Saturday, 6 August 2016

Is the SNP’s “National Conversation” only with itself?

The SNP are planning another so called “National Conversation” on whether Scotland should leave the UK. It was supposed to happen this summer, but has been put off for a while because of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. It’s crucial therefore to realise that even if the UK had voted to remain in the EU, the SNP would right now be trying to persuade us that we ought to have a second independence referendum and that we ought to reject the Union we’ve been in for more than three hundred years. The arguments that Nicola Sturgeon and others made about the European Union for some reason don’t apply to our own Union of the UK. She’s happy for Scotland to be in a union with Slovakia, France and Sweden, but can’t bear the thought of our being in a union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. What has she got against our fellow Brits?

On the other hand the arguments made by the Brexiteers, about sovereignty, regaining parliamentary control and indeed independence, are just the sort to appeal to Scottish nationalists. I think the UK has always been independent even while being in the EU. It is for this reason alone that we didn’t need to ask anyone but the British people if we could leave. But I can also see that we will regain a measure of freedom from the control and influence of the EU. The laws we make in our parliament will be supreme and will not be subordinate to those made by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. It’s obvious why these sorts of arguments might be supported by Scottish nationalists. This is one reason no doubt why 36% of SNP supporters voted to leave.

We are all somewhat contradictory. It is in our nature as human beings to be so. I supported one Union (the UK) while voting against another (the EU). Some Scottish nationalists thought the condition for the possibility of genuine independence was leaving the EU, others didn’t. In general most of us in Scotland, apart from fanatics, can see pros and cons about the EU just as even some more moderate Scottish nationalists can see pros and cons about the UK.

But if we are to have a conversation it is important that the SNP listens to alternative points of view and also provide answers. We know that there are SNP supporters who want independence come what may. But the conversation cannot only be with them. It must also be with those who are content indeed happy with our present arrangement in the UK.

Here are some of the questions I would like the SNP to answer.

1. Why are you assuming that a Scottish vote for Remain justifies a second vote for independence?

In Scotland around two million six hundred thousand people voted in the EU referendum. The gap between Remain and Leave amounted to six hundred thousand people. But over two million Scots voted less than two years ago to remain in the UK. The number of No voters in 2014 (2 million) is much higher than the number of Remain voters in 2016 (1.6 million). Crucially it is not possible to argue that the Remain voters in 2016 are Scottish independence supporters. Many of them clearly were not. Many would be horrified at the idea that the SNP would use their votes to justify Scottish independence.

Turnout in the EU referendum (67%) was much lower than in the Scottish independence referendum (84%), which suggests that the EU isn’t as crucial an issue to Scots as remaining in the UK. Moreover, we know that a sizeable proportion of Leave voters in Scotland support the SNP. These people no doubt are happy that the UK is leaving the EU.  The SNP therefore has to discount the wishes of a third of their own supporters in order to justify a second independence referendum.

It’s worth remembering too that those Scots who are happy with the result, Leave voters, plus those who are indifferent (abstainers amounting at least to the difference between the turnout for the Scottish independence referendum and the EU referendum) considerably outnumber those who voted to Remain. The fact is that we were voting on radically different things when we voted in 2016 and when we voted in 2014. It is therefore unjustified to use our vote this year as justification for rerunning our vote of two years ago. The fact that we chose to remain in the UK implies logically in and of itself that we were willing to accept the result of UK national elections. If that had not been the case we would have voted for independence. Apart from demonstrating once more that they are poor losers, why are the SNP complaining?

2. How can the SNP now justify the fact that whenever there is an election campaign they say that it is not about independence?

If the SNP had made clear during their campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections that they would be arguing for a second independence referendum within a few months, it is likely that they would have won still fewer seats than they did. Likewise if the Scottish Greens had made clear that they would support such a bid for independence, they too would have attracted very few votes from people who support the UK. Nicola Sturgeon also said that the EU referendum was not about independence. It becomes clear that nothing is about independence until it is. The SNP cannot be allowed to keep saying that an election is not about independence only later to use that vote to justify a second independence referendum. This is fundamentally dishonest and anti-democratic.

