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Alistair Darling is not being replaced as the leader of the Better Together campaign

13 May 2014

4:18 PM

13 May 2014

4:18 PM

‘Utter fucking bollocks’. In case that’s not clear enough for you, the suggestion that Alistair Darling is being replaced as the head of the Better Together campaign is, as one insider puts it, ‘absolute horseshit’.

Douglas Alexander, the man replacing Darling according to the Daily Mail, was at the Better Together HQ in Glasgow earlier today and, I understand, mildly surprised to learn of his elevation.

Then again, the Mail only reports that there will be ‘no formal announcement of a change’ merely a ‘secret agreement’ that Alexander should effectively supplant Darling. So secret, however, that no-one involved appears to have heard of it.

James Chapman is a fine reporter but one can’t help but think the sources he cites testifying to Darling’s supposed relegation are a) likely to be in London and b) most likely to be Conservatives and that a combination of a) and b) suggests they might not have the greatest clue in the world about what’s happening in Scotland.

The strength of this report is further undermined by the suggestion Alexander is taking a ‘newly prominent’ role. True, he gave a speech the other day but, gosh, he’s done that before. Quite often, actually. In fact the Shadow Foreign Secretary is hardly a stranger north of the Tweed and Solway. He’s been making speeches — mostly quite good ones — for months and pops up pretty regularly in the newspapers too.

But yes, Alexander, like other senior Labour figures, will be campaigning for the Union this summer. And so will Gordon Brown (in his own way). Which, surely, is as it should be. Mustering additional brigades is not the same thing as replacing the brigades already in the field.


Nationalists sometimes complain that Unionists personalise the referendum too much. It’s not just about Alex Salmond, they complain. Which is true, though it is at least partly about the First Minister. Equally, however, the Better Together campaign is not just about Alistair Darling. (Nor, even, is it about David Cameron.)

Be that as it may, the suggestions Douglas Alexander is some kind of millstone for the Unionist campaign (see Mark Wallace for more) or that Sir Malcolm Rifkind should decamp to Colinton until September (see Graeme Archer) seem equally misguided. In the first place, Alexander is no fool and in the second, the idea that Better Together’s problems can be solved by parachuting in a new champion is one that reeks of a kind of desperate panic masquerading as last-ditch optimism.

As it happens I think Better Together has not run the best available campaign but the tightening in the polls we’ve seen is only partly their fault. f it is their fault at all. That is, the notion the Union would cruise to a 75-25 or even 70-30 victory has always seemed delusional to me.

Delusional because the case for independence is not innately preposterous or daft. It has a certain compelling logic to it and a logic, moreover, with which many Unionists can sympathise even if they remain determined to vote No.

If I’m unpersuaded by the practical case yet made by the Nationalists that need not prevent one from agreeing that there is a reasonably robust theoretical case for independence. I am not surprised other people are persuaded by it. The Yes side has had the easier story to tell and the easier message to sell all along. Yes we can is a better line to peddle than Well maybe we could but we probably shouldn’t.

That said, Better Together could do more. It could, for instance, talk less about Scotland and more about Britain. It could do a better job stressing all the good things about Britain and all the reasons why, despite what the Nationalists aver, Britain is far from a clapped-out historical relic. This would be less about the advantages Scotland derives from the Union and more about what Britain achieves as a Union.

It could go further still and argue not only that Scotland is British (a point in large part conceded by the SNP leadership, what with their talk of the Social Union) but that Scotland actually is Britain. For without Scotland, what is Britain? Only England and a handful of dependencies (sorry about that, Wales) and since England cannot leave Britain* the fate of Britain – and Britishness – will be determined by Scotland.

Best of both worlds is not, in fact, a dreadful slogan but it’s one that still needs to be rammed home with greater vigour than has sometimes seemed the case. Independence could certainly open a door to great things for Scotland but it’s hardly the only door available. That means stressing opportunity every bit as much as Unionists talk of the security provided by the Union. More in fact, since the security argument is, in the end, a kind of feeble one all too suggestive of a certain weakness of confidence.

Darling may not be the most charismatic politician in the land but he’s not been a liability – which is more than can be said of several cabinet ministers. Some people seem shocked that the race looks as though it will be a close one. I’m more tempted to be shocked by the fact people are shocked by this. It’s almost as if they’ve not been paying attention.

*Yes, yes, yes, Britain as a geographical entity will still exist after independence but that’s not what we mean by Britain in this case is it? No it is not and it is tendentious piffle to pretend otherwise. That includes you, Mr Salmond.

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Show comments
  • Michael Macleod

    Have a look at the nicely-brewing “Viking-gate” scandal that the SNP are trying to suppress. It could yet bring Salmond down before the referendum. He is supposed to have spoken about Shetlanders with what can only be called racist contempt.

    The account here concords with what I am hearing from several horses’ mouths:

  • Douglas Young

    “not what you mean by Britain”?

    Great Britain will not cease to exist when we vote Yes, but the corrupt United Kingdom will.

    You still regard Wales as a dependency?

    Sums it up really.

  • uglyfatbloke

    With the best will in the world, Darling was a poor choice. Replacing him might smack a little of panic, though keeping him on does n’t look too smart either, and he has n’t exactly had a lot of useful support from Cameron, Osborne, Brown etc.

  • Raw England


    I’m glad you’ll soon be an immigrant when the wretched Scottish people finally vote YES.

    • Scott Bowie

      this sounds better in its native german.

      • Raw England


  • justejudexultionis

    ‘Utter fucking bollocks’ — Are you sure that wasn’t just his description of the Bitter Together campaign?


  • Iain Hill

    Oh, so Darling the Invisible was supposed to be the leader? One wondered what his role was. There is something nice and cuddly about WDA being elevated at last to a full status role, a kind of sentimental reward for years of loyal essay writing. Is he known at all in Scotland?

  • asalord

    Mr Putin will rescue the “united” kingdom.

    From The Scotsman 28/4/14:

    “Russian state news agency Itar-Tass had last week reported an anonymous source in David Cameron’s office saying that Britain were seeking support from Russia on the Scottish independence debate and pulling troops out of Afghanistan. These claims were reported by the Sunday Herald.

    The original report, issued on Hogmanay, said: “Great Britain is extremely interested in the support of Russia, as holder of the G8 presidency, in two vital areas in 2014: the Afghan pull-out and the Scottish independence referendum.”

  • Blindsideflanker

    “Britain is far from a clapped-out historical relic.”

    Oh yes, so why did the Foreign Office believe its role was to manage our decline, and so sell us out to the EU?

    You might say it was the lack of faith the British establishment had in our own country, which prompted them to sell us out to the EU, has created the conditions for the break up of the UK.

  • Chingford Man

    Is anyone on this publication going to report that UKIP candidate
    Gerard Batten had a brick put through his living room window in the
    middle of last night?

    • flippit

      Doesn’t look like it.

    • Wessex Man

      I didn’t know that and I’m a member, doesn’t surprise me though, I’ve had an election board ripped off my field fence four times and I’ve a pretty good idea that it a retired Lib/dem Councillor who’s too disabled to work but plays golf three times a week!

  • Malcolm McCandless

    Who to believe – journalists who say that Alistair Darling has been dumped or other journalists who say he hasn’t.

    The damage has been done though I doubt Alistair Darling will be unable to carry on as leader of Better Together when it is clear the Tories have no faith Darling.

    • Andrew Constantine

      Leading the “No” campaign gives you the same sort of chance of survival that English infantrymen had of surviving the Western Front when under the command of that great Bonzo Douglas Haig.

      It really doesn’t matter what the Better together campaign do or say. The reality of the British Union is that is dead.

      What does matter however is who benefits from the reading of the will. And I really do not want to see any Scottish MPs – whether in the Commons or in the Lords- around Westminster after the Scots vote ‘Yes’, because the role of that Parliament will now be to defend English interests.

      • Doug Melville

        They must be around until Independence is agreed.

        Otherwise there would be the position that from September 2014 till 2016, Scotland would be unrepresented in a parliament that could commit them to War, Tax increases, the scrapping of the Scottish Parliament, or any of the other possible impacts from Westminster reserved powers such as Welfare, Foreign Policy, Defence, Energy Policy etc. And still paying taxes … the last time that happened in 1776 didn’t turn out so well.

