Matthew Parris

How Alex Salmond could lose his referendum and still wreck the United Kingdom

‘No’ won’t be Scotland’s final answer. Not unless the unionist parties get ready now

8 February 2014

From a kind of torpor about this year’s Scottish referendum, Lord Lang of Monkton has roused me.

You may remember Lord Lang as Ian Lang, a Scot who as MP for Galloway served Margaret Thatcher and John Major as a minister, under the latter both as Scottish Secretary and then President of the Board of Trade. A pleasant, steady and notably capable man, it was possible to imagine him as a potential Tory leader, but he stuck with John Major throughout.

Last Thursday, Lang secured and led a Lords debate — the first of its kind — on Scotland’s coming referendum on independence. The six-hour session presented a magnificent sweep of the principled and practical case for the Union, with many fine speeches and a maiden speech from the Baroness Goldie, who as Annabel Goldie led the Scottish Conservative party for many years. A weakness in the debate was the failure of any peer to make the unambiguous case for independence, but I would commend the Hansard report to any Spectator reader seriously interested in the argument.

I hadn’t been. In common with many English commentators I’ve perhaps lazily reflected that (1) I’m not a Scot so what do I know? (2) If they seriously want to go, so be it: this would inspire in me more melancholy than grief; and (3) all the polls suggest the result will be a clear no, so why huff and puff about something that isn’t going to happen?

Lang’s speech, thoughtful, comprehensive and sometimes moving, is a deserved rebuke to attitudes like mine, and beyond summary here; but he also pushed the argument on to new territory. Lord McConnell (following Lang) was to conclude (as did others), ‘I hope [the result of the referendum] is decisive and binding for this generation, and that we can move on,’ but it was clear from Lang’s speech that McConnell’s hopes were forlorn. Lang thought the coming referendum was unlikely to close the argument about more devolution. Further, he insisted that the coming argument, unlike the present one, will be for the whole United Kingdom, not just Scotland.

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Little noticed in the ebb and flow of debate about independence has been the way that David Cameron has appeared rather casually to have conceded a new and serious reconsideration of Scotland’s powers within the Union, if or when Scotland decides to stay. Lang issued a coded and measured ‘steady on’ to that.

You can see why Mr Cameron held out the possibility. The Prime Minister’s remarks about further devolution were meant to close down discussion of a three-choice referendum in which ‘devo-max’ would be on the ballot paper. But to insist (as he did) that we could turn to devo-max only once Scotland had decided to stay, was virtually to concede that this would be the next debate. Surely it will, for the concession will not have been lost on Alex Salmond or the SNP, and a cynical view of Mr Salmond’s strategy is that he never seriously expected to win full independence, and this is all about the consolation prize.

So I wonder whether, as Lang hints, the rest of Britain, and the English news media, should already be peering forward to the other side of a no vote in September’s referendum? It may be that by this time next year all that brouhaha about full independence will seem old-hat, but a serious and awkward debate will have started on proposals for a new and virtually federal position for Scotland within a loosened Union.

If so, Labour and the Conservatives ought to be giving thought now to their responses. A wounded SNP would be trying to kick the devo-max debate into life straight away. If either Labour or the Tories don’t want that process started, they will need to try to kill the debate in sharp and final terms, ideally within hours of a Scottish decision to stay, and in the first flush of victory for the Union.

Lang is plainly apprehensive, and his speech began a rearguard action against further fiscal independence. He pointed out that, little-noticed in the new Scotland Act (2012), there are already substantial powers for a Scottish administration to levy taxes (or revoke existing taxes) to suit its budgetary policies:

‘[This is] the biggest fiscal transfer in British history, which will soon give the Scottish parliament the responsibility to raise 10p in the pound of its revenue locally with a corresponding cut in its block grant, and to raise more than that or less than that if it so chooses. Except on borrowing for capital expenditure, there is no upper limit to the use of that power.’

Lang points out that even the 3p-in-the-pound power to raise taxes that Scottish governments were given earlier was never used; and the 2012 Act greatly adds to it. Such, I suppose, will be the case against further transfers of fiscal responsibility from Westminster to Edinburgh. The case in favour will be that if the aim is to give Scotland fiscal responsibility, just give it fiscal responsibility, and stop fiddling around with 10 per cent here and a cut in the block grant there.

Let that argument commence. Meanwhile (as Lang points out) the West Lothian Question must be answered. Why should Scottish MPs help determine English questions? Lang is interested in an English Grand Committee at Westminster: an English quasi-parliament. Let that argument commence too.

But let both be arguments for the whole United Kingdom. Lord Lang reminded the House of the thought that, if an individual member proposes to leave a club, that is for the individual member; but if the proposal is to change the rules of the club, that is for all members. England, Wales and Northern Ireland would have dogs in this race.

I would argue that we would need a second, UK-wide, referendum to endorse any new settlement. The danger would be this: that Scotland might vote against Scottish fiscal independence, and England might vote in favour. With characteristic restraint, Lord Lang did not venture upon such speculation.

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  • Dean Jackson

    Would Scots be in favor of independence if they knew that the collapse of the USSR in 1991 was a strategic ruse, as the following proves…

    Take a look at what’s still on Aeroflot aircraft…

    Note the Soviet emblem of the hammer & sickle stenciled on the Aeroflot aircraft’s fuselage!

    Now, for the main paper of the Russian Ministry of Defense…

    “Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian (no kidding!) for “Red Star”, the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper’s official designation is, “Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense.” Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era masthead, one of which pictures Lenin’s head, the man who removed the independent Russian nation from the map, supplanting it within the new nation called the USSR (the USSR being the nation that was to one day include all the nations of the Earth, incorporation taking place either by violent revolution or deception)! Those Soviet emblems and Lenin’s head can’t still be next to the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s newspaper due to their association with the Soviet Union and its ideals of world revolution; the nations of the world constituting the Soviet Union!

    The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Moscow & Allies, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”. Notice that not one political party in the West demanded verification, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    Now read these two revealing quotes from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Shevardnadze, and what they have in mind for you in the near future:

    “Editor’s Note: The phrases ‘From the Atlantic to the Urals’, ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’ and ‘From Vancouver to Vladivostok’ are interchangeable in the strategists’ lexicon. In the course of his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, delivered in Oslo in June 1992, Gorbachev said: ‘Our [sic] vision of the European space from the Atlantic to the Urals is not that of a closed system. Since it includes the Soviet Union [sic], which reaches to the shores of the Pacific, it goes beyond nominal geographical boundaries’. Note that Gorbachev, who had been out of office for six months, referred to the Soviet Union, not Russia. In an interview on Moscow Television on 19 November 1991, Eduard Shevardnadze continued speaking as though he was still Soviet Foreign Minister: ‘I think that the idea of a Common European Home, the building of a united Europe, and I would like to underline today, of great Europe, the building of Great Europe, great, united Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Atlantic to Vladivostok, including all our territory, most probably a European-Asian space, this project is inevitable. I am sure that we will come to building a united military space as well. To say more precisely: we will build a united Europe, whose security will be based on the principles of collective security. Precisely, collective security’. These statements by key implementers of the strategy reflect the central strategic objective of asserting ‘irreversible’ Russian/Soviet hegemony over Eurasia, thus establishing the primary geographical component of the intended World Government.” — ‘The Perestroika Deception’, by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn.

