By G.A.Ponsonby
It hasn’t been a great start to the year for the anti-independence campaign.  The much vaunted monthly reports from Westminster have exploded in the face of the UK coalition Ministers.
Independence will cost us a quid a year – BOOM!, the Scottish Government’s transition to independence schedule is reasonable – BOOM!, Scotland will be allowed to negotiate EU membership whilst still in the EU – BOOM! And the best … an independent Scotland will be prevented from having nuclear weapons – PHUT!

Each issue, a core element of the Better Together campaign, has tumbled like a domino without the Yes campaign having to lift a finger. 

The UK’s Triple-A downgrade last weekend compounded the bad news and was quickly followed within days by news that Westminster had conceded that an independent Scotland can indeed continue to use the pound - they're to formally announce this gem in March.

If you’re a Unionist then you can thank goodness (if not god) for the O’Brien resignation.  The resignation of the Cardinal and the Pope has ensured the referendum debate, and the triple-A blooper, has remained firmly in the background – well almost.

Triple A downgrade

The triple-A downgrade has been the biggest blow to either campaign, and both have had their ups and downs.  The EU debate has slapped both around the chops with equal slapstickery, legal advise that never was and Cameron's in/out referendum pledge were both embarrassing own goals.

The triple-A loss though was in a different league.  A measure of just how damaging it’s been to the No campaign can be found in the way that BBC Scotland has studiously avoided pursuing it.  A couple of tepid questions from Hayley Millar to Alistair Darling on Monday morning was the sum total of their scrutiny. 

If, as Better Together did, the Yes campaign had leafleted the public boasting about the guarantee of a UK triple-A rating and the billions it was saving Scots then Glenn Campbell and the troops at BBC Scotland would have still been dining out.

Reporting Scotland on Wednesday actually went one better by sending the intrepid Raymond Buchanan all the way to Denmark – a small country of five million which just happens to have a triple-A rating.  Of course, Mr Buchanan wasn’t there to examine how a nation of five million could be in better fiscal shape than the UK, he was there to expose this small Scandinavian country for the over-taxed sweat shop it really is.

Why?  Well according to Jackie Bird in the introduction to the item, and her colleague Hayley Millar that morning on Radio Scotland, nationalists are apparently “using” the UK’s welfare cuts to bolster their independence arguments – how very dare they.

So the ever trusted Raymond was despatched to happy Denmark to tell Scots about the “hefty tax increases” they would endure under independence.  We were also told that happy Danes are having to work longer to pay for the “generous” benefits, but that their welfare system is being reviewed.

Tax is interesting in Denmark, for example workers are able to deduct their travel costs from the taxable income if they travel more than 24 km per day.  According to estimates, the Danish Government takes 42% of personal income whereas the UK takes around 33%.

The GDP per capita of Denmark between 2008 and 2012 was just under $60,000 per year – the UK’s GDP per capita for the same period was $39,000.  But hey, if the nats are “using” the welfare cuts to claim Scotland could be better, then it’s the BBC’s job to remind us all that we are all better being “miserable together”.

It’s a pity that our state broadcaster (unlike STV who debated the triple-A downgrade last night) is in such a ‘state’, for a glance at headlines from one year ago reveals just how embarrassing the triple-A loss is, not just to the No campaign, but their friends in the Scottish media.

Have a look at the headline from the Scotsman in January last year to see how the Unionists were setting the triple-A narrative.

According to the Scotsman, “Most small economies of an equivalent size do not enjoy a triple A rating, in fact it is quite rare.”

The Herald also jumped on the credit rating doomsday scenario with their own take.

The story was based comments from Jim Leaviss, head of retail fixed interest at M&G Investments.

In his blog just after New Year, he wrote: “Happy Hogmanay – an independent Scotland looks AAA on the back of an envelope (as long as it gets all of the oil and none of the banks!), but would probably get rated lower.”

Leaviss also claimed that oil revenue were about to fall “aggressively”.  One year on and we can safely say that Mr leaviss' predictions have been a tad less than reliable.