        They should however; all agree to adopt the position that SNP Westminster MPs have done, and not vote on matters of EWNI interest only.

  • abystander


    They are panicking
    Also suppressing results of polls paid for HMG, ie you and me.

  • Bill McLean

    “a clapped-out historical relic” – couldn’t have put it better myself. But maybe I shouldn’t presume to praise a “respected columnist”. Shhhh

    • CraigStrachan

      “a clapped-out historical relic”

      That will adequately describe Alex Salmond on Sept 19th.

      • justejudexultionis

        Or the husk of a country that the UK has become, shorn of any democratic legitimacy.

      • Scott Bowie

        it’s still not about alex salmond.

        • CraigStrachan

          I understand the urge to distance yourself from him.

          • Scott Bowie

            actually quite the opposite. as a scotsman who has devoted most of his life to return our right to govern ourselves as a nation has me inspired. i’m sorry you live a miserable little life where it’s easier to pick on others rather than have any kind of vision and continue putting your hand out for big brother to feed you more crumbs. really, i’m sorry.
            all you’re really telling us is that you’ve fallen for westiminsters smear campaign hook, line and sinker.

            • CraigStrachan

              Ah, so it IS about Alex Salmond after all.

              • Scott Bowie

                oh dear oh dear, the need to have your straw man persists eh? well, i suggest you go and look at some of the grass roots campaigns going on around scotland. it’s a movement, not a person. if you can’t see that then you’re pretty gullible.

                • CraigStrachan

                  First it’s not about Alex Salmond, then he’s a devoted Scotsman who inspires you, now he’s a straw man? Make up your mind, man!

                • Scott Bowie

                  what on earth does my personal appreciation of the man have to do with the entire yes movement? are you saying i can’t appreciate all he’s doing without the campaign being all about him? laughable.
                  that’s what you lot don’t get, your personal hatred of one man drives your whole campaign. it’s pathetic.

                • CraigStrachan

                  I’m quite happy to leave you to your personal appreciation of the man (there’s no accounting for taste, after all.) And I think we agree that there are many more compelling reasons to vote No than just dislike for Alex Salmond.

                • Scott Bowie

                  maybe should pass along all those compelling reason to the no camp, they seem to be struggling to come up with any on their own.

                • CraigStrachan

                  They’re doing fine, as even you will be obliged to concede come September.

  • Andrew Constantine

    Mr Massie in his usual Scot-centric manner writes that “Only England and a handful of dependencies (sorry about that, Wales) and since England cannot leave Britain* the fate of Britain – and Britishness – will be determined by Scotland”.

    England’s population is over ten times larger than that of Scotland and is growing much more quickly. For more and more of the English, Scotland is a foreign country for us – and one that we do not care to visit or hear too much about.

    Along with many other English, I long ago ceased to regard myself as British. In fact those who call themselves British are typically Scots on the make in England, recent immigrants or elderly UKIPpers.

    For us, the fate of Britain has already been decided: it is a mere geographical term and I for one have no interest in visiting those dreary parts of it north of the River Tweed.

    Note for Editor – Please could we have an English edition of the Spectator? Our magazine was after all – like so much of the best in this world – founded here in England

    • ChuckieStane

      “Our magazine was after all – like so much of the best in this world – founded here in England”…by a Scotsman;-)

    • John Lea

      Well done, Andrew. I think you’ve managed to advertise the fact that you are a wanker quite beautifully.

  • CraigStrachan

    No, the vote for the Union won’t be 75-25 or 70-30, except perhaps amongst 16 and 17-year old voters.

    The overall vote will be a 61-39 win for No.

    • Scott Bowie

      cool, what are this weeks lotto numbers while you’re on a completely unsubstantiated roll?

      • CraigStrachan

        Lotto, shmotto. I’m a poker man, me.

  • Turdson Minor

    Look, Mr Darling and Mr Alexander are just a couple of dishonest politicians. Who in their right mind would pay any attention to anything they say – and I am against Scottish independence!
    (Is it still OK to say that?)

    • Scott Bowie

      of course it’s okay to say that. this notion that people are being ‘bullied’ when offered information and facts is just nonsense to stifle the debate.
      unless the no camp are really just so timid? i prefer to think it’s just they don’t have the case.

    • HookesLaw

      Of course you can say it and with good reason.
      Only one political party is in favour of independence in Scotland. It hardly counts as a resounding endorsment by the Scots for independence. Mind you that is not what Salmond is promising. He is only promising some kind of quasi semi detached status where the strings controlling the Scottish economy are pulled eleswhere.

      • Wessex Man

        how on earth would you nkonw Hooky? the levels of support now outstrip any membership levels in the SNP. You pompous tory attitude, just like Call me Dave’s is one of the reasons why the Scots, hopefully are going to vote Yes!

      • terregles2

        There are five political parties campaigning YES. Other leaders in parties for independence include Allan Grogan and Patrick Harvie.
        People are voting on the future governance of Scotland not for any political party. The latest person to join the YES campaign was the Tory ex MSP Nick Johnston.

    • terregles2

      You are as entitled to vote NO as I am to vote YES. We live in a democracy and I respect your NO vote. It is simply just different from my choice.
      My friends and family are a mixture of YES and NOs. We will still be friends whatever the result. I am sure we are all voting for what we think will be best for Scotland.

  • asalord

    “This would be less about the advantages Scotland derives from the Union and more about what Britain achieves as a Union.”

    Like Scotland being forced to house Westminster’s WMD’s next to its largest city?
    Like Scotland being forced to take part in pointless wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan?
    Like Scotland having its oil revenues stolen and wasted by Westminster?

    • Wessex Man

      Like that being a decision of Scots!
      Like that being a decision of Scots!
      Lioke the Scots getting the most generous central government spending that any other part of The UK other than NI!

      get a life you professional grump, how I long for the day you celebrate ‘winning your independence!’

      • Jeanne Tomlin

        So Scots now make up the majority of Westminster? Because that is the only those things could be ‘a decision of Scots’?

  • flippit

    Don’t think many of us in England will worry about ‘Britain’ going. Most of us like to think of ourselves as English first. We’re cheesed off with Scottish moaning and the overweening self-aggrandisement. Let them go, and glad of it.

    • e2toe4

      I think lots of people will be sick if ‘Scotland goes’ part of Mr Salmond’s thinking has been to posture in a way to get up the noses of the English to ensure he gets that sort of reaction….. which he then plays back into the speeches and assertions North of the border.

      Many, many Scots are neither self aggrandising or moaning…Mr Salmond is.

      • Scott Bowie

        that is complete nonsense. firstly it’s not about the snp or one party, it’s about independence for a nation. after than independence is achieved we will be free to vote for whomever we wish.
        secondly if you can find me any anti-english sentiment from alex salmond or the snp then i’d like to see it linked here. there are english snp members and elected politicians for heavens sake. this nationalist nonsense comes from the no camp as they have no real argument and so seek to belittle, smear and pigeon-hole the opposition.

        • e2toe4

          Well okay…. The fact is though that he is the leader of the Nationalist party..launched the manifesto..sorry white paper… and does figure pretty prominently in the campaign, and his party are mobilising the vote…I understand the point you make but it’s like Manchester City saying it isn’t all about buying foreign players and pointing to the English goalie..

          You are free to vote for whoever you wish now you’ll be no freer after a possible independence yes vote.

          The code word used for anti-English sentiment is ‘Westminster’ and ‘Tory’… he doesn’t used the ‘E’ word for obvious reasons but the other two labels often stand duty for it.

          To try and ignore nationalism when seeking independence for a nation leads the argument into all sorts of bonkers areas…. such as treating the whole thing as a kind of artificial exercise in which any and all changes listed are invariably non threatening or good and any or all changes that are not good are described as not happening.

          The false arguments put up (and now happily abandoned) such as the one that ran that ‘the Westminster elite’ say Scotland can’t be independent because it’s too small, or poor, or weak, or whatever..were never made by anyone other than Nats..the point is not that Scotland cannot, possibly, ever be independent it is that for Scotland, and England and Wales and Northern Ireland are better together.