3. What would the SNP do if the UK Government continued to argue that it has already had its independence referendum?

Constitutional matters are reserved to Westminster. Therefore any legal referendum would require permission. The Edinburgh Agreement would give the UK Government the right to at least delay any future second referendum. Whether they would do so or not is a matter of speculation. But what would the SNP do if their wishes were denied? It’s all very well Alex Salmond talking about Theresa May not messing with the Scottish people, but what practically speaking would he suggest? Would the SNP attempt to stage a referendum without permission? Would this be legal? What would they do if Pro UK people decided to boycott such an informal poll? If they won such a poll, would they make a Unilateral Declaration of Independence? Would they stage a revolution? It’s all very well the SNP making threats, but the Scottish people deserve to know to what lengths they are willing to go to reach their goal.

4. If Scotland became independent what currency would we use?

It will not be possible for Scotland to use the UK pound if Scotland is in the EU while the UK is not. In the short term this will mean Scotland setting up its own currency and Central Bank and then later joining the Euro. Some countries like Sweden have promised to join the Euro but show no intention of doing so. But in the process of joining the EU if it became clear that Scotland had no intention of fulfilling its promise, it is hard to imagine the EU looking on our application favourably.

The problem for Scots is that our mortgages are in UK pounds. If a new Scottish currency fell in relation to the UK pound our debt would consequently increase. This would likewise be the case for any share of the UK national debt that Scotland took on or indeed any debt held by Scottish banks. How can the SNP guarantee Scots that we wouldn’t lose out through falls in currency given that our borrowing now is in UK pounds? This would be far more serious to our finances than the present fall of Sterling in relation to the Euro as few of us borrow in Euros.

5. Would Scotland have to join Schengen and would this mean that there would have to be a manned border between Scotland and England?

All applicants to the EU have to promise to join the Schengen border free travel zone. The UK and the Republic of Ireland have an opt out from this which means that it ought to be possible for the Northern Irish border to remain open even if the UK is not in the EU while the Republic is. But would Scotland receive such an opt out? We don’t know. But the EU is trying to become more united and there are suggestions that there will be no more opt outs. Given that the UK voted to leave the EU partly to stem migration, the likelihood must be that Scottish independence would lead to a manned border with England. This is because there would be no passport controls between Scotland and the EU. How would this manned border affect trade with the other parts of the UK? How would it affect people in the Borders who travel regularly to England? Might some of them end up being late for work?

6. How would Scotland be able to maintain our present lifestyle if we lost both the money from the UK Government (The Barnett formula) and had to cut our deficit from 10% to 3%?

The SNP is continually optimistic about Scotland’s economic prospects. There are lots of good things about the Scottish economy, but this must not mean that we duck the hard questions. Scotland receives a considerable grant each year from the UK Government. The SNP has fought hard to retain it. But we wouldn’t continue to receive it after independence. Moreover, in order to join the EU we would have to cut our deficit from 10% at present to 3% and we would have to pay our subscription to the EU without any chance of receiving back our present rebate. The SNP pretend to care about the poorest in our society, but it is precisely these people who would be hit hardest by independence. Public spending in the UK has in fact increased under the present Tory Government, yet it has been called austerity. What word would we use to describe the cuts to public spending which the SNP would need to make in order to achieve their dream of independence?

7. Why would Scotland want to stay in a trading bloc (the EU) with which we do 14% of our trade, but leave the UK with which we do 64% of our trade?

It would be a disaster economically for Scotland to leave the UK’s internal market. It is this and this alone which allows insurance and banking firms in Edinburgh to do business with people in other parts of the UK. How many of us have a current account with a French bank or take out insurance from a Polish broker? We do so much trade with the other parts of the UK precisely because we are in the same country. We all hope that free trade will continue between the EU and the UK, but we do not yet know what sort of deal will arise from negotiations. It is perfectly possible that the EU might charge tariffs. If Scotland were in the EU, we would have to apply those same tariffs to our trade with the other parts of the UK. Would that help or hinder the Scottish economy?

8. How would Scotland make a profit from North Sea oil at present prices?

The shale revolution has made the cost of extracting oil much less than it once was. This fundamentally is the reason for low prices today. But it is always going to be cheaper to obtain oil from shale than from drilling under the North Sea. This means that although there may still be a lot of oil left in the North Sea it is hard to make a profit from it. This is now not a short term fluctuation of the oil market, but a long term change in the fundamentals. The break even point for North Sea oil is more than the cost of drilling. Future profits from North Sea oil rigs taken together with the cost of decommissioning them means that far from being a bonus oil may very well turn into a liability.  

