Referendum 2014
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Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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Stiglitz enlightened challenge to Scottish Education

Stiglitz enlightened challenge to Scottish Education | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
An exciting prospect is laid out... Scotland's imminent potential through education...
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Gordon Brown: Scots want ‘UK-wide school system’

Gordon Brown: Scots want ‘UK-wide school system’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown has appeared to question the devolution of education in extracts of a speech on independence.
Peter A Bell's insight:

What's going on with Gordon?

For those of us who like to subject the comings and goings of the referendum to the kind of analysis that the British media studiously avoids, Gordon Brown represents something of a problem. There is always this nagging feeling that there must surely be something more to his utterances than is immediately apparent. One is always left groping for the sub-text and puzzling over his motives.

Perhaps we shouldn't bother. Maybe we should just take it at face value. Maybe there is no deeper meaning,

After straying out of radar range of the British nationalist line by saying that David Cameron should go head-to-head with Alex Salmond, Brown now appears to be suggesting that powers over education in Scotland should be handed over to Westminster. Why would anyone say that? It is a notion so outlandish; so contrary to Scotland's mood; so downright weird, that we naturally assume he must know something we don't know. Or that there is some subtle nuance here that escapes us. Or that he has some profound Machiavellian purpose in mind.

It may be none of these. Brown may actually be just as daft as he sounds.

Gordon Brown's PR people have put a huge effort into rehabilitating their man. They have worked hard to transform his public image from a dull, boorish, humourless failure who hasn't had an original thought since he completed toilet training into a wise, erudite, eloquent, elder statesman bestriding global politics like a haloed colossus. The spin-alchemists' remit was to take the worthless base metal of Gordon Brown and transmute it into something akin to the gold of a Tony Blair.

Credit where it's due, they've achieved wonders - largely thanks to a curiously compliant British media that seemed more than willing to collude in a bit of dubious myth-building. Brown ain't no golden colossus, that's for sure, but they've managed to shoe-horn him into a niche on the highly lucrative international speaking circuit. He still has all the charisma of landfill - but he gets money and, more importantly, attention.

It's just hard to understand why.

Doubtless those PR people would spin the elusiveness of Brown's character, personality, skills, abilities and personal qualities so as to portray him as some kind of enigma. I'm increasingly convinced that he is, in fact, a cipher. That he is every bit as shallow and vacuous as he appears.

What's going on with Gordon? Apart from some inept self-aggrandisement and pathetic attention-seeking, not much. Not much at all.

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Scottish independence: Professors back No vote

Scottish independence: Professors back No vote | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Scientific research in Scotland will be best served by staying in the UK, a group of the nation’s leading professors has warned.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Haven't we been through all of this before? Hasn't this nonsense been debunked repeatedly?

One would think that these illustrious academics might make a better job of formulating an argument. One would expect that they would be familiar with the concept in logic of necessary and sufficient conditions. It is not enough to simply assert that political union is a necessary condition for shared research funding, this must be proved. It takes only one exception to disprove the assertion. And, as is pointed out every time this particular scare story gets its turn on the Project Fear cycle, there are numerous examples of international cooperation in research funding.

The plain fact of the matter is that the disproportionate share of research funding coming to institutions in Scotland is not a function of political union but of the stronger research and education base in Scotland relative to the rest of the UK. Research funding is won on merit. It does not flow from the beneficence of the British state.

Scotland's advantage stems from having an education system which is, and always has been, independent and therefore able to develop according to needs and priorities determined in Scotland free of the influence of a UK Government which under-invests in higher education.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report ‘Education at a Glance 2012‘ tells us that the UK invests less in higher education than medium sized independent countries such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Thus it can be seen that it is independence, and not political union, which is the necessary condition for Scotland's success in winning research funding.

Better Together's tame academics are careful not to be too explicit. They will say only that independence "might jeopardise" research funding. Perhaps this caution is prompted by knowledge of what the Research Council says on the matter,

“Through the RCUK International Strategy, we outline the ways in which RCUK helps the best researchers work together, wherever they are in the world. We recognise that research is critical to solving grand challenges, and that increasingly the solutions will require work across boundaries, crossing disciplines, and borders between nations.”

As part of the research community these people must also be aware of the EU Horizon project, which aims to expand research cooperation at an EU level.

So what prompts these academics to promulgate such flimsy scare stories? Perhaps that would be an interesting area for research - conducted in Scotland, of course.

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Professor Murray Pittock from University of Glasgow | Yes Scotland

Professor Murray Pittock from University of Glasgow said he is voting Yes because a No vote would put increasing pressure on the Scottish Government to make the Scottish education system more like that of England. Scotland does not want such a change.

