Why I am voting no.

I don’t want to put my name to this, not because I am ashamed of my views but because I think it is better that there is no face, no name, no way to identify me. I want you to take my views at face value and not judge based on my looks, my name or how comfortably off you judge me to be. I won’t even tell you my gender.

I am a No voter. 

I do not believe the UK is perfect. I believe there is massive room for improvement. I believe that as a group of nations, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can do better and should do better. And I believe that some of our politicians could represent us more effectively. 

I have voted in every election and referendum in which I have been eligible to vote since I turned 18 and I am interested in politics even to the extent of joining a political party. But even then I don’t agree with all their policies, in the same way I agree and disagree with a number of policies in the other parties too. I say this because I know people are already yelling “Tory” at their screen, even if it is only internally. 

I have been told countless times in this referendum campaign that Scotland can’t effect change in the UK and that we are too wee to do it. And I call bullshit on that suggestion. Of course we can change things. We already have. In 1992 there was a Day for Democracy held in Edinburgh. Hundreds of thousands of Scots joined a march and rally and there was a concert in the Royal mile at night, even though it was December (damn, but we’re a hardy bunch). We were campaigning for a Scottish parliament. And yes, it did take another 7 years, but we got there. When Nelson Mandela was languishing in jail, no one thought that he would one day be the first black president of South Africa, but he did. And black people didn’t even have a vote at that point. Scots have votes in 4 levels of Government and yet some claim we have no voice. 

So here is a challenge. Is your MP or MSP not representing you well enough? Then write to them.Go and see them. Stand against them if you have to. Campaign for the other bloke/wumman. Take a weeks holiday during the next election and head for a marginal constituency in England and shove leaflets through letter boxes and canvass. If you don’t want a Tory government, do something about it? (I only say the Tories because that seems to be one of the main gripes of the SNP).

Do you not like nuclear weapons? Me neither. But sailing them 400 miles down the coast will not make me or you or our kids safer. If those babies do go off, it’s goodnight Vienna (probably literally). I want those things gone. But I also want Putin’s ones gone. And Obama’s ones gone, And Israel’s. And the rest. You get my drift. To be in the argument, you need to be in the room. Yelling at people from outwith the room will have no effect. Stay in the union and campaign for disarmament. Join CND. 

I believe in federalism because I believe in devolving power to the lowest level of government possible. Independence is a step away from from federalism not a step towards it.

So why am I a federalist? Because when all is said and done, in some things we are better together. Look around the world. Look at Iraq, Ukraine, Palestine, Syria, North Korea. The UK has an amazing diplomatic corps and an amazing armed forces.They work hard and they put their lives on the line for our safety. And now the entire nation is praying that the diplomatic corps and or the armed forces can manage to pull through for the ongoing hostage situation.

I keep being told no more illegal wars if we go indy. Was the war in Iraq legal? Well frankly, as far as I’m concerned the jury is out. Is it worth breaking up the UK over? No. Governments get things wrong–spectacularly wrong at times. Look at the stuff that happened last century alone. Did Bavaria demand independence from the rest of West Germany because of what Hitler did? No. The country pulled together, accepted the blame for what happened and got on with it. Unified, Germany is the greatest force in the EU. It also has to be remembered that Scots did vote for Labour before the Iraq war. We actually can’t blame England entirely for that one.

Do you not like the House of Lords? Excellent. Me neither. That said, I have some respect for some of the Lords. If you were or are disabled, who do you want making and approving laws with regards to rights for people with disabilities? Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, retired wheelchair athlete, olympic gold medalist and person who knows how it feels to start going up for your BBC Sports Personality of the Year award only to find that not one person thought that maybe as a wheelchair user you might just need a ramp to get up on stage.? Or perhaps you’d prefer Oscar Figginbottom who has just left Oxford with a third class in social anthropology and psychology, who once stubbed his toe then he was ten and had to limp for a week? You see, even in the things I want to change in the UK, I can see the good. Still though, I’d prefer an elected upper chamber. So let’s do it. We keep being told that Better Together, Naw, No voters have no vision and don’t want change. Excuse the vernacular, but that’s bollocks. We can have change and we will have change. And frankly there are a lot of people in other parts of the UK who want that change too. So let’s do it. 

Now I’m not going to mention the damned currency except to say, look up sterlingisation and see what it really means. Then look up the EU treaties. Eek. That is all I have to say on that.

But the economy is not just about the pound or the groat. It’s about jobs and inward investment and making the most of our country. So let’s imagine it’s 2020 and rUK has just elected a Tory Government and Scotland has a Labour Government. Labour in Scotland have put up the minimum wage. It’s now a living wage. Zero hours contracts are a thing of the past. Corporation tax has been raised because North Sea Oil is still there but harder to get at. The UK freezes its national minimum wages, slashes corporation tax, allows zero hour contracts. Where are all the jobs going to go? Have you ever met a businessman that paid more than he had to for anything? We’ll be in a race to the bottom against a much bigger and much more powerful neighbour. Now, that’s not to say I believe there should not be an increase in minimum wage. Of course there should be. The current minimum wage is pathetic, but then it’s better than we had in 1996 (i.e. no minimum wage). . But… it needs to be a UK increase so that we are all on a level playing field. There has to be no advantages to setting up in Sheffield as opposed to Stirling. A race to the bottom is in no one’s interest, except for those who are shareholders in Starbucks and McDonalds.

