Newsnet Main Articles

by Alex Porter, Economy Editor

With the UK budget deficit accelerating, the British pound plummeting and austerity cuts just around the corner, the issues of jobs and the economy will cast a long shadow over the fast approaching Holyrood election campaign.  What effect will Labour leader Ed Milliband's choice of shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, have on the crucial economic debate on Scotland?

To answer that question we have to realise that the UK economy is not in the same robust shape that the Scottish economy is in.  While Scotland's national accounts show a surplus, the UK's deficit reached a staggering and unprecedented £23.3 billion in the single month of November last year, according to the Office of National Statistics.  As government debt (minus off-balance sheet debts) are soon to pass the £1 trillion mark there is no real sign that Britain PLC can stop the deficit from ballooning further out of control.

Labour's Crisis

Gordon Brown's fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies sped up the process of refocussing the UK from a manufacturing economy into a service sector economy.  If you manufacture fewer products then a national economy suffers as it cannot earn income by selling goods abroad.  As consumers Britons spent money on goods from abroad meaning more money left the economy than came in.  This is unsustainable as deficits continue to rise.  Britain's economy under Labour was driven by more debt, not growth.

Deficit finance is no longer a disaster waiting to happen, it is happening.  Unable to pay its debt the UK government and the Bank of England are indulging in money printing.  This policy devalues assets and wages and is effectively legal fraud.  After money printing there's a lag and then price inflation visits and you realise you have the same money in your pocket but it buys a whole lot less.

Of course most currencies around the world are now devaluing.  The developing world must now print to devalue their currency so that their exports remain competitive in a world of ever increasing dollars.  Britain is simply the worst offender.  However Britain is printing money not to be competitive - it's an importing country after all - no, it's printing money to pay its debts.

The tax take from the financial sector has fallen off a cliff.  Bail outs and stimulus had to be paid for and so drained the private sector, meaning tax receipts are not recovering and firms are now dependent on increased government borrowing to maintain earnings.  Decreased tax receipts are what is causing the deficit to grow not an increase in public spending.  While the City was selling dodgy derivatives around the world the UK government had a good rake but that's largely gone.  Unless the public keeps stuffing banks with newly printed or borrowed money they would not be posting any profits at all.

Printing money to pay debts means Britain is technically bankrupt.  And if you thought there was some kind of economic benefit to devaluation you were wrong.  Sterling has lost 20% of its value against key trading partners but whereas public confidence in the UK economy continues to tumble, Germany is recording its lowest ever unemployment figures.

The devaluing pound will mean that importers will have to use more pounds to import goods for consumption inside Britain and those costs will be passed on to the consumer.  Food prices are already rising but we're only at the start of this process.  The price of oil is set to rise too meaning transport costs for food will make matters worse.  An early indication of problems can be seen in recent food riots in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen And Jordan.  Tunisia's President fled after failing to quell public unrest by slashing staple food prices.  In the developing world a larger percentage of expendible income goes on the family food budget and so nations with poorer populations act as canaries in the global economic mine.

Gordon Brown's drive to shift the British economy in the direction of services means that the UK is now trapped.  The massive wealth generator that was the City of London was an illusion based on fraud.  The Treasury was aware of the problem but Gordon Brown facilitated the rapid expansion of City activities through 'light touch' regulation.  Britain looked flush for a while and then the truth emerged.  The City was packaging and selling fraudulent derivatives around the world which resulted in the financial crash of 2008.  The reality was that the City was a giant economic parasite sucking the rest of Britain dry and relying on North Sea oil to guarantee its debts.

Britain's sovereign debt, financial and currency crises will, when the history books are written on the subject of Britain's fall from its status as a global to a second-tier power, be attributed to Fife's Son of the Manse.

Balls's name is inextricably bound up with Brown's, so he too is closely identified with the financial crisis.  He was close to Brown and the Treaury throughout the years when the crisis was incubating.  Balls was appointed as an economic adviser to Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown (1994–97) before becoming chief economic adviser to HM Treasury from 1999 to 2004.  During this time he was once described as the 'most powerful unelected person in Britain'.  On becoming an MP he stepped down as chief economic adviser to the Treasury and spent some time at the Smith Institute, a political think tank, before being made Economic Secretary to the Treasury in 2006.  When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, Balls was promoted to Secretary of State.

