The long intervals between postings on this blog might suggest to my readers that nothing is happening to the relationships between Scotland and rUK, and Scotland and the EU. This is both true and not true. Plenty of stuff has been written and broadcast on hypothetical areas of conflict and whether or not Brexit will actually happen but until very recently there has been no real substance in these reports. So there wasn’t any point in repeating them.

The “Phoney War” was the 6 month period of relative quiet for the British Isles before Hitler unleashed his all-out attack during WWII. It has taken more than three months after Ms. May assured us that ”Brexit means Brexit” for a skeleton framework to emerge showing how she intends to proceed. Repeated claims have been made by the ”Three Brexiteers” Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies that, in BoJo’s words, Britain can have its cake and eat it, i.e. continue as a full member of the European single market and still get the right to impose limits on immigration. The best response to this rubbish has been made by Mr. Tusk, currently President of the European Council. He advised : Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate ( Mr. Junker, Ms. Merkel and M. Hollande have been equally clear that a compromise on the Four Freedoms is not up for negotiation.

Ms. May considers that Brexit negotiations are part of UK foreign policy, an area ”reserved” for Westminster under the terms of the Scotland Act (1998). This point of view does not take into account the enormous effects that any form of Brexit will have on the internal workings of the UK. The obvious compromise would be for the preparations for Brexit to be made by a cross-party committee, representing the major shades of opinion within the UK. Negotiations with the EU would then proceed on the basis of the committee’s conclusions, which would be its negotiating mandate.

This will not happen, because….

Ms. May has formed a Cabinet committe (The European Union Exit and Trade Committee, EETC) to handle the Brexit negotiations. According to the news website Politico, the EETC is made up almost exclusively of hard-line Brexiteers. It does not include the Attorney General, a significant ommission in view of the legal complexities of the task. Neither does the Scottish Secretary (Whitehall’s man in Holyrood, David Mundall) have a permanent seat. On this score Scotland is no worse off than Northern Ireland and Wales. This is not a committee to produce a result balancing as far as possible the national and regional interests that make up the UK. Instead it is a committee to deliver the result ”Out whatever the cost”, thus putting the politics of the xenophobic right wing of the Conservative party well ahead of the national interest.

There is a hope that Westminster can at any rate be given a scrutinising role in the process – a decision by the High Court is expected next week, though the decision will almost inevitably be referred immediately to the Supreme Court ( There is also speculation that, if Parliament were to be given the opportunity, a coalition of Labour, SNP and Europositive Conservative MPs might be able to prevent the invocation of Article 50. This would certainly inflame many of those who voted for Brexit and would require substantial courage from Conservative MPs to go against the party line.

Meanwhile, in Scotland Ms. Sturgeon has been delivering a consistent and prudent plan on how to approach the challenges of Brexit. Although the media have been full of reports that she will announce a new review of the need for a ”Second” IndyRef (it would actually be the third but no one seems to remember the IndyRef vote in 1978), her main thrust has been to try to ensure that the needs of Scotland will be adequately represented prior to Brexit negotiations. The first and overriding need is to remain within the EU. The second is to protect Scotland’s interests within Brexit negotiations. Only if these needs cannot be met, argues Ms. Sturgeon, can Scotland then claim that the conditions relating to IndyRef in 2014 have undergone such substantial changes that a new Independence Referendum should be organised ( Holding another referendum would require permission from Westminster, something that is hard to imagine in the current political atmosphere.

Angus Robertson MP has done a good job as spokesman for the SNP in Westminster. At the recent SNP annual conference he was elected Deputy Leader of the party by a comfortable majority. Angus Robertson used his speech to call for immediate preparations for another IndyRef. This was injudicious for a number of reasons. Several opinions polls have shown people seem to be waiting for clearer details of what Brexit will mean before thinking about another IndyRef. Nor will a new IndyRef simply be a re-run of the 2014 campaign as the issues have changed. Furthermore no one should  think that IndyRef could take precedence over Brexit in the timetable for negotiations. Whether one likes it or not, Scotland’s future hinges on the relationship of the UK, or the rUK, with the EU so this must take precedence.

Finally it is interesting to note the increasing presence of Nordic issues in the Scottish debate. Last week Ms. Sturgeon addressed  the Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavik  and underlined Scotland’s commitment to the Arctic region and to multilateral cooperation. Nordic Horizons is planning a Conference on ”Scotland after Brexit” on Saturday 29 October, at which a number of the speakers will be from Nordic countries ( your correspondent will report in due course. And on a humbler level your correspondent has addressed, and will go on addressing, branches of the Norden Association on the historical ties between Scotland and the Nordic nations and the issues of Scottish independence and the desirability of closer ties with the Nordic Union , which is itself evolving towards closer political integration.


