As both sides of the political debate continue to argue the pros and cons of an independent Scotland, the following words, written by a gentleman by the name of James Craig, couldn’t have put it more succinctly in favour of the No Campaign, helping those undecided voters to reach an informed decision on the 18th September. He says:-
“You currently jointly own a flat with your friend. You’re a bit fed up of him being stingy with the heating and the interior décor isn’t quite to your tastes. He can be annoying sometimes but overall, you pay your fair share and actually have a pretty good deal (because he pays for Sky Sports). You’ve had the ability to redecorate your bedroom for quite a while and your pal is also happy for you to repaint the living room in the future. Oh, and you’ve lived there for about 400 years.
Someone offers you the opportunity to purchase your own property to allow you full control of the interior design. They insist that you make your decision right now as there won’t be another opportunity to do so again. You must base your decision on the following info:
• You’re not sure what this house looks like (nor does the vendor), but a rough description has been given. It may or may not have windows and access to and from the property is uncertain.
• You’ve no idea how much the house costs, but you are told that regardless it is almost certainly a good investment.
• The housing market crashed a while back and the outlook remains uncertain and increasingly volatile.
• You’ve no idea what your mortgage terms are going to be or if you can afford even the smallest monthly payments, because you are already trillions of pounds in debt. You are assured that this is a minor detail because you can screw your pal over and transfer all of the debt to him if needs be.
• There is a rumour that the house has got a pot of money buried in the back garden. You aren’t sure how much is there, but a few people are absolutely certain that regardless of how much the house costs there will be enough there to pay the mortgage with.
• In buying this house, you’ll lose your Costco card that you share with your current flat mate. You’ve been assured that it will be easy to get one for yourself even though Costco is over-subscribed and with stringent entry conditions that you’re not sure you meet.
• You are repeatedly reminded that your Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather once fended off a burglar from his house with a stick when he lived in Bannockburn and that this is a good reason to buy your own house. The house you are being offered currently has a burglar alarm but this must be uninstalled when you move in even though it is in high crime-rate area.
Finally, your 16-year-old cousin that you’re a bit wary of has been allowed to have a say in your decision.
Would you go ahead and move out of your flat?”
Pretty persuasive argument don’t you think?
Right now I’m staying put and just hoping for a clear majority to save the Union so that we can all just get back to normal and carry on ….. fingers crossed!!!
Every picture tells a story …
3 Naval Ships – love this, particularly given the location of my job for the past 6 months!:
1. USS RONALD REAGAN
Seeing it next to the Arizona Memorial really puts it into perspective… ENORMOUS!…
When the Bridge pipes ‘Man the Rail’ there is a lot of rail to man on this monster: shoulder to shoulder, around 4.5 acres. Her displacement is about 100,000 tons with full complement.
2. USS BILL CLINTON
The USS William Jefferson Clinton (CVS1) set sail today from its home port of Vancouver, BC
The ship is the first of its kind in the Navy and is a standing legacy to President Bill Clinton ‘for his foresight in military budget cuts’ and his conduct while holding the office of President.
3. HMSS ALEX SALMOND
Details are a bit vague ….. But don’t you worry ….. He has a plan !!!
Heee Haw, Heee Haw, Heee Hawlways says that !!!!!
So this morning it has been confirmed that Brussels will definitely refuse to let Scotland automatically join the European Union if voters back Alex Salmond’s plans for independence. Officials at the European Commission have revealed Scotland’s EU membership will ‘cease to apply’ if it is no longer part of the UK and the Spanish government has made clear it would ‘veto’ any attempt by Scotland to join since this would likely bolster calls for Catalonian independence.
Since the acceptance of any new member must be unanimous, this is a major blow [and embarrassment] for Mr Salmond, who has publicly claimed that Scotland would automatically continue to be in the Euro bloc.
Surely the last nail in this particular political coffin?
Eligibility to vote
They really haven’t thought this whole referendum thing through!
Mr Salmond and his cronies in the SNP continue to tell us that Independence is what the people of Scotland want. But let’s have a look at the population and who actually are “the people of Scotland”.
When the referendum is held in the autumn of 2014, only residents of Scotland will be eligible to vote. As a result, almost 400,000 living north of the border but born in other parts of the UK will get to take part, while 800,000 Scots living in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will not. Given that Scotland has a population of just five million, 800,000 is a huge number.
In protest at being disenfranchised, James Wallace, a 23-year-old Dumfries native turned London resident, has launched a petition demanding that expat Scots in other parts of the UK be allowed to participate in the referendum. Scots ministers say this simply would not be practical. And, indeed, it’s difficult to imagine how an electoral register of everyone who considered themselves a Scot might be drawn up. Who, after all, is Scottish? Those born in Scotland? People with Scottish ancestry? Anyone who is partial to Haggis and the Proclaimers?
