Better Together campaign but was refused because it isn’t a Scottish political party. No irony there. Better Together might be headed up by British nationalists but it isn’t about British interests, it’s about Scottish interests. Scotland gets the best of both worlds as they say on their website – they can spend money without worrying about where it comes from and make decisions without having to worry about the costs or implications because if it goes wrong it’s always London’s fault for not giving them more money.

Here are the facts about the Scottish independence vote that an English person needs to know:

Scottish independence doesn’t mean the end of the UK. If you’re English and a unionist you can take comfort from the fact that the British union will continue to exist if the Scots declare independence, just the same as it did after the Irish Free State left the union in 1937. If you’re English and want an end to the British union then bad luck, Scottish independence isn’t the silver bullet for the union.

Scottish independence won’t turn Westminster into an English Parliament. The British Parliament will continue to be the British Parliament for as long as the UK exists. The British Parliament was still the British Parliament after Irish independence and it would continue to be so after Scottish independence.

Scottish independence won’t make an English Parliament inevitable. If there was a slim chance of England getting a devolved government with Scotland in the union there’s bugger all chance of it happening without Scotland. England currently comprises 85% of the population of the UK which is one of the excuses the British use to argue that we don’t need an English Parliament. Without Scotland it would be over 90% of the population, making it even harder to sell the benefits of an English Parliament.

No vote won’t make an English Parliament inevitable. The run-up to the Scottish independence vote has been all about Scotland and whatever the result, it’s all going to be about Scotland afterwards. A fair and democratic settlement for England isn’t going to register. the Brits will be too busy negotiating Scotland’s departure from the union or slapping each other on the backs for their “victory” in securing a No vote.

The UK’s international standing won’t be diminished without Scotland. Most people won’t even notice the difference either here or abroad. The UK would retain its membership of all the international bodies it is a member of, all treaties would remain in force and the UK would still be the sixth largest economy in the world by GDP. The UK’s economic power and international standing comes from England, not Scotland or even from Britain.

You won’t need a passport to go to Scotland. You can travel to the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands without a passport so there’s no reason why you should need a passport to travel to Scotland if they become independent.

Your Scottish friends and relatives are already foreign. They might be British by law but they’re Scottish. Does it matter? If Scotland votes for independence and a Scot wanted to stay “British” then they could move from Scotland to the rump of the UK. If they don’t want to because they want to live in Scotland then they need to make their mind up whether they’re Scottish or British.

Scotland can continue using the pound. It doesn’t matter whether the British government says they can or not, they can use whatever currency they want if they declare independence. A large number of countries use another country’s currency either alongside its own domestic currency or as legal tender in that country. An independent Scotland can choose to adopt the pound as legal tender and there’s nothing the British government can do to stop them.

England would benefit economically from Scottish independence. It costs over £11bn a year to subsidise Scottish public services and that bill is paid by the English taxpayer. The Scottish nationalists think that north sea oil and gas tax receipts cover that bill and claim that they have in fact been subsidising the UK’s spending for decades. It’s nonsense but that’s Scotland’s problem not ours. Just removing the burden of subsidising Scotland’s profligate spending would give the English and rump British economy a boost.

Scottish independence would help eurosceptics. Scotland is by far the most europhile part of the UK and their views skew public opinion which in England is very much eurosceptic. If a referendum was ever held on our membership of the EU then Scotland could well swing it in favour of staying in. Scotland also votes almost exclusively for openly europhile British MPs – with the exception of the one EU reformist Tory, all the British MPs in Scotland are Labour, Lib Dem or SNP and openly in favour of ever closer union.

The British flag won’t change. It didn’t change when the Irish Free State declared independence so why would it change if Scotland declared independence? If you like the BNP logo then don’t worry, it doesn’t need to change.

Oliver Cromwell
You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately.

Depart, I say; and let us have done with you.

In the name of God, go!

Best. Photobomb. Ever.