SThe persistent and continuing use of outright lies is typical of the whole Brexit debate and has been high-lighted by a report of the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), citing particularly the claims by Brexiteers regarding NHS funding. The ERS wants the establishment of a watchdog, such as the Electoral Commission, to oversee and intervene against blatant lies in future referendum campaigns. The ERS cited the Scottish Independence Referendum as a role-model, offering a “vibrant, well-informed, grassroots conversation… that left a lasting legacy of on-going public participation in politics and public life”. Small consolation.

The ERS comment is particularly timely as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched a program of consultations on Scottish attitudes to Brexit.  This includes an on-line questionnaire as well as face-to-face meetings across the country. The questionnaire, published by the SNP, is posed as a series of open questions but there is no doubt that Ms. Sturgeon will be hoping that the result will boost the Scottish position in future negotiations with Westminster over the consequences of Brexit. The survey has already been criticised as too long and may further exacerbate a mounting tiredness in the electorate for grassroots participation: see for yourself:

Ms. Sturgeon also repeated her demand that Scottish representatives should be present during the discussions to determine the UK government’s Brexit negotiating position with the EU.

Representatives of the Cabinet, such as Brexit Secretary David Davis, keep repeating with the stubbornness of fools that they expect to achieve an agreement combining continuing free trade and the imposition of immigration limits with the EU. This combination has repeatedly been ruled out by various top EU politicians as well as Polish and Romanian prime ministers. It would also seem to contradict a statement by Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s that Polish immigrants will continue to be welcome to the UK.

Some of the British media are full of reports that the economic consequences of Brexit were vastly overrated and that the British economy is actually booming. The positive attitude of the Australian Prime Minister to a trade deal with the UK has also been given much publicity. These soundbites contrast strongly with comments by leading politicians in Japan, German and USA on the negative long-term consequences of Brexit for world trade. PRC is being more cautious but it has a big club in its hand as the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant deal is up for review by a sceptical Ms. May. Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, has stated that “Brexit will make Europe a little bit weaker”, without spelling out the consequences for the UK. As this blog has previously noted, the real costs will take years, more probably decades, to become apparent.

This is all neatly summed up in an on-line comment by a reader of The Independent:

Wiseowler (extract)

“The powers that be have spoken – the Japanese will move away their industries, we will have to wait for ages for a US trade deal, we will only get on with the Chinese if we give them access to our nuclear power industry, and the EU will only allow tariff free access if we allow free movement of labour.”



Article 50

    1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. 3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period. 4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

      A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

      5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

Observant followers will have noticed that this resurrected blog has not lived up to its self-stated goal of an article on average once a week. The reasons are simple. The goal itself is probably over-optimistic; and during the holiday period of the UK, very little of substance has occurred regarding the Brexit process. The great majority of news has been” Silly Season” stuff and not worth bothering my discriminating readers with.

One thing has become crystal-clear. Scotland is not on a fast-track into the EU or to Independence. Constitutionally nothing can be negotiated until the need for a new relationship between Scotland and Rest UK (rUK) has been agreed upon. Ms. May is not giving priority to that topic, however much Ms. Sturgeon complains. A vociferous but probably small Scottish faction is agitating on the Internet for a quick “second” Independence referendum (actually it would be the third) This would be a bad strategy. The arguments for a Scotland that is ultimately part of the EU and independent from an rUK that is not part of the EU, are different and even more complicated than those of 2014. As long as no one knows how Brexit is actually going to look, there is no point in muddying the waters by further meaningless speculations.

Ms. Sturgeon is under no illusions as to what Brexit means for the Scottish economy. A Scottish government report concludes that the cost of Brexit to Scotland will be between £2 and £11 billion per year over the period to 2030, with a corresponding reduction in tax revenue.  She has introduced a bill in Holyrood that is intended to buffer some of the immediate negative effects. Quite apart from Brexit issues, the value of oil revenues from the North Sea has plummeted, showing that the “No” side of the referendum was not all wrong in its criticism of Independence.

