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Ruth Davidson gives the Scottish Tories grounds for hope. At last.

17 March 2014

3:31 PM

17 March 2014

3:31 PM

Because I spent the weekend moving house and being depressed by events in Cardiff I did not attend the Scottish Conservative’s spring conference in Edinburgh. A dereliction of journalistic duty, perhaps, but also, well, life takes over sometimes.

In truth, I didn’t worry about missing the conference. Attending these things can be dangerous. Like journalism, politics attracts a grim number of copper-bottomed, ocean-going shits but also, like journalism again, a greater number of decent, public-spirited, optimistic folk than you might imagine. Most politicians, most of the time, are in the game for most of the right reasons.

Speaking to these people has its uses but, also, its dangers. Before you know it you end up liking them. Which is a roundabout way of saying that Ruth Davidson has been a wee problem for me.

I’ve known Ruth, you see, since university days. She is tough, smart and fun. Caustic on occasion, too. But in a generally good way. We have enough friends in common that we attend the same weddings. Not quite bosom chums but a good bit more than acquaintances too.

So obviously she’s needed kicking. Quite often, in fact. Because that’s the way it goes. We hope for better from our friends so they disappoint us more easily. (This, by the way, is why I criticise the Conservatives more often than Labour.)

But good things come to those who wait. And Ruth Davidson’s speech to the Tory conference at the weekend was her best since becoming leader of the Scottish Tories. Sure, it contained a certain amount of blather of the sort all politicians feel they must offer (the NHS is not actually the “envy of the world”) and a certain amount of wishful thinking (you don’t have to be a Conservative to believe in responsibility, sound finances, opportunity or, even, “rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in”) but this was still a good, well-crafted speech.

Best of all, it was muscular and unapologetic. The time for saying Sorry but we’re actually Tories is long past. The time for taking the fight to the soft-left Scottish consensus long overdue.

[Alt-Text]


This speech did that. For a long time now – too long – the Scottish Tories have minced around in hair-shirts. As you might expect, this look has done little for their appearance or their dignity. Time, then, to draw a line in the sand, so to speak, and move on. Time to attack.

Ruth’s suggestion that if Alex Salmond “was caught spraying graffiti, he’d blame the wall” was a good line. It’s funny because even some of the First Minister’s admirers might admit there’s a grain of truth to it.

The Tories have been punchbags for so long that some have simply accepted that is their role. But Davidson urged the party to reclaim its patriotism. The SNP  – and Labour before them – have spent years implying there’s a contradiction between being Scottish and Conservative. No Proper Scot could possibly be a Tory. They are Uncle Tams, truckling to London and their British paymasters. It’s a peculiarly Scottish form of bigotry, really.

Except of course many Tories see no contradiction between being Scottish and British.  No need, either, to choose between these layers of identity. Edinburgh is the capital but so is London. The saltire is our standard but so is the Union Flag.

So why not cite Woody Guthrie? Why not indeed. Not least because of the irony in doing so. Salmond, you see:

[H]asn’t realised that this land is our land. This union is our union. And every one of us has their own personal reasons for wanting it to stay.

Our United Kingdom belongs to all of us. We’ve built it together. We’ve traded together. We’ve fought together. We’ve lived together. We’ve loved together. We’ve settled and built our lives together. This land is our land and we will allow no-one to break it apart.

Of course nationalists will scoff and snipe at this. They would. But Ruth wasn’t speaking to them. She was talking to her tribe and reminding them that, despite the attrition of recent decades, the worst might be past. There are more Tories in Scotland than people think. More than 400,000 at the last general election. There’s a place for them in this country too and don’t let anyone forget that. It’s their country too and they’re no kind of McQuisling.

Better still, thanks be to god, she didn’t only talk about the bloody constitution. She made a proper case for cutting income tax and welfare reform, best of all, for reforming Scottish education. Sure, as Ian Smart says, real school choice isn’t hugely feasible in rural, small town Scotland but it’s damn feasible in the parts of Scotland inhabited by most Scots. Instead, too often we endure what Ruth dubbed “a monopoly of mediocrity” in a system that “too often fails the ablest without giving real help to those who need it the most.” We know this is true. More people need to say it.

Education is one of those minority enthusiams in which it is just as important to win arguments as win elections. Win the argument and change will come eventually no matter who governs. Education should be an issue that the Scottish Tories can “own”. We must do better than this; we can do better than this. Today’s heresy is tomorrow’s orthodoxy and every journey begins with a single step.

And you don’t need independence to improve education. Or health. Or even, necessarily, welfare. The SNP have one Very Big Idea but are often oddly silent on the many smaller ideas that also really matter. They are less interested in challenging orthodoxy or vested interests than you might think. Which is fine: everything is a means to an end and that end is independence. After which, naturally, all things become possible. (As they might.)

Of course the constitutional rammy matters but it’s not the only game in town. Few people will vote for a party afraid of its own philosophy or worldview. Dignity and self-respect matter. The best thing about Ruth’s speech was the way in which she jettisoned the Tory Cringe.

