Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Wrong Message

Creation of a sterling-zone as trumpeted by the SNP is decidedly the wrong message.

Scotland needs to dump the pound faster than a drowning diver needs to dump his weight belt.

The recent downgrading to Sterling brings only one question, posed by the French almost a year ago, and that is, why has it not happened long, long before now?

In the last week I saw the value of my income plummet. For argument’s sake let’s say I get £725 a month. That’s what it was last month anyway, or last time I drew it out. Today they handed me £688. This was, they said, due to the fact the £ plummeted against the $ after the downgrade.

My account said £725 had been deposited, the bank gave me £688, there’s a problem when my bills are £700. The ends no longer meet in the middle. I’m now worse than broke.

Anyone not relying on foreign exchange rates may see it as a minor thing, but with pretty much everything made overseas these days it simply means, in Scotland, when the current supplies on the shelves run out, the new ones are going to cost more. We are all two months away from losing that real money.

In about ninety days, and much less for many items, that £725 a month in every pocket will soon become £688. It will still say £725 on the statement, so we’ll fool ourselves. But at the end of the day if it doesn’t buy anyone what £725 did a month ago, how can you argue it’s still £725?

Let’s invent a little scenario. You’re selling your car, you want £5,000, but you drove it this morning and had a wee fender-bender and slightly bent the chassis – but it still looks not too bad. Hey, it’s still your £5,000 car. It has a couple of dents here and there that weren’t there yesterday, but you've still got the same sticker on the window, £5,000 it proudly declares. Think you’ll ever get that now?

That dented car of yours is Sterling. These are just the first view visible dents. The difference is it has been ready for the knackers yard for years, the rot was just hidden under the shiny exterior, but any decent mechanic would walk away from it asking if you’re insane. MOT; No chance mate, but there’s a bloke in the next village who, for fifty quid like….

We’re now at the point where even the bloke in the next village won’t touch it.

For the UK and Sterling, it means this time it won’t recover.

Expect the pound to continue to devalue. After all, it has for over eighty years. The ability to devalue the pound and thereby steal our savings is the primary reason that Westminster didn't join the Euro.

We've all heard and seen the unrest in Greece; in many instances the United Kingdom’s press have given the Greek people short shrift in terms of sympathy. The Irish have been the media’s financial whipping boy. The Spanish, Portuguese and Italians have all been slated and derided by the papers. Whereas, for most of the UK’s self vaunted media, the Italian’s have always been good for a joke; the Spanish and Portuguese seem to me largely ignored.

It may take once-mighty Britannia a decade more to be in such a condition that Greece looks like a safe haven. It may only take a few months. The United Kingdom’s per capita and national debt burden is fast outstripping that of Greece. Don’t doubt it, Greece’s debt load stands at less than 70% of the United Kingdom as a percentage of GDP.

What about Italy, Spain and Portugal? They are likewise positioned with debt about 75% of the UK’s. Only Ireland, another favourite punching bag of the UK media, is actually worse. However, we’re entering the home stretch and the nag in green white and gold isn’t the favourite in this race anymore. With the finishing posts ahead, the cuddy in red white and blue is set to come thundering down the home stretch. That poor old Irish nag seems like it hasn't got a hope of staying in front.

Except this is a race to poverty, to national penury and isn’t a race anyone really wants to win, is it?

The reality of the situation is that no matter who is elected to Westminster, the average individual is going to get screwed.

Westminster can barely service its debts right now. If interest rates climbed just a little, say to the historical norms of five percent, then Germany’s old Weimar Republic where wheelbarrows were needed to carry the cash to buy a loaf of bread might look like a wonderful place to have lived. Our debt burden is already worse than that of the Weimar Republic.

So, why has the crash not already happened?

It has begun, but most people want to play the ostrich. Maybe if we stick our heads in the sand long enough, we might fool the lion and he won’t actually bite us on the behind. Sadly, the lion has the luxury to decide when the ideal time will be to bite us. The only thing we know is that his jaws will snap shut someday soon, and when it does out collective behookie is going to hurt like hell.

Social upheaval, no jobs, riots, deprivation and hunger are possibly the nicer parts of what lies ahead, if we don’t get our act together. Mr. Osborne’s current attitude of “it’ll be alright” and Westminster’s continual “Nothing to see here folks, move along” are even bigger lies than Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time” declaration in 1938. Six years of “peace” broke out the following year in September. Chamberlain’s piece of paper had as much true worth as that printed by the Bank of England today.

