Sunday, 27 May 2012

SNP Policies for post independence are irrelevant.

Well, the “YES” campaign is well under way, there’s a sort of sense of the inevitable about it these days.

We’ve known since May 5th 2011 that we’ll be having a referendum. We’ve known that the nation will divide for two years or so as we ramp up to the final vote, and we know that there will be [at least] two campaigns, one for each camp. We still don’t know for certain that all the Unionist forces will declare as one camp, though that’s looking increasingly likely.

We heard that the “YES” campaign had its guns spiked by Alistair Darling’s poll, showing barely 1/3 of Scots even have any interest in independence, closer two 2/3 of us are very firmly opposed and a small percentage of us remain fence sitters.

The salvo by Darling effectively launched the “NO” campaign. It can be strongly inferred the funding for the poll and choice of pollster was determined over the tea and scones at the Darling’s residence recently. A bigger question for supporters of the Union would be why they didn’t pick a more credible pollster. Yougov has acknowledged its own criteria simply “don’t work for Scotland”. The only logical reason to select Yougov therefore, would be the fact it is more likely to give the result preferred by the person or group commissioning the poll, Mr. Darling’s nay-sayers.

The second key to the launch was the specific lack of policies for a post independent Scotland. This lack was immediately pounced upon by Westminster’s supporters as highlighting a massive void in the independence argument. It’s seen as a void worth exploitation, a black hole to be highlighted, and a lack of substance to be pounded into the collective consciousness of the electorate.

The reality of the situation is that 2014 is simply a choice for better democracy.

We can have our individual democratic value increased ten-fold.

We can have our input into the democratic system increased ten-fold.

We can have our Parliament represent 5 million, not 65 million; that places it more than a dozen times closer to each and every one of us. It will be geographically closer; it can be more easily bound to do our bidding.

Policies for post independence, that’s also where our individual democratic might increases, but the creation and issuance of those policies is not for now. Right now, in the run up to the referendum it’s about democracy. It’s about the value of democracy.

After 2014 if the SNP say “no nuclear”, if the SNP say “green energy” or if the SNP say “re-industrialisation”, it’s great to know these policies will be on the table. Right now the SNP are driving home the policies they were elected upon. Nuclear, alternative energy, protecting the NHS and freezing council tax amongst others. That and providing a referendum was their mandate, nothing more, nothing less. If the referendum delivers a pro-democracy vote, then we implicitly expect the SNP to negotiate with Westminster on our behalf, that’s where the remit ends.

The only additional thing the SNP need to do is to set forth their policies for the next term, as an independent parliament or as part of the UK. It is an enhancement to the debate should they do this as its good to know what our present party of government would have us do in either case. It is not relevant to the fundamental structure of the debate itself as the SNP has no guarantee of being elected at the poll after the referendum.

I checked the wording of the question again, “do you agree Scotland should be an independent country”, at no point does it ask “do you agree that Scotland’s next government shall be SNP”, that’s a different question for another day.

While the SNP can’t be the sole face of the “YES” campaign, we all know it is their baby, and they are the acclaimed vehicle of independent minded Scots. The independence campaign must be a broad church.

While the supporters are a broad church, the detractors must also be prepared to fight on a single question. In or Out. They must coalesce as a unified force. The fact that the Union itself can’t even unite over a policy about just one question speaks volumes.

It is this lack of Union within the Union that makes SNP policy post referendum largely irrelevant.

Without knowing what we’re voting for if we vote “NO”, what does it matter what the SNP policy is, as many Scots for whatever reasons will never vote SNP.

What Scots need from the Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties in Scotland is an irrevocable decade long guarantee that if they win the referendum then these are the policies that Scots can anticipate being implemented in Scotland. Scots need to know that if these guarantees are broken the price will be triggering a second referendum.

Scots would also like to know what policies these Westminster supporting parties propose, and will hold to for the next decade or so, whatever happens in the referendum. These parties should be consistent. As part of the UK, this is what you’ll get. As an independent nation this is what you can get.

The surprising thing, at first glance, is that none of the Union parties have sprung into action on this basis, yet they expect the SNP to provide all the answers to questions that simply aren’t being asked of them in 2014.

In reality, it’s not surprising at all. Politicians at Westminster largely do and say what it takes to get elected. Events change, circumstances change. London parties claim they cannot be tied to electoral pledges; they abandon them liberally when in office. The London parties nonetheless expect Holyrood to live to a higher standard, to not vary, to make no allowance for “circumstances”.

Effectively Westminster demanding that Holyrood, the SNP, does something which it cannot or will not. Effectively Westminster is telling Holyrood to act honourably as it pulls every dirty trick in the book, and that Holyrood should act so regardless of any future consequence for the Scottish people. Then again, London has form when it comes to acting without regard for the Consequences north of the border.

2014 might as well have on the ballot, Democracy, more or less.

Unless both sides of the argument over future policy are on the table there is no argument to be judged.

Absent both sides of the argument and with the SNP not guaranteed a 2016 electoral victory the arguments are pointless. They’re simply a distraction created by the “NO” campaign, fuelled by fear and disseminated by a compliant media who are irredeemably beyond the level of even requesting balance, never mind requiring it.

If the argument is pointless, although a little advance knowledge of what could be expected might be nice, the SNP policies post independence are, and will remain irrelevant to the debate.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Germany prepares for Greek exit.

With the fear tactics having failed, evidenced by a still surging Syriza in Greece, Germany is digging in its heels over Eurobonds and is preparing for Greece to leave the Eurozone.

Neither Angela Merkel nor David Cameron’s stark warnings about Greece’s future, if it votes for the left leaning Alexis Tsipras and his demand for re-negotiation of Greek debt, appear to be swaying the Greeks. There was a period of several days where the warnings  appeared to have an impact, but polls have largely stabilized showing Syriza still maintaining a healthy lead.

Both EU leaders added their voices to the growing clamour that the next Greek elections will be a referendum on the EU. Greeks have consistently shown in polling that they favour remaining in the EU, but it appears that under the present remotely enforced Austerity and lack of direct control over their own destiny, that some prices might simply be too high.

The backdrop to the drama is detailed by Greece’s ongoing public finances, reported to have dropped again and now exceeding 1 billion Euros less than the comparative period last year. Greece’s finance ministry is giving the reason as political turmoil caused by the elections coupled to reduced economic activity. Unless the Hellenes expect us to believe the tax collectors have been fired, it simply serves to demonstrate Greece’s continuing downwards spiral.

As the EU was not so subtly lecturing on the consequences of Greeks voting for the “wrong party”, one that doesn’t support the Troika measure, the EU, ECB and IMF imposed austerity, Greeks themselves were seeing their country run out of medicine. They were witnessing pharmacists striking because they hadn’t been paid and they were being notified that they had a shortage of life sustaining drugs.

Publically all the main EU nations are stating they don’t want a divorce, they want Greece to remain. Everyone is acknowledging that for Greece to remain part of the EU it needs Austerity at least until 2020, if it leaves it could be back on its feet in two years.

The public face of the EU is therefore issuing warnings while making conciliatory noises, a rather contradictory stance very much akin to what we are seeing from Westminster in Scotland. What is of far more significance is what the principle actors are doing behind the scenes.