Balls was at the heart of the Treasury and was a key ally of Gordon Brown when the policies of light touch regulation were rolled out and legislation was designed to favour the financial sector. He was therefore central to the creation of the derivatives bubble and the 2008 crash which ensued.

Will Balls help or hinder Labour in Scotland?

Iain Gray will attempt to shift the debate onto the ConDem coalition's austerity programme but according to YouGov 40% of the UK population blame Labour for the public sector cuts, 22% blame the coalition and 25% see both London parties as equally culpable.

For Gray to win the keys to Bute House he will have to convince the Scottish electorate of his party's economic competence.  People are extremely worried about jobs and the economy and are rightly angry about the reasons the crisis happened.  Labour strategists will have their job cut out for them in refocussing attention away from the causes of the crisis and onto the current UK government's management of it.  Given that Balls is so closely associated with the last Labour government and closely identified with Gordon Brown, putting this recent economic record behind Labour will be much harder to effect.  The electorate are no fools and know that the financial crisis happened during Labour's time in office.

By making Balls the UK Shadow Chancellor, the SNP has been handed an electoral gift.

The new Shadow Chancellor has a combative style and that may resonate with voters over time and as austerity bites.  The problem for Labour UK is that this will bring the ConDem coalition out fighting.  George Osborne will seek to pin the blame for the deficit on Labour's legacy but fortunately for the Chancellor there is now a Shadow Chancellor to point the finger of blame at.

As the Holyrood campaign focuses minds on Scottish politics the benefit Labour accrues from coalition bashing will dissipate.  Iain Gray will be asked searching questions on a subject he is weak on - economy.  And he faces the big beast of Scottish politics - former economist and sitting First Minister Alex Salmond.

Salmond has no need to attack Tory cuts during the campaign.  He can simply blame Labour and Balls for causing the crisis.  Labour will be put on the spot and forced to point to the ConDem cuts as the root of the problem.  The SNP will have the luxury of killing two birds with one stone.  And it gets better for the Nationalists.  As Labour are forced to defend themselves they will struggle to pin the blame both on the ConDem coalition and the SNP government simultaneously.  Salmond can jab Labour but Labour's counterpunch will be weakened.

Of course Iain Gray and Labour have a seemingly pathological obsession with attacking the SNP and so with some calm economic logic Salmond can lay traps and watch Gray and his campaign team walk into them with predictable regularity.

The Nationalists have another trump card.  If Labour tries to blame the SNP over the state of the economy the SNP can retort that the powers needed to drive the economy are reserved to Westminster and so the crisis is London's fault.  The case will be made that what few powers the Scottish Government does have were used effectively.  After all, Scotland's economic state is healthier than the rest of the UK's.  And the kicker for the Nationalists is that the argument that the UK umbrella protects Scotland from volatile international markets can be presented by the SNP as having always been a myth.

So, blaming the SNP will only serve to move the economic agenda on to their turf - the case for economic independence.  On this territory the SNP have a majority of public opinion behind them.  A significant majority of Scots, if polls are to be believed, want their parliament to have complete control over taxation and benefits in Scotland.  At the same time Labour must defend the Scotland Bill from heavy criticism by internationally renowned economists and business leaders who have characterised it as "dangerously flawed", "unworkable" and "a perfect storm".

For Labour the longer the media focus is on the ConDems and London politics the less they will come under real scrutiny in Scotland and the higher will be their poll ratings.  By contrast a specific media focus on Scotland can't come quickly enough for the SNP who are currently behind Labour in popular opinion surveys.  The fact that there will be a referendum on the AV voting system on the same day as the Scottish elections will not be helpful to the SNP.  Neither will the royal wedding scheduled for a week before.

With the all-important economy issue such a key advantage for the SNP, Labour will need to try and bury their role in causing the crisis or the Scottish electorate will migrate towards Salmond and the SNP's case for economic independence.  With Balls as Shadow Chancellor, Iain Gray's strategy of shifting the electorate's attention away from Labour's role in the financial crisis is now much less deliverable.


# Alx1 2011-01-22 10:12
I couldn't agree more with your article Alex.

Will Balls help or hinder Labour in Scotland?

I think hinder.

