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Scaremongering and smearing: just another day in the Scottish referendum campaign.

17 June 2014

17 June 2014

I was surprised to discover this morning that Gordon Brown last night suggested the Scottish education system should be abolished and replaced by a new pan-UK curriculum and examination system.

This would indeed be a bold thing to recommend three months before the independence referendum. A surprise too and the sort of thing you’d expect to be all over the news today if it weren’t, of course, the case that the press is irrevocably biased against the nationalists and determined to bury anything that might embarrass Unionists.

Still, Gordon said it. He must have. Otherwise why would Kenny Gibson MSP say Gordon Brown “has endorsed the idea of a UK-wide education system – which could only mean taking powers away from Scotland and giving them back to Westminster”?

Needless to say, nationalist websites and twitterers have slavishly followed the party line and, of course, that’s their prerogative.

There are many things to say about Kenny Gibson’s statement – released as a party press release – but the simplest thing to say is that it’s a lie. Pure and simple.

No newspaper report I’ve seen does anything to substantiate the claim Gordon Brown wishes to abolish the Scottish education system (a system of which he was, you may recall, a great beneficiary). This omission is not surprising. Brown has just published a book, My Scotland, Our Britain in which he spells out his vision for the future. If he felt like abolishing Scottish education you might think he might have said so in this tome. Perhaps this means it’s a super-secret plan? Or, maybe, there is no such plan.

Because this is what Brown is reported to have said yesterday:

Mr Brown cited “astonishing new surveys of young people” carried out one year apart which found that around half of Scottish 14 to 17-year-olds “do not want to be part of an exclusively Scottish education system but want a UK system where the curriculum and exams are the same for everyone in the UK”.

Mr Brown went on: “Scottish young people’s support for the same educational curriculum and exams across the UK is stronger than any poll would report for any group of adults, showing that young people are not the newly enfranchised ‘nationalist generation’ of the independence movement’s dreams but a newly enfranchised and also newly empowered ‘networked generation’ – happy to be seen as Scottish first but suspicious of being seen as exclusively Scottish.”

He added: “As I argue in My Scotland, Our Britain, breaking all links with the UK makes no sense – in this case for our young people and for their education.”

“Instead Scotland retained its own institutions which over decades and centuries continued to develop,” he said.

Granted, fat-headed reporting claims this “appears to challenge” the continued existence of Scotland’s distinctive education system but anyone who can read can understand that he did no such thing. He certainly made no suggestion there should, three hundred years after the Union, now be a pan-UK approach to schooling.

What he said – and it really is not difficult to understand – is that there’s some evidence (perhaps of dubious worth) suggesting that Scottish children place less value on the distinctiveness of the Scottish system than their parents do. They’re just not bothered.

Now I wouldn’t take these surveys too seriously but it’s quite obvious Brown was using the kids’ attitudes as an example of inter-connectedness that, in Brown’s view and perhaps in theirs too, render nationalism relatively meaningless. You might disagree with Brown’s interpretation but it is not possible, if you have a brain, to consider this a call to abolish the Scottish education system.

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I assume most nationalists do have brains. So why dwell on this? Only because it is worth noting that the SNP and their cheerleaders are never done accusing their opponents of scaremongering. Sometimes that accusation has some merit; Unionists have said plenty of stupid things during this campaign. But it bears repeating that Yes voters are just as guilty of scaremongering as anyone else. And just as guilty of smearing their opponents.

As in this instance: vote Yes otherwise the Unionists might, it is hinted, abolish the Scottish education system and replace Highers with A-Levels. That might not be the end of it either, you know. They might abolish the Scottish parliament too. You never know! That this is all bollocks-on-stilts and made up bollocks-on-stilts at that does not seem to matter very much at all.

It is dishonest even beyond the accepted bounds of political mendacity. But it is sadly typical.

And so is this. According to Mike Small, custodian of Bella Caledonia, Gordon Brown’s remarks are typical of “the mindset of those Scots who have been institutionalised to believe everything about their own culture is inferior”.

Oh really? I do sometimes wish that Unionists would cease prefacing their remarks with “as a proud Scot” (because doing so is awkwardly defensive) but you can see why they sometimes feel like doing so given the nationalists’ tendency to assume they are better Scots than their opponents.

Hark at this, anyway: Gordon Brown has, like so many others, been institutionalised to believe everything about Scotland is inferior. This may come as a surprise to English readers but, hey ho, there you go. Anyway, it is written, I think, with a straight face. No evidence is supplied, of course, to substantiate the claim but then Yes voters have always been excellent mind-readers.