Healthy debate

With the BBC trying to cover the back of the UK coalition on welfare and running scared of triple-A loss, Scottish Labour is looking to the NHS to regain some of the lost referendum ground.

The anti-independence camp are all too aware of the growing stature of Nicola Sturgeon.  The Deputy First Minister has taken the fight to Alistair Darling and boy is she gaining the upper hand.

Sturgeon’s stock is at an all time high and her firm grasp of her brief means that she comes across as trustworthy and straight in interviews.  Her skilful demolition of the legal advice report, when she pointed out no obligations meant no UK debt for a newly independent Scotland, left Scottish Secretary Michael Moore stumbling around as his celebratory cigar blew up.

This week Sturgeon went straight to Europe’s top table and told them that a newly independent Scotland would remain one of them.  You want our oil, gas, renewable energy, world class education and fish then let’s negotiate – was the message from our no nonsense Deputy FM.

There was also an unreported coded warning to Westminster last week when the German Federal President, urging ‘Britain’ to stay in the EU, mentioned the four constituent component parts of the UK by name.

In an unusual statement, President Joachim Gauck said: "Dear people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, dear new British citizens! We would like you to stay with us!"

A nod to Scotland and a warning to London?  Who knows, but clearly Germany has no problem acknowledging that Scotland is a recognised individual entity, regardless of its position in the United Kingdom.

Ms Sturgeon’s chutzpah and confidence is why Labour are on the attack and why Lamont has been desperately trying to convince the Scottish electorate that the Scottish NHS, which was brilliantly handled under Sturgeon's stewardship, is falling apart.  Scottish Labour couldn’t care less if the Scottish NHS had a reputation on a par with Lourdes and illness was being eradicated, it is as Salmond said last week, all about getting Sturgeon.

The independence debate will remain on the back burner for the time being and BBC Scotland will be left to nip away at the SNP's heals, this morning another BBC Scotland political reporter Glenn Campbell was once again reporting that a Foreign Minister has said that a newly independent Scotland will have to "apply" for EU membership - this time Latvia [maybe more on that later from NNS].

With the UK economy heading for a triple dip recession there’s no currency for Unionists in wading into referendum waters right now, the emerging rapids are too worrying.  The UK coalition's welfare reforms and the Bedroom Tax are compounding this Unionist discomfort.

Domestic Scottish politics is where their best opportunity lies, so expect attacks to materialise in the Scottish media over the next few days.  Magnus Gardham’s hilarious ‘SNP Euro U-turn’ article is indicative of their desperation for something … anything.


[Newsnet Appeal Update - Our appeal for funds to help pay for a full time editor has reached £6000 - after three days we are half way to our £12,000 goal.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has donated, from the person who gave £1000 to those people who donated £1, £2, £5 and more.  We are aware that there are many of you who are unable to donate and we appreciate your kind words of support.  We will provide regular updates periodically and are hopeful of reaching our goal by mid-March.


# clootie 2013-02-27 23:53
............I'll still feel happier when we cross the 40% YES threshold. We need to start getting some traction soon.

Remember we each have to win over at least one person this year. It should be easier now that all the scare stories have been undermined by facts and a positive campaign.
# ubinworryinmasheep 2013-02-28 00:13
Remember we each have to win over at least one person this year. It should be easier now that all the scare stories have been undermined by facts and a positive campaign.

I'm taking my girlfriend te the independence march in September so hopefully this will get her te tak an interest and talk to her workmates aboot it.
# pictic-1 2013-02-28 00:25
Nice hard-hitting article, liked it.

"Tax is interesting in Denmark, for example workers are able to deduct their travel costs from the taxable income if they travel more than 24 km per day."

