The Tele and the People of Dundee

This week the Dundee Tele conducted a poll to ascertain the views of the people of Dundee and district on how they voted two years ago on the 18th September 2014 in the independence referendum.

The propose of the poll was to see if there had been any change of heart in voters from two years ago ,till today and the result was very satisfying ,to say the least .

More than 7,000 people took the poll and out of that 5,978 said they voted yes making the vote for Yes ,89% as against 12% who would vote No again. A truly spectacular outcome.

However being realistic I suppose there would naturally be a larger amount of people  wanting change would actually vote as against the people who have no real reason to vote because their position is the status quo, but the real significance is in the percentage of people who have decided to change their minds and who would vote yes in the event of another referendum.

The number of people who took the poll and voted no the last time was 851 , of these people there was 686 who would still vote no in another referendum, which means that there were 165 people who have changed their minds which means that there is a shift in voting intentions of just over 19% to yes .

This swing has came about through a natural shift mainly at dissatisfaction with how the Tories and Labour colluded and conspired to deprive us of our independence together with the attitude coming from Westminster in connection with things like “English votes for English laws” and the out come of the “Smith commission” on additional powers for the Scottish Parliament which in effect made us unpaid tax collectors. So in other words there has been a very definite shift in opinion towards yes without much actual input from the SNP as we still do not have any guidance on the issues we lost the last referendum on. Therefore ,one can only imagine what would happen during another campaign with all of these questions answered.

Perhaps ,in the euphoria which will no doubt follow the results of this poll , the most significant positive element of this exercise might escape some and that is the attitude of a DC Thomson news paper , The Tele , in reporting this poll in the fair way they did . Up to now DC Thomson have always been looked upon as a stridently Unionist publisher and ,goodness knows I have had my share of being on the wrong end of their reporting , on several occasions leading to an exchange of letters with the editor of the Courier in which I stated my opinion that Dundee had at one time been the City of Jute ,Jam and Journalism. We had lost the Jute and the Jam and I was of the opinion at the time, that we were about to loose the Journalism.

The Courier and the Tele lost a lot of their circulation soon after the referendum and since then have been battling to get this back. They have tried various things among which was employing Alex Salmond to do a Weekly column. I would like to think that they have now begun to listen to the ordinary people of Dundee and this latest piece on the polling they have carried out together with the fair reporting and coverage they gave to the recent attempt by the Yes Bus team to organise  an independence related rally in the city Square, a rally that was disgracefully thwarted by the SNP led Dundee Council, leads me to believe that they are now reflecting the views of the majority of Dundee folk.

I think this possible change of heart in DC Thomson’s is far more important than the actual results of the poll itself . We in the yes movement are not asking for and favours or special treatment from the press , only a level playing field to compete on ., We have the arguments and we have the moral right to pursue independence for our country. Whether it is next year or the following year we stand ready to continue on that road to independence. It will make that journey more pleasant if we have the ear of our local media outlets.

So a good article today in the Tele and as I said before ,Dundee was once the city of Jute ,Jam and Journalism we lost the Jute and the Jam but there is hope for the journalism and perhaps it is time for the Yes family to show that we hold no grudges and once again start reading our local papers .

Our road

Time for Change

I posted this exactly one year ago , please read it and see if you can place any logic to where we were then and where we are now , because as far as independence goes we are in exactly the same place .

We still have not had any guidance from the SNP as to the issues we lost the last referendum on, in fact all we have had is one carrot after another dangled in front of us and we are no further forward than we were the day after the referendum.

There has been two major events . We had the Scottish parliamentary elections at which the SNP lost 6 seats and were instrumental in facilitating a more than doubling of the Tory presence in Holyrood . This as a direct result of severe disappointment at no attempt being made to address the outstanding issues concerning a road map to independence or at the very least a commitment in the manifesto to secure the right to hold a referendum here in Scotland without going cap in hand to the Westminster government to ask permission to hold one .

The only reference to independence was a commitment that a vote to leave the EU by England  over the wishes of the Scottish people to remain ,would be the trigger for another independence referendum. Well we all now know just how genuine that commitment was ,do we ?