Now Mike Small is just sensible enough to admit that not everything is wonderful in Scotland. There are, he concedes, problems with the Scottish education system. It is worth quoting his analysis in full:

Sorting the education system is a must, from smaller class sizes to pre-school education to free universities. The new Scottish Government should take on and shake up the university sector with its bloated hierarchical structures. In 2009 Scotland’s 18 university principals received an average salary of more than £225,000 – up nearly three times the rate of inflation.

The highest-paid principal is Professor Duncan Rice, from Aberdeen University, whose salary package rose by 17% from £256,000 to £299,000. The next-highest-paid principal is Professor Sir Tim O’Shea, from Edinburgh University, who is paid a total salary package of £286,000 after an increase of 7%. Professor Anton Muscatelli, the principal of Glasgow University, is the third-highest-paid with a combined salary package of £283,000. These are ridiculous salaries and a bold and ambitious move would be to set some sort of restructuring of these roles and pay structures. This would be both a real saving and a symbol of a shift towards a more democratic, leaner higher education sector.

1 in 5 of young people leave school with literacy issues.

That’s it. I know which of these problems is the greater scandal. It’s not the one Mike Small concentrates his fire upon.

But then I’m not a leftist who thinks universities are being corrupted by market values and competition. Nor am I the kind of person who thinks it a scandal that the Principal of Edinburgh University – an institution with annual income of nearly £750m – is paid handsomely.

I do think it mildly troubling that 20% of children leave school with literacy issues. So troubling, in fact, that it might be worth getting angry about. I know it seems a small thing when compared to bloated salaries for university chiefs but there you go.

But acknowledging that requires one to admit that Scotland can be crap. It requires recognising that there’s a dreadful complacency and unearned superiority afflicting Scotland and our attitudes – at least those attitudes prevalent on the left – to public services.

These people are forever peering over the border to be horrified by what they see there before patting themselves on the back and reflecting, smugly, that at least we do things differently here.

And so we do. So differently in fact that children from the poorest fifth of households in England are significantly more likely to attend leading universities than their Scottish counterparts. Scotland’s poor perform, as measured by the PISA tests, at the level of pupils in Turkey. As the Scottish government admits itself  “while socio-economic status is as likely as in other countries to affect students, the effect it has is likely to be greater than in other countries.” In other words: it is better to be poor in other countries than in Scotland.

Sure, the system works for many but it fails far too many. In Glasgow just 7% of state-educated kids will leave with five passes at Higher. We all know this is complicated and failure, far from being an orphan, has a dozen causes but we also know – if we are interested in being honest – that this is a disastrous national failure from which most of our other problems then stem. For all the hard work and good intentions this is still a school system stuffed with failure.

We don’t pay as much attention to this as we should. Perhaps because doing so would require some hard truths and even harder learning. It would demand we shed the unco guid arrogance that insists everything is fine because it’s Scottish. It would demand we recognise there’s no-one to blame for this but ourselves. Not London. Not Westminster. Not England. Not even self-loathing Unionists.

The far-too-frequently lamentable state of the nation’s education system is no-one’s fault, and no-one’s responsibility, but our own. Perhaps independence would prod us towards improvement. But a lack of independence is not to blame for the fact so many Scots leave school with what Mike Small tenderly describes as literacy issues. That’s on us and, most especially, on a left-wing consensus that has governed Scotland for nearly 20 years now.

But at least we’re not like England, eh? At least we’re better than them. Just another of the lies we like to tell ourselves. But what does the truth matter when there’s a referendum to win and a fairytale to believe?

UPDATE: Mike Small tweets to say “in no way” does he think he’s a “better” Scot than his opponents, just “less doused in self-loathing”.


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Show comments
  • biop

    Seems you can play football without the ball.
    otomatik kapı Otomatik Kapılar

  • poran

    I don’t like to think they have lost the will entirely to make a decent go of things.
    otomatik kapı Otomatik Kapılarکرکره برقی

  • The Masked Marvel

    None of this made much sense until we got to the part about fat pay packets. Perhaps Brown has an eye toward the prize. A larger system would make for even fatter pay packets for those at the top.

  • rammyorstramash

    Did I imagine it or did you write an article on June 12th titled The shocking ,secret truth about Scotland’s independence debate: it is civilised.

  • saffrin

    Brown…too stupid to be embarrassed.

  • Roger Hudson

    Gordon is a great asset, garnering lots more votes for the ‘yes’ campaign.

  • Boroinmilan

    Perhaps if the SNP could clearly state which currency they are going to use, how much the setting up of a state is going to cost, how they are going to pay for pensions, member of the EU and NATO, etc, etc the Scots could actually consider what they are supposed to be voting for or against. To respond to demands for this information with scaremonging accusations is just ridiculous.