There is a market out there for an alternative to the soft-left, soft-soaping Scottish consensus. The Tories should provide it. For too long they have brought a butter knife to a gun fight. With this speech Ruth Davidson suggested they might start to tool-up and, jings, not before time.

It’s clearly too soon to talk of a Tory Spring in Scotland but if you keek hard enough you can just about discern wee shoots of recovery. Two and a half cheers, then.

More of this, please.

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Show comments
  • john grant

    Ruth Davidson , “grounds for hope ” ……….really ?
    This is surely some kind of a wind up article , wait a minute , no its not April the first yet.

  • justejudexultionis

    Scottish Tory
    Banana avocado
    Good evil
    Black white
    — nope, I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work.
    SAOR ALBA

  • Jambo25

    There is a market out there for an alternative to the soft left consensus. I’m part of that market but I won’t vote Tory. Nobody I know will because behind Ruthie and chums stands Dave, Gideon and pals. If they really want to revive then they have to cut themselves free from the London Tory Party and start to display a real sense of Scottish identity and patriotism. That needn’t mean going for independence but it does mean not simply transmitting the latest London generated received wisdom to the proles up here. They could become the Scottish CSU. Murdo Fraser was moving towards this when Ruthie beat him in the leadership election. The rather gruesome Tory dinosaurs lined up behind her as the ‘traditional’ loyalty candidate.
    Once in the position Ruthie realised that Murdo was right and, if anything, greater distance between the Scottish Tories and London than even Murdo wanted was necessary to get any kind of revival. This realisation, on the part of Ruthie, was memorably termed “Murdo Fraser for slow learners.” by the Tory commentator, David Torrance. I can discern no sign of a Tory revival in Scotland.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    “Most politicians, most of the time, are in the game for most of the right reasons.”

    .

    I actually made it into the second paragraphs of your screed, lad, but I then encountered the above lunacy and abandoned ship as ever.

    Only an authoritarian socialist could mouth such detached nonsense.

  • asalord

    Well, it’s fine with me if unionists in Scotland waste their time by deluding themselves over a tory revival in Scotland.
    Ironically, their best chance of revival lies in the opportunities inherent in an independent Scotland.

  • ohforheavensake

    But, Alex: nobody is listening- did you see the hall? It was only half-full at best. She can be as feisty as she wants: but her party is an irrelevance.

    • Jambo25

      Apparently they were trying to entice any of the good burgers of Edinburgh to attend whether they were Tories or not. Apart from ‘Call me’s’ speech when they fiddled the camera angles and pulled the just under a thousand crowd into the middle of the conference hall, the place was like a morgue.

  • andagain

    Our United Kingdom belongs to all of us. .. We’ve lived together. We’ve
    loved together.

    Most effective pro-UK speachI’ve come across. Not that that is saying a lot.

    • asalord

      Putin: Our Russian Federation belongs to all of us… We’ve lived together. We’ve loved together.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Sheik El Humpthelot and his 4 dozen wives says we’ve lived together and we’ve loved together.

  • allymax bruce

    This is the biggest load of crap I’ve read since skimming Kenneth Roy’s latest offering. More pap, like all ye’r other journo-mates; McWhirter the wringkle-wrestler has spent the best part of a year, trying to find a ‘comfortable’ position on the fence; and before that, spent 2 years plainly talking iScotland down! Same as all the other cretins in the journo industry; all London lackies. With all the good seminars, discussions, and debates going on all around Scotland, attended, and functioned, by the people of Scotland, yoos pathetic journos continue in yer bland wearisome inane meanderings you call journalism. Yoos-lot, (journos), think if ye manage tae cover an event, (as above), write it up that is detrimental to iScotland, managing to conveniently avoid mentioning the most crucial & interesting bits that Scots really want to read, then you’ve legitimised yer Unionist lackey pay; while still managing tae sit astride that creaking fence! I would say, the journos that have ‘covered’ the iScotland issue, has let everyone down.

    • AnotherDave

      Are you one of these “cybernats” we’ve been hearing of?

      • Wessex Man

        I’m afraid he is, they are fasinating , this one has a way of writing what he thinks is Scottish, he’s probabaly from somewhere like Ealing.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Yes.

        • Kitty MLB

          Leave Ally be, he is an excellent chap with a beautiful
          soul, full of humour and shall be defended by most English women. He has unfortunately been somewhat befuddled
          by the ‘grass is always greener’ message, from Scotland’s
          chief gardener and little moth Salmond.

          • allymax bruce

            You’re a sweetheart, Kitty. God bless you.

    • robertsonjames

      Any chance you might try to communicate in proper English?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        No.

      • HJ777

        Unfortunately, I fear there is not the slightest chance.

    • flippit

      They obviously haven’t been saying what you want them to say , the naughty things.

      • allymax bruce

        Actually, ‘they’ve’ been saying exactly what I have already said; two weeks ago!
        Ian McWhirter’s herod column Sunday-past, (amply advertised by Lesley Riddoch on Twitter), says what I said two weeks ago;

        Spectator Article; Jim Murphy takes Union fight offline
        “I attended a forum last night on Scottish Independence,
        facilitated by the Edinburgh Active Citizens Group, and one of the
        participating guests asked the panel ‘where did all our oil money go?’
        To rapturous applause of the question, came the reply, by both Yes &
        No panel speakers, ‘it went on Polaris, M25, the refinance of a
        manufactuirng economy to a City of London finance-based economy, and,
        …. wait for it, ……. paying Westminster’s Debt !”