Then we indeed had the EU referendum which I alude to in the previous paragraph, which threw the Tory party into a state of utter confusion and showed that whereas they made great play during the independence referendum of a need for a plan B  in connection with monitory union , they did not even have a plan A for Brexit.

This together with the melt down in the labour party was the best, up to now,  and very probably the very best ever ,set of circumstances likely to present themselves in connection with a referendum for Scotland’s independence.

So what did we get? well we had a promise ( made just before the Scottish elections) of an new Summer push towards independence, which never materialised.

So now what have we got? Well ,we now have a conversation , a conversation without any answers, answers that have been needing supplied since the last independence referendum. This is quite simply not good enough and there is frustration building up at the SNP’s lack of clear strategy and drive for independence.

When was the last time anyone can remember an SNP , independence inspired rally? When was the last time anyone can remember a town hall meeting by the SNP to address the issues we lost the last referendum on ,such as the monetary situation or pensions ? Anyone remember? no neither can I, because there has not been any.

The SNP have been the beneficiaries of circumstance, circumstances brought about , not by the SNP but by the Tory party or the labour party and they have been carried along on the crest of the wave caused by these two parties.

The Common Weil   are about to release an initiative such as the SNP should have done almost two years ago in an attempt to address the issues we lost the last referendum on, I wish them well in this  and any assistance through the Dundee Yes Bus team will be willingly given. It will ,I am sure ,be a different experience from trying to organise independence related events in Dundee only to have obstacles put in the way by Dundee’s SNP led Council.

So ,to the SNP , the words of Bob Dylan come to mind.

“Your old road is rapidly aging, please get out of the new one if you cant lend a hand , for the times they are a changing”

 

Time To Get on With it

I was at the annual Business for Scotland Dinner in Glasgow on Thursday. It was a well-attended gathering of likeminded people from a broad spectrum of business owners, directors and employees, from the business community in Scotland. There was also a fair contingent from the national press and quite a few politicians.

Nicola Sturgeon was the key note speaker and she gave a very forthright and inspiring speech outlining the various issues we have had in the last two years since the independence referendum and more especially the latest disaster which was the Brexit vote, where it would appear, Scotland is to be torn from the EU, very much against its will.

 

The speech contained reference to the GERS figures and indeed made mention that the GERS figures represented the situation where Scotland remained a part of the UK as opposed to being independent, which is absolutely correct but kind of spoiled it by mentioning “Scotland’s Deficit “which the GERS figures definitely do not represent and I have not seen alternative figures which would actually show the true position assuming Scotland to be independent.

 

The speech in general was very good but what it highlighted was why we should be campaigning for another vote on independence right now, and not at some unspecified time in the future when the circumstances could, and very possibly will be completely different from the circumstances which have presented themselves like manna from heaven at the moment. There is of course every possibility that the British government will continue to add to the confusion over Brexit, as there is also every possibility that the Labour party will continue to tear itself apart, but and it is a very big but, there is also the possibility that these two parties might just get their act together and actually start acting like mature political parties.

 

The one thing that concerns me the most is that the Tories will call another referendum on exit from the EU, which would almost certainly have a different outcome from the most recent one and this would sweep the carpet right from under us as far as another referendum goes.

 

I am off the opinion that we have missed the best opportunity we are ever likely to have had presented to us than we had the day after the EU referendum. That was when a campaign for another independence referendum should have been announced and I think history will judge that as one of the worst political decisions ever.

 

We are still on the road to independence but I feel there are unnecessary diversions in place.

 

Another Carrot

Dear ,dear , I have to shake my head in wonder and frustration. We are (or at least the SNP are ) going to have a conversation. They are going to have a conversation about voting intentions . They are going to ask how you voted the last time there was an independence referendum and they are going to ask how you voted in the EU referendum .

Well I can save them the paper and the sore feet because in the independence referendum ,there were 45% of us voted Yes and there were 55% of us voted no, In the EU referendum there was 62% of us voted to stay and 38% of us voted to leave.