  • Jacobite

    I actually read about Mr Gordon’s speech in The Scotsman. Maybe someone recorded it and can get back to us on what was actually said.

  • allymax bruce

    Alex, you raise an important point; but for its alternate justification; ‘too wee too poor, too stupid’; we are now seeing it ‘shown’ in/by the Unionists!

    Radio4 this morning did an interview with Sir John Major, whom, I think, is in Scotland to tell us all to vote no. Major said, ‘if Scotland votes no, then there would be some kind of enhanced devolution’. The radio4 interviewer said, “but Scotland First Minister Alex’ Salmond would say you said that in 1979, and Scotland got worse Tory policies” The interviewer went on to say, “Alex’ Salmond would say, “Don’t trust the Tories”, [to your ‘enhanced devolution’] (Radio4 interviewer). Then, John Major said, “That’s a cheap answer; that’s a silly answer” (Sir John Major). Of which, I immediately thought to myself, My God! Sir John Major, Tory grandee, just told all Scots we’re ‘too wee too poor too stupid’. I can’t belieeeve it !

    “Unionists have said plenty of stupid things during this campaign” (Alex Massie).

    • Blindsideflanker

      At least they are prepared to mention your countries name, the Tories and the rest of the British establishment can’t bring themselves to mention England.

      • Denis_Cooper

        And that will remain the case while the English are foolish enough to keep voting for politicians who loathe and despise them.

    • Wessex Man

      He is a Tory you know!

  • Blindsideflanker

    In PMQ’s Cameron revealed the Conservatives constitutional agenda for England, as this will never get debated by the British media or political class, and certainly not allow us English plebs any participation in the non debate, for what it is worth I put it up here.

    When Gisla Stewart asked Cameron about it, Cameron supported her agenda to turn England in a balkanised place of city fiefdoms. This is *”!&(%^ insult to English people. The British establishment have decided English people are the enemy, and choose to divide and rule us., without any democratic legitimacy .

    This morning we also had Major proposing some sort of meeting of all the nations of the UK, bar England of course, to decide the constitutional frame work of the UK.

    The Conservatives have made a massive strategic error, in following their constitutionally myopic leader they are going to put themselves , along with Labour and the Libdems on the wrong side of English people. Just like there is on immigration and the EU, they have vacated the territory to UKIP. Queue Farrage to step in and take it.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Maybe when you have the time you could post links to Stuart’s proposal and Cameron’s response.

      • Blindsideflanker
        • Denis_Cooper

          Thanks.

          Of course it wouldn’t cross Cameron’s mind to suggest
          that the completion of devolution within the UK might
          involve a Parliament for the whole of England rather
          than an assortment of ways to break up England.

          • Blindsideflanker

            Indeed. It makes me b***** angry, and and what makes me more so is it will never have to cross his mind as he will never have to answer any difficult questions from the rest of the British establishment squatting in English constituency seats, neither will he have to worry about the British media either , for where English devolution is concerned they are wilfully deaf dumb and blind.

  • My_old_mans_a_dustman

    We need to make it easier and cheaper for Scots to travel a bit more and mix with the rest the population of this small island, then attitudes might shift.

    • Wessex Man

      Why would we want to do that? My FA is a Scot and so is my Solicitor, they never asked for it to be made easier or cheaper to get here they just worked.

      • My_old_mans_a_dustman

        Social isolation breeds insanity.

        • Jambo25

          Given that far more Scots travel to England than vise versa there must be a high degree of insanity in England.

          • Wessex Man

            there you go Jambo and you never insult the English as you so often tell us!

            • Jambo25

              I’m not insulting the English; merely My_old_man’s_a_dustman.

              • Wessex Man

                hur hur hur, I knew you would revert to type!

    • Jambo25

      I spent years pushing my 6th form pupils to apply to universities, in England, rather than simply the ‘milk run’ of the ancient Scottish universities. I got rather successful and rather a lot of my pupils ended up going to Newcastle, Durham, York, Manchester, Imptech, UCL and Oxbridge. The present, misconceived English fee structure has killed that stone dead.

  • startledcod

    Very good article.

  • mattghg

    “Gordon Brown has, like so many others, been institutionalised to believe everything about Scotland is inferior. This may come as a surprise to English readers”

    It does rather, yes.

    • Jambo25

      Gordon is the chap who, on US TV, refused to describe himself as Scottish but stuck to North British. He also insisted that, as a footie supporter, his all time favouritist goal was the one scored by Gazza, against Scotland, in 1996. It was his attempt to wheedle himself into acceptability, in England, as a Scottish PM. That went well; didn’t it?

