Thursday, 27 February 2014

Soooooo... Standard Life.

If you needed any more proof the BBC isn't keen on telling the truth around the independence debate, you'd be hard pushed to find a better example than this:

We all know its the headline that counts, people see it, go 'Oooooh! Imagine that' then go to the shops.

But here's what Standard Life actually said:

Click to enlarge.
Salient quote:
"In view of the uncertainty that is likely to remain around this issue, there are steps that we can and will take now based on our own analysis. For example, we have started work to establish additional registered companies to operate outside Scotland, into which we could transfer parts of our operations if it was necessary to do so. This is a purely precautionary measure, and customers do not need to take any action. We are simply putting in place a mechanism which, in the event of constitutional change, allows us to provide continuity to customers and to continue serving them, wherever they live in the UK."
So lets talk about that uncertainty for a moment. Who's providing it? Westminster is, it is fatuous to suggest its all Alex Salmond's fault because he's forcing a referendum, Scotland voted for the SNP giving them a majority, its how democracy works.

Its the opposite of this bizarre self-perpetuating double positive, erm, negative argument.
It is Westminster via George Osborne (and we have to assume a retinue of SpAd's) who think saying no to a currency union would be bad for the Yes Campaign. It is the lack of a currency union which is forcing Standard Life to take precautionary measures.

So, when the BBC tells you, as it was doing this morning - at least on the news broadcasts punctuating Chris Evans' home counties middle-class love-in morning show - that Standard Life could 'leave Scotland in the event of a Yes vote' - it is untrue, a lie and a falsehood.

Standard Life sent someone to Companies House to fill out some forms - they may even have done it online - they haven't for example booked Pickfords or told its 5000 staff in Scotland to move south or be sacked. The BBC along with most of the Scottish press corps have websites, so we have to assume they know Standard Life - being as it is a fairly serious going concern - has an internet connection which would allow it to conduct business almost anywhere, not just in the UK but on the planet.

I've decided not to dignify this Standard Life story with any more words, instead, here's how the BBC's report should have looked:

I notice the story is also open for comments; what's that I hear you say? A story with faux negative implications for the Yes Campaign and the BBC have allowed comments?

I simply refuse to believe it.

**Edit: I was going to point out that Robert Peston does attribute this action by Standard Life to Osborne's rejection of a currency union, but you know what? Its buried so far down in the story and so loaded with caveats; its hardly worth mentioning.**

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Day trip to Aberdeen.

I'm not a huge fan of pasting Cameron's face up and expecting those voting no to be so repelled they'd change to voting yes. Cameron is just a guy, if he wasn't a politician he'd be a banker or some sort of fund manager shuffling other people's cash about and skimming off 10% plus bonuses. Minus his Eton education he'd be a Marks & Spencer's-suited area manager for a distribution company or for, well, Marks & Spencers.

What I'm saying is, he's just a man. Minus his risible politics, he might not even be that odious.

Its what he represents that I find particularly repellent, any bugger who tells me I'm 'flailing about in a panicked frenzy' needs to crawl out from behind their magic shield of faux indignation and look at reality.

He heads up a parliament which over the years has taken the proceeds from one of Scotland's most valuable resources and pissed it up the walls of a crumbling empire - and he's got the brass neck to tell us in September we should vote no and continue to allow it to happen. Its not just oil either...

"Scotch whisky exports hit a record £4.27bn last year, accounting for around a quarter of the UK’s food and drink sales overseas."

... everything Scotland does in terms of trade is absorbed by Westminster - a parliament where your vote does not count & which spends less money in Scotland than is sent to it by Scottish tax payers - so it can use the proceeds to further shore up its wobbly stature on the world stage.

Its difficult to resist putting the boot in to Cameron when he came to Aberdeen to try and sell us the idea that while with independence oil would be a burden - but with union it would represent a £200 billion bonanza for the UK:


In the face of such duplicity, its easier to understand the reaction some have to the notion.
The image above is from Twitter, I'm don't know who created it so don't know who to credit. There will be those who would dismiss it has childish/abusive/puerile/unhelpful/really very funny (delete app.) But is it any more so than Cameron attempting to convince people here that an independent Scotland needs the 'broad shoulders and deep pockets' of the UK to fully realise the 'bonanza' gurgling beneath Scotland's seabed?