          The currency thing…we already have a currency union, the energy thing… the expensive offshore wind and the expensive and declining (and eco-dirty) offshore oil will make Scotland vital to the EU…rather than the cheap solar power in the South of Europe, the expensive English offshore wind farms , the cheap (and eco-dirty) onshore fracked oil and gas…. and so on and on…

          Plan A remember was NOT to have the millstone around the neck of the failed £ and the failing UK….it was to join the Euro, legal advice had been taken (maybe) and in the arc of prosperity Iceland and Ireland were beckoning.

          Now although the currency union is not within the gift of the Scottish Government a currency union with the failed £ is the preferred option….except maybe, in a few years time Scotland might decide that it wants to exit that and do something else

          Whatever the arguments around this the obvious fact is nobody has done any real thinking about this.

          On the positive side name ..Great British Scots..or Scottish Brits…Hume, Smith, Telford, McAdam, Watson-Watt, Alexander Graham Bell, Sir Walter Scott, John Logie Baird, Alexander Fleming, Burns, Watt, Robert Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dowding, Lister, Clerk Maxwell…. let alone Prime Ministers Balfour , Bonar-Law , Brown , Blair, Ramsay MacDonald, Douglas-Home,

          That’s without going to the Arts, entertainment, films …or even the empire builders, soldiers , businessmen, and more dubious albeit successful people like those that annexed Hong Kong………all people who were born as Scots within Great Britain and went on to do great things,

          So name the Great Scots pre-the union…

          I am sorry to bang on and doubt many will read this far…but, from experience after engaging in debate on this IF not EVERY point is addressed then the charge is almost always ‘can’t answer can you?’ — while if ONLY every point is addressed then the charge becomes ‘negative, scaremongering, nay saying.’.

          • Scott Bowie

            oh come on…it’s london who’s sucking the life out of the u.k. not the scots, not the english, not even the welsh 😉
            i’d be happy to see england independent of westminster too. you see it’s about having crap management. that simple, we can do better and we’ve been granted the opportunity to do so. as for the glasgow tory above, the surest way to revive a right wing agenda (and by that i mean tory/conservative and not goose-stepping kilted warriors hailing alex) is by voting for our independence.

            • e2toe4

              I don’t disagree that London is a problem, but you don’t solve problems by using them as a smokescreen.

              The same issue within the UK would exist within Scotland, Edinburgh V Glasgow is as mad a rivalry as London v whoever, or Newcastle v Sunderland..Liverpool v Manchester and any number of others.

              Two ideas I don’t agree get regularly repeated by the Independence campaign…’We get to run our affairs’ as if there is an undifferentiated ‘we’ suddenly going to exist..unlike every country in the world where the issue isn’t having an homogenous group of tribbles..but having to manage real world problems arising from often conflicting demands.

              The other is the slightly odd, if not racist view, that somehow this ‘we’ are inherently better at ‘managing things’ and ‘nicer’ and want ‘a fairer country that the ‘other’ don’t want’.

              Take the Edinburgh Tram project and that whole history of mess and denial..the SNP, the ‘we’ are up to their necks in it…the SNP handed over £500M without any further check on how it was spent..just handed it over without a second thought…Mr Swinney, talking to the rest of the country angry about it DID say Right enough ‘Not a penny more’.

              But it was a council in which the SNP were a coalition member of the administration for over 8 years.

              The issue of pollution created by the demands of the way the tram takes road space have been ignored..the city has had to borrow an amount that with charges will be as large as the original wasted amount…and yet nobody at all within the party is to blame for anything.

              ‘Not us’…not better or different—just the same usual lot of politicians really, as Westminster, Brussells or anywhere else….

              • Jeanne Tomlin

                That is indeed a racist argument. Fortunately, no one is the Yes campaign is making it. Some Unionists like you make it which is rather interesting. The argument that Scottish interests are best served by a Scottish government in Scotland, elected by Scottish citizens (all Scottish citizens, including incomers) and answerable to them is quite a different one, but you don’t want to discuss that, do you?

                The Edinburgh Tram project was not a SNP project, was opposed by the SNP, was forced through over SNP objections by a coalition backed by London, and was run by a Labour Edinburgh council. But keep right on trying to blame the SNP.

                • e2toe4

                  All Scottish citizens, including incomers–OK…?

                  I want to have a British Government in Britain making decisions for Britain because having an English Government in England making decisions just for England would be divisive.

                  Trying to uncouple modern nation states is not simple and straightforward and because Scottish nationality has so obviously not been ground under a tyrannical foreign despot, despite the rhetoric that tries to present it as such, trying to do it isn’t worth the potential problems.

                  I would not like A Scottish Govt in Scotland etc…making it’s decisions FOR Scotland to lead to an English Govt in England etc… doing the same and dividing an island and nation for no good reason.

                  On the ‘racist point’ I do often see references to ‘nasty policies’ that could be reversed…and that things would be ‘better’ and indeed ‘fairer’ if only ‘we’ are running things.

                  That’s why I mentioned the Tram project which is a project run entirely without any input or oversight from the British Government.

                  The Edinburgh tram project was conceived when a Labour administration was in power.

                  The SNP were in a coalition administration in Edinburgh with the Lib dems when it began to be built and the SNP had a councillor member on the board of the pitiful arms-length company TIE Ltd supposedly controlled by the council but in reality controlling it.

                  The Finance minister in the minority Scottish Government was John Swinney and under pressure from people in his own party angry the money was being handed to Edinburgh he promised ‘there would not be a penny more’.

                  What he didn’t do, and this is where I believe he failed, was put in any controls whatsoever to make sure he was getting value for the Scottish £500M handed over.

                  TIE Ltd spiralled into a grotesque catastrophe under the administration of which the SNP were a part —- Did they inflict this on the city and country just to make a point?

                  In effect all the money was virtually wasted without John Swinney doing a single thing about it.

                  But worse than that..because of the careless way traffic displacement was treated in the original plan, the project…far from reducing pollution in the city, the project increases it.

                  I have worked with a small group of residents trying to point out this to the council for some years.

                  We were pleased in 2011 when a Lab/Tory vote meant that although the thing was to be built and the money wasted…there IS no helping that, the pollution effects were not going to happen as this vote meant it would stop at the Haymarket station on the edge of the city centre.

                  Within days the SNP rushed to organise a counter vote with their Lib-Dem allies and over turned this. John Swinney in the SNP majority coalition Scottish government supported them by threatening to tip the council into a Detroit style meltdown by demanding a tranche of the £500M to be immediately repayed.

                  Figures were fudged to support the ‘need’ to build on to the city centre..St Andrew Square/York Place, these figures have disintegrated since, some fell apart within weeks, some have just slowly got worse and worse in every new report.

                  The SNP forced through the vote ..they could have voted against pollution but voted for it… AND forced through the council having having to borrow an extra £276M to do this…which because it needed to be borrowed is costing over £500M in total.

                  They didn’t have to vote this through but they did.

                  Labour conceived it, SNP and Lib dems forced it ever onward and the Tories and Greens stood on the sidelines cheering it along.

                  The epic scale of the money wasted isn’t even properly acknowledged yet..the now SNP & LAB administration (The lib dems were smashed to bits at the local elections in 2012) still talk about the £776Million tram despite even Wonga and Payday loan companies telling THEIR customers they MUST remember to add in the interest on the loan as that HAS to be paid back the SNP and LAB council have never once done this.

                  I do support a united Britain..but I really don’t support any party or political grouping, I don’t trust any of them.

                  But I will keep right on blaming the SNP on this one, because they were the ones who built it.. rubbish Labour idea managed in a rubbish way by SNP and Lib dem and then Lab and SNP…with an SNP controlled government in Holyrood the whole time.

                  (And for good measure with Rubbish Conservatives and Rubbish Greens standing at the side cheering them on….)

                  With that level of SNP presence at the crime scene throughout why shouldn’t they accept same blame?

                  Sorry for bullying and scaremongering the little wee council and tiny wee government by mentioning horrible stuff like facts…..

                  Have you noticed air pollution rising up the agenda recently? In Edinburgh the SNP/Lab council released the last annual report into traffic and air quality in Jan 2013…it showed traffic DOWN 5% but air pollution UP 14%…weird eh!

                  This year they have NOT released the annual report in January…they have not released yet.

                  They are, we think, keeping it hidden until after they can have their big, back slapping photo op fest when they launch the tram.