    Presidents of Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine since the “collapse” of the USSR, and their political affiliation before the “collapse” (cut off date June 30, 2013):


    Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin – July 10, 1991 – December 31, 1999 – Communist.

    Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – 31 December 1999 – 7 May 2000 (Acting) and May 7, 2000 – May 7, 2008 – Communist.

    Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev – May 7, 2008 – May 7, 2012, during his studies at the University he joined the Communist Party.

    Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – May 7, 2012 – Present, Communist.


    Zviad Gamsakhurdia – April 14, 1991 – January 6, 1992, not Communist (dissident).

    Eduard Shevardnadze – November 26, 1995 – November 23, 2003, 1948, Communist.

    Nino Burjanadze – November 23, 2003 – January 25, 2004, Communist.

    Mikheil Saakashvili – 25 January 2004 – 25 November 2007, Communist.

    Nino Burjanadze – November 25, 2007 – January 20, 2008 (Acting), Communist.

    Mikheil Saakashvili – January 20, 2008 – November 17, 2013, Communist.


    Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk, December 5, 1991 – July 19, 1994, joined Ukraine Communist Party in 1958.

    Leonid Danylovych Kuchma, July 19, 1994 – January 23, 2005, Communist, 1960.

    Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko, January 23, 2005 – February 25, 2010, Communist, 1980.

    Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych, February 25, 2010 – Present, Communist, 1980.

    As you can see, all were Soviet era Communist Party member Quislings, except for the first president of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a dissident who didn’t even last nine months in office before he was ousted in a coup, later said to have committed “suicide”. Since when do those once freed from a repressive regime elect for president the same people who were party members in the previous regime?

    • CameronB

      Hopefully YES. :)

  • JohnMcDonaldish

    Jeez. Vote No or the Russians will get you…

    Mind that’s almost as bad as the non-sensical blethers heard in the one-sided “debate” in the House of Lords.

    Indeed it is time for London-centric pontificators to wake up and smell the coffee… A YES vote is coming and you will just have to deal with it. Tough, I know, but you’ll get over it.

    • David Kay

      as much as i want to see the back of the Scottish, its not happening, i’ll cry more tears than you when you people vote to stay in, but fear not, i will start a petition for a referendum at No10’s web site so the people of England , Wales and Northern Ireland can vote to kick you out of the UK.

      Never give up hope, i wont

      • Yankswanks

        I agree . Ill sign your petition .!

        • terregles2

          I am a strong supporter of English independence. I am surprised that only Wales and Scotland have formed independence parties. Nothing to stop England from doing the same.

          • Colonel Mustard

            “Nothing to stop England from doing the same.”

            Actually there is. The brazen, triumphalist nationalism being rolled out in Scotland is disapproved of for the English and immediately identified with racism, xenophobia and the far right. Any attempt to form the equivalent of the SNP would immediately be classed as a ‘hate’ organisation by the UAF and the rest of the braying leftist collective and hounded out of existence.

          • terregles2

            Brazen triumphalist nationalism.? Scotland is campaigning to establish an independent Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. It has nothing to do with nationality it is to do with having a more democratic political system. Many English people living in Scotland are voting YES and there are English people within the SNP. They think Scotland would be better represented by Holyrood. British nationalist fanatics cannot accept that and make wild allegations about people being xenophobic. Are you saying that anyone in England who does not like being governed by the EU is filled with racism and brazen triumphalism. Of course not ,they are merely expressing the wish for more democratic government as is their right.
            Nobody in Scotland or Wales would accuse an English independence party of racism as there are a mixture of races in England and the independence party would just be campaiging for all the people living in England to have a parliament without any MP’s from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. There is nothing to stop you and many of us would applaude you for it. England has the right to better democracy just like every other country.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Yeah right. Try the real world rather than your fantasy one. Every time this subject comes up here you and every other Scot Nat fills the threads with brazen, triumphalist nationalism. Seen the comments from “as a lord” and others?

            How about this one:-

            “Indeed it is time for London-centric pontificators to wake up and smell the coffee… A YES vote is coming and you will just have to deal with it. Tough, I know, but you’ll get over it.”

            Wow. Is that more about your aspirations or more about sticking it to a stereotyped hate target?

            I spent my working life serving Britain alongside Scots who I was proud to be able to call my friends. Now I’m the enemy? This just makes me sad and a little bit disgusted.

          • terregles2

            I can’t say I have noticed any hate between my English neighbours here in Scotland or the English people I work beside. Indeed some of my English workmates are campaigning and leafleting constantly for a YES vote. The truth is that most of us have friends and family in England and after independence that does not change our close personal links.
            When I visit my friends in Ireland I do not walk around thinking that they have a different government and that has affected our close friendship.
            There is no hate target towards English people and to keep claiming that there is does not make it true. There is real dislike of Westminster government but that never has and never will include English people.
            We know that many people in England feel real resentment that Gordon Brown was Scottish. Some of the hatred and venom that was shown towards him was hopefully not directed at all Scottish people but only the Scottish politicians.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I can’t believe you wrote that having regard to some of the comments being made here and in other threads. To suggest that there is not a strong element of Anglophobia within the SNP and Independence movement is nonsense, although the animosity is expressed in many subtle and diverse ways.

          • terregles2

            The important thing for me is that I know that I have no animosity towards the English nation or indeed any other nation. I know and like the English people I live and work beside and enjoy visiting my friends and family in England. When I hear any ignoramus denigrating the Scots I ignore them because I know they do not speak for the majority of English people..
            If you choose to believe otherwise then that is up to you.

      • ann mcclure

        Thank you, I will also sign your petition.

    • IainRMuir

      There’s nothing to “deal with”.

  • Tamas Marcuis

    The only question that the referendum seems to already have answered is, can there be a fair and honest democratic vote? That answer is clearly NO. I have not since my childhood and adolescent years growing up in the USSR seen such vicious ethnically bias media as I have seen in the last year or so in the UK. Even where the writer is not English, very seldom indeed, they are completely beholden to their masters and eagerly scribble like old PRAVDA hacks to ingratiate themselves. Openly bigoted and at times racist statements are routine, excused by the lie it’s ok because Scots are white you can say anything. Out right lies are broadcast because nobody will contradict the UK government. As they used to say “A lie can run around the world before the truth can get it’s boots on.”