How can the SNP plan for the future when they have no idea what the price of oil will be? They got the price spectacularly wrong last time. Do we really want the future of Scotland to depend on guesswork?

9. Do we know how long it would take for Scotland to join the EU and under what terms?

There is little doubt that an independent Scotland would eventually be allowed to join the EU. There might however be some obstacles in the way. We would have to overcome the objections of Spain. When Kosovo became independent in 2008 it received the recognition from many countries, but not from Spain, which does not like to recognise newly independent countries, because it fears that this will encourage separatism in Catalonia. Of course, if Scotland became independent by means of another legal referendum Spain might be persuaded to allow Scotland into the EU. If on the other hand there was any sort of unilateral declaration of Scottish independence, it is unlikely that anyone in the EU, let alone Spain, would look favourably on our application.

The terms of Scotland’s membership would depend on negotiations. But it’s worth remembering that Scotland’s population amounts to one hundredth of the population of the EU. Scotland has to leave the UK prior to even beginning negotiations with the EU. But under those circumstances we wouldn’t have much choice but to accept whatever deal from the EU we were given. What alternative would we have? Would the SNP describe this as a leap into the dark or are they able to explain when and under what terms Scotland would join the EU?

10. How much would it cost to set up a new independent sovereign nation state called Scotland?

We know that Scotland would have to severely tighten its belt in order to leave the UK, but at the same time we would have set up costs. We’d need some sort of armed forces. We’d need some sort of international diplomacy. We’d need a means of taxing our population and paying benefits. This issue was debated during the last referendum, but it still requires an answer. Some people think the cost could be between 1.5 and 2 billion pounds. So in addition to all the cuts we would have to make, we would have additional costs too. One of the main benefits of being in the UK is that we share the costs of things like the DVLA, HM Revenue and Customs, the British Army, Navy and RAF. Scottish independence means losing all sorts of economies of scale. How would this make us better off SNP?

11. What will the EU look like in ten years?

The SNP is privileging EU membership over UK membership. They think that being in the EU is a better bet than being in the UK. But do we actually know what the EU will be like in a few years?

The EU has two major structural problems Schengen and the Euro. Both of these are crucial for the future development of the EU. If you are in favour of the EU you really ought to be in favour of both. The problem with Schengen is that EU countries are closing their borders. Eastern European countries in particular are unwilling to accept migrants. They are willing to erect fences to stop them. How does the EU resolve this? Does it force Poland and Hungary to allow free movement of people? We just don’t know.

We are all familiar with the trials and tribulations of the Euro. There are only two options that can work long term. Either the EU becomes something very similar to a Federal United States of Europe or it breaks up. Unless and until the EU gains political and fiscal union the Euro will remain dysfunctional. At the moment the Euro is a recession machine that is impoverishing Southern Europe. Fiscal transfers must be made from the richer parts of the EU to the poorer parts, just as they are made in the UK at present. The alternative to this is that everyone goes back to their own currency.
What is going to happen? We don’t know. The Euro may muddle along, but sometime soon a new crisis will develop that will make the EU decide either way.

What of Scotland? How much independence would Scotland have in a new nation state called the United States of Europe? Not much. We would be outvoted by any EU Parliament. Why complain about being outvoted by Westminster if you just join a new nation state which will outvote you even more?

Do Scots want to transfer their money to Italy, Greece and Spain and indeed to countries that are much poorer than these in Eastern Europe. Many Scottish nationalists over the years were unwilling to share “oor oil” with other parts of the UK. Why then should they be willing to transfer Scottish money to anyone in Europe who is poorer than us? If we were involved in a transfer union in the EU, how would this affect living standards in Scotland?

On the other hand what if the Euro is destined to fail? I don’t think it will, but it might. If I had savings in UK pounds, which were then turned into Scottish pounds, which were then turned into Euros and finally turned back into Scottish pounds again, I would end up losing a huge amount. It would be like going round the bureaux de change so as to turn my money into dollars, then yen, then rupees and then back to pounds. This is one of the best ways to lose money I can think of. Can the SNP guarantee that this would not happen to my savings over the course of the next few years?

