Sunday, 7 February 2010

Scotland and England together on equal terms!

I was pondering Tony Blair's handwritten note on the front page of a copy of the Scotland Act. It reads...

To Donald,
It was a struggle, it may always be hard : but it was worth it. Scotland and England together on equal terms!
Tony Blair

I agree with this statement! England and Scotland should be on equal terms. If no major party will support an English Parliament, I therefore propose the following...

> We create 30 additional seats in the Scottish Parliament
> These additional MSPs will be returned from English constituencies
> The First Minister and Finance Minister will be selected from these English MSPs
> The First Minister will not be validated by an election: he would be there because he thinks "it’s his turn”
> The Finance Minister will be appointed because because he is the First Minister’s mate
> The First MInister and Finance Minister will sign a solemn oath swearing to hold England’s "interests paramount” in all their "actions and deliberations"

These powerful individuals will be sure that every measure they proposed for the Scottish people would have an automatic 20-odd% of votes in their favour, courtesy of the 30 non-Scottish MSPs.

Then, and only then, will Scotland and England be together on equal terms!

Do you think anyone would mind? No? Let's do it!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our members and supporters.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Not in the interests of the many

Last week’s PMQs (PMQ 17/6/09) saw Gordon Brown launch his latest campaign which is summed up by the sound bite “not in the interests of the many, but the few”.

He challenged Cameron “They [the Tories] should go back to their constituencies and explain how many police, how many nurses, how many doctors, how many teachers they would cut for policies that are in the interests not of the many but in their case in the interests of the few.”

It sounds like a fair point, except that if Brown was to do the same, his constituents would tell him he doesn’t represent them (ergo no mandate) for any of these issues. In fact he doesn’t represent ANYONE in these areas!

Partial devolution has created two classes of MP at Westminster. There are those that represent their constituents in all matters put before them (1st Class) and those who are excluded from representing their constituents when it comes to Health, Education, Housing, Sport and Arts, Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, Emergency Services, Planning, Social Work, Heritage, some Transport and Tourism (2nd Class).

Brown, like Darling and roughly 20% of the House belong to this second tier. He CAN’T go back to his constituents and tell them “how many police, how many nurses, how many doctors, how many teachers” HE would cut, because it’s none of his damn business!

I wrote to Tom Harris MP for Glasgow South who is a first class blogger and second class MP (in the above sense) and asked him if he felt his public service had been devalued since devolution. I haven’t had a reply, so the email must’ve got lost in the ether.

What I don’t understand is why Cameron didn’t nail him with this one. I realise that Cameron considers England to be full of “sour little Englanders”, but he’s also a politician and they have been known in the past to use anything at their disposal, why didn’t he use this?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

“…a nation with a single political identity which it has maintained for at least as long as Scotland’s”

The Calman Commission (pic left) has published its report.

The fact it is called “Serving Scotland Better” and Brown said it is “bold and realistic” immediately set my teeth on edge. Despite this and in the interests of academic thoroughness, I sat down and read it.

It contained much that I expected although my blood pressure steadily rose as it ducked and dived the issues that cause the greatest harm, viz…

Barnett: “it is not for us to judge whether the present level of public spending in Scotland is appropriate or not” (37)

Asymmetrical devolution: “It is not our job to say whether this should change” (16)

The West Lothian Question: “is a matter for the UK Parliament, not a matter for the Commission” (4.92)

So, I wasn’t expecting much meat to be found on these bones. I was however expecting to read about “nations and regions” and regional assemblies for “the rest of the UK”, but to be fair, they mentioned the ‘E’ word often throughout the whole report.

Then I read something that the Lib/Lab/Con trick alliance won’t be happy about …

2.12 “…there is no equivalent of devolved institutions for England.”

2.13 “It is not for us to discuss where or how power might be decentralised or devolved in England – whether, as has been proposed in the past, to regional level, or by giving more power to local institutions."