Der Spiegel reported it had information about a German government 6-point plan to encourage growth in Europe, under which crisis countries like Greece would receive tax concessions, on condition though that they reform their labour markets, like Germany did in the early days of the euro.

The plan involves creating special economic zones in the crisis-struck parts of the Eurozone. Foreign investors would be lured with tax incentives and more relaxed regulation. The crisis countries would be required to establish German-style privatisation agencies or privatisation funds to sell off, or part privatise, parts of the public sector. It might be a difficult sell as it involves creating additional inequities within the EZ.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung opened with front page news page that internally the Eurozone partners are very seriously preparing for a Greek exit, while externally wanting to create impression that Greece is staying.

Sueddeutsche and Bild appear to be working on news that’s leaking out, reporting the carefully coordinated contingency plan emerging at multiple levels which will enable commerce, industry and governments to assist Greece to leave the euro, although such a move shouldn’t be possible under EU law.

As examples the travel agency TUI is insisting on having a drachma clause in all its contracts, to protect it from financial loss should a currency switch take place while supermarket chain Metro is making plans to allow customers in its Greek shops to pay in Drachma. It's making preparations for pricing labels and cash machines to be changed.

Deutsche Telekom has sent experts to its Greek partner, OTE to help plan for a change from euro to drachma. German banks have reportedly written off all their junk Greek funds and investments so that a Greek exit will not affect them.

The European Central Bank is reportedly working out practical ways in which Euro notes could be switched, possibly by stamping them with a special magnetic stamp. The ECB also needs to work out what it does with the €40bn worth of Greek bonds it possesses. In the event of Greece going bankrupt, or leaving the Eurozone they could end up being worthless, and the UK will need to stump up on its portion of loan guarantees.

If the UK is required to underwrite the costs expect an additional drop in the value of sterling. That will increase the cost of all imports, and as the UK actually manufactures little these days that will be significant. This doesn’t allow for direct exposure to Greek debt, thankfully the UK is one of the lesser exposed nations here.

Ultimately the situation in Greece somewhat mirrors the situation in Scotland within the UK.

There are many who are ardent supporters of Union, but as time progresses if the true economic situation can be laid bare and the consequences be seen to be biting in Scotland, then even supporters of the Union will desert the cause in their droves. As this knowledge takes hold in Westminster we will see increasing levels of “contingency planning” for the “fait accompli”.

The only question really hanging over the future of the UK, like Greece, can it borrow enough in the short term, or can it do enough devaluation of Sterling [that quantitative easing of which the B of E is so fond] to keep the truth of current UK national finances from being self evident to all Scots in the short term. Judging by the IMF’s comments this week, it may be teetering on the edge.

If Westminster can achieve borrowing and resultant delay, there is a chance it may just squeak in the referendum, this time. The question will not end here, because it is already self evident it is not a fair and open campaign with Union scare tactics being granted full press and nationalist advances glossed over.

Should Westminster have any inkling that it may not be able to borrow sufficiently through the life of the referendum campaign, it would best serve all the inhabitants of these islands, and Europe in the wider context, to begin the preparations for an orderly dissolution now.

Ultimately what happens to Greece 2012 will be a bellwether of sorts for Scotland 2014. For good or bad it will have an impact. It just remains to be seen how large an impact.

To save Greece within the EZ and perhaps the EZ itself will take nothing less than a United States of Europe. For Greece there just isn’t time for that to be created. For the remainder of the EZ, it’s obviously quickly becoming a desire for weaker nations, it’s just as obviously becoming unpalatable for the stronger ones.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A Greek tragedy: the Euro, the pound, the disaster.

This weekend the UK PM David Cameron was at the G8 in the USA. He’s widely reported to have been issuing instructions to the Eurozone on how to deal with their issues, and telling Greece in particular that it better watch its P’s and Q’s.

The general view in the Eurozone is that he’s got a cheek, and rightly so. The UK isn’t even a member; its prime minister is decrying EU fiscal policy while not really saying much, in fact the UK might not even be in the EU at all if Mr. Cameron was a man of his word. If he had given the UK the membership referendum he promised before taking power.

Add to this the UK’s unmitigated disaster of government debt, with levels that make Greece’s positively microscopic, and any emanations by Westminster are decidedly for home consumption only. They carry little to no weight in the EU.

The plain English side of the EU conflict, for such is what its shaping up to be, is most easily set out in a Game of Houses. Allocating house sizes and tax bands to each country will show us exactly where the problems lie. Like the UK however, to get to the root of the problem it’s necessary to go into the history of the modern pan European treaties. The root causes are almost identical, within the EU to within the UK, but this time we’re just dealing with half a century instead of three centuries and counting.

The EU began about fifty years ago with six nations entering a common market. No trade barriers, no duties, no taxes between the nations. It worked, it was a wonderful concept and it enriched lives across the EEC. The reason it worked was threefold; the nations concerned were all northern European nations sharing similar, although rarely amicable cultural heritages, they all had similar standards of living and pricing structures, their social benefits and mobility were largely the same.

The problem with the EEC was it succeeded, and as is the way with things human it expanded, but it expanded without limitation [the EU, as it became, ignored its own fiscal policies for admission to the Euro] and decided to implement the Euro project on a massive scale.

The Euro project is an unmitigated disaster, which was pre-ordained. It was still forced through by bureaucrats in Brussels.

Imagine each nation in Europe as a single house, each in the same village. The tax bands go from A-H, so does the influence within the EU. Greece would be a tax band-A But n Ben, Germany a tax band-H palatial mansion. Greece raises £1,000 a year for the EU; Germany raises £10,000 a year. The UK is somewhere around a band-D, raising about £5,000, but nobody is really certain because nobody else in the EU is sure of the UK commitment – the UK to the EU is like the over mortgaged council house on the outskirts that keeps arguing for the village to redraw its boundaries, without the UK inside, but at the same times likes to tell the rest of the village what to do and how to run the village council.

The village council is getting fed up.

The problem is that the EU doesn’t work; the diversity of socio-economic structure is far too wide. The EU is like the developer putting the Band H structure inside a scheme containing band A’s and Band B’s. That band H will see its value dragged down by the A’s and B’s while the A’s and B’s will see their value lifted by the band H. People won’t pay more for exactly the same band A house they can buy somewhere else unless someone gives them the extra money to pay for it, it’s called a subsidy.

The only place the subsidy can come from is the band H house, they’ll pay the same taxes but see their services shared by the band A’s. The people in the band A’s are now dependant; the people in the band H are now upset. The band A’s are also restless because they now know that if the band H’s ever decide to stop the subsidy they’ll lose their homes. Friction ensues.

The reason the original EEC worked was that everyone was in Band F’s through Band H’s, and everyone had a chance in a few years to upgrade. The diversification of bands in the current EU means it’s almost impossible to go from band A to band H without winning the lottery of nations, for example by discovering oil and keeping the revenues. Even this opportunity is vanishing as the EU continues to legislate in an attempt to make oil an EU resource. The EU to Greece is then like the UK to Scotland, it drains the wealth and leaves the misery behind.

