Thursday, September 25, 2014

At last, a timetable

To be fair, it's just brilliant finally to get a guaranteed timetable for the delivery of Scottish Home Rule and an undertaking from those who have solemnly promised to deliver it that they will do so and that they won't let the grass grow under their feet.

Deliver. Grass won't grow under our feet. Finally. Just brilliant.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It seems we're all agreed

So, as highlighted in the last post, we have been promised "home rule", "nothing less". Home rule/devo max means that we have control of all our affairs bar our currency, defence and foreign relations. And just as I accept we lost the referendum, I expect the No side to honour that commitment.

And on reflection, why on earth would they not? I have reminded myself of the "arguments" made against independence over these last two years. I don't think I've missed anything major out:

  • Won't be able to use the pound
  • Hate Alex Salmond
  • Will be kicked out the EU
  • Will have to use the Euro
  • Won't get into NATO
  • Not proper independence
  • Proud Scot, proud Brit
  • More liable to attack from international terrorists
  • More liable to attack from outer space
  • Won't get the BBC
  • Guards and snarling Alsatian dogs at Gretna
  • Complex warships only ever built in Britain
  • Jobs will go at Faslane
  • Food will be dearer
  • Eddie Izzard etc love us
  • Will have to drive on the right

Of all those "arguments" against independence - of every last, blessed one of them - there's only one that could possibly apply to honouring the commitment to home rule. And as I've said, ad nauseam now, I accept we lost. So I'll accept too the fact that what we'll be getting, for now at any rate, is not "proper independence".

So. We're all agreed then?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Over to you, No voters

My side lost the referendum. I was at the count. It was entirely, and quite upliftingly, fair. Anyone saying otherwise is wrong. The "Shock and Awe" campaign may have been (was) untruthful, bullying, and unfair. The actual vote was, however, entirely fair. And, to repeat, we lost. Not by a huge amount. But we lost and that's enough.

So. It's over to you now, No voters. It's over to you to hold your representatives to account. One reason for the disasters that befell us after 1979 was, I understand from talking to those who remember, that everyone got fed up. We were tired. We just sat back and waited to see what was done to us. Anyone pointing out that we'd been promised an alternative offering in the event of a No vote (or a not high enough Yes vote) was told by opponents of any change to "move on" and embarrassed into a weary and sullen silence as what was done was done. It could happen again. We'll be told to accept defeat and accept what they choose to do to us, as if the two things are one and the same. Move on. Stop going on. Forget it. Let us take care of it now. That is just what the current opponents of any change want us to do. But we'll regret it if we do. We mustn't. You mustn't.

Gordon Brown's promise in relation to "substantial" "new" "powers", the one that the BBC led with for days just before the vote, the one that I know swung many voters behind No, just as intended, was very, very explicit: "nothing less than a modern form of Scottish home rule" ("Scottish independence: Brown’s home rule timetable" , "Brown takes charge as Cameron backs his plan for Scottish Home Rule" , "Scottish independence: Gordon Brown pledges new Home Rule Bill" , "Gordon Brown unveils cross-party deal on Scottish powers" , "Scotland: Gordon Brown could be the winner in the event of a no vote" ).

As I am perfectly entitled to do, I will continue to try to persuade people that we need independence but entirely accept the outcome of the referendum. I lost. So, until we all decide otherwise, Home Rule it is.

The current buzz synonym for home rule is "devo max". Home rule/devo max means that the Scottish parliament is entrusted with responsibility over all our internal, or home, affairs, leaving the UK government with the rest. This is the unionist view (with which I disagree but, as I say, I lost) of the "best of both worlds". So, the "devo max" proposals promised would leave the UK government in charge of:
* monetary policy and the pound.
* defence
* foreign affairs and relations

The Scottish government would be in charge of its current areas of responsibility plus income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, Crown Estates, excise duty, energy, broadcasting and so on. We were promised "nothing less".

As I say, then, over to you No voters of goodwill. We'll need your help. I'm tired.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A friend wrote to me this morning.

A friend sent me an email this morning. Can't remember when I last got such a thoughtful and cheering message. I don't know if the polling companies think they're picking this kind of thing up. I doubt they are.

    "Morning David

    Thought I should let you know that as Karen and I will be on a flight to Paris (TL long fun with a dash of strategy meeting weekend away) on Thursday morning ........  we won't be able to vote........