Some people want independence come what may. They want it so much that they don’t care what it costs. But the rest of us want answers from the SNP. There’s no use having a conversation if it remains one sided. The SNP has a perfect right to be optimistic about Scotland. I share that optimism so long as we remain part of a post Brexit UK that I think has a bright future. Certainly the UK faces far less uncertainty than an independent Scotland would. But if the SNP wants to make the case for independence it’s no use seeing everything through tartan coloured glasses. They need to start answering the tough questions otherwise we may conclude that they are just talking with themselves.


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  2. 1. They are not assuming but contorting. 2. They cannae. 3. Continue girnin' and lying to cause disaffection to keep their dream/the majority's nightmare alive. 4. The Bawbee. 5. The UK would erect the control on the England side to stop an influx of 'illegals' entering from The People's Republic of Scotland/New Albania. 6. They would indoctrinate by playing 'A man's a Man for a' that' and the 'Twa dugs' on state controlled media to remind us how noble it is to be skint. 7. Because they will pay any price to realise their dream/the majority's nightmare. 8.It couldn't. 9 At least five years in the wilderness which follow those in which it tries to create its one stable economy, its own currency and national bank. 10. Pure billions o'Bawbees.

    1. "5. The UK would erect the control on the England side to stop an influx of 'illegals' entering from The People's Republic of Scotland/New Albania."

      ID cards would be cheaper than a rigid border and provide the same result - to get along / prosper in rUK you need to prove some entitlement.

    2. Listen to you Kenny Wilson....Mr Scotland...I bet you stay that you are a Proud Scot as well.....

      I cannot imagine that is a developed level of cringe naturally, you must have had an inplant.....

  3. A well thought out piece. I have agreement with almost of of it but think that in the last part of the analysis, Effie doesn't go far enough. My issue with the Euro (I am firmly of the opinion that it will fail in the near, 5-10 year, future) and my reasons for this are that a currency union requires an acceptance of fiscal transfers. By acceptance I mean a willingness to subordinate yourself to the greater good by passing cash resources between richer and poorer parts of the whole. This works in the UK (which is effectively a currency union) because the payer (England) values the union. We all speak the same language, we all share a 300 year common heritage, and we all follow the same fiscal rules. This is not the case in the Eurozone, and it is begining to come home to many of the northern parts of the zone that there is neither a common heritage, nor a common language, nor a common adherence to the same rule book. When Greeks can retire at the age of 52 on a full state pension if they are in a dangerous occupation (hairdressing springs to mind) the stoic German or Dutch taxpaywer will be forgiven for his or her annoyance. There needs to be an EMOTIONAL acceptance of a currency union and all that it implies. It is this emotional accpetance that is begining to unravel. Now, overlay that with the dead hand of Euro economic policy, the growing crisis in the immigrant issue, the looming banking crisis in Italy (and Spain and Portugal and France, the list goes on) I can't see how the Europeans will square the circle. We are so much better out of the EU and for the SNP to want us to go back into it?? Quite mad.

  4. The barriers to Scottish independence are now legion. This 'conversation' (they talk, we listen), is simply a way of comforting their supporters and making them think they are still relevant. But Brexit is now the only show in town - nothing else can even begin to happen until its full implications are clearly understood. I have a feeling this will take far longer than the proposed two and a bit years. From our point of view, the longer it all drags on the better - hopefully by the time its done Sturgeon, Salmond et al will be as politically relevant as Stanley Baldwin.

  5. Let them have their referendum , with the proviso that no one will be required to relinquish their UK nationality unless they do it voluntarily . See how they'd get on with 1.5 million volunteers , if they get that many .

  6. As far as I'm aware, anyone born in Scotland prior to independence would remain a UK citizen anyway, as would any of their descendants born up to x number of years after the split (someone mentioned 100 years although not sure of that). The important thing is, free movement for anyone currently alive. If it all goes tits up you can move to England, Wales etc and not be considered an immigrant.

    Not that ANY of this is going to happen anyway.

  7. 1. Why are you assuming that a Scottish vote for Remain justifies a second vote for independence?

    Because the Scottish Government was elected with the mandate:
    “ We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.

    2. How can the SNP now justify the fact that whenever there is an election campaign they say that it is not about independence?

    Because of whatever the manifesto for the election says – go read.