It bothers me (only very slightly mind) that people are moved to vote yes because a procession of Tories (and other politicians dressed up as Tories) come to Scotland. We should be voting yes for positive reasons. It seems anything positive about Scotland and its abilities & potential has been wrung out of the country through years of misinformation and lies from Westminster -  aided and abetted by a media with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo - the BBC being the most guilty.

I can't quite decide what frustrates me more; Cameron, Osborne or Carmichael telling us what we can't have, what we can't do and that it'll will never work or the people who lap it up then go on The Radio Show Formerly Known As Call Kaye (#TRSFKACK) to regurgitate the nonsense.

We always bang on about Norway but there's a bloody good reason for it - it is broadly speaking very similar to Scotland in terms of population and resources but polls apart from from what Scotland has become. Over at Derek Bateman's blog some telling information can be found:
"If you look at Norway’s oil fund, the annual interest payments and dividends are around £14 billion profit on investment already made, which would still be there if the wells ran dry tomorrow. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that Britain’s revenues from North Sea oil this year will be less than half that."
Norway set up its oil fund - A.K.A The Government Pension Fund Global - in 1990, 24 years ago. Industry experts predict Scotland's oil reserves will last for another 30 to 40 years:
"Although the oil and gas is tougher to extract, the reserves are substantial - between 15 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent - meaning possibly another 30 to 40 years of production. And there could be new discoveries such as the fields west of Shetland."
The quote above comes from BBC online news - no friend of Scottish independence so is probably a low estimate.  Even now, if Norway stopped sooking oil out of the ground, it would still be bringing in around £14 billion from its investments - on average twice what the UK treasury inefficiently sucks out of Scotland's oil industry every year while still drilling.

Meanwhile, potentially, there is still a full 40 years of oil production available for an independent Scotland to build an oil fund for when it does run out. Remember - as oil becomes more scarce, the value will rise, not as some would have us all believe - fall.

So, the notion that we should vote no to protect Scotland's oil industry is - and I'm going to swear here - fucking ridiculous, the absolute opposite is true. You'll be agreeing to let them chuck the next forty years worth of Oil & Gas revenue down a bottomless well. The UK isn't a castle, its an old car and when an old car starts costing you more money to keep on the road than its worth; you get rid of the old banger.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Apropos of nothing...

... Other than I haven't added anything here for a few days, I just saw this comment on the BBC's online article about David Bowie's independence 'intervention' during the Brit Awards.

The BBC unusually opening comments on an article containing something about #indyref. Oh hold on, its something negative - nothing to see here, move along now.

If there was a Brit Award for daftness, the person responsible for the comment above* would be a contender, it definitely falls in to the 'if-you-had-to-explain-they'd-never-understand' category. Since no such award exists (and I think the debate is the poorer for it,) we're left with David Bowie and his heart-felt plea via Kate Moss for Scotland to stay a region of the UK.

Imagine it for a second, you have the opportunity to go your own way, leaving behind the 3rd most iniquitous country in the Western world - coming from the UN via The Independent, this is not a Yes Scotland propaganda yarn. Being governed by a political party with NO mandate what-so-ever in Scotland, by a system of government that means Scotland will rarely get the administrations it votes for because in Scotland; there are 59 MP's while in the home counties alone, there are 139.

In the event of a No vote, Westminster hopes to reduce the number of Scottish MP's still further.

Because a millionaire tax avoiding pop star who doesn't even live in the UK said via a millionaire super model - "Scotland stay with us" - you should vote no?

Well, you'd have to be on drugs to take that advice wouldn't you?

Oh hold on.

Meanwhile, the press has gone mental over four one syllable words uttered at an alcohol fueled, cocaine be-fugged gathering of the Popperati. The Sun columnist Bill Leckie this morning was on #TRSFKACK (ex-Call Kaye) declaring he'll be voting no because lots of yes supporters were mean on Twitter. He went on to bemoan the notion that the Yes Campaign had failed to provide any positive, sensible or factual reasons to vote yes.

Bill, I hate to say this; but you just decided to vote no because of something David fucking Bowie (via Kate Moss)said on a show which awards and celebrates pop music and clothes.

