Thursday, 20 March 2014

Johann Lamont's Devolution Commission Report/Why do the SNP ALWAYS go on about independence at Holyrood.

Straight away, this blog article gets the award for having the longest title so far - not any where near the lengths a 'George Laird Special' achieves right enough - but since I couldn't begin to compete with the logic and erudition he deploys, I mean to say; I know my place.

First up, you'll have heard about this:

Ok, maybe not, but there it is anyway. Akin to finding a dog turd in front of your garden gate - with each item requiring similar levels of thought (if not effort) in its production.

I don't imagine it matters much - regardless of how you plan to vote - but who was on the commission?

The usual throbbers, Curran and Sarwar stick out. While reading, I couldn't help my inner monologue assuming a blood-curdling vocal & visual conflation of Sarwar & Lamont with disturbing undertones of Curran - I mean I had no choice but to stop. Suffice to say, it's complete arse-gravy, all the words are from the English language but they don't appear in any order that makes sense.

In the finest tradition of this blog and keeping within my comfort zone - here's a synopsis fellow idiots can understand:

People of Scotland.
Vote no and we'll gift* the parliament of Scotland the power to raise taxes but only lower them if Westminster does, oh, and if Westminster raises them, you have to raise them too. This is to prevent Scotland gaining any sort of advantage at all or ever while Westminster 'pools & shares' Scottish resources & revenues to benefit parts of the UK that aren't Scotland. 
* Dependent on the UK labour party accepting these proposals (they don't) and on them getting in to Government at Westminster (they won't, see: Ed Miliband) and on Scottish Labour getting in to power at Holyrood (they won't, see: Johann Lamont.)

I suppose there might be other things in the paper, after all, it took them three years to write its 300 odd pages. But for reasons I've already outlined, if you could read it at all - it simply cannot be perused with a straight face, or with out at least a little bit of sick coming up in to your mouth. I'm assuming most of the people who read this blog aren't overly interested in the sordid details, but if you are - there are other far more qualified and better informed sources for information.

My inner monologue this week.

Its easy to be flippant about this, but there is significant support for further devolution in the independence debate - it seems Labour with its tempting claims from last year about devolving corporation tax, Air Passenger Duty (a stifling tax on the Scottish Tourist industry) tax on cigarettes and beer among others - have totally bottled it. The truth is, this is the British Labour party talking, they don't want their power in the UK undermined by giving the Scottish parliament (which they don't control) any more power at all.

At this point, the Tories could actually offer more and make Labour look quite stupid, the Conservatives have no sway at Holyrood - nor are they ever likely to. That said, David Cameron (for it would be he and not Ruth Davidson) could still offer the thin edge of fuck all and still be offering more than Johann's devolution commission did this week.

But that's the whole point isn't it; none of the Westminster parties are offering anything, they managed to get together quick-smart to rule out a Currency Union but when it comes to ruling things in... Despite Scottish Labour's impotent commission and the Liberal Democrat's promise of a federal UK - a promise almost as old & just as pointless (but not quite) as Menzies Campbell himself - a no vote means we'll get nothing except powers stripped away by Westminster Tories high on saving this sham of a union and a trough they're all already baw-deep in.

Anyway, the point is, if you want more power: you'll have to vote yes in September.

And so on to the second thing...

... which is gratifyingly short and sweet; its about Unionist parties forever banging on about - wait for it - the SNP forever banging on about Independence in the Holyrood chamber.

This appeared on the BBC news website today.

From the BBC

It's a 'Question Wheel' and isn't it colourful? It could be found (past tense) this morning among all the murrrrrrrrdurrrrrrrrrr an' fitba' on the BBC's 'Scottish' news section. As you can probably tell, the reason the SNP seem to always be going on about independence is because its all Labour (in red) & the Libdems (in yellow) go on about.

Guess what? Its not there now, its tucked away in the Scottish Politics section, which is visited even less often than this blog.