So I am finishing this blog. It became a bit of a magna carta but it is heartfelt. I may even write another one befiore the 18th.

And so to sum up. I don’t want to leave the UK as it is. I want to change the UK. Scots can be the leading lights in this. Or are you telling me that the Scots are too wee, too poor and too stupid to be the change that the UK needs us to be?  

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Borders, Borders everywhere.

The reason I am writing this post is that I am fed up of images like this which “prove” there will be no border between Scotland and England. (Roseanna Cunningham MSP even had it on her Twitter feed a good number of months ago but I couldn’t find it in a search).

Name and profile pic blurred to protect the gullible

Name and profile pic blurred to protect the gullible

Now this photo is essentially true. This is Austria/Liechtenstein border and Liechtenstein is indeed not a part of the EU. But this picture only shows you cows. It doesn’t show the rest of the story.

In Europe, there are two free travel areas. The first one is the Schengen Agreement. Now Schengen has a rather boring history, but suffice to say that, as part of the Treaty of Amsterdam, Schengen became part of European Union Law in 1997 and came into effect in 1999.

22 EU countries out of 28 are Schengen signatories. Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus are legally obliged to join Schengen. Four countries that are not part of the EU but are part of the European Free Trade Agreement (Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland) are also signatories to Schengen. Three microstates, Vatican City, San Marino and Monaco are not members but have no border controls between themselves and the countries that surround them.

There are no border controls between these states but there are border controls for anyone entering and exiting the zone. Thus if you travel from Ghana to France, you will have to show your passport and any visa required for your country to get into France but once there, you can travel freely to Liechtenstein, Germany, Spain, Iceland or any other Schengen country. This is why we as citizens of the UK must show our passports to travel to these countries. It’s also why those cows don’t have to show their passports either. But those cows can’t just swim the channel and wander into the UK at will. Here’s why.

The Republic of Ireland (ROI) and the United Kingdom, many moons ago got an opt-out from Schengen and we created out own Common Travel Agreement (CTA) along with the Isle of Man (IoM) and the Channel islands. That’s why there is not border control between Northern Ireland and the ROI (another pic often used to prove there will be no borders between Scotland and England post-Indy). The 4 territories in the CTA have an agreed immigration policy and thus, like Schengen, travel is free between the 4 states. A few years ago, Ireland wanted to loosen their immigration policy but the UK refused. Of course, Ireland could have gone ahead since they are a different state but there would be no CTA. Because of the movement of goods between the UK and ROI, I guess ROI decided they were better off in the CTA.

We must show our passports to enter the Schengen zone and anyone from the Schengen zone must show their passports to visit the CTA zone.

So here is where it gets complicated. Nowadays, even the Scottish Government agrees that we’ll have to apply to join Europe. Their argument about joining via Article 48 or 49 is less relevant (although the European Commission has said time and again that we will apply via article 49) than the argument about what terms we will get. Will we get the opt out from Schengen that the UK and Ireland currently have? To be honest, it’s doubtful. All new member states must sign up to Schengen. The argument that we are part of a small island won’t hold water. Iceland and Cyprus are islands.

Of course the SNP don’t see it that way. As with everything else, they believe they have the EU dangling on a string, ready to dance to our tune

Scotland and EU WP

Scotland’s Future, page 244

Firstly, the EU have no reason to not make us join Schengen. In fact, they would probably have a lot of opposition to us being given that opt out. Once again, this is the SNP making assertions on behalf of other bodies that have absolutely no grounding in reality. Countries that have just joined the EU must join Schengen. It’s as simple as that. And just because Mr Salmond wishes the case to be otherwise, does not make it so. Neither does it make it so that Ireland have a different immigration policy to the UK. They don’t.

If we are in Schengen, then the EU will insist on a proper border between Scotland and England. because those cows are not allowed to travel from a Schengen zone to a CTA zone (and vice versa) without passing through border control.

But hey, a week is a long time in politics and politicians a fickle creatures. So, for the sake of argument, let’s just imagine that we do somehow manage to wriggle out of Schengen. What does the White Paper say about our immigration policy in the event of a yes vote?

Scotland's Future, page 36

Scotland’s Future, page 36

Now, you don’t need to be able to do a lot of joined up thinking to realise this suggests that Scotland will have a substantially different immigration policy to the rest of the UK. If we have a substantially different immigration policy to rUK, then of course there will be border posts and we will not be part of the CTA that currently exists between UK. ROI, IoM and Channel Islands.

Now this is the point in the post where I’ll be called racist or xenophobic. I’m not saying that a less strict immigration policy is a bad thing. It may not be. But a less strict immigration policy is completely incompatible with a Common Travel Agreement. I’ve tried to think of an analogy for why they are incompatible, but, to be honest, it’s compete common sense. You can’t have two countries with widely different policies and an open border. If person A from country B requires a visa to enter the rUK but not one come to Scotland, then they’ll  take a flight to Glasgow then a Megabus down to London and they are then in rUk without the required visa.