In a circumstance like this, where Greece were fortunate enough to discover oil, if the EU had its way the revenues would be divided across the entire EU, with the houses in the biggest tax brackets getting most benefit. Germany would get ten times more benefit from Greece’s oil than Greece. It’s exactly the same in the UK. It’s called pro-rata division of assets. It’s a wonderful concept when you have nothing but a proportionally huge population.

Greece, and to a lesser extent Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are all in the band A’s and B’s. They’re all dependant. They’re all in a place, i.e. a Union, they shouldn’t be in. They’re all in trouble. Ditto Scotland, arguably we have two layers of problems.

The fact that Germany, our band H, is only 10% of the total tax doesn’t matter, the other 90% can’t outvote her because Germany, and perhaps a couple of the band G’s are the only one’s without a mortgage in the village. Not only that but they underwrite the mortgages of the band A’s through band C’s. The smaller homeowners can’t afford to upset the mortgager because the only way they can pay the mortgage is with more loans from the band G’s and H’s.

Sooner or later the folks in the big house are going to say “enough is enough”, go earn the money to pay your mortgage. If you can’t earn more, spend less. This is where we are today.

So the band A’s and band B’s try to make more money, but can’t because the band G’s and H’s won’t lend them any more money to make money with. All the money the band A’s and B’s are making goes to the mortgage. It’s still not enough.

The people in the little houses, who can’t borrow [and the UK is perilously close to that now] find they still have the onerous mortgage burden. They have to look for savings if they can’t make more money, so they do everything possible to save money. They stop paying for healthcare, for their children’s education, for helping their elderly and infirm. They do it to themselves simply because they need to make those mortgage payments. They do it to themselves simply because it’s better than having somebody else do it to them.

It’s called self imposed Austerity. The UK, now demoted to band B is in that period of self imposed Austerity, if it was in the Euro it would simply be Berlin imposed Austerity.

Meanwhile the Band G’s and Band H’s keep getting wealthier.

This is Europe today under the EU, a microcosm is Scotland under the UK, Scotland is the Band H in potentiae existing as, optimistically, a band B.

The solution, it’s simple. The folks all need to realise they’re all one village, one community, and share. This means a relatively sudden and dramatic drop in living standards for Band H’s and Band A’s seeing a dramatic rise. Eurobonds would achieve this. Direct funding would achieve this. Neither will happen.

The Germany’s, the wealthy of the world will not impose upon themselves the reductions needed to help the poor, the Greeks. This is why the EU in its present form should never have happened, though it might have worked if limited to the original EEC partners with similar histories, social structures, standards of living, economic productivity and laws.

The only foreseeable outcome without the high value nations diminishing themselves is anarchy. Anarchy takes many forms, the obvious first of which we’re seeing now. Default.

It doesn’t matter the verbal window dressing, by not paying all its creditors Greece has already defaulted. Greece has not fixed the underlying problem; it’s had no significant help from the village. Greece still owes more than it can afford to pay, and it’s just had a 30% pay cut.

Greece will default again; it has no option without massive cash injections and complete debt forgiveness from everyone in the village. Greece needs to be helped into a job where it can recover not just its lost 30%, but make 30% more. The village can just about afford to help Greece, but it won’t. Greece won’t get what it needs because helping Greece would exhaust both the wealth and the borrowing power of the band G’s and band H’s. Their mortgages go up.

The band G’s and H’s aren’t bad folks, they might be inclined to help Greece, the band A, except they know all the band B’s aren’t much better off than Greece, and each band B has a bigger house, bigger commitments, bigger debts, bigger needs. They can’t help even one band B without selling their own homes, and that’s something their own families just aren’t going to allow.

The problem is that the families in the big houses are already on the hook for Greece, they’ll have to pay for her debts in the end. All we’re seeing right now is the heads of household in the Band G’s and H’s delaying the day of reckoning as they try to work out the best payment terms for those inside their walls. The forlorn hope is that the longer the collapse can be postponed the better the terms might end up being.

It’s called delay and pray, pray for a miracle.

This affects the UK and it impacts the lives of each and every one of us. I’ve seen my income cut by 30% and more since 2008, the pound was at $2:10+, now it’s bouncing around between $1.55 and $1.60. Add in inflation compounding at 3.5% per year with a drop in what the pension pot is worth and in four short years I’ve seen the real buying power of my income reduced by almost 50%. Everything imported has gone through the same cycle. Every one of us to greater or lesser extent has suffered. The suffering will continue within the UK.

In the last week the pound fell 4 cents, because of the Euro we’re told, that’s the spin. It fell because the UK has far less than 1 in 5 people actually making anything anymore, the UK relies on finance, and finance is illusory wealth. As soon as people can’t pay anymore the financial houses come crashing down – last week’s 4 cent loss, pound against dollar, was the international market pricing in the City of London’s Greek losses to the pounds value. Yes, it is that dramatic, as goes the City of London so goes the pound, we in the UK are that reliant upon financial services. This is where the power of the City originates, this and the debt.

Germany, if it had the mark, would not have seen such dramatic movement because it is nowhere as near reliant upon financing, it still has industry. It still has a positive balance sheet.

Every UK Prime Minister since Harold Wilson owns the problem and none will acknowledge that the City of London, with the UK economy is just lasting longer than expected on its deathbed. Greece and the failure of the Euro will simply administer the last rites, but neither Greece nor the Euro is to blame, that accounting lies squarely in London’s houses of Parliament.

It’s time for Scotland to put an end to the UK electoral cycle, to that ignominious game of thrones centered on number 10 Downing Street.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Democracy. Alive and Well, or non-existent?

Democracy, it’s a principle that governments in what we commonly refer to as “the free world” are founded upon. It has a simple principle, one individual has one vote, and every vote has the same value. No sane person would have it any other way.

The reality is somewhat different, the reality is that it only functions properly under one unique and peculiar set of social circumstances and that when these social circumstances don’t exist democracy is simply another way of saying “elected dictatorship”.

The United Nations finally got it with its declaration of March 2008 concerning rights of indigenous peoples, it’s well worth a read especially when one considers that North Sea Oil falls directly under these articles, that Scots, English and Welsh are all “indigenous peoples”. The 2008 declaration was a final summation of the earlier declaration embedded in article 1 of the UN charter which states that all peoples have the right to self determination. The UN later published a comprehensive document detailing those rights.

The above document explains why the ancient right of conquest is now considered dubious, opening the door for Welsh autonomy, and why Scots have that unalienable and ongoing right to self determination. It also explains Spain’s consternation about national movements even though they “created” a constitutional amendment recently to forbid such choice. It also explains why the Union government has been using Spain in its widely circulated scare stories.

All of this effectively ties back into democracy, Spain only managed to get its constitutional amendment through by NOT asking the people, very undemocratic. Had the Catalans, for example, had a referendum and had to pass such a measure, their vote may have been very different to that in Andalucía. To get the amendment passed each region should have been required to have submitted an affirmative vote. That’s democracy. The Catalans have an ongoing wish, or voiced expression for independence, the Andalucían’s not so much. It is inappropriate for one group of people to remove or try to remove rights from another.

In our own situation, our sham democracy, none argue that Scots, and for the most part Welsh have a different ethnic and societal background to English, that’s reflected in polls that historically and continually show a center left leaning in democratic principles.