      • Wessex Man

        He is the chap who signed the The Scottish Claim of Right and then thuoght it was fine to pretend to support the English international side and you are right that it didn’t go well!

        • Jambo25

          Brown is a ‘Britnat’ along with much of the UK political and media classes. They live in London which is a peculiar, free floating city.

  • AtMyDeskToday

    Gordon should at least assume some responsibility for the claimed poor state of Scottish education. His Labour chums were in power from the late 50’s onwards and thus had ample opportunity to fix things. The SNP have had 7 years to try to correct that. Whatever your political affiliations, those numbers should be the ones to think seriously about.

    • Wessex Man

      Yes they should, the education system through-out the entire UK is truly shocking and has been for years. We are crying out for change away from trendy teaching, a constant worry about rights rather than education.

      An Inspector of Schools has just said to Nicky Campbell on R5 Breakfast that too much targeting on ethnic areas has caused problens in mainly white areas with lack of funding, a Councillor has immediately called his motives questionable!

    • Alex Creel

      but surely education is a lagging indicator – i.e. if the problem in Scottish education is early years education (for instance) any changes made under the current administration won’t be judged until those who started school 7 years ago leave……

    • Jambo25

      There are certainly things wrong with Scottish education but it is

      • Airey Belvoir

        It helps to be unburdened by University fee debt, a happy situation funded in part by English taxpayers.

        • Jambo25

          Oh dear, you poor English things you. Slight problem however. It is impossible to prove that Scottish taxpayers get more from central taxation, in comparison to what they pay in taxes than English taxpayers do. Scottish spending per capita is rather higher than the UK average but so is Scottish taxes per capita.
          Incidentally, with the Student finance system in England getting very close to running in deficit it might be time for the very clever folks of England to actually look at the Scottish system. After all, it doesn’t appear to be costing much more than the system in place in England.
          Purely as a matter of interest why did people, down south, accept a system that made English HE the most expensive (for students) in Europe and unique in Europe ended virtually all public funding for liberal arts course. If nobody else, in Europe, was doing it didn’t it occur to anybody that it might not be a good idea?

  • Whyshouldihavetoregister

    Mike Small (nominative determinism in action) might benefit from a spot more self-loathing, I suspect.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Do they still doHihes in Scotland, as they did when I was educated there. Five or Six Highers was the benchmark. I could not gain places at London or Sussex because they refused to recognise these Highers. Ha there been any change? My Highers were in English, Lain,Greek, History and Maths, a splendid spread.

    • Jambo25

      Back in the dim, distant days of the 60s one of my school mates got 8 Highers, all at A pass and applied for Oxford. He was informed by that august institution that they would accept his Highers as O levels and he had to sit A levels. The following year he sat either 7 or 8 and got them all at A. They were from one of the better boards (At that time.). I think, at that time, it was about the best A level results ever. He subsequently reapplied to Oxford, was accepted and told the university to stick their place up their a.se.
      It would be nice to think that this was something long gone but it wasn’t I dealt with English university admissions offices up until about 6 years ago and it was very clear that some of them hadn’t a clue about Scottish qualifications. They seemed au fait with the Irish system but could be clueless about Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers. Exeter and Cambridge universities were about the worst.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Five Highers, an A, two Bs and a C were very acceptable to Oxford. Of course I had to pass thir exam, which was writing an essay about the beatles if I remember. And then there was the interview, so Oxford and subtle thatI thought I had failed when I had actually succeeded. The Royal High School of Edinburgh has half a dozen chaps at Oxford in mty time, all much cleverer than me.

        • Jambo25

          5 or 6 Highers was ‘standard’ at Heriots at that time. 7 or 8 meant that you were brainy. As someone who sat both Highers and A levels I found A levels slightly more difficult but you only needed 2 or 3 for university entrance. For ‘blue chip’ courses at Scottish universities you needed 5 Highers. BTW, Roy Kinnear was at Heriots the year before me.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Nobody at the High School did seven or eight. That would be vulgar. I’ll see your Roy Kinnear and raise you a Ronnie Corbett, though I admit that was rather before my time. But Charleson, he was a revelation.I heard you had ghosts at Heriots. One up on us, though we did shoot a Baillie stone dead. Not me you understand..

            • Jambo25

              Some of us at good old ‘Jingling Geordie’s’ place were flash so and sos. I got offered a place at Cambridge on the back of an informal interview without anyone actually looking at my formal qualifications but that was long ago. I know a couple of other chaps who had the same offers. For what its worth, I turned the Cambridge offer down.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Where did you go instead?

