Yesterday I wrote a blog post about the launch of Angus Robertson’s Progress Scotland company, lauded by the SNP including the first Minister and other senior SNP politicians. You can find that blog post linked below, before you finish reading this one its probably worth reading yesterdays (if you haven’t already seen it) before reading this one, as they are intrinsically linked.
Erin was apparently (ish) a No to Yes convert at the age of 12 (ish), having come (timescale hard to pin down) to realise post indyref that Yes was the way to go. This was ideal for Angus’s new Yes promoting arms length (from the SNP) company.
The issue though is it’s not exactly clear if Erin was telling the truth (you will get that from yesterdays blog) or being willingly “coached.” Did Progress Scotland (or someone else) coach and guide her into less than truthful waters? Did she mislead them or us, perhaps by wishful misremembering?
When twitter became twitchy about the new company and its primary ‘Star” (Erin has been a very involved energetic activist and visible campaigner for the SNP and other organisations) since joining the SNP in October 2015.
When questioned online as to the veracity of her claims, Erin and her mum locked down their twitter accounts (not sure what’s happened on facebook) and alegedly went on a tweet delete spree (not before some were captured by screenshot), apparently this also happened on facebook, where users local to that area (East Lothian) commented about post deletions and the fact it was common knowledge that Erin and her mum were very pro SNP and had been for some time (they did take screenshots). I of course am now blocked on twitter.
In the meantime, SNP and Yes twitter went mad in defence, snarling and snapping at anyone daring to criticise this young woman, with Progress Scotland, Angus, Humza and many other SNP politicians horrified at the unionist trolls for daring to question the matter, making out Erin was a victim. The National even wrote a typical diatribe attacking some unionists for having the audacity to question a “young 17 year old girl” I have a funny feeling Erin would tell them where to go for calling her a “girl” along with the evident misogynistic and ageist connotations. Erin is an extremely active and high profile SNP activist who has never shied from stating her opinion that voting as an adult at 16 is her right, while strongly promoting independence and women rights.
Sadly, Scottish Nationalists think pro-union people are “trolling” Erin about this. This is mainly untrue (you always get a few idiots), its the misdirection from the SNP (don’t tell me they aren’t involved), Progress Scotland and Angus Robertson that our justified ire is directed at. Erin has, whether complicit or not, been very badly used and exposed. Shame on them.
Here are some facts following yesterdays blog.
2018 Erin told the Holyrood Magazine
“Erin Mwembo, 16, is a fifth-year student, also in the middle of her prelims, arriving to speak to Holyrood straight after her Modern Studies exam. She had heard her family talking about politics and, keen to learn more, started watching YouTube videos of Scottish political debate during the 2015 general election campaign. “I just wanted to know what was going on,” she explains.
But Erin has no doubt that 16-year-olds should be able to vote. “You’re an adult at 16, so you should be able to vote at 16, it’s as simple as that. But also, it’s about having the same rights as every other citizen – for example, I think everyone should be entitled to the Living Wage at 16. There shouldn’t be some sort of hierarchy based on age – everyone should be treated equally.”
For a politicised 16-year-old, it must be hard to watch middle-aged politicians announce that you are incapable of using the vote responsibly.
“It’s frustrating because I find the counter-argument is ‘they’re not mature enough’, but everyone’s experience is different,” she says. “You could be 24 and be the most sheltered person ever, or you could be 16 and not. But it’s about deciding how you want your country to be – and everyone should have a say in that.”
2017 Erin did a (probably) No to Yes video for Phantom Power (link and wording in yesterdays blog)
2016 Erin became Vice Convenor for YSI East Lothian – was mentored by Joanna Cherry – at 15 was used in an SNP official promotional video – was mentioned in dispatches (conference video) by Mhairi Black – campaigned and did back office stuff for the SNP all over Scotland
2015 Erin Joined the SNP on 23rd October.
2014 Erin aged 12 reply tweeted Alex Salmond’s statement tweet on the 19/9/14 at 10:04 to commiserate losing the referendum and his job “Sad but whatever you gotta do” – 12/9/14 replied ‘Truth” to a facebook post of a song about how voting No would be the wrong thing to do – on the 14/8/19 replied “Yup” to a rather dreary poem about a grandchild remonstrating with her grandfather for voting No.
I will leave the readers to decide how they view all this. Was she coached? And if so by whom? Did she lie on purpose or is she just an excited youth? Why has she locked her twitter account and why has mum deactivated hers? What involvement did the SNP, Progress Scotland and Angus Robertson have in producing and broadcasting this dubious No to Yes story?
For the record, I did not take the screenshots but I believe them to be absolutely genuine.
PS. Destined for greater things (especially when you see the praise and photo opps in yesterday blog).
The last couple of weeks has increasingly seen the SNP under a ton of pressure from their disgruntled and battle weary troops, whom they have constantly been marching up an infinite indy hill in groundhog day fashion, never getting them to the top.
Having been told “now is not the time” and getting berated from the trenches for not using the mandate, Nicola has been balancing on a cliff edge between promises and disappointment for the Yes movement.
For last three “few weeks” she has promised in a few weeks, to “indicate” her (not their) plan for Indyref2. In her trip to America this week she was apparently using language very similar to “now is not the time” to the horror of the wider movement, some actually calling for her to go. No doubt the Salmond troubles have also caused the movement serious unrest.