Now there are ,no doubt many people who have changed their minds regarding how they will vote in another independence referendum but they will have changed their mind because of events not because of any initiative that the party of independence have undertaken. Events like the way the Scottish labour party threw their lot in with the Tories during the referendum campaign and lied quite openly to the Scottish electorate , the debacle that was the debate in Westminster on Scotland’s future , there was the in introduction of English votes for English laws , there was the decision to go to war in Syria and of course there was Scotland’s forced exit from the EU.

Now you might have noticed that none of these issues were anything to do with the SNP ,apart from the fact that they were innocent bystanders at most of them. I have been racking my brain over the weekend to find a solidary initiative that the SNP have undertaken since the independence referendum to actually promote independence. Instead we have had a series of carrots dangled at opportune times in the lead up to elections, but we have not had a single rally ,a single event or parade sponsored by the SNP to promote independence. In fact my personal experience has been that here in Dundee ( the yes City ) we have had the local SNP actively engaged in trying to thwart our efforts to actually have independence related events.

There has been a distinct lack of attempts to address the issues we lost the last referendum on such as Pensions . monitory union , borders etc., etc.

So what are we getting now as the new “Independence initiative ” we are getting a conversation, a conversation without answers , because that is what it will be and I give you a possible scenario of one of these conversations.

SNP activist :- Knock knock.

Potential voter :- Hullo.

SNP :- I am from the SNP and we are interested in your opinion’s on a future independence referendum.

Voter:- Good I have been waiting two years on you calling.

SNP :- how did you vote in the independence referendum.

Voter :- I voted no.

SNP :- And why did you vote no

Voter :- Because there was confusion over pensions, monetary union , borders  and so on and so forth

SNP :- And how would you vote now

Voter :- I would vote no.

SNP :- Why

Voter :- Because there is still confusion over pensions, monetary union, borders and so on

SNP :-  Oh, I see , well thank you for having a conversation with me and I will get back to Nicola with your answers .

Voter:- No problem but seeing as you are here ,can you tell me the official position as regards to Pensions, monitory union plan B etc.

SNP :- Er , actually no , Nicola hasn’t actually told me yet .

Voter :- Well can you tell her to stop wasting peoples time by having one way conversations , bye.

This is what will happen with this conversation , the answers to which we have wasted two years in coming up with . The SNP have risen in popularity ( apart from the last scottish election) but they have achieved this ,not through any independence initiative but because they have been the beneficiaries of circumstance, and both an acute sense of disappointment that we lost the last referendum and  a willingness to see the SNP as the best conduit to independence .

The SNP must start giving people what it says on the tin and that is a road map to independence , not endless initiatives ,like the Summer initiative which was made up on the back of a fag packet when the SNP saw the response on social media ,to their disappointing manifesto for the last Scottish election, an election in which they lost 6 seats and facilitated a more than doubling of Tory seats .

Stop dangling carrots , give us a proper road map to independence and stop treating the electorate like fools.

This is OUR country and this is OUR road to independence

 

 

GERS, An unnecessary Millstone

 

Ok we are now in the silly season of the GERS figures ,presented by the Scottish government ( by order of the Westminster Government) in order to show that we are to  wee and indeed to stupid to govern an independent Scotland.

Yes believe it or not that is the sole propose of these statistics brought out once a year purportedly to show an accurate presentation of income and expenditure attributable to Scotland as it would be if we were independent.

Thing is that the initial propose  of GERS was in fact the exact opposite and this, and was in fact designed to  deceive ,rather than inform . The first GERS figures came out in 1992 and was the brain child of Scottish secretary ,Ian Lang ( now residing in the House of Lords ). In a memo leaked at the time he said this “I judge that it is just what is needed at present in our campaign to maintain the initiative and undermine the other parties. This initiative could score against all of them”  

So lets have a look these latest figures , which of course are a year old and many of these figures are of unreliable source as some of them are compiled from block figures from which there seems to be no proper accounting, and for the split ,a population share is used. It might be a coincidence but the population share statistics seem to be from areas such as tourism  where a higher than 8.3% ( population share ) would be expected.