        Not the first time Scotch journos have stolen writing to fill their columns.

        • HJ777

          Of course, none of it went on funding the Barnett Formula, did it?

          There was no ring-fencing of oil tax revenues, so it no more went on one area of spending than on any other.

          By the way what does “the refinance of a
          manufacturing economy to a City of London finance-based economy” mean? I understand the words but it would be nice if they were arranged into something coherent.

          Scotland actually has a bigger finance sector in proportion to GDP than does the rest of the UK, by the way.

    • HJ777

      Clearly you don’t read you own posts then.

      Can’t say I blame you. They really are dross.

  • dougthedug

    Having just read Ruth’s speech I can safely say that it was empty of ideas with a few strange assumptions thrown in for good measure and a rah-rah for good old Blighty at the end.

    “And I do so, knowing that while the SNP generates sound and fury at
    Westminster politicians in Scotland, this is a party which – shamefully –
    has failed to produce a single idea on welfare reform, the most vital
    and sensitive area of public policy in Scotland.”

    Does Ruth not know that welfare is reserved to Westminster?

    “They want multinational corporations like Amazon and Starbucks to pay less tax in Scotland than in the rest of the UK”

    That would be difficult. Under this Conservative Lib-Dem coalition in 2012 Amazon paid a total of just £2.4 Million in tax, and the BBC reported in June last year that “Starbucks reportedly paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years and nothing in the last four years – despite sales of £400m last year.”

    “Under devolution, Holyrood already has full control over the great public services we rely on; education, health, policing”

    But they’re funded by a block grant from Westminster. “Full control” is an illusion when the overall spending on public services in Scotland is decided in Westminster.

    “For too long they have brought a butter knife to a gun fight. With this
    speech Ruth Davidson suggested they might start to tool-up and, jings,
    not before time.”

    Aye, Alex, they’re tooling up with a slapstick.

    • HJ777

      Were you unaware that, had it wanted to, the SNP, with its majority in Holyrood, has had the ability to pass legislation to allow it to increase Income Tax in Scotland?

      It simply hasn’t chosen to do this.

      • Jambo25

        So no answer to dougthedoug’s points.

        • HJ777

          Yes, I pointed out a factual inaccuracy.

          The other stuff was just the usual ignorant bluster (e.g. relating Starbucks’ sales to (lack of) Corporation Tax – when Corporation Tax isn’t paid on sales, it’s paid on profits).

          And whether welfare is currently reserved for Westminster is neither here nor there – how does that stop the SNP from proposing reforms? Do they not stand for Westminster elections and don’t they want to be in direct control of it after secession? The fact is that welfare reform is difficult, but essential, and that any losers will always complain loudly (and winners will say nothing) so the SNP is just hiding from having to say anything that could be unpopular, whilst making lots of spending promises.

          • Jambo25

            So still no answer to the points dougthedoug made.

            • HJ777

              is being stuck in a groove preventing you from making an intelligent contribution?

              Give yourself a jolt.

              • Jambo25

                So, still no answer to the points he made.

                • HJ777

                  I have answered them and if you have a point, then let’s hear it, rather than posting the same stupid comment over and over again.

                  You are making a total fool of yourself (as usual).

          • dougthedug

            “The other stuff was just the usual ignorant bluster (e.g. relating Starbucks’ sales to (lack of) Corporation Tax – when Corporation Tax isn’t paid on sales, it’s paid on profits).”

            I didn’t mention corporation tax and neither did Ruth.

            “…so the SNP is just hiding from having to say anything that could be unpopular, whilst making lots of spending promises.”

            How can the SNP make lots of spending promises when it doesn’t control welfare.

            If you want to see how the SNP want to reform welfare read Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland. chapter 4.

            • HJ777

              It can make proposals, just like any other party.

              You did mention Starbucks and Corporation Tax – try reading your own post.

              • dougthedug

                That’s a quote from the BBC.

                • HJ777

                  Which you were quoting in support of a point you were trying to make.

  • Aidan Kerr

    I believe the best possible move for the center-right in Scotland is to form their own independent party from that of the Conservatives, much like with the CDU/CSU in Germany/Bavaria.

    They need to look more like the center-right of Scotland and less like London’s center-right in Scotland. Only from this can they start to make a journey back to pre-1997 levels, never mind pre-1983 etc.

    Their hand will be forced of course if Yes prevails in 6 months from tomorrow.

    • Fergus Pickering

      But Yes will not prevail. By a good margin.

      • Jambo25

        More problems for the Scottish Tories then as a ‘Yes’ vote is probably the only way that there will be a centre right revival in Scotland as they will remain attached to the rotting corpse of London led Toryism unless there is one.

        • Fergus Pickering

          So I take it yopu agree – no Yes vote.The rest of what you say is hyperbole, and pretty second-rate hyperbole at that. Rotting corpse?