Now (assuming we wriggle out of Schengen) we could align our immigration policy to those of the CTA but then we would basically have to accept rUK’s immigration policy which would put paid to Alex Salmond’s grand plans to invite a large number of immigrants into the country to make up for our deficit with regards to the number of people paying into our pensions pot. So it partly defeats the purpose of the independence in the first place.

So, whichever way you intend to vote on September 18th do it with this knowledge: In all likelihood there will be a border between England and Scotland and that will cost money. How much? Well since the Scottish Government are in denial about there being border posts, I’ll assume they have not calculated the cost of them. As with most other things, we may just have to suck it and see.

The Democracy Argument

I hold my hands up and I admit that I am a federalist, a proponent of voting reform and someone who believes the House of Lords should be turned into an elected upper chamber. I am no fan of the First Past the Post voting system and I would prefer Holyrood to have more powers.

You may think that this makes me the perfect Yes voter, but I’m not. I will be voting NO on the 18th of September and here are the reasons why.

On 11th November 1947, Churchill famously said this:

“Many forms of Gov­ern­ment have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pre­tends that democ­racy is per­fect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democ­racy is the worst form of Gov­ern­ment except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”

Our democracy is flawed and as I said, FPTP is a dreadful voting system. It is a system that has ensured a tit for tat Conservative/ Labour ping pong game while smaller parties with a decent share of the vote manage just a handful of MPs. With a better system, there would be a representative number of Scottish Conservative and SNP MPs in the House of Commons. We would still only have 59 MPs but we are only a small part of this United Kingdom.

yes_to_avOn 5th of May 2011, there was a referendum, offering us the chance to change the Westminster voting system. Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) voted overwhelmingly against the change. We had the chance to make our own MPs more representative and we declined. Now, had Scotland voted for AV (given we have the additional member system for the Scottish Parliament and multi member constituencies in our council elections,) I would have been more sympathetic to the anti-democracy cries. But we didn’t. Maybe we’re more like the rest of the UK than the nationalists would have us believe.

“But,” I hear you cry. “Scotland doesn’t influence the outcome of UK general elections.” Yes, that is true. But then we are part of a bigger whole. We are not just Scotland. We are part of the UK. The Scottish Parliament is not representative of the whole of Scotland. The things that concern a call centre worker in Castlemilk are not necessarily the same things that concerns a crofter on the Isle of Skye.

The Shetlanders and Orcadians consistently vote Liberal Democrat yet are saddled with the current SNP administration. Is that fair to them? There are calls for Orkney and Shetland to push for a vote either for them to remain part of the UK if we vote for independence or to vote for their own independence from us. And it’s not a vain threat. If they did go, you can bet your life they’ll take their oil with them.

As a fan of the West Wing, I’m afraid the argument of us not influencing the outcome of a general election falls flat. Many states in west-wingthe USA vote the same way every single election and never get the chance to swing the election one way or the other.

Alaska only has 3 electoral votes out of 538 available. They vote Republican every time and never have their three Electoral College votes been enough to swing the election. The last time it was a particularly close vote, there was 5 Electoral College votes in it.

But do we hear Alaska screaming for independence and railing about the unfairness of it all? No because they have certain issues devolved to them but appreciate that in some cases (such as defence) they are better to be part of the greater whole.

I am willing to bide my time on voting reform and reform of the outdated House of Lords. We have been promised further devolved powers as part of the Scotland Act and certainly Labour and the Lib Dems have talked of more devolved powers.

I also believe that after the debacle of student fees in England, many people down south understand the reason for the UK to become more federalised. Maybe it is time for them to be offered their own parliament with tax raising powers and the ability to run education and health in their own way, just as the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish have, without our MPs muscling in on England only votes.

The UK is far from perfect and not everyone is enamoured by Mr Cameron and his current government, but given the added cost of setting up and running two countries side by side, I’m not for chucking this baby out with its proverbial bathwater.

This blog is the personal opinion of one of our contributers and does not necessarily reflect the views of Better Together or other contributers to the blog. 

29 reasons to Stay in the Union – Numbers 21-29

Here is the last post in our series of reasons to stay in the United Kingdom.

article-1333924-0625E4250000044D-913_468x286 21. Continuing commitment to build RN warships on Clyde. -The UK defence budget is massive. And a lot of it goes into defence procurement. Scotland has a lot to offer geographically to the defence of the western world. We have deep sea lochs ideal for submarine bases and we have some of the best ship building expertise in the entire planet on the River Clyde. Naturally the UK government would prefer to keep shipbuilding for the RN on the Clyde. However, if Scotland were to be governed as a separate state with a ruling party that made no secret of its dislike of all things British, especially our brave armed forces, denigrating them as fighters of illegal wars etc, why would the UK government place sensitive defence contracts into the hands of that government?  The UK government does not build complex warships outside the UK. They have made that clear.  The BAE chairman, clearly expecting a No vote, has no contingency plans for a move but says they would ask their customer, the UK government, how to deal with the situation if it arose. Vote NO to keep military shipbuilding in Scotland, protecting expert jobs on the River Clyde and the entire engineering industry that benefits from them.

