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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Where is the No Campaign's vision for Scotland?

Where is the No Campaign's vision for Scotland? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
We now have sight of the long-awaited White Paper on Scotland’s Future.
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20,000 copies of White Paper gone

An extra 10,000 copies of the White Paper on independence have been ordered because of high demand.
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Now you know our vision for the future ... where is the No campaign's?

Now you know our vision for the future ... where is the No campaign's? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
THIS past week has marked a decisive moment in the debate over which path our nation should choose in next year's referendum.
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We made a mistake

We made a mistake | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

This morning we’ve been double- and triple-checking our story from last night, because we were so sure we must have missed something. Even given the low esteem in which we hold the integrity of the hapless “Better Together” campaign, we felt that they surely couldn’t have made such an idiotic and fundamental error, and that instead we that must have misinterpreted a word or a sentence somewhere along the way.


Peter A Bell's insight:

Will the mainstream media cover up yet another embarrassing blunder by Alistair Darling's Project Fear?

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The Scottish independence White Paper passed the political test

The Scottish independence White Paper passed the political test | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The whole document was designed to highlight the governance-focused nature of modern Scottish nationalism - and succeeded in doing so.
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Joan McAlpine: Who do you trust with the future of Scotland?

Joan McAlpine: Who do you trust with the future of Scotland? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
AS the anti-independence politicians try to savage the White Paper - JOAN asks us to remember the decades of cuts and inequalities that the No campaign will provide.
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Some uncertainties will remain right up to the referendum

Ideally, come next September's referendum, we voters should be in a position to see clearly what is to be anticipated in the event of both a Yes and a No vote.
Peter A Bell's insight:

In common with many others engaged in the referendum debate Jeremy Peat looks for the "added value" of independence in economic and social terms without acknowledging that independence itself represents added value relative to our present position or what, with sorely misplaced optimism. he calls, "some achievable enhancement of devolution".


The greatest barrier to progress is not, as is all too often assumed, constraints on the economy but the lack of political will. Whether the vision set out in the White Paper is affordable or not is, to some degree, open to debate. We will not get that debate from the No campaign. They will simply assert, in their customary bombastic fashion, that none of it is achievable. They will do so either without explanation or using figures such as oil revenue forecasts which are notorious for being as unreliable as they are pessimistic.


What they are in fact telling us by this is that they themselves have no vision for Scotland. That they lack any impetus to bring about change. That this is as good as it gets and we had better resign ourselves to that.


The great prize of independence is effective political will. Given that, everything else is possible. That's what I call added value.

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There was precious little to feast on in a White Paper menu serving up a la carte independence

There was precious little to feast on in a White Paper menu serving up a la carte independence | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The White Paper began with a lock-in.
Peter A Bell's insight:

I have always considered David Torrance to be one of the shallower commentators on Scottish politics. This article certainly justifies what some might have considered a rather harsh assessment.

He gets off to a bad start. The picture he paints of himself and his colleagues "sniggering" over what by any reasonable estimation must be considered a highly significant document will do nothing at all to lift journalists from the gutter of public regard where they currently languish alongside banksters, expense-fiddling Westminster MPs and purveyors of pay-day loans.

Then we get his mindless mocking of the Scottish Government's statement that it is confident independence negotiations will go smoothly. No explanation is offered as to why Mr Torrance assumes that the contrary will be the case. There is a strong implication, at the very least, that he reckons the rump UK will go into those negotiations set on being difficult and obstructionist. Perhaps this low opinion of the British state is warranted. In which case, not much further argument is required in favour of separating from it.

It's all pretty much downhill from there. I'll pick just one more example to illustrate my point about this guy's shallowness. He derides Nicola Sturgeon's observation that sterling is Scotland's currency just as much as it is the rest of the UK's by equating it with oil reserves and Trident. Oh dear! Did not Alex Salmond go to some trouble to explain the difference between territorial and non-territorial assets? The oil is Scotland's because it is located in Scotland. How difficult is that to comprehend? There is no equivalence with institutions such as the Bank of England or abstract concepts such as currency.

And what possessed Torrance to mention Trident? Did he really imagine he was scoring some kind of point against the case for independence by highlighting the fact that we are obliged not only to suffer the British state's WMD in our land, but that we are forced to pay dearly for this imposition?

Didn't really think that one through, did he? But then, there's not a lot of thinking involved here. It's just knee-jerk stuff. With all the lack of substance that this implies.