          • Jambo25

            A simple statement of fact. If there is a ‘Yes’ vote then the old Scottish Tory Party is dead and the Scottish centre-right will have to reconfigure itself. That way lies the only hope for a Scottish centre-right revival.
            As for ‘hyerbole’. The remains of Toryism, in Scotland, is a rotting corpse. Its gradually mouldering away.

            • Major Plonquer

              “As for ‘hyerbole’. The remains of Toryism, in Scotland, is a rotting corpse. Its gradually mouldering away.”

              If you want to skip the hyperbole, simply remove the words “The remains of Toryism, in” and the comma after “Scotland” and you’ve hit the nail on the head.

              • Jambo25

                And yet Scotland is doing rather better than the bulk of England at present. As for hyperbole over the state of Scottish Toryism. Look at the political and psephological history of the past 20 years or so. The Tory Party, in Scotland is dead.

                • HJ777

                  It obviously isn’t dead, since about one in six voters vote for it (not so different from the SNP’s and the LibDems’ share of the vote in general elections). They may not be doing well, but they’re hardly ‘dead’.

                  Why do you make ridiculous assertions which are so easily refuted by reference to the facts? What is the point other than to make yourself look foolish?

                • Jambo25

                  And they score what in Holyrood elections? They score what in local council elections? How many MPs do they have? How many MSPs do they have? How many MEPs do they have? How many local councils do they control?

                • HJ777

                  Thank you for confirming that you can make assertions and you can ask questions but that you cannot justify your claim that they are ‘dead’.

                • Desyduk

                  Hi HJ777 I wouldn’t bother with Jambo25 he is a bigot.

                  He’s been repeatedely asking me the same dumb question about the Spanish for 2 days on the Telegraph without a sensible response from him to my answers. Here’s a sample of my final post to this fool:

                  Jambo25 to Desyduk • an hour ago

                  Back to the point I made. Quote where he says he would block a Scottish application for EU membership.

                  Desyduk to Jambo25 • a few seconds ago

                  You’ve not made any point to me, You just repeat the same question and don’t listen to the repeated answers,

                  All the bits that you asked for have been quoted to you repeatedly with no comment from you, you just repeat the question in a different format. You’re an idiot.

                  Now I’ll ask you again. What is not clear to you in the statement by the Spanish Prime Minister that he says is very clear to him and everybody else in the world? Quote: “……a country that would obtain independence from the EU would remain out of the EU….”

                  What trauma did you suffer in your life Jambo25 to turn you into this bigot or is it mainly in your nature? Now your honest answer would really interest me.

                  I see you have been flattered on the Spectator blog where you are regarded as a fool too,

                • HJ777

                  Well, as I have found out, he certainly lacks the ability to construct or present coherent arguments, so falls back on assertions and sniping.

                • Desyduk

                  Here’s his latest to me on the Scotsman:

                  Jambo25 to Desyduk • an hour ago

                  Same question.

                  Reply

                  Desyduk to Jambo25 • a few seconds ago

                  Same answer.

                • HJ777

                  He indulges in this behaviour whenever he has nothing to say (i.e. frequently).

                • Desyduk

                  Here’s his latest piece of abuse:

                  ·
                  Discussion on Telegraph

                  Shetland and Orkney ‘should vote on whether to leave Scotland

                  Jambo25 • 13 minutes ago

                  Apart from tax fiddling and suspected
                  child abuse and murder cases

                • Jambo25

                  Referring to the Channel Islands; not Orkney and Shetland.

                • Desyduk

                  Besides your’e disgusting views on your countrymen all be they islanders, you’ve got the title of the piece wrong too.

                • Jambo25

                  Same question.

                • Desyduk

                  Same answer.

                • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

                  At the last Scottish election the Tories and Liberals got such a do’in that the results were announced on CrimeWatch … Sorry, I am just pulling a few chains!

                  Interesting little factile on democracy – we used to talk about the ‘floating 2 million’ because no party had ever won by much more , even in a landslide. If you look at the total votes for the victor versus the total people count, we are looking at cc 20%. Of course, if we look at the votes cast in Scotland for the victor in Westminster we are looking like 0.000000001% .. there I go again with that chain?

            • Kitty MLB

              ‘Rotting corpse’ this is awfully dark, nothing good can ever
              come out of such hatred as for Alex Salmonds ‘ bitter within’ message, mouldering away – that is the way dictators behave-
              rots the soul, lovely Jambo.
              So Holyrood is offering a new golden dawn of creation,
              Scotland will be the phoenix who will raise from the ashes
              of England.

              • Jambo25

                Holyrood will offer only what the Scottish people vote for. I’m not naïve enough to think in terms of futures which are either black or white. They’re normally grey. However the Tory Party, in Scotland, is as dead as mutton and has been for some time. At Westminster election time they can get about 15%-16% of the vote. At Holyrood elections about 12%-13%. Latest polls show that is, if anything, falling. The party has been bumping along the bottom for a couple of decades now and shows absolutely no signs of recovery.