Believe it or not I think the Scottish voters had more empathy with Alan Johnson than Ed Balls.
Although Alan Johnson wasn't the most competent economical guru, I feel that the voters were more in tune with his working roots.
Another hindrance for Ed Balls would be the fact that he openly criticised Milliband's slow approach to tackling the UK deficit. The Tories will not let that go unnoticed and will certainly let the wider public know of his (Balls) hostility to Millibands economic approach.
Of course there's also the aggressive attitude, combative style and his association with Gordon Brown which you have mentioned.

These failing cannot be hidden by the Scottish press as the UK press will headline any facts or sound-bites that don't show Labour in a good light.
This will be good for the SNP in my opinion. Happy days Maybe?

Off Topic;

There’s a good article into the mindset of the BBC on its biased reporting on the Labour party in today’s daily malice by the former BBC newscaster Peter Sissons.
There certainly a fear of losing your Job existing in the BBC if you hold a different view from the left-wing (Labour) producers.
Well worth a read.
# Suomi 2011-01-22 12:09
Wow.That is a very potent article about the bias within the BBC.
# Alx1 2011-01-22 12:27
Yes quiet explosive stuff Suomi, now all we need is for a whistleblower from BBC Scotland to do the same!
In the meantime if someone can reproduce this article for newsnet, we (the members) could send it out to all and sundry via the net, emails etc.
This may at least shine some light onto the BBC Bias in Scotland and put them on the back foot in the run-up to the Holyrood elections.
Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!
# km 2011-01-22 19:51
To editors: please can you try to contact Peter Sissons to ask if he has any thoughts he wants to share on the BBC establishment's thoughts on Scottish independence or government? He MUST have some inside knowledge and anecdotes that could be damning!
# mudfries 2011-01-22 10:44
I was talking to a friend of mine about the mess the london rule party's had made of the economy and i was telling him i was struggling to get my head around the figures being thrown around, he said to me try this -
1 million seconds = 2 days.
1 billion seconds = 32 YEARS!!!!
# ianbeag 2011-01-22 10:54
Another angle on the same theme
A. A billion seconds ago it was 1979.

B. A billion minutes ago was AD108.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. (114,115 years ago)

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet. (2.74 million years ago)

E. A billion Pounds ago was only 13 hours and 12 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.
# Holebender 2011-01-22 11:52
Your friend's right about the 32 years (31.7) but a million seconds is eleven and a half days. It's still a good way of getting things into perspective though.
# rodmac 2011-01-22 14:23
Quoting Holebender:
Your friend's right about the 32 years (31.7) but a million seconds is eleven and a half days. It's still a good way of getting things into perspective though.

Alright, So for the mathematically unaware, like me, what would a Trillion seconds be???? As ,is it not a Trillion pounds worth of debt we are now approaching in Westminster?
# Holebender 2011-01-22 16:24
1,000,000,000,00 0 / 60 / 60 / 24 / 365 = 31709.8 years.

That's thirty-one thousand, seven hundred and nine point eight years.

To put that in context, it is almost four times the length of time Scotland has been habitable since the end of the last ice age.
# rodmac 2011-01-22 18:32
Cheers for this, and from what I am reading elsewhere it would appear to be possibly closer to 4 trillion in real terms... thus 4 trillion in seconds would be somewhere in the order of 126,839.2 years ......Staggering!!!!
# mudfries 2011-01-22 16:26
cheers for that pal, I might have misheard him! it makes you think though doesnt it? a shocking amount of money.
# ianbeag 2011-01-22 10:47
Alex, Interesting as always and one which I'll study more and comment on later. Meanwhile further proof of the BBC's bias in favour of Labour from an insider showing how that theme has become a cornerstone of internal BBC thinking.
# rodmac 2011-01-22 11:00
Quoting ianbeag:
Alex, Interesting as always and one which I'll study more and comment on later. Meanwhile further proof of the BBC's bias in favour of Labour from an insider showing how that theme has become a cornerstone of internal BBC thinking.

Very Interesting article...Now IF ONLY someone from BBC Scotland had the courage to do something similar!!!
# Barontorc 2011-01-22 12:09
Is there any need to delve deeper into this unionist morass we are compelled to pay for? Surely this is evidence enough of a subjective culture that WILL TOLERATE RACISM [I use the term advisedly] in defence of this farce of a Union.

The "bad-dossier" must be growing day and daily - never to mind the apparent democratic nicety of BWB, which is ending up with more deletions than inclusions!

Blimey - what a sorry state for the impartial state broadcaster to end up in!

