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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Jim Swire: SNP's failure to order Lockerbie bombing inquiry will harm its indyref chances

THE father of a young woman killed in the Lockerbie bombing warns the SNP's hopes for the referendum will be adversely affected by Scotland's failure to address major concerns about the prosecution and the trial.
Peter A Bell's insight:

It is sad to see a person of Jim Swire's standing entertaining the obvious fallacy of equating Scotland's independence movement with the Scottish National Party.

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Third Time's a Charm...

Third Time's a Charm... | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

In 1979, 51.6% of voters chose to change the way Scotland was governed, to pull back some powers to Scotland itself. But it didn’t happen because of an amendment by George Cunningham – a Labour MP representing a constituency not even in Scotland – which required that that majority had to be above 40% of the total electorate.


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Hearts and Minds for A’ that

Hearts and Minds for A’ that | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
When Rabbie Burns wrote A mans a man for a’ that, he reflected the thoughts and feelings of the ordinary Scots of his time, but does his words still hold true for todays Scots?
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Scottish independence: Call for two ‘oil funds’

Scottish independence: Call for two ‘oil funds’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
SCOTLAND should establish two “oil funds” immediately after independence to ensure the remaining North Sea reserves provide a “lasting benefit for future generations”, a group of expert economists have found.
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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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Banks 'may move out of Scotland'

Business minister Michael Fallon has warned that banks like Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds could pull their corporate headquarters out of ­Scotland if there is a Yes vote for independence.
Peter A Bell's insight:

It makes just as much sense to say that banks like Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds could pull their corporate headquarters out of ­Scotland if there is a No vote in the independence referendum.


These inane and endlessly recycled scare stories now provoke nothing more than a yawn.

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The benefits of a unified government

The benefits of a unified government | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

During the 1980s, pressure for a Scottish Parliament stemmed largely from the view that devolution might be able to protect Scotland from the worst excesses of Thatcherism. The last fourteen years have certainly confirmed that logic, even if some of that Thatcherism was being pushed at Westminster by New Labour. The decisions taken at Holyrood by this administration and its predecessors have almost all been either better than Westminster’s equivalent decisions for England or at least no worse. That’s why the idea of abolishing the Scottish Parliament, as floated by the occasional fringe voice from the Tories or Labour, is now utterly inconceivable.

Peter A Bell's insight:

The "one parliament" point is an extension of the gradualist argument that once competed, within the SNP and elsewhere, with the absolutist position that saw devolution as an obstacle to or diversion from independence rather than a means to the end of restoring Scotland's rightful constitutional status. But it is an interesting point in its own right - not least because it is entirely pragmatic. It's just about making the system work better.

It is interesting too when examined in the context of the noises being made of late by the British parties in Scotland about continuing, or evolving, devolution. The gradualist case for accepting devolution at the end of the last century was that the devolution of one power would tend to weaken the case for reserving another. As more powers were devolved, it would become increasingly difficult to justify keeping the reducing number of remaining powers in Westminster's hands.

Who can doubt that the gradualists have been proved right.

But all of this leads us to an intriguing thought experiment which illustrates the vacuousness of the unionist portrayal of devolution as a continuous process. It inevitably begs the question, if devolution is an evolutionary process, what does it evolve into?

If devolution continues - as the British parties are desperately trying to pretend will happen in the event of a No vote - where does it go? If it is more than ineffectual, and quite possibly damaging, tinkering around the fringes of policy areas, then devolution must mean nothing less than the transfer to Holyrood of full powers in particular policy areas. Given that there are a finite number of policy areas, and a finite range of individually transferable powers within each of these policy areas, "evolving" devolution must inevitably reach a point where there is but one area in which the UK Government retains its influence over policy in Scotland. And, quite possibly, only partial power.

Surely it is at this juncture, if not much earlier, that we would be asking, "What's the point?".

If it is daft and inefficient to have powers divided between two parliaments, how much more daft and inefficient is it to have a situation where the Scottish Parliament exercises the full powers of an independent nation with but a solitary exception?

Even if there were a devo-whatever option available to voters in next year's referendum; even if there was a chance that this devo-whatever might be delivered by a UK Government; and even if that devo-whatever was the "evolving" thing that the British parties portray, it would be a nonsense that would inevitably lead to the kind of ludicrous division of powers described. Which, being clearly unsustainable, must in turn lead to full independence.

So why are unionists peddling a concept of devolution that they must surely be aware is both unworkable in practice and will lead to the very outcome that they seek to avoid - independence for Scotland? There seems to be only one possible answer.

It has been truly said that power devolved is power retained. The reality is that a devolved administration can be snuffed out like a light pretty much on the whim of the central government. The only conceivable motive for persisting with devolution as portrayed by unionists is the power it leaves in the hands of the British state to emasculate or abolish the Scottish Parliament.