Now whether this is a coincidence or not I’m not sure, but the public launch this week of the private ‘For Profit’ company “Progress Scotland”, with that old SNP stalwart Angus Robertson at its head & Managing Director, certainly helped to distract from the SNP woes and provide a different focus.
Angus is a good speaker, well respected and one of the more intelligent articulators of independence, his new effort has been lauded by the press and in particular Nicola. Seems a nice arms length wee scheme that can milk the cohorts for cash to help decide what the SNP didn’t say well last time or in the recent (SNP) discredited Growth Commission Report. The company has employed a professional pollster to poll the Scots population to ask what they (SNP)? need to do in order to persuade Scots to vote Yes in another postulated referendum (not telling lies or ignoring key economic elements would be a clue).
One of the key elements to this new thing/campaign/company whatever it is, is to demonstrate the personal journeys of those who, since the last referendum, have made the personal journey from actually voting No to wanting to vote Yes , it’s at this point Erin (12 at indyref and unable to vote) comes into focus. @ProgressScot launches very successfully on twitter attracting massive early support, nearly 13k in three days.
The website (*.org not *.Scot out of interest and bearing in mind this is a FOR profit company) takes you straight to young Erin as their key No to Yes star, you will see why photogenic and articulate Erin holds that place shortly. Please remember she was only 12 when indyref was held, and isn’t yet, some four years on, old enough to vote in a General Election.
You can watch Erins video by following the above link, but below are a few extracted screen shots with text and a couple of explanatory additions by me.
As a 12 year old (with an SNP supporting mum – search and you will find it) I find it difficult to accept Erin was a serious “No voter” (to start with she was 4 years to young)! The words “I would probably have” from a young impressionable (and much lauded and connected young SNP activist) four years later have, to me, a very hollow ring. This is exactly the type of young, photogenic, articulate and ostensibly persuadable voter the SNP and its proxy, Progress Scotland, were crying out for, a youth champion forYes/SNP propaganda.
Is Erin complicit in what I see as propaganda? I don’t honestly know, I suspect so, as she seems far too intelligent to be taken in. I think she was a flexible willing participant, well utilised by her older ‘team”. I presume mum was watching closely), difficult to assess though, as both Erin and her mum locked down their twitter accounts closing down debate (or abuse according to The National, Progress Scotland and Angus Robertson). I suspect they were advised to do so before they were closely questioned re culpability.
Erin is very much a rapidly rising star of the SNP and independence movement, and she is of course 100% entitled to her opinions, and my goodness does she express them and have them expressed for her! SNP conference 2016 https://www.facebook.com/theSNP/videos/watch-snp-member-erin-mwembo-on-why-shes-involved-in-the-snp/10154761953549078/
Erin joined the SNP in October 2015. Her involvement has been fast and no doubt exhilarating, rubbing shoulders all over Scotland with the SNP structure and people.
Erin seems to have a good relationship with Nicola
“I felt it just took me after the referendum to actually hear from different sorts of people how the UK government is affecting them and how bad the situation is. Not being able to vote meant you kinda felt like weren’t really a citizen” “I’m politically engaged and do politics almost every single day” Was this wee video the starter for ten of the No to Yes focus of Progress Scotland, you decide. “In 2014 I was 12/13, and I actually did a few surveys and I got so much no and I thought maybe maybe I should just be no and maybe that’s the choice. It took me ’till after the referendum to really feel so strong for Yes vote, ‘cos I felt that at that age I could engage in politics” “I joined the SNP on the 23/10/15”
Well, that’s some chat for a 12/13 year old three years off a voting age of 16! And after being “unsure” 12 moths later she’s a member and shortly after an activist involved in all sorts of issues, groups, leafleting etc, keen kid. She’s certainly impressed the SNP!
This blog post will be seen by the Nationalists as a personal dig, or abuse, towards Erin, it’s not, it’s a dig at the SNP, Angus and Progress Scotland for ‘using’ a young person like this. A person who, in my opinion, appears to have been moulded and propagandised to create an Indy youth Icon (of whom they expect great things in future).
Well done them, hope they are proud of themselves. Good luck to Erin for the future, a bright young Scot. I do hope however she uses that intelligence to look beyond the SNP protective cocoon and examines,among other issues, the severe austerity and economic woes post indy Scotland would put on her and her contemporaries.
No to Yes, to Yes to No? time will tell.
A COLLECTION OF INFORMED OPINION FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
The links will take you to blog posts which are informed opinion, facts, data & common sense – these well researched and evidenced blogs explode the pantheon of separatist myths.
Please leave a comment on one of my posts if you have suggestions for additional blog posts for this collection. Please not my Twitter is currently suspended (troll activity).
DIVORCING THE EQUAL PARTNER? (With a nod to Margaret). By me. (With a little help).
INDYREFf2? By me.
THE GERS MYTH A post with data & information links
Following the UK General Election in December last year, the SNP’s desire for another #Scexit referendum (increasingly unlikely) in 2020 has been demanded and vociferously shouted for loud and clear. Boris (Westminster) has said no.
The UK Constitution is a reserved matter and therefore Boris has rightly said no, as contrary to the SNP’s many claims, there’s no acceptable legitimate democratic mandate to hold one. They even claim the 2019 GE result was a mandate for a second referendum, when it was blatantly obvious they fought the election on stop Boris/Brexit grounds and implored voters to lend them their votes to do so. You can find copious evidence online that confirms this. Note when Boris says never, he means not now, as democracy will always prevail.