    3. What would the SNP do if the UK Government continued to argue that it has already had its independence referendum?

    Hypothetically, but politically stupid, the UK Government could take that attitude but, since referenda are advisory only, the Scottish Government would probably just go ahead.

    4. If Scotland became independent what currency would we use?

    5. Would Scotland have to join Schengen and would this mean that there would have to be a manned border between Scotland and England?

    a) No - this is not a prerequisite of being in the EU
    b) No – this is no such border between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland (EU)

  8. 6. How would Scotland be able to maintain our present lifestyle if we lost both the money from the UK Government (The Barnett formula) and had to cut our deficit from 10% to 3%?

    GERS was deliberately designed from the outset by the UK government to make Scotland (and the non-Tory parties) look bad.

    13 January 1997 when, in reply to a series of questions put by SNP Leader in the Commons, Alex Salmond MP to the then Tory government, Treasury Minister William Waldegrave admitted that Scotland had paid a massive £27 billion more to the London Exchequer than it had received since the Tories came to power in 1979 (ref: Hansard). Statistically this works out at £5,400 for every Scot.

    On 21 August 1998, Mr Salmond received a letter from the House of Commons Library (ref. 98/8/56
    EP/rjt) which gave a table showing that based on Scotland's GDP per capita, Scotland would occupy 7th place in the world's wealth league. The UK was at 17th Place.

    Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK every year for the past 33 years. The graph in the letter is for a shorter time period but produced by the UK Government. Even in the years where oil prices were lowest, Scotland tax generation was always been considerably higher than the UK average and England in particular.

    Westminster has cost Scotland £64 billion in the past 30 years

    Scotland has paid £64 billion in UK debt interest that Scotland didn’t need

    The deficit on the current budget is 6.8 per cent of GDP, whereas for the UK as a whole it is 7.6 per cent. Again you see the implicit subsidy to RUK - equivalent to about one per cent of our GDP being sent south (adjusting to get RUK figures, rather than all UK figures).

    Adding in capital spending, the figures become 10.6 per cent (Scotland) versus 11.1 per cent (all UK). Same story.

    7. Why would Scotland want to stay in a trading bloc (the EU) with which we do 14% of our trade, but leave the UK with which we do 64% of our trade?

    The EU is more than just a trading block (endless list includes employee rights, health and safety, environment, blah, blah, blah)

    8. How would Scotland make a profit from North Sea oil at present prices?

    It is a tax, not a profit on expenditure.

    9. Do we know how long it would take for Scotland to join the EU and under what terms?

    The plan is not to leave and to continue with the current membership.

    10. How much would it cost to set up a new independent sovereign nation state called Scotland?

    Scotland has most of the trappings already: Parliament, judiciary, police force, education system, health system, local government etc. All it lacks is a foreign office and defence. So, probably not much.

    11. What will the EU look like in ten years?
    Much the same land mass and much the same amount of people and, probably, much the same politics. Is this a problem?

    1. Thanks for the excellent comment. I don't usually reply in detail here, because that would mean writing another blog. But I will take the points you make on board and will think about them and my thoughts may turn up in a later blog.

      Best wishes,


  9. Bedelsten.

    The SNP manifesto did mention brexit as a possible indyref trigger. However, the SNP failed to win a majority. The Greens are also pro independence of course however their manifesto outlines a differing approach from that of the SNP. In other words, the mandate is questionable.

    Border controls will be imposed if at least one side desires them. The remaining UK may wish to tightly control immigration. The EU may want a hard frontier with a non EU nation. The border between NI and the Republic of Ireland is open because both territories are in the EU.

    GERS is published by the Scottish Government. It seems unlikely they would publish something that is biased against their cause. GERS reports consistently demonstrate the Scottish fiscal position to be inferior to that of the UK as a whole.

    "The EU is more than just a trading block.......blah blah blah" :0)

    I'm sure we are more than capable of looking after peoples' rights in Britain. We were doing so long before we joined the EU. I think maintaining free trade with our largest trading partner outweighs any potential benefits of staying in the EU.

    North Sea oil has to make a profit before we can tax it. Low oil price = no profit = no tax revenue. That's a serious problem for an independent Scotland - which would find itself 15 billion pounds short of what it needs to maintain social provision at current levels.

    Not possible for Scotland to stay in the EU. We don't match the entry criteria and Spain has made clear that the entire UK has to go. They have a veto.