                • Jambo25

                  Manchester. At that time the equivalent course was better at Manchester. I also turned down LSE.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Well, there weren’t that many of us. Neither of mt daughters would have had degrees in those days. One did Art and the other ccupational therapy. If half the children have degrees instead of about 15% then of course the degree will be only about one third as valuable. I admire your young self for knowing about courses and hard stuff like that. Perhaps the boys at Heriots really were brighter. But not as charming I’ll be bound. We also turned out quite a lot of criminals..

                • Jambo25

                  I’m older than I look or sound. it was about 8%-9% of the age cohort who went to university when I attended. I do agree that too many jobs are now being punted as degree only. When I left school a lot of the professions were still entered by what were basically apprenticeships: law being a good example. Now, I feel, that by expanding the numbers going to university we’ve diluted the university experience for most students. I noted, earlier, that there wasn’t the gap between Oxbridge and other good universities in the late 60s/early70s that there is now. Teaching on my Manchester course was done, largely, by tutorial and seminar. I wonder how many universities outside Oxbridge still work that way.
                  it would be nice if I could claim some natural wit or cleverness as to how I selected my university courses but, actually, I lucked out.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  All you say is true. A lot of new universities were just old polytechnics. ‘More will man worse’ said Kingsley Amis. He was right. Of course he was

                • Jambo25

                  I think we made a fundamental mistake back in the 70s. We clearly needed to upskill the population but creating a lot of 2nd rate universities from 1st rate Polys wasn’t the way to do it.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW5pPXGrdTY Puss in High Wedgies

    Scottish children place less value on the distinctiveness of the Scottish system than their parents do. They’re just not bothered.

    Of course they’re not. The better-off pampered cosseted children never DO care as much — about anything, as we’re seeing here in these United States. (Secession was not an option: not when the freedom of the world was at stake: not an irony: think about it: Burke would have understood — and I *hate* that d*mn ‘can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ stupid Commie analogy.)

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW5pPXGrdTY Puss in High Wedgies

    Gordon Brown: the sexiest man on… planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb.

    • Kitty MLB

      Its Gordon’s dark brooding charm, the Heathcliff of the
      Highlands..I dread Scotland gaining independence from us
      and them wanting him back. I see a custody battle on the
      horizon. Might have to hide him in the Tower of London
      with all those ravens.

      • Denis_Cooper

        :-)

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW5pPXGrdTY Puss in High Wedgies

        Heathcliff was a murderer, wasn’t he?

        • Kitty MLB

          Ah, that is one of those literary mysteries.
          Was Heathcliff a heroic broken soul driven
          by passion or a heartless villain.
          As far as murder is concerned, he may have
          murdered Hindley who was utterly drunk
          out of his mind when leaving the tavern…
          but then again he may not have.
          Also I think, Heathcliffs revenge over Earnshaw
          was that mans ruin.Earnshaw was also
          weak and frail, Heathcliff didn’t aid in his
          sickness but he certainly delighted in it.

  • Kaine

    Raises an interesting point. Can free at the point of use university education be called a redistributive measure if poor children can’t access it, because they by and large never get the grades in the first place?

  • smilingvulture

    Call me nieave,but he’s a former chancellor and knows the exact meaning of words

    “do not want to be part of an exclusively Scottish education system but want a UK system where the curriculum and exams are the same for everyone in the UK”.

    why does it take 1500 words to reply to a smear?because it wasn’t,your trying to denie what actually was quoted,The Scotsman

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW5pPXGrdTY Puss in High Wedgies

      I won’t call you ‘nieave’, and you’ll thank me in the morning : )

      • Maidmarrion

        Screen washed with my coffee – you swine!

        • Kitty MLB

          Oh come on Maid Marrion, put the claws back
          in what would King Arthur say.

    • Kitty MLB

      And a wretched former chancellor, and even worse Prime
      Minister. His words true or not should be avoided like
      the plague. Or a rotten haggis.

  • FF42

    Please, God, let this nonsense be over, soon.

    I am as much in favour of controlling my destiny as the next man. But all it really means is giving more powers to idiots like these.

    • Maidmarrion

      Like whom?
      Brown? Balls? Miliband? Cameron? Osborne? Or that other fella whatshisname?

      • FF42

        I get the independence thing. They may be idiots, but at least they are our idiots.

        As well as being a country, the UK is a market, and Scotland’s most important market by far. If we vote to separate ourselves from our most important market, massive job losses will result. Note: will result, not, may result. It’s a high price to pay so to give more powers to idiots. Even if they are our idiots.