I wonder what happened to the intern who posted that story...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


No, nothing to do with the football team.

GERS stands for Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland - if you didn't know. It's compiled by statisticians from the Scottish Government - you might have noticed the release of the most recent version for 2012-13 out today, or not...

The Scottish press are going a bit daft reporting it as 'bad news for the Yes campaign' and presenting more 'fiscal concerns' for Scotland. It is as you would expect - 'A blow'.

Getting to the truth, is as usual a bit boring - but worth the effort - so here goes with the Idiot's Guide.

In 2011-12 Scotland ran a budget deficit of 5%, the UK's deficit was 6% so Scotland was a bit better off. (Figures.)

In 2012-13 Scotland ran a budget deficit of 5.9%, the UK's deficit was 5.8% so the rUK was a bit better off (by 0.1%.) (Figures.)


GERS is compiled within the context of expenditure the Scottish Government has no control over; defence, welfare, foreign policy, tax policy... The Scottish Government has to be scrupulously accurate - well, as accurate as statistical analysis ever can be - but Holyrood has no control over Westminster spending, it makes things incredibly skewed. 

Here we find that old Dilbert line coming into play: "Excellent. I'm in a position of direct control but oblique responsibility."


Back in 2011 this guy...

George Osborne, he controls Scotland's purse strings

started diddling with taxation around the Oil & Gas industry.

This other guy...

Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP for Mid-Sussex. (HT to Wings.)
said of the changes:

The March 2011 tax increase reduced the value of future projects by 25% overnight. My hon. Friend knows that the future development of the North sea depends in large part on clever, technical solutions at the very forefront of what is manageable for marginally economic fields, but the increase in the tax rate has rendered many of those future fields uneconomic to develop. That serious matter for the country must be addressed.
The result?

from the BBC

The last two columns represent Oil & Gas income for 2011-12 and 2012-13.  Because of Osborne's tax raid and to be fair, other planned & unplanned disruptions, there was a 41% drop in oil revenues for this year.*

You begin to see what's happening here, while nobody believes for a minute Osborne did it deliberately, the Scottish press and Better Together are having to be sponged off the ceiling such is their glee over Scotland's 'worsening' deficit.


As already described, tax & spending decisions over Oil & Gas (in this example) reside with Westminster NOT Holyrood. The former has all the control while the latter is made to shoulder the blame.

More importantly, Better Together etc are trying to convince people to vote no using as evidence conditions created by Westminster - who's members stand to lose heavily if Scotland (does the right thing and) vote yes.

Not only did Osborne help create the blip in Scotland's fiscal position, over the years Westminster governments failed to create a sovereign wealth fund - the only country with oil reserves to not have a fund - so the troughs in Oil & Gas revenues can be weathered with little or no ill effects.

Do you get it yet? Westminster are doing things that make everyone in Scotland worse off then telling us we're TOO WORSE OFF to be independent.

Reading that back actually makes me angry...

... so angry I'm going to deploy an exclamation mark and make it bold!



So when (or if) you're listening to Blair McDougall or some other Unionist mouthpiece-masquerading-as-a-proud-Scot flapping their lips over these 'disastrous' GERS figures just remember; Scotland's fiscal position is still largely predicated on decisions made at Westminster, all Holyrood can do is attenuate the worst of its stupidity.

Plus, when you tote it all up; the difference between Scotland and the rUK (which we're all expected to assume is getting on just fine) is just 0.1%

They tell us Scotland would be on the brink if we vote yes, with only a tiny sliver in it - are we not already on the brink as part of the UK?

Or would we only be on the brink if Westminster had no power over Scotland and its revenues.

I was going to try and keep this short - GERS is seriously boring stuff, oh well... Seasoned political anoraks will also notice that not once did I use the phrase: '...if you include a geographic share of north sea oil & gas...'

Unlike the mainstream press, I'm not casting any doubt on ownership: its ours.