The pro-Brexit elements of the media, such as The Telegraph and the Daily Express, have been mocking the pessimistic economic projections made by the Remain movement. For example, the property market has not collapsed. This can to some extent be attributed to the prompt action of the Bank of England which immediately cut interest rates and provided £40 billion of quantitative easing (QE). In the two months since the referendum the value of the pound has fallen by 11% against both the Euro and the dollar, a situation that may worsen if QE does not work as intended. The large depreciation may bring home the realities of Brexit to UK tourists when they order a meal in Munich or a bottle of bubbly in Barcelona.

The euphoria of the Brexiteers is likely to be short-lived. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that loss of access to the single market will cut GDP growth by 4% and be particularly harmful for financial services. The true cost of Brexit is something that our grandchildren may find out. A figure of £5 billion of spread over the next decade has been quoted for the cost of the two new departments that are being set up within government: the Department for Exiting the European Union under David Davis and the Department for International Trade under Liam Fox. Serious shortages of experienced UK negotiators are forecast (for example, 20 UK to 600 EU trade experts) and in-fighting between the Foreign Office and the Department of International Trade has already begun, leading to salaries of up to £5,000/day being paid to top consultants.

As to the Brexit process itself, the main topic of speculation is when Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the first step of the negotiating process, will actually be triggered. Buoyed by their unexpected victory in the referendum, hard-line Brexiteers are claiming that the trigger should be pulled before the end of the year and the negotiations completed within two years. I don’t suppose those persons have actually bothered to read the Treaty of Lisbon, article 218, which sets out how such negotiations are to be structured. It’s easy to google and takes only a little longer to understand. More realistic estimates of the time required range from 5 – 10 years to infinity. There are strong arguments for Ms. May not to pull the trigger until at least 2017. The former Attorney General and now MP Dominic Grieve, believes that parliamentary approval to invoke Article 50 is necessary, implying that this permission might not be given.

 “Brexit means Brexit” negotiations will not take place against a static background of European or UK politics. 2017 will see general elections in Germany, Holland and France which will bring in fresh faces and opinions to a range of EU organs. The next UK General Election is scheduled for 2020. If the Labour Party chaos continues into the autumn, Ms. May might be tempted to call a snap general election before the end of the year. Whichever time scale kicks in, it is virtually certain that the UK will have a General Election before Brexit is complete. The Brexit process would certainly be the main topic of election manifestos. Constitutionally, therefore, there is still a theoretical chance that the referendum decision might be repealed by the electorate and/or the next parliament.

TV viewers in Sweden have just seen the last instalment of “The Hollow Crown”. The series showed a broad range of the treatments given to those seen to be traitors, or simply disposable. Beheading, suffocating, hanging, drawing and quartering were all ways of getting even with enemies of the State and the favourite setting for these spectacles was The Tower of London. More recently blood-letting has given way to impeachment but the Tower is still standing. Perhaps some post-modernistic Shakespeare will write a play in which Boris, Nigel, David and Liam are impeached, found guilty of High Treason and locked up in the Tower to eke out their remaining days on a diet of snails whose best-before date has expired, stale baguettes and disgusting cheap vin rouge. No fate is too bad for those lying scoundrels.


SCINIThose who have read “1984” will remember that “Doublespeak” was the official language of Airbase 1. Doublespeak meant saying the opposite of what one actually meant. Like a number of George Orwell’s dystopic visions, Doublespeak has become reality, both during the Brexit campaign and in its fall-out.

Five weeks on from the Brexit referendum, not a lot has happened outwardly . Ms. May has met with a number of Heads of EU States in an attempt to downsize the future role of the European Commission in negotiations. Her message has been very clear: the UK expects to be able to continue to be a good European partner having thrown out at least one of the Four Freedoms, with Immigration in the hot seat. (Doublespeak, item #1).

This position is  likely to receive short shrift. The Commission has appointed M. Michel Barnier as its chief negotiator. “The Independent” describes M. Barnier as a tough negotiator, a”purist on the principles of the single market” and a person who has previously rejected the UK “pick and mix” approach to financial services. He formally begins his job on 1 October but says that nothing serious can happen until the UK triggers Article 50, thus formally announcing its intention to leave the EU.

Activation of Article 50 is not expected before the beginning of 2017 at the earliest. M. Juncker has acknowledged that the UK may need several months to prepare its negotiating position. If Ms. May should decide to indefinitely postpone activating Article 50, the Brexit result could become subject to a General Election . Under current rules the next GE will be in 2020 – a long time in politics and an eternity for markets wanting clarity. There have been speculations about a snap GE in 2016 but as things stand it is unlikely that either side could muster the necessary 2/3 majority (434 seats out of 650) in the House of Commons to activate this. This situtation might change if Corbyn survives the September vote as Leader of the Opposition: a Labour Party in continuing turmoil might be unable to mount an effective election campaign.