The Bloody Bloody Corporation! Rule Britannia Indeed!
# RTP 2011-01-22 11:24
Alex, a very good article as usual.

I was front man for 20 years Sissons says,but if he new what was going on why not blow the whistle then and maybe now we would have a more unbiased BBC and not have to put up with having our views blocked in BWB and mention of Newsnet Scotland being classed as profane.
Its OK for people to come out with these stories but to me it just shows that money comes before principles all the time,we always have and always will have people writing about things in the past but did not have the courage to stand up and air their thoughts at the time if they had it might be a better place now.

Robin Cook springs to mind who spoke out when many others thinking the same stayed silent,I just wonder what he would have made of Tony Blair now.
# Holebender 2011-01-22 12:36
I think it's unfair to attack people who were prevented from doing the right thing by the very real need to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables.
# Hugo 2011-01-23 19:39
A coward is a hero with a wife, family, and a mortgage!
# DonaldMhor 2011-01-22 11:11

Key passages from Tom Baldwin's letter

As you may have noticed, we have changed our language in recent weeks to avoid describing the Government as a coalition or a partnership of equals. We believe a more accurate description is that this is a Conservative-led government.

I understand that the phrase a “Tory-led government” is two words too long to be repeated on every occasion. But I also think that you are making a choice whenever you call it “the coalition”. When we were in power, no one was left in any doubt that our most unpopular decisions were those of a “Labour government”. The word “Coalition” is one that avoids party labels while also suggesting a degree of inter-party harmony and co-operation which is, day-by-day and split-by-split, being shown as false.

Unless Nick Boles gets his way, “the Coalition” will not be standing for election.

Can I suggest you at least vary your description of this Tory-led government. On some occasions, you might call it a Conservative-Liberal Democrat government. On others it might be just “the government”.

When you are talking about this government in a political context, I think it would be fairer to refer to it by reference to party labels.

With best wishes, Tom Baldwin,
Director of Strategy and Communications
# rgweir 2011-01-22 11:32
I think you are right alex when you say this is an open goal for the snp to attack,but how will they get it out there with the media being so biased?
As for ed balls,did he and his wife not get caught triple flipping with their homes?
There is one question that i have been asking for many years,,how come an mp can be made a minister for say,defence when they know nothing about warfare/security.
When john reid was in govt he must have had four or five posts.he must have been multi talented or he just had to do what the civil servants told him.
# ianbeag 2011-01-22 11:42
John Reid was a thug so that helped
# Drew1314 2011-01-22 11:34
Ed Balls is a very divisive character and it just shows how Labour have learned nothing from the mess they left behind. Balls was front and centre in the debacle called “Prudence”. Many commentators also reckon he was the prime mover in the sale of the Gold reserves.

Just remember, as well, that he and his Missus were at it with their expenses. Of course they did nothing wrong - OH YEAH.

As for wee Dougie being Shadow Foreign Secretary, well Iain Gray will be torn between a brother and a sister. Insult a country, incur the wrath (or should that read froth) of Doug and Bendy Wendy will no doubt, bend double (what a vision) to contort any stories to suit her unionist agenda.

I for one agree with your article and conclusions, Alex.
# Barontorc 2011-01-22 12:14
Drew - you don't seriously think that anything will ever impact on Ian Gray - he's politically nationally lobotomized.

As for Bendy - she's still trying to get her legs back into her twisted knickers! - But no-one's looking - just like Nelson!

C'mon David Ferguson keep up with the FOI pressure!
# Drew1314 2011-01-22 13:36

"twisted knickers" more likely tin ones - match her face.
# rgweir 2011-01-22 11:41
Thanks a lot drew,the part where wendy was being bent double nearly caused me to give my keyboard a wash with coffee.
# Drew1314 2011-01-22 13:35

I do apologise for that. Others have caused me similar harm by mentioning a certain Ms Baillie at an inappropriate time.
# RTP 2011-01-22 11:45
I see the 2 Professors are not letting what they were put through by Bendy&Taxi go away,according to an article in the Herald they have written to SPSC with a formal complaint.