Should there be another vote to leave the UK in the short term? I don’t want one and I doubt the majority of Scots voters want one yet either, but, if via democracy, there is majority will to have one, then have one we must.
If the SNP acquire democratic majority support for another Scexit referendum, then as a devolved representative government they should be afforded another UK Section 30/Edinburgh Agreement 2 in order to hold it. They could of course even get that majority support this year if they brought forward (it’s in their power to do so) the next Holyrood election to May 2020. That won’t happen though, they appear to be too skint (check Wings Over Scotland) and/or too feart (otherwise why not)?
Scotland, having experienced the last two divisive referendums, must ensure that another can’t be held under the same set of soft criteria that created and lead to horrendous division, including hatred, abuse, family splits and broken friendships. Those who say the politics of the referenda were conducted in a friendly manner are frankly blind and were not as emotionally involved as many of us were. The criteria of course must be fair, reasonable and accepted by all, so regardless of the result we would move on positively. No neverendums!
It is reasonable, in order to have a recognised democratic and legitimate mandate for a second referendum, that the SNP follow a fair democratic process as outlined below;
- Fight the election based on a manifesto pledge to request a Section 30/Edinburgh Agreement 2 and to subsequently hold a second referendum subject to terms being agreed.
- Achieve 51% of the electorates vote on the day, i.e. 51% of those that decide to vote in favour of a second referendum in a Holyrood Parliament election.
It goes without saying any new agreement wouldn’t be as lax as that produced by Cameron’s government, lessons have been learned. We (RemainUK voters and democrats) understand the SNP did not and have not respected or honoured the agreement post 19/9/14 and any future agreement must be both watertight and clearly explicit re its terms, objectives and future moratorium on further constitutional referenda.
The terms can be worked out and negotiated, but as a minimum, a remain UK result should be binding for a generation, that generation (promised but reneged on) must be 35 years. That will give time for wounds to heal and Scotland to prosper without the yoke of constant division and infighting that distracts our politicians and the SNP from governing properly and using the now substantial devolved powers we have following the implementation of the Scotland Act 2016.
The UK on it’s behalf should offer no more bribes of additional cash or devolved powers, let Scotland learn to use those we have now properly or leave the UK if that is the will of the people.
Let’s assume the SNP achieve 51% of the vote in HR21 and that a second referendum is on the cards, that its carried out in May 2022 (probably the earliest a detailed referendum plan could be produced) what then? Will the plan be as bereft of detail as the White Paper? As incomplete (but a better attempt) as the Common Weal’s White Paper Project 1.1? As wide of the mark as the SNP’s own Growth Commission? Without doubt we need a better economic plan than all of those combined. A detailed granular ‘accepted’ plan that outlines what the economics of an iScot would be like following two years of negotiations resulting in a Scotland standing outside the EU and the UK in May 2024. The plan should include currency, central bank, realistic setup costs, inherited debt, deficit controls, the loss of Barnett etc. and be peer reviewed and accredited by independent ‘bodies’ such as The Fraser Of Allender Institute and be subject to public examination and consultation.
Let’s be frank, that ain’t really gonna happen is it? So what’s the alternative? One alternative is to have win and turnout hurdles for the referendum to ensure the majority really want to leave regardless of sketchy plans, say 60% for leaving to win along with a minimum 75% turnout. It would mean we vote to leave the UK with minimum support of 45% of voters, that’s less than 51% so is obviously fair. I’ve tried expounding that concept of fairness re win and turnout hurdles before (there is precedent) and its probably the cheapest and simplest option, but they seem highly unacceptable to our nationalists (due to their lack of confidence)? There is however another way of proceeding in a democratic and fair way, employing a CV, a “Confirmatory Vote”, one that allows things to proceed yet protects the public from the finality of a single rash decision without complete information, a process that would have avoided a lot of post Brexit heartache.
A Confirmatory vote would allow for standard democratic processes, no turnout or win hurdle rates, just the will of the people on the day by a simple majority. It subsequently allows the people the opportunity to ratify/confirm their decision to leave after seeing the outcome and detail of negotiations on debt, assets, Trident, trade, the full details of the proposed rUK iScot deal and accompanying reports/commentary from ScotGov and UKGov and independent experts on the potential outcome of the post deal/separation position. Only after seeing an agreed GERS style forecast post leaving the UK would the decision to leave be made. A much more sensible and pragmatic approach than making a blind choice.
A recap on how we would leave the UK if it became the will of the people;
- SNP ( including Greens and other LeaveUK parties) Win 51% of a Holyrood election vote based on a mandate pledge to hold a second referendum.
- S30/EA2 stipulates no repetition for 35 years if Scotland again chooses to remain as it’s UK.
- A. S30/EA2 stipulates reviewed and approved detailed economic Scexit plan to be produced pre referendum OR B. win rate and turnout hurdle rates of 60% and 75% are applied OR C. a pre Scexit Confirmatory Vote is held post Scexit negotiations and subsequent GERS style iScot forecasts.
- Referendum held within 1 year. If RemainUK prevails, that’s the end of the matter for 35 years. If Leave UK prevails we leave under A, B or C in 3 above.