Both nations have boundaries; both are and remain more than simple “lines on a map”. History, language and culture make us all undeniably distinct, unique and separate. There is no common bond which exists, other than London’s avarice and determination that it must be so. There is no natural circumstance that could or should weld either Celtic nation into an unbending, unyielding incorporating Union which is dominated and dictated to by another country.

Both Scots and Welsh are effectively disenfranchised; they have little democratic impact, to a lesser extent this also applies to England.

Scotland and Wales find themselves in the historical situation the EU is presently facing, where the votes and rights of the individual are diluted in favour of the “greater good”, that political super-state. Political amalgamations can work, but each unique member needs an equal voice. Greece, to a lesser extent Italy, Portugal and Spain are all being forced to follow the Franco-German model, the consequences for the nations are dire. The US with its 2 members per state in the senate is one reason why that super state endures. The US has a balance with basically proportional representation in its “House”. The EU lacks such a system; the UK lacks such a system of balanced fairness. Both are doomed to ultimate political failure.

The UK could implement fairness as it reforms the Lords, making it fully empowered and fully elected with an automatic 100 members per nation. Direct national quantitative representation, just like the US senate. The UK will not do this, it speaks too much of fairness and true democracy. It dilutes the “Game of Thrones”.

Without such a system in place it means that a vote in Scotland or Wales has less than 1/10th the value of a vote in England. It means that for Scotland or Wales to obtain what they desire, at least 45% of English must agree, and those elected must be honest. It means that every Scot and every Welsh citizen is being denied over 90% of their democratic right, even before the intrinsic and endemic Westminster failings are considered.

We fundamentally exist in the United Kingdom within what is an “elected” dictatorship. It’s a dictatorship where one individual holds primacy for a period of years, where dissenters can be “whipped” into line to ensure the masters bidding. Today’s downing street incumbents are little more than the visible participants in a modern day “Game of Thrones”, participants not principles, as the true power appears wielded by the denizens of the City.

There is no method to remove this premier, this “elected” head of state, and if our representatives fail us there is no way to remove them either. It’s not democracy; it’s lightly modified perpetuation of the “rotten boroughs’” under democracy’s guise.

The Iraq war is a case in point, Scotland and Wales found themselves powerless. In England there’s the ongoing case of privatising education, the NHS and social structures, the English discover themselves powerless in face of the onslaught of the pursuit of private profit, against societal weal. Because of their own rotten electoral system, they’re also politically impotent. A politician, any politician who doesn’t keep his or her word must be impeachable. In this corrupt dis-United Kingdom, they aren’t.

Disenfranchisement and disrespect for democracy are not just historical; they exist today, this month, and are ongoing in the Union parties. Take for instance the local council elections in Scotland, just last week. The voter’s choice absent an overall majority is for the two largest parties to work together, to compromise. They got the most votes after all. Most often the outcome was a Labour/Tory cabal arising to prevent any potential of democracy being fulfilled. Unionist parties would rather compromise policy than cooperate with the SNP.

We also had the Scottish Government referendum consultation, where Labour freely admitted creating false email addresses and submitting responses under the guise of Walt Disney characters. Such an intentional attempted perversion of democracy’s course should surely see them struck from the political party register, but no, not in this severely disenfranchised Kingdom where such aberrations are to the benefit of the establishment.

Voter turnout is low because respect doesn’t exist in our political system. How many times have we heard the comment “they’re all the same, why bother?”

There is only one effective way to correct the situation, to revert to three nations with the Northern Irish choosing their own destiny. There could be a federal structure as the Lib-Dem’s previously proposed, and then reneged upon in Scotland. Alternatively each nation could truly see a dramatic increase in enfranchisement, in democratic value as its own nation gained a true voice in its own best interests at every one of the world’s top tables, each would revert to its natural state, independent. The Scots, Welsh and even the English themselves would no longer be isolated.

Until that day arrives the Scots and Welsh have no significant input to monetary policy, to taxation methods, to social benefits, to retirements, or to health and elderly care. The English are in little better shape. The Scots and the Welsh get what London chooses based largely upon the needs and desires of “the City”. The wealth and social structure of at least two constituent nations is presently available for the avaricious potential just of one town. That is a failure of democracy; it is a dilution of value of the vote of every individual in each nation.

To convince millions of Scots to vote no to independence, to continue to surrender over 9/10th’s of their fundamental democratic rights to another in return for “warm and fuzzies” would be an incredible accomplishment. Consider that there have been no serious arguments of substance as to the Union benefits to Scotland while those based in reality consistently show how Scots have been harmed by the 1707 Union.

With even the American’s affirming Scots probable success as independent nation, as this Wall Street Journal article voices, and it’s just one example, still some of us will vote against the idea of better democracy, of more individual power, of greater liberty, of independence. This leaves us with one inescapable conclusion to every Union vote placed in the upcoming referendum.

Votes for the Union will represent a completely unprecedented success in dictatorial propaganda, better and more polished now by London than ever Goebbels or Stalin’s Pravda could have imagined, for never yet in the course of human political history will it have been possible to spin so many into giving up so much for so few.

Friday, 11 May 2012

FAQ, the spin and the reality.

What would Scottish independence mean for the monarchy?

The Union Perspective: Under the Scottish Government’s current plans, Scotland would retain Queen Elizabeth as head of state and remain within the Commonwealth.

The Reality: Any future king or queen would likely be required to undergo a Scottish coronation instead of simply swearing an oath in a back room in London. The option for Scotland to become a republic would always remain open and would happen if it was the settled will of the people. Independence may be the best option for the Monarchy in Scotland, each new head could be voted in preferably by referendum. Election by popular acclaim followed by due crowning in Edinburgh or other Scots location with public swearing of the oaths of office could not only help to revive the Monarchy north of Tweed, but it would also ensure the monarch worked for the people.

Would an independent Scotland keep the pound?

The Union Perspective: Yes, until it chooses the Euro. But keeping Sterling would mean it loses control over monetary policy to the Bank of England, and ideally need Scotland to strike a currency union deal with the remainder of the UK.

The Reality: Yes, that is current policy. The Bank of England is part of the Treaty of Union [article 16] so would be an intrinsic part of untying that treaty. In theory Scotland is an equal partner in the Bank of England, but with the bank’s semi autonomous position there’s a lot to be negotiated. It is in Scotland’s interest to retain Sterling to prevent the possibility of a run on the currency which will inevitably be weakened if/when Scotland leaves. It is entirely possible a future Scotland will join another currency union or set her own coinage, that will be a choice of Scots in days to come. Currently, under the Union, Scotland has no say on monetary policy.

Who would get North Sea oil revenues if Scotland declared independence?

The Union Perspective: The Scottish government believes Scotland is entitled to a 90% geographical share of the North Sea's oil and gas fields, giving it 81% of all the oil and gas produced in 2010. This has not been tested and the UK government refuses to confirm this.

The Reality: International law is clear; Scotland gets over 90% of presently identified reserves. The maritime boundaries on the East also revert to historical norm/international agreement bringing more territory back to Scotland, and as yet unidentified resources in the West as far as Rockall’s boundaries will also fall under Holyrood. Berwick upon Tweed would return to Scotland, become independent, or remain with England. Berwick is legally a Scots town but will likely be given a choice due to its unique treaty history.

Could an independent Scotland have bailed out RBS and HBOS?