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Agenda: Scotland's reputation for scientific excellence is based on more than links to UK

Tory David Willetts yesterday made one of those flying visits to Scotland so in vogue currently with Westminster ministers to tell us why independence will undermine Scotland's reputation for scientific excellence.
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Logic's Rock: Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Aff The Outrage Bus

Logic's Rock: Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Aff The Outrage Bus | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

I've posted about manufactured outrage before, but yesterday's Daily Express really takes the biscuit with Scottish pupils taught to sing for separation. The cause of this trip aboard the double decker of outrage buses? The Quango Education Scotland has put a teaching resource on its website called Scotland's Songs.

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Knowing your place

Knowing your place | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
When I was a child I was taught of a long-ago battle. It was a monumental battle, an invading army and a defending one, swords and shields, bows and arrows. The attackers were somehow both bad men ...
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Scottish independence may solve education imparity

Scottish independence may solve education imparity | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

SCOTLAND may be better able to tackle the inequalities in its education system with independence, according to economists at the London School of Economics.

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SNP condemn UK gov state school privatisation plan | Scottish National Party

SNP condemn UK gov state school privatisation plan | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Westminster education secretary Michael Gove's plans to make academies and free schools profit-orientated using hedge funds and venture capitalists has been highlighted as an example of the difference in approach to education by the Scottish and UK governments.

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Brian Monteith: SNP promises smack of bribery

Brian Monteith: SNP promises smack of bribery | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
LAST week, Nicola Sturgeon made a speech where she said that through a new constitution she would end child poverty in an independent Scotland.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Brian Monteith displays a remarkable and truly depressing paucity of aspiration. And no imagination whatsoever. He acknowledges the role of a constitution in establishing and defining the "institutions and processes" of a democratic nation. But he then ignores or denies the role of these institutions and processes in providing basics such as education and addressing the societal imbalances that are a "feature" of the capitalist economic system.

He treats commitments to providing education and to ending child poverty as if they are promises made in isolation - abstracted from the apparatus and infrastructure of the state. But that is not the case. Indeed, it is so obviously not the case that Monteith must resort to presuming to speak for Nicola Sturgeon in order to give his arguments a molecule-thin veneer of credibility.

Will Brian Monteith remember that it was he, and not Sturgeon, who spoke of using statistical sleight of hand to "banish" child poverty? Will other British nationalists recognise this straw man? Will they be honest enough to acknowledge it if they do?

The fact is that there is no reason whatever that a constitution shouldn't guarantee education. It is, after all, no more than an institution, or set of institutions, charged with delivering a process.

Likewise, there is no necessary impediment to actually ending child poverty. It is simply an aspect of the state's redistributive function.

The common factor here is choice. Governments choose to impose limits or restrictions on access to education. Likewise, child poverty is a consequence of the choices made by successive governments. It is perfectly possible to make different choices. All that is required is the political will.

The first step is to actually want change. To aspire to something better. Nicola Sturgeon has done no more than voice this aspiration. The knee-jerk negative response from the British establishment, which Brian Monteith exemplifies, is reason enough to believe that the British state is incapable of even considering different choices.

The British state will not deliver the better nation and society that the people of Scotland want. Only independence will allow us to choose better for our children.

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Jim Arnott's curator insight, March 11, 2013 4:56 AM

I like this comment in the comments on the article:

 

Don't know about the rest of you but when I see these absurdly bias headlines I just go straight to the comments. If the comments show the article to be interesting or balanced only then do I read it. Life's too short....


Maybe I should have taken this sage advice before I read this article - but then I would not have known just how absurd Brian Momteith is.

Charles Patrick O'Brien's comment, March 11, 2013 6:31 AM
Excellent comment and I can only concur with Peter Bell.
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GCSE exam farce shows folly of interference | Scottish National Party

GCSE exam farce shows folly of interference | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

The increasingly chaotic handling of changes to GCSE grade changes south of the border is the latest demonstration of the contrast between decisions made by Westminster and Holyrood.

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Scots students pay the price for Salmond's grandstanding - Telegraph

Teenagers north of the Border are paying a heavy price for the First Minister's insistence on providing 'free' university education...
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Peter A Bell's comment, August 15, 2012 6:04 PM
Why would I have any respect for some British nationalist fanatic who would happily sacrifice the young, the poor and the sick on an altar devoted to free market capitalism and his beloved British state.
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Jennifer Dempsie: Problem of achievement solved by autonomy - News - Scotsman.com

Jennifer Dempsie: Problem of achievement solved by autonomy - News - Scotsman.com | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
THERE is growing evidence to support the claim that educational standards improve under independent governance, writes Jennifer Dempsie...
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Dismantling Scottish Education

Dismantling Scottish Education | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Gordon Brown has entered the referendum campaign with the subtlety and strategic wit of a wrecking ball. As the No campaign pose for a photo-opp in front of a building known as 'Edinb...