    You have lost the trust of the Scottish electorate. All this vote will prove is you can lie berate abuse and intimidate the population of a smaller country. Independence supporters are now hardened and committed, while those who intend on voting NO are doing so out of fear. So all I expect to see after a failed YES vote in a concerted campaign by the UK government to beat the Scots into submission. We all know where this will finally end. It seems England has never learnt the lessons of her past.

    • Yankswanks

      Your prejudice shows clearly . Take a look at some of the Anti Union news that’s coming out . It shows a Anti English view amongst the Yes campaigners that’s shocking and at times violent . When will you idiots understand that this is not Scotland vs England . This is some of Scotland wanting to leave the U.k . Isnt it lucky the English , Welsh and N.Irish were not given a vote because I fear you would be out faster then 2016 . Keep posting sheeple keep posting .

      • Vote YES in Sept ’14

        I just think your post here entirely proves Tamas post. You refer to “idiots” in response to someone who has posted a reasonable point. At no point does Tamas reference Scots v English. This is a typically pathetic attempt to skew the debate into this old minefield of Scot v England. If anything this is a national debate within the UK between Scotland’s political settlement and the Westminster seat of power. Scotland has had enough of the “settlement” Westminster has bestowed upon us. If this had been a fair settlement over the last 300 years then we would not be in this position. As you no doubt understand Scotland pays more than it receives from Westminster. If you believe any of the parties in Westminster will be able to swing more devolution for Scot’s after a No vote then you need to take a long hard look. Scot’s are benefit junkies that are subsidised by rUK, powers and funding will be cut. The point here is Scotland can afford a welfare state to provide free education, free perscriptions, free bus passes. rUK cannot afford such things. As the FT pointed out on day 1 Scotland will immediately become better off. We have a net fiscal deficit of -5.0% as % of GDP compared to -7.9% to GPD for the UK. We can better afford to fund our public services. The people of Scotland need protected from the austerity junkies (Tory & Labour). No longer can Scotland vote Labour and expect Labour principles to be promoted in London. The system is broken, this is not about hating English. Get a grip.

        • pearlsandoysters

          Good take, at least, it elucidates some tangible benefits apart from purely symbolic stuff. I guess that Scotland has a very distinct international image, so there should be some very serious reasons apart from “flag waving”.

        • ButcombeMan

          Unfortunately your long and detailed post forgets that an independent Scotland will certainly cause capital flight unless the rUK still holds the ultimate purse strings, Even then there might be some. No really big bank can exist in Salmond’s Jockistan for example.

          That, is not an independent Scotland. it is a recipe for years and years of failed promises and Salmond or his successor saying, “I would do so and so, if London would let me” .

          Salmond’s pleas, now, to keep the British pound, shows in my view, that he is terrified of succeeding and having to deliver without Big Daddy, in the shape of rUK forever holding his hand.

          It is not the prospective economic strength of which he has boasted. It is a massive weakness in his position, which he has realised too late.

          Salmond is a good & persuasive orator, but not a first rate brain.

          Bluntly, he talks a good job, but has no intellectual bottom to him.

          • Vote YES in Sept ’14

            I have no idea about capital flight. That would be up to the investors and would, I suspect be based on a project by project basis rather than en-masse which is what you suggest and is typically negative due to your feelings on Scotland’s independence. Anyone that is genuinely interested in the Scottish Governments policy on currency and other Macro economic matters need only to look at the Fiscal Commission Working Group – Macroeconomic Framework: This should take the hype and hyperbole out of the media and Better Together campaign and provide technical analysis of the situation from; Crawford Beveridge (Chair), Dr Kirsty Duncan, Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett, Jim McColl, Professor Sir James Mirrlees, Lady Susan Rice, Professor Louise Richardson, Professor Frances Ruane, Professor Joseph Stiglitz. I would hope these names speak for themselves and justify the Scottish Governments policy on this most important issue.

          • ButcombeMan

            Your first sentence says it all. Neither did Salmond until recently. Being able to borrow, others being prepared to invest in you, your currency having an external exchangeable value. All of these are important. Even, this is very important, your own residents being happy to hold your currency.

            Salmond has finally woken up to the danger which is why he is now showing such enthusiasm for being allowed to use the British pound.He wants to leave home and become independent but still wants his parents to guarantee his debt and his mortgage.

            it is a sign of his weakness.

            Capital flight is not “project by project”, it will be a gradual loss of confidence if Jockistan comes into existence. Salmonds promised financial incontinence will quickly beggar Scotland.

          • Vote YES in Sept ’14

            I think my reply which you seem to have conveniently missed is that capital flight is not something that Salmond directly controls. The extent of his control is by way of Government policy, no more, no less. There will be others willing to take up the challenge in the event the existing capital investors flee as you adamantly assert. The Scottish Govt policy is clearly laid down in the documents I draw your (and everyone’s) attention to. The currency Union was the most efficient system that is in Scotland and the rUK’s interests going forward, as I say it was a panel of internationally leading experts that arrived at this consensus and has therefore shaped SNP policy which in turn becomes Scottish Govt policy. It is worth pointing out one of the authors is a mentor of Govenor Carney and was mentioned in his speech in Edinburgh last week, this is surely a sign of the connection. Carney said he (the BOE) can make the currency union work, based on the negotiated position of Scotland and rUK in the event of a yes vote. Please don’t over think the catastrophe that you assert would befall Scotland. It is my belief that Scotland has a very strong negotiating position in the fact we are the ceding state and therefore can walk away from debt without “technical default”. In the event this happens I have no doubt a “hard peg” currency option would then become the next best option. I am happy with that. The point here being that Scotland is able to leverage its position and secure a far better distribution from the political settlement than we could under any other mechanism.

          • ButcombeMan

            My My.

            Good job you are not advising. Salmond and his people, “we can walk away from debt”.

            You are absolutely unbelievable. Do you believe this guff? Do you believe that Scotland could behave like that without international consequences and loss of confidence?

            Do you even realise that Scotland is curently bathed in low interest rates because it is part of the larger UK?

            You do not realise & this is tragic, that the language you utter is precisely the language to bring about the capital flight that Salmond so fears.

            You are already using the language used in Argentina, Zimbabwe and Iceland.

            An independent Scotland’s only hope, is to behave with absolute financial probity.

            The problem Salmond has, is that he is making undeliverable promises.

