Scotland’s Day of Destiny – 18 September 2014

Scotland’s Day of Destiny – 18 September 2014

 

At long last we have the date of the Referendum, when  the people of Scotland  will be asked if we want Independence.

We were asked in 1979 if we wanted an Assembly, and we voted “Yes”, but the iniquitous 40% rule, never used in any Referendum anywhere in the world, meant that the votes of even those who were dead counted as “No”; despite a “promise” of something better, the Tory Government scrapped the whole issue, a procedure they will slavishly follow if Scotland does not vote “Yes”.

We were asked in 1997 if we wanted a Scottish Parliament, and one with financial powers, and the answer to both questions was “Yes”.  We were not asked if we wanted Independence, so the Unionists said that the devolved Scottish Parliament was “the settled will of the Scottish people”.  It is not.

Our ancestors were not asked if they wanted the Union of the Parliaments in 1707, but the unelected Scottish Parliament gave way to bribery and threats of invasion.  There were riots in the streets and the Articles of Union were publicly burned at the Market Cross in Dumfries – all to no avail.  As the English Parliamentarians put it “We have catch’d Scotland and we will bind her fast.”

The next year and a half will see the continuation of sustained attacks from the Unionist Parties in Westminster, the unelected Lords, and their henchmen and women in Scotland.

All you need to do is vote “Yes”  on the day.

 

What’s in a medal?

We are all used to seeing on television pictures of individuals getting medals pinned on them, by the Queen usually, sometimes for sporting achievements, sometimes for charity work and sometimes to our troops for heroism; we also see some Royal personage with a chestful of medals stretching to under the oxter, and we wonder why this can be so, and what they had done to get these prestigious awards?

I have a confession to make – I have a medal.  Well you might ask , what wonderful feat did I perform to be awarded this medal?  The answer to that is “Not much”.  I did my National Service with the Black Watch and served in Kenya during the Mau Mau troubles, and not only did I get a medal but every Serviceman in Kenya got the same medal.  At that time you had to serve two years with the Colours, and three and a half years in the Reserve, ie the Territorial Army.  This was cut to one year when it was my turn, so I was in the TA from March 1955 to March 1956;  there was only one occasion when I wore the medal.  The Queen Mother visited Dundee and we had to parade in full uniform outside Tay Bridge Station.  What I do remember is that was also the only time I wore a horsehair sporran, and that as the troops marched off the RAF contingent managed to get out of step – and to a pipe band an a’!

The medal was not presented to us, but sent through the post, I think, and on looking at it today two things registered;  first it is Elizabeth II, and secondly it bears the initials “FD”.  “FD” stands for Fidei Defensor, a title given to Henry VIII of England by the Pope in recognition of his upholding the Roman Catholic faith.  As it is against the law for the monarch to be a Catholic or marry a Catholic, it is a mark of Royal arrogance that they continue to use this title.  Two lies in one medal.

Now to my point, illustrated by the above;  at the commencement of the Arctic convoys, 1941, I was 6 years old;  these convoys were vital to get food supplies and arms and ammunition to Russia during World War II.    More than 3000 people were killed on these convoys, and the weather conditions and sustained attacks on the convoys were absolutely dreadful.  Heavy losses were sustained of men, materiel and ships but the convoys continued until, I would think, VE Day in 1945.

 

We have now seen on television this very week veterans of these convoys finally being awarded medals for their efforts; there are very few of them left, and the medals were presented to them by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and not by Her Maj.

I find it astounding and hypocritical that these men had to actually campaign for more than 70 years for an award that should have been automatic, and that when the Westminster Government finally gave in, the Prime Minister did the apologies and the Queen, who was alive at the time of the convoys, did not publicly acknowledge the sacrifices ignored by successive Governments for over 70 years.

 

McCluskey Report

What a hullabaloo about the report by Lord McCluskey; as you will see when you get to the Synopsis, the reaction to the report was as if it had been signed sealed and delivered, but in effect it was the outcome of a three month investigation as to how the Leveson Report and recommendations would impact on the situation in Scotland, where Scots Law prevails.

The reaction from the Press, whose excesses and scandals led to the setting up of the Leveson Report, was suitably shameful;  the Scottish press is implacably opposed to the democratically elected Government  and downplays any good news, such as their collusion with the opposition (not worthy of a capital “O”) in mocking GERS, the very real good news of a further oil boom, and  hailing a year old paper by John Swinney as news hot of the press.  With regard to that particular issue, I make no apology for repeating my comment from last week when Simon Pia, a former Labour Special Adviser, said the Press would jump all over any secret report;  when the Westminster Cabinet papers from 30 years ago showed how Westminster had hidden the value of Scotland’s Oil and attempted to change boundaries in the North Sea, and ended up making a new zone to hide the value of the oil, these “secret” papers were virtually ignored or glossed over by our Meejah, as they were old hat and so what.  They seemed oblivious to the fact that the rip off is ongoing, and they will similarly obfuscate the current boom.  Free impartial press?  Not in my name.