* A 41% drop sounds like a lot - Oil & Gas accounts for ~10% of Scotland's economy so in real terms the drop would be less than 5% (probably less because Scotland's economy is bigger than Westminster would have us all believe.) Norway is more dependent on oil with it constituting ~18% of their economy. They however, took the time to build a half trillion pound oil fund, the proceeds from which, will probably never run out.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Danny Alexander - at it again...

Danny Alexander seems still to be labouring under the misapprehension people give a toss about what he says.

His most recent verbal ejaculation:

And something else he said a while ago...

If you're reading something Danny said about - well - anything really. Always have in your mind the look on his face in - and the context of - the image above.

I mean, just look at it - look at his face...

Just look... 


My work here is done.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

BBC reporting on Shell.

The BBC are trying to make something of a speech given by Shell's CEO Ben Van Beurden about Scotland potentially leaving the UK. The headline certainly points in that direction.

Even as I typed this, the BBC edited their fantastic scoop by adding in some helpful graphics and a lot of 'opinion', because of that, the images below no longer resemble the story as it now exists. Not that the BBC doesn't often punt out stories crammed with misinformation only to quietly change it later into something more representative of reality once the bullshit version has sunk in.

That isn't the point though, bear in mind the headline above...

How many times in the article is Ben quoted saying he'd like Scotland to remain part of the UK?

How many times in the article is Ben quoted saying he'd like the UK to remain in the EU?

I haven't even included side quotes taken out of context or the usual daft piffle BBC articles are padded out with.

So, do we think the headline suits the story? Or is the BBC trying to jam that elephant's foot in to a glass slipper?

I can't resist a mixed metaphor.

Note: You might have tried to click on the images above only to get a blur of squiggles, we're* still running Windows XP here so have no easy access to a snipping tool, plus, the story runs on for a bit making it impossible to 'PrintScreen'. Unfortunately I can't provide you with a link to the original because its been 'over-written' by the new one.

How ever, as you can probably gather from my skills with MS Paint, the notion that I've somehow 'shopped' the images above to remove information or imagery that would exonerate the BBC from its usual bias and disinformation around the independence debate - I think its probably safe to rule it out.

* Not the editorial 'we', its just me sitting here at work... On a break of course... Honest...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Morality and a yes vote.

Motivated by a conversation I was having recently with a pal on Facebook, the morality of a yes vote came up.

Essentially, he said he would be voting no because he thought we 'gain something from being a key part of what Britain is' and he disliked 'the idea of Scotland abandoning the sinking ship when things aren't going well...' He went on to say the whole country was a mess and it would be more beneficial to sort out the mess before leaving.

He finished by saying voting to leave '...doesn't seem the right thing to do morally.'

First of all, I think its a laudable sentiment, not wanting to abandon people in England, Wales & Northern Ireland to continued Westminster mismanagement. However, given we can't reasonably expect to change Westminster - you'll remember this:


 And this:

Is it morally acceptable to commit future generations in Scotland to ever more ferocious neo-conservative fuckwittery of the sort we're currently subjected to - against our democratic will - when we have a route out in September this year?

Is there any nobility in shared misery? I would say not.

The Tories are in Government for a reason - other than the Lib Dems propping them up - people in the South of the UK voted for them. With only one Tory MP in Scotland, they've been rejected enthusiastically for years in Scotland

Some people like to point out that a Westminster General election is a UK wide affair and since Scotland is a part of the UK - it doesn't matter that Scotland rejects the Tories. This is to miss the point of self-determination - Scotland is a different country with different political aspirations. As I said, it is admirable to want to help out a neighbour running into problems - but surely not at ruinous cost to your own household - especially when that neighbour is doing it to themselves and in turn to you; and there's not a damn thing you can do to stop them.

Under those circumstance, would it not make sense to move away?

I'm sure he'll be thrilled to know I'm going to keep working on him.

Steady, I'm not that boring...
Am I?