            • HJ777

              How do you know? As usual, you present no argument, just assertions.

              • Jambo25

                Like Andrew Marr and the BBC I’m making a judgement.

                • HJ777

                  Your ‘judgement’ never includes any supporting evidence or argument though, does it?

                  But that doesn’t stop you presenting it as “A simple statement of fact” – in other words, you believe what you want to believe and don’t feel the need to let any data intrude .

                • Jambo25

                  Read voting figures and opinion polls for about the last 20 years.

                • HJ777

                  I have – which is how I know you’re wrong.

                • Jambo25

                  So you can show me with figures the major recovery in its fortunes that the Tory Party in Scotland has made.

                • HJ777

                  Perhaps you would be so kind as to point me towards where I claimed that there has been a major recovery in the fortunes of the Tory Party in Scotland?

                  I merely refuted your claim that it is dead.

                  Now, please justify your claim that it is dead when one in six Scots still votes for it (and, indeed, it has slightly increased its share of the vote in each of the last two general elections).

                • Jambo25

                  It only has any power due to hanging on the coat tails of the London based Tory Party. You can call the performance of the Tory Party, in Scotland, anything you want but you still have to deal with the following questions. How many MPs does it have? How many MSPs does it have? How many Scottish MEPs does it have? How many councils, in Scotland, does it control? How’s its membership, in Scotland, doing? What is the average age of its membership?

                • HJ777

                  I didn’t call it anything.

                  It was you who called it “dead” – a claim you have rather embarrassingly failed to justify with any reference to facts.

                  Interesting that you claim that a party with 15 MSPs, and which claims a similar share of the general election vote to the SNP, is “dead”. But then you have only ever had a tenuous grasp of reality.

                • Jambo25

                  And the answers to the questions I set you are?

                • HJ777

                  I shall be delighted to answer once you have justified your claim with reference to facts rather than just by asking questions in an attempt to distract from your failure to do so.

          • HJ777

            Third-rate hyperbole.

            It’s not good enough to be deemed second-rate.

      • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

        So here’s the thing, Fergus. You believe in a nation that is ruled by another nation? You believe it is ok for one nation to asset strip another? I grew up on the Clydeside and I have seen a nation having its heart ripped out in terms of industry, infrastructure and natural resources. I don’t blame Westminster, or the EU, or the English, or the traditional political parties – I blame you and your brand of political and national cowardice and fear of the unknown and lack of faith in your fellow Scots. On the 19th Sep, if there was a No vote, which is fast becoming unlikely, you should hide your head in shame and lie to your descendants. Don’t let yourself down. You have one opportunity to be a man rather than condemn us all and our children to a future of servitude.

        • HJ777

          I would argue that it is those who like to blame all their ills on others and who claim that Scots are currently powerless victims, as you do, who have a lack of faith in their fellow Scots.

          • Kitty MLB

            The problem with Henri ( very Celtic name) are we allowed
            to make assumptions also ?
            is that he does blame, he as you say does point the finger,
            how dare anyone leave Scotland despite the fact that most do.
            ‘A life of servitude’ a little dramatic’ anyone would think
            they were in the hands of vicious slave drivers, and got no
            say in regards to England and never benefitted from
            the union. Just poor little victims who are not being manipulated and played like a fiddle by the SNP.

            • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

              Certainly, many Scots have moved abroad and generally do very well. Of course, where ever we go we are loved (sorry, that was a low blow). Servitude has many flavours including a lack of freedom to make your own decisions. Even when Scots voted the SNP into power as a majority Government, this is still at the auspices of Westminster. If there was a No vote, which of course there won’t be, but if there was then it would hold for many lifetimes, so ….
              Incidently, I am a fierce critic of Alex Salmond and the SNP (although credit to the man that got us the referendum and who scare’s Cameron sh%tless) However, I am a paid up UKIP’r and Parliamentary candidate and stood in the 2010 general election in London – so not dancing to wee Ecks fiddle. Scotland has some of the best views in the world – come on my blog at http://www.bigHvan.com and read some of mine? I do like a good tease!

          • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

            You’re right?? Scotland gave Westminster their oil and gas revenue. Also, in an act of national self-harming we closed down our ship building, heavy engineering, fishing industry, infrastructure etc etc and threw our lot into our tartan hanky industries? Of course we are not powerless. We live in a democracy where Scots are outnumbered 11:1 and where we have been ruled by a Government that we have not influenced since WW2, You may not know, but Clyde Shipbuilding was #1 in the world by a country miles despite today, where 90% of all products are being shipped and shipping tonnage has increased by 400% since 1970. Just as well we closed it down before we became drunk on our success. I will give you one point though … I do not have faith in certain Scots who intend to vote for the union. Anyway, keep up the good work and don’t let facts get in the way of a good story!

            • HJ777

              So let’s get this clear – had Scotland been independent, then its shipbuilding and heavy engineering industries would miraculously have been more efficient and cost competitive and able to compete in world markets.

              And Clyde shipbuilding would be doing far better now without UK government Royal Navy contracts.

              And Scots have not influenced UK government since WW2 despite the last Prime Minister and the last two chancellors being elected to Parliament by voters in Scotland.