The Union Perspective: Not without great difficulty. The UK government spent £45bn bailing out RBS and £20bn on Lloyds, which took over Halifax Bank of Scotland to avoid its collapse. That exceeds Scotland's annual tax receipts. But most significantly, at its peak, the Treasury had £465bn at risk in cash and guarantees, well over three times Scotland's total GDP, even if a full geographical share of North Sea oil is included.

The Reality: Absolutely. International accord [but not international law, as Iceland showed no nation needs to bail out private industry] is clear; nations are expected to be responsible for debts accruing within their boundaries. When a European bank recently failed the Dutch, French and Belgians all bailed it out, proportionate to the business share in each nation. With only around 5% of the UK banking business being in Scotland Holyrood would have been responsible for somewhere around £4 billion in direct funds and less than £25 billion in guarantees.

This assumes that Holyrood would put private debt onto the public account which it could quite simply have refused to do. The real answer in hard cash is therefore anywhere between £0.00 and £4 billion would have been required. That £4 billion wouldn’t have just been “gifted”, it would have bought shares which could later be sold. An already independent Scotland could have been expected to have reserves’ like Norway [McCrone] and simply underwritten such a sum, unlike London which had to borrow it. The Union perspective also operates under an assumption that Scotland would have permitted its banks to “run riot”, it is equally likely that Scots banks would have operated under a system as secure as Canada’s or Norway’s.

Would an independent Scotland have its own armed forces?

The Union perspective: Certainly but it remains unclear how large it would be or what alliances it would forge. The Scottish government believes it will be based around the UK mobile armoured brigade being moved to Scotland, and could spend about £2.1bn, similar to defence budgets in Norway and Denmark.

The Reality: Scotland contributes £3.3 billion to UK defense. Defense spending in Scotland is now less than £1.5 billion and falling. Scotland can increase defense spending to a Nordic level by adding some £600 million in internal expenditure and still pocket over $1 billion, which currently goes to London, for future investment in her own people. The UK government is presently completing the process of disbanding almost all the Scots regiments.

What would happen to Royal Navy and RAF bases in Scotland, including Trident?

The Union perspective and Reality coincide: Alex Salmond's government believes it needs one principle airbase and one principle naval base, in addition to an army. It may take over Faslane on the Clyde as its naval base but wants the Trident submarines based there to leave. It would use the last remaining RAF base in Scotland at Lossiemouth in Moray. The exact details are fluid, but the proposals are expected to leave a stronger, better equipped, better funded military in Scotland than presently exists under the UK.

If Salmond wins a referendum can Scotland simply declare independence?

The Union Perspective: Not immediately. All the key issues, like Scotland's share of UK debt, dividing up North Sea oil fields, a possible currency union, taking over military bases and UK government offices, would need to be negotiated. Some argue the final deal should also be ratified in a referendum: Salmond has suggested it will be approved by the results of the Scottish parliament election in May 2016. It is unclear how the UK parliament would approve any deal. There would also be a transition period before that process was complete which could take several years.

The reality: Yes. Negotiations would then take place between two sovereign nation states rather than a unitary state representing three nations and one who is then of indeterminate status. The legality and political reality are even different here; Holyrood could declare independence tomorrow if it chose, legally, because it’s the representative government of Scots, but the political reality is everyone accepts a referendum is needed to make it “clean”. There is nothing to prevent a declaration on the day of a positive result, just like moving out and waiting for formal distribution of obligations. The reality is time will be required to set up taxation and social funding structures, but this should have been done before the vote if all parties are cooperating.

What do the opinion polls say?

The Union Perspective: The latest polls show a rise in support for independence and a decline in support for the UK, but the findings vary dramatically depending on what question is asked.

On 31 January 2012, Ipsos-MORI asked voters to choose based on that question, and found: 37% said yes, and 50% no. Firming up those answers to focus on only those who were certain to vote, and the proportion preferring independence rose to 39%.

However, in early February, a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times and Real Radio Scotland, had a more startling finding – that 47% would vote yes to the question "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?", against 53% saying no.

The Reality: The polls are now running almost neck and neck, but often include weighting or wording which can skew the outcome if not applied correctly. Scots have not yet had the debate and it’s even. There has been little to no balance in reporting and many true facts about the state of their nation remain hidden from the average Scot.

It’s reasonable to expect that with full and honest debate, absent deception, and with the parties campaigning on the platform strengths alone the result should surpass that of the 1997 referendum which showed an average between the two ballots of a “yes” vote in the high 60’s.

Can Salmond hold a multi-option referendum?

The Union perspective: Probably, but it would involve a major political gamble. Salmond wants the freedom to give voters an extra option of voting on devo plus or devo max, to give Scotland greater autonomy within the UK. His opponents say this is technically difficult and would confuse voters. Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has posed a question known as Rennie's riddle: if independence won 51% support but devo plus 99%, would Salmond still opt for independence? Salmond also needs someone else to campaign for devo plus in a referendum; so far no-one has offered to do so.

The Reality: Yes. It would be held just like the 1997 referendum, there would be two ballot questions, on two separate ballots. Do you want Independence, do you want Devo Max. The devo max option, like the tax question in 1997 would only come into play dependent upon the result of the other ballot. There’s no ambiguity, there’s no confusion, there’s no obfuscation.

Holyrood would need to define “Devo-Max” very precisely, and there would need to be a time limit for Westminster to agree, or that agreement would require being in place before the poll. Failure to secure the terms of “Devo-Max” would of necessity require creating a default condition of either votes for Independence or triggering a second referendum after say, twelve months, if Westminster failed to act honourably over “Devo-Max”.

Devo-Max is essentially Scots saying they will offer an opportunity to Westminster to renegotiate the 1707 treaty. Westminster can then either accept or refuse. The reality of the situation is that Westminster is strongly against significant constitutional change, it perceives Devo-Max as forcing this upon it and simply hopes it can win a “yes/no” independence vote as it did with Clegg’s PR referendum and avoid any change to the way it does business.

What does it mean for me, my life, my future citizenship?

The Union Perspective: Someone born or resident in Scotland: it should mean a greater direct say over one's government and more political freedom, but also greater economic risks, less security and more differences with England.

The Reality: A vote in an election is no longer diluted 11 to 1. There will typically be easier access to needed services, more nimble government which is closer to the people and an overall a climb of about 10 places in the world wealth table. This should signal an end to Austerity, an ability to invest inwardly and a potential which does not presently exist to protect the welfare state and social services. Scots could also realistically expect lower taxes, or equivalent taxes with better support and infrastructure. It appears the Union considers everyone should be just like England?

The Union Perspective: Non-Scottish UK citizen: not a great deal, but the UK economy will be smaller, oil and whisky might be more expensive, British identity would be diluted and Britain's status overseas could be weaker.

The Reality: There will be no UK economy. Scotland and England will become equal free trading neighbours on the world stage with fair competition, not London’s lopsided rules. There will be a period of potential constitutional upheaval as Wales and Northern Ireland figure out their future. The pound will track closely to present values until Scotland decides to leave Sterling, at that time based upon present indicators there’s a strong potential of sudden and substantial devaluation. There could be significant positives after the adjustment period with improvements in the Scots economy, democracy and accountability, or it could be simply “business as usual” at Westminster. Scotland will have a voice at the top tables which far exceeds her size and is proportionate to her wealth. British identity is something of little to no value with only a minute percentage seeing themselves as “primarily British”.