One way ore another, the "two parliaments" anomaly will be resolved. The question is whether it will be resolved in favour of Holyrood or Westminster.

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What will happen to the Scottish political parties after independence?

The Scottish political scene is rather odd when compared to the political spectrum one tends to find in independent democratic countries.


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BBC’s James Naughtie attacked for ‘anti-SNP agenda’

BBC’s James Naughtie attacked for ‘anti-SNP agenda’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The former BBC Scotland broadcaster Derek Bateman has launched an online attack on one of its best known current ­affairs presenters, suggesting he is pursuing an anti-SNP agenda.
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Better Together charity complaint thrown out by watchdog

A complaint by the anti-independence campaign group Better Together against a respected Scottish charity has been thrown out by the Scottish Charities watchdog.


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Scottish Independence: Teenage vote registry opens

Scottish Independence: Teenage vote registry opens | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Teenagers who will be 16 or older when next year’s independence referendum is held can register to take part in the historic vote from today.
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I've just stopped laughing...

I’ve been unable to post for 24 hours, having been convulsed with laughter at Labour claims of pro-independence bias at the BBC. Every time I sat down to write I ended up shaking with hilarity until my sides ached. It’s only now my hands have stopped trembling long enough to hold the keyboard.


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Swinney backs call for oil fund

THE Scottish Government plans to invest "modest sums" of oil cash in a long-term national savings fund as early as 2017 if Scots vote Yes in next year's referendum.


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The news we knew

The news we knew | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

We’re not quite sure why the UK government has chosen this year, of all years, to start disaggregating tax receipts by nation, breaking down the UK’s income according to how much of it came from each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and even calculating oil revenues on a geographical basis.


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Oil fund could create 'stable revenue' for independent Scotland

Oil fund could create 'stable revenue' for independent Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
A group of experts have recommended the Scottish Government put money in to a new oil fund if we become independent.
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Davidson to stress value of Union

The rest of the UK would be worse off if Scotland voted for independence, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will tell the Tory faithful in Manchester today.

Peter A Bell's insight:

Hapless seems like such an inadequate term to describe Ruth Davidson. She just can't seem to get anything right. To whatever limited extent she is actually aware of events going on in the world outside her little bubble, she must surely be convinced that those events are conspiring against her.


How else to explain the fact that she chooses to bleat unconvincingly about some unspecified harm that might befall the imaginary country of "Britain" should Scotland choose the normality of independence on the very day that the Conservative Party's own clients in the City of London declare that Scotland's independence will have no economic impact whatever on the rest of the UK.


I suppose it makes a change from being slapped down by her boss, David Cameron.

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Independent Scotland would be invited into NATO 'immediately' | Yes Scotland

Independent Scotland would be invited into NATO 'immediately' | Yes Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

An independent Scotland would be invited immediately into NATO and the removal of the Trident nuclear arsenal from our shores would have ‘absolutely no impact’ on that decision.

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Independence: If we can, why wouldn't we?

Independence: If we can, why wouldn't we? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
David Cameron realising there is no case for the union. A significant shift has occurred in Scottish politics within the past decade.
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Tory conference highlights urgent need for Yes | Yes Scotland

Tory conference highlights urgent need for Yes | Yes Scotland | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

It wasn’t only George Osborne doing his bit yesterday to highlight how utterly essential a Yes vote is in September 2014. It is undoubtedly the Chancellor’s austerity policies that represent one of the starkest reasons for ending Westminster rule. But in areas such as climate change and human rights the contrast between the forward visions of Yes and No were also laid bare. 

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Scottish independence ‘won’t harm UK economy’

Scottish independence ‘won’t harm UK economy’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The “rUK” economy would continue to thrive even if Scotland votes for independence next year, a survey of City executives has stated.
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Home to roost

Home to roost | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

We must admit, we’re baffled by the Daily Mail’s sudden and extraordinary attack on Ralph Miliband, the long-dead father of Ed and David. If there’s any publication on Earth you’d think WOULDN’T feel on very solid ground lecturing other people on stuff they said in the 1930s and 1940s, you might imagine the Daily Mail would be it.


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Bloodless revolution

With Scotland’s vote on independence one year away, Blair McDougall finds the nationalist strategy stalled.

With Scotland’s vote on independence one year away, Blair McDougall finds the nationalist strategy stalled - See more at: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2013/09/30/bloodless-revolution/#sthash.727CXq7Q.dpuf
Peter A Bell's insight:

I'm struggling to find any part of this article that isn't distortion, downright dishonesty or evidence of a serious delusional affliction. Blair McDougall, the hapless architect of Project Fear and 0f 500 - or was it 507? - failed propaganda efforts has truly excelled himself with this litany of drivel.