                  This is the SNP and Lab administration here…under an SNP government, not a Westminster plot, London plot or Martian plot…

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  OK? You oppose giving the vote to everyone? Sorry you don’t believe in democracy. I do. I also believe that the people of Scotland and the people of England are as capable as any other nations in the world of running their own affairs. Both are better off doing what is best for our own nations which more often than not are not the same.

                  I do like your pretense that Westminster has never messed up a project and if only they micromanaged everything in Scotland, nothing would ever go wrong. Everything would be perfect, no project would go over budget, all projects would finish on schedule, and poverty would, of course, disappear. Like it did before Holyrood.

                  While I think that the SNP made some mistakes in the Tram fiasco, the main fault was nowhere near theirs. Like it or not, it was forced through by a Labour coalition in Holyrood. Deny it all you like, that was how it happened. And in the council the voting went like this – Councillors for, 17 Lib Dems, 15 Labour, 11 Conservative & 3 greens = 46. against 12 SNP.

                  The opposition parties voted through the tram project as nothing more than opposition for opposition’s sake.

                • e2toe4

                  This argument isn’t about democracy… I do believe in it.

                  It’s about where one draws the line… if Orkney and Shetland and the hebrides want to go independent… would you allow them to?

                  And where do you get the idea I said Westminster never messed up anything…. there is loads they have messed up, the most egregious example to my mind is the horrible farce of the Iraq war, but it’s far from the only one.

                  I have never said WEstminster is great and Scotland can’t do anything.

                  I am saying the SNP are not any different to all other politicians..and they do mess up things.

                  They did vote as you say, but then they voted as I said..the tram WAS stopped for hundreds of millions less in cost… and the pollution prevented..then they reversed that.
                  That…also IS true and that WAS in 2011.

                  They are no better and no worse..there is no magic kingdom to be had just one much the same as now… and IF the big problems that might happen were not there then maybe..flip a coin and it could be worth doing…but they are and it isn’t…

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  I have no reason to believe that the people of the Isles want independence. The few surveys I’ve seen said they consider themselves Scots, but if they voted for it, it would not be a matter of ALLOWING. It would be their right. I don’t ‘draw a line’ since that isn’t for me to do. . Liechtenstein is pretty darn small and very successful as a nation.

                  And I agree that the SNP made some mistakes in handling the progress of the tram project. Frankly, the entire project was a terrible idea though and how the SNP was supposed to turn it into a good idea, I’m not quite sure. (Most people I know agreed with the ‘not another penny’ position) There are points at which they could have made better decisions, but the mess was not of their making.

                  No one has ever in my hearing claimed that there is a magic kingdom. The point is that the needs and interests of Scotland and EWNI tend to diverge pretty sharply and thus would be better under separate governments. The EU fiasco (from a Scottish point of view) of practically giving away Scottish fishing as a bargaining chip by Westminster is a fairly decent example.

                  Things are never perfect in any nation. Mistakes are made by all governments, but in spite of the Westminster argument, there is good reason to think that larger is not better. The most successful nations in the world tend to be small ones.

                • e2toe4

                  The tram project is a particularly sore spot as there is an ongoing cover up over the issues around pollution, and some very shabby dealings by Edinburgh Council as a whole..executive and elected..that’s the important thing…and I only went on about it because I do not believe that any group of politicians or any party are any better (in the main) than any other group…with obvious exceptions of rabid extremists.

                  I just feel that assertions should never take the place of fact and the currency union thing is not a negative campaigning device it is a real live issue that will affect most, not the rich and wealthy able to move money and sell properties if the worst should ever come to the worst, but the poorer and the poorest.

                  It isn’t the single defining point of the decision but, for me at least, the attitude of anyone who refuses to accept it is at least a valid question and of importance and deserves a better answer than it has had, IS a single defining point.

                  I don’t want to put words into people’s mouths here, so do correct me if I am wrong but Jim Sillars feels Scotland should have it’s own currency.

                  If that is right then that is intellectually valid… if he says that AND there will be massive problems doing it, BUT it will be worth it, then, I think, that’s a valid argument that people can talk about and agree upon totally, partially, or disagree as they may.

                  The difference with the situation at present is that as I understand it the argument is that there will be currency union …. just because there WILL be; because it is asserted there WILL ifs, buts, maybe’s or maybe not, just WILL …. and this ‘will be’ is necessary because the next bit, and the most important bit, of the argument runs: ‘so nothing much will really change’.

                  I do not think this second argument is intellectually valid because in reality it starts backwards from the idea that ‘nothing must change’ and moves to how this can be justified: ” Because we will still have the pound exactly as we do now.”

                  It’s even less valid to maintain it when everyone who has the power to grant or withhold it says it won’t happen.

                  This is the intellectual dishonesty that grates with me on this specific point… “We’ll have independence… and anything good and reasonable you would wish to see WILL happen..but nothing bad will happen…no money flight, no company relocations, nothing like that”

                  It’s a kind of ‘Change we won’t’ message and in terms of such a momentous thing as trying to dismember a country interconnected in so many ways, is just not supportable.

                  The fact is I love the North country ..all my life I have crossed and recrossed the border, in Scotland I have been to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries. Lockerbie, Longtown, Inverness, Aberdeen, Cullen, Banff, St Andrews, Tarbert (two of them) Lochmaddy all over Barra, Oban, Dunkeld, Pitlochry.. ( as many and more places than that, been all over the North as well in England, and I do think one of the very biggest problems in the Uk IS the ‘London’ problem..but I don’t think it is best solved by everybody else getting up and leaving, I think for solving problems it is BetterTogether.

                  I know you won’t agree this view, that’s okay.. but I do feel it should be respected as I respect (though still argue against) honestly put arguments by people who want independence.

                  I don’t mind at all different views to my own, I don’t feel I am a bigot or narrow minded, but I won’t accept arguments that are intellectually incoherent or illogical..and for me this whole question around the issue of currency union is either being put incoherently or, and this what I suspect, being deliberately and dishonestly fudged— the whole ‘scaremongering and bullying’ line.

                  The wider issue of Scotland being independent is not in any way intellectually dishonest or incoherent at all and indeed maybe if Jim Sillars and the like were featuring more prominently this issue would be being argued more honestly and straightforwardly.—and I wouldn’t make that mistake of thinking the Alex Salmond/ Nicola Sturgeon line WAS the independence movement line.

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  First, you are a lot more concerned about a currency union than most Scots. We are too accustomed to being lied to by London to take what they say at face value.

                  Secondly, you are talking about what the media features, not what the campaign features. Jim Sillars is featured very prominently in the campaign. He is one of the most prominent campaigners as a matter of fact along with Tommy Sheridan, and Alan Bissett. You simply cannot judge the campaign as it is taking place all across Scotland by reading Unionist newspapers. The campaign isn’t when Mr. Salmond makes a London speech or gives a New York interview. But believe me, the newspapers down there rarely even touch the real campaign.

                  When political system can no longer be fixed, and I think that is the case with Westminster, leaving is a reasonable solution. The shock *might* (and I only say might) be enough to cause a change in the rest of the UK. Otherwise, is there any hope, real practical hope, for a solution to the anti-democratic House of Lords or the democratic deficit in the FPTP voting system? I do think this is a ‘When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another…’ situation. If the needs of Scotland were ever well served by being governed by Westminster, they are no longer. No, I do not by any means believe that we are better together or there would not be weapons of mass destruction a few miles from Scotland’s largest city, etc.

                  I hope the day comes in the very near future when we are better together as good neighbors rather than very surly partners.

          • Jeanne Tomlin

            So you are going to blame Alex Salmond for what YOU interpret his words to mean. And I would say it is obvious that you have no idea what figures prominently in the Yes campaign. In fact, Mr. Salmond has not figured prominently.

            The argument that Scots are so stupid that none did anything worth mentioning before the Act of Union and only thanks to the Union can we tie our shoelaces is not a winning argument north of the border, but continue making it please. That you know of no great Scots has to do with your utter ignorance of Scottish history, not that none existed.

            • e2toe4

              Well my own understanding is the only thing I have to go on…so given my understanding of his words and their meaning I am going to blame him when I think his arguments are specious

              If Alex Salmond (and presumably Nicola sturgeon as well) hasn’t figured prominently then who was waving the white paper around? Who keeps accusing any opposite view of being ‘feart’… and at the same time bullies and scaremongers??

              I see where you are coming from..and you’d beat me on Pointless maybe..but 99 out of 100 people asked about the campaign and who was leading it or prominent in it would put AS and NS near the top..