For James Mitchell, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, residency is the only logical definition of Scottishness in terms of political representation. If you want a say over Scotland’s constitutional status he believes you should move back there. “It would be absurd to allow anyone who claimed to be Scottish a vote,” Mitchell says.
So Mr Salmond, after reducing the voting age to 16, perhaps you should now try winning the hearts and minds of those of us who live in Scotland but come from different parts of the UK and are eligible to vote if you are to stand any chance of realising your dream – you’re not achieving this at the moment sunshine!
A week is a long time in politics
I’d put money on the fact that Alex Salmond is squirming today after another horrendous week in his dream for Scottish Independence – and since it’s only Thursday I’m sure he’s got time to drop a few more clangers!
It started with the resignation of two of his backbenchers over the NATO u-turn announced last Friday and then came the “little” matter of not seeking legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would automatically become a member of the European Union.
Highland MSPs Jean Urquhart and John Finnie stood down in protest at the decision to end the SNP’s long-standing opposition to NATO.
Former police officer Finnie, who joined the SNP as a 16-year-old, insisted: “I can’t continue to belong to a party that quite rightly doesn’t wish to hold nuclear weapons on its soil but wants to join a first-strike nuclear alliance. Although I envisage I’ll continue to share common ground with the SNP on many issues, I can’t in good conscience continue to take the party whip.”
Urquhart, who has been a supporter of independence for 25 years, said: “Nuclear disarmament and removing Trident from Scotland’s waters is a red line issue for me. I couldn’t remain committed to a party that has committed itself to retaining membership of NATO.”
This all seemed bad enough but to then find out that the SNP Government didn’t feel it necessary to obtain legal advice over such an important matter as to whether a separate Scotland could join the European Union was laughable to say the least!
The First Minister then decided it was ok to miss a House of Lords committee inquiry yesterday into the economic consequences of Scotland breaking away from the UK. The meeting in Edinburgh City Chambers was the first time a Lords committee has sat outside Westminster and was attended by a host of Scot politicians, including ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling and all opposition leaders. Mr Salmond blanked the session to attend the book launch of a local businessman’s biography at the Britannia Spice restaurant in Leith.
And today Salmond left it to Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to admit that it was “unfortunate” that the SNP had given a wrong impression over whether they had taken legal advice on an independent Scotland’s place in Europe. Reiterating her leader’s stance that they had never confirmed whether or not they did have legal advice because they were not allowed to do so under the ministerial code, she conceded the impression had been created that ministers had already taken legal advice on the matter.
Perhaps to emphasise the fact that politics is a very smelly business, it is perhaps no coincidence that both the First and Deputy First Ministers have the names of fishes in Salmon(d) and Sturgeon ….. I rest my case!
The beginning of the end?
So the deed has been done and David Cameron has signed the independence vote deal, known as the “Edinburgh Agreement”. But while all the polls say that by two to one, Scots do not believe the country would be more economically successful on its own, making a ‘no’ vote all but certain in the autumn of 2014, I can’t help but worry that common sense will fly out of the window come 2014.
The Nationalists will jump on the bandwagon of the significance of the date – 2014 marks the 700th anniversary of The Battle of Bannockburn (the first Scottish War of Independence when Scotland scored a decisive victory over Edward and the English), and there is also the fact that the Commonwealth Games are being held in Glasgow just before the crucial vote.
Alex Salmond has got his own way on 2 counts – the date of the referendum (Cameron had wanted it to take place next year) and also on allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote. David Cameron did however win on one key point. Voters will be asked a single question – whether they want in or out of the United Kingdom – despite Mr Salmond’s desire for a second option of increased powers for Holyrood, “devo-max”.
I find it hard to believe that any right-minded individual could believe that Scotland would be better off as an independent nation. The economic figures speak for themselves but the SNP also seem to have failed to understand one other crucial matter. Mr Salmond claims an independent Scotland could simply remain in the EU and keep Sterling. Constitutional experts and the Westminster government say, however, that Scotland would have to reapply to the EU for membership and commit – like all new EU members – to joining the ill-fated euro. A recipe for disaster? I think so!
As an English person who has been living in Scotland for the past 16 years, I truly believe that most voters are too sensible to vote Yes, especially in these disastrous economic times – it would not be Scotland the Brave, but Scotland the Foolhardy! If the disaster that is Scottish Independence does happen – I’ll be on the first flight out of here!
Where to find Salmond in deep water
When I started writing this blog I made a semi-conscious decision that I would keep it pretty light-hearted and not enter into too dangerous territory. For this reason I haven’t thus far written about anything remotely political as this is an area which is always controversial and subjective.
Today, however, I just can’t help myself when I hear that Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has been caught out, yet again, with what he terms a “mistake” but which the opposition would call “misleading parliament”.
He had to apologise yesterday for saying that referendum expert Dr Matt Qvortrup had endorsed the SNP government’s plans for a two-question vote on Scotland’s future. He later corrected his comments, saying he had used information at Holyrood which was “wrong”. Prof Qvortrup had told the Times that a two-question referendum was untenable.