There is only one reliable aspect of GERS figures and that is to show what Scotland’s finances are like as part of the UK. There is no reliable way of using them to reflect what Scotland’s finances would be , as an independent country, therefore to put it simply the GERS figures show quite clearly that ,in every way, Scotland has to do better as an independent country than be a part of a union that is so inefficient that only  by being part of it could lead to a deficit situation almost every year.

There are two sets of figures ,income and expenditure. The income consists of taxes and revenue , payable in Scotland and  collected by and on behalf of Scotland ,mainly by the inland revenue service of the UK.

Expenditure is split into two sections , the first section is expenditure carried out  in Scotland by the Scottish government and the other section is expenditure carried out and apportioned to Scotland by Westminster and this is where the problem lies ,because Westminster would like you to believe that this expenditure would be carried out in Scotland regardless of whether is was independent or not and therein lies the deception, because it patently wouldn’t.

It would take far to long to go into all the ins and outs of the expenditure con, but to bring a few of the more glaring deceptions and save you falling asleep in the process of reading it here are a few things to chew on .

We presently pay the UK three billion pounds for the armed forces . Now two points here . Firstly it is expected that if we decide to have a full blown Army ,Navy and Air force, we could do it for two billion pounds , We also might decide not to have armed forces at all , in which case there would be no expenditure on this item. However  the thing about our present contribution is that very little is actually spent in Scotland as there is a small proportion of our armed forces based in Scotland and so most of this money is spent in England and of course in other places pursuing wars that not many people in Scotland supported. In an independent Scotland the two billion pounds spent on a defence force ,would in the main be spent within Scotland . So in other words an independent Scotland would ,compared to these figures be the beneficiary of almost 3.5 Billion pounds more than at present in connection with the armed forces

A considerable amount of money spent on our behalf is spent on the upkeep of the Westminster parliament and of course the house of lords and apart  from our MP’s salaries none of this is spent in Scotland.

There are projects  which are deemed to be of advantage to Scotland, such as the proposed extension to Heathrow , London cross rail, the greater London sewer extension , the electric rail which will leave London and terminate at Leeds and of course, a few years ago  the Olympic games, which are also proportionally charged on a population basis (8.3%) to Scotland

We also of course pay our share of the huge foreign services budget together with the infrastructure and buildings both in London and all over the World which we would not need as we would enter into embassy sharing arrangements with other countries as do many small countries.

 

Then ,of course there is the national debt, which more accurately should be called the UK debt, because that is what it is, and an independent Scotland would have no legal responsibility for any of it as it was built up by successive incompetent governments ,both Tory and Labour and there is absolutely no reason why we should pay a penny of this. Ireland did not pay any  of this debt when they became independent in the early thirties so why should Scotland ? . Would you expect your kids to take on part of your mortgage when they leave home to start a new life ? Scotland also pays £2.7 Billion in UK debt interest each year

Ok so what about the actual figures and this fictitious “black Hole ”

Current revenues in Scotland                                £53.443 Billion

Current expenditure within Scotland                 £40.363 Billion

Credit Balance                                                             £13.080 Billion

Then comes the dodgy bit

Amounts charged to Scotland

by Westminster for items mentioned above

most of which we would not need in an

independent Scotland                                                   £28.014 Billion

This is where this fictitious black hole appears

And this leaves a theoretical deficit of                   14.934 Billion

which can only happen if Scotland remains part of the UK, in fact this is exactly WHY Scotland remains part of the UK.

Now the Scottish government must know this , so my question is this , why do they continually fudge the truth about this fictitious deficit ? I have heard Nicola Sturgeon actually say in relation to the GERS figures that “many small countries have deficits and an independent Scotland would manage a deficit quite well ”

Now an independent Scotland , in all probability would not have a budgetary deficit ( a deficit is different from debt) or at least a very small and manageable one , but one thing is certain and that is that it would bear absolutely no relation to the one that the UK government would lead you to believe and the Scottish government for some strange reason seem to blithely accept.

The GERS figures are certainly an unnecessary millstone that the SNP willingly seem to cary around their neck , why?