              I didn’t say Scots couldn’t tie their shoelaces or that they did nothing worth mentioning before the Act of Union… you have said that ..probably because it isn’t a winning argument North of the Border, but I didn’t say that, or imply it in anything I said.

              I put the POSITIVE view for British Scots…or Scottish Britains…. all great people (not many women..but that would change if I did the longer list) and asked Mr Bowie to name the great Scots pre-union…I could name some but I don’t want to put THAT case …

              I didn’t say the things you say I said. I am not ignorant about Scottish History.. I just asked him to name the Great Scots Scots list pre-union.

              I Do realise it’s a loaded question in a sense…it would be even more so had I gone in for entertainment but even so my point was that there are a lot of Scots who have flourished in Britain…loads that have run it.. five in the last century or so which is a massive ‘over representation’ judged against population percentage —Balfour,Campbell-Bannerman, Ramsay MacDonald, Blair and Brown

              I won’t bang on about the Kingdom of Strathclyde and of Northumbria… the Kingdom of Alba, The picts… and the fact that the border didn’t exist really as late as the 14 and 15 hundreds..Rory Stewart did all that in his recent excellent documetaries…

              • Jeanne Tomlin

                It is your interpretation that is specious since you are putting words in his mouth that even you admit he has never, ever said. Those are not his arguments. They are yours.

                You’re mistaken about dating the border, but what does that have to do with anything? We are talking about the future not the 12th century. Bringing in the Picts? Oh please.

                So you really think that Scots have flourished under the union? Oh, no doubt a few have. Some Glaswegian slave traders did very well out of it. Some few Scots became very wealthy. The Balfours were amongst them. That had nothing to do with ordinary Scots. I suggest that you contemplate the fact that at the date of the Act of Union the Scottish population was approximately 20% of that of England. Today it isn’t even 9%. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself why approximately 25% of all Scottish children live in poverty. No, I am sure you don’t want to ask those question because you wouldn’t like the answers.

                As for who runs the Yes campaign (and I have seen no one ‘waving the White Paper’ about) most of us in Scotland know that and it isn’t Alex Salmond. He has a job; it is being First Minister of Scotland.

                The Yes campaign is not run by the Scottish government or even by the SNP although they both have a part in it. I suggest if you really want to know something about it that you go to the Yes Scotland website . However, much of the Yes campaign is a true grassroots campaign and someone trying to ‘run’ National Collective and Common Weal is not going to happen. Again I rather doubt you actually want to know.

                • e2toe4

                  I only went down the old history route because the argument against Union always seems to go there.

                  The population of Britain was more than The USA’s back in the day.. and the USA has done well by many standards but I am not thinking that means we have done badly… just maybe less well. Anyway I am not wondering why the population change has come about..

                  (The footnote is I don’t think the population point has any relevance although I am guessing that you feel it’s evidence of being done down over the years)

                  The Prime Minister Balfour was a slave trader? ..I guess some Drug dealing Scots did well out in Hong Kong and Shanghai… but don’t now accuse me of accusing Scots of being slave trading drug dealers…you started it…

                  Sorry about the silly games thing I was trying to be positive that’s all.

                  But anyway I guess it’s all going to come out in the wash in September in the vote on the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn… sorry…didn’t mean to mention the past and all, don’t want to play silly games trying to be positive, so won’t mention the post union Scots whose achievements are recognised around world, and promise I will help get across to the benighted dimwits I meet every day who foolishly think Alex Salmond is playing a big part in the campaign..although once it begins properly I am sure he will step up then.

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  Sorry, I was saying the Balfours were amongst the ones who did well out of it. Not all of those were slave traders. I don’t know how the Balfours made their money specifically.

                  Deliberately ‘done down’ or not, a nation that is doing well has reasonable population growth. The fact that Scotland hasn’t is pretty strong evidence that Scotland was by no means doing well overall in spite of pockets that did.

                  The vote is not on the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn so you might want to apologise for those utterly classless remarks.

                • e2toe4

                  You are right , I made a mistake about the Battle of Bannockburn anniversary, I should go to bed earlier.

                  I apologise for that, but not for the Salmond/Canavan thing… the fact that I don’t know the ins and outs of the pro-independence set up can’t be hurled around as a criticism…unless it’s at the people responsible for publicity, it’s not an exam were sitting on who sits where at the meetings.

                  I won’t apologise for the Great British Scots as you keep going back into history as again you have done above with the ‘invaded by the English thing’ and the introduction of Male education.

                  I don’t accept the population growth thing either, Scotland’s population has grown since pre union days, it has fallen as a proportion of the combined population of England and the UK..China’s population soared for a couple of centuries, as did India’s, when they weren’t doing China is about to overtake the USA as the world’s largest economy it’s population is about to level out..The USA’s is still growing quite quickly.

                  I have no idea about the actual structure of the Yes campaign I just focus on the arguments I happen to hear and have tried to point out why I feel this one major one on currency is to my mind not just wrong as stated, but intellectually incoherent.

                  I didn’t realise that there would be a supplementary exam in the polling booth about the actual structural organisation of the Yes campaign, organisation and people I must brush up on that

                  But even me and my fellow benighted dimwits sadly at sea on the Yes Campaign bullet points know how democracy works….one makes one’s arguments as one sees them, votes to one’s convictions and then accepts the result as it falls, I’ll be doing that whatever happens.

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  I’m sorry but I insist that had there not been a serious problem in Scotland there would not be the hugely disproportionate problem with Scottish poverty–in an oil and food producing nation–and there would have been healthy population growth which has not been the case. You can accept that or not as you please.

                  It is a little amusing I suppose when someone tries to throw the ‘structural organisation of the Yes campaign’ in my face and then gets all pissy when I point out that they are wrong.

                  As for your refusing to follow or not bothering to follow the ‘ins and outs’ of the Yes campaign, I wonder how you think in that case you are some kind of expert the Yes campaign and what it proposes on the situation in Scotland, Scotland’s needs and its prospects for independence.

        • John Lea

          I am that rare thing, a Glaswegian Tory, and I find the tenor and (very often) the content of the rhetoric employed by Salmond and Sturgeon utterly repellent. Whenever I hear them talk, regardless of the subject, they invariably spike their language with references to the posh, Eton-educated, out-of-touch, English Tory government – or, sometimes, with more subtly, they’ll refer in disparaging tones to ‘the London-based Tory government whom no one in Scotland voted for’ etc. They will be utterly lost, should people vote ‘yes’, as they’ll have no one else to blame for Scotland’s problems. No, I’m being naive, they’ll start referring to ‘decades of English-based Tory rule’ for all of our ills!

          • Jeanne Tomlin

            It is London-based government that the majority of Scots did not vote for. That is simple fact.

            However, the SNP and Alex Salmond have never referred to it as ‘English’ and saying they did is simply a lie or hearing what you WANT to hera.

    • HookesLaw

      No, I am British. I am happy too thinlk of myself as English if the Scots vote for independence. But really…. will they?

      • Tony_E

        The polls are way off I suspect. There seems to be a ‘wall of silence’ for the unionists. They won’t vote for independence, but tend to feel uncomfortable about saying so as the momentum in the media swings further towards independence.

        • Maidmarrion

          Gee whizz ! With certainty like yours you should be running the UK!
          The momentum in the media?
          Jeezo! , ONE paper in 37 comes out in favour of independence while declaring its intention to criticise all and sundry , which is what is needed in Scotland, and suddenly the media is backing independence?
          Did you read the article above?
          Every stricken churnalist either fully attacks the First Minister in the most nonsensical of ways or does the sneaky wee stab like Massie here who may want to hedge his bets should Scotland decide with a great ,big fat YES.
          The media is behaving in an irresponsible manner , almost as if they want to push folk to physical action against them so they can then claim intimidation.
          Utterly despicable.

          • Wessex Man

            Alex Salmond has, like Nigel Farage upset the status Quo by actually believing in what he says, I don’t particularly like him but feel that, just like Farage he has had the might of the establishment thrown at him.

            It seems that just as the mud-slinging against Ukip is increasing popularity of Ukip, exactly the same is happening in Scotland.

            It’s good and healthy that the establishment is being so shaken up.