Here we go. Not power devolved to England, but IN England. Sounds like the hated regionalist policy to me, but then it goes on…

“But, however such ideas might be pursued, they will not affect the fact that England, though larger than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, will remain a nation with a single political identity which it has maintained for at least as long as Scotland’s.”

Wow! I have read and re-read this paragraph and they seem to be saying that England is a nation with "a single political identity at least as long as Scotland's!!" Does Gordon know about this? He'll be furious!

It continues…

“It is of course possible to divide the UK into “standard regions” for administrative and statistical purposes. Scotland is one of those regions, as are Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Yeah but they’re also nations as well as administrative ‘standard regions’.

“But the standard regions in England do not have the same sort of political identity as

Are they saying that regions will never have the same political identity as Scotland because they are a subset of the nation of England? Have I read this correctly? I hope so because it concludes…

“ This fundamental aspect of the Union will always remain, and must not be ignored in its territorial constitution.”

Are they saying England is a nation and this fact must not be ignored in its constitution (and logically) any future constitution?

If this is the case, then Calman has delivered something I didn’t expect and I don’t think Gordon will be happy about the “regions” being recognized as the nation of England. Especially by a bunch of lackys he’s paid to do a snow job on Barnett!.

I like this report a great deal more than I thought I would.

BTW as we have a Government commited to “fairness for all the UK” I thought I’d google “Serving England Better” and I got this…

No results found for "serving england better".”, so there were no surprises there.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A Guide to the Barnett Formula

I’ve been running with the hoodies of blog steerage (as a Scottish journalist once coined) for a few years now and the same arguments keep coming up time and again.

So, I’ve decided to create a ‘cut out and keep’ guide to the Barnett Formula. I’ll do the same for an English Parliament, but first...

1. Does Scotland actually receive more money than Wales and every English region, without having to pay a penny extra in taxes?

Yes, here are the facts.

2. Isn't it based upon need and if Scotland have greater need, shouldn't they have a greater share?

It's not based upon need and Scotland don't need it.
As Alistair Darling pointed out, Scotland has the highest income per head in the UK, outside London and the South East. So why does the third richest "region", out of twelve, get the second highest handout? More importantly, why don't English MPs challenge Brown when he lies to Parliament that Barnett is based on need?

3 Someone once told me that London gets more than Scotland, is this true?

It is possible to show London gets more if you include “invisible” expenditure. How ANY taxpayers’ money should ever be allowed to become invisible in the first place is a separate question, but a (not exhaustive) list of invisible spending can include such items as civil servants' wages, army, navy and air force top brass, the Queen’s frocks, Gorbal Mick’s expenses, MPs second homes, plasma teles and the deputy Prime Minister’s dinner bills. None of this goes to people in the form of services (as in Scotland). It just means more well paid people, higher house prices, more Michelin starred restaurants and a lower standard of living for ordinary people. A double whammy as someone once said.

4. Would it make any difference if such largess was reigned in?

David Cameron said “I always say to English audiences …do not believe that there's some pot of gold here…Get it in perspective."

OK Dave (may I call you Dave?), let’s do that. In the ten years following devolution, Scotland received almost £60bn more than England

That’s a lot of money when spread between 5m people, but in England (ten times Scotland’s size) it is enough to pay for the entire schools and universities budget. This also translates into better pay for nurses, teachers, smaller class sizes, life saving cancer drugs (not available in England), free tertiary education, sight saving drugs etc etc.

5. Does oil have anything to do with it?

No, if Scotland is part of the UK it is UK oil and its benefits should be distributed on the basis of need. This may be a good argument for independence (see below) but not for special (ie unfair) treatment.

6. Does England subsidise Scotland, or is it the other way around?

Tony Blair puts England’s contribution at £10bn and the Scotsman Newspaper recently put it at £20bn. The McCrone report stated 30 years ago that Scotland’s surplus would be “embarrassing” if they were an independent nation. The truth is, no one knows because successive Government departments have obfuscated the facts. Maybe Scotland subsidises the rest, maybe England, maybe not…who cares?