Someone outside UK: Pro and anti-Union supporters now largely agree, Scotland is expected to remain in the EU, so there will be few major changes for tourists or investors. Future EU choices would be for Scots themselves to make which will permit Scotland a direct voice at Europe’s top table on fisheries and agriculture, to name but two. With 50% of Europe’s fossil fuel supplies and 30% of its green energy potential, Scotland is expected to “punch well above her weight” and be one of the principles in future policy formulation. Most importantly Scotland will now have direct representation for her interests at every significant level.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Scottish independence: the spin and the reality. The difference.

There’s lots of talk in the media these days about independence. There has been such an abundance of scare stories one might think that Scotland is heading for some sort of international pariah-hood rather than statehood; that the ship of state is being launched full of holes.

Recently there was an article in the Guardian, “Scottish Independence: all you need to know” and credit should be given to that journal as it somewhat condensed the popularised view of Union supporters, the uninformed and the dependency inclined towards Scotland’s future. It was also extraordinarily useful as a tool for comparing the revisionist, highly selective Union view of history and a cosy London-centric reality against the actual historical facts and most likely future outcomes.

The media would have us believe that Devo-max, full independence, or greater fiscal responsibility are all on offer. Interestingly none are recently advocating the status quo.

The following may help people understand the differences between myth and reality surrounding Scotland’s potentials, as proposed by her elected government and the incessant scare stories/personal attacks thrown forward, shotgun effect, in opposition by adherents to the Union cause. This is an examination of the difference, if any, between balanced argument and reality, between propaganda and historical or present fact.

1. The independence issue at a glance

The Union perspective: Around a third of Scotland's 4 million voters believe that Scotland should leave the UK and become independent, ending the 305-year-old political union with England. These individuals say Scotland's economy, its social policies and its creativity would flourish if it had much greater autonomy. A majority of Scots disagree. They believe Scotland is more secure within the UK.

The reality: The 305 year old Union was forced upon Scotland, there were English troops massed at the border together with foreign conscripts in 1706. The members of parliament were bribed, the signing was in secret, and there were riots for years afterwards. The majority of Scots do not disagree with independence being resumed by Scotland, they’ve simply never had it properly debated and are therefore unable to form a balanced opinion in our current circumstances.

Scots, as a nation, have never been asked the question after full, balanced and unbiased disclosure of all relevant facts. Scots have never yet failed to demand, petition or vote for more power / home rule, since the Second World War alone this happened in 1952, 1979 and 1997, the latter two in the face of virulent unionist campaigns.

2. Why is independence being talked about now?

The Unionist perspective: The argument is now very real after the Scottish National party won an overall majority in the devolved parliament elections in May 2011, allowing it to stage an independence referendum. Alex Salmond, the first minister and SNP leader, plans to hold it in autumn 2014.

The reality: It has been on the table since the act of Union was introduced, in 1712 it was defeated only by a parliamentary filibuster; 1715 and 1745 saw loosely related rebellions; Gladstone toyed with the idea; it was to the fore in 1912 but WW1 intruded. In 1952 the home rule petition gained 2 million signatures.

In 1974 the Scots were lied to again through suppression of facts about the true status of their nation (McCrone etc). In 1979 Scots voted for a devolved parliament, the Tories were elected after Labour changed the rules of democracy and Scotland was again denied.

There were the civil movements of the late 1980’s and 1990’s, leading to the referendum in 1997, again Scots voted yes. This is simply another step in Scotland’s story, one which without Unionist fears and subversion of democratic right would have been available sometime, perhaps many times during the last three centuries. The action was inevitable, only the timing was in question.

3. A brief history, pre Union, around Union and post Union.


The Unionist perspective: Pre-Union. Scotland's relations with its larger neighbour have often been difficult, none more so than in the "wars of independence" 700 years ago led by William Wallace and then Robert the Bruce who defeated Edward II, ending attempts to subjugate Scotland, at Bannockburn in 1314. After other cross border disputes and invasions the Scottish and English crowns were unified in 1603 when King James VI of Scotland became overall monarch of the British Isles.

The reality: There was no union of the crowns in 1603, there was no act of either parliament to ratify James VI assuming the English throne and enshrine his heirs as future UK monarchs. James simply became a single figurehead for both nations; nothing prevented the English or Scots from independently selecting their own monarch afterwards. Both in fact did remove a monarch at a later time, England was forced into buying an abdication while the Scots simply threw out the offending individual.

Around the time of Union:
The Unionist Perspective: Union creation and immediately post Union. In 1707, that union was cemented by Scotland and England's political union, forced on Scotland in part by a financial crisis following the abject failure of its colony in Panama, the so-called Darien adventure. All political power moved to London, but Scotland retained its own legal system, churches and universities. In 1745, the pretender to the British throne, Bonnie Prince Charlie, led the Jacobite revolt against Hanoverian rule by London. Despite reaching as far south as Derby, that ended in crushing defeat at Culloden in 1746.

The reality: Scotland’s most influential lords were bankrupt after funding Darien and looking at asset seizure by her burghs and merchants after the debacle. Darien was brought about after King William permitted his trusted friend and founder of the Bank of England, William Patterson, to go north and tout the idea. The failure of Darien came about through two causes, a Spanish blockade of the colony with English instigation support and collusion, and disease.

The Scots towns and burghs were wealthy in 1706; there was substantial trading taking place between Scotland and mainland Europe. England gained domination of a wealthy nation at a single stroke. The Union was engineered by less than fifty indebted nobles who later were remembered as “a parcel ‘o rouges in a nation”. These nobles worked to bring about the Union for personal gain and to avoid individual bankruptcy. Scotland retained not only law, religion and constitution, but her mints, taxation centres, burghs and much more. The last have since been eroded.

As William I’s chief paymaster to the nobles of Scotland, Daniel Defoe, commented in his memoirs, this was certainly a Union that Scotland’s people did not want.

Post Union:
The Union Perspective: the period of Union: In the 1800s, Scotland's economy strengthened, its cities boomed and its citizens took a leading role in the British empire. But proposals to give Scotland some form of "home rule" within the UK have been alive since William Gladstone's era as Liberal leader in the 1880s. After several failed attempts at Westminster, notably in 1913 and 1979, a Scottish parliament was finally reestablished in 1999 in Edinburgh with wide-ranging policy making and legal powers but dependent on a direct grant from London.

The reality: It took more than a century for Scotland’s economy, ravished by 1707’s Union, civil strife, uprisings, and multiple rounds of clearances and deprivation to even partially recover.

Scots became the empire’s cannon fodder, largely in part because the military offered an alternative to the mines, deportation, emigration or starvation.

Right through to the 1979 referendum the term “brain drain” was in common use as our best and brightest left our shores, shores which held no perceived hope for their future.

Scotland still has amongst the most deprived and poorest areas in Europe with some of the lowest projected life spans on earth, in spite of being one of the world’s most resource rich countries. A valid comment about Scotland under the Union is that it is the only nation to discover substantial reserves of oil and get poorer, now suffering austerity.