A senior colleague of Professor Hughes Hallett, Professor A Lee Fritschler, who served in the sub-Cabinets of Presidents Clinton and Carter, has written to Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson from Virginia.
Mr Fritschler has told of his “dismay” at the way the two witnesses were “harassed in mean, petty and non-germane ways
# bmc875 2011-01-22 11:57
If this is the one you refer to [edit insert] Not easy to find, so repeated here:

"Concentrate on the important issue of Bill

Those attempting to defend the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat members of the Scotland Bill Committee have argued that “robust” questioning of witnesses is necessary to subject this bill to vigorous scrutiny. What do get when Sir Kenneth Calman, who chaired the commission giving rise to this legislation, and Professor Anton Muscatelli, who chaired the experts group for Calman, appear? As the headline on Brian Currie’s sketch had it, this was “Not the Spanish Inquisition, as niceness abounds in the basement” (January 19). Compare and contrast this with the rude treatment of Professors Andrew Hughes Hallett and Drew Scott.

They expected a Scotland Bill Committee to ask them about the Scotland Bill. They were subjected to an interview technique from Monty Python’s Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson sketch – a composer is asked about his shed rather than his music.

The Scotland Bill offers small benefits in return for the risks entailed in the form of the Scottish income tax take becoming lower than the component of the Barnett block grant it replaces. Such important issues should be examined objectively.Members of the Scotland Committee who want to behave as a “parcel of rogues” should be moved on.

Professor Rod Cross, Glasgow.
# Alx1 2011-01-22 12:11

I read that, but wasn't sure if I could copy it onto newsnet. I know now.

Now wouldn't it be interesting if newsnet was to invite any of these professors to put their thoughts on the Scotland bill or even on how they were treated by Wendy and Co. onto here?
# bmc875 2011-01-22 12:16
Alx1, I didn't either - but it was too good to miss.

I await writ!
# Barontorc 2011-01-22 12:18
Absolutely brilliant - "They expected a Scotland Bill Committee to ask them about the Scotland Bill. They were subjected to an interview technique from Monty Python’s Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson sketch – a composer is asked about his shed rather than his music."

Can any of these characters survive?
# bmc875 2011-01-22 12:21
And for those of an inquisitive nature, 'Two-Sheds' can be found here:
# Suomi 2011-01-22 12:37
Yep,that was certainly how Alexander and McLetchie interviewed the professors of economics.Invite them to talk about the Scotland Bill and then ask them about something else.They might as well have asked them about gareden sheds because there was precious little time spent on the Scotland Bill
# cynicalHighlander 2011-01-22 12:44
# mato21 2011-01-22 12:15
Interesting article on the further pulling of the tories strings
# bmc875 2011-01-22 12:18
And what a cracking opening too:

"Senior insiders told the Daily Telegraph that money raised by the Scottish Tories is being passed to the UK party along with ultimate oversight over a radical restructuring of their operations. "
# Holebender 2011-01-22 12:59
Sounds like the way the UK is structured.
# UpSpake 2011-01-22 12:46
This is once again Mr. Porter, an excellent article. Mr Salmond is sitting pretty. The 2 Ed's will go at it Ed to Ed. Balls will prevail as Milliband is weak and indecisive witness him placing Johnson as Chancellor in the first place. Johnson knew even less than Milliband about economics but what does that matter when you are morally bankrupt and fiscally incompetent.
Salmond has 2 answers for each 'problem' that arises. What he is obliged to do by operating with a block grant and what he could do if Scotland were free of the debilitating hand of Westminster. The SDA however have a further ace up their sleeve which the SNP don't, that is independence from the corrupt EU. If we factor in the net amount we give the EU every year, about 535Million we could pay for Edinburgh's trams or help dual the A9 or whatever our parliament wanted to do with the funds or, reduce taxes and or slash fuel duty - all would help. So, if Salmond sticks to the EU and watches them systematically destroy the fishing industry the SDA will simply have to step up to the plate and shout the odds.
# ScotlandUnspun 2011-01-22 13:16
There's nothing to stop anyone from the SDA from making submissions to Newsnet for publication..
# Legerwood 2011-01-22 12:58

The Finance Committee report on the Scottish Budget is an example of just such a trap and one that they [Labour etc.] have laid for themselves.

The Finance Committee has said it [the Budget] does not do enough to promote economic growth. That just begs, absolutely begs, for the reply: 'How do you framea budget to promote economic growth if you do not have control of all the financial levers i.e. FULL Fiscal Autonomy'.