            • terregles2

              British politics will never be the same again and the shake up is long overdue.
              You are right the might of the establishment will be thrown at those who challenge it in any way.
              The demonising of Alex Salmond has worked very well. It has been so successful that people who know nothing about him or have never listened to a speech he has made can level any accusation that they choose and it will be believed.
              The anti English slur is just one example. The fact that the SNP has a large number of English members in Scotland is ignored.
              Many of them are campaigning YES because they are tired of the stale Westminster politics, Time for a change.

          • flippit

            You know, Salmond could have made friends with media folk. He could make friends with the the leaders of the cUK who will be his major trading partner after independence, he could make friends with the EU leaders. He could refrain from making this campaign one of hate for English toffs or threats of blockade to the EU. But instead he’s used every opportunity to threaten, sneer and rabble rouse to get people to vote yes, rather than persuasion, rather than an enlightened way forward. No is still 20 points ahead.

            • terregles2

              There is no anti English rhetoric anywhere within the SNP. Many of their members are English and one of the men who has held the top positions in the Holyrood parliament Mike Russell Is an Englishman from Kent. Many English people who now live and work in Scotland are voting for independence.
              It has nothing to do with being against any nation. It is about choosing to govern Scotland from Holyrood rather than Westminster. Most countries are independent and there is no reason why Scotland should not be the same. I am sure that after Scotland is independent both countries will go on and prosper and hopefully both countries will enjoy more democratic representation than we both have now.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Naw! They’ll shout loudly but in the end they’ll come quietly. Or so I think.

      • Wessex Man

        Well everyone now knows what you think, we’ll definately think the opposite Hooky!

  • asalord

    Strange that Mr Massie fails to mention the recent Ipsos/Mori poll commissioned by the uk government which has been deliberately hidden from the public because it shows a large increase in support of the Yes vote.

    • flippit

      Oh you are a fool. This is the Kelly poll, only no-ones ever heard of Kelly, it’s so obviously a put up job that you were bound to believe it. It’s a ruse meant for you.

      • Spammo Twatbury

        So what do the UK government have to show for the £46,000 they’ve paid Ipsos MORI for services relating to the Scottish independence referendum? Some nice stickers?

      • Scott Bowie

        what is the gain from this ruse?
        and no one has ever heard of kelly as she would remain anonymous rather than lose her job.

      • Wessex Man

        why on earth do you have to ruin the illusion/ he would have kept quite for a while on that!

      • scotcanadien

        Re the scecret YES 50%+ Poll.
        The news organisation (Bloomberg) reported that
        “Private polling conducted on behalf of the government suggests support for independence in Scotland is growing fast.”
        Bloomberg said it was told by two UK government officials that there was an acknowledgement that the no camp “needs to come up with more convincing proposals to sway voters.”

        The officials, said Bloomberg, asked not to be named.

  • JonBW

    Many English voters would like to see Scotland vote for independence; the scandal is that we aren’t allowed a say.

    Devolution has created a constitutional settlement that is unsustainable; we should be independent friendly neighbours or one state.

    • Andy

      Or we English should have a Parliament on exactly the same terms as teh Scots. Why should our health, education policy be decided by a bunch of LibDems when England gave the Tories a 60+ seat majority ?

    • Scott Bowie

      well said, though you’ll find plenty of opinions in the comments sections, not all of it as pleasant and understanding as what you have written here.
      a more federal british isles is what is best for all of us. why cling to a medieval hangover with no written constitution?

      • Fergus Pickering

        Oh God. Let’s not write a constitution. The American one has 8,000 words with all the Amendments and no American knows what it says. And as for the EU….

        • Scott Bowie

          a constitution enshrines forever our rights.
          i’d kind of like that rather than having none written as it is now.

          • Fergus Pickering

            But we don’t want our ‘rights’ enshrined for ever. In the USA one of their enshrined rights is the right to bear arms. So they shoot each other merrily. Rights are tricky things. They are not for ever. A man used to have the right to beat his wife. Would you like that .enshrined’.?

            • Scott Bowie

              you do know that the united states is not the only country in the world to have a written constitution right? obviously the rights of a people are put forward by said people, in that way it tends to reflect the current status. the u.s at the time was having a difficult time with the natives, etc so they instituted a now outdated right, if the will were there they could overturn it. just as in such a way a new constitution guaranteeing us rights on paper, such as access to a fair trial, freedom of speech, etc. will be a good thing for scotland. i don’t think i would class wife beating or anyone who supported it as being within their rights, and i think you’d find the majority agree with that.

            • Jeanne Tomlin

              The US is the only nation is the world to have a constitution according to you. Apparently you are unaware that Canada has one, sans right to bear arms or right to beat one’s wife. Australia has a constitution. Many nations have a constitution. I find almost any constitutional settlement better than the idea that all power resides NOT in the people but in parliament as in the UK.

              • Fergus Pickering

                You do go on.My arguments stand however many countries you produce. You have not attempted to answer them. Perhaps you do not understand what they are.

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  Since you presented no cogent arguments, there were none to answer.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  And balls to you too, darling

        • Jeanne Tomlin

          Yes, a written constitution is such a horrible thing that most of the rest of the world prefers them. Just say that all power lies with Westminster and let the politicians do whatever they want to to you is certainly a better solution. Riiight.

    • Fergus Pickering

      We are allowed to say. You just did.


    Forget Ed Miliband, forget Ed Balls – the most scary thing for me is that Douglas Alexander could be Foreign Secretary of this country by this time next year. He doesn’t even deserve to tie the shoelaces of many who have held that distinguished role. God help us……………

    • Grey Wolf

      He often struggles to tie his own shoe-laces. Predictably, cannot untie them once they are tied. That guy is a mess.

      • rod robertson

        That is a lie ,he wears slip ons

        • Grey Wolf

          not anymore
          remember he slipped and fell…
          now he wears shoe-laced shoes…

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    Time to get up for work, darling.

  • roger

    Wash your mouth out with soap, then calm down, you sound desperate.

  • laurence

    If you think that the child Alexander possess any great cognitive power or political gravitas then you are even more credulous than I hitherto presumed. He, and for that matter, his pneumatic-lipped sibling, represent precisely the kind of cosseted professional politician whose knowledge of the daily lives of actual working people is nil, zip, nada, zilch. A daft wee laddie sent to help badger brows and the Broon. He is Private Pike in their Dad’s Army. Besides, if he was as bright as you claim, what on earth made him hitch his wagon to Pa Broon’s economic train crash?

  • you_kid

    A clear indication that AD is doing a brill job.

  • MirthaTidville

    wonderful….Salmond must be elated..if all the yes lot can muster is Daft Duggie he must surely conclude that London have thrown the towel in…….havent they??

  • dougthedug

    In the first place, Alexander is no fool…

    Have you watched the video in this blog post? Alexander is hung out to dry over the Labour VAT poster by Andrew Neil.

  • ButcombeMan

    “In the first place, Alexander is no fool”.

    You should see the seeing to he got, over VAT on food then and the Labour advert. No fool? He does a very good impression.

    • Holly

      Sorry about the shouting.

      The VERY UNSAVOURY language does not prove anything….
      Remember Labour stipulated time and again how ‘prudent’ they were with the economy. or that Iraq dossier business….Labour bods saying stuff has to be taken in the knowledge, history is/has shown/showing THEY will say anything (which usually turns out to be an out & out lie, or a half truth) to silence criticism of their backstabbing uselessness.

      I could be wrong though and Darling is simply going to replace Balls after 22 May.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Thanks for posting. I thoroughly enjoyed watching that nasty, deceiptful little scumbag getting skewered. In particular, the admission that the supposed additional costs had accrued over the life of the Parliament whilst the subliminal inclination of most people is to regard such figures as annualised. A perfect example of the half truths and downright dishonesty peddled by the left. Labour the party of lies, lying and liars.

      • telemachus

        For goodness sake
        This was a party political broadcast
        It is to get the message across
        And it did

        • ButcombeMan

          It tells me that Labour, at the very top, have no understanding of even basic principles of VAT in the UK, that or they are prepared to lie extensively to the electorate.

          Either way, Wee Dougie did not come out of it well.

          An absolute clown. Milliband is planning to move him I hear.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            It is definite proof that Labour is institutionally dishonest. Labour is the party of lies, lying and liars.