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Gordon Brown calls for end to Scotland's distinct education system

Gordon Brown calls for end to Scotland's distinct education system | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Gordon Brown has come under fire today after calling for Scotland's education to be brought under UK control.

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No camp 'complete fiction' on education criticised | Scottish National Party

No camp 'complete fiction' on education criticised | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Another Project Fear scare story has fallen apart after a senior academic described the No camp’s claims on higher education as based on “hyperbole and complete fiction”.

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The Madness of Lady Morgan

The Madness of Lady Morgan | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
By Mike Small The popular refrain is that the constitutional debate is a 'distraction' from 'bread and butter issues'. The latter phrase may prove unfortunate with the Independent reporting that hu...
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UK Universities Minister needs to do his homework

UK Universities Minister needs to do his homework | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
When David Cameron refused to accept the responsibility of debating Scotland’s future, he claimed independence was a decision for people in Scotland. Yet a clear pattern has emerged.
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Scotland's got talent. It needs political power.

Scotland's got talent. It needs political power. | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Recent analysis of Higher Education demonstrated the extent of Scotland's academic strength. There are five Scottish universities within the world's top 200. This is more per head of population than any other nation in the world.
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Teaching Gaelic in schools ‘a waste of resources’

Teaching Gaelic in schools ‘a waste of resources’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
CHILDREN would progress further in the world by learning Mandarin or German rather than “wasting” money on Gaelic, a Highland politician has claimed.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Jim Crawford exhibits that troubling paranoia, rife among unionists, which sees a nationalist conspiracy in everything from education policy to funny-shaped clouds.


He strikes me as being a very shallow individual. An impression that was reinforced by his silly tantrum over the First Minister of Scotland holding aloft a Scottish flag in celebration of a notable sporting victory by a Scottish tennis player. Would this bladder have protested the waving of a union flag? One very much doubts it. We are left to wonder what sort of person it is who sees his own country's flag as a symbol of political conspiracy.


Similarly with the teaching of Gaelic. That it is one of the native languages of Scotland means nothing to Mr Crawford. It is of not the slightest consequence to him that Gaelic is a deeply-rooted part of Scotland's culture. To this fervent British nationalist, if it is Scottish then it is worthless, an embarrassment and nothing more than a device by which to promote the cause of restoring Scotland's rightful constitutional status.


Note this attitude well. It is all too common among unionists. An attitude which holds that all things identifiable with Scotland are symbols of the civic nationalist movement and, as such, must be denigrated. It is not nationalists who claim all things Scottish as tokens of their cause. It is unionists like Crawford who identify all things Scottish as tokens of nationalism and a threat to the British state.


It is an attitude which is distasteful at the best of times. But it is an attitude which must be anathema to all decent people when it informs efforts to introduce politically-motivated restrictions on children's education.

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Hugh Reilly: Neet response to fear of independence

Hugh Reilly: Neet response to fear of independence | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
AS WILLIAM Wallace braced himself on the butcher’s block waiting to be diced and his head placed in pole position at London Bridge, it probably occurred to the arch-separatist that he hadn’t properly thought the unionist argument through.
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Vincent McDee's comment, July 2, 2013 11:12 AM
"Away from the puerile, scaremongering, screeching from the foaming mouth of Scotland’s very own Cassandra..." Wow!
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Tory - Labour alliance as Tories threaten schools | Scottish National Party

Tory - Labour alliance as Tories threaten schools | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

Commenting on Ruth Davidson’s conference speech and Alistair Darling’s appearance at Conservative Conference, SNP Convener Derek MacKay MSP said:

“This Tory conference has shown up the splits in the Tory party and the similarities between Labour and the Tories."

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School referendum classes

The school curriculum should include classes on the forthcoming independence referendum, according to election officials.
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Record EU students to get 'free' Scottish degree - Telegraph

Record EU students to get 'free' Scottish degree - Telegraph | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The number of university places available for Scottish students is being squeezed by record levels of youngsters from other EU countries taking advantage of the SNP’s offer of a taxpayer-funded degree, it has emerged.
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Forced teacher moves ruled out

Forced teacher moves ruled out | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The Scottish government says it has ruled out forcing the country's best teachers to work in struggling schools, but it will encourage them to spend time in different schools.
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