The other main topic of debate this week was how a dismembered UK might finally look. Ms. May doesn’t want a “hard” border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and with good reason – it has been tried and the multitude of problems that this created are well-documented. She hasn’t mentioned the possibility for a hard border between an independant Scotland and England, because in her public utterances an independent Scotland will not exist – “Scotland has had its vote for Independence” (Doublespeak, item #2). The media have not been so reticent. The cartoon shows a Celtic alliance of UK countries that might opt to remain in the EU and what this would mean for the Scottish-English border (readers should note that the Republic of Ireland is and will remain an EU member although not shown as such in the cartoon). On current statistics a Scotland – England border would have to deal with at least 2/3 of Scottish good and services being exported to rUK and presumably an even greater inflow of rUK imports (I haven’t been able to find any statistic for this). While a hard border between Scotland and England would present formidable technical difficulties and costs, a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would have the potential to re-open the festering secterian difficulties of the late 20th century – something that probably nobody wants but that would not neccessarily prevent it from becoming a political reality.

Time passes and Brexit becomes an ever-bigger can of worms.

sturgeon_europeThe month that has elapsed since the Brexit referendum has seen the start of a massive re-calibration of the UK political scene.  The most important, and most widely-quoted, is “Brexit means Brexit” pronounced by Theresa May, the new Prime Minisiter. That sounds pretty definite, but … the fat lady hasn’t yet sung.

The second event was the announcement of Ms. May’s top cabinet posts, with prominent Brexiteers to the fore. The disbelief in the UK and Europe about the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary was pretty well universal. However, mature reflection suggest two things. First, that, having a large share of responsibility for Brexit, it is appropriate that Mr. Johnston has to  deal with the consequences ( one is reminded of the lines from “The Mikado” .. “… to make the punishment fit the crime/The punishment fit the crime.”) Secondly, Ms. May, whom the British media establishment has described as a tough cookie is following the advice of Machiavelli, to “..keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer”.

The third development was the message sent from Scotland. All 32 Scottish electoral regions and 62% of the electorate voted to remain in Europe. While Westminster was a sea of confusion for several days after the results of the vote were announced, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promptly set out the position of Scotland. The Scottish parliament will negotiate with Westminster in order to explore all possibilities for a mutually-acceptable solution to their disparate positions but Ms. Sturgeon was equally clear that she had a strong mandate from the Scottish electorate to keep Scotland within the EU. She promptly visited Brussels to make sure that this message was understood by the European political élite, which made encouraging but not binding statements of support.

The Scottish position has not gone down well in Westminster. Early on Ms Sturgeon suggested that Scotland could block Brexit but Ms. May and her top ministers have made it clear that this is not the case. Other EU-positive regions of the UK, including London and Gibraltar, have also expressed their interest in negotiating “special relationships” with the EU but that is likely to be even more difficult than for Scotland and neither have gone so far as to suggest “independence” as their goal. Brexiteers point at the various arrangements that have been negotiated for non-EU European states, principally the EEC: however, an EEC “solution” such as that between the EU and Norway would essentially mean all the responsibilities with fewer of the advantages of full EU membership.

The central position of Brexiteers seems to be that the UK can simply walk away from the Four Freedoms, in particular freedom of movement. That has already been categorically ruled out by, for example, M. Hollande. If and when negotiations start in earnest I suspect that they will come to resemble the Monty Python “Norwegian Blue” sketch. “That perrot is dead”.

In is in and out is out. And Scotland is between a rock and a hard place.





Picture 1 is from the IndyRef campaign of 2014. Picture 2 is post-Brexit by about 10 days.  For newcomers – Ruth Davidson was (and still is) the leader of the Conservative party in the Scottish National parliament, i.e. she was campaigning for No Thanks during IndyRef. These days she is also a fast-rising star in the UK Conservative party.

Draw your own conclusions.


The time is 03:20 on 16 September. In two hours my youngest daughter and I will start our journey to Scotland – she for her final year at the University of Strathclyde, both of us to participate in the experience of the Independence Referendum.

Whatever happens on the 18 September will start a series of changes with momentous consequences for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They will spread beyond those islands to affect Europe and indeed the world. Britain will cease to be “Great” but it will become a country or group of countries better adapted to supply all of its citizens with an adequate standard of living and a return to a more democratic governance.