            The problem any rUK government has, is that if there is any sign whatsoever, of rUK bailing out Scotland yet again, or accepting long term responsibility for an independent Scotland’s debts, the UK electorate will revolt.

            UKIP will not have it and like it or not, UKIP will be determining the terms of the debate, with or without MPs.

            I doubt any UK government can sell it to the rUK voting electorate, if it includes, for Scots, vastly better and more expensive social systems, that rUK cannot afford.

            Salmond’s brain only recently got to accept the pickle he might be in. The currency question is what is keeping him awake at night.

          • Vote YES in Sept ’14

            You do understand interest rates are artificially low. The merest sign of a whiff of increase in interest rates blows the UK finances sky high. Scotland has resources and exports more than she imports, we will be OK. What does the UK have? Oil fields don’t cause financial meltdowns, the City of London does. What is the flip side of low interest rates? Failing pensions, crucified savers, poor commercial judgement when placing loans. You need to pull your head out from the mire you are stuck in, reality bites!

          • ButcombeMan

            Indeed I do.

            What I question is , do YOU understand that those low interest rates are only possible because of CONFIDENCE.

            Individual households in Scotland (or rUK) will be in trouble with very high interest rates because there is so much, Brown inspired, personal debt.

            Scotland’s problem, which Salmond has belatedly woken up to, is that Scottish interest rates depend on international confidence, which he now realises he cannot provide without being tied to Mummy (rUK).

            The currency issue is at the very heart of Salmond’s incompetence and lack of intellect.

            He is in trouble. Many Scots (like you?) may not understand it yet, but the facts are there.

          • Vote YES in Sept ’14

            I think Salmond understand’s the issues very clearly, he is after all a technocrat economist with “inside” links to the Bank of England. See this piece by George Kerevan: The UK Government will be in big trouble with high interest rates, bank capital structures will suffer as they require more capital to remain compliant, lending will throttle back, the Treasury will have to pay higher rates to achieve borrowing requirements. Think about it, on Independence Scotland worst case will have debt/GDP as 84% the UK will be around 104%, which do you think would be a better bet? In the event the UK and Scotland fail to agree terms over the currecny Scotland leaves with £0.00 debt and will not (despite what you claim) have defaulted, there being no debt in the name of Scotland, how can you default on debt you don’t have. All the oil, or 94% of it is ours, we have 25% of the EU renewable energy resource, we export more than we import. OK rUK is our biggest export market but unless rUK implement illegal trade tariffs on our goods and services where are the rUK going to get their imports from? Did I mention energy, the rUK has a margin of around 4% between peak demand and peak supply, Scotland exports 25% of our energy south of the border, we don’t have an energy supply problem. Scotland wants a currency union with the £ because we like your low interest rates, so what? How is rUK going to say no to this as being the best way forward, for everyone? Incidentally, the Bank of England owns around 33% of the UK Treasury debt, 8% of that goes to Scotland, by my calculations Scotland owns £24 billion in UK debt. Looking at oil, 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) remaining, that is a load of natural resource in anyone’s book, especially the Americans. So when you say confidence is important, you are right but who will external lenders be most confident about in this scenario? You talk about Argentina, they were until around 1930 very wealthy, who is to say this decline could not happen in the UK? Remember early 1970’s? IMF bailouts, then what happened? Oil, Thatcher and the position we are in now. This time it will be different.

            If the UK fails to deliver on Scotland’s share of the UK national assets: (page 10, £1.268 billion against liabilities of £2.6 billion in liabilities) then Scotland will begin (again) with external debt of £0.00. Sounds good to me. Incidentally, Scotland did not require any external debt over the last 30 years and have received a pittance of the oil revenue claimed by Westminster (as is the case with Norway, that being 0% external debt to GDP) so we can perfectly justify this as an outcome should negotiations break down, we are of course, willing and able to take our share of the burden of debt, as long as the other side (assets) is right for us.

          • Jambo25

            You do realise that Iceland has higher living standards than the UK and such low unemployment that its having to import labour.

          • ButcombeMan

            Oh very funny. I laughed till my sides split. You are a real comedian. Truly that is so embarrassingly stupid a remark, I worry about you. Stay off the Buckie is what I advise.

            Is that an omen for how Jockistan is going to be trustworthy?

            You do know the Icelanders owe money do you and are are apparently refusing to pay.

            You do know how they got into the impecunious state they did do you? Just like Salmond they thought they could play in the big league, buying up the UK High Street without having the economy or brains to manage it, That is why you and I are bailing them out:


          • Jambo25

            And yet they still have a living standard higher than ours and an economy which seems to be recovering quicker.

          • ButcombeMan

            If, as a state, you are dishonest, you steal from others to keep yourself afloat, as arguably the Icelanders have done and are content with, of course you can complete an illusion.

            It is, just an illusion. Argentina has done it for years.

            It is a recipe for an irresponsible but short term, nirvana. ,

            it is sadly, where Salmond’s economic incompetence and illiteracy, is taking you.


            For now.

          • Jambo25

            Iceland is not Argentina. No military dictatorships or Peronistas. Iceland still has higher living standards and a faster recovering economy than the UK. Moreover it appears to be on track to join the EU (If it so wishes.).
            If I was you I’d see to cleaning up the financial sewer in London. A city which acts as a sump to take hot money from Russian oligarchs, Greek tax dodgers, South American narco-traficantes ec.

          • Jambo25

            “Jockistan”? Classy.

          • ButcombeMan

            I admit another here invented it. I wish I had.

            It perfectly reflects the sort of socialist society that you are headed for.

            I was always told , Never work in a country with “stan” on the end.

          • Jambo25

            You say more about yourself with that last comment than I ever could.

      • CameronB


      • Jambo25

        Produce examples of anti-English views from the Yes campaign. Any will do.

    • ann mcclure

      Excellent response which the nay sayers refuse to recognise.

      There has been a report by the UWS which pointed out bias against independence by the BBC which the academic who produced it thought would be helpful but was astounded when he received an email from the BBC trying to discredit his work without even examining it properly.

      People who have tried to raise concerns with the BBC find that it takes a year to get a conclusion after going through the tortuous complaints procedure.
      That BBC Scotland is the only BBC region in the world where comments on political articles are banned.

      I and many others now no longer trust the BBC news – something which shocked me at the time as I had always assumed them to be professional and trustworthy – no longer.

      Once trust is lost it will never return.

    • JamesdelaMare

      Your very popular comment (presumably popular with Scots, more than with the rest of the UK) is nonsense in the historical context of the union. The last three British prime ministers have all been Scots or of Scots ancestry. We’ve had Scots contributing energy and expertise to the UK for generations without stirring up trouble over the existence of the Union. It is nowhere comparable in any way to the Soviet Union formed by communist domination and you are seriously in error in trying to compare the two.