Consider at the time of the collapse of the Weimar Republic, still in living memory for some, that one pound of sterling bought one pound of silver. At the time of writing the value of silver is £300 per pound. Where did the other £299 go?

It was neatly pochled by Westminster, through that cunning mechanism “inflation”.

Surely, we may think, the value of silver has just risen incredibly? No, it hasn't At that time five hundred pounds, sterling or silver, bought a modestly sized family home. Five hundred pounds of silver today will still buy that £150,000 home. And what about the £1 note from 1932? Well there is not a coin small enough in the treasury’s inventory that I could now trade it for. It is worth a fraction more than one old ha’penny. They have legally devalued that £1 to nothing viable in today’s currency; only in Westminster.

Remember, in the five centuries prior to World War One, inflation was by all comparisons, nonexistent.

The only way the United Kingdom is surviving today is by borrowing. Where do the banks get the money they lend to the government? Essentially, it’s invested savings. You put your extra cash (if you are one of the lucky folks to have any) in the bank to save. The bank loans it to the government at less than 2%, sometimes less than 1%. Inflation has swung from over 5% to less than 3% in the last seventeen months. That means your bank is loaning to your government at a guaranteed loss.

There have even been instances of late when some governments have been able to borrow money at negative interest rates. Although, not Westminster, they’re not “safe enough”. Effectively, the investment firms supplying that money have been willing to guarantee their investors i.e. you, an instant loss for the so-called safe keeping of your money. In other words, well managed economies are actually being paid to borrow your money.

The United Kingdom passed the point of no return about five years ago and has been hovering around there, barely surviving, making payments, but not cancelling debt.

The problem is those interest payments, those billions upon billions paid every year are our new hospitals, schools and our infrastructure. Our future.

Westminster is bankrupt, arguably it’s fiscally, morally, and intellectually bankrupt. Like the destitute old lord in the crumbling manor, it is time to sell the family silverware. Except, we are the only silverware Westminster has. Our savings, our pensions, our health service, our children’s education. Like any government in history, Westminster has only one option; its people and their pockets.

This fiscal tsunami will be released in the not too distant future.

Hopefully it won’t be released until after the 2014 referendum. If Scots vote YES, which appears to be the intelligent course of action, it could well be released with early. After all, the release of this tidal wave will only require a very modest 1.5% change in the interest rates, and we've all seen that happen on countless occasions in our adult lifetimes.

Any way you look at it, promoting a “Sterling Zone” is insanity incarnate.

The Scots Pound is already in circulation. We need to resurrect it as a world currency once more. As many economists have pointed out, it wouldn't be difficult. Let our money float, or tie it with other currencies, any currency - except Sterling.

Our choice is simple, since no nation in history has ever recovered from the UK’s debt load; we have to vote Yes to survive or we vote No for long term debt, poverty and bankruptcy.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Is The Treaty of Union Already Dead?

Due to the renewed interest in Scotland's status of existence or not, recently dragged up by Governor General Moore et al, it seems there has been a resurgence in interest in an article I had published in Newsnet Scotland in July of 2011. As I'd never previously included it in the blog, I've decided that perhaps now would be a good time to do just that.

The question I posed at the time was: Is the Treaty of Union Already Dead?

The Treaty of Union 1707, we live every day of our lives with its effects – but should we?

Could we, if we choose, simply denounce it, has that already been done, or have events simply transpired to void it entirely? Are we at liberty, under international law, to simply “walk away’.

For almost all of us it consumes much of our waking time, consciously or otherwise as we struggle to pay the taxes and debts imposed by its after effects. It has done so for generations of Scots.

Our forebears fought and died because of it, through it, in support of it or against it.

Yet under international law It certainly appears void, if not simply revoked. It just seems there’s a distinct lack of willingness to test this by any relevant party.

In view of the above this article specifically does not advocate or focus on a single course of action; although it certainly uncovers several intriguing and interesting potentialities available to us Scots, should we choose. Law is about interpretation, what follows is one very reasonable such interpretation.

Our land and our nation has often been derided, pilloried and a comic joke because of it [this Union], mainly from within.

Even in the halls of power, that corrupt underbelly that we call Westminster, proven so in the courts of our lands, that place which is supposed to uphold our nation and care for it in this Union there is little respect demonstrated for Scotland.

There is an interesting and entertaining aspect to international law, it’s called the Vienna Convention, and it exists in a stratosphere of law that governs international treaties.