        • Wessex Man

          I watched you fight a long and gruelling campaign to try and reason with the CyberNat Nutters and you’ve exhausted yourself, why bother, be happy.

        • lewis4671

          The UK is part of the EU – that is Scotland’s market now, not the UK. The biggest risk to our jobs is if Scotland were separated from the EU and not merely becoming an independent country within the EU. The biggest threat to Scotland’s place in the EU is from the 2017 in/out referendum being promised by Cameron. Without Scotland becoming an independent member of the EU, we could easily find ourselves being pulled out against our will be the rest of the UK.

          • FF42

            If the UK leaves the EU then I agree, we may need to look again. But, (a) the UK isn’t leaving the EU right now and most likely won’t and, (b) Scotland is more integrated into the UK market than the UK is to the EU one. Scotland has more to lose by leaving the UK than the EU.

            Let’s be clear: a vote for independence is a vote for fewer jobs in Scotland.

        • Jambo25

          And Scotland is England’s second most important market. Have a look at last night’s Scotland 2014 (I know, I know. That’s cruel and unusual punishment.) but there was an interesting section on it about the present UK/Irish economic and financial relationship.

  • HenBroon

    Great Britain will still exist, those who so wish will still say like Gordy, that they are British and that their favourite footy moment was Gazas goal against Scotland in Euro 96 at Wembley. The poor sod really did say that. Wisdom and compassion has been mentioned. Brown has neither. He is simply mad that is all. Like his Nemeisis Blair, whose body count in Iraq exceeds that of the man they hanged, there once bestest friend Saddam.

    Great Britiain was created in 1603 with the accession of the Scottish King James to the English throne, he then created GB. That Union of the Crowns aka Aonadh nan Crùintean; will still exist even after our forth coming independence in 2016. The social union between the countries of these islands can not be broken no matter how much the political elite squeal and squeal, as their curly wee tails vibrate with indignation.

    The only real difference we will see is that Scottish educated students will now be freely taught Scottish history and culture through the Scottish prism not the London prism. In other words we will be free of imperilaist propaganda.

    • flippit

      The social union will be broken. The whole ‘independence’ thing is anti-English. Indpendence will damage England, that is the intention, and the English will know it.

      • Wessex Man

        Please expand on your theory that Scottish Independence will damage England.

        • lewis4671

          Basic logic – Scotland net contributes financially to ‘Rest of the UK’ so if Scotland leaves, ‘Rest of the UK’ has poorer public finances than for currect UK. Similarly, since Scotland’s GDP per head is higher than the UK average, removing Scotland will mean the GDP per head will be lower in ‘Rest of the UK’ than is the current GDP per head figure for the current UK.

          • Wessex Man

            I believe this assertion is based on Gavin McCrone’s figures? it makes me wonder why you won’t listen to him on his views about the SNP desire for currency union when he states that Scotland should go back to it’s pre Union currency of The Merk!

            I wonder how the good old Merk will fare on the money markets?

            Never worry for we English, if we are worse off when you go, we will just accept it and get on with our business as usual!

            • Jambo25

              Possibly better, long term, than the £ which has declined in value against the $, Swiss Franc and other hard currencies.

              • Wessex Man

                I notice that you don’t include the euro in that list or that London has been chosen by China to trade it’s currency.

                • Jambo25

                  The £ has declined against the Euro as well. When the Euro was first introduced I was getting about 1.75-1.80 to the £. What is it now?

                • Wessex Man

                  1.25, on on to your pounds sterling when you get independence because the Merk will sink without trace.

                • Jambo25

                  Don’t be too sure as it would be a petro-currency and with the present instability in the Mid-East that could be quite a benefit.

          • Boroinmilan

            Massive massaging of the figures Lewis, especially given the latest oil and GERS figures that suggest the exact opposite and which the SNP ignore. But you know Flippit isn’t talking about that you divvy. GB will be fragmented and weakened politically leading to questions over the UN, G7, EU etc. The Nats are anti-English and wanted to do this kind of damage during WW2 when they supported the Nazis. Economically the rest of the UK would better off while the Nats are trying to persuade the Scots to cut their own noses off to spite somebody else’s face.

    • Blindsideflanker

      You conflate a Monarchy Union with a Social Union. They are not the same. We had a Union of the Crowns before, but England didn’t feel in anyway obliged to dig the Scots out of their Darien folly. As such you will be a fool to believe Salmond when he seeks to write the terms of the divorce for us English. So when an unemployed Scot comes south of the border, he will be shocked to find we won’t pay any unemployment benefit to him.