            • Scott Bowie

              they all are, this is why scotland wants to break away and begin again with a more grass roots oriented, accountable parties.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                And you will not be missed.

                • Iain Hill

                  Oh,girly slaps! Grow up?

            • allymax bruce

              But you can rely on Wee Dougie, Big Jimmy, Wee Jimmy, and Gogsy, all Scotch Labour, to support England in the world cup!
              Why are you complaining? They luv you.

          • telemachus

            The question was about the performance of DA with Brillo
            He defended well a PPB that was sound bite propaganda as it should be
            The technicalities of the application of VAT are less important that the message on the loss of money to the poor as well as the rich with this flat tax

            • ButcombeMan

              It was wrong on all levels. Most of the example basket of goods do not have VAT on, (in the UK). If those who designed the advert knew that, the advert was duplicitous. If they did not know that, it was monumentally incompetent, There is just no excuse.

              It was wrong on the second point too. It is very hard for those on average wages to incur a rise in VAT of 400 to 500 pounds year through a rise in the standard rate from 17.5 to 20 %.. They just do not, can not, spend enough on VATable goods.

              VAT at the rate it is, I think, too high . It encourages the black economy, it encourages small traders to de-register from charging it and paying it. It does have one main advantage it catches all those high spending Arabs, Russians etc who camp out in London and otherwise pay next to nothing to our economy.

              Wee Dougie was caught out and very badly. He even tried to lie his way out of it, saying his 400 pounds plus was over the lifetime of the parliament. He is hopeless. . An example of exactly the sort of person we do not need in our government.

              • telemachus

                Thank you for that forensic analysis
                The illustrative point is correct
                The Coalition apply a flat tax which differentially hurts the poor
                And Brillo the Murdoch Tory plant at the BBC tries to nit pick out of the illustration

                • ButcombeMan

                  You have got to do better than this. The Coalition apply VAT in EXACTLY the way their predecessors did.

                  VAT does not differentially hurt the poor, in the way it is applied in the UK. It impacts far more on the rich because they spend much more on the things that have full rate VAT applied.

                  As for Brillo being a Murdoch plant at the Beeb. He is THE most forensic interviewer in British TV. He generally spares no one. He made a complete mug of Wee Dougie.

                  You have lost this debate. It has been a pleasure to see you squirm.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  It impacts less on the rich because the rich do not spend most of their income.

                • telemachus

                  Thank you Fergus
                  It is an unfair regressive tax
                  Therefore beloved of Osborne

                • Fergus Pickering

                  And Miliband therefore is pledged to abolish it?

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  So Labour will be abolishing VAT then?

                • ButcombeMan

                  An irrelevant remark to the principles. Most of the VAT collected is collected from the more wealthy .

                • Fergus Pickering

                  This is also true of Income Tax and indeed most taxes. You are arguing, I take it, for flat taxes everywhere. That boat has already sailed. Nobody agrees with you.

                • ButcombeMan

                  I am arguing about the rather pathetic Labour advert and their misunderstanding re VAT. Nothing more.

                  You make a completely irrelevant red herring point and as you later observe, all taxes impact less on the rich because the rich have spare income.

                  The application and collection of the bulk of VAT in the UK is targeted on the better off and their higher rates of consumption and always has been, since inception. We have zero rates on goods where other countries do not. Labour, at least wee Dougie, appears not to understand that. Presumably the reason any further such adverts have now to be cleared by Ed Balls.

                  It was a monumental cock-up.

                  VAT of course works far better as flat rate across all goods and services, but that is not where we are. Politicians here, would find it very difficult to retreat from our selective zero rating and low rate on “essentials”.

                  When Shirley Williams and others, encouraged the UK to look at VAT I think flat rates across everything was what was envisaged. Not zero rated caviar and smoked salmon.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Your point is well taken. Labour couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery. Cameron will win next year and may well be able to form a government without certain yellow lying toads in it. Then he will have no excuse not to do certain things he promised. The very first must be the re-jigging of constituencies n Australian lines i.e. all of equal population size. After that he can give us our referendum and, if we have the balls, we’re out of that other nest of lying toads. O frbjous day!

                  I trust you sre not suggesting that only bad food, the sort the poor and ignorant prefer, should be zero rated. A diet of smoked salmon and caviar would do the poor things a world of good. .

            • Fergus Pickering

              Which Labour of course plan to abolish.

          • Fergus Pickering

            It’s Miliband they need to move, I think.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Yes you imbecile it proved beyond doubt that Labour is the party of lies, lying and liars. I appreciate that you are comfortable with dishonesty when promoting the cause of the Fascist Labour Party.

          • telemachus

            A party political broadcast is what it says on the tin
            Folks are only complaining because it was effective

            • Wessex Man

              oh dear reading your evasions, ducking and diving, I’m rather glad that you quit UKip and are now in your natural home.

            • ButcombeMan

              The core complaint is the whole thing was untrue. Telling porkies of course coming naturally to the party that for years had Bliar at its head. An illegal war? A Million from Bernie Ecclestone?

              What does it matter? The voting fodder will never notice or remember.

              But we do tele and your being here justifies us reminding readers.

              • telemachus

                The message was correct
                Sensible folk respect voters sufficient not to call them fodder
                Unless you are a racist party of course

                • ButcombeMan

                  Nice try tele.

                  It is Labour that so disrespected public and parliament that it had to dissemble to create an illegal war.

    • telemachus

      Alexander was brilliant and got the better of Brillo if you see the whole interview
      I would change your spectacles

  • Alexsandr

    So mr alexsandr has a car crash TV interview on Sunday and gets shipped to Scotland. I bet the yes camp are overjoyed at this numpty being sent to oppose them.

  • Frank

    Odd that no effort is being made to persuade England that it should strive to keep the union intact!! Perhaps the unionists regard that battle as lost (which it is, since as far as I can see, most of England will feel some significant joy when Scotland cuts herself free).

    • Wessex Man

      Yes Frank, we are going to have a Street Party!

    • allymax bruce

      Yes, Frank, we are going to have a Scottish National Party !

  • FF42

    Positive case for the Scotland staying in the Union:

    1. More trade
    2. More jobs
    3. Less poverty
    4. Cheaper prices in the shops means your money goes further.

    Seems simple enough to me. Stay strictly on message and repeat these benefits ad nauseam and I think that’s the referendum in the bag for the No camp.

    Unlike the claims in the so called white paper, these assertions are highly defensible and happily don’t depend on politicians in Holyrood or Westminster. All Scotland has to do is keep its membership in the Union.

    • Spammo Twatbury

      Only problem is, your four assertions are statements without evidence or logic.

      • FF42

        If you are in a market you trade more and if you are outside you trade less.

        Scottish firms trade in three markets: Scotland, which tends to be local businesses; The UK, a market that is ten times bigger than Scotland and that is where most Scottish service and large retail companies play; Worldwide.

        Worldwide sales will be unaffected, but equally have nothing to gain from independence. You don’t sell more whisky to the world if you stop selling pensions to the UK.

        Servicing the UK from Scotland, will be dead as a business model if Scotland leaves the UK. Some companies may struggle on for a while but over time companies will be merged or sold off with the business moving south. More importantly nobody will ever create a new company servicing the UK from Scotland as a foreign country.

        Scottish companies serving the UK represent 15%-20% of Scottish GDP. That’s a lot of prosperity and jobs to wave goodbye to.

        2 and 3 follow on from 1.

        4. Did you know Tesco charges 20%-30% less for its stuff in Northern Ireland compared with the Republic? Same goods; same supermarket. That’s a consequence of no 1. As a market Scotland is a lot less interesting than the UK one. Less interesting means high prices.

        So what are your defended assertions for more prosperity with independence?

        • Scott Bowie

          oh you forgot about the oil running out, the incoming space invasion and the forces of darkness.

          what utter drivel to suggest that somehow money and business are somehow different now in scotland, somehow we’re just too stupid to make it work. insulting and preposterous. you do realize currently all whisky sales tax goes straight to london? there’s some more prosperity right there. we’d also save a ton of money not keeping another countries leaking nuclear subs 40 miles from our largest city. the money we’re expected to cough up for hs2 (47 billion i believe the figure is) would also come in fairly handy if spent in scotland.
          scots have always been business savvy, one founded the bank of england, another is the founder of modern economics. you just offer fear and drivel based on your own crystal ball readings.