This article of law was adopted on May 23rd, 1969. It didn't exist in 1707, but it does claim jurisprudence over almost all international treaty and law since its ratification. And it has very definite retroactive implications.

If it had existed in 1706/1707, there would have been no Union Treaty as we know it. That is irrefutable.

The signatory states to the Vienna Convention agreed that international law and treaty law as defined by it would have jurisdiction over their own national laws. Basically if the UK [and thereby its constituent nations] signed up to it, they agreed to be bound by it.

It can be regarded as entertaining because the signatories to it, including the United Kingdom which ratified it on June 25th 1971, and implemented it on January 27th 1980, on the surface did not appear to fully understand the entire scope of their actions.

The UK and its constitutional law brigade certainly thought it may have covered its bases, yet there is a section or two in the Vienna Convention that indicates it may not have. The language is not categorically unambiguous, but the intent certainly appears clear.

We really should test it. At the very least it would prove interesting. 

Where the Vienna Convention specifically does not remove itself from treaties of a historical nature are when their principles are overtaken by new or ratified principles of recognized international law, or when they have been voided prior to inception and would be regarded as so being by evolving international law (article 64).

This aspect of the Vienna Convention specifically itemizes the following areas as voiding treaty agreements.

Article 49


If a State has been induced to conclude a treaty by the fraudulent conduct of another negotiating State, the State may invoke the fraud as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty.

Article 50

Corruption of a representative of a State

If the expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty has been procured through the corruption of its representative directly or indirectly by another negotiating State, the State may invoke such corruption as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty.

Article 51

Coercion of a representative of a State

The expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty which has been procured by the coercion of its representative through acts or threats directed against him shall be without any legal effect.

Article 52

Coercion of a State by the threat or use of force

A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.

A quick examination into the founding aspects around the Union Treaty is worthwhile – did it significantly contravene articles 49 through 52 of the Vienna Convention. Investigations and perusal of records show there is a relatively simple case to be made for contravention, not just of one the above, but potentially all of the above.

Any single contravention of the above articles would be more than valid enough reason to negate the Treaty of Union since inception.

It would certainly leave us with an entertaining constitutional conundrum.

Interestingly even article 14 of the Treaty of Union itself can be used as verification of corruption. Article 14 stating; “the Equivalent, granted £398,085 and 10 s sterling to Scotland to offset future liability towards the English national debt”. In essence as history records, it was detailed as being subsequently used as a means of compensation [bribery] for investors in the Darien Scheme, and Union supporters.

This sum noted above was only paid after signature. None of the above funds were recorded as being distributed to anyone who opposed the Treaty of Union, nor could they be given to “Scotland’s government” – it no longer existed. They are reported and acknowledged to have been distributed solely amongst those who worked for passage of the Union Treaty.

Direct bribery was also known to be a factor. £20,000 (£240,000 Scots) was dispatched to Scotland for distribution by the Earl of Glasgow. James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry, the Queen's Commissioner in Parliament, received £12,325, himself.

Now under Article 45

Loss of a right to invoke a ground for invalidating, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty

A State may no longer invoke a ground for invalidating, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty under articles 46 to 50 or articles 60 and 62 if, after becoming aware of the facts:

(a) it shall have expressly agreed that the treaty is valid or remains in force or continues in operation, as the case may be; or

(b) it must by reason of its conduct be considered as having acquiesced in the validity of the treaty or in its maintenance in force or in operation, as the case may be.

It can be clearly seen these do not apply to Scotland – the civil unrest and popular (dis)Unity has been widespread since treaty inception, and, in its most basic form, absent an independent government it was unable to fall into the first category. Without an independent government, Scots could not expressly agree.

So much for the past, this is the present, and it’s within article 45[b] that past meets present. There was an interesting quirk in 1999 when Winnie Ewing made her famous statement.

Certainly Winnie was acting as a government representative – certainly she had full authority to make the address, just as certainly her words have never been officially disputed either by Westminster or Holyrood. Arguably just as certainly she served notice on Westminster that under 45b that Scotland did NOT acquiesce.

The actual words of Winnie Ewing have been widely acclaimed; "The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened."

Basically and effectively Ms. Ewing served notice on the Westminster government that the treaty of Union was ended.

The Scottish government had re-convened. It went undisputed. Treaties can be terminated by universal, bi-lateral or unilateral acts. They can also be terminated by the fundamental reason d’√™tre of the treaty no longer being valid.