We don’t have to look too far to find some other “howlers” from the man himself.
In 2009 his comment in a Spanish television interview that “sterling is sinking like a stone” is indefensible from a UK government minister and could have had serious repercussions on Scottish jobs.
In 2010 during a live television debate he conceded that the perpetrator of the Dunblane massacre would have been treated differently to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi by the Scottish Government had he survived. Mr Salmond admitted Thomas Hamilton would never have been freed on compassionate grounds had he lived and later contracted terminal cancer. Political opponents called for an apology and the US families of the Lockerbie victims said the remarks were “astounding”.
The First Minister has a habit of grandstanding and he will say anything to please an audience.
On this latest debacle, Mr Fraser, the deputy Tory leader, said: “It speaks volumes about this government that, when it comes to their flagship policy of an independence referendum, they mislead, manipulate and manufacture evidence in support of their stance and they browbeat and bully those who dare to take a contrary view.”
The First Minister wants to put two propositions on the ballot paper, one that would mean Scotland becoming an independent country and the other that would preserve the Union with England, albeit with Holyrood being handed all tax powers.
Confusingly, Mr Salmond wants Scots to vote ‘yes’ to both questions. This could give him the consolation prize of more financial powers if he cannot convince people to back full separation.
But the Liberal Democrats questioned what would happen if a majority of Scots did as he wished and supported both propositions, despite their contradictory positions on the Union.
The First Minister’s senior special adviser responded that Scotland would become independent, even if more people backed the second question advocating extra powers but remaining part of the UK.
The astonishing admission appears to confirm concerns expressed by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, that Mr Salmond will attempt to bamboozle Scots into backing independence.
But what do the people of Scotland really want?
The vast majority of opinion polls conducted post 2006 show support levels for independence at between 20% and 40%. Despite the large number conducted on the issue, it is difficult to gauge definitively Scottish public opinion on independence because of the often widely varying results. Poll results often differ wildly depending on the wording of the question, with the terms such as “breakup” and “separation” often provoking a negative response. For example, an opinion poll published by The Scotsman newspaper in November 2006 revealed that a “Majority of Scots now favour independence”. However, a poll conducted by Channel 4 only two months later reported that “The figure in support of Scottish independence had seemingly dropped”. A third poll by The Daily Telegraph claimed that a significant proportion of Britons would accept the breakup of the United Kingdom. Research conducted in early 2007 revealed a rise in support for nationalist parties across the UK amongst younger voters. A notable comparison made was that in 1981 55% of respondents claimed to be ‘Very proud’ of Britain whereas in 2007 that number had dropped to 45%. In a poll in 2007 commissioned by The Scotsman newspaper it said support for Scottish independence was at a 10 year low with only 21% of people in support for it. Conversely, a 2008 opinion poll commissioned by the Sunday Herald newspaper, showed that support for independence was 41%. When polls give three options, including an option for greater devolution or a new federal settlement but stopping short of independence, support for independence significantly declines. In a poll by The Times, published in April 2007, given a choice between independence, the status quo, or greater powers for the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom, the last option had majority support.
Polls show a consistent support for a referendum, including amongst those who support the continuation of the union. Most opinion polls performed have a figure of in-principle support for a referendum around 70–75%. In March 2009, The Sunday Times published the results of a YouGov survey on Scottish support for independence (mirroring the earlier 2007 poll). Support for a referendum in principle was found to have fallen to 57% of respondents, with 53% of respondents stating they would vote against independence and 33% stating they would support independence. The Times reported that the fall in support for independence was likely linked to economic recession.
In August 2009, a YouGov survey with the Daily Mail asking if Scottish voters would support independence found that 28% would vote Yes, 57% would vote No, 11% did not know and 5% would not vote.
Another YouGov poll in October 2010 showed 34% saying Yes, and 50% not in favour of independence, with the other 16% not sure how they would vote.
A December 2010 face-to-face poll by TNS-BMRB showed 40% supporting independence, 44% opposing, and 16% unsure.
In June 2011, after the SNP majority election win, a poll by TNS-BMRB, with a 1,022 sample, showed independence support up 6% from 18 months previously, with 37% favouring independence in a potential referendum, with 45% against the proposal, and 18% not sure. The poll indicated 46% of people in Glasgow, and 51% of people under 24 supporting independence.
In August 2011, according to a TNS-BMRB/Herald poll, support for independence overtook opposition to independence for the first time since 2008, with 39% of voters saying they would vote yes, 38% saying they would vote no and the remainder of 23% was undecided or refused to say. This poll was the first one out of a series of ten conducted which all showed support for independence greater than outright opposition and as such was celebrated by the SNP as a positive sign that they may be able to reach the 50% mark.
Confused? You should be … guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens ….. but remember this … theoretical opinion polls only tell half the story. What matters is who actually turns out to vote.