As in Denmark, in Germany all employed get what's called a "Pendlerpauschal e" (Commuter flat-rate). For each km that you travel to get to work on a working day you can set off €0,30 against your tax.
# chicmac 2013-02-28 01:06
Best article in weeks keep it up. I will promote it but donation will need to wait till end of next month.
# davemsc 2013-02-28 01:22
Mr. Ponsonby, while you make an interesting and convincing analysis, it's disappointing that you appear to have bought into the "there was never any legal advice" narrative of the No campaign in the sixth paragraph. Please tell me this was an exercise in sarcasm...
# chicmac 2013-02-28 02:01
Missed that. Concur.
# .Scot 2013-02-28 02:21
I assumed that "Legal advice that never was" to have been the Letter to Commons Select Committee that never existed?Oh, you remember. The fabricated letter that was really a Labour production which was being frantically waved on camera by BBC Newsnight Scotland, AGAIN. Worse still, there was not a hint of embarrassment nor an apology that this letter had never even been posted. Tonight, the same morass at the BBC reported that the Irish foreign minister who had earlier accused the BBC of "MISREPRESENTING " her was again being incorrectly quoted as claiming Scotland would be kicked out of the EU! She still says her opinions are in line with Yes Scotland claims.
# Margerum 2013-02-28 02:58
Here are the countries that currently have an S&P Triple A rating: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland. All of these are rated stable EXCEPT Germany, Luxembourg, and Netherlands which are rated negative. Tell me, where are the big countries which have stable AAA ratings? I don't see any. My eyes must be getting bad.
# chicmac 2013-02-28 04:03
In her speech Nicola definitely stated the expectation that Scotland's continuing membership would entail the UK rebate.

Yet another 'mistake' by Mr. Gardham.
# Tam Glen 2013-02-28 07:23
Also keeping the boom boom points out of the news is the major story,

Randy auld Lib Demmer tries to get leg over.
# WRH2 2013-02-28 07:43
The point in this article about the German president is indeed interesting as it had crossed my mind that none of the bigger players such as Germany had said much about our membership post independence. The doom laden messages all seem to come from the newer eastern countries and Spain which might fear the effect an independent Scotland might have on their status in the EU and growing economies. Of course we have to keep in mind that some of the reporting comes from the Unionist media so "might" be somewhat misinterpreted. Germany on the other hand would probably have nothing to fear from us, and like France in the days of the Auld Alliance perhaps welcome a counter balance against Westminster negativity.
# MDMAok 2013-02-28 07:45
Great article, but the big news here is the appeal...wonderful you are half way there already!
# Dowanhill 2013-02-28 08:26
Good to see Scotsman's circulation are down again. Excellent news! Perhaps a promotional boycott of the paper via Facebook might just concentrate minds to stop aligning themselves with the Westminster centric 'Bitter Together' campaign and start aligning themselves with the people of Scotland for once.
# gus1940 2013-02-28 08:32
Am I alone in being unastonished at the non-existent wall to wall coverage of Nicola's trip to Brussels and her speech there by The BBC and the rest of the MSM.

The only mention thery have made of her trip was the ridiculous statement from Kelly that Bundle of Dynamism from Labour's front bench when he accused her of neglect by going to Brussels.

Instead we got Raymond Buchanan's trip to Denmark to pour cold water on Scandinavian Welfare Systems and the threat of increased taxes in an independent Scotland followed by this morning's statement re EU Membership from some obscure Latvian politician of whom nobody has ever heard.

Even as I type we are being primed by Call ToKAYEo Rose for a discussion on the threat of Danish style tax rates.
# heraldnomore 2013-02-28 08:46
But today we got Borgen from Buchanan - just waiting on hin going further into the final series and gloating over Birgitte's downfall, equating it with the path of a certain DFM.

But it's not real Raymond, and as you were at pains to point out this fantastic series was produced by a state funded broadcaster. And we get River City, and Glenn Campbell. Oh well.
# Dowanhill 2013-02-28 08:50
Had to laugh at Ed Millibands new policy of being Pro-Nuclear

Let me try and understand this , Scottish Labour are:

- Want free education but advocate tuition fees for the poorest in society.

- Want nuclear disarmament and are fully paid up members of CND but intend to spend £89 billion on a nuclear deferent.

- Want a free health service at the point of need but want too introduce prescription charges to the most vulnerable in society

- Want to champion the needs of pensioners but want to abolish free travel on public transport for the elderly.