    Cost of setting up an independent Scotland. We need a separate tax system, currency, armed forces, diplomatic service and embassies around the globe. We also need to duplicate regulatory bodies and organisations such as the DVLA. The cost would be in the billions.

    EU in ten years. Hard to say. They aren't doing too well so far - terrorism, refugee crisis, sovereign debt crisis. The Italian banking system is in serious trouble - and that's far too big to be bailed out. If it blows, the euro is finished and possibly the EU also.

    1. The mandate or not will be proven with a vote in Holyrood. That will be the litmus test.

      If EU is so bad why is UK not stripping them on economic terms and why is GBP at multi year lows against dollar and Euro.

      The Eurozone is not without issues and current banking woes in Italy and possibly Germany might be difficult to contain. However its being used as a smokescreen by unionists and Westminster to hide the issues in the UK.

      Austerity as a policy has been a hopeless failure. What do you do now with rates at 0.25%, there is no where to go. Even moving from 0.5% to 0.25% is more a gesture than a real policy move. If we can drop fro 5% to 0.5% with limited impact what change do we realistically thing 0.25% makes.

      Something needs to change or the UK with its in built problems weighed down by Brexit and potential loss of trade will be dead economically.

    2. The problem with that argument is that Scotland is already in the EU.....We are not new entrants.

      Clearly under UK umbrella but if ist one thing the EU is good at its making a fudge. In fact Scotland staying in EU and rUK exiting might be a great half way house for everyone.

      England gets a land border with EU while pretending to be out of the EU but knowing that it cannot be flooded by EU citizens(outside of the 5M in Scotland)....Spain do not have a veto if Scotland are classed as already members, in many ways its a much easier sell to them to keep Scotland in than to exit them to re-enter later. This scenario keeps the Catalan's from claiming the same treatment as they will say Scotland was always a member.

      Lets just kill this hard border nonsense now, its already a broken sword based on what has been said about Ireland. There will be no hard border in Britain.
      Please don't replay the costs of setting up a country tape, we've all read it numerous times so please no more cut and paste doom and gloom.

      Scotlands position while not great fiscally is also no great advert for the Union. The Gers numbers might be right or wrong, in any case everyone accepts there will be a deficit , it will be funded exactly as it is now with sovereign debt.

      Depending on settlement Scotland may not have any debt at independence, certainly its not a certainty that we would have. In a world awash with cash looking for yield there will be no issue for Scotland with its exporting economy to finance a deficit.

    3. "The GERS numbers may be right or wrong"

      So you are telling us that figures published by the Scottish government are unreliable?

      In the event they are correct - and they are widely accepted as being so - then Scotland's deficit post independence would be unmanagable. To create a sustainable deficit, we would need to slash spending and introduce tax hikes.

      "Scotland's no great advert for the union".

      I beg to differ. We get 15 billion pounds of essentially free money every year from the UK government. Neither Europe nor pure independence can possible rival this great deal that we get - and both would be frought with difficulty.

      Precisely why would Europe wave goodbye to rUK while keeping an indy Scotland? That's a bit of a bum deal isn't it? They lose the wealth generating part and keep the basket case part? No, I don't think Europe will accept this. There are also considerations of diplomacy and the setting of dangerous precedents to be taken account of.

      If Scotland were to find itself inside the EU and with an open door immigration policy, with England outside of the EU and with a strict immigration policy, then a hard border naturally follows - otherwise Scotland represents an open door for illegal immigration into England.

      The mandate comes from the people. As no party won an outright majority, then, as Bill Clinton said after the 2000 election; "the people have spoken - but we don't know what they said". If there is no clear mandate then it's simply another reason for Westminster to veto a referendum rerun.

    4. "In the event they are correct - and they are widely accepted as being so - then Scotland's deficit post independence would be unmanagable. To create a sustainable deficit, we would need to slash spending and introduce tax hikes."

      Widely accepted by whom?! It's widely accepted by anyone with a brain that GERS figures tell us precisely nothing about the economy of an independent Scotland. Nobody has any clue what proportion (if any) of the UK debt Scotland would assume, what the oil price will be when indy happens, what spending cuts Scotland will make, or what taxes it will raise. Virtually every country in the world runs a deficit; asserting that Scotland's would be excessive, let alone unmanageable, is pure guesswork. For all you know the situation could be much better. In defence spending alone, indy Scotland could save at least £1.5 billion per annum, probably closer to £2 billion.