      If there is to be a referendum on how much independence a Scottish assembly may have in future, then it must be a referendum of the whole United Kingdom, because all of us with English and Scottish ancestry should have the future of the UK at heart, and should be voting on whether to end the union, or not. It is not only the Scottish electorate which has lost the trust in the Westminster government in recent times. It is also the English electorate (and also probably the small Welsh electorate) that has lost trust in it.

      However the English electorate is far, far larger than the Scottish electorate and is therefore of far greater importance. There is no reason why you should be trying to lecture us on what lessons England may or may not have learnt in the past. It is impertinent to do so based on what you think of the Soviet Union.

      • terregles2

        Are you suggesting that the 5 million population of Scotland should have their issue of independence voted on by the ten times higher population of the rest of the UK.
        You think that it would be fair and honest if Scotland votes YES and people in the rest of the UK vote no or vice versa. On that logic then when the UK votes in the EU referendum then the other EU countries should also be asked to vote.

        • JamesdelaMare

          Yes, of course the English should vote if the UK is to be broken up. It’s not a matter for the Scots alone. It affects us all as we are one political and national union formed centuries ago – albeit across two countries and a principality (& NI). Quite different to the EU which, like the United Nations or NATO, is something a nation merely belongs to.

          • terregles2

            You are suggesting that the majority in the UK should decide how the small minority of the Uk who are the Scots should be governed. The remainder of the UK would in effect have democratic control over the country of Scotland. No wonder the YES vote is steadily rising.

          • domhnall dods

            I’m sorry but @terrgles2 is quite right, if the other nations in the Union were allowed to vote on whether Scotland should be allowed to leave then it is entirely consistent with other EU nations being allowed to vote on whether the UK should be allowed to leave the EU.

            The UK is not a nation, it is a union to which four nations currently belong.

            Presumably this is why the 2 governments put this particular red herring to bed when they signed the Edinburgh agreement.

          • JamesdelaMare

            Of course the UK is a nation. It is internationally recognised as such and has been for very many generations. We are all citizens of the UK and the UK as a nation joins bodies like NATO, the EU and the UN. We hold passports and driving licences as UK citizens, and are taxed as UK citizens. We are defended by a UK military which includes units from all parts of the UK in a single whole.

            It is nonsense to try to turn this into an argument for Scottish “independence”. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, those who do are misleading the public for their own ends. The truth is that they seek the break up of the UK – a much bigger and more serious issue – and one which concerns us all, in England and Wales too.

          • domhnall dods

            well my constitutional law lectures were a few years ago but they taught me differently. The UK is a state which is comprised of four nations.

            I was seeking to address the distinction you sought to draw between membership of the UK and membership of the EU.

            Both are the result of international treaties. A treaty requires the agreement of two or more parties. If one of the parties to a treaty no longer agrees with it then it’s up to them and not all the other signatories.

            If as you maintain, the other nations ought to have a say on whether Scotland is allowed to leave and govern itself then by the same token in a vote on whether the UK wished to leave the EU so all other EU citizens would be entitled to have a vote. ie the UK would not be allowed to leave that union without the consent of all the other parties to the union.

            To argue otherwise is the classic having cake and eating it stance.

          • JamesdelaMare

            Well, DD, we are legally citizens of the UK. That is the nation. We may be citizens of England, Wales, Sussex, Northampton, East Anglia, Scotland, or whatever, but they are only portions of the UK. I’m sure your experience as a student of constitutional law didn’t teach you that we’re not UK citizens or that the UK isn’t the nation of which we are citizens. It isn’t enough to be citizens only of a country, province or county – it must be of a nation, and an internationally recognised nation.

            Of course it’s quite a different matter whether the nation itself is a member of an international body. We are not citizens of that body and don’t have any voting rights as individuals within that body. The analogy is absurd.

          • Jambo25

            Same question. Will you send in the tanks?

          • terregles2

            Why do you mention Sussex, Northampton, and East Anglia.
            What on earth to small areas of England have to do with Nations such as Scotland and Wales.

          • terregles2

            You have not answered the most important question that you were asked. If all of the UK had a vote and Scotland voted YES and the remainder of the UK voted no. What would you do.?
            If Scotland voted NO and and the remainder of the UK voted YES. What would you do.?

          • JamesdelaMare

            Apologies for not responding sooner, I’ve not been able to access this article in the last couple of days. If the United Kingdom as a whole voted against the breakup, then I’d expect the Scots as an honest responsible people to respect that and put the matter behind them.

          • terregles2

            So you are saying that the Scottish nation has no right to decide how they wish to be governed and have to wait on the decision of the English.
            I am gald that we got that one sorted out.

          • JamesdelaMare

            The Scots elect the MPs they want to elect. That is not a green light to the breakup of the UK as a nation. The Welsh and Northern Irish, as well as the English, have an interest in the future of the UK, not merely a vociferous half of the Scots who think they want “independence” under Salmond.

          • terregles2

            Scotland is a country. We entered a union with England in 1707. We can end that union any time that we choose. It’s a bit like a marriage a man or woman can leave their partner any time they like. The do not wait for their partner to agree. Scotland is voting on the union this September If the majority of Scots vote YES then we leave whether anyone else is happy with that is not really an issue. You may be irritated that England does not get to decide on whether or not Scotland is independent but we live in a democracy and that will never happen.

          • JamesdelaMare

            As we live in a democracy, we should all be voting on its future, not merely a self-selecting minority.

          • Jambo25

            And if the Scottish vote is different from that of England; what then? Will you send the tanks in?

      • Vote YES in Sept ’14

        I think in essence your attitude seems to be: you can only leave if we say it is OK. I think you will find many consider that most disagreeable. There is something else but I can’t think straight right now due to relentless door to door campaigning I and many others are out in the street of Scotland today and every day between now and the vote to secure a Yes outcome, the words to answer your claim that rUK should have a vote are variously; horse, bolted, barn door, closed, too little, too late. Better (luck next time) Together.

        • JamesdelaMare

          Thanks, but the position is that we have a United Kingdom comprising of England, Wales and Scotland. It has existed for several centuries. There are about 60 million people living here. The population of Scotland is about one-tenth of the population of the UK as a whole. If just over half of that one-tenth vote in a referendum to break up the United Kingdom, then it maybe amounts to representing 6% only of the UK population – but the effects are fundamental and widespread, and probably extremely damaging. We are all affected. Therefore the referendum should (by any reasonable standard any civilised democratic society would apply) be held in the whole United Kingdom.