There are those who'd view the sentence above and the asterisked sentence further up as abuse, I'd view them as reasonable observations of reality.

To finish, why do the press insisting on labeling independence-based opinions from the great and not-so-great, not explicitly in support of the Yes Campaign - as 'interventions'? Everyone seems to be intervening - do they know what the word means?
1. the act or fact of intervening.
2. interposition or interference of one state in the affairs of another.

I suspect they use the word because it sounds grave & serious (I bet they had meetings about using it,) I don't for a moment think they're using it to describe 'interference of one state in the affairs of another' because that makes them look a bit rotten.

Even if they are using it with the actual definition in mind, I don't think David Bowie qualifies as a 'state' or representative there-of - nor do I imagine anyone (except Bill Leckie) gives a toss what David Bowie thinks about the independence referendum in any case.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Currency Union - The Sequel... To the sequel.

Turns out, this momentous announcement coming from Osborne about currency union isn't so much momentous as repetitive. He's not ruling anything out, he's going to say there would be caveats, according to Nick Robinson of the BBC (usual warnings apply)
"Sources say the Treasury review - which has been written by government officials, not by politicians - will argue that three conditions would be necessary for an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK to use the same currency. The governments in London and Edinburgh would have to agree to: 
  • Underwrite each others banks
  • Allow taxpayers in one country to subsidise the other
  • Reach broad agreements on tax, spending and borrowing levels on both sides of the border."
We knew there'd be negotiations and some form of compromise. Is it possible that this is Osborne & Cameron's coy attempt at the beginnings of pre-negotiations...
A broken record
Apart from the notion that its all a bit of a red herring anyway - an independent Scotland could simply use the pound without a currency agreement or create a Scottish pound pegged to Sterling - it does beg the question, if we're so loved by the rest of the UK (as intimated by Cameron as recently as last week,) with friends like this, who needs enemies?

In Nick Robinson's article on the BBC news website - bearing in mind the BBC is no friend of Scotland (unless it stays within the UK) - the language being used is telling. Attempting to absolve the politicians of any responsibility by saying it was 'written by government officials, not politicians' is fatuous and patronising. They expect us to believe that in one of the oldest gentlemen's clubs in the western world, no mutual back scratching goes on, no favours are exchanged and no Westminster government official is at all worried what the over-night absence of 10% of the UK's economy & people will do to Westminster's standing in the world?

More over, while Nicola Sturgeon was being reprimanded by unionist politicians for suggesting if Scotland can't use its own currency (an asset of the union) then it seemed perfectly reasonable to reject taking on any of the debt (a liability of the union.) Unionists are fond of telling the SNP and Yes Scotland they can't have their cake and eat it, I say again, Westminster want the cake, its calories and the bakery from where it came - the double standard is stark.

A broken cake
Westminster wants all the assets but only its share of the liabilities should Scotland vote yes, while the SNP have said they'd negotiate for the assets and take a fair share of liabilities - who or what is being unfair here?

What has Westminster to lose by 'ruling out' a currency union? Its actually quite prosaic but enormously important: its the middle option of the three 'conditions' in Nick Robinson's article above (conditions for a currency union Osborne will be ruling out today - completely...) They stand to lose Scottish revenue from Oil & Gas, its whisky & tourism and much more besides.

Some-what ironically, if a currency union did come in to force with those condition in place it would look quite similar to devo-max, but not as it would have been if it was on the ballot paper, on the people of Scotland's terms - it would be on Westminster's terms.

You might think its fair enough, but for every one of the past 30 years, Scotland has been subsidising the rest of the UK and Westminster's wilder wet dreams. While we're selflessly sending our cash down south so London can bail out bankers, buy jets (£2.5 billion) from their defence industry cronies in the USA and replace a pointless nuclear deterrent - we're also using Scottish money to mitigate policies Scottish politicians (well, most of them anyway) did not vote for put in place by a government Scotland did not elect. Meanwhile, parts of Scotland languish with the worst levels of poverty and mortality in the UK if not Europe.

A broken submarine
What Osborne and the other main Westminster parties are doing today with this announcement is at best blackmail and at worst; plain extortion. They're going to tell us to continue to give them our money and sovereignty or else.