22. Continuing UK subsidy for Scottish renewables industry.  – The UK has a National Grid and a single market energy supply; the Scottish government does not and never has controlled it.  Late in 2013 there was a danger that energy costs for the consumer would soar.  Alarmed by this the UK government consulted the industry and altered the contracts of supply which forced the energy suppliers to purchase set percentages of their power from renewables.  In particular the suggestion was made in the Lords and confirmed in the Commons that the 15% of supply from onshore wind be removed because it was expensive. The effect of this was to drive the price of electricity down which benefitted the ordinary householder.  The SNP objected loudly that they had had a power stripped from them.  They had not – they had been applying subsidy money from HM Treasury= which they had applied for- but it was not an entitlement.  The Treasury diverted the subsidy money from on-shore wind to offshore wind and announced this on Dec 4 2013- and some for fracking.  All the SNP has to do is apply for them, if they wish to fund onshore wind, expensive as it is, then under the tax increasing powers endowed by the Scotland Act 2012 they will be free to charge the people of Scotland more tax to fund their wind-mills. or they can borrow the money which they will have the power to do. ‪http://bettertogether.net/…/working-together-to-unlock…

23. Orientation towards wider world rather than focus on wee-bit-hill-and-glen.–  The SNP are always telling us that they want Scotland to have a bigger profile in the world. But the biggest profile is achieved by working from the massive springboard that is the UK. Ever since the Act of Union, Scots have been listened to around the world because they are British. From David Hume onwards, Scotland’s ideas have crossed the globe, on the back of British presence. It is not unusual to find a Scot at the head of a multinational company or of a major international organization, or winning a Nobel Prize. Long may this continue, and the best way to ensure it continues is to stay within the UK, to be able to use the massive resources of the UK to promote Scottish talent and ideas across the world.

24. Greater clout – when dealing with hyperpowers of 21st century. The world is going to be dominated by China, India, Indonesia and other countries with populations in the hundreds of millions over the next century. The best way for the Western World to uphold its liberal values is to stick together and stay strong. This doesn’t just mean finding sensible ways to make the UN and EU work, it means staying close to our North American allies through NATO and also keeping intact our own successful alliance – the UK. Every negative fragmentary impulse that comes from the micro-nationalist movements of Europe is a tiny dagger in the heart of the Western World as a whole. We Westerners still constitute around 700 million people, across Europe and North America. Our time isn’t quite over yet, and we can use what time we have left to persuade the rest of the world to come round to our way of looking at things, guaranteeing a tolerant liberal world for centuries to come. 10% of the entire western world is made up of British citizens. Soon there will be 70 million of us. The best future for the 5 million of us in Scotland is to stay true to our Britishness and make sure we contribute to the next two centuries as much as we have to the last two. To sit on the fringes and congratulate ourselves on the fact that “we are different to the English” is to fiddle while Rome burns.

25. Access to top G20 power structures for Scots. – Because Scotland is in the UK, we are also represented in the G20. If Scotland leaves the UK, we will have no voice at the top economic table. The positive future for Scotland is in the UK, where we know that we can punch above our weight. The G8 was hosted at Gleneagles a few years ago. That would be the last time that happens if the SNP get their way. When Alex Salmond asserts that we will have a place at the top table, it is pure assertion, and no more. 352091_155331_Family_with_HM_edit

 

26. Adequate balance of powers – between local, Scottish, UK and EU governments without too much power concentrated in too few hands. The Scotland Act of 2012 is the greatest transfer of power within the UK since 1707.  All main parties are committed to further devolution. The federalization of the UK is going ahead, yet by preserving the Union preserves the muscle of the Union with Europe and on the International stage.  By voting Yes and placing Scotland’s finances under the control of the BOE with no reprsentation in the UK Parliament, or by being at the beck and call of Brussels or Berlin, Scotland loses the ‘independence’ she has now.  There is more actual ‘independence’ on offer in an increasingly devolved UK than there is in leaving it.

27. Access to the UK’s invisible earnings-  The reason the UK is recoverin from the recession so well and why the economy is growing is because world investors have complete confidence that Britain can deliver on what she says. `so they invest in Britain and th strength of the pound, up by 10% against the Dollar since July 2013, continues to rise. Much of the reason behind this is the UK’s invisible earnings which earn her nearly £100bn a year.  Nationalists tend to think in terms of tax revenue and point out that Scotland pays more as a percentage of UK tax income than she gets back. As a percentage of spending.  This might indeed be true if the UK relied on tax revenue alone, but the Treasury derives income from other sources.  If you look here; https://www.nao.org.uk/highlights/whole-of-government-accounts/ and click on Total revenue, you will see that the UK does indeed derive a lot of revenue from Direct tax, indirect tax and local taxes. However she also gains from sales of goods and services, and other revenue.  These include such things as taxation on money transfers, legal fees, interest on assets abroad, arbitration services and UK investments abroad. The UK gets this because of the size of her economy. Scotland would be cutting herself off, with independence, from a stream of revenue which dwarfs North Sea oil production, and which there is no guarantee she could replicate to scale on her own.  Instead of large profits from a large company, if she made a profit it would necessarily be smaller – and not in proportion to her needs. How wise is that?