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An eloquent, forthright and unapologetic vision of this country's future that deserves plaudits

It may not have been handed down in tablets of stone, but the White Paper on Independence is of biblical length at 670 pages.
Peter A Bell's insight:

I have to take Mr Macwhirter to task on his claim that the White paper puts the cost of setting up an independent Scottish Revenue and tax service at a "risible" £16 million. What the document in fact does is provide the example of setting up the administrative systems for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax, along with the basic cost of administration for the first five years of operation, at a cost of £16.7 million, pointing out that this represents a 25% saving on HMRC's estimate for a similar task.


Nowhere is it claimed that the entire new tax system can be built for the same cost, or less, than this relatively small part of the whole. Such a claim truly would have been "risible". So ridiculous, in fact, that it is a wonder Mr Macwhirter didn't inquire more closely.


The White Paper simply points out that much of the work of setting up the tax service will already be done by the time of independence, and suggests that a level of saving similar to that previously achieved might be expected on any further costs relative to any estimate which might be provided by HMRC and quoted by Project Fear.

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The dreich day in November destined to go down in history

Alex Salmond's offer of a bright new future was met with the reality of a dreich Glasgow day yesterday.
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Joan McAlpine: Real subsidy junkies are in the south-east

Joan McAlpine: Real subsidy junkies are in the south-east | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
JOAN believes Scotland's economy can grow and become one of the strongest in the world if the plan for independence is fully backed.
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At last ... a real chance to transform childcare in Scotland

Every woman in ­Scotland should welcome the commitment to a
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From the Province of the Cat #22 - Because a fire was inside my head

From the Province of the Cat #22 - Because a fire was inside my head | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
by George Gunn When the Houses of Parliament in London burned down on 16th October 1834 it was a great event in British history which, although it has been captured in several paintings by Turner, ...
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If I were young and Scottish, I would vote yes to independence

If I were young and Scottish, I would vote yes to independence | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Oh, to be young and Scottish! I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation in putting my St Andrew’s cross next September in the “Yes” box, and I hope – for their sake – that this is what a majority of Scots decide...
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Alex Salmond’s breakaway blueprint ‘must show true costs of separation’

Alex Salmond’s breakaway blueprint ‘must show true costs of separation’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
ALEX Salmond was last night urged to come clean on the cost of independence as figures showed Scots earners would have to pay £1,000 a year more in tax to plug a £3billion budget black hole.
Peter A Bell's insight:

It's not at all clear why we should afford any credibility at all to a newspaper which persists in the inane notion that Scotland's independence movement is all about one man - even if that man is the most adept politician around at the moment. But let's gloss over that foolishness in favour of another piece of obvious idiocy. The demand that the SNP "show true costs of separation". What costs?

Allow me to expand on that just on the off-chance that there may be one or two British nationalists who can follow simple logic. Any putative "costs of separation" can only be assessed relative to the costs of the alternative - staying in the UK. Unless we know precisely what will be the costs of voting NO, we have nothing against which to compare the costs of voting Yes. It is entirely possible that the cost of voting No will be less than the cost of voting Yes. In which case, independence does not carry a cost, it delivers a saving.

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Unite response to Scottish Independence White Paper launch

Unite response to Scottish Independence White Paper launch | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Unite has consistently said throughout this process ‘let the people decide’ and, while many people are probably no nearer to deciding whether Scotland should be an independent country or not, this morning’s white paper launch is...
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Not the DVLA question. Cross-Border Governance after Independence

It used to be called the DVLA question. A vision of Scottish independence which is embedded within the British Isles, with lots of cross-border arrangements and services jointly delivered. In the White Paper published this week, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is in fact one of the institutions that would be replaced by a Scottish body after independence, but there are many more where the Scottish government wants continuity and shared service delivery.

Peter A Bell's insight:

It is rather obviously true that the Scottish Government can’t define the interests of the rest of the UK. But that does no mean that what is in the interests of the UK is totally unknowable. Those interests can quite readily be deduced with all the certainty that is required for the purposes of the White paper.

On the currency issue, for example, we know that abolition of the currency union will cause serious problems for the rUK. We know that Scotland is rUK second largest trading partner and so it would be very much in the interests of the rUK to keep business transaction costs low and cross-border trade simple.

We know too that abolishing the currency union would add circa £50 billion to rUK's trade gap. It is rather obviously in rUK's interest to avoid that.

So it is not a case of the Scottish Government defining rUK's interests but very much one of acknowledging the reality. Something the anti-independence campaign is very reluctant to do.