As to Mr Gray [leader of the Labour MSPs in Scottish Parliament] being hindered by Ed Balls accession to Shadow Chancellor. I think the sight of him [Gray] on TV yesterday being led by the hand [or nose] by his boss Ed Milliband [leader of the Labour Party] will not help Mr Gray's case to be FMQ at all.

And did I really hear someone in the report of Mr Milliband's visit on Reporting Scotland refer to Mr Gray as
a 'statesman' or 'statesmanlike'?

PS Have I overdone the [square] brackets? Mr Gray's gift to the peopleof Scotland.
# Alx1 2011-01-22 13:12
And did I really hear someone in the report of Mr Milliband's visit on Reporting Scotland refer to Mr Gray as
a 'statesman' or 'statesmanlike'?

Yes you did hear this, I can't remember exact phrase used either.
It was spoken by none other than his (Elmer's) great elder statesman, Ed Milliband AKA Wallace, of Wallace & Gromit fame.
Suprising (or not) Elmer wasn't allowed to speak, maybe the sound of his grating voice will put the voters off? A bit like the King's speech!
Is Elmer from roubbuer bummper (Inverness) country? Not that I'm saying people from Inverness have funny accents just Elmer, honest.
# Legerwood 2011-01-22 13:29
Glad to knowmy ears did not deceive me. As well as not speaking he was not allowed anywhere near the camera when his boss was speaking.

Re Inverness - years ago I read an article which said that research had shown that the people of Inverness spoke the clearest English of any area in the UK. Think it may have been in the Sunday Post!
# Robabody 2011-01-22 15:02
Equal rights for round brackets
# mato21 2011-01-22 13:25
It was also funny to see Gray smartly exit left as the interviewer approached Millie ,Gray obviously has to stay in the background,anyo ne know why?after all you put your greatest assest to the forefront.Millies day out was a bit of a damp squib due to other goings-on
# Legerwood 2011-01-22 13:32
Yes indeed. And just think we have still to get the TV reports of: Goldie and her boss,
Scott and his boss and then Salmond and...well- em- Salmond. Because of course he is the Boss.
Quite telling.
# Alx1 2011-01-22 13:42
Yes and why did someone put shop dummies out on the outside of the window for the photo-shoot :-)
# Teri 2011-01-22 18:57
To see if we knew which one was Ian Gray.
# mato21 2011-01-22 13:49
Have just read the following on Grays wiki page Gray was appointed Labour's shadow spokesman for enterprise, energy, square brackets and tourism upon his return to Parliament I cannot stop laughing Great one whoever put it up
# Legerwood 2011-01-22 13:55
I think he [Gray] was also Minister of Transport in Scottish Executive at one time - but it did not snow that year.
# bmc875 2011-01-22 13:57
# mato21 2011-01-22 14:13
They would want to give the impression of more people about than there was.After all it was hard to tell which ones were the humans
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-22 14:47
The SDA however have a further ace up their sleeve which the SNP don't, that is independence from the corrupt EU.

Upspake, I agree with you that ditching the EU is paramount to complete Independence for Scotland. However, I believe that we should take it one step at a time. Lets all work together to ditch Westminster and the trolls that work there first. (Apologies to all trolls for this insult, I did not mean to insult you it just seemed to match those in Westminster at this time:))

On a second note I would ask that you give some thought to Mad Jock McMad's investigation into the legality of the union in the first place. If he can complete his research satisfactorily then I believe we (Scotland) will need to fight our corner in the European Court of Human Rights. I don't think we can do this if we ditch membership of the EU first.

My own personal thoughts are that we are better off continuing to fight the corrupt EU from within until such times as Scotland is Independent. Once we are Independent we can then set about extricating ourselves from the EU. I know this line of thinking may stick in the gullet of some readers but I genuinely believe it is better to fight ONE war at a time rather than two. (Look what happened to Hitler, started one war then a second and ended up getting cuffed by ALL his protagonists.)

I would therefore ask that ALL SDA members do whatever they can to work towards an SNP victory in MAY. Let's all show a united front to the unionist parties on this matter and fight tooth and nail to kick them all out of Holyrood!

# Holebender 2011-01-22 16:34
I believe the European Court of Human Rights is nothing to do with the EU.
# 1scot 2011-01-22 15:15
Arbroath 1320.
I totally agree with you.
I did not know about Mad Jock Mc Mad's research. Can you fill me in, I would love to assist in any way possible.
# Mad Jock McMad 2011-01-22 20:12
It is written in the name of my 'Alter Ego' titled - Whit's Liz's number agin.....
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-22 15:26
I read about in one of his posts last week (I think). I will try and find and let you know.

