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
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 gradual diminutions.
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.
Perfect GERS clarity from a Yes voter.
GERS, as readers will know, is the “Government Expenditure and Revenue for Scotland”, and is published yearly. The report for 2016-2017 came out recently, and economist Richard Murphy questioned its accuracy, voicing his early suspicions that these books had been cooked. His claim elicited a vigorous rebuttal from Scottish entrepreneur Kevin Hague, blogging as chokka blog.
In my view, Hague’s rebuttal, which you can read here, should have used more moderate and factual language, which would surely have made it more persuasive. Instead, he wrote a sarcastic and emotional attack on Richard Murphy’s competence, and also included a welter of raw data. This made the thread of Hague’s argument difficult to follow, and in the end (in my view) weakened his case.
I’ve therefore re-presented his argument below, leaving out the emotive language and the overly detailed data, in order to make his argument clearer. This is what I…
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The Nationalists false hope Richard J Murphy gets excoriated – again.
In his latest blog seeking reasons to undermine the Scottish Government’s GERS publication, Professor Richard Murphy argues that Scotland’s notional fiscal deficit may be “seriously overstated” because we are not assigned revenues arising from non-identifiable spending that takes place in the rest of the UK. Taking a detailed look at what non-identifiable spending actually is, I argue that much of it is already spent in Scotland, including some areas where Scotland disproportionately benefits, and that any calculation of the effect Professor Murphy describes will almost certainly have no material impact on the conclusions of GERS.
This week the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures for 2016/17 were released by the Scottish Government. Most people will have barely heard of them, not many will care much and even fewer will ever change their mind based on the contents of the report or blogs like this.
Despite this, stats…
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It seems I’ve caught the attention of the New Sunday Herald’s senior investigative reporter.
The pictures below says it all really.
Update 21/8/17 – Over a week now and The Herald refuses to respond to this post on their article or tweets sent to the paper, editor and the journalist. In fact the editor Niel Mackay has even blocked me on twitter, pathetic.
I think he must have know the reaction he would get from me re this Sunday’s abysmal piece on North Sea Oil taken almost verbatim from Business For Scotland, an evident propaganda arm of the Yes movement.
Find the article here Shameful Unionist Trolls – Me? Nah.
I keep asking the question below of politicians and keen supporters of Scottish separation, I have yet to receive a reasonable answer that is considered, not a deflection, not abuse and sensible, I’ve not even had the semblance of a sensible debate.
“Which cuts to spending will an iScot make to offset a £15bn annual deficit?”
I think its ignored and avoided as being to direct a question which they do not want to contemplate the possible answers to.
The stock responses are “that is not how Scotland would look if independent” “Scotland does not have a deficit” “Scotland by UK law must balance it’s budget”
We do of course have a deficit and only those with a lack of knowledge, or who are not prepared to listen, conflate our budget with our income and expenditure, two completely separate things. Our budget reflects devolved spending, not the reality of devolved and reserved total spending. Thats what GERS is, a full account of our income and expenditure.
The hard fact is unless in an iScot we radically changed our spending decisions (or massively increased taxes), the current deficit level would indeed be Scotlands deficit going forward.
The First Minister knows this and has publicly, on many occasions, confirmed we do have a deficit, she acknowledges that at 9% of GDP it is three times the aggregate UK deficit level of 3%.
However, other than the woefully poor White Paper, no attempt to explain how we would manage the deficit has been made by the governing party and main proponents of separation.
I don’t even want, at this stage, to add the additional but undeniable burdens that setup costs, debt servicing costs, currency/central bank costs would add. But, for clarity, if we borrowed at say 3% these together might add another £5bn to our annual spend.
Setup £20bn Debt costs £140bn, currency/bank £10bn £170bn total.
These are definitely arguable figures, but have a look at The Common Weal’s “White Paper 1.0” to get their take on it.
It will roughly be £5bn over say 20 years to borrow this amount ignoring capital payback.
But I’m ignoring that, as it could be 2 or 6 billion, who knows yet.
So, back to the question, how to offset £15bn annually. You may not think it’s £15bn, but, like it or not, our run rate and projections show that it is, its certainly the starting point for an iScot right now.
I know I won’t get answers yet and you won’t see my suggestions here either, I would hate to have to deal with this unavoidable economic reality if I had led a successful separation from the UK, or indeed if I was planning one.
Even to match the spending deficit per head in England we would have to offset £12bn.
For the data used in this blog see the official links below;
To match the UK and ignore about £940 per head of ongoing setup costs, we would need to cut spending (or increase taxes) by £2223 per head, thats tricky, its that amount for every man woman and child in Scotland.
To help, laid out below, is the spend per head in Scotland now, split by all the spending sectors, this will allow you to make your own choices, good luck.
Steve Sayers 17/7/17 updated 9/8/17 – Please share, thanks.
PS if you think defence is the answer, if we eradicate it totally and abandon NATO we would save £625 per head. Stay in NATO? we save zero at required 2% of GDP.