      I'd shoot the rest of your cringeworthy "too wee, too poor, too stupid" rant down in flames, but you're obviously beyond reason or coherent argument. Thinking Westminster could or would even try to veto a second referendum simply proves your lack of any perspective. The mandate is clear; any attempt by Westminster to play obstacles in the way, simply makes a Yes vote more likely. More coherent britnats are quite aware of this, which is why they reached the Edinburgh Agreement in the first place; they couldn't risk going to law, because they had no confidence they would win, and even if they did it would have been ignored by Holyrood and in all probability have led to plebiscitary elections at the first available Holyrood or Westminster elections. There's no upside trying to deny the sovereignty of the Scots people.

    5. The Scottish people have no separate sovereignty. The UK is a unitary state and the final say lies with Westminster. Your assertion that a yes vote would be made more likely by a UK veto (a personal opinion of yours), is irrelevant if Westminster simply says no to an official referendum. There would be very little international sympathy on this. You had your referendum, on your terms, with an EU referendum in the pipeline, and you lost it. Do you really think Theresa May is going to gamble her premiership when she is barely five minutes in the door of No. 10? If you think that, the best that can be said of you is that you are naive.

      On the subject of the deficit, GERS figures are published by the Scottish Government and quoted by them as well as in the media. So I think we can reasonably trust them. If you disagree then you have to explain why the government you support is publishing utter bollocks.

      It is disingenuous to claim that we have no idea what an independent Scotland would be like as it is currently inside the union. We can make a fairly good guess based on current economic performance - and we'd need to grow our economy faster than China's to close the budget deficit without having to resort to austerity. That seems unlikely. But if the SNP has plans to do it, state them publicly now so they can be scrutinised. I could be doing with a laugh! :0)

    6. Sorry thats utter nonsense, Westminster says NO and everyone just goes home....Do you honestly believe that ? BTW chucking in assertion doesn't add to your argument

      That might have worked in the 50's and 60's but thats not what would happen today and you well know it.

      Imagine rUK entering into EU negtotiations with the elephant of a Yes vote sitting in the room, really Aldo...Could do better.

  10. You spend all your time trying to denigrate the SNP when they are the ONLY party standing up for people who live in Scotland no matter their identity. You seem to think that the independence supporters have got it all wrong, all 45% of them.
    Personally I was astonished that it got to 45%.

    To me the fact that it got that high is EVIDENCE that the Westminster system in its current guise is failing. Brexit is just another example of rebellion by people who are saying that the system is failing them. Particularly the people in E & W as they are being dumped on by Westminster but don't have the SNP to at least partially alleviate the disastrous policies of successive Westminster governments.

    The better approach is to consider how to make the system fairer and more reflective of societies needs instead of just harping on that SNP BAD Indy BAD. This continual negativity is not helpful it just continues to build resentment.

    1. For England at least the best thing would be the formation of an English National Party, dedicated to standing up for the people of England in the same way the SNP aims to do for Scotland.

      However, considering the overwhelmingly Anglophobic political and media culture we have at the moment in England that is unlikely to happen soon.

  11. "The SNP.....are the only party standing up for people who live in Scotland no matter their identity"

    There are many problems with this statement. Firstly, Scotland isn't a homogenous bloc. Its a country of 5 and a quarter million people. You can't possibly stand up for all of them. You can stand up for some of them, at the expense of others with opposing needs and values - and this what the SNP does. They continue to push for independence, ignoring the views of the unionist majority as expressed in the referendum. They oppose Trident, to the last man and woman - despite majority support for it in Scotland and many Scottish livelihoods depending on it. They continue to push the hated "Named Person" scheme, despite 79% of the country being opposed to it.

    So don't insult our intelligence by telling us the SNP stands up for all Scots. Also, the "SNP bad" mantra doesn't do you any favours - just reveals you to be arrogant and increasingly out of touch. You are not beyond criticism. Substitute "SNP bad" with "Tory bad" or "Labour bad" and you can hopefully see the problem here. Had those parties utilised such a dismissive tactic in the wake of the poll tax or the economic crash, they'd have been rightly panned - and your lot would have been first in line to criticise them.