              Thank you for clearing that up as it wasn’t at all obvious.

              • Chris

                The argument ‘Scottish decisions should be taken by Scottish people in Scotland’ is one which baffles me. It may be true that decisions are better in this manner, but why? Is it because Scots are inherently better at decision making? Brown, Blair, and all the other New Labour clowns would disprove this. Also it would mean Scots should love Michael Gove. Alternatively, it may be that decisions are better when taken nearer by and at a more local level. I’m inclined to believe this. Milton Friedman believed this too. If this is true, why not devolve further? Why not make is so people in Aberdeen take decisions based on the people of Aberdeen? Should Aberdeen be independent? If it’s true that Scottish people are unique and require different political decisions, could the SNP elaborate, which they never have, the cultural differences between the Scots and the English?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Well it would be nice for you to have to blame yourselves rather than the English for every bloody thing. But I have no doubt you will come up with someone else, the Germans, the Jews, the Catholics, the blacks….

      • allymax bruce

        ‘del no per li denari vi si fi ita’
        Charles Kennedy on Scottish Independence?

        • Kitty MLB

          Ally, the gentleman will probably know what you are speaking
          of, I don’t. Could you say something in
          Scottish Gaelic, although I know its little used now except
          BBC Alba, its just so exquisite and enchanting, especially
          the poetry.

          • allymax bruce

            Hi Kitty, sorry, I just noticed your comment/request. My dear, Kitty, I’m not too great at Gaelic; I can do you Scots’, French, a wee bit o Latin; or, I can write you a poetic line? If I remember correctly, you said you/ your ancestry were from Tuscany/Sienna? Hows about this, Kitty; it’s something I’ve been working on, and your Italian roots would place it just fine.

            Last Summer.
            by allymax

            Last summer, I fell in love, with you; just standing there.
            Looking out, over last-mans reach, such beauty bereft of care.
            Playful gusts of Sienna* wisp, dancing with your hair.
            Soft, dark, sun-tanned skin, pinching moisture form the air.

            Your chiffon dress, see-through thin, clings tightly, as short winds blow mighty; forever imprinted for my sins. For four high seasons, I have returned, the same place every year. Wishing; knowing what I will say this time, wishing you’ll be there.

            All Rights Reserved to allymax
            Last Post Productions

            • Kitty MLB

              Hello Ally.
              May I say that was absolute delight such exquisite
              words are even more lovely especially when they are original. You clearly are a very creative chap.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Bloody good for him Here’s to you, Charlie!

          • Kitty MLB

            What he said, its a conspiracy of carrot tops, as complex
            as the Byzantine Empire- What with him and Danny boy
            you know what they say about fellows with red hair dear Fergus- No I cannot tell you–Its.. Well.. Ermm !
            Also,Alex Salmond’s ‘ bitter together’ message speaks volumes
            about the chap.
            I might soon go and find out about intriguing Henri,
            who emigrated to Scotland in the 1951 ( as a toddler I presume)
            and lived in London for the past twenty years- and a Kipper.
            He has twice left me details to check out his blog.
            Oh, and finally, here’s to Charlie from me, too.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Agreed. We need to do the same in England too, now that the Conservatives have been captured by a centre-left hegemony and shown themselves utterly incapable of presenting a counter narrative to socialist creep.

    • Henri Van der Stighelen

      You’re right and if they don’t come up with something this imaginative there will be a lot of political careers over on 19 September. Kennedy is right when he encourages the No campaign to present their arguments rather than their negativity. Trouble us, how do you spin to a nation that they have no say, and never have had a say in Government i.e. Westminster. How do you ask a nation to give up the lion’s share of their wealth in the north sea yet fail to share the rich pickings of London and the south east.

      • HJ777

        Of course, there have never been any Scots in prominent positions in Westminster, have there?

        Neither the last prime minister nor the last two chancellors were Scottish, were they?

        • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

          … and look where they are now? Leading the Better Together campaign because they have seen what they would be missing. Since you brought it up, you could have them back – we don’t want them – anyway after 18th they will be the first to have their passports withdrawn!

          • HJ777

            So in your brave new independent Scotland you propose withdrawing passports from people who don’t agree with your views.

            So you want to model Scotland on North Korea. What an appealing prospect – how could Scots resist?

            • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

              Oh no! I brought that one forward from 1st April – got to be more careful what you say in front of the children?

        • terregles2

          Why are you mentioning that the last two chancellors were Scots. They were British politicians representing their part of Britain in the British parliament.
          Are you suggesting that all the top jobs in the British parliament should go to only English people.?

          • HJ777

            Because the claim was that there has been no Scottish influence in Westminster. I was merely pointing out that this is entirely untrue.

            No, I’m not suggesting that the top jobs should only go to English people (from where did you get that strange idea?) – precisely the opposite, in fact. I believe that it is good that people from all the nations in the UK participate in Westminster.

      • Kitty MLB

        Henri ( where did your ancestors hail from, if we are forgiven for making assumptions, not Glasgow)
        You are a poor benighted bunch are you not, totally forgotten,
        no politicians creating havoc around the UK.
        you hve benefitted very well from the English taxpayer.

        • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

          Actually Kitty, I come from Antwerp but came to Glasgow in 1951. Moved to London in 1989 for business and stayed for 20 something years. I am one of those poor sods who has earned in 6 figures and paid my fair share of all kinds of tax – so nobody is subsidising me. However, on the subject of subsidising, take one example, North Sea oil. Since 1975 Westminster has taken around £1.2Trillion in revenues into their coffers (and that’s not even an NPV value). Norway, with a smaller share of the North Sea has managed there windfall such that they are self sufficient until forever and have a nice little pot of £0.5 Trillion as security? Makes banking receipts pale into insignificance. But I am not bitter, just a bit disappointed at some of the ill informed hype. Scotland has a right to a fair and untampered referendum to decide their future. The bluff and bluster from Cameron/Osborne/Clegg and the likes is merely fueling the determination of Scots who will not yield to threats. I am much more focused on the future than dwelling in the past. Why not check out my blog at http://www.bigHvan.com and share some of your views

          • HJ777

            Actually, Norway has a bigger share of North sea oil/gas reserves than does the UK and it has a very small population compared to the UK.

            North Sea oil/gas was discovered with Scotland part of a union. Are you suggesting that it it had all been found in English waters then none of the revenue should have been spent in Scotland?

            What threats from Cameron/Osborne/Clegg? All the threats seem to be coming from Salmond and Sturgeon about what they will do if the country they want to leave doesn’t agree to do what they want AFTER their proposed secession. Is a country not entitled to decide whether it wants to enter a currency union with another? Don’t both parties have to agree?

            • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

              Are you remembering to include the 6000 square miles if the North Sea that Tony Blair secretly partitioned for England in 1999? The UK has extracted far more revenue form the North Sea than Norway – but Norway has managed i.e. banked it, while the UK has ‘blown it’ propping up failed social policies, from Thatcher onwards.
              Here’s the thing. Scotland wants out. England wants or should want Scotland out or at least respect their wish to go – we are in violent agreement. We’ll take what is left of the oil that is within our international boundary – but we are not overly fussed about the oil – that’s media hype. Remember Scotland leads the world in renewal energy and will be 100% self sufficient by 2020. Also, Scotland has no wish to be a UK benefits case, we want to pay our way in the world – as we really can. So the only thing left to say is … bye, and good luck.

              • HJ777

                Norway has less than a tenth of population of the UK – and more oil and gas.

                You may want out – but you do not speak for Scotland or Scots.

                As for renewable energy – most of it is highly reliant on UK government-mandated cross-subsidies and therefore highly subsidised by energy consumers throughout the UK. So secede from the UK and every Scottish energy consumer would have to pay ten times the current subsidy.

                • terregles2

                  You did not make any comment on the 6000 sq miles of Scottish sea that was annexed by Blair.
                  Henri does not speak for all Scots but then you do not speak for all Scots or all English people either.

                • HJ777

                  Unlike you and Henri, I have never claimed to speak for all Scots or for anyone else.

                  Blair didn’t annex anything – you are trying to stoke paranoia.

                • terregles2

                  Blair did annex 6000 square miles of Scottish sea but because you cannot defend his action you prefer to pretend that it did not happen. It’s a bit like trying to argue that the world is flat. It’s ok we understand that you cannot defend it but it is pointless joining a debate if you are going to deny that something did happen just because you cannot answer the question or defend it.
                  Pointless debating with someone who denies reality. Don’t let me take up any more of your time.

                • HJ777

                  I agree that you deny reality and that it is pointless debating with you as you consistently make unfounded assertions and believe them to be true just because you want them to be true.

                  You really are breathtakingly unintelligent – what amazes me is why you make such an effort to display it to the world. It can hardly be a source of pride, can it?

                • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

                  Naughty naughty! Google it for the facts then enjoy two scoops of humble pie. Did you maybe do a course on imagineering at some point?
                  Now lighten up a bit. We’re having fun, even if you’re not.

                • HJ777

                  Telling me to Google it doesn’t make it true.

                  Had it been true you would have posted the evidence. the idea that Blair ‘annexed’ anything is paranoid nonsense – but then paranoid nonsense is what you do – and all you do.

                • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

                  Cheers terregles2 – glad you like the banter – thanks for your comments – catch my blog at http://www.bigHvan.com

                • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

                  Now pay attention class! Mr HJ777 is being silly and is making things up. But don’t worry children we will try to help.
                  So here’s the thing. On your earlier point about Shipping, the Clyde was the world leader bar none – like many other great yards throughout the UK they achieved this on merit – not on Westminster/Admiralty contracts – sorry, I forget the QE2 was a frigate? Read The Red Clydesiders.
                  Now on the subject of renewal energy, Scotland gets much, but not all, of it’s contribution back under the Barnet formula. Some of that money is invested in R&D especially renewal energy. Aside from the fact that Scotland is surrounded in oil – especially on the WEST coast, that they cannot exploit yet because of Trident (watch out we have the big guns), Scotland has some of the biggest tides, strongest winds, mountains etc that are ideal for renewable energy. Of course we also have the technology, because that is what we have always been good at – these are the reasons we lead the world in renewables. Of course, Westminster will try anything to get their snouts into that particular trough.
                  As far as financial backing is concerned we don’t want Westminster money or the strings it comes with – if we were really pushed those nice Chinese people have shedloads of cash and they would love to do a little JV with us.
                  So, what have we learned today children? Scotland wants to play nice. But it wants its own ball and it certainly doesn’t want charity from the big school.