      • lewis4671

        Re: “England didn’t feel in anyway obliged to dig the Scots out of their Darien folly”, be aware that offering to cover the losses of Scottish MPs in the old Scottish Parliament was the bribe that secured their support for Union with England – hence Robert Burns line of poetry “Bought and sold with English gold, what a parcel of rogues in a nation.”

        • vieuxceps2

          Burns’words are a little ambiguous.You do realise his “parcel o’rogues” wre Scottish, don’t you?

          • Wessex Man

            hush now, you will be hounded for daring to utter the truth!

          • Jambo25

            Yes. I think he was referring to Scottish Unionists.

      • HenBroon

        The point being no unemployed Scots will feel the need to visit a poverty stricken England creaking under a mountain of debt it ran up trying to project power around the globe on borrowed money. it will be a land where the Chinese have bought any thing of value and John Bull will be left toothless and girning in to his bitter. Green and pleasant. Green with envy. Pip pip.

        • Wessex Man

          Are you ScotCandian’s twisted Gran?

    • Wessex Man

      Will you then be able to give one of your usual slanted with authority because you have rewritten the history of the British Isles?

      • HenBroon

        I’m sorry your breaking up return to UKOK HQ for reboot.

        • Wessex Man

          Rebooted! have you rewritten the History books yet?

  • anncalba

    “Scaremongering and smearing; just another day in the Scottish referendum campaign”. The Headline says it all really. The “campaign” has been dire, and shows no sign of getting better. School yard level insults, smears, bullying in plenty. Reasoned debate, answers to legitinate questions, respect for other opinions – nowhere. Makes me ashamed to be Scottish if this is the best we (and our lousy politicians) can come up with.

    • lewis4671

      This is the danger in any campaign where one side has the creation of fear and uncertainty as its central campaign tactic. The No side deliberately asks questions for which it knows the answers – such as “will you pensions be safe with independence?” – when they know the answer is Yes. (For example, people still receive their state pension if they retire to Spain as pension rights are based on contributions rather than which country you happen to live in.)

  • Angus McLellan

    Poor Gordon, misunderstood and misquoted again. How can anyone be so unlucky?

    On the other hand, he really might not have a clue about devolution, as with so much else. After all, in January he was wittering about devolving health (umm) and transport (err).

    • telemachus

      Gordon is deliberately misrepresented on these pages
      *
      Folks conveniently forget that he gave us the longest and greatest period of prosperity for a century during which he dragged health and education from the Victorian era
      *
      And then he saved the world’s banks after the Lehman debacle
      *
      He deserves a Dukedom

      • Kitty MLB

        That was deluded, little wasp.Brown was the
        archetypical bonkers professor in his Downing
        Street Laboratory . With the two Eds as assistants
        Plotting carnage. He was deluded, wrong on every
        level, dangerous and should never have benighted
        is with his presence.

      • girondas

        “Gordon is deliberately misrepresented on these pages*
        Folks conveniently forget that he gave us the longest and greatest period of prosperity for a century during which he dragged health and education from the Victorian era And then he saved the world’s banks after the Lehman debacle”*
        He deserves a Dukedom”

        A member of the “people’s party” wants to bestow a dukedom.
        Come the revolution, brother, come the revolution….

      • Inverted Meniscus

        What a pity he misrepresented this country into a £168 billion structural device. He misrepresented us into the destruction of private pension provision. He misrepresented us into a failed banking regulatory regime, gold sales, ludicrous PFI contracts, the list goes on and on. Oh, by the way, get stuffed.

  • laurence

    Oh, Massie jnr., please just go away or stop ‘writing’. One or t’other, please.

    • manonthebus

      Or you could stop reading.

      • laurence

        Know your enemy.

        • flippit

          He’s your ‘enemy’? What’s wrong with you?

          • laurence

            It is a well known quotation from Sun Tzu. Do you understand the distinction between literal and metaphorical uses of language? Apparently not.

  • HookesLaw

    The problem you point to namely the one of remarks being bowdlerised is widespread. It happens to everyone and newspapers do it all the time. Politicians do it to each other. It makes rational argument difficult.

    • Wessex Man

      Yes Hooky babe much like your party’s special unit to smear UKip in the recent elections.

  • BigAl

    Good job we haven’t heard rumours of Mr Brown telling porkies……

  • lewis4671

    “No newspaper report I’ve seen does anything to substantiate the claim Gordon Brown wishes to abolish the Scottish education system…”

    Really? Try the Scotsman article headed “Gordon Brown: Scots want ‘UK-wide school system”
    http://www.scotsman.com/news/education/gordon-brown-scots-want-uk-wide-school-system-1-3445973

    • HookesLaw

      That bit you quote does not imply that Brown wants to abolish the system… it points to the opinion of others … the supposed opinion of others.