Alex Salmond COSG photobomb

British budget does nothing for England

Telford Food BankThe British Chancellor’s spending review is nothing short of a disgrace and yet more evidence that the Brits have no idea how to solve the problems the country faces and no qualms about shafting England to pay for bribes in Scotland.

It is perverse that so many people in England are forced to turn to food banks – perhaps as many as half a million according to some estimates – but the British government is still desperate to ring fence the £11bn international aid budget.  We spend almost as much on international aid as we do subsidising Scotland!

David Cameron says we have a moral obligation to spend obscene amounts of money on international aid but your moral compass would have to be pointing in a strange direction to think that £11bn wouldn’t be better spent feeding people at home rather than subsidising the Indian space and nuclear weapons programmes, for example.

The Scots are getting more money to bribe them in the run-up to the independence referendum as well.  The capital and resource budgets for Scotland are being increased and extra spending cuts being inflicted on the rest of the UK aren’t being applied to Scotland.

Meanwhile, the British are still spending £9m an hour net on EU membership that nobody wants.

Dear Jim Telfer …

 

This …

England 38 -v- 18 Scotland

England 38 -v- 18 Scotland

… is why the English team are allowed to be arrogant.

Scottish independence referendum set for 2014

David Cameron has handed over power to the Scottish Government to hold an independence referendum in 2014 as long as the question has only two options: Yes or No.

This is great news for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it means that the Scots will finally get a vote on their independence and with a bit of luck will vote for it and secondly, the absence of a “renegotiate” option means that Alex Salmond won’t have a mandate to extract even more out of the British government at England’s expense.  It should be noted, though, that the British government have already conceded most of Alex Salmond’s demands on what has been called “devolution max”.

The Scots won’t vote for independence because they can’t survive without English taxes which is a real shame because there’s nothing worse than a loveless marriage and staying together for the kids never really works does it?

When will someone make the case for the union?

So, I suppose it’s about time I blogged about the Scottish independence referendum as it’s been in the news for a week or so.

Basically, this is the story so far:

Alex Salmond has been dicking about for a few years saying they’re going to hold a referendum on Scottish independence but keeps putting it off because a) they won’t vote for independence and b) the longer he threatens it, the more he can screw out of the Brits at our expense.

Salmond knows that the Scots won’t vote for independence so he’s come up with a great wheeze: devolution max.  Devolution max is almost, but not quite, a confederation between Scotland and “Britain”.  The Scottish government would be almost on a par with the British government, Salmond and Cameron would meet each other as equals rather than provincial administrator and imperial overlord.

Cameron got fed up with Salmond dicking about and told him he’s got to have his referendum sooner rather than later and he can’t offer devolution max, just a yes/no to independence.  Salmond told the media London was dictating to Scotland; Cameron said he wasn’t dictating, he was merely telling the Scottish government what they can and can’t do in a dictatorial manner (I’ve paraphrased slightly).

At some point the British government decided that after years of indecision, an independence referendum held by the Scottish government would be illegal.  Nobody has offered an opinion as to what they would do if Salmond held his referendum and ended up as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Scotland – the thing about a unilateral declaration of independence is that it’s, well, unilateral.  Salmond retaliated by saying he’d order the Scottish police not to man polling stations if the ballot papers didn’t have his options on them (yes, he can do that but technically the British Home Secretary trumps the Scottish First Minister which would make for an interesting pissing contest wouldn’t it?).

The brief posturing is over with no clear winner and now the two sides are setting out their stalls.  The Brits are making the case for the union to the Scots, humming Rule Britannia whilst Britishly tearfully extolling the British virtues of the British union and good old British Britishness in British Britain and British Scotland.  Some of them are suggesting wrecking manoeuvres such as giving people in England a vote on Scottish independence as well, although they seem to have gone quiet since Survation (an up-and-coming polling company with a very good record so far on political polls) found that more people in England want to see Scotland declare independence than Scots.

The Scottish nationalists are doing what they usually do – confusing England with “Britain”, throwing some random numbers on paper to show they’re subsidising England and … well, that’s about it but even so the Survation poll says that Salmond is quite comprehensively winning the “referendum war”.