Or else what?

We all know not to rely on the press to hold politicians to account, they'll be so busy asking 'what this means', engaging in in-depth analysis - this morning on BBC Radio Scotland it was being reported with nothing short of glee. With the exception of Iain Macwhirter, no other commentator or news agency (to my knowledge) has identified this for what it is - an act of economic aggression coming from our own government which last week in the form of David Cameron said:

 "Some people have even advised me to stay out of this issue – and not to get too sentimental about the UK", but added: "I care far too much to stay out of it."

It rather puts things into context, English Tories don't care about Scotland, they care about Scotland's money and the continuance of its flow southward.

I was in favour of a currency union but after today, they can ram it. If all that is at stake is the stewardship of the Bank of England backed up by the political 'might' of Westminster - looking back over the past few years, Westminster and the BoE were very much part of the problem.

A broken union
That this iniquitous union exists isn't the fault of the two individuals above, but they do seek to perpetuate it and will do anything to that end. This year we have an opportunity to secure a far better, fairer constitutional settlement. The entire history of this bastard British Union dovetails & coalesces to this point and with these two millionaire relatives of the Queen and what they represent.

We all enjoyed slagging George W Bush for fluffing the 'fool me once' line, but how often are we going to be fooled by Westminster? Currency union or no - Yes is still the correct and only answer to what ails Scotland today.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Currency Union - The Sequel

Oh my, according to the BBC someone from the union-side has made an actual decision.

George Osborne, Towel Folder and Chancellor of the Exchequer:

Is set to rule out a currency union. 

No likely/unlikely, maybe/probably or conceivably/implausibly - Osborne says no, he's oot, its a 'no' from Gideon.

When Osborne makes his announcement, remember to:

A) Laugh enthusiastically if he doesn't rule it out
B) Bear in mind its not unknown for Tory (and Lib Dem) politicians to perform u-turns on a whim
C) The £££ is an internationally traded currency (see third paragraph in link) - there is simply nothing Osborne, Balls or the pointless Danny Alexander can do to stop an independent Scotland's populace from using it.

I don't have much more to say beyond the usual outrage at being told yet again by the arrogant insufferable ruling class in London what the people of Scotland can and cannot have even although these are things we have contributed to building so partly own.

We are told Scotland owns none of the assets built up over centuries of union, has no rights with regards to treaties & agreements with other countries, cannot use our own currency - we've even been told that when Scotland became part of the Union, it ceased to exist as a country. We're also told, if we choose independence - rUK would be the successor-state, not Scotland.

The successor-state gets to keep all the assets, the new state starts afresh with nothing... Turns out they merely modified the 'to wee to poor to stupid' argument and brought in a change of tense, now they're screeching: 'we will be to wee, to poor & to stupid.'

We do get to keep a share of the liabilities though... Its hard to understand how that works if Scotland was never a country while those liabilities were building. Its also hard to understand the threat of dire consequences should Scotland default on that debt when the UK treasury said:

" will honour all UK government debt issued up to the date of Scottish independence."

When a unionist doom-sayer mutters from beneath its cloak 'Scotland's credit history would be in tatters if it defaults' , it begs the question: what default?

For more outrage click here for something I typed a while ago. 

And if you're at all worried about there being no currency union, what can the rUK do in reality if there is no agreement? They cannot impound the contents of your savings accounts or pensions, they can't insist you turn out your pockets nor can they compel the company you work for to pay you in something other than Sterling - they can't actually do anything. Even in terms of borrowing, countries borrow from other countries, (central banks are supposed to promote stability, look how well the BoE did there...)

I'm no expert (no really) but even I get that the Scottish economy is very similar to the rUK economy, its just a bit smaller (although not per head of population where Scottish folk are much richer.) The rUK government could do all sorts of things to harm Scotland's interests, but with currency & the economy, they'd also be harming their own.

If Osborne does anything less than absolutely, without a doubt, rule out a currency union - since Osborne's credentials are already in the Scottish gutter and we probably can't think any less of him, we'll just have to laugh very hard at his daftness.

If he does rule it out? Roll on the Scottish Pound.