Why are we letting a manipulated and divided European debate dictate the format of Scottish independence when the majority of Scots voted for the SNP for the 4 reasons that Scottish Labour abandoned?
# Old Smokey 2013-02-28 08:51
BBC going to town on using Denmark to attack independence
Last night's Newsnight Scotland, it was all about talking over Linda Fabiani and Brewer pushing the 'higher tax' in Denmark. This morning we have more of the same on GMS and just to make sure Scots get the message, 'Call Kaye' will be about people in Denmark paying , quote 'more than double the tax we do here' and 'do you want to pay double the tax?'. Thought it was strange (but not surprised) no mention on any BBC broadcast about Nicola Sturgeon's speech in Europe.
(Just a thought - I guess Denmark will be mentioned on FMQ's by Lamont/Rennie/Davidson?)
# DJ 2013-02-28 09:53
I noticed the double tax comment in the Kaye trailer this morning. Had to check it out. The facts appear to be different. 49% in Denmark to 39% in UK.

I hope someone pulls her up on the programme regarding this.
# Davy 2013-02-28 13:54
Gordon Brewer made a real arse of himself last night with his continuious attempts to change whatever Linda Fabiani had said, to something else to suit his own agenda.
His bias was obvious to everyone and his continuly more desperate attempts to put words into Linda Fabiani's mouth was neatly batted aside by Linda to his utter dismay.
I was peeing myself by the end of the show by his feeble attempt to use Denmark as a bad example for Scottish independence.
# RTP 2013-02-28 08:54
On Darling.

Darling ignores calls to back release of secret Devo papers"

Below is the reply from his office why they want my address I don't know.

Thank you for your email to Alistair Darling MP which will be passed to him.

I would be obliged if you can provide your postal address.


Carol Wright
The Office of The Rt Hon Alistair Darling
# davemsc 2013-02-28 16:26
Because if you're writing to his parliamentary office, they will only respond if you are a constituent.
# ynot 2013-02-28 08:55
So BBC, so Buchanan, so predictable. Saw the report on TV last night and knew what was coming before he did the interviews. What we could see, but what he didn't comment on, was the obviously high standard of living in the country, and the fact they have achieved this despite "high" taxation (what is the overall tax burden including indirect taxes compared to UK, I wonder?)reflects that there is lower unemployment, higher wages and a more equally distributed level of wealth than in this grotesquely unequal country we live in.
Maybe when Brian Wilson's brother-in-law is finished with Denmark he might travel to Norway and find out how things are run in an oil-rich country more comparable in many ways to Scotland than Denmark. There, the £300 billion oil fund has given the Norwegians security for future generations which could have been replicated in Scotland had we been independent in the seventies; it's still not too late!
# cokynutjoe 2013-02-28 09:13
Just how much oil has Denmark?
# Shagpile 2013-02-28 09:58
Quoting cokynutjoe:
Just how much oil has Denmark?

Here is a link:
# farrochie 2013-02-28 11:38
Denmark is a relatively small oil and gas producer in North Sea terms, though they have some recent further discoveries in some new "plays". Maersk is the main operator there as I recall.

Here is some info:
# Triangular Ears 2013-02-28 12:05
Denmark will be relieved that they don't have a £1.5tr asset needing managed by their German neighbours on their behalf.

This way they can avoid the damaging consequences of oil running out, because oil producers will clearly be hit hardest when oil starts to run out!
# Leader of the Pack 2013-02-28 09:27
Food for thought.

Johann lament as Prime Minister of an Independent Scotland.

Jackie Bailey as Chancellor

Ian Davidson as Minister of Culture.