Unsurprisingly and true to form for the Brits, virtually nobody is thinking about England in all this.  The Labour MP for Torfaen in Wales, Paul Murphy, has called for the balkanisation of England by resurrecting Prescott’s rejected local government reorganisation with regional assemblies but that’s about as far as it goes.  Other than that it’s been Scotland, Scotland, Scotland as if the future of the UK and the relationships between the member states in it are the exclusive domain of the Scots.

I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence because it’s Scotland’s business but if Scotland has a referendum then a referendum should also be held on English independence, Welsh independence and Northern Irish independence.  If the union is to continue then it should be because most of the people in all four member states want it to, not because 4 million voters in Scotland say so.

I would love to hear the British nationalists making the case for the union to England like they are for Scotland.  I would love to hear them explain why we should stay in a union where we have no voice, where £20bn of our taxes are taken from us on threat of imprisonment and given to the other three member states of the UK to spend on things that we can’t afford, where politicians elected in another country are allowed to introduce and vote on laws that only apply to England when they can’t even vote on the same things in the country they were elected in and where we are generally robbed, put upon and despised.  I’d love to hear them make the case for that union because right now all I’m hearing is Scotland, Scotland, Scotland when quite frankly I couldn’t give a damn whether they stay or go.

The celtic dog has been wagging the English tail for too long and it has to stop.  The British establishment is full of people who are, quite frankly, irrationally fanatical about Scotland.  They are 5m people (and falling), we are 51m and increasing.  They spend the money, we foot the bill.  They have an inferiority complex, we have to make ourselves subservient to them to make them feel better.  The obsession is with what the Scots want, forgetting that actually it’s England that would make or break the union.

So what’s the answer?  It’s quite simple …

Hold the referendum in Scotland with the three options – independence, current level of devolution or “devolution max”.  At the same time, hold a referendum in England, Wales and Northern Ireland offering the same choices (“current level of devolution” in England being what the Scots have now).  This will result in an English Parliament being created.  Take out the unconstitutional, unworkable English Votes on English Laws fudge (there’s no point trying to implement something that can’t work, it’s just wasting time and money) and support for devolution in England is overwhelming.  This may result in assymetry as it’s not guaranteed that all four member states of the UK will vote for devolution max (I’m thinking of NI here) but it would be through choice, not because the British government is prejudiced against one country.

This raises the spectre of one or more member states of the UK voting for independence.  Scotland is probably less likely to vote for independence than England despite the overt nationalism north of the border.  Of the four member states of the UK, only England pays its own way and only England would thrive outside of the union.  Despite the protestations of some Scots, they do extremely well out of the union whilst England does extremely badly out of it.  If one or more member states vote for independence then the British government should be prepared with a firm plan for a British confederation.  I won’t dwell on the virtues of a confederation, just follow the link.

The independence of one member state would raise some interesting challenges when it comes to the inheritance of treaties.  For instance, who would keep the UK’s seat on the UN Security Council?  If Scotland declared independence then “Britain” would probably still exist for a short time and once it fell apart, England would naturally be the successor state.  But if England declared independence and Scotland didn’t, “Britain” wouldn’t last any longer but Scotland would naturally be the successor state.  Salmond wants to demilitarise Scotland and on the international stage Scotland is a non-entity (“Scotland, isn’t that in England?” – you get the picture) – the UN isn’t going to have a bunch of whining skirt wearing with delusions of grandeur on the UN Security Council.

EU membership is another question that needs considering.  Scotland is the most europhile member state of the UK, it would probably want to remain a member.  The EU would want to keep England to pay the bills.  New countries joining the EU have to agree to join the €uro – Scotland might not be too fussed about joining the €uro but England?  It’s unthinkable.

What about the British Overseas Territories?  Who will inherit those?  If a confederation can successfully be created then problem solved.  If not, it’s open for negotiation – they may opt for independence, they may choose their own “protector” to pay fealty to.

The Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties says that it’s basically up to succeeding states to decide who takes on what treaties with the assumption that if no agreement is made, all the treaties currently in force will apply to all successor states.  That means that the default position is that all member states of the UK declaring independence would remain members of the EU, UN, NATO and party to all the other treaties the UK has signed up to since 1978 unless they agree to divvy them up.  Contrary to what British politicians say, independence of any of the member states of the UK does not necessarily mean losing the memberships of international bodies the UK currently holds.

None of the perceived problems are insurmountable so what reason is there for the union to continue?  This is the case the British unionists have to make to all of us, not just the Scots and this is precisely what won’t happen.  The British are so obsessed with what the Scots want that they won’t see what’s happening under their noses until it’s too late.

£30m Olympics bribe for Scotland, Wales & NI

On Wednesday the British government finally announced the West Lothian Question commission that they promised over a year ago, yesterday they gave a practical demonstration of why it’s so desperately needed.

Olympic BribesScotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have negotiated a £30.2m bonus from the British government because the British government have spent money in London for the British Olympics.  No extra money will be spent in the rest of England where local authorities are facing cuts of about a quarter over the next few years.

The money is being handed over because of what is called Barnett Consequentials – the technical name for giving Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a big wedge of cash just because the British government have spent some money in England.  Barnett Consequentials are part of the balancing mechanism to ensure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to get the same outrageous level of subsidy at England’s expense no matter how much capital investment the British spend in England.

Paying Barnett Consequentials because of the Olympics is a bloody liberty though because they’re not the English Olympics, they’re the British Olympics.  England doesn’t have a Olympic team and the British government’s investment in London is for their Olympics, not for London or for England.  Some of the facilities that are being built for the Olympics are going to be relocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and some of the events are even being held in those countries.  They will “benefit” from the British Olympics as much as the rest of England.

The British government shouldn’t have paid any Barnett money to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the British Olympics but there was nobody at the meeting representing English interests.  As a consequence (excuse the pun), £30.2m of English taxpayers’ money is going to be handed over to the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish for no other reason than because the British spent some money in England for their Olympic vanity project.  This has only happened because there is no English government to represent English interests, saying “no, this is your Olympic games, we’re not paying your bribes”.

There are no details as yet on who will be on the West Lothian Commission, what they will consider and whether an English Parliament will be ruled out immediately or when they report in 2013.

Could this be the end of the Conservatives in Scotland (finally)?

The Scottish Conservatives could wind themselves up if Murdo Fraser MSP is successful in becoming leader of the party north of the border.

Fraser realises that the Tory brand is toxic in Scotland and wants a clean break.  He has made it clear that if he is elected leader of the Scottish Conservatives he will hold a ballot of the membership to disband the party there and reform as a new party with a different name.  His intention is that the new party would be federated with the British Conservative & Unionist Party with elected members taking the Tory whip as used to happen before the Scottish Unionist Party merged with the Tories in England & Wales to becomes the Scottish arm of the British Conservative & Unionist Party.

I don’t imagine the “Not the Tories because we’ve got a different name” Party in Scotland will see a significant revival of its fortunes just by changing its name and cutting some of its ties with the British Conservative & Unionist Party but let’s face it, they’ve got nothing to lose.

The right has been in serious decline – terminal decline – in Scotland for decades.  It’s why the SUP merged with the British Conservative & Unionist Party in the first place and it’s why the Tories now have just one British MP elected in Scotland.  It’s also why (along with pledging to abolish the Scottish Parliament) UKIP has never retained a deposit in an election in Scotland.  The state accounts for 24.9% of everyone in employment in Scotland, what incentive is there for anyone in what is rapidly descending into a communist state to vote for a party that advocates a small state and low taxes with the cull of public sector workers that will ensue?

There are those who will see this as an opportunity for other hard unionist parties to mop up Scottish Tories who want to belong to a pan-union party but it’s not going to happen.  This is little more than a rebranding exercise – they will still be Scottish conservatives, they will still take the Conservative & Unionist whip and they will continue to tell Scottish people that whatever their views on independence, they will never be granted independence on their watch.