    1. Its understood that Scotland does not contain a homogenous block of people. There are always differences of opinion in any society. Perhaps I should have said "it stands up as best it can, despite some differences with others opinions'. Or words to that effect.

      Can you point me to where you got your statistics on Scottish opinion on trident and named person scheme?

      It would also appear that independence support is growing not shrinking. This is a governance issue not an identity one. So being a Unionist is OK but decisions relevant to Scotland should be made in Scotland. Stuff which affects the whole of the UK can still be made by UK government if thats what the people want.

      As for SNPbad that criticism of Unionists stands. Its been like listening to a broken record for years. Find something positive to say about Unionist policies rather than just being negative about others.

    2. There is not majority suport for Trident in Scotland....

      The one oft quoted by unionists is a question that says if we must have trident in the UK would you suport having it in Scotland...Not quite the same as supporting it. Even then its very very narrow

    3. The most recent poll puts support for Trident at 43% and opposition to it at 42% (a majority of those who have formed an opinion therefore support it). Yet we had to rely on Scotland's only conservative MP to represent our views - 1 MP out of 59. Luckily, the British parliament is more representative of Scottish public opinion on this matter.

      The Named Person poll I quoted was a courier poll and as such not scientific. But scientific polling still shows a large majority against (64%), and seeing as the scheme has now been ruled illegal by the highest court in the land, that figure should now, ideally, be 100%!!

      All of these polls are available for public consumption. If you're going to come here and debate, you need to have done your research.

    4. Oh Aldo! Come, come...if you're going to pontificate about doing research, you might actually some? The YouGov poll in the Herald in Jan 2015 showed 48% of Scots wanted to scrap Trident (more than those who wanted it replaced), and considerably more than the 25% of English voters who wanted it scrapped. Survation in 2015 showed 47% opposed basing Trident on the Clyde versus 32% supporting it. The ICM poll from May 2016 you refer to is in a minority, as more than 50% of polls over the past 8 months show a majority of Scots oppose Trident retention.

      So the British parliament is not representative of Scots public opinion. Awkward for you! Of course the responses given also depend on how the questions are phrased; asking whether people think spending hundreds of billions on WMDs is good value for money, or should be spent on e.g. conventional forces or non-defence spending, will produce markedly different results. One doesn't have to be a pacifist to think the resources would be better spent strengthening conventional forces, improving personnel pay and conditions, and countering terrorism, asymmetrical warfare and cyber threats.

      Talking of research again, you will be quite aware that your claim the NP scheme has been ruled illegal is deeply disingenuous. I don't think you're a stupid person, so the only conclusion is that you are simply being dishonest. The poll you refer to on this is valueless; it was conducted online and only one third of the respondents lived in Scotland; it was also commissioned by the Christian Institute who are one of the main anti NP groups with a fairly unsavoury set of views.

      Tell us again about doing your research Aldo...?

    5. I also spoke about a Survation poll - conducted wholly in Scotland - that has 64% of Scots opposed to the scheme. That's about two thirds of the country - and this was about two months before the supreme court ruled the scheme to be unlawful. As it has already been rolled out in parts of Scotland, then illegal acts have been committed and those involved can presumably now sue the Scottish Government for compensation. I would urge them to do so.

      There have been several polls over recent years demonstrating support for the Trident nuclear deterrent in principle - and the most recent poll conducted on the matter is in keeping with those. The best claim that you can make is that Scotland is split on the issue. Yet around 50% of the population had to make do with being represented by less than 2% of our parliamentary representation - a serious democratic deficit.

      Scots vote for left parties believing they will stand up for the poor man and for Scotland. But there is a world of a difference between the average Scottish voter and the politically correct, pacifistic, 'right on' elites who comprise those parties. The risk for the SNP is that they actually fool themselves into thinking that the Scottish people agree with them on everything. Indeed, I think we are already past that point.

    6. On trident - see comment from ndls61 above.

      I had a look at Survation but couldnt find a reference to the Named Persons poll you refer to.

      Got this data from wings poll by panelbase of May 2015
      Agree 52% Disagree 28% Dont know 19%
      Seems like significant support for Named Persons to me.

      Also try this

      While I was researching I found this in Survation

      Whilst there is a margin against holding indyref2 if the question was asked then the result of the poll was

      For 54%
      Against 46%

      Mmmm. Interesting.