Here, as further reading and devoid of any interpretation from me, is the summary section (and look to full document) of a comprehensive report into UK referenda. Any future constitutional referenda need to pay heed to the reports findings. Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums July 2018 The rules by which referendums are conducted in the UK are now almost twenty years old. In that time, five large-scale referendums have been held, including votes on matters of fundamental importance that have sparked unprecedented public interest. Much has changed over these two decades, not least through the rise of the internet and, particularly, of social media and the way these developments have transformed political campaigning. The time has come, therefore, for a comprehensive review. This report addresses the role that referendums play in democracy in the UK and the manner in which referendums are conducted. Its major recommendations stem from three core points: ■ First, referendums have an important role to play within the democratic system, but how they interact with other parts of that system is crucial. They must be viewed as co-existing alongside, rather than replacing, representative institutions. They can be useful tools for promoting citizen participation in decision-making, but they are not the only, or necessarily the best, way of doing so. ■ Second, referendums should be conducted in a way that is fair and effective. The rules should enable a level playing field between the competing alternatives. Those rules should also empower voters to find the information they want from sources they trust, so that voters feel confident in the decisions they reach. ■ Third, the regulation of referendums must keep up with the changing nature of political campaigning, particularly campaigning through social media. Following a brief introduction to the Commission, the sections below summarise key implications of each of these points. They do not give the Commission’s recommendations in full. These are contained in the body of the chapters that follow, and are listed in full at the end of the report. The Commission and its work The Independent Commission on Referendums comprised twelve individuals (listed at the front of this report), who worked over nine months, from October 2017 to June 2018. The Commission held eight meetings, invited written evidence from a wide range of individuals and groups, and held consultative seminars in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. The central point in the Commission’s terms of reference was ‘to consider the future political, legislative and administrative arrangements for the authorisation and conduct of referendums in the UK’. The Commission was supported by a secretariat based at the Constitution Unit, School of Public Policy, University College London. The Constitution Unit is a nonpartisan academic body, which conducts research on various aspects of constitutions and constitutional change, prioritising outputs that are useful to policymakers. The Commission’s work was informed by evidence that the secretariat gathered about the functioning of referendums historically in the UK, and in contemporary democracies around the world. Members of the Commission were not paid for their time and contributed to its work purely voluntarily. They propose the conclusions and recommendations in this report on a unanimous basis. The place of referendums in the democratic system Referendums have an important role to play within the democratic system. They are particularly suited to resolving fundamental questions of sovereignty and constitutional change. But referendums also have limits: ■ They cannot replace the institutions of representative democracy. Citizens do not have the time or the resources to participate in all the policy decisions necessary for the functioning of a complex modern democracy. Representatives can dedicate time to consider such issues in great detail, engage in deliberation with other representatives and make informed decisions on a wide range of topics. Representative institutions are also needed to provide for ‘joined up’ thinking across policy areas. Executive Summary 10 Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums ■ Referendums encompass one crucial element of democracy: deciding between options through voting. But other equally important dimensions of democracy – discussion, deliberation and compromise – are not intrinsic to referendums. Given these limits, careful thought should be given to how referendums fit into the wider democratic system: ■ Detailed consideration should be given before a referendum is called to what the problems are that policy needs to address, what policy options can be developed for addressing these problems, what the strengths and weaknesses of these options are, and whether a referendum is the best way of making the decision. ■ To engage citizens as far as possible in these pre-referendum processes, consideration should be given to using innovative forms of deliberative democratic engagement such as citizens’ assemblies, alongside strengthened processes of parliamentary scrutiny. ■ Wherever possible, a referendum should come at the end, not the beginning, of the decision-making process. It should be post-legislative, deciding whether legislation that has already passed through the relevant parliament or assembly should be implemented. ■ Sometimes a referendum may be needed earlier: for example, to initiate intergovernmental negotiations. In such cases, the government initiating the referendum should set out precise plans for what will be done in the event of a vote for change; the enabling legislation would set out a two-referendum process, for use in the event that the settlement does not deliver what was promised. The conduct of referendums Referendums should be conducted in line with two overarching objectives: ■ The alternatives should compete on a level playing field. ■ Voters should be able to find the information they want from sources they trust. These objectives lead to a range of proposals, including the following: ■ Current restrictions on government involvement in referendum campaigns should be extended to cover the whole campaign period, but narrowed in scope to target the behaviour that is of concern during referendums – that is, campaigning for or against a proposal. ■ Lead campaigners should be designated as early as possible, to give campaigners time to prepare effectively. ■ Measures should be taken to enhance the transparency of campaign spending and the accountability of campaigners for that spending. The Electoral Commission and Information Commissioner’s Office should work together in regulating spending and the use of personal data in political campaigning. ■ The Electoral Commission should review how any space provided to campaigners in the Commission’s voter information booklet is best used. ■ More should be done to enable the work of broadcasters, universities, factcheckers and other independent organisations in facilitating access to balanced information. ■ Methods for fostering citizen deliberation on referendum issues and disseminating its results should be piloted. Referendums in a digital age Even during the nine months of the Commission’s inquiry, debate about the regulation of online campaigning has developed considerably. The Commission is not the best body to settle all of these issues, but it does make a range of recommendations, including the following: ■ An inquiry should be conducted into the regulation of political advertising across print, broadcast and online media, to consider what form regulation should take 11 for each medium and whether current divergences of approach remain justified. ■ Imprints should be required on digital campaign materials, as on other forms of campaign materials. ■ A searchable repository of online political advertising should be developed, including information on when each advertisement was posted, to whom it was targeted, and how much was spent on Implementing the Commission’s recommendations The Commission hopes that its recommendations will lead to positive and constructive discussion about the future of referendums in the UK, and a strengthening of democratic practice. Some of these recommendations call for action by the UK government or devolved governments. Some propose actions by parliamentary committees, the Electoral Commission, and other official bodies. Others need to be taken up by political parties, campaigners, commentators, and academics. The Commission believes that we require a culture change in how the role of referendums in UK democracy is conceived. The practical implications of this are captured in our checklist of issues to consider before calling for a referendum. Checklist for those considering calling for a referendum Many of the recommendations made by the Commission demand a cultural change in terms of how referendums are used and the circumstances in which they are proposed. This checklist is provided as a quick summary of key points that should be considered by those who may wish to call for a future referendum: ■ Is the subject matter suitable for a referendum? Can it be considered a major constitutional issue? ■ Is a referendum the best way of involving citizens in the decision in question, or might some other means of public consultation serve at least as well, or better? ■ Is interest in the subject adequate to ensure a high level of turnout? ■ Has the topic concerned previously been subject to considerable public debate and deliberation? ■ Has it been carefully considered by bodies such as parliamentary committees? ■ Have there been opportunities for civil society groups to comment and help develop proposals? ■ Have there been opportunities for citizens to contribute to the development of the proposals through bodies such as citizens’ assemblies? ■ Are the alternatives clear, or do they need further consideration and elaboration? ■ If there are more than two options for change, has the possibility of holding a multi-option referendum been seriously considered? ■ Will it be possible, in advance of a referendum, for detailed proposals for change to be set out in the enabling legislation? ■ Will it be clear to legislators after the referendum what to enact, or is there any risk of uncertainty, and conflict with the public vote? If the answer to any of the questions above is no, then the referendum should not be held at that point. Additionally, when planning for the referendum itself and the preceding referendum campaign, the following questions should be addressed: ■ What can be done to reduce the risk of polarisation and lasting political divisions after the referendum? ■ What can be done to maximise the availability of high-quality information, and minimise the risk of misrepresentation and confusion? ■ Should a deliberative exercise for citizens be provided during the referendum campaign itself?
“The economy stupid” A phrase that should be whispered (shouted even) into the ears of the SNP, Sturgeon and Derek Mackay at every opportunity. How the media let them away with such blatant nonsense is beyond me. They won’t get challenged from the floor of this weeks SNP Conference and unionist politicians seem pretty useless at holding them to account in Holyrood. We (the majority) need to be whispering and shouting this simple truth at them!
This week Derek stated publicly “Scotland cannot afford the Union, but it can more than afford to be independent” https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiQlPielJ7lAhVHJFAKHVj4A_gQFjAGegQIBxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-scotland-scotland-politics-50040838&usg=AOvVaw2cTUXwtbvK9IHRTiU5PEFp
He unbelievably went on to say “We are winning the economic argument.” The problem is there has never been an open and clear argument, he (and they) will never properly engage to debate the issues of Scexit economics.
(He does however like sweeping statements, that are ultimately all p*ss and wind).
I won’t bore you with lots of charts, figures and data (this time), but some simple home truths need acknowledgment.
Scotland spends more than it earns. Thats a fact. Nicola Derek and Finance Minister Kate publicly admit this. It has run a significant deficit since 1990/91, then total of which is £208 billion pounds. Since 2011 the average has been £13.2 billion, last year £12.6 billion. These figures are not disputed by anyone of note in the SNP or Scottish Government. Both Derek and Nicola accept that we run this deficit but state that this is our ‘position’ in the UK and that it is not what the position would be in an a Scotland outside the UK and EU (we wouldn’t join the EU for years as we don’t meet the joining conditions of the EU Acquis re deficit etc).
See Sturgeon’s excruciating Andrew Neil interview re deficit. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35797718
There is no doubt at all our economic ‘position’ would be different post Scexit, we would have to find the resources to fund that deficit (and inherited debt) which can only come form three areas, taxation, borrowing, reduced spending.
The reality is with the level of inherited debt from the UK (population share) we would probably not be able to borrow on favourable terms as we would have debt and deficit levels way above those acceptable to the EU. We would also have the complication of a new currency, as that is now the SNP plan (and a necessary requirement to eventually join the EU which is their stated policy).
Even the SNP’s Growth Commission has indicated there would be a significant period of austerity. Commenting on it’s publication in May 2018 The IFS, a highly regarded economics research institute, said “proposals from the SNP’s growth commission published in May 2018 would leave Scotland’s weak public finances facing continued cost-cutting and restraint. Analysis by David Phillips, an IFS economist, said the commission should be commended for being honest about “the challenging public finance position an independent Scotland would start life with”. However, he disputed its claims that its economic strategy would end austerity. Its analysis in fact implied cuts in spending and benefits equal to 4% of GDP over a 10-year period. “Their proposals imply another decade of the sort of restraint on public spending that Scotland is currently experiencing. If this is austerity, then austerity would be extended under the commission’s proposals,” he said”. (Note the author of GC report, Andrew Wilson is unwilling to publicly discuss/debate or argue any of its contents with anyone who doesn’t agree with them).
The stark fact is no one in the SNP is prepared to provide an economic plan or even a 3 year forecast for post separation to even start an informed debate. Why not? The reason is simple, they are frightened to show Scots the economic reality of leaving our UK. They are dishonest and hypocritical in the extreme.
What is it? It’s “The Economy, Stupid.”