If the Scottish Conservatives cease to exist as part of the British Conservative & Unionist Party, it won’t make any material difference to their electoral success (or lack thereof) in Scotland but it will make it very difficult for the British Conservatives to claim a mandate to govern the whole of the UK when it doesn’t even have a party in Scotland, let alone an MP.  It will also make it very difficult for the Tories to maintain the illusion of the union in England where they are fighting a losing battle against the decline in unionism that has come about as a result of the institutional discrimination against the English.

Racist fees result in fewer Scottish university applications from England

SCOTTISH universities have received 5,000 fewer applications from students south of the Border wanting to take their degrees in Scotland amid claims that the recession and uncertainty over fees are causing undergraduates to stay closer to home.

That’s the Scotsman’s theory on why Scottish universities are seeing a drop in the number of English students looking to study in Scottish universities.

Nationality LotteryIt’s not the recession or uncertainty over fees that’s the problem, it’s the racial discrimination and high costs.  I appreciate that this will come as a shock to a lot of Scots and the BBC but English people haven’t been going to Scottish universities because they’re better, they’ve been going because the degrees are easier (4 years instead of 3) and because they’re cheaper.  Or they have been until the Scottish government decided to introduce racial discrimination into the Scottish education system by charging English students up to £9,000 per year for a degree in Scotland while every other “EU citizen” gets free university education largely thanks to EU laws.

If you have the choice of paying £9,000 a year for 3 years for a degree in England (thanks to tuition fees imposed on England by MPs elected in Scotland) or £9,000 a year for 4 years for the same degree with an extra year of expenses and you have to live in a hostile country where half the population hates you because of where you were born, which would you choose?

With a bit of luck Scottish universities will start running out of money soon now they’ve bitten the hand that feeds them because according to the Scottish Education Secretary an influx of Scottish students studying in English universities would bankrupt the country as the Scottish government pays the tuition fees of Scots in English universities as well.

Good luck to the English students challenging this racial discrimination in the courts.

The case for a British Confederation

Yesterday I explained that I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence and predicted how Alex Salmond would approach “independence” for Scotland.

If I am right about my prediction of what form Scottish “independence” will take is right – ie. a confederation – then that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The ideal way to govern the UK is with a confederation where the home nations voluntarily pool resources and responsibility for matters that they choose to co-operate on such as defence and foreign affairs.  This differs from federation or the current system of devolution in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in that the powers the confederal government has are passed up from the countries that are part of it rather than being passed down from a federal government.  It’s an important differentiation because it means the members of the confederation retain their independence and sovereignty within parameters agreed by those members rather than being told what independence and sovereignty they are allowed from the centre.  But such a confederation would have to be between England, Scotland, Wales and perhaps Northern Ireland, not between Scotland and “Britain”.

This isn’t just idle conjecture on my part, I have been giving the idea of a confederation thought for some time now.  Here’s how I see it working:

An elected confederal “senate” would replace the House of Lords dealing with defence, foreign affairs and whatever else is handed up to the confederal government and an independent English Parliament would govern England as a sovereign nation within the confederation.  Scotland and Wales would similarly be governed as sovereign nations by their own government.

Northern Ireland is a bit of an oddity and might not choose to take part in a confederal government in the same way.  Clearly unification with the Republic is not the answer – it would alienate and antagonise at least half the population and it’s not in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement – so why not give Northern Ireland the same status as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and make it a Crown Dependency, governing itself as it does now with the confederal government responsible for its defence and jointly for foreign affairs as it is for the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man?

The confederation would be the legal successor to the union, taking over the UK’s seat on the UN, NATO, the EU and any other organisation the UK is a member of unless the members agree that one of their number should become the successor state instead such as Scotland taking over the UK’s membership of the EU as the most europhile nation in the UK.  It would also mean that the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories (Falklands, Bermuda, etc.) would work in the same way and could even become members of the confederation on equal terms to England, Scotland and Wales.