          If there was then a clear majority to break up the United Kingdom, then it might be respected, but a break up based on a vote of perhaps six or seven (or even eight or nine) percent of the UK’s population is a grotesque travesty of all democratic principles we’ve tried to hold true to here and in many other nations around the world. It would be a demonstrable example of the worst possible abuse of democracy.

          • Vote YES in Sept ’14

            I could say my heart bleeds for you and your 94% of the population that you claim is disenfranchised. Last time I checked voting is not compulsory. You could also turn your point on its head by saying Scotland votes as a less than 10% population share of a country that has the remaining 90%. Scotland has 1 (one) Tory MP yet we have bedroom tax and austerity which is unnecessary in my country given the natural resources we can rightfully claim as our own (Internationa Law of the Sea). On day 1 (one) Scotland will be immediately better off than the UK (Financial Times) we have the lowest life expectancy in Europe and we have among the highest levels of poverty in the UK. At what point should Scotland declare “enough is enough”? Point me to one single piece of legislation due to appear in the House of Commons that has the slightest chance of changing this for the better in Scotland. Don’t mention the Scotland Act, waste of time. Federalism, you must be joking. 18th Sept we have the single best chance of forcing, forcing the power in Westminster to be removed from around our collective necks. I wish the remaining 92% of the UK population all the best in escaping London’s gravity well.

          • JamesdelaMare

            Let’s at least be accurate and logical. If 90% of the population of the UK lives in England and will have no vote in September, then it is 90% who will be disenfranchised. If just over half, or maybe a little more, of the Scottish population vote “for independence”, then it is a tiny minority of the UK population voting to break up the UK. That is unarguable by any reckoning. It is also utterly, completely contrary to any perception of democracy.

            Would, then, Scotland (if it were “independent of the UK”) allow five, six or seven percent of its citizens to take it back into the UK – on the same principle as the September referendum? Of course it wouldn’t!!

            This is not about “independence” for Scotland. This is about the breakup up of the United Kingdom. Mr Salmond and the rest who speak of independence are misleading the public and the media about the reality of what is to be voted upon. The reality is that an electorate of the whole UK is entitled to vote on it by any reasonable
            democratic principle. If it doesn’t have a vote, then it’s entitled to ignore the referendum of a small minority, and the so-called “independence” may be considered dead in the water.

          • Vote YES in Sept ’14

            Clearly 90% of the population doesn’t reside solely in England. It is entirely a democratic process as the Prime Minister signed a legally binding agreement (the Edinburgh Agreement) that stated both Parliaments (Holyrood & Westminster) would abide by the outcome of the referendum. I don’t see how you’re assertions of this being an un-democratic process can be true. What this is about is Scotland (having elected a Government with a mandate to hold a referendum on Independence and seek an agreement with the Parliament in London to do so) being able to negotiate a settlement to return democratic powers over all aspects of nationhood; tax rates, defence, foreign policy, domestic affairs, security, welfare, health, education, tax collection…It is just that objective that both sides (United Kingdom & Scottish Government) are legally obliged to now adhere to the resulting outcome on the 19th Sept. What you seem to be suggesting is that the rUK will now simply tear up the Edinburgh Agreement in the face of a democratic referendum which supported a Yes outcome. To be honest, such actions (despite what you say about democracy) to act in a completely un-democratic manner by Westminster would not surprise me in the slightest. Imagine the UK held an in/out referendum on the EU, the EU having signed up to abide by the agreement and then the UK having lost the referendum to stay in the EU was simply torn up by those in power in London and the country removed from the EU despite the desire of the people to remain within, is that what you support?

          • Jambo25

            S you will send in the tanks?

    • funkinwolf

      This nonsense needs to end, for the sake of the UK. Stop trying to turn this into some kind of civil war, because the majority of us Brits are not buying it. The UK’s history is littered with people from Scotland, heck our last three Prime Ministers were born in Scotland or have recent ancestors from there. I’m from London, England and I object to your generalisation of 50 million people. It’s baseless and demonstrates the level of immaturity that exists in this debate.

      Comparing the UK to the USSR doesn’t even deserve a response. I cannot for the life of me understand how any one person, with basic grasp of history and politics would even compare the two. But alas you can have your fantasy. Tell me where is the mass murder, where is oppression, where is the refusal to devolve power, where is the hate towards those in Scotland?

      The UK is one of the most liberal, tolerant, democratic and peaceful places on this damn planet. We outrank Africa, South America and Asia in all indices published by international organisations such as the UN. Such as human development, human rights and freedom.

      Yes it’s far from perfect, yes it can and should be improved. But comparing my country to USSR is ridiculous.

  • P_Cochrane

    “The six-hour session presented a magnificent sweep of the principled and practical case for the Union” from an unelected cabal of privileged stipend gatherers intent on maintaining the social division inherent in the Westminster system.

    ps Matthew, calling it a debate when only one side is represented is mendacious. It was a Unionist advertorial.

    • JamesdelaMare

      PCochrane – “Unelected”? What, then, are supposedly the advantages to the country of ‘electing’ politicians to government when we have a tidal wave of reporting on their incompetence, self-interest and publicity-seeking day after day, year after year? And they’ve become one of the most corrupted and despised sectors in our society?

      Hasn’t it yet occurred to you that appointed or hereditary legislators are very much less prone to those defects, are generally more impartial, mature and objective?

      Or is it that you only made the comment in order to slag off those who see merit in continuing the very well arranged and productive union of Scotland with the rest of the United Kingdom? A union which those of us with both English and Scottish ancestry do not want to see blown to pieces by Salmond’s ambitions and by chip-on-the-shoulder Scottish nationalists incited by him under false pretences?

      • gunterprien

        Very Weak.

        • JamesdelaMare

          Nevertheless, logical and correct. He deliberately suggested that because the participants were unelected, then somehow the debate was degraded. In fact it’s been true for many years that debates in the Lords tend to be of a higher standard than in the Commons where the participants have been elected. Perhaps if you are a German you don’t understand that.

          • P_Cochrane

            I did not suggest it, I stated it boldly.

          • Eric McLean

            Please supply references to these ‘facts’ you spout….

            The HOL are mainly a bunch of old windbags out of touch with the young, the working class and the zeitgeist.

            How are the cuckoos and clouds in your country today?

          • JamesdelaMare

            The “references” would be Hansard’s verbatim records of the debates there – or if you ever bothered to attend the sittings or the committees, or ever bothered to understand the place, then you’d know better than to criticise its members in generality as you have. There’ve always been young people in the Lords, although perhaps less since they removed most of the hereditary members. And put in “working class” peers. “Out of touch with the young”? What’s that supposed to mean? It’s more like the young are too often out of touch with reality and responsibility.

          • Eric McLean

            “…you’d know better than to criticise its members…”

            Perhaps you should take your blinkers off. The HOL is past its sell-by date.