 

 

In response to a request to put more items from the Scots Independent on the site, it was decided to put the Editorials on the month after publication.

This is the editorial from the February Scots Independent.

 

The three stooges

For the past few years my wife and I have gone on holiday to Tenerife in the first two weeks of January; no great excitement, just walking in the sunshine, and reading books.  This year I realised an added bonus – two full weeks without having to look at a Glasgow Herald headline!  What bliss.  As the late Oliver Brown put it; “All a man needs in life is a good cause and the enmity of the Glasgow Herald, and he can be sure if he has the first, the second will automatically follow.”

Anyway, back and at First Minister’s Question, to the depressingly familiar character assassination attempts by the Unionists. Initially  I thought of them as the three Stooges, Curly, Larry and Mo, but vicious and not a lot of laughs; this is when I despair for democratic, principled opposition.  Their idea of “holding the Government to account” is just insults and innuendo, and “who can trust these people .”  Maybe it should be the three jackals trying to bring down the Lion Rampant; I console myself with the fact that they are frightened, and positivity is not a word in their lexicon.  I saw a BBC clip saying something about a big rumpus, but I did not notice, there was nothing unusual.  The clip did not say Alex Salmond wiped the floor with them, which he did, politely.  The target is now Nicola Sturgeon, and the NHS and they are using spurious statistics, allegedly supplied by the BBC.  They have selective amnesia, conveniently ignoring the obscene sums   being paid to PFI in contracts proudly signed off by all of their parties.

Wee, earnest, concerned Willie, leader of the Liberal rump, tried to ask Alex Salmond if he would campaign for federalism!  This was bizarre, since no one knows what the Liberals want, probably because they haven’t been told, and Alex gently pointed out that Willie and Co had ruled out devo min, devo max, devo plus, and that the Better Together had all sorts of views.  Let’s be charitable, what the Better Together means is “We hate the SNP” – they are not for anything – just agin.

I am not at all surprised at the findings of the Scottish Social Survey showing most people want more powers for the Scottish Parliament, but shy away from independence;  the positive case for independence is not covered by the media, but we get negativity all the time.  The BBC is the “British” Broadcasting Corporation, so no surprise there.  The paper press has been in bed with the other parties for so long that they cannot change.  Having said that the social media is doing a great job;  I was sent an article from the Guardian by Kevin MacKenna, an avowed Unionist.   He was scathing in his comments on politics in the UK, and as the sub heading in Jimmy Halliday’s column on Page 6 says, he is now beginning to ask: “Why ever not?

On Pages 6 and  7 we have tributes to Jimmy; he was my role model, and a man I admired and looked up to ever since I met him more than 40 years ago. I   cannot recall ever having an argument with him but many discussions, always amiable.  With all the furore going on about Europe just now I recall how he persuaded  me, in passing,  to change my mind.  In 1978 I put a resolution to the SNP Conference saying the SNP should oppose membership of the European Economic Community, as it was then.. My line was ( and it is being echoed around England just now)  “What is the benefit of gaining independence from one foreign capital, only to hand it away to an even more remote foreign capital?”  Jimmy replied “We would have exactly the same level of independence as every other country in the Community.” I hadn’t thought of it that way at all.  This was in a conversation some time after I lost the EEC vote!

Passing thought – in the 1975 Referendum in whether we should remain in the EEC, I  spoke at meetings putting my point across.  At one meeting the For speaker said “In the EEC they get longer holidays with better weather!”  What a gift!  You will not be surprised to know that he was a Liberal.

Anyway, the whole EU situation is in a very messy political melting pot, but the issue is being driven by English right wing Tories, in the ascendant.  Think on, my friends, think on.  We now know that Westminster, bankrupt and having squandered untold billions of oil money, is going to tell all the others where they are going wrong.  The Empire tendency strikes back.

 

Written Parliamentary Questions

Every working day, the Scottish Parliament issues the answers to the written questions.  These are becoming more voluminous, and as the purpose is “To hold the Scottish Government to account”, you might like to speculate on how valid they are; a selection follows:

 

12 March 2013

Index Heading: Health and Social Care

Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government for what reason it has not yet published the responses to its consultation on Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015 and when it will do so.

(S4W-13537)

Mr Michael Matheson MSP:

The consultation responses were made available publicly for anyone wishing to view them shortly after the consultation ended on 31 January 2012.