Lets face it we will have the potential to elect the worst as well as the best of Governments with Independence.
Can we no have a constitution where constituent candidates are only allowed to stand if appoved by the electorate within the constituency and not by party members only?
It would be a good time to dilute the power of the party and transfer it to the people!
# Blanco 2013-02-28 09:29
I have worked in Denmark and believe me, Denmark is an amazingly well run society compared to Scotland / UK. Healthly looking people everywhere, free municipal sports facilities in every small town, effective commuter cycle lanes, play areas for small children in banks and high street shops, a general feeling of a more cohesive and happier society. Yes Danes pay more tax, but you can see where it is going. We don't pay that much less tax than Denmark when National Insurance is also taken into account, yet it can be hard to see where our tax is going. Admittedly Denmark can be quite a dull place, it has no hills and its booze is rank, but nowhere is perfect and Denmark is run far better than here. Any political reporter who can go to Denmark and slag it off when compared to Britain must have some agenda...
# Massacre1965 2013-02-28 16:12
I too have worked in Denmark and it is a very organised and cultured country. Yes maybe a ee bit dull but the Christmas beers are fabby (esp Tuborg jule ul). We could learn an awful lot from our Scandinavian friends.
# andymac96 2013-02-28 10:55
Thank you guys for all your hard work, without you it would be nigh impossible to find any truth. I' ve sent a wee donation, if circumstances improve I will send more. Thank you again God bless you all
# proudscot 2013-02-28 11:02
I listened to the part of Kaye Adams' programme this morning on the Danish tax and welfare system. To be fair, the majority of contributors said they would be happy paying higher taxes in an independent Scotland, IF we had the same high level of earnings and the same high level of welfare benefits as the Danes! Kaye didn't sound overly happy with these comments - surprise!
# pomatiaH1 2013-02-28 11:27
I watched the BBC item about Denmark and that was exactly my clear impression. Under the guise of examining the Scandinavian models it went straight for the higher tax paid there. Presumably the other items in the series to come will highlight some other costs or pick out some disadvantage.
Of course the reality would be an Independent Scotland would look to establish if there were parts of their systems which would benefit us at costs we could afford.
The one time editor of the Manchester Guardian, CR Snow, wrote, 'Comment is free, but facts are sacred', but not for some of our media.
# Dougie Douglas 2013-02-28 11:56
I just spent the weekend with a couple who have been living in Stockholm for the last 6 years. She was a corporate high flyer on the equivalent 150K a year he a stay-at-home dad. Obviously she got walloped by the taxman and I would have thought that they might have felt that Sweden's tax rates were a little over-the-top.

I asked what would they rather have: Sweden's high taxes and envious public services or the UK's lower taxes and poor pubic services. There answer was emphatic - Sweden any day please.

The BBC should tread very carefully putting our Nordic friends under the microscope this is shaping up to be another one that bites them in the arse.
# Shagpile 2013-02-28 16:32
Quoting Dougie Douglas:
I asked what would they rather have: Sweden's high taxes and envious public services or the UK's lower taxes and poor pubic services. There answer was emphatic - Sweden any day please.

Exact same response of four guys from Norway I met in Dublin last month.

The BBC should tread very carefully putting our Nordic friends under the microscope this is shaping up to be another one that bites them in the arse.

Exactly why they ought to do it more often ;-)

The truth will out.

Unionists make the best case for independence, and they can't help themselves.
# pomatiaH1 2013-02-28 12:10
Reading The Scotsman and Glasgow Herald, and the way they distort, and sometimes just lie, in the headlines, with the BBC following the same path seems more like the approach Berlusconi uses with his control of news.I was even considering contacting Channel Four News with some of the reporting distortions from these papers and the BBC, see if they would do an item on it.Though that would be a sad situation: to need to ask a UK News program to investigate the coverage from Scotland's news outlets!
# govanite 2013-02-28 13:03
It is frustrating that our weel kent faces are not questioning BBC prejudice but there you go.

Anyway as others have said the question should be turned round: What is the impact on the EU if Scotland does not apply for EU membership ?
That is what wee Campbell should ask .
# From The Suburbs 2013-02-28 13:19
o/t I see Alistair Darling is being rolled out regarding RBS figures published to-day.

We should remind him that it was the UK regularity authorities headed by Alistair Darling that had the powers to investigate the RBS / AMBRO take over and obviously ignored the lack of due diligence before they gave its approval for the deal that brought about the collapse of the Royal Bank.