The McCrone report was a UK Government dossier on the economic viability of an independent Scotland, written in 1974 by Professor Gavin McCrone, a leading civil service economist, for the Conservative UK government. By the time it was completed the Labour Party had returned to power. The report predicted that North sea oil revenue would give an independent Scotland a large tax surplus, on such a scale as to be "embarrassing", making the country "as rich as Switzerland."[1] It also surmised that this surplus revenue would make the Scottish pound the hardest currency in Europe "with the exception of the Norwegian kronor"[1] The report went on to advise UK government ministers on the various methods they could use to take "the wind out of the SNP sails".

(wikipedia - times have changed, but not so much that we could still be a lot better off with independence than we are with the union.)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Currency Union - in a nut shell.

Having a good natured ding-dong on Twitter, doesn't really matter with whom, its the subject matter that counts.

I know the image quality is crap, I'm still on Win XP so no handy snip tool.

Here's the thing about a currency union.

Independence nay-sayers tell us (as this twitter user did) that since the SNP want a currency union (although I'm fairly sure if they could choose, they might not) it means it wouldn't be 'real' independence and because of that, the SNP (really meaning the evil Alex Salmond) are lying about the entire escapade and we should vote no in disgust.

While there are those on the pro-independence side who favour Scotland having its own currency, real politik says it could potentially scare some of the more skittish yes voters back over to a no vote. The SNP/Alex Salmond/Nicola Sturgeon/etc realise this so are not lying, they've made it quite plain - they prefer a currency union for now.

Even although not having one would damage English as well as Scottish interests, there are those in England who would reject it - doing untold damage to its own business sector selling into and buying from Scotland.

Its a daft position to take.

The vision those who support independence have is of an open country engaging with its neighbours, entering in to agreements and treaties that are mutually beneficial - yet - we are constantly told by the no camp that none of it will be possible or likely. An independent Scotland would be like North Korea (Salmond is/was often compared to Kim Jong Il, presumably another dictator of a similar age needs to be found, Kim Jong Un is too young.) The vision - if it can be labelled so - the no camp have is of a closed country having little or no contact with neighbours or the global community. This is a vision not supported by reality where the preponderance of countries do enter in to treaties and agreements with neighbours all the time. It isn't Scotland who's behaving like a 'North Korea', its the No Campaign on behalf of the rest of the UK.

The entire point of 'agreements and treaties' is that you do compromise and in terms of a country or state, you're compromising to some extent with your independence. Crucially though, it should be mutually beneficial -which a currency union would be. As usual, in keeping with the attitude of empire, it doesn't suit Westminster and the No campaign, they don't just want to have their cake and eat it, they feel they should have the bakery too.

More and more, unionists fronted by Better Together are behaving like petulant old aristocrats way past their prime - no money, tattered clothes - spending money they don't have on shoring up the facade of an old stately home while the interior falls to bits.

Since Cameron made his fateful 'hug-a-Scot' speech at the London Olympic village, there has been something of a renaissance of genuine English support for Scottish independence, not the fuck-off-you-scrounging-jocks type, more the run-for-your-life type sentiments.

I can't be sure what camp the twitter user above falls into; I think the latter though, not the former.

Suffice to say, the 'in a nutshell' bit - currency union would be good (probably crucial in the short to medium term) for both Scotland and the rest of the UK, Scotland staying a part of the UK would be better for the UK but infinitely worse for Scotland - which is why Westminster and the benighted Better Together Campaign won't say openly that a currency union would definitely, even probably happen without adding silly caveats.

In terms of independence with a currency union; Scotland would have control of tax and spending, welfare, defence spending & policy, foreign policy, energy policy, immigration policy. Most importantly we'd have full control of our natural resources and industry - free to do what we feel - not Westminster - is right with the income.

What would the compromise be? Hard to say exactly as its all up for negotiation, it'll be a novel experience though because those doing the negotiating on Scotland's behalf will actually have the interests of people living in Scotland at heart, as opposed to the interest of people involved in re-electing Westminster governments. 

(Prevailing opinion thinks it'll mostly consist of government borrowing limits, which in hindsight, probably wouldn't be a bad thing. We're supposed to trade away all the things listed two paragraphs above, possibly only because an independent Scotland and rUK would have to agree to some borrowing limits which would be a good thing anyway?)