28. The British Broadcasting Corporation – At present, every UK household pays a licence fee if they have a TV or watch BBC-iPlayer-BlockedTV online. This gives us access to BBCs 1,2,3 and 4, BBC Alba, numerous BBC radio stations and BBC News. While good TV is made up here is Scotland, it is generally the type of TV that appeals more to Scots. The money that is not returned to us to make River City and Burns’ Night specials is used to make programmes that are bought all over the world, such as Doctor Who – which has become a huge franchise and brings money back into the BBC. By splitting the cost of programming with everyone else in the UK, it leaves BBC Scotland/ BBC Alba free to make more indigenous programming. However, if we split from the UK, we will have to pay the retail price rather than a share of the cost price for these programmes. This will leave less money for Scottish and Gaelic programming.

29. End of the divisive nastiness – that has riven our nation since the disastrous events of May 2011. Not really much to expand there, it’s self-evident…But let us not, in the name of doing Scotland good, deliver her to a bad place where bad things happen.  What we have is not perfect- but in the great world we inhabit, it’s not so bad.  Vote NO!

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29 Good Reasons to Stay in the Union – Numbers 11-20

Today we continue our look at 29 reasons to stay in the Union.

11. Integrated science research structure with rUK. – The UK government spends nearly £500 million per year on funding research in Scottish universities. The SNP have no realistic plan for replacing this. Instead they think that the private sector will step in to fill the gap. The British government has made it clear that joint funding will cease on all except projects shared with academic departments in rUK. Without world leading research in Scottish universities, like Dolly the Sheep and the Higgs Boson, Scotland will just become an academic backwater. We need to stay in the UK to stay in the forefront of technological development. (Check out Prof. Jill Stephenson’s blog posted earlier this week – here

12. Governmental economy of scale. – Government costs money. Buying in bulk is always cheaper than buying in small amounts. Paying for civil service staff is no exception. All the functions that are currently carried out UK-wide will need to develop their own miniature Scottish replica, from vehicle licensing to passports to health and safety to the UK National Savings and Investments bank to the post office, to the BBC. By contributing to our share of all these things that are run on a UK-wide basis, we get better value for our tax-payers money. We can be like Norway, say the separatists at every turn. Presumably that means that we can have the higher taxes we will need to pay for doing everything ourselves that used to be done by the UK as a whole. Indeed since the SNP have stated that they will not raise oil taxes and will lower Corporation tax, yet increase spending on services, raising taxes substantially is the only avenue left to them.

13. Likelihood of future Scottish UK PM. – Since Scotland has produced 7 UK Prime Ministers since 1900, we are well ahead of our notional 9% share. There will be many more Scottish PMs, perhaps Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy or Michael Gove in the near future and who knows how many later. But they’ll only have the chance if Scotland stays in the UK. Why are the separatists so anti-aspirational? Why do they think retreat into the wee-bit-hill-and-glen is a positive thing? Why do they want to condemn our young people to a life of insignificance in the global world?  A Scot has a right, as a UK citizen, to have the whole cake.  Why settle for part?

14. Cultural links across UK. – When Andy Murray and Laura Robson won a silver medal in the London Olympics, it showedhow the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In all fields of human activity, we co-operate across the whole UK, not worrying about which side of any spurious border we lie on. The separatists want us to think of the English as foreigners, as others, as people with which we have nothing in common. They make an “us” and “them” where none exists. But the British people realise that being British does not lessen any of the individual nationalities in the Great British family of nations. The separatists talk down Scotland when they claim that we need to be “not-British” in order to be truly Scottish.

15. Family links across UK. – In the 410 years since the union of crowns, Scotland and England have grown together. The long war that began in the 11th century and which continued unabated for almost 500 years was finally brought to a close. Never again would English and Scots fight each other on the battlefield in a contest between national armies. Instead of bloodshed and hatred a process of migration and integration began. Most of us today have mixed English and Scottish ancestry. The separatists want us to deny this, to betray the memory of our ancestors by adopting a false identity as “purely” Scottish. They speak of preserving the Social Union yet many of them speak of the rUK with hate.

16. Guaranteed continued access to UK bilateral trade treaties._- There are many of these. Very many. Very, very, very, many. How many? Take a deep breath separatists, you’re going to be really busy re-negotiating them. 14,000. Yes, not misprint, 14,000 treaties that give the UK preferential treatment around the world. ‪https://www.gov.uk/uk-treaties This is actually not just an amazing number of prospective foreign freebie trips for Nicola Sturgeon, but actually a major weakness in all separatist economic calculations. Without these treaties, they cannot assume that Scotland will continue to do business around the world to the same extent as it currently does as part of the UK. Consequently, all calculations about GDP, exports, oil funds etc etc are just pie in the sky. The separatists cannot know how Scotland will fare economically.