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Voters left wondering on future prosperity

Two feelings are currently widespread among voters in Scotland - that the consequences of independence look rather uncertain, and that, if anything, they do not look particularly good so far as their future prosperity is concerned.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!


The prospectus for an independent Scotland set out in the White paper most assuredly does not rely on the goodwill of others. On the contrary, it assumes only enlightened self-interest, economic rationality and political pragmatism on the part of those with whom Scotland will be negotiating.


Indeed, given the snarling ill-will towards Scotland evinced by British politicians like Alistair Darling and Ian Davidson, it would be foolish in the extreme to rely to any degree at all on the beneficence of the British state.


What John Curtice fails to acknowledge is that this open and increasingly venomous acrimony from British nationalists will still be there even if we vote No. But in that parlous event we will be helpless to defend ourselves against the hostility of those who would see Scotland put back in what they consider to be its proper place.

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Independent Scotland ‘will retain pound’ - Salmond

Independent Scotland ‘will retain pound’ - Salmond | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
ALEX Salmond used the publication of the independence white paper to declare that Scotland “will retain the pound” after secession, with control of interest rates and monetary policy remaining with the Bank of England.
Peter A Bell's insight:

As I read the line about how Alex Salmond "declined to offer a cast-iron guarantee that the currency sharing deal was a certainty" I didn't know whether to laugh wryly or weep in despair at such idiocy.

In The Herald today, Ian Bell sums up what I think many watching the White Paper launch event yesterday must have been struck by when he refers to,

"the Westminster press corps attempting to trip Mr Salmond up with questions that seemed, to the rest of us, like independence for beginners"

That sense of journalists and commentators being detached and distant from the realities of the referendum campaign is echoed in the line from this article quoted above. Listening to the journalists asking questions yesterday, and reading much of what is written in the press today, one gets the strong impression that these journalists and commentators simply haven't been around for the past year to eighteen months. They haven't been here to witness the referendum campaign to date. It's all new and somewhat baffling to them.

Many, perhaps most, of the hacks quizzing Salmond and Sturgeon in Glasgow yesterday appeared to seriously expect that the pair were there to inform them in precise detail about what would be the outcome of negotiations which are yet to take place. They seemed, by turns, genuinely perplexed by the fact that the First Minister and his Deputy were failing to provide cast-iron guarantees and absolute certainty, and contemptuously indignant about out-of-context snippets from the White Paper that they chose to interpret as suggesting cast-iron guarantees and certainty.

If the politicians on the platform came across as poised, confident and fully on top of their brief, the assembled press corps gave the impression of being maladroit, confused and woefully ill-informed.

There can, of course, be no guarantees or certainty about the outcome of the independence negotiations following a Yes vote in next year's referendum. Just as there can be no absolute certainty about the consequences of a No vote. The future is not written, it is being written. The constitutional debate is about who writes it.

We are not children or dumb animals. Where we do not have certainty we at least have logical deductions, rational inferences and reasonable assumptions. We can think about things analytically. And therein lies the power of the Scottish Government's independence proposals. There may be no guarantees and no certainty. But there is a winning mix of pragmatic calculation with just the right amount of imaginative aspiration.

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Independent Scotland would keep sterling, says Alex Salmond

Independent Scotland would keep sterling, says Alex Salmond | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
First minister launches blueprint for Scottish independence promising 'a new and better direction for our nation'
Peter A Bell's insight:

It was always anticipated that the first task facing independence campaigners following publication of the White Paper, Scotland's Future, would be dealing with the lies and distortions in the way the contents are presented by the mainstream media. Here we have an example.

Alex Salmond DID NOT say that "Cameron would be in breach of the Edinburgh agreement if the UK rejected a currency union". What he said was that the Edinburgh Agreement imposes a responsibility on both governments to seek to do what is in the best interests of both countries. Cameron would not, therefore, be in breach of the Edinburgh Agreement if he could make the argument that abolishing the currency union was in the interests of the rUK. And therein lies his problem.

While anti-independence campaigners are eager to threaten abolition of the currency union implying that this will do harm to Scotland, they flatly refuse to address the implications of such an action for the rest of the UK.

As was clear from many of the questions being asked at the launch of Scotland's Future, unionists continue to think of the currency issue as something with which to threaten Scotland into voting No. But the debate has moved on, leaving the MSM behind. Online and on the streets, it is now the wild assertions of the No campaign which are being questioned. It never seems to occur to professional journalists to ask why rUK would want to abolish the currency union. But it certainly occurs to those who are less constrained in their thinking.

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