The dispassionate reader might first of all wonder at the inane audacity of a senior figure in the anti-independence campaign presuming to be in a position to offer an unbiased assessment of where things stand in the referendum debate. Should they persist despite this idiocy, they will next encounter the first of many gross distortions in the claim that the referendum is happening "in spite of the level of support for independence, rather than because of it". The reality, as any moderately well-informed individual will be aware, is that the referendum is happening despite the efforts of the British parties to prevent the people of Scotland having a say on the matter of their nation's constitutional status.


That the people of Scotland wanted a referendum is not in doubt. Indeed, the British parties were themselves eventually forced to admit as much. But only after Scottish voters gave them an electoral slapping in 2011 just to remind them who they are accountable to.


McDougall goes on to make a patently ludicrous claim about more than half of SNP voters actually being opposed to independence. Without, of course, providing any evidence to back up this little gobbet of nonsense.


The same people who wondered at McDougall's foolishness in setting himself up as an unbiased commentator on the state of the referendum campaign will by this time be wondering what qualifies him to act as a spokesperson for the SNP. He spends an inordinate amount of time telling us about the attitudes and motivations of an organisation with which he has no connection and for which he harbours a seething animosity that he makes no attempt to conceal.


Does this buffoon seriously imagine anybody in their right mind would regard him as a reliable source? For anyone more in touch with the Scottish politics than Blair McDougall - which is anyone not in a coma - the stuff about Scotland's independence campaign being a one-man project only recently launched by Alex Salmond may well be a denial too far of known historical fact.


Anyone even passingly familiar with the rhetoric of the SNP and Scotland's wider civic nationalist movement will find nothing that they recognise in McDougall's representation. They will know that it is nothing to do with England or its people. They will be well aware of the fact that it is only the political union with the British state that we seek to end. They will realise that McDougall's talk of breaking away from the social union with the rest of these islands is no part of Scotland's independence project and is, rather, a figment of the man's hate-warped imagination.


The paragraph berating Alex Salmond and the independence movement for a campaign based on identity is arguably the best example of McDougall's pathological hypocrisy. It is the campaign for which he is responsible that resorts to banal, union-jack-draped jingoism. It is on the the Better Together website that you'll find the references to "patriotism" and "real Scots". It is from British nationalist mouthpieces like Johann Lamont and Anas Sarwar that you will hear opponents decried as a disease and the institutions of Scotland's democracy denigrated as "undemocratic" and a "dictatorship".


Having sampled McDougall's hypocrisy, we get a taste of his duplicity. He talks of the SNP's plans for becoming independent as if they represented the entirety of what being independent would entail. He totally ignores the wider independence campaign and the flourishing of diverse political discourse that has accompanied it to focus his bile on the hated SNP. In doing so he casually insults the thousands of people throughout Scotland who are developing truly progressive ideas for an independent Scotland such as would be unthinkable if we were to continue to be subject to the old political order that McDougall serves.


The transitional stages and early days of independence are being planned for by the Scottish Government in the same pragmatic, methodical way that they have run the administration for the last six years. They are being totally honest with the people of Scotland about what, lacking a mandate to do more, might be the limits to what they can promise as a starting point.


It is British Labour and their Tory allies who are presenting the false prospectus. It is not independence that is being watered down by the SNP. How could it be when it is not theirs to define? It is devo-whatever that is being dishonestly talked up by the British parties as the acceptable substitute for independence that it could never be even if there was the slightest hope of it actually being delivered by any UK Government in the event of a No vote which would deprive Scotland of the very leverage which has elicited the jam tomorrow promises in the first place.


The SNP offers "indy-realistic". The wider independence campaign is developing the prospectus for "indy-real". The British parties in Scotland have opted out of the debate about Scotland's future altogether. They stand only for the preservation of the British state and the old order, Despite this, they will dishonestly present themselves as offering devo-whatever tarted up to look like "indy-;lite" when all they really have to offer is the very dishonesty and duplicity we seek independence, in part at least, to escape from.


McDougall goes on in the same obnoxious vein for far longer than I am prepared to stomach. There is nothing new here. Just a dreary rehashing of old lies previously exposed and scare stories long since comprehensively debunked. He seems to think that by repetition alone he can lend substance to such vacuous garbage. Nowhere in all of this dire dirge of smears, fears and grinding negativity do we find so much as one glimmer of aspiration for Scotland. There are no ideas. No hopes. No dreams. Only rancid resentment, bitter hatred and utter despair.


If there was lingering doubt that Better Together represents the politics of fear then Blair McDougall has completely dispelled those doubts with this deplorable diatribe. Ask yourself one question! Do you really want this to be the voice that speaks for Scotland?

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Stand up for accountability

I’ve written today to the broadcasters and the Newspaper Society which includes all the main daily titles in Scotland, asking them to join together to make a combined approach to the Prime Minister urging him to take part in a televised debate with the First Minister. I enclose a copy of the letter.

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