And it was Labour who recommended a knighthood for Fred Goodwin and employed him as an economic advisor.
# farrochie 2013-02-28 14:04
Call Kaye had to deal with a number of callers today, who had lived in Denmark and neighbouring countries.

Most voices were quite in favour of the high salary, high tax, high welfare spending model. Other living costs were seen to be similar to here; the exception was the very high cost of alcohol.
# kenneth_clark336 2013-02-28 14:18
Along with Brown's assertion that an independent Scotland couldn't guarantee Scots their benefits, it would appear the NO campaign, and I make no apology in placing the BBC in that camp, are trying to appeal to the baser side of the Scottish voter. It chimes with a conversation I had with a young woman who works for DC Thompson. She was only concerned about what independence would cost her. That she could be living in a more equal, healthier and wealthier society left her unmoved. An example of the "ME, ME, ME" culture that is poisoning our society and has been since the 80's. It will be interesting to see how this develops, and will be a test of my, and others on this site, belief that Scots are, at the core more concerned about society as a whole, and don't buy into the 'I'm all right Jack' (or should that be Jock?) mentality so obviously prevalent in our politicians and their cronies.
# clochoderic 2013-02-28 17:10
The BBC are at it again, clearly misrepresenting the words of a foreign spokesman, this time from Latvia.
The chap in question clearly stated that an independent Scotland would have to "negotiate the terms of their accession" to the EU. This is duly reported by Glenn Campbell as " Scotland would have to apply for membership from scratch." To compound the utter dishonesty Campbell then goes on to cite this mendacious spin as being a further reinforcement of previously misreported opinions from the Irish and Czech foreign ministers,
How often are the BBC in Scotland going to get away with such blatant misrepresentati on of foreign statesmen and women before they cause a major diplomatic incident?
# cjmasta 2013-02-28 23:28
How many clear examples of the BBC working hard for the NO campaign will it take for the Scottish Government to stand up to them and publicly shame them for doing so?
They are a grim bunch of people who need taken down a peg or ten. Looking forward to the next demo at Pacific quay!
# pomatiaH1 2013-02-28 19:20
Watching the Newsnight Scotland interviews last night on the Denmark model, it was clear that Gordon Brewer tried to push the SNP rep to say it would want the high taxes and US style easy sacking approach. She didn't go with that. There was fortunately also two other interviewees who gave very useful and fact bases analysis of the Denmark model which reined Brewer in. He kept saying he was confused which was a cover for hammering home the things he wanted the SNP rep to say. She simply asked why he was so confused.
# Teri 2013-02-28 19:24
I see today, too, that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have had to do a u-turn on the 14000 treaties Scotland would have to negotiate. It turns out they dont actually know how many as a lot of the ones that had been included in the 14000 referred to former colonies etc. We wont have to negotiate Canada's boundaries after all!!

Another myth gone.
# fifestevie 2013-02-28 19:59
Dinna panick min fowk are no getting asked by opinion polls how they would vote ,today at work a we debate ensued 5 now definitely now voting yes last week they were undecided It seem a we word and leaving articles such as above on the staffroom table works a treat . I was down Leven High St on Sat with YES Scotland and we had a very positive day the best yet softly softly seems to be working fine .
# call me dave 2013-03-01 21:41

Prescription fee goes up to £7.65
The cost of prescription charges in England will rise by 20p to £7.85 from 1 April, the government has announced.

Joseph Clift, policy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said that the growing financial burden of expensive prescription charges could not be ignored.

"People living with heart disease, or at risk of the disease, should be focusing on getting better and keeping well - not worrying about how they're going to pay for their next vital prescription."
# cuckooshoe 2013-03-02 16:06
The Herald says -

THE SNP Government has accepted for the first time that an independent Scotland would have to apply for EU membership.

However, in her speech Nicola Sturgeon never mentions 'apply'

If Scotland is following the process for EU membership set out in this paper it won't be allowed to apply...

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.


Donate to Newsnet Scotland


Latest Comments