    [David picks himself off the floor after swearing at the screen....]

    In person.

    But have signed our postal ballots and both stuck a cross in "yes".

    Both remain nervous about it.  But willing to keep our fingers crossed and hope we, as in Scotland, can work it all out and make it a success.

    I wanted to let you know that if it hadn't been for your intervention and us looking at material via some of the links you sent us then I reckon we'd both have stuck to our risk averse roots and voted no.  So, as I know you are genuinely passionate about this, I wanted you to know that you are personally responsible for our two yes votes.

    Exciting times.  You'll be pulling an all-nighter on Thursday I expect.



(Names changed. Otherwise, as written).

We are, all of us, rising to the occasion in a wonderful, inspiring fashion and the world is watching as we do so.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The limits of power

[Scene: the court of King Henry VIII of England. Enter a messenger]

Messenger [bows]: Your Majesty.
The King: Good messenger. What news bring you of the "substantial" "extra" "powers", promised me by my loyal noble lords and barons of counsel?
Messenger: Good and exciting news, majesty.
The King: Good. Speak.
Messenger: Majesty. Your loyal noble lords and barons of counsel, having deliberated long and carefully, propose the following. That your majesty establishes (at his expense - they wanted me to make that bit clear) a new arm of his exchequer. That arm shall be tasked with collecting exactly the same amount of tax currently paid by your majesty's subjects (no more money at all - they wanted me to be very clear about that too)...
The King: But what's the point of...
Messenger: Hang on. Collecting exactly the same amount of tax currently paid by your majesty's subjects in a new and exciting way.
The King: "New and exciting"? How so?
Messenger: It shall be a more "transparent" way, majesty. 
The King: What?
Messenger [nervously]: Emm...transparent. I think it was something to do with that. Yes. I'm sure. Yes. I remember now. "Too much power over how the money is spent and not enough transparency and accountability over how it is raised".
The King: "Accountability"?
Messenger: Yes.
The King: Can I just have a moment?
The King [slowly, carefully, with cold menace]: In what sense is "accountability" a "power"? Is it not, in fact, a limitation on power?
Messenger: Emm...
Omnes: To the stake! Burn him!
Messenger [as he is carried out by the mob]: No! Hang on! There was something about air guns* too!


*Some later texts read "road signs". Scholarly opinion is divided.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reaping the whirwind

The tweet from Louise Mensch is in itself instructive of course. But it just reflects the view that we already know is widely held across England: we are ungrateful whingers who are over-subsidised by the rest of the UK. That's not an accurate understanding of the economic reality but as I've said before I don't blame the voters in the rest of the UK for believing it when no-one tells them otherwise (apart from honourable exceptions like, bizarrely, Richard Madeley).

What's important is how that view will inform the reactions of English MPs, if there's a No vote, when they are called upon to give us the "extra" "powers" we've been offered by Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson. Will Labour, Tory, UKIP candidates, fighting over seats in a close election campaign, feel that it's only fair to honour that pledge? That their hands are tied? In the face of a vengeful electorate? Will they hell as like. They will cleary, obviously, without doubt, listen to the howls from their constituents and tell us, in unambiguous terms, that we must be joking and that, if we are not, we can bugger off.

The only surprising thing for me is that Better Together didn't see all this for themselves. Well, mystery solved. They do. They just don't care.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The British get-out

We all have to remember that this is the level of sophistry we are up against. It's like something out of Yes Minister.

The British government absolutely, resolutely, unequivocally stands by its claims that it has made no contingency plans, whatever, for even the possibility of a Yes vote. A bizarrely reckless approach you might think, as the value of sterling plunges and the markets round on the Treasury following simply a single, relatively good-for-Yes opinion poll. A claim that stretches credulity you might think. Yet that's what they say. They wouldn't lie would they? They must have no plans.

Ah! But cue Sir Humphrey:

"There are plans and plans. We may have made contingency plans about contingency plans", explains Sir Nicholas Macpherson.

You may remember Sir Nicholas. He's the Treasury official, and friend of Alistair Darling's, who said he couldn't recommend to any British government that it enter into a currency union with an independent Scotland.

I think I can now see how this will go. On 19 September, Sir Nicholas will explain to the hastily assembled press conference that although he stands by his claim that he can't recommend a currency union, he of course sees that a union of currency is vital.

Though while we may very well think that, and for the moment at least, Sir Nicholas couldn't possibly comment.