17. Being part of what the OECD now recognise as the fastest growing Western economy. – In fact, the UK may be the largest economy in the Western world after the USA by 2030. The UK is also the top target for immigration for economic purposes. Of all the countries the immigrants could go to, what is their top target residence: the UK. Not Norway, or Iceland, or any of the other economies that the SNP hold out as models. Nope, economic migrants know where there is prosperity and it is found in the USA or UK. Fact. Inconvenient fact for the doomsaying negative seps. We are on target to grow our way out of debt.

18. Likelihood of restoration of AAA in 2014 – with consequent cheaper mortgages etc. The economic expansion of the UK to the position of largest economy in Europe will absorb the remaining debt crisis and lead to the re-balancing of our finances. Recognition of this positive outcome will restore our deserved position as a AAA economy. Anybody who has a mortgage or any other large loan wants to live in a AAA economy because the costs of borrowing passed onto the individual borrower are always less.  Standard and Poor’s already have us on AAA and bond dealers are selling our bonds with no problems at AAA prices.  The world has confidence in the British economy – but the SNP affect not to. The Pound has grown in value 10% against the dollar since last July.

. Bank of England as lender of last resort. – As part of the UK, we have the Bank of England protecting our economy, making sure that we don’t see the same bank run scenes here as sadly occurred in Cyprus and elsewhere. Professor Adam Tomkins, Professor of Public Law at the University of Glasgow stated categorically at a House of Commons  Scottish Affairs Committee that the Bank of England is not an asset to be shared. It is an institution and, as such, belongs to the continuing state (rUK). Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, while refusing to step into the political fray stated just yesterday that a currency union with rUK “requires some ceding of national sovereignty.” He also said it would be for Holyrood and Westminster to negotiate terms of any currency union. With rhetoric like “well we can use the pound just now and see what suits us later,” and “Wastemonster have destroyed the economy,” can we honestly see our friends in the South being willing to work so closely with is. And can a predominantly left wing Scotland, really work fiscally with a much more Conservative rUK? George Osbourne and Ed Balls are both on record as saying they can’t see it being feasible.

20. Avoidance of SNP anti-competitive policy on minimum wage. – The SNP want to price Scottish workers out of low wage jobs. Being in a minimum wage job is tough, but it is probably better than no job at all. Yet the SNP are trying to convince people to vote yes by promising them higher minimum wage levels. However, if the minimum wage in the UK stays at the same levels while that in Scotland rises, then those companies that employ people on minimum wage, will simply relocate to Carlisle or Berwick, where they can hire people for less. To keep minimum wage jobs in Scotland, it is best to stay in the UK. The only way out of this for the SNP is to allow companies to continue to pay UK levels of minimum wage but to then top them up by a subsidy from the Scottish taxpayer.

29 Good Reasons to Stay in the Union – Numbers 1-10

If you spend any time at all on Facebook you will see the same request again and again and again. “Give me one good reason to stay in the union.” One of the regular Better Together posters made up a list of 29 reasons to stay in the union. This list has since been expanded upon. it is a lengthy list so we will split it into three. You never know, by the end of the week we may even have a 30th reason.

Positive Reasons for staying in the United Kingdom

 By Scotswoman

1: Defence – by HM Armed Forces here and overseas. HM Armed Forces have a total of 251,240 personnel. That means that if all British armed forces came to Scotland and set up a camp, it would constitute Scotland’s third largest city. The UK has an army bigger than the population of Aberdeen and bigger than the population of Dundee and Paisley combined. At present it is not certain what our defence force will be. The White paper makes certain claims about how large a share of UK defence budgets we will be entitled to, but Prof. Tomkins of the University of Glasgow explains the legal situation

“On defence assets, the white paper states baldly that “we will inherit a share of existing UK defence assets” (p. 234). While the white paper acknowledges that the matter will have to be negotiated, it suggests that Scotland’s share could be calculated based on population, giving it a share of assets worth £7.8 billion (ibid). As we have seen, however, such a crude calculation overlooks the complexity of the fact that that which is integral to the defence and security of the UK as a whole might not fall to be apportioned with an independent Scotland at all. Working out what an independent Scotland’s share of the UK’s defence infrastructure would be is a more complex matter than simply dividing the UK total by Scotland’s population share and, moreover, is likely to result in Scotland’s share being markedly less than is assumed in the white paper.” http://notesfromnorthbritain.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/the-hidden-costs-of-independence/

 

2. Defence –  by the UK’s intelligence services: Scotland has already suffered one serious terrorist attack, at Glasgow Airport in 2007. The UK intelligence services are in the forefront of the international fight against such terrorism, in overseas intelligence gathering (MI6), domestic surveillance (MI5) and communications intelligence (GCHQ). Scotland also has very vulnerable offshore assets in the shape of its oil wells, currently guarded by the Royal Navy and with perpetual emergency forces on standby (the Special Boat Service). The SNP would have us abandon the protection of the British armed forces and intelligence services. Mr Salmond thinks that a declaration that “we will be the friendly neighbours of the world” will be enough to make our enemies think twice. I know who I’d rather rely on.