The confederal government could be funded by subscription from its members or by direct taxation.  A customs union and Shengen-type agreement would maintain the free movement of goods and people.  A confederal government would need very few politicians, perhaps even being made up of appointees from the national governments and the national governments should be unicameral, resulting in a net reductions of politicians.

A confederation also neatly sidesteps the issue of a federation being unconstitutional under English law.  One of the key properties of a federation is that the existence of the devolved legislatures are protected by law in perpetuity.  Under the English constitution, no British Parliament may bind its successor making it impossible to legislate in this way.  A new English Parliament for an independent England wouldn’t need an Act of the British Parliament to protect its existence, nor would it need an Act of the English Parliament to do so as its existence would be implicit in the fact that England would be an independent, sovereign nation voluntarily delegating powers to a “British Confederation”.  The English and Scottish Crowns can remain united in a personal union as they did before the 1707 Act of Union and the Queen can remain Head of State either through being Head of State of the confederation or the members in their own right.

The members of the confederation would be free to pursue their own economic policies, raising or lowering taxes, increasing or decreasing spending.  Scotland can become the socialist republic it strives to be, England can continue down the road of free market enlightenment.  Scotland can go nuclear-free, England can keep the lights on.

One of the criticisms of supporters of an English Parliament is that they never come up with anything other than a nebulous idea about self-government.  In the case of the Campaign for an English Parliament that’s deliberate because, to paraphrase the Scottish Claim of Right, they quite rightly say that it’s for the people of England to determine the best form of government for themselves.  Well I’m a person of England and I think this is the best form of government for my country.  Discuss.

I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence

So it’s a couple of weeks since the SNP romped home to a comprehensive victory in the Scottish Parliament elections and there’s still no sign of an independence referendum but there is still plenty of talk about what the “independence” will be and who should have a vote.

Alex Salmond Laughing

So I sez "Aye, give us a coupla billion and we wunnae hold the referendum". I didnae expect him tae do it!

Scotland will never be independent, even if it leaves this union because the SNP intends Scotland to be a member of the EU, leaving a union it has a disproportionate amount of control over for a union in which it will be a tiny irrelevant voice.  But that’s a decision for the Scots to make and if they choose to take that path then more fool them.

Alex Salmond has already been talking down independence and suggesting what will be, in all but name, a confederation of Scotland and “Britain” in which Scotland remains in a union voluntarily and on their own terms with “Britain”.  Presumably he has looked at Dubai’s bailout of Abu Dhabi and decided to hedge his bets.

Lots of people are demanding a vote in Scotland’s independence referendum, arguing that if the union is to be dissolved then it’s not just the Scots who should  be able to vote on it.  I disagree for two very good reasons:

Firstly, whether Scotland decides to declare independence or not is Scotland’s business – a declaration of independence is an affirmation of sovereignty and you can’t affirm your sovereignty by asking for someone else’s permission.  The UK or “Britain” isn’t a country, it’s a union of countries and if one of them decides it no longer wants to be in that union, it’s nobody’s decision but their own.

Secondly, Scottish independence won’t mean the end of the union, the Brits will keep “Britain” going for as long as possible in a sad parody of its former self like Serbia federating with Montenegro and calling itself Yugoslavia not because the Serbian people identified themselves as Yugoslavian but because the Serbian political class that dominated Yugoslavia refused to accept the reality of post-Yugoslav Serbia.  The same will happen in England – the British political class will refuse to accept the reality that they have put Scotland on such a high pedestal that the union will seem irrelevant without them and will do whatever it takes to keep “Britain” in existence that little bit longer.

To ensure that Scotland stays in some form of union with “Britain”, the Scots will be comprehensively bribed.  The union started with England paying Scotland’s national debt and a bribe on top to be shared amongst the Scottish people which was promptly stolen by Scotland’s great and good and the end of the union will similarly marked by a Scottish cash bonanza at the expense of the English taxpayer.