The campaign for Yes Scotland has said No Thanks to:

a centralised government run by a clique of politicians that serve the interests of the ultra-rich, backed up by a set of mainstream media which no longer see their function as holding the powerful to account on behalf of the weak

– a government that spends billions on billions of pounds on a military establishment so that its leaders can pretend that Britain “punches above its weight” on the world stage – a capacity that was important when the Empire stretched around the globe but is now a vastly-expensive self-delusion

– a government which is opening the public services of the country to the possibilty of US-style of litigation with its risk of immense, trumped-up claims for damages

– a government that has consistently ignored the needs of the periphery for those of the southern parts of the country, particularly the needs of London, which has become a black hole that sucks resources from the rest of the country.

The Better Together campaign has offered more of the same old, discredited way to run the country.

Whatever the result of the referendum the future is now fraught with uncertainties. This could have been prevented by an orderly political discourse initiated by a Westminster attuned to the needs of the periphery, particularly Scotland, Wales, the North of England and the South-West. The (disallowed) “Yes” vote for Scottish Independence in 1979 was largely ignored by Westminster as were the possible consequences of the Scotland Act of 1998. David Cameron was completely unable to imagine what forces he was setting loose by his refusal in 2012 to allow the referendum to include a vote for “Devo Max”: if he had agreed to that, the present situation would probably never have arisen, the pound Sterling would not be facing a long period of weakness and the country itself about to be rent asunder one way or another. David Cameron and his Westminster colleagues then and now signally failed to understand the mood of Scotland. The Better Together campaign has had an impossible task because the reality is, if Westminster cannot offer anything better than Better Together to the poor and deprived people in Scotland, then Better is not Good Enough.

Against all the odds, against every-day common sense, against the torrents of advice from the rich and powerful (looking after their own interests as always) the Yes Scotland campaign has held out a vision of another way of governance. The campaign claims have been exaggerated but the idea that it could be possible to do things in a different way has caught on. When the discourse changed from the technicalities of accounting and macroeconomics to this wider and greater vision, people living in Scotland embraced the idea that they could do a better job of running their country than Westminster could. They know that way of governance has been tried and repeatedly found wanting.

The opinion polls tell us that the people of Scotland are evenly divided between Yes for Hope and No for Fear. Because we face great uncertainty whatever the outcome, I support those whose choice, in the spirit of Nelson Mandela, “will reflect their hopes and not their fears”. My daughter has the vote on the 18th. It will be a proud moment for me when she casts it. I suspect that she will join a majority of the people of Scotland and vote “Yes”.

This blog is now closed.

1984 – 30 YEARS ON


2013+15steadman orwell22(1)

cartoon Ralph Steadman

Top Westminster politicians, top banking executives and the mainstream media have all told us that a currency union between an independent Scotland and the Rest of the United Kingdom is impossible (the list is so long and the posts so easy to find that I’m not bothering with one reference here). It seems they have not read a calm, well-argued paper from Deutsche Bank experts Oliver Harvey and George Saravelos ( that was published in May 2014. The conclusion is:

A practical analysis of an independent Scotland’s currency options shows that a unilateral breakup, by either side, would be close to impossible because of the costs to financial stability. Even a mutual exit would be extremely complicated and risky, and would require policymakers to be planning already. A currency area would thus be the only viable option in the short term. However, as the Eurozone demonstrates, if badly designed this can be an exceptionally costly outcome.

There you have it. A currency area while calm heads work out the best options for both sides in the long term. For example it has been suggested that Scotland might use the Norwegian crown, which could be a good option if Scotland develops into a country rich in renewable as well as fossil energy ( and this blog).

So the top brass have been talking against the best interests of the rUK, which they must have know, but that was less important than shoring up the neo-liberal alliance of Westminster to keep jobs for the boys (neo-liberal in the sense of Hayek and Friedman). Senior staff of the Deutsche Bank seem to have missed this too (

Recent comments and even some mainstream media articles have swung in the last week from details to principles. This campaign is not only about an independent Scotland but also about the principle of “One man (or woman), one Vote” against the rampant misuse of wealth and power by a system that delivers benefits to themselves instead of to the populace .

George Orwell would have applauded (



“Kernow” posted this comment to

Upfront I’ll say I’m an English person, don’t read if you think my views aren’t relevent.

I’ve been following this with interest for months, and I really have to say – the Yes campaign has won the argument in my eyes. Years ago when the SNP were voted in and the referendum was put in place, I had the typical response many feel to the county being split up – hell no – but this wasn’t a view based on any informed opinion about Scotland or the reasons the referendum has come about.