4. What happens next?

The Union perspective: Alex Salmond is in talks with David Cameron, the prime minister, about securing the legal powers that Holyrood needs to set up the referendum. Mr. Salmond wants to pass legislation in November 2013 but laws affecting the UK's constitution are reserved to the UK parliament. Without that power Holyrood will face lengthy battles over the legality of the poll.

David Cameron insists it can be held in September 2013; meanwhile the two men are in dispute over whether the referendum can include a second question on more powers for Holyrood within the UK, an option known as "devolution plus" or "devo max". The Tories, Liberal Democrats and Labour are offering to give Holyrood greater powers after the 2015 general election but insist the referendum has just one yes or no question on independence. Both sides need to strike a deal or risk a major confrontation.

The reality: Scotland and England exist under a treaty, the UK is not in fact a country, though commonly viewed as such by Union proponents; it is in fact a unitary state now made up of four countries, two of which, Scotland and England may choose to terminate their bilateral treaty of 1707 at any time. There is no such thing as a treaty which can’t be terminated by proper notice, as the Vienna Convention on treaty law makes clear.

Alex Salmond, Scotland, Holyrood or the Scots people need no permission from David Cameron, Westminster et al. The charter of the United Nations, to which the UK is signatory is very clear on this. What is often referred to as the UK’s constitution is actually England’s unwritten constitution. As noted in the Union perspective earlier, Scotland’s laws were protected; this also means Scotland’s ancient constitution. A recent example of this is the illegality of wheel clamping in Scotland while it remains rampant elsewhere.

There is no “requirement” for a referendum deal to be struck, however it would be an improvement if all sides could agree and move forward to present a full, fair and completely unbiased argument of their perceived relative strengths. This would ensure we have properly informed voters making what will be a highly significant decision.

5. The options – and key arguments

Option: Status quo - the UK government in charge of most taxation, welfare and economy.

Arguments for the status quo: 
The Union Perspective: The UK is the most successful economic and political union of modern times – change needs to be slow and careful. The UK brings security and shared risk, and common values.

The reality: The Union has not been successful for Scotland, a net contributor for almost her entire existence. Scotland has seen consistently higher deprivation, lower GDP and poorer life quality indices across the board. The Union has been successful for Westminster who has systematically asset stripped Scotland of people and resources for over three centuries. None with intelligence fights to keep a millstone, yet Westminster is fighting for retention of Scotland and states Scots are just that. London therefore either lacks intelligence or is lying. Termination is overdue for something that should never have been conceived.

Every Scots vote is diluted in worth by approximately 90%. That is a poor excuse for democracy.

Arguments Against Independence:

The Union Perspective: The Union is a living entity, it needs to grow, but it needs to do so under the direction of Westminster alone. It could do better in recognising Scotland's unique needs, values and aspirations; a little more devolution, such as the Scotland bill will fix any lingering problems.

The Reality: History shows it [the Union] should not have happened anyway, excluding this both parties agree. Scotland's interests are always secondary to England's. The UK is often run by parties which Scotland rejects. Under devolution there’s always the probability of Scotland’s needs and desires being trampled by Westminster’s wishes, as in Iraq, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear armaments and power policy. What London gives it can take.

This ensures that Scotland has to raise the taxes it spends while keeping defence and foreign affairs at UK level with the welfare state open to question or negotiation.

The Union Perspective: Some believe Scotland needs to take responsibility for the taxes it spends, and mould policies to its needs and raise the taxes to match its spending. Giving Scotland control over taxation and welfare would heavily impact all parts of the UK, require reform of the UK parliament and undermine internal unity.

The Reality: There would be agreement on this, excluding the fact it would not go far enough. Scotland could still find herself in wars that are not of her choice, at increased risk of terror attacks on her peaceful nation and she’d have no option on nuclear weapons. There is also the issue that in the probability Westminster becomes insolvent any funds Scots have, welfare, pensions et al will vanish leaving untold numbers of hard working Scots destitute.


The Union Perspective: giving Scotland full control over all taxes, laws and North Sea oil while keeping sterling and the Queen. Scotland would face greater financial risks, lose the security of UK, and gain little that further devolution would give. It would rely on a foreign bank and be in damaging competition with its closest, larger neighbour. The Union believes this would be a disaster for both parties and fights vehemently against it.

The reality: It is not the Union’s gift, its Scotland’s natural right. There is no reason why Scotland cannot resume her proper place in the community of nations. Scots can take back control of her own destiny; e.g. taxes, how she raises and spends them, and upon whom. The pursuit and furtherance of a fairer society would be within our power - without the uncertainty of an outside authority influencing our goals and achievements. This would mean dissolution of the Treaty of Union with BOTH Scotland and England taking their full place in the world. Scotland and England would remain firm friends. Wales and Northern Ireland would then have their own choices to make which appears also to be of great concern to Westminster.

Part 2 to come: Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] and probable nationality/identity issues.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The reality of the disaster.

Listening to the local council election results on the BBC, STV, iPlayer and the rest one could be forgiven for believing there was an SNP wipeout akin to what transpired for the Liberal Democrats.

The council elections are about so much more than national parties and national issues, local personalities, effective local people, historical trends and local issues all factor into the placement of votes. When major issues such as national politics, media bias, slander by insinuation and austerity are factored into the mix of a transferrable vote system, what would ultimately happen was almost unidentifiable.

Labour did get their vote share to hold up on an increasingly small turnout, as did the SNP.

The SNP have surpassed the 400 councilor mark for the first time in their history, Labour again failed to do so.

Less than ten years ago Labour could boast of regularly achieving over 500 councilors in Scotland, riding the tails of an opposition crest that saw the party sweep much of England and Wales before it there seems to be little cause for celebration in Scotland. Had the results of the r-UK been repeated in Scotland the red rose could well have been back to its former glory days. These results never materialized.

The message for the Unionists, what they will perceive and take from this campaign is that personal attacks, repeated and incessant against prominent nationalists worked. This will become the modus operandi from now through the referendum.

In spite of an increase in seats for the SNP the Unionist focused media is spinning a simple message; it was a disaster for the Nationalists. The Nationalist juggernaut has hit the buffers. Salmond has been stopped. Even before the polls are fully counted these were the messages appearing.

This particular poll surely marked the first time that a conservative gleefully tweeted about a “Labour hold”.

The reality is that the fields are now set for the referendum and the ammunition issued. The Union will believe, in spite of the evidence, that its program of insinuation and defamation through inference was functional. The nationalists will see slower but steady gains.

The Union propaganda machine will have renewed faith in its ability; it will churn out as much negativism with renewed vigor as possible. It will save choice stories to utilise as “scoops” at opportune moments. The Nationalists will realise the truth is creating more converts. The combined Union vote share is slowly dwindling and that a Union vote is a Union vote i.e. The party is of no consequence.

Buoying the Nationalist outlook will also be the fact that the SNP put forward candidates in barely half the available seats, yet saw an electoral success rate of around 75%. This is far beyond what any individual Unionist party could ever hope to achieve. This level of success was also obtained knowing many Nationalists would be torn between party vote and that of a competent well respected incumbent - unionist or independent.