3. Guaranteed continued use of Sterling. –  A separated Scotland really only has 4 currency options. Plan A is to beg the UK to underwrite the Scottish economy via the Bank of England, letting us keep using the pound more or less as we do now, at the price of becoming a Crown Dependency. Plan B is to use the pound unofficially. This gives Scotland the advantage of trading in hard currency but without a central bank it means that the next economic shock could break us. This kind of unofficial currency arrangement is used by Panama, Zimbabwe and Kosovo. Does Scotland really want to join that club?

Pound-Sterling

Plan C is to use the Euro. Again this could be official or unofficial. Doing it officially will have to wait though, as Scotland first needs to jump through whatever hoops the EU set it to achieve membership. Plan D is Scotland’s own currency, the “millstone” (borrowing a word that Mr Salmond

once used to describe the pound, a currency he is now apparently so desperate to keep). The millstone is likely to be in for a rocky ride, causing unpredictable price hikes and interest rate fluctuations. Nobody is really going to want that. The best currency situation is found in full union with the UK.

4. International representation.  – The separatists propose to have 70 or so embassies around the world, as opposed to the 270 that the UK has. What is their reply to those who quite reasonably ask how Scottish citizens abroad will fare with far fewer embassies to access? Quite simply that Scotland will come to some reciprocal arrangements to share embassies with other countries, like…… the UK! So we have the extra cost of maintaining our own embassies plus the costs of sharing with the very embassies they propose to reject!

royalNavy_1700804c5. Defence of Citizens abroad. – HM Armed Forces constantly are available to defend the interests of British citizens who may find themselves in trouble in war zones. This happened in Libya and is currently happening in the South Sudan. The SNP have no replacement for this, and can only protest feebly that it would be childish of HM Armed Forces not to also help Scottish citizens in the future. These are the same British Armed Forces that they roundly condemn at every possible opportunity. As always the SNP’s position is cynical and untenable.

6. Access to UK top power structures for Scots. – The separatists’ dreaded Westminster government is apparently dominated by Tory posh boys who simply love to exclude Scots from all power. So how come there are 5 Scots in the Cabinet of 22? Yes, we have Gove, Alexander, Carmichael, Duncan-Smith and Cable (honorary Scot). Being Scottish doesn’t seem to have blocked their way very much. And let’s not forget Dr Fox, who was on the cards to be the 6th Scottish cabinet member. Let’s not also forget the various Scottish PMs of the 20th and 21st centuries: Arthur Balfour, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Andrew Bonar Law, Ramsay MacDonald, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Scots have always punched above our weight in the UK, and we shall continue to do so, as long as we don’t turn our back on it for the wee-bit-hill-and-glen mentality.

7. Access to top UN power structures for Scots. – By virtue of being British, Scots have access to all the influence in the world that Britain holds. A permanent seat on the UN Security Council could be held by a Scot. In fact it was held by Sir Donald Maitland for several years. Pity that the Scottish government wants to deny future Sir Donalds (and Lady Donaldas) access to the same global status. Historically a Scot, Sir Eric Drummond, was the first Secretary General of the League of Nations, the first attempt to regulate relations among nations on a global scale.

8. Guaranteed continued membership of NATO. – The SNP as we all know used to hate NATO but now love it – rather like they used to hate Sterling but now love it, used to hate the Queen but now love her and so on. Apparently Scotland will be welcomed into the NATO defensive alliance at the same time as telling NATO to take its submarine bases out of Scotland. Not quite sure how that one will work, but they have to pretend to the people of Scotland that there will be somebody else coming to defend us once they have told the UK Army (bigger than the population of Dundee and Paisley combined) to get lost. NATO have received this with a level attitude and told them that independent Scotland would have to apply for membership.  One wonders what the terms would be?  The North Atlantic Treaty makes it clear that Scotland could be drawn into war by NATO membership.  So much for no more wars… NATO article 5: Article 5

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.‪http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm

9. Continued membership of EU on our own terms, – not those of Euro federalists. The position of Scotland relative to european-union-flag-1the EU gets more uncertain every day. The separatists maintain that we will not only be welcomed with open arms but that we will have all the same privileges in the EU currently enjoyed by the UK – a rebate, freedom from Schengen, our own strong currency. Apparently the fact the all new member states have to sign up to the full Euro federalist package of adopting the euro and signing the Schengen, has escaped them. This is all set out in black and white in the Treaty of Amsterdam which all nations acceding to the EU must sign. Better to stay in the UK and keep the EU in the position most beneficial to us.

10. No obligation to adopt Schengen. – This is the most awkward of the EU’s demands on Scotland. Since the UK and Ireland, by virtue of being part of the EU class of 1973, are exempt from Schengen, we can keep a fairly open border with our Irish neighbours. However, if Ireland were to adopt Schengen, things would get a lot more difficult. Since Ireland would have completely frontier-less exchange with the rest of the EU, the UK would have little option but to set up a border to prevent migrants entering Ireland via its Schengen portal, then simply passing through into the UK. Of course, Ireland know better. Like the UK, they’ll stay out of Schengen. But Scotland won’t have the option. The British government has made it clear  (January 2014) that a nation cannot be a member of Schengen (which Scotland would have to be) and be a member of the Common Travel Area at the same time.