            Westminster is an archaic, elitist, self-serving, hegemonic and thoroughly corrupt institution. The HOL is undemocratic. They both resist any form of change that might bring them in line with decent democracies in the world today.

            It is hardly surprising that so many people are scunnered with and disenfranchised from politics in the UK.

      • Fraser Lewars

        I’d speak for yourself on shared ancestry. I have both English and Scottish blood and would agree 100% with PCochrane. Divorce from the abusive UK government is overdue.

        • JamesdelaMare

          Well, think about the “abusive UK government” and what the majority English think of it. It’s a problem over the state of UK democratic government and the politicians it produces (including those in Scotland and Wales), not over Scotland being part of the UK.

          • terregles2

            The difference is that Scotland has the opportunity to get rid of the discredited Westminster system and the unelected anachronistic House of Lords.

          • JamesdelaMare

            We all have the opportunity to get rid of the Westminster government – every five years. Ironically it’s been discredited by the two previous Scottish Prime Ministers Blair and Brown more then by anybody else in history. Cameron is hardly able to do more than control the rot – and inevitably he’s hardly been successful at that. God knows what the Scots will discover if they let their own politicians like Salmond loose on the country, unhindered by Westminster! Rather like giving Northern Ireland to Gerry Adams.

            And what surprising faith you seem to have in an “elected” Upper House where already the most significant talent is on the cross benches.

          • terregles2

            How dare you make any comparison between Gerry Adams and Alex Salmond.l. You should be ashamed of that offenseive remark. You advocate the discredited Westminster government should govern all of the UK and all the people living in the UK just as long as none of the smaller nations are allowed any power. What you are saying is that Westminster is best for everyone in the UK as long as it is only English people who have the top jobs such as Prime Minister. No wonder there is a growing wish for Scottish independence.
            Blair was born and educated in Scotland but his father was the son of the Parson family in Yorkshire and his mother was Irish. His English father was adopted by a Scottish family but Blair considers himself English not Scottish. Whatever he is that is irrelevant. We are told that we are all one big happy unit being governed from Westminster Nothing could be further from the truth. Many people think Westminster is no longer fit for purpose.

          • gunterprien

            The Sick Counties won’t be “given” to Gerry Adams…They will return to a 32 County Ireland…Not to ANY Individual.
            Your arguments are like I already said…Very Weak.

          • JamesdelaMare

            This was a debate in the House of Lords, as reported. The criticism was of the unelected character of the House of Lords, and I commented on that. If you do not understand the qualities of the unelected House of Lords (if perhaps you are from Germany, or merely pretending to be somebody from Germany who was a national socialist hero because his submarine sank some ships soon before he himself was fortunately killed) then it ought not to be difficult for you to see that what I said about debate quality is widely held to be true – not weak.

            I’m glad to assure you, moreover, that the good reputations of my own families in Ireland, Scotland and Germany have given me no reason to assume a spurious identity to place inflammatory anonymous comments on these newspaper articles.

          • Jambo25

            Do you mean the Westminster which, according to reports in today’s Herald, is asking the Spanish mass media to print or broadcast nice things about the UK and bad things about Scottish independence? Do you mean the Westminster which, according to reports in the Scottish and Russian media, was asking Putin to say nice things about the UK and bad things about Scottish independence? Do you mean the Westminster, which through the FO, is busy asking all foreign governments and sundry to do the same thing?
            You know, I flaming well resent this and would far rather trust Salmond and others than Westminster pols who attempt to get foreigners to interfere in the internal affairs of my country.

          • JamesdelaMare

            Perhaps what you have decided is getting foreigners to interfere in the internal affairs of Scotland is merely that the Foreign Office has
            reassured the foreigners that the matter is being debated, is in hand and is not about to destabilise international business? Perhaps the Herald has for ideological reasons put a slant on its reports? But that is politics – known to Salmond as well as to Cameron.

            Perhaps too you are far over-reacting to the inevitable doubts about the prospect of the breakup of the UK which many of us have, and indeed probably many who are far wiser than you also have. Violent emotive extremist talk about sending tanks in merely confirms a widespread view in England that Scots are pretty much incapable of managing their own affairs in Scotland anyway and that’s why so many of the best Scots left long ago and have benefited the UK, Canada, the USA, India and so on.

            It’s a view that many of us with residual Scottish connections are reluctant to share, but would find it hard to disagree with on the basis of extreme narrow nationalist comments of the kind we’ve seen for years in Northern Ireland.

          • Jambo25

            No. The British Embassy in Madrid was sending letters and other communications to Spanish media outlets to get them to print or broadcast things prejudicial to Scottish independence. Check the Herald’s story. My talk of sending in the tanks was actually aimed at you and others like you who seem to think that the matter of Scottish independence should be put to referendums in not just Scotland but rUK. and asks the question; what happens if the Scottish decision clashes with that of rUK. What would rUK then do? You raised the question. You answer it.
            Back to the good old FO and our wonderful diplomats. Why was Putin asked to say nice things about the UK and nasty things about Scottish independence? Why do diplomatic observers such as Carne Ross and others report that British embassies are being asked to canvas, more generally, for foreign governments to intervene against Scottish independence? These aren’t simply explicatory communications being sent out by our embassies but requests for action.

          • JamesdelaMare

            If you want to know why the Foreign Office did this, that or the other, then you should ask the Foreign Office, not me as I’m not in the Foreign Office and have had no part in what it decides to do. However Mr Putin probably understands the difficulties over minorities trying to break up a nation for their own ends and disregarding the wishes of others in a majority. As we are all UK citizens then we should all have a say in its future – not merely a small number of nationalist Scots – as I and others have quite reasonably said before.

            If you are concerned about how the English have dealt with the flood problems, it should reassure you to read that despite the sensational reporting and the very widespread effects of the floods only a fairly small number of homes out of the total have actually had to be evacuated. I have seen some of the floods, they are not very deep and are mostly on the usual agricultural land. I don’t think it’s worth your trying to use this to slag off the English in a discussion on the future of the UK.

          • Jambo25

            I am complaining about a British government which is inviting foreign powers to intervene in internal British/Scottish affairs. You still haven’t answered. Do you approve of this? I wasn’t slagging off the English as my last sentence makes abundantly clear. Read and engage brain before replying.

          • JamesdelaMare

            I cannot have any interest in your complaining about the Foreign Office as I am nothing to do with the Foreign Office. I have already made that clear. Why you should suppose we must keep on telling you what you must know already, I don’t know either, except to surmise that in the absence of clear understanding by you of any reasonable comment, you are simply trying to be provocative.