Last week the Scots nationalists preoccupation with “flegs” waved its weary head above the parapets again, this time in Inverness.
The stooshie revolved around a new shop in Inverness (I won’t name it here, as its probably still licking it’s wounds and bemused after discovering this small but vocal prickly side of a minority of its local customers). The shop had the temerity of attaching priced sales tags emblazoned with the Union Jack (that flag that includes the Saltire) and the words ‘British Tweed” to some Harris Tweed products – probably made overseas, which is where much of the Harris Tweed post weaving product manufacturing takes place.
You could be forgiven for thinking this true yet innocuous event wasn’t of any consequence, sadly not.
Some very vocal small minded anti British Scottish nationalists spotted the – in their eyes – offending tags. Social media mayhem ensued along with about six Scottish mainstream (if you count The National as mainstream) news outlets annoyingly stirring up the stooshie. They claimed The Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) had rapidly intervened and “instructed”* the villainous shop to remove the offending price tags. (Times, Sun, Mirror, Mail, Herald and National).
Some background (from the HTA website);
HTA is the body tasked with protecting the unique qualities and brand of Harris tweed worldwide. Not only does it have a board and a CEO in Stornaway buy it has it’s own British Act Of Parliament to help it –
“The passing of an Act of Parliament in 1993 brought into being the Harris Tweed Authority, a new statutory body replacing the original Harris Tweed Association set up in 1909. The fundamental role of the organisation was to undertake responsibility for promoting and maintaining the authenticity, standard and reputation of the world famous HARRIS TWEED cloth.
The Authority oversees the production and inspection of the cloth from start to finish and only when satisfied that the article is genuinely deserving of our historic Orb will we brand the cloth with the mark.
The mark of the Orb, pressed onto every length of cloth and seen on the traditional label affixed to finished items, guarantees the highest quality tweed, dyed, spun and handwoven by islanders of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland in their homes to the laws outlined in the Harris Tweed Act of Parliament.”
The definition of HARRIS TWEED contained in the Harris Tweed Act of 1993 clearly defines HARRIS TWEED as follows:
“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”
“The Act ensures that all cloth certified with the HARRIS TWEED Orb symbol complies with this definition and is genuine HARRIS TWEED, the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed.
The legislation and organisation allows the safeguarding of the HARRIS TWEED name, quality and reputation of HARRIS TWEED ensuring that every metre of the world famous cloth conforms to the same exacting standards and gives legal powers to address imitation and counterfeiting of the cloth worldwide.”
You will have noticed that this amazing British protection for a Highlands and Islands product is unique, the only product protected this way for over 100 years, however, anyone in the world can buy Harris Tweed, and make it into products. It is only these products that can use the HTA proprietary branding with its wording and logo. In fact the HTA has just recently won a court-case and damages for an Edinburgh outlet incorrectly using Harris Tweed branding on its facade.
Factually Harris Tweed is a British product protected by a British Act of Parliament enforced by the HTA, which sees the people and community it protects and serves as benefiting immensely from its British protection. The tweed is undeniably Scottish, but equally undeniably it is British. The shop did nothing wrong at all.
Contrary to the storm “in a British tea cup” the media attempted to stir up, the HTA did NOT instruct or request the sales tags to be removed, they simply tweeted a four part twitter thread outlining their remit in an attempt to take the heat out the situation. It didn’t work, the stooshie continued to cause embarrassment. The final part of the thread was very clear that NO action by HTA had been taken;
“The union jack & any other labelling on a product made using HT fabric is branding ADDED by an independent retailer or manufacturer who has bought HT & manufactured it into finished goods. The union jack labels/tags were NOT produced by us, or by any of the HT mills. (4/4)”
This did not suit the mob of howling social media nationalists, who kept on insisting they had somehow won the battle and that the HTA had delivered their killer blow for them.
I’m fairly active on twitter and I like things to be reasonably fact based and this fleg nonsense irked me (I have a blog on another Flag stooshie but that’s a different fight), so I asked the HTA directly about their involvement;
Me “As reported in the press, did you instruct/ask the retailer to remove the British sales tags”?
HTA “Thank you Steve for contacting us. You’re absolutely correct. The HTA has not instructed the removal of the ‘British Tweed’ sales tags”.
Pretty damned clear to me.
The actual skirmish and vocal stooshie was between a wee shop in Inverness (being intimidated to remove sales tags) and some petty and intimidatory vocal Scottish nationalists.
There’s probably only one response to this nonsense, which is to say to these shoulder chipped and blinkered flag obsessed nationalists, get a life, stop interfering with a brilliant Scottish brand and causing potential harm to Scottish jobs.
Or do these same woad wearing Saltire wavers want Britain to stop protecting and promoting this iconic Scottish product which contributes khjgkjh to Scottish GDP and protects the jobs and community lifestyle of the Highlands and Islands? – Japan is one of Harris Tweeds biggest markets and Britain helps it as much as it can with embassy promotion;
July 2018 – “Two iconic Isle of Harris brands are to showcase their wares on a trip to Japan this week.
The Isle of Harris Gin and Harris Tweed will be showcased at a reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo where Fiona Hyslop MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, will promote Scotland as a home for Japanese investment.
Delegates will be offered the Isle of Harris Gin as a welcome drink before being given the opportunity to view Harris Tweed garments and accessories which will include a quirky ‘Hello Kitty’, the fictional character created by Japanese illustrator Yuko Shimizu, clad in the textile.