                • HJ777

                  You really are dismal.

                  Yes, Clydeside was the world leader in shipbuilding – on merit. It lost that lead. Nothing to do with the union. It simply failed to be as competitive as it was. This is the case for many industries in many countries.

                  The Chinese will invest where they feel they can get the best return. They’re not going to give their money to deluded people like you.

                  You have no idea what Scotland wants.

                • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

                  Clearly, I am getting under your skin so I am going to close this down because you can only go so far with someone who hides behind anonymity. But I will leave you with a couple of points. First of all, I am glad you agree that Clydeside was the world leader. It was also the world leader in a massively growing sector. However, they had their problems and they had a lot to do to maintain their position. Similarly, the banks in the City were world leaders and they also had their problems, probably much bigger ones. However, they were too big to fail, so they were bailed out massively and we will be paying for that for a very long time. In Scotland, and especially the west, shipbuilding and the allied trades, heavy engineering, steel manufacturing, boiler making, pumping, etc, etc was a nations beating heart. It was too big to fail. But it was left to die or was killed off. Why? Everyone will have a view on this and you have offered one rather simplistic view – but there you go?
                  Secondly, you may be aware that the Chinese offered to deliver HS2 for us. They know a good investment when they see one. Scotland has the leading technology and arguably the most sustainable environment for renewable energy – what everyone in the world wants – don’t you think that China, the richest nation in the world by a country mile, might be a little bit interested to invest in this Scottish enterprise??
                  So, I will leave you with this thought. Debating is great fun and a great intellectual exercise. Try it without the cover of anonymity. Show your face, reveal your name, show us what you’ve got and we may show you a little more respect, cheers.

          • terregles2

            You are right Henri. We also know how much Westminster benefits from Scotland by the determination of the Westminster government to do all in their power to persuade Scots to vote no.

          • terregles2

            Followed your link Henri. Enjoyed your writing.

        • terregles2

          Don’t suppose Kitty that you will refuse to take Scottish tax payers money to fund the HS2 project that will be of no benefit to Scottish tax payers.

          • Kitty MLB

            Dear terregles, I profoundly do not approve of HS2,
            we should just improve what we already have.
            I thought it was no longer going ahead, I am probably wrong though.

            • terregles2

              We are agreed on that one.

          • HJ777

            I don’t agree with HS2 but lots of things are paid for by UK taxpayers as a whole that don’t benefit people outside Scotland.

            • http://www.bigHvan.com Henri Van der Stighelen

              But that does not make it right. We are not talking about a slightly unequal balance in the share of wealth, we are talking about total polarisation of wealth to London and the South East. My heart goes out to the rest of England – they should go for independence as well?

              • HJ777

                What is “total polarisation”?

                Salmond was claiming that Edinburgh’s proximity to London was a major advantage and now he claims it’s a major disadvantage.

                How would any of this change after secession anyway?

      • terregles2

        Scottish Labour are in a blind panic at the thought of the wheels falling off the gravy train that lets them roll down to Westminster and get their snouts firmly in the expenses and perks trough. Their anti independence rhetoric is becoming increasingly more bitter and hysterical. They sense that their days are numbered. Whatever happens in September Scottish politics will never be the same again. Labour are divided and in disarray. There is now a breakaway Labourforindy party and the remaining Labour party are running around like headless chickens. Their party conference in Inverness promises to be entertaining.
        In fairness to the no campaign even a good salesperson cannot sell an inferior product.

        • HJ777

          The ‘Yes’ campaign stands no hope then with a pathetically poorly thought out white paper and terrible salespeople like you trying to sell it.

          I suppose you think that by merely asserting, as is your wont, that everything you don’t like (i.e. anything based in the rest of the UK) is ‘discredited’, people will buy what you are trying to sell. Good luck with that.

  • D Whiggery

    “Few people will vote for a party afraid of its own philosophy or worldview. ”

    Take note Mr Cameron.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Dave’s not afraid of his own philosophy and worldview, he’s afraid you’ll find out about it.

  • Theuniondivvie

    ‘Because that’s the way it goes. We hope for better from our friends so
    they disappoint us more easily. (This, by the way, is why I criticise
    the Conservatives more often than Labour.)’

    By that metric every second member of the SNP must be your buddy.

    ‘There are more Tories in Scotland than people think. More than 400,000 at the last election.’

    You mean the ‘last’ Westminster election in 2010, as opposed to the last Holyrood election in 2011 (276,652 – 13.9%) or the last Scottish council elections in 2012 (206,599 – 13.27%)?

    It’s okay, we know you can’t help it.

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