West Coast Oil – A View from De Bunker

The Nationaliconspiracy-theory-caution_0sts have made much of West Coast oil in the last few weeks and it is becoming gospel that a new bonanza is about to happen.  The only reason that it did not happen is because the wicked Ministry of Defence objected to exploratory drilling in the Clyde area in the 1980s.

 

According to the Sunday Post:

“Documents from 1983 show how the MoD’s “blanket refusal” to allow test drilling effectively ruled out establishing the full scale of any reserves in the Firth of Clyde.”

Cue the great indignation and the whipped up fervour; according to MSP Chic Brodie of the SNP.

“This is another McCrone-type deception of the potential use of Scotland’s natural assets. “I am angry that the people of the West Coast of Scotland, and indeed Scotland as a whole, have been deprived of the economic benefits and income that would have flowed from oil and gas production.”

David Lambie, ex-Labour MP from Ayrshire claimed that he had ‘been told’ by key figures in Margaret Thatcher’s government that there was oil in the Firth of Clyde but that exploration had been blocked.

Let us leave aside the notion that key figures in a Conservative administration would confide such a thing to a Scottish Labour MP (which would be a michty dumb thing to do).

Let us also leave aside the notion that Margaret Thatcher of all people would have allowed her Defence Secretary to prevent her from reaping a bonanza from the oil.  After all we are speaking of people like Lord Carrington, Francis Pym, John Knott and Michael Heseltine – and we all remember how the Cabinet bossed her about, poor woman.

Let us leave aside the notion that a giant international oil company keeping quiet about a huge oilfield it had discovered is a bit unlikely.

Let us also leave aside that the Cold War ended in 1990 and that quarter of a century has elapsed since then – and if the Labour government of Tony Blair had known about oil in the Clyde, what would they have done with it?  Left it there? Ignored it?

That the British government knew and knows about vast West Coast oil reserves flies in the face of reason.

Let us then abandon reason and look at what evidence was found for the existence of West Coast oil.

The Post article says this;

“BP then applied for a production licence in the summer of that year for a large area of sea spanning the breadth of the Firth of Clyde. Letters between the Department for Energy and MoD show defence chiefs asked for no drilling rigs in this area and BP did not pursue its application.”

BP did carry out some seismological and geological surveys in the Clyde area between 1984 and 1988.

They found no oil.

A Freedom of Information request from Mr Brodie gained this response from the Dept of Energy;

I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and electronic records, we have established that the only information we hold in the scope of your request is:

1. A reference in a spreadsheet to a licence held covering an area in the Firth of Clyde. An extract from this spreadsheet is set out below:

Final

Licence Number PL262

Operator BP Petroleum Development Limited

 

Start date 06-Apr-84

Expiry  06-Apr-88

Area 239.8

 

This may be viewed here; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/oil-gas-exploration-in-the-firth-of-clyde-foi-130568

And that is that. No other documents

Here is a thrilling account of how a group of Nationalists went down to the National Archives and found ‘documents’ which were ‘dynamite.’  Mr Brodie has these documents and has had them since last year – he is supposed to have given them to Mr Salmond and they will no doubt be published.

http://ncdiblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/did-the-mod-block-an-oil-boom-on-the-clyde-they-certainly-did/

Business for Scotland invented an oil boom just waiting for independence on the basis of this.

The British government does not have these documents referred to and they have not been published by the Nationalists.  They exist on hearsay.

Do they exist?

If they did exist, what do you think Mr Salmond would have done with them in the last year?

BP relinquished their license to explore the area in 1988 after finding no reason to continue exploration work in the Firth of Clyde while the MoD said that the information relating to the surveys done may have been destroyed.

There is not a single shred of evidence that West coast oil exists or ever did.1802

Well obviously there’s been a cover up eh?  First thing that comes into mind.  Conspiracy – any rational person would think that first.  Wouldn’t they?

There’s no mystery to the National Archives- you go in, look at the catalogue then order the documents you want.  Then you go and sit down at your desk.  Within 30 minutes or so the documents are placed in front of you.

The National Archives save about 1.4% of Government paperwork each year- and it fills about 1 mile of shelves.  They have 60 miles of shelving in the basement which is why they have outlying depots and you must take care to order the documents you want before you go there, using the online catalogue.

The rest of the paperwork, judged as of little or no use by departmental historians- is destroyed.  This is routine.  Nothing sinister or underhand – just normal, otherwise they would need nearly 100 miles of shelving a year to store it.  As it is they fill a mile.

The reason there is no documentation on West Coast oil is because none of the paperwork was deemed worth saving.  That’s it.

There is a Clyde oil field and a Clyde platform – but it’s in the North Sea.  Maybe they got confused?

If there is oil off the West Coast of Scotland in the Clyde area then I’m a lizard man working for the illuminati and you’d better get a tinfoil hat now!