The purpose of the visit is to build relations with the community of investors, trade partners, Scottish companies and intermediaries in Japan; while showcasing the best of Scotland on a global stage”.
PS No donations required.
* Note the Herald article author objected to me saying they had said “Instructed” I think their intent in the article is clear, pandering to the nationalist flag brigade.
Headline “Union Jacks removed from Harris Tweed clothes as overseers hit back at lack of action criticism”
“The Ides of March” for Nationalism?
In recent weeks, our local pathomanians at all levels (SNP politicians, supporters & Yesser nationalists) have flung their divisive rage against the Union flag, the English or UK centric cultural aspects.
Flags start us off with the nonsense tweeted by Pathomanian in chief – FM Nicola Sturgeon – reducing annual instances of the British flag flying on official Scottish government buildings from 12 to 1 (see my blog).
Next we have Scotland v England rugby where even prominent SNP politicians disgraced us with pathetic bigoted tweets.
Sky News then try to stage an online poll for Women’s Day, social media idiots like Genocide Jeggit (of Butterfly Rebellion “fame”) hijack what should be a celebration of British women & encourage & instruct the nationalist horde to bastardise the result by multiple voting, placing NS first and the almost unknown out of Scotland Mahairi Black second! This preposterous result (Sky quietly let the poll wind down past its expiry date without publishing the final result) was lauded by none other than an SNP minister!
Penultimately, we have the Walkers Shortbread debacle, in which Walkers are lambasted by known nationalist keyboard agitator Alison “Rollo” Brown, incensed at some tins of Walkers on sale in Germany displaying the Union Flag. None of the Nats whinging, ranting and being hysterical about this loss of Scottishness, bothered to actually look at the Walkers heritage and product range (108 products, 2% of which display the Union Flag), 100% of the products clearly & proudly display their Scottish provenance.
There was of course a response to this naked nationalism, in reaction to the justified opprobrium received, Brown (who has previous form for this sort of vicious nationalism) decided to close her mouth for a while. Using victimhood as an excuse because a business she is/was apparently a director of, received a couple of trip advisor reviews less than complimentary about her puerile political & bigoted nationalist opinions.
To cap it off for me, yesterday, a Nat publicly whinged about an Aberdeen policemen wearing a COPS (Care of Police Survivors – a UK registered charity dedicated to helping families of police officers who have lost their lives whilst on duty) Blue Line badge, why would you walk up to a British policeman & interrogate (& report ) him for wearing his support? The idiot also suggested the badge is banned, it isn’t, sad thing is this UK charity was instigated by a Scottish policeman, Strathclyde Police Detective Jim McNulty.
Steve Sayers 14/3/18
(Updated May 31 2018 following rejection of ScotGov complaints from IPSO).
There was a wee stramash about flags this month (January 2018) in case it passed you by. It’s a bit complex, stick with it.
Official instances of the Union Jack flying on Scottish Government buildings has reduced from 15 in 2017 to 1 in 2018.
Conflation – Alex Salmond claimed he had made the “change” in 2010 – he was in fact referring to the Lion Rampant being used as an alternative.
Lie? – Nicola Sturgeon denied there had been any changes to flag policy since 2010
ScotGov appealed to IPSO about two articles highlighting the shift in policy – the first time a Government has complained.
May 18 both complaints rejected.
There is a “flag protocol” for Scottish Government buildings. It’s a document produced by the Scottish Government and has the heading “Days For Hoisting Flags On Buildings Of The Scottish Government” and the latest version below, effective January 2018, is version number 23.
This “Protocol” has been in place for well over 8 years and probably originated when the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive, sorry, Scottish Government, first came into existence. For the purposes of FlagGate we need to look at January 2017 version 22 (below) versus January 2018 version 23 (above).
The flag protocol document is a regularly reviewed Scottish Government document. It even has its own little department looking after it, the aptly named “Protocol & Honours Team.” Between versions 14 through 22 there were hardly any variances. Between versions 22 and 23 there is a marked difference between the two versions
The crux of the matter is the number of instances of the Union Jack being flown has substantially reduced, almost eradicated, between the two versions, down from 15 to 1!
This was, via the media, initially attributed to the wishes/instructions of the FM Nicola Sturgeon, who then proceeded to have a massive hissy fit and tweeted umpteen times in the course of two days (even at 11pm at night)! Also tweeting a thread of EIGHT sequential tweets, just about flags (astonishing)! Things got a wee bit agitated to say the least.
Note the conflating switch from media claims of Union Jack to Lion Rampant (and note it’s not given its formal name, The Royal Standard).
From the two versions of the protocol shown above it’s evident the number of times the Union Jack is to fly officially has reduced from 15 to 1.
This is where FlagGate starts to get quite complex, the media claimed Nicola had made the changes which she immediately refuted. To resolve the “claims” and to add conflation and confusion to the matter, it was Alex Salmond to the rescue! With his typical bluster he released press statements saying it was he who altered the 2010 version to the the Lion Rampant (The Royal Standard), so it could be flown instead of the Union Jack on St Andrew’s Day – he had discussed this with Her Majesty, assuring her that the Scots loved the Lion Rampant. Paraphrasing Salmond – “So whats the fuss? All above board, the Queen was happy, it was me what did it.” The Queen of course is unlikely to get involved with this tawdry wrangle. Nowhere does he mention the “reduction” in instances of the Union Jack.