In 1999 a fundamental change took place within the Treaty of Union – there were again two parliaments.

The primary reason for the Union Treaty was to remove the dual parliamentary system. The Scots through their representative declared that their parliament was “re-convened” the English under international law in its most basic interpretation have no right of interference in the internal politics of another country.

Arguably, on 12th of May 1999 Ms. Ewing told our nation “if you want a Union – now go negotiate one” – perhaps that is just what Alex Salmond should do – declare the treaty of Union dead as of a set date [12th May 1999] based upon the facts, and request of the Scottish people the authority to renegotiate a treaty that is fair and reasonable towards Scotland – if such can be achieved. The actual official date of termination, and the end of all obligations under that ancient agreement could be June 24th 2014.

We should therefore invite England to the negotiating table. That would require a separate English parliament however.

Let them decline if they choose. It would also solve that pesky “West Lothian question”.

If the English do come to the negotiating table, and agreements are reached, then let the Scots vote on the new treaty, allowing terms can be arranged that the Scots might accept.

Perhaps we should simply take that “Independence” word right of the table. It is certainly appearing an option. The question then becomes do we devolve our government to Westminster again, and if so, what aspects?

Last but not least, and worthy as a footnote is an interesting Westminster quirk – Westminster now sees itself categorically as England’s parliament and Scotland’s overlord.

It views itself as a UK government of dominion, not of partners. It has demonstrated it would retain dominion.

If Westminster / the UK parliament had any other pretexts these are effectively dismissed by the list of countries with whom it can “do business”, conclude treaties etc.

Scotland is on that list, England is not. Northern Ireland is also on this list, but as Wales was taken by right of conquest it doesn't have to be. Wales is absent. The only discernible reason England would not be on that list is because Westminster views itself as England’s Parliament.

Although the UK Government’s website does list Scotland as a nation with which it can enter and execute treaties, it has none listed for review against our nation. Not the treaty of 1328 (Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton) recognising our nationhood “for all time coming” or the treaty of 1707 where we entered the Union of Parliaments.

The treaties recognising our borders are also conveniently absent, as is the existence of a treaty where the latest 6,000 miles of seabed was “grabbed by England” in the last decade – meaning under UN rules that act can also be construed as basically illegal – void.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Just what are they afraid of?

The Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Tories in Scotland; what are they afraid of? Watching the Libdems in Westminster snorting at the trough, you would think any one of these so-called representatives of the Scottish people would leap with out-stretched arms at the opportunity at a shot of time in government. And not just a devolved government, but fully matured, grown up, independent government with powers over taxation, spending, foreign policy and the sundry responsibilities that this would entail.

This next step, to my mind, is the logical one to take. Following on from the devolution “experiment”, independence can be the only destination.

While reading another article here: Scottish Socialist Voice, it hit me on the forehead that these enemies from apparent opposite ends of the political spectrum (with the dead-beat Libdems swinging either way to suit whatever side is “in”) were more than willing to cosy up in a thorny bed to maintain this dysfunctional Union, rather than stand up and go boldly into the future which is full of potential. They are happy to support all these awful cuts to benefits which is the cause of much suffering to the weak and vulnerable in our society; cuts which Labour have promised will continue in the future following 2015 general election, should they win. They seem content – every one of them – to watch the gap between the wealthy and the poor stretch to mind-bending, record breaking levels, rather than say “No, this can’t go on, there is another, better way!”

What is it that keeps them tied hard and fast to the Butcher’s Bloody Apron-strings; that makes them too afraid to take up the cause of their kith and kin and actually try to improve the lot of the Scottish Nation?

Consider the gasping corpse that is the Tory Party in Scotland; why would it consign itself to electoral oblivion under the current system? Potentially, in an independent Scotland they could achieve a return to the popular party they were during the 1950s, but with a uniquely Scottish conservative slant. Or perhaps that’s where their imagination runs out. It has to be like Westminster.

Then there is the Labour Party, North Britain Branch, because they do not behave like a representative of the Scottish people. This crowd, as so eloquently pointed out on many, many occasions, would prefer to be ruled and dictated to by a Conservative parliament in Westminster, than put a foot on the next step of the promotional ladder and use the power of Holyrood to improve the lot of the people of, for example, Glasgow. These same people of Glasgow whose life-span, despite many decades of local councils being under Labour stewardship, has been shown to be shorter than the residents of Gaza.