As for the truth about independence, you need to go online for that because you won't get it from a media mired in unionist slime. The twitter user above has no chance, living as he does down south where the gloop is thick and impenetrable.

Pictorial representation of watching BBC news output or reading a national newspaper on the topic of Scottish independence. (Its actually Sandra Bullock and Neil Patrick Harris being slimed at the Kids Choice awards 2013, which is nice... I suppose...)

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A quick word about yesterday

This is about the legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament, its effective importance is subjective (not everyone cares about marriage) however, the symbolism of it is of another measure entirely.

I'm talking about the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.

Two men.
Obviously a fair bit of opposition and as you would expect, a lot of it was entirely misinformed. This morning on TRSFKACK (or The-Radio-Show-Formerly-Known-as-Call-Kaye) - now called Morning Call on BBC Radio Scotland, the usual selection of religious head bangers were present to vent their spleens. Its ironic the same range of emotions that fuel the love one assumes they feel for their partner or spouse has its basis in exactly the same chemistry as that which exists between a same sex couple.

I know many religious proponents (normally the ones most interested in the perpetuation of their particular dogma) don't think homosexuality is 'real' or that if it is, its something a person learned by mistake. At best, in the minds of many religious leaders and of some followers, its an aberration, an abnormality - something that requires fixing.

Two ladies
It goes with out saying, its none of those things. It is as natural to a gay person to feel love and lay down with a person of the same sex as it is for a heterosexual person to feel love and lay down with someone of the opposite sex - but that isn't the point, we could (excuse the choice of words) bang on about that for a long time with out getting any where.

Although I did fill out a consultation document on this subject, support of Same Sex Marriage was incidental, while I think its great two guys or two girls can tie the knot, it was never on my radar. But going back to the 'other measure entirely'...

Not immediately or straight away, but for the future - this will have seriously positive repercussions for all young people growing up incubating a question mark over their sexual preference. It goes with out saying (although I'll say it anyway) it shouldn't matter, no one should feel compelled to pigeon-hole or explain themselves purely to assuage the delicate sensibilities of the moral simpletons of this world.

(Typical) man and woman
Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament sent a message to future generations about normalisation, they slotted into place a huge piece of the jigsaw puzzle, not of any picture but of words - 'Relax, everything is OK.' 

Be in no doubt, coming to understand at a tender age, when you are building the foundations of the adult you will soon become, that you are different from all your friends is undermining enough. For some befrocked hypocrite to then attempt to confirm your worst fears - that there is something wrong with you - is sometimes more than a young mind can cope with.

While there is still a distance to go in sport and other more masculine pursuits (although for the avoidance doubt, that has fuck all do to with sexuality) what happened yesterday removes a huge block in the process of allowing young people to just get on with being themselves.

When you're forming as a person, you watch films - think of all those Hollywood blockbusters ending with a man & woman holding a child (or a dog) normally with a Stars & Stripes fluttering in the back ground - you read books, you look to your parents and community for social cues -  marriage is a big part of it - its how you learn. This won't affect the vast majority of kids growing up into heterosexuality, the Hollywood blockbuster will always be there - but for the minority who are growing up with that question mark? Understand that their feelings for their own sex is as natural as a straight person's are for the opposite sex.

Man and pillow.
Attempting to force a child who is gay (yes, that's how it works) into being straight is as cruel as forcing a child who is straight into being gay - and we know what society thinks of that.

Just something to think about...

Other than that? Kudos to the Scottish Government and respect to opponents of the bill - it was a brave and correct decision indeed. To all the thousands of young folk now listening to the plaintiff ramblings of the religious hardliners who feel the end is nigh? Relax, everything is OK.

LGBT Youth Scotland - for information.

A quick point of order. I know most people of religion are fine with LGBT stuff and vice versa, its not my intention to tar people with the same brush or make sweeping generalisations nor is it my intention to belittle their views. But, there are some religious leaders who really need to move into the current time span, they often have considerable sway in their communities and (sometimes) without knowing, in displaying such disdain for what is a natural (if not mainstream) way of life, their words could lead to a young  person feeling so abjectly miserable that they see no other option than to end their short life.

I don't believe any one wants that.

You can't fix what isn't broken.