This sent the media into a tizz as they thought “Crap! HM involved, Salmond on the warpath and looks like Nicola didnae dae it.” So they apologised, in a fashion, roughly saying “we accept the policy did not change under Nicola Surgeon and that it was changed by Alex Salmond in 2010.”
But there is a problem with this “outcome” – as Salmond’s meeting with the Queen was in 2009, what was changed was presumably the Union Jack for the Lion Rampant (Royal Banner), it’s obvious there has been significant change to the protocols WELL AFTER Salmond made his minor change for the 2010 version.
With typical evasive words our FM, aided by her predecessor, has managed to conflate and confuse the issue pushing the MSM to stand down and let the issue dissipate.
The thing that may have got our journo’s slightly confused is the detail in all of this, the two readily available versions when this blog was originally published showed massive variations (I posted v14 & v23 in active threads on twitter a number of times), all versions need a very close inspection. As well as the basic difference re the number of flying times, each version has a visual ‘Key” and the key to FlagGate are the “keys.”
In v22 the UJ & Saltire combination is key “A”, if there is one flagpole only, the UJ takes precedence. In version 23, the UJ Saltire combination is key “C” – St Andrew’s Day remained as “B” in both versions. Another little wrinkle is that the Lion Rampant has to be flown by Royal assent (presumably given after AS met HM), however technically even the LR need not be flown, leaving only the special Armed Forces Day flag as the sole British flag in the whole year. The new key on version 23 is very unclear about what happens on St Andrews’s Day if there is only one flagpole. There is a heap of smoke and a bunch of mirrors in play here.
Fact – the reduction in UJ’s flying from 15 to 1 is down to the Scottish Government changing protocol from 2017 to 2018, this is on Nicola’s watch nothing to do with Salmond.
The SNP led Scottish Government attempts to eradicate Britishness at every opportunity, we can now plainly see that. It needs to be explicitly clear who instigates these significant changes.
After receiving version 22 via FOI I’ve emailed the department of Protocol & Honours for additional clarification. I await a further response and answers to some additional questions.
#FlagGate might be gone, but it’s certainly not forgotten, I intend to get to the bottom of the decision making behind the changes.
Update 31/5/18 – Formal response below that has prompted additional questions, more when I get them!
Two complaints by ScotGov against press articles in the Daily Express & the Daily Telegraph have been rejected by IPSO – independent regulator for the UK newspaper and magazine industry.
I am continuing a fact finding process via FOI, unlikely to be resolved prior to June 18.
Note there is no apparent ministerial sign off, who instigates changes is yet to be established.
Simple majority referenda are crude divisive binary methods of establishing the will of the people for major constitutional change.
Please sign and share my petition, the logic is below the link;
Having been through a number of referendums in my lifetime (the two most recent being Brexit and Scottish Independence), I’ve come to the conclusion that a simple majority is not at all in the countries best interest.
In those last two I won one (Indyref) and lost one (Brexit), both were won on tight percentage margins, 55/45 in Scotland and 52/48 in the United Kingdom.
I am not a remoaner, I lost, the country spoke via the rules of the referendum instigated by our democracy. I now just want us to get on with it, without internal UK and SNP hindrance to our external negotiations, lets try and get the best deal for everyone.
I’ve started this parliamentary petition (again) to legislate for a Super Majority and whilst I am a known advocate for Scotland remaining as the UK, there is no political edge to my logic for requesting a parliamentary debate and hopefully legislation to support the idea.
“Super majority” is effectively the hurdle rate for success of a referendum, Brexit & Indyref were “Simple Majority” referendums with anything 50% plus (even 1/2%) deciding the outcome, there was also no turnout hurdle rate either.
Indyref was rejected 55.3/44.7 with a turnout of 84.6%, NO won with only 46.8% of the registered Scottish electorate.
Brexit was agreed by 51.9/48.1 with a turnout of 72.2%, Brexit was carried by 37.47% of the registered British electorate.
So, our two most recent constitutional binary permanent result referendums were carried by less than 50% of the electorate. I don’t want that again, the past is the past and I respect both results, but abhor the inability of those who lost to accept them and move on. The amount of debate and post referendum divisiveness caused by both very close results, has damaged the country, friends and family relationships and of course ongoing Brexit negotiations. We need to prevent this divisiveness in future.
Referenda are very different to General Elections, elections are normally for a relatively short fixed period of time, they are not binary and and there is choice for everyone to consider political points of view via manifestos etc. Referenda are stark binary black and white single issue votes, with long term no going back tough luck outcomes.
I personally believe the cases for major constitutional change should be far more representative of the electorate and that they must demonstrate a clear and decisive will of the people to make what are crucial decisions for the country. My petition is asking for a hurdle rate of 60% and a turnout of 75% to decide the outcome, this means registered electorate approval of 45%, not 50%, just 45%.
If there is a debate I’m also open to a sliding scale solution based on 45% of electorate approval, ie. if turnout is only 72% then to achieve 45% support the hurdle rate changes to 62.5%. This idea is not in the petition but would hopefully form part of the debate.
Please give this proposal some consideration and sign it if you agree then share with as many people as possible. If you disagree I would be grateful if you still shared it with friends family and colleagues, as they may see the situation differently from you.
For those still suspicious of my reasons, if this was adopted it would make the dissolution of devolved administrations, such as Holyrood, that much more difficult to effect, but thats only fair for major constitutional change, we should not let the SNP’s 10 years of mismanagement be the death knell for the Scottish Parliament.