When we come to the Liberal Democrats we appear to have a political party whose malleability is second only to warm Plasticine; willing to compromise their ideals for any taste of power. So, why not in an independent Scotland?

Could it be they are so used to taking instructions from headquarters in London that they have lost all confidence in themselves and are emotionally, psychologically and physically incapable of taking charge of decision-making and of forming a government? They certainly seem bereft of ideas and policies, and are deadly silent on what their function in an independent country would be.

Obviously the SNP never had to take instructions from, or toe the line of, any London-centric party. They have always been their own masters and have grown and matured over the last 70-odd years to become a very competent party of government within the devolved parameters of Holyrood. Furthermore, I’m confident that the changeover to independent, autonomous nation-hood will be no great problem to them either. As individuals they are, each and every one, all ready to work for the needs and the needy of Scotland.

In contrast, however, I think the other political representatives do not have that confidence, intellect or ability. They only know how to take and carry out orders. Therefore, to suddenly give them the power of a fully functioning government would cause them to behave like rabbits in headlights. As a result of their current set-up, i.e. receiving instructions from London bosses, they have never had to stretch their abilities beyond that of a glorified councillor. They’ve not really had to balance a budget as well as they should.

This is true, especially when you take into consideration their past record in power (1999-2007); PFI, PPI and so on. They have bequeathed a whole slew of extortionately expensive schemes, which have in reality indebted our grandchildren. My nephew’s daughter will be paying off hospitals and other public expenditure into HER adulthood.

Perhaps some of the now retired and more mature ex-members of those parties could have coped in government, but when I look at Lamont, Rennie and Davidson, I’m left with the knowledge they are followers not leaders.

You only have to watch their cringe worthy “performances” at First Minister’s Questions to see that. Their debating skills are limited ad hominem commentary and petty point scoring, instead of discussion and debate. Their sense of achievement appears to come from their perception that they have successfully dragged other MSPs characters, chiefly SNP MSPs, into the dirt, rather than finding solutions to the myriad of social and economical issues that affect the everyday lives of our fellow Scots.

It is now obvious to me and much of the general public that many of the current members of Labour, Libdems and Tories are by no manner of means ready for serious, grown-up politics; they’ve relinquished that responsibility to their masters in London. They have chosen to self-fulfil the “too stupid” myth by being incapable of standing up to the mark and saying “Not only, Yes We Can, But Let’s Show Westminster How It’s Done!”

Since the SNP landslide of 2011 and the promise of the referendum, not one positive reason for remaining part of the United Kingdom has been given by any of them. All that has happened is a torrent of scaremongering has cascaded from all Unionist quarters. Slurs, insults and in many cases, out and out lies have been utelised by them in an attempt to subdue the Scots into giving up their right to autonomy. In addition, we’ve had the “Jam Tomorrow” promise of increased powers post 2014. All we need do is look at the NHS in England and watch it evaporate despite promises made to conserve and nurture it, same with education fees.

Scotland’s fate in 2014 following a No vote is something I have no desire to even contemplate. It’s too dismal and depressing.

I believe that one of the reasons these Union politicians in Scotland are so unreservedly ideologically stuck to the maintenance of the United Kingdom comes down to basic lack of ability. They may even have some insight that they themselves are incapable of making such important decisions, and this is why they are afraid to step up to the mark. However, more importantly and probably closer to their hearts, it really does come down to the money.

Many believe their financial rewards will be greater remaining with the status quo. With the potential of a gift of a place on the Green Bench and an ermine cape, so long as they do their master’s bidding, they are more than happy to keep the querulous Scots kow-towing to Westminster’s increasingly miserly plan. However, they are not so daft as to miss the point that as members of an Edinburgh Government, we the people have sovereignty over it and them, and could ask awkward questions about expenses and dubious accounting. Whereas Westminster not only does very little to prevent this type of corruption, it actively encourages it, as we have seen many of those who paid back false claims are having them repaid.

And for these selfish reasons alone, Scotland could remain yoked to a system which has little in common with her social aspirations. A system dedicated to maintaining the false perception bolstered by compliant media that, although The United Kingdom is over-run with layabout spongers, the worst of them all (if the comments section of the Daily Mail and Telegraph are to be taken seriously) are the lazy, drunken, scrounging Scots north of the border.

When in reality, we all know the real scroungers and money-wasters occupy Green and Red Leather Benches in a luxurious palace on the banks of the Thames. 

The very place that many, if not most of the Unionist supporting politicians would dearly love to be.