It’s been difficult to sort through the rhetoric and junk arguments on both sides of this debate. The strongest arguments of the no campaign have all seemingly been economic, but seriously, is an economic argument alone enough reason not to want independence? It’s going to be hard. I think the majority of Yes voters already know that. Going it alone always is hard. I think the Yes camp have been honest that independence isn’t a magic wand. It’s a long haul, and it won’t necessarily be the current generation that benefits most from independence.

If I could vote for my region to have independence from the South East centric elites that comprise our government I would. Even if there is a no vote on Thursday the only thing it’ll guarantee is that Scotland will be back to the polls on this same issue in ten or twenty years time.

It’s plain to see whats going on from the news reports. When BBC cameras are pointed at the Yes campaign, there are a sea of faces, and lots of noise. When the cameras are pointed at the No camp, it’s five people in a line behind Darling, or Miliband, or Brown with an empty street in the background. I’m confident that the SNP have this one in the bag, at this stage. There’s no momentum left in the No camp.

So, any chance you’ll be accepting refugees from the other Celtic nations once you have your independence, guys?”

My only criticisms are that Kernow gives the Yes campaign a bit better press than they really deserve, it really hasn’t been strong on pointing out that independence will entail hard work and probably hard times, especially during the transitional period. Also the No side has certainly had a much greater, and mostly positive, press coverage in the last two or three days so from that point of view the Yes movement seems to have stalled. But I am told that on social media the situation is quite different. I’m not competent with Twitter and barely capable with FB so can’t confirm or deny that one. FInally its the Yes campaign, not the SNP, who are winning the race.

And here is a link to a letter written by William Pinkney-Baird, an English student: it is a well-formulated cogent argument for a Scotland that is independant of governance from Westminster ( The letter is long so only I quote his closing paragraph:

“In a couple of short weeks, you will be faced with the decision of a lifetime. A choice either to accept the status quo of undemocratic rule from Westminster, including the youth unemployment and critical threats to free education and the NHS that come with it, or to reject this in favour of democracy, for a government that you can better hold to account to look after your needs. Independence will not solve every problem, for the young people of Scotland or for anyone. But I do believe that the benefits of independence—for young people as for everyone else—will be well worth any risks or uncertainties.”

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to claim that this is part of a quiet revolution. It has come out of the cupboard to confront the beast of neo-liberalism head-on.


A couple of days ago, the Labour ex-Prime Minster Gordon Brown, now an ordinary MP at Westminster, made an unexpected and widely-publicised entry into the IndyRef campaign. He claimed that he would get The Speaker of the House of Commons to set in motion a process that would produce a “cast-iron” timetable for a devomax solution starting on 19 September and finishing by 25 January 2015, which just happens to be Burn’s Night (

This was widely welcomed by the Better Together campaign in the belief that it would get some people to refrain from voting Yes.

There are number of important misunderstandings conflated here. Firstly, Cameron himself appears to have rejected a proposal by First Minister Alex Salmond to have a devomax alternative on the ballot paper ( The ballot paper states without any doubt that this is about Yes for Independence or No for the status quo. Repeat – No is not a vote for more devolution. However Better Together understood early on that they would get nowhere with a genuine No campaign so its various factions have been talking about “devomax” – each political party offering a different version – which actually contravenes the rules set out in the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012.

Brown was hoping that his standing within the Labour party and his Scottish antecedents (he is MP for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath) would give his proposal the necessary political clout although it was only a timetable, not actual powers. None the less Westminster politicians rallied round the idea with enthusiasm. But Yesterday William Hague, who was standing in for Cameron during Prime Ministers Question time, said:

Fast tracking further devolution for Scotland was not Government policy”.

This statement is absolutely consistent with the Edinburgh Agreement.

Gordon Brown had also overlooked a constitutional requirement that any bill put before the House of Commons has to be ratified by the House of Lords before it becomes legal. That body issued a report in 2012 which stated specifically that

Proper constitutional process requires that negotiations involving all parts of the United Kingdom precede any referendum on an agreed scheme of “devolution max.”

So not only would any devomax solution have to pass the House of Lords but it would also have to be negotiated with all parts of the United Kingdom (

How such negotiations would be done is a purely academic question. DevoMax hasn’t died, it was stillborn from the start – another Dead Parrot on the Better together campaign trail.

One wonders why the Yes Scotland campaign hasn’t given more publicity to the funeral.