Please note the use of brackets is NOT for any special effect. :)
# 1scot 2011-01-22 15:36
Thanks Arbroath,
I will also try and track it down.
As long as you don't use square brackets. :-)
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-22 15:50

Here is the first post I found from MJM. It was under the story about the BBC's Brian Taylor backing the Scotland Bill committee's treatment of the two eminent professors.

# Mad Jock McMad 2011-01-19 15:35 been doing research for Mad Jock McMad's next Union propaganda myth busting on sovereignty. Did you know that a court case over the imposition of English Parliamentary practice on Scotland in 1954 was won by the Scottish plaintive? That the Act of Union did not involve any loss of sovereignty for Scotland and the reconvened Parliament does not need to refer to Westminster if it wants to move to independence - you could argue that under Scotland's written constitution the Scotland Bill and any amendments to the bill would be in breach of the Scottish people's human rights as it diminishes the sovereignty of the people. Technically it could be claimed that Liz is not Queen of Scotland as she has not been crowned in Scotland and therefore has not met the requirements of the Scottish Constitution to have been popularly acclaimed by the sovereign Scottish People as their Queen.

There is a further post from MJM later on as well.

Off topic but I found it interesting.

Apparently a certain Ian Gray ( whoever he is) has said that he backs council taxes being frozen and free prescription charges. Pity he hasn't told the Labour party. :)

Also read (online) the Scottish sun is running a campaign to protest against the high cost of fuel. Gray thinks the high cost of fuel is wrong but hey ho he will NOT back the Sun's campaign. HMMMM! :)

Tried very hard there NOT to use brackets, squared or otherwise, didn't want to upset or confuse Ian Gray. :)
# 1scot 2011-01-22 16:51
Thank you Arbroath, you are a gem.

I like the name the Scottish Sun, would be nice if it were true.
Square bracket Gray the [statesman]
No apologies for the use of brackets. :-)
# cynicalHighlander 2011-01-22 16:55
The UK national debt clock:
# Holebender 2011-01-23 11:46
Ooh, good find.
# Jimbo 2011-01-22 17:37
Great article, Alex.

I think the Labour Government have hidden a lot more re the UK debt than they were prepared to admit to. Just in the same way they did in the 1970s with inflation - They claimed inflation was running at 15% when in fact it was 27%. The Tories seem happy to continue with the misinformation.

The estimate from the Office for National Statistics puts the real level of the national debt at £4 trillion - double the amount calculated by independent analysts.

Labour have well and truly wrecked the economy but managed to hide the true extent from the public. Gray, Murphy et al like to rub other country's noses in it, but it would appear [from the Office of National statistics] we are worse off than many others.
# enneffess 2011-01-22 18:32
I think Balls is extremely arrogant, even judging by some MP's standards. What is ironic is that he will be trying to depose Miliband much like David Miliband was trying to do to Gordon Brown.
# Teri 2011-01-22 18:59
I doubt if he will succeed in deposing Moribund. It is said that fellow MPs detest him and would rather keep a pretty insignificant MB than have him. He also seemingly has the reputation of being a bully.
# cynicalHighlander 2011-01-22 18:57
SNmr: The curious case of the missing nation:
# bobb4you 2011-01-22 19:06
Here's a point that Peter Sissons will have missed but being Scottish its obvious. Why, if the BBC are left biased are they anti-Tommy Sheridan? Because the BBC aren't just any left, they're Labour Party left. Anything else just isn't cricket.
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-22 20:17
You may very well be right. Like my knowledge of law my knowledge of all things European is, at best, questionable. :)

I believe the European Court of Human Rights is nothing to do with the EU.

After I put up the link to the Scottish Sun I got a bit of a pain in my solitary brain cell. Is it possible that following this story in the Scottish Sun we might be seeing the FIRST cracks in the Unionist media...... NAW, I didn't think so, as I said my brain cell WAS hurting at the time.:)
# rgweir 2011-01-22 20:25
I think it was in the telegraph the story that there is going to be a cull of the tories in scotland.
All money raised in scotland for campaigns will go to london and there will be new spin doctors enlisted from outside scotland.
Seems aunty bella's days are numbered.
# Barontorc 2011-01-22 20:47
That's a pity because she is one of the very few in Holyrood outside the SNP that I would reckon on doing a good job for Scotland!