Arrangements can be made to view the responses by contacting the Scottish Government Library at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh on 0131 244 4556 or by emailing SELibrary@scotland.gsi.gov.uk to make an appointment.

12 March 2013

Index Heading: Strategy and External Affairs

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether it (a) sought and (b) received agreement from the Secretary of State for Scotland for his letter to the Deputy First Minister of 15 January 2013 to be published on its referendum blog.

(S4W-13263)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland was informed that the Scottish Government intended to publish the letter before it was released. The substance of the Secretary of State’s response had been made available to the media the day before the Government received his letter, and did not accurately represent the Scottish Government’s proposals for preparatory discussions, as my earlier blog post of 0010 and that of 1806 on 15 January explained.

 

Editor’s note “Tsk, tsk!”

1 March 2013

Index Heading: Enterprise & Environment

Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government when Scottish Water’s customer forum will be established.

(S4W-13349)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

The Customer Forum was established in Autumn 2011 with the task of bringing the customers voice to the table in determining future service levels, investment priorities, and how much customers should pay for water and waste water services.

13 March 2013 (Holding Reply Issued 11 March 2013)

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government what information it has on how many people do not have bank accounts.

(S4W-12966)

Mr Fergus Ewing MSP:

This information is published in the Family Resources Survey report 2010-11, Table 4.1 (page 64) and can be accessed via the following link:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/frs/2010_11/frs_2010_11_report.pdf.

 

13 March 2013 (Holding Reply Issued 11 March 2013)

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government what information it has on the take-up of basic bank accounts.

(S4W-12967)

Mr Fergus Ewing MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-12966 on 13 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

21 February 2013

Index Heading: Transport Scotland

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government what the average single bus fare is and how this compares with 2006-07.

(S4W-12994)

Mr Keith Brown MSP :

A fares growth table is included in Bus and Coach statistics and Scottish Transport Statistics :

http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/strategy-and-research/publications-and-consultations/j251205-044.htm

25 February 2013

Index Heading: Strategy and External Affairs

Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government for what reason it provided copies of Scotland’s Future: from the Referendum to Independence and a Written Constitution to The Sun and BBC Scotland before providing it to the Parliament.

(S4W-12993)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

The Presiding Officer and the Referendum Bill Committee were provided with a copy of the report on its publication.

 

Editor’s note:  The committee consists of Bruce Crawford SNP, Convenor, James Kelly Labour, Vice Convenor, Annabel Goldie, Tory, Annabelle Ewing SNP, Linda Fabiani SNP, Patricia Ferguson Labour, Patrick Harvie Green, Rob Gibson SNP, Stewart Maxwell SNP, Stuart MacMillan SNP, and Tavish Scott  Liberal.

We can be sure that the Presiding Officer did not leak it.

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government how many economic experts it is consulting on how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland.

(S4W-13580)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

The Fiscal Commission Working Group have already considered pensions as part of their detailed report on a macroeconomic framework for an independent Scotland, published last month, which shows that demographic changes in Scotland are projected to be similar to those in the UK as a whole.

Detailed analysis shows that state pensions in an independent Scotland will be more affordable than they are in the UK. The official figures on spending for the last year show that only 38% of Scottish tax revenues were spent on social protection, which includes the state pension, compared with 42% for the UK as a whole.

Officials and independent advisers are assessing the operation of the state pension system in an independent Scotland and a report will be published in due course.

 

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government which members of the Council of Economic Advisors it has asked to consider how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland.

(S4W-13581)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-13580 on 18 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

 

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government what the terms of reference are of the expert group considering how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland.

(S4W-13582)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-13580 on 18 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

 

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will publish the letters of appointment of the expert group considering how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland.

(S4W-13583)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-13580 on 18 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

 

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government on what dates the expert group considering how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland has met (a) ministers and (b) officials, and what future meetings are planned.

(S4W-13584)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-13580 on 18 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

 

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will publish the (a) findings and (b) recommendations of the expert group considering how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland.

(S4W-13586)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-13580 on 18 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

18 March 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether its website will have links to the work of the expert group considering how much it would cost to provide state pensions in an independent Scotland.

(S4W-13587)

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP:

I refer the member to the answer to question S4W-13580 on 18 March 2013. All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx.

 

Mr Rennie was given a comprehensive answer to his first question;  he obviously did not understand it, or chose wilfully to ignore it, and asked a further 6 which had already been covered.  He was telt 7 times in all.

 

That was a very small selection over a few weeks; as it is estimated that each question cost the taxpayer approximately £100, you can assess whether the taxpayers are getting value for money, or are even aware of what their representatives are asking, and why. Or you can wonder  whether some MSPs are too lazy to do even basic research.