The day after the SNP won the Scottish election, David Cameron gave Scotland a £2bn bung for no other reason than Alex Salmond had won the election.  This is the first of many bribes from the British government and it won’t just be handing over billions on pounds of English money, it will be political concessions as well – more independence, a greater say in what happens in England, more Scottish representation at Westminster, more Scots in key British cabinet positions, more British (English) government departments located in Scotland, more “respect” for Scotland.  The divorce settlement will cost England dearly if it is negotiated between the Brits and the Scots.

I don’t want a vote on Scottish independence (although I would vote yes if I did) because it’s none of my business as an Englishman living in England.  I am agnostic about the union – if the union survives or if England stays in it or not is something I won’t lose any sleep over but if the union survives and if England stays in it then it has to be on equal terms with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with an English Parliament and fiscal autonomy, just the same as Scotland.  But if the terms of the union – and England’s relationship with the other members – are to be fundamentally renegotiated then that renegotiation has to be done between England and the rest of the UK, not “Britain”.

The British can’t be relied up to represent English interests, we must have an English government to negotiate on our behalf.

Burns Night – so fucking what?

It was Burns Night last night in Scotland.  I wouldn’t have known because it’s not on my calendars – and nor would I want to know – if it wasn’t for the bloody BBC who didn’t shut up about it all bloody day.

Robbie Burns was a shit, illiterate Scottish poet who wrote shit poems in a Scottish accent.  He’s been elevated to national hero status in Scotland as the only person in their history who has ever been marginally famous for something cultural but he’s still a shit poet and completely irrelevant outside Scotland.

BBC Breakfast were gushing over Burns and Scotland in general (by way of variety) yesterday and I ended up changing the channel.  Later in the day, listening to BBC Radio Shropshire, they were falling over themselves to appear more “Scottish” than each so I changed the channel.  Yesterday evening the news came on and guess what?  Robbie fucking Burns again.

What relevance does Robbie Burns have to English people?  What relevance does he have to Shropshire – it’s over 200 miles away from the Scottish border and in a different country.  I could understand if our local BBC radio station were bigging up a Welsh “hero” because Shropshire is on the Welsh border but not Scottish.

And to top it all off, the BBC are creaming themselves over Andy “Anyone but England” Murray this morning.  It’s a conspiracy to piss me off, I’m sure of it.

Parent forces school to cancel trip

A primary school in Inverness has cancelled an adventure holiday for its pupils after the mother of a disabled pupil threatened to sue the school for discrimination because her daughter was incapable of taking part.

Rather than tell the idiot mother to crawl back under whatever rock she’d dragged herself out from underneath, Highland Council has cancelled the trip.

The British government’s DirectGov website has these guidelines on obligations for service providers under the Disability Discrimination Act:

Under the DDA, it is against the law for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably than other people for a reason related to their disability. Service providers have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the way they deliver their services so that disabled people can use them.

[…]

What is considered a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for a large organisation like a bank may be different to a reasonable adjustment for a small local shop. It is about what is practical in the service provider’s individual situation and what resources the business may have. They will not be required to make changes which are impractical or beyond their means.

Is there any reasonable adjustment that can be made to enable a disabled child whose mother says would be unable to take part in any of the physical activities to take part in an adventure holiday?  No, quite obviously not and Highland Council need a slap for caving in to this idiot.

Liebour holds onto Glasgow East

Liebour has managed to hold on to the Glasgow North East seat vacated by the disgraced ex-Speaker, Micheal Martin (now Lord Martin but, like Peter Mandelson, entirely undeserving of the honorific), albeit with a reduced majority.

Liebour won with 12,231 votes, followed by the SNP with 4,120.  The Tories just managed to keep their deposit with 1,075 votes (5.22%) closely followed by the BNP with 1,013 votes (4.92%) who were a few votes short of keeping their deposit.  The Lib Dims came in sixth with 474% of the vote, behind the Solidarity Party who got 794 votes.

One commentator yesterday said that if Liebour put a donkey up for election it would win and they weren’t wrong but elections are won and lost in England and Liebour is about as relevant as the Monster Raving Loony Party south of the border.