The SNP will not be unhappy that the Conservatives have seen further reductions in both their vote share and their representation at local level, that the Liberal Democrats have now been effectively marginalised simply brings the picture into sharper focus. It is now starting to be self evident to the average voter that the picture in Scotland is Nationalist/Unionist. SNP or Labour. The stage is set for 2014 with the Nationalist vote not only holding but increasing.

The demise of the Lib-Dem’s showed their vote splitting between Labour and the SNP. The Unionist vote is effectively diminished. This is not how the mainstream media will report the situation, but then with anything less than 90% of SNP candidates being elected they were never going to give a positive spin for the Nationalists anyway.

There is much to be grateful here for Alex Salmon’s party, they had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them in the way of negative propaganda, and still they returned more councilors. Consider also that they are the national governing party in a time of austerity and that’s not simply surprising, it’s an outstanding result.

Outstanding perhaps, but a stepping stone nonetheless. 2014 is the prize. This election showed that 2014 is winnable, especially with more London induced austerity to come, but it will not be a simple or easy win, and it was never going to be.

2014 will require every resource the Nationalist movement can bring to bear; it will require every nationalist engaging with two or three individuals who perhaps hold anything from a Union to an uncertain view on 2014. It will require every sincere Nationalist to get one or two of these people to the poll in 2014, for in spite of all the spurious or contentious local issues that were involved May 3rd 2012 told us something very clearly, something the mainstream media simply can’t highlight.

May 3rd 2012 told us that the overall trend continues that with each ongoing election in Scotland the Union finds itself diminished.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

An election this week and no polls in sight.

Clarification is required, no obviously “Scotland only” polls in sight.

The local council elections are days away. Normally before any national poll there are a flurry of opinion polls, they appear in such abundance that we often seem to know what the result will be well before any official announcement. We even get “polls of polls” for goodness sake.

These council elections are different. There have been UK wide polls, the most recent by Yougov, and there have been the usual ongoing monthly polls by UK newspapers, but no published Scots specific polls.

The important terminology there is “no published polls”, because if the internet and its various components such as the twittesphere and blogosphere are to be credited then such polls have indeed taken place.

That would give two scenarios; that some organisations are paying for polls but refusing to publish the results or that internet chatter is wildly inaccurate and no polls are being done in Scotland. We also haven’t even seen one on independence preferences in the lead up to the local elections.

That no polls were being done might have a sliver of credibility if not for the internet’s contradiction. This is, after all, “just” a local council election, and it would be notoriously more difficult to predict by polling as it doesn’t use a simple “first past the post” system. That would have us also believe that an approximate algorithm couldn’t be constructed in order to give a rough idea. The only substantial surprise in recent years was May 5th 2011, and perhaps that tells us something today.

With any election approaching there’s a high degree of interest, even among those not normally politically inclined, as to what the outcome of our perceived democracy might be. It is natural to wish to know what our friends and neighbours might be thinking or doing, yet the media is so far largely treating us to a stone-wall of silence. Yet the same media will sell its own product by supplying that same information.

Against this apparent national news blackout we’re being treated to tales of imagined wrong doing and seemingly never ending spurious accusations of impropriety on the part of our duly elected officials. Spurious is perhaps a mild word, manufactured might be better, as spurious indicates error, manufactured demonstrates intent, and there can be no other view on the current media circus than intent when a nation has the utterly incredulous situation that it’s leader consistently responds to these charges by referring himself or herself to the nations watchdogs and is just as consistently cleared of any wrongdoing.

The only other viable conjecture is media distraction from the real process, electing based upon policy stance.

The polls, which are of almost universal interest, are missing; the unsubstantiated scandals appear never ending, when one would suspect the opposite in a healthy democracy.

The first thing that we become aware of is that we do not therefore live in a healthy democracy, at best it is ailing, well on the way to imminent life support, at worst it is but a sham, an illusion to pacify the perceived unwashed. In a true democracy the people are sovereign and participate in every major decision.

The next point of note is that the polls, typically published as soon as the results are tabulated are obvious by their absence, this excludes a few “UK wide” polls where Scots subsamples are so small as to be relatively worthless.

This lack of Scots polls could be a lead on from last year, it’s unlikely all the pollsters got it so wrong then, but what happened to those that didn’t. The likelihood is that they were simply rubbished, none were printed or published. If there’s a movement afoot that you want to try to keep somewhat subdued the last thing anyone wishes is to give it momentum, impetus and renewed vigor. That’s one possibility for not publishing, for suppressing.

There’s a second reason the poll purchaser may not want to publish, where they simply don’t believe the results they’re getting. Credibility has some worth after all.

The third significant reason that one could entertain for not publishing is that there’s no sustained interest; that between the date of commissioning and the earliest date of publication the interest or fundamentals behind the story in question just died. The ongoing smear campaigns coupled to increasing political activity all indicate this isn’t the motivation here. Then there’s the fact we haven’t actually voted yet.

No Scots specific polls, are we in for a surprise on May 3rd 2012 which will make May 5th 2011 look like a storm in a teacup, either way?

There are three possible significant outcomes on May 3rd:

1 - The SNP secure some 80% or more of its increased field of candidates as elected officials.

2 – There is largely little change in the political makeup of local authority representation.

3 - Or the Nationalists lose vote share and labour again becomes the largest local party in Scotland.

Discussing the national outcomes at local level in reverse order, a switch in electoral representation of less than 5% from SNP to Labour would again see Labour as the largest local party in Scotland. This would most likely lead to “hardball” between Holyrood and Westminster in the referendum run up and substantial crowing by Labour and their supportive media about the result. Much will be made about the Nationalist “storm in a teacup” and as yet unstated real “benefits” of Union.

The middle path has the status quo largely unchanged. It may well even be proclaimed and heralded as a victory for the Union, with “unchanged” being confabulated to “no desire” for change. It’s an interesting scenario as a “largely unchanged” result in the eyes of the media and Union parties equates to an actual loss of standing being spun as a victory. The middle “unchanged” result could be anything between a small increase in SNP councilors to perhaps as many as 10% more. As part of this picture one would expect the present discourse between the respective governments at Holyrood and Westminster to continue mostly in its current vein.

Should the “unthinkable” be repeated with a similar landslide as May 5th 2011, expect there to be reasonably rapid and beneficial changes to take place. These will be changes not just good for Scotland, but helpful to England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well. If Scots elect some 80% or more of the proposed cadre of SNP candidates it will be a message London can’t ignore. The SNP will be in the position Labour was for decades, with the exception of Westminster representation which will now have the very real potential of falling to Nationalist hands at the next election, the SNP will have total dominance in Scotland.

This is a situation unacceptable to Westminster; there will be public furor, disbelief and angst with private quiet deliberation. Expect a quickly modified approach, possibly already planned for; the fear and scaremongering will continue publically while privately there will be an acknowledgement of failure.

Expect the conversations between Bute House and Downing Street to become more mature as Number 10 accepts the position it discovers itself in. After May 4th 2012 we can anticipate a better relationship between the two parliaments begin to grow, and we can look forward to the world as a whole taking much more interest in the affairs of our tiny nation. It should help to focus everything on a fair and free debate leading up to 2014.

Our choice will be revealed as the votes are counted on May 4th, appropriate announcements will be made. Until then we must simply wait as it doesn’t appear to be in the interest of those who may know to supply us with any advance notice of the possible outcome.