          • FF42

            It’s about jobs. Scotland is in a very fortunate position. It can and does sell a wide range of products to the world and it can and does still a wide range of services to the UK market from within the UK.

            Businesses do what’s simplest and most profitable, as your “founder of modern economics” would tell you. That means servicing the UK market from within the UK, and not from a foreign country, as Scotland would be if it were independent.

            The point is, we have a choice. We can choose independence or we can choose to stay in the Union, which means more opportunities and jobs, and less poverty for Scotland. We don’t need to choose to be poorer.

            Taxes raised on whisky are currently collected by the UK government along with other taxes, and returned as a block grant. According to experts the fiscal position of an independent Scotland is broadly neutral, compared with the current situation. The actual position depends on the oil price, which is volatile, and oil production, which is in long term decline. It doesn’t make a big difference from a tax point of view, but there is a big jobs and prosperity advantage to staying in the Union.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      5) Lower borrowing costs. In the absence of a currency union Scottish borrowing costs will rise. Scottish debt would be rated at best single A and with no past borrowing record and the threat to walk away from the existing national debt, lenders would demand a premium. Try getting a cybernat nutter to admit that one. It is the argument that wrecks their entire case hence the hysterical reaction from Salmond and that Sturgeon idiot when Osborne told them to get stuffed.

      • FF42

        More to the point, lower mortgage payments. Scottish debt ratings is abstract but seeing your mortgage payments go up hits you in the purse. As do your packets of loo roll being more expensive.

        • Scott Bowie

          scotland will start with a clean slate though, no debt. thanks to our brotherly neighbours down south and them turning the rest of the uk against us using something we helped build up over our three centuries of ‘partnership’.
          so we’ll be flush with our own resources, oil, gas, reclaim our whisky industry, our argicultural and fishing voice in europe, get rid of nukes and have a better credit rating than debt-ridden england.

          • Tony_E

            You should put a little more water with the Whisky.

            If Scotland refuses to pay its share of the debt, it’s credit rating will be trashed, and it will find itself isolated from the money markets.

            You think the EU is going to help you – the Spanish certainly don’t want the Catalans clearing off with a ‘clean slate’.

            You won’t be lumbering the English with your banking losses.

            • Scott Bowie

              the spanish have already said they wouldn’t veto continued scottish membership. i believe it’s only that bought and paid imbecile barroso who went above his station to say it would be a problem.
              scotland isn’t refusing to pay the debt. currency union see’s a fair share of the assets as well as fair share of the debt. if you’re going to deny us currency/asset union why would we then pay your debt?
              as for the banking losses i’ll assume you’re referring to rsb? you do realize 90% of it’s business is based in london right? also it was bailed out by american banks. you’re free to google any of this stuff. it’s out there.

              • Tony_E

                A currency isn’t an asset – and the Bank of England will not be the lender of last resort for an independent Scotland. Currency is simply a means of exchange, and has been since the collapse of Bretton Woods.

                The English will not accept a currency union – but Scotland is free to use any currency it wishes. But if it wants to use Sterling, it must accept that no account of its needs will be made on monetary policy.

                What Salmond wants is independence lite – all the freedom but no responsibility. I’ll be very surprised if the Scots fall for it. The English certainly won’t.

                The laugh is, I’m pro independence. I think the Union has had its day and serves little purpose apart from in physical island defence terms. But I look at Salmond and all I see is a shifty snake oil salesman, with a huge hatred of England (he uses Tory as a proxy, but that’s just semantics). And so many of you who post here seem to believe the rubbish he spouts. You might even just scrape to a yes vote, but the harsh realities of the early years of full independence will shock many. It will take a long time to settle the new nation’s finances in the global economic tides.

                • allymax bruce

                  A currency is an asset, when it comes to two Nation-States negotiating to divide up all participatory debts & credits of preceeding national entity.

                • FF42

                  No it’s not. A currency is a promise to pay backed by a guarantee. Two countries can pool their guarantees (a currency union), so one country backs the promises made in the other, but that requires the agreement of both parties. A currency is not an asset and has nothing to do with credits or debits. If we are going to become independent based on this kind of nonsense we’re doomed.

                • allymax bruce

                  You are well below my level; please seek the Scotchman.

                • Doug Melville

                  I fully expect a CU will be agreed, but labelled something else so that current Westminster politicians can defend their position. Something like a Common Fiscal Stability Pact could easily be sold to the public.

      • Spammo Twatbury

        …except that Ireland now pays LESS for its borrowing than the UK does.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Look at the term and profile of the debt. Second, they borrow in Euros we borrow in Sterling. Do you understand what an exchange rate is?

          • Spammo Twatbury

            Is it a kind of badger?

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Clearly not then. I suggest you try and learn about the relationship between interest rates and exchange rates. You might then understand how borrowing at 5% can actually be more expensive than borrowing at 5.5%. I suspect however that you are too thick.

              • Jambo25

                The only problem is that if the £ keeps on depreciating, over the longer term, against the Euro Sterling borrowing rates will get even higher than Euro ones to compensate for that depreciation.

            • allymax bruce

              I think it shows many similarities; and I think I’d like it to be a badger.
              Why not? Alex Massie reckons Ally Darling being given the heave-ho, is utter _______ ________.

          • Jambo25

            Well, Sterling has been depreciating against the Euro most of the time since the Euro’s launch.

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Send your letter of thanks to Gordon Brown.

              • Jambo25

                You really are a berk. The £

              • Jambo25

                You really are a berk. The £ has been depreciating against major currencies since the end of WW2. It is not a particularly ‘hard’ currency. It stood at £1-$2.80 when I was born. It went to 1-2.40 under Wilson. It nearly got to 1-1 parity not too long ago. It now stands at about 1-1.60.
                I travelled to and in Germany, widely, from the 60s and the same process was true of the £/DM exchange rate. See what you’re getting for the Australian Dollar just now. What happened to the £/Swiss Franc rate over the past 50 years?

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  I actually worked in the City but thanks for the history lesson. Now FO.

                • Jambo25

                  Then you must have been a remarkably ignorant city worker who didn’t quite manage to know the general path of the £ since the late 40s/early50s. You weren’t a ForEx dealer: were you? I’ve got a mate who does ForEx dealing and he’d have known that.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Yes you idiot I am aware of the long term trend of the £/$ exchange rate etc. It was a flippant remark and I have no interest in debating with a rabid nationalist history teacher who I could buy and sell in 10 minutes.

                • Jambo25

                  And with that last posting you fully reveal yourself to be the vulgar, self-important buffoon that you really are.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Just go away. You are not worth the effort.

                • Jambo25

                  Glad to oblige.

                • Doug Melville

                  Price of everything and value of nothing? Some things are not for sale.

      • Doug Melville

        The single A was not what Standard and Poor’s report suggested. Do you have any evidence to contradict a published report from one of the ratings agency?

    • Wessex Man

      Has it never occured to you that after a long campaign that lasted years and has despite the denials, sought to demonise the English, I know this from first hand experience, we don’t want to share a union with you, we are more that happy to see Alex Salmond achieve his dreams. We will wish you well as a seperate country!

      • FF42

        Unfortunately, I think there’s something in what you say. Scotland needs a good relationship with England, whether as part of the Union or as an independent country, whereas Scotland is too small for England to bother too much about. We can moan about it, but that’s the reality.

        The SNP’s dishonest campaign is leading Scotland to cut off its nose to spite its face.

      • Doug Melville

        There has never been a campaign to demonise the English. There has been a campaign focus of how out of touch the average MP (from all over) is from the daily experience of the voter. There has also been a campaign against oligarchs and bankers insulated from everday life by their wealth. The shorthand for troughing and out of touch MPs and bankers has been ‘Westminster’. Westminster doesn;t mean an unemployed person in Durham, or a farm labourer in Kent. The average person in the street can’t understand why the UK Government should fight quite so hard against EU moves to limit banker bonuses, while at the same time they are quite happy to dump EU Human Rights legislation, and don’t seem to see the growth of Food Banks as a failure. The argument has been that local politicians will fight for local issues, that they are inherently more accountable, and when you live in your electorate you will listen to your electorate.

    • Scott Bowie

      1. can you offer any evidence for your list?
      2. lists make your statements looked as though they are backed up with evidence.
      3. clearly though looks are deceiving.