And I ain't no Tory!
# Hugo 2011-01-23 20:04
I know how you feel.
# tartantommy 2011-01-22 23:19
Off Topic

Statistics, Opinion Polls, Election Results, etc can be found at
# douglas clark 2011-01-22 23:26
Just curious about the huge support that Arbroath 1320 appears to have on here. I am an SNP member and I do not want to leave the EU, nor NATO nor the Council for Europe nor indeed, the UN. I want Scotland to take it's place in all of these institutions for the betterment of mankind.

Just why is such an insular view of what an independent Scotland is capable of treated with acclaim?
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-23 11:40

I do not believe I am advocating leaving the EU,NATO,the Council of Europe or indeed the UN as you appear to assume.

What I AM saying is that there ARE people out in cyberworld who DO believe it is better to leave the EU. NOT the UN, NATO or the Council of Europe. My argument is that before we start talking about leaving the EU lets first of all get out of this disastrous union that we currently find ourselves in. Once we have resolved this fight then we can all sit down and talk about the rights and wrongs of leaving the EU.

Ultimately it is better to fight ONE war at a time rather than fight on multiple fronts and to fight to leave (or stay) in the EU or NATO or the Council of Europe or whatever is a fight for another day.

Lets all combine our resources and concentrate on ONE fight, the FIGHT to get out of the union.
# UpSpake 2011-01-23 11:50
Arbroath 1320. I believe the position is that if Scotland were to depart from the United Kingdom and become independent then we would, automatically cease to be a member of the EU. That is because it was the United Kingdom that became a member in '73. The United Kingdom would maintain it's membership albeit in a truncated form. Scotland, unshackled from the moribund UK could simply not seek to join the EU and all it's bureurocracy and simply apply to join the EFTA, NATO, the Commonwealth and any other body it saw fit to link up with. The scope for Scotland to prosper in these organisations is clear for all to see. Indepenence First, the rest fall into place.
# Holebender 2011-01-23 11:59
Quite right, A1320. We must become independent before we can choose any other option for ourselves. Without independence all other decisions will be made by the UK majority and their government in London.

Having won our independence I hope we are open to discussing and deciding upon all the major issues which will confront us, whether that is continuing membership of the EU, NATO, etc. or the monarchy, or our currency, or anything else of that nature. Once we are independent we should debate each of these issues separately but without independence we can do nothing about any of them.
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-23 12:32
Upspake, I agree with you here.

My personal view is that we (Scotland) are not only better off outside the UK but also FAR better off away from the corruption and stupidity that is Brussels.

With regards to any of the other organisations that you mention then I am sure an Independent Scotland could negotiate acceptable terms to join whoever we decided to link up with. More importantly any organization we DID join would be left in no uncertain terms that we joined as an Independent Scotland. Moreover we would only link with another organization with the FULL support of our people and would be demanding an equal voice to those already included.

All organizations would be left in NO doubt that Scotland cow tows to NOBODY.
# UpSpake 2011-01-23 13:41
Arbroath 1320. As I'm replying to you I am recalling our family summer holidays to Arbroath when I was a child. We went every year for a number of years. Have fond memories of just how cold the outdoor swimming pool used to be.
Aside. To establish a level playing field for Scotland once independent and to ensure that the people of Scotland are fully consulted and advised, the SDA are in the final stages of formulating a draft constitution for Scotland which incorporates all the essential tenets of our original 1320 document but in a modern and fit for purpose way. I believe that this document will be posted to the SDA web-site within the week. Please read it and please let us have your comments. Nothing is cast in stone.
# Arbroath1320 2011-01-23 14:25
Upspake, look forward to reading the SDA document in the coming weeks.

As a little aside, although my sign in name is Arbroath 1320 I do not, unfortunately live there. I picked the name for historical (Declaration) reasons.

p.s. I am actually guarding the border. :)
# Hugo 2011-01-23 20:19
Douglas Clark
Just why is such an insular view of what an independent Scotland is capable of treated with acclaim?

It is insular because it was referring to Scotland. It was not laying down the law for any other nation.
# cynicalHighlander 2011-01-23 23:09
Exposing the con man | The Spectator:


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