The point is WE ALL PAY EXACTLY THE SAME TAXES, BUT SOME BRITONS GET A LOT MORE BANGS FOR THEIR BUCKS (See 3 above) and this is THE problem with Barnett.

7. Should Scotland be “fiscally independent”?

No, this phrase suggests a special treatment within the Union (see 3 above) they should either be “in” or be “out”… makes yer choice!

8. Should Scotland be independent?

I’d vote for it, but that’s my opinion. Your opinion should be based on more factors than money though.

9. Is the Union dead?

I can’t see England putting up with this situation for much longer, can you?

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Who's kidding who?

Last Saturday's episode of Dr Who, broadcast on BBC1, had a scene which portrayed the English as racists by using the phrase "England for the English" in the context of someone being sent to a labour camp.

Dr Who is made by BBC Wales and they have been consistent in their use of “Britain” and “British”, until now. Rather than use the better known and older phrase "Britain for the British", they changed it somewhat. Why? And how did this come about?

I imagine a room somewhere in BBC Wales, two writers are working their way through their creative block... about "British Jobs for British People"?

... No, that wouldn't work, the author is Scottish

...OK, how about "Britain for the British"? It was the title of a book written in 1902 by a socialist and was adopted as a theme by the then fledgling Labour Party. It was also a popular theme for the National Front in the 1970s and is commonly used by the BNP today.

...No, that wouldn't work either, because it includes Scots and Welsh. We've got to think of a way to slag off the English whilst leaving the Welsh and the Scots squeaky clean.

...I know, I know! How about we change the word "Britain" to "England" and then change "British" to "English"? So, "Britain for the British" becomes "England for the English"!

... Brilliant! That way we can liable the English and leave a subliminal message in the minds of the viewer

... Yes, but will it work? Surely people will realise that English national sentiment has only arisen since devolution and if anything they're the most tolerant nation in these islands.

... God no, they'll realise nothing! The tellie is often the only source of information for these plebs and we ARE THE TELLIE!

... are you sure they'll forget so easily?

... they're like bloody goldfish! Most are so dumb they won't remember the phrase "Britain for the British" was ever used by the time the programme has finished.

... Got it! So, if we say it often enough and no one complains, it'll become received knowledge and everyone will only associate such a negative phrase with England and English!


... Well now we've put that one to bed, let's go and
thump an English horse!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

"...we need to make a transition to democracy as soon as possible"

How long will the international community sit on its hands whilst this man refuses to legitimise his Government with a fair election? This bigot refuses to accept the democratic will of the people he governs! He thumbs his nose at every principle and moral obligation, whilst desperately clinging to power. A power he knows would be taken from him, if he ever dared hold an election.

Democratic plebiscites are swept aside, if they don’t go his way. If he thinks he'll lose an election, he simply refuses to hold it!

Some of his citizens are actually dying because he has agitated tribal differences and openly diverts money from the majority of people in order to give his own people preferential treatment. The principle of "One Man, One Vote" has been swept aside so that his tribe can wield a disproportionate amount of power.

Every democratic indicator shows the majority are thirsty for the same democratic and fiscal privileges as "his people" but he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge their calls.

Bare-faced lies are his only justification for such measures and the opposition are too timid to challenge him. There are some brave dissenting voices, even amongst his own ranks, but such dissent is ruthlessly suppressed by an individual ominously referred to as "the Chief Whip”.

The title of this post quotes Brown addressing the summit launching the 43-nation Union for the Mediterranean, in Paris. He was referring to Zimbabwe when he said "We should not lessen the pressure on this regime,I believe we need to make a transition to democracy as soon as possible."

Well Mr Brown, at least Robert Mugabe (pictured) has led his party to democratic victory at least once! You can’t even claim this moral authority, never mind justify the continuance of Barnett and the lack of an English Parliament!