      • lewis4671

        The bit I quote is the heading – in the article the journalist (David Maddox) passes the comment that “FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown has appeared to question the devolution of education in extracts of a speech on independence.”

        • P_S_W

          And so you prove the author’s point.

          “has appeared to”

          Indeed.

    • telemachus

      Propaganda from the Yes campaign

      • Wessex Man

        as opposed to propaganda for the no campaign Slimy?

        I said after the Euro Elections that the dark tricks aimed at UKip would now be aimed at The Fat Controller and the Yes Campaign and it will be! Fish and Chip suppers anyone?

  • 7leagueboots

    Poverty is the key point, and resists systems. OECD figures suggest being poor in the UK is more like being poor in the former Soviet Bloc than in Western Europe.
    http://highpaycentre.org/blog/what-would-the-neighbours-say-how-inequality-means-the-uk-is-poorer-than-we

    • you_kid

      you have no idea – no one was poor in the former Soviet Block. A shiny piece of two Westmark would have been ample baksheesh making you feel like a celeb and getting you into the finest restaurants and cultured shows back then.

      • manonthebus

        Do you know much about the ‘Soviet Bloc’? Are you aware that the best, or only decent, restaurants were reserved for those with the right Party connections or hard currency, mainly US$. Do you know which class of people was actually allowed to possess US$?

  • CraigStrachan

    283K for a university principal doesn’t seem excessive. In th U.S, university presidents are often on million-dollar-plus salaries.

    • Kaine

      Interestingly they’re usually not the highest paid employee. That’s usually, I kid you not, the college football team coach.

  • gilbertratchet

    Alex, this is a good article (albeit, I’d like to see the comparable A-level results for say, Northern England). But sadly I think you’re banging your head against the wall. Within an hour there’ll be a hundred comments about how awful Gordon Brown is, and his argument will be completely ignored. There is no argument you can make to nationalists; every problem is a nail that only the independence hammer can hit.

    • balance_and_reason

      Gordon Brown is still a rampant egotist who can see no error in his previous ways….not even a hint of an apology.

    • Theuniondivvie

      ‘Within an hour there’ll be a hundred comments about how awful Gordon Brown is’

      Well, certainly one thing you were wrong about.
      I also fear that the majority of comments criticising Brown in this organ over the years didn’t come from ‘nationalists’, or not the Scottish variety anyway.

      • gilbertratchet

        You’re right…nowhere near a hundred comments yet. Maybe everyone’s watching the football!

    • Jambo25

      Outside of a few public schools, Scotland doesn’t have A levels.

  • salieri

    It is a very sad day for our great country – both great countries, nay the whole world – when sad, bigoted, irrational or unstable people stoop so low as to misrepresent the wisdom and compassion of Gordon Brown. Have they no shame? And we shall all hang our heads in guilt when his book sales drop to zero, from one.

    • telemachus

      Forget Gordon Brown
      Who of course is a world phenomenon
      The post is really part of the aggressive yes campaign

      • Wessex Man

        You slimy liar you, for once it’s even handed and unusually being Massie it makes sense. Itseems that Gordon Brown not only oversaw the planning of the recession, he helped ruin the Scottish Education system as well as England’s.

        He’s nailed on to become a European Commissioner for services to Doomdone.

        • scotcanadien

          The man from UKIP drops the restraining bounds and shows his true colours. “You slimy liar you” I think he even out viles the nasty Brit Nat trolls who roam the Internet. See here: @BritNatAbuseBot

          • Wessex Man

            If I want to tell the world that the slimy liar above is a liar I will, as for you, you are a truly nasty piece of work who sadly thinks himself to be brighter than he is, whose charm can barely be confined within the walls of his house!

            • scotcanadien

              Well I KNOW I’m brighter than a UKIP troll like you. And I think most
              would agree that you are a grotty vile little English person. Which one
              of these is you? pic.twitter.com/BDc5n389Js

              • Wessex Man

                Not even bothered to check out your link you sad pathetic excuse for a piece of haggis!

                Of course I would never agree to your stupid childish playground rants, I pity Scots whether from the Yes Camp or the No camp having to share Scotland with a lumpen idiot like you!

                • scotcanadien

                  Go on admit it. You’ve checked the links, haven’t you? And you obviously didn’t like what you saw. Who could blame you when you see the racist opinions of your fellow countrymen. They are disgusting and come from minds which dwell daily in the deepest of cess pits.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Hypocrite.

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