            If that is the abysmal level of thinking among Scots who want the breakup of the UK and who support the politician Salmond, then it looks like Scotland will be doomed in the same way that the UK is doomed if it accepts the way of thinking of average Daily Mail readers.

          • Jambo25

            So you have no opinion on the UK government asking foreign governments and media to interfere in the UK’s internal affairs?

          • JamesdelaMare

            If the Herald reported it and you believed it, then it doesn’t mean it happened. If a minority of Scots nationalists are presumptuous enough to try to break up the UK without bothering about what the rest of us think or want, then that’s more wantonly reprehensible than a foreigner having an opinion in the matter because a foreigner has no vote here anyway.

          • Jambo25

            Of course, the Herald must be lying. So must the Russian press and government. So must sections of the Spanish media and other sources in the UK. You, of course, will, similarly, have no objection if or when the FO and foreign governments start to intervene in say the promised EU referendum.

          • Eric McLean

            A growing number of people in England are becoming annoyed at Westminster and London power hoarders. Westminster looks after London and the SE to the detriment of other regions in the UK.

            The thing is, no one in the SE can see that. Regardless of which of the two main parties are in power… Labour or Tory, it makes no difference… It is not the residents of Scotland that are breaking Britain. Westminster is totally responsible for Broken Britain.

            And mark my words, it is all going to come back to haunt them. Parliament has created a UK of inequality, poverty, greed, debt and terminal decline, with the exception of London. There will be social unrest the scale of which this country have never seen.

            The UK has neglected its young people.

          • TheBoilingFrog

            I live in the SE and trust me we’re ignore by London as well.

          • Eric McLean

            I dare say some of you are. But not nearly as much as outlying regions. The further you are from London, the more impoverished the communities.

      • terregles2

        There are more than four different Scottish political parties campaigning for a YES vote. Many Scots will be voting YES who have never and will never vote SNP. After independence Scotland has a general election which the SNP may or may not win.
        Many English people living in Scotland are voting YES it has nothing to do with being Scottish or English. It is a choice between which government will be best at governing Scotland Holyrood or Westminster.

        • JamesdelaMare

          Yet it doesn’t seem to have occurred to many of the Scots that the smaller the government unit and the voting base, the worse the corruption, incompetence, back-biting, venom and high-handedness become. See places like Liverpool Council years back. Their politicians, like Salmond, were fish in a small pool, and had minds commensurate with that. One doesn’t have to break up the UK to improve the government of Scotland. Rather like Thatcher – destroy is easier than reform! And never mind the consequences ……!

          • terregles2

            Why are you comparing a city council with the Government of Holyrood. There has been much less corruption in Holyrood than there has been in Westminster and the ridiculous House of Lords.. The difference will be after independence if Holyrood misbehave we can vote them out. Under the present system we do not have enough MPs to vote out the useless Cameron and Clegg.
            The question that Scots will answer in September is who do you trust most to make good decisons for governing Scotland.Cameron or our own democratically elected parliament in Holyrood. Westminster government despises Scotland they have proved that so often throughout the decades.

      • P_Cochrane

        The principal advantage is that elected politicians have a measure of legitimacy. They can be voted out or removed from office.

        “Hasn’t it yet occurred to you that appointed or hereditary legislators are very much less prone to those defects, are generally more impartial, mature and objective?”

        Sir, this comment is so far from reality that I assume you are either being humorous or I currently am have some form of delusional reading experience.

        Finally, “very well arranged and productive union” for a few. The UK is a pirate isle where a few own most of the land, control most of the resources and have had 300 years to move towards equality of opportunity and reward. It is a failed State in a state and my support for independence is based entirely in the failure of Westminster to address the needs of the poor. Do you seriously think that ATOS is fair when it repeatedly decrees fit for work those with terminal and incapacitating illness? Do you really believe the bedroom tax is a way to tackle bankers’ folly? Are you so enraptured by the propaganda that Iraq was a just war and not a $32bn boost to Haliburton’s share price?

  • Tom Hogg

    If there was to be a No vote, regardless of its margin of victory, there would in due course be a Yes vote. The genie of self determination is out of the bottle – independence is no longer the preserve of solely the SNP and is being promoted by numerous groups and new media. Wealthy Nation, Business for Scotland, The Common Weal, Radical Independence Campaign, Scottish Greens, SSP, National Collective, Bella Caledonia, Wings over Scotland and the Yes campaign itself in all its local groups are not going to melt away, content with some federalist fudge. Where are the pro-UK equivalents?

    It’s over. September or sometime later, perhaps, but the die is cast.

    • sfin

      You are correct, in my view, but you forgot to mention the overarching manipulator – the European Union.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Yes. I think you are correct. If the vote is ‘No’ it will be like the Irish referendum and be re-played until the correct answer is given.

      But there is little doubt that a significant element of the independence movement is a socialist Scotland wishing to secede from a Tory UK government.

      • TruthBeatsLies

        Absolutely right…!

      • domhnall dods

        I think this rather simplistically overlooks the natural right of centre constituency in Scotland, after all until around 50 years ago Scotland largely voted for the right of centre Unionist Party. If there is a yes vote it will free up the right of centre from the toxic association with the conservative party which is as unpopular as it could possibly be.

        Murdo Fraser was on the right track when he proposed breaking from the UK conservative party and re launching with a new brand. Only recently we have seen the launch of Wealthy Nation, a new right of centre grouping which could form the basis of a new right of centre party. Crucially, it is a pro independence grouping.

        Personally I thin independence would cause the SNP to fracture, funnily enough into right left and centre groupings. The SNP is not a univerally socialist party, far from it. In a meeting with one senior SNP politician he described the Lib Dems to me as being a bunch of “trotskyites”. Doesn’t sound terribly left wing does it?

        • Jambo25

          Spot on. There is a very large right of centre constituency in Scotland which is not represented due to the utter hopelessness of the Tories.

  • anyfool

    When the no vote is led by unprincipled liars from the current political parties, when you and your fellow commentators from television and the rest of the media, collude with them to espouse a case for union by fear alone, the consensus after the poll, if it is no will not hold.

  • Andrew Leslie

    Matthew: It’s good that you have woken up – but where have you been? An astute journalistic nose like yours should have scented what is coming some time ago. I’ll pose a simple question: You found Lang ‘sometimes moving’. But I ask you whether a speech which claimed that a vote for independence dishonoured Scottish war dead was exactly helpful? Lang had his virtues as Scottish Secretary, but do you really think he is a suitable guide to what is going on in Scotland today? I would look a little further, were I you.

    To pick you up on devolved tax powers. The simple question to you is why Scotlish voters should bother their heads with 10% or 3% or whatever further devolution offers, when by voting Yes, they can have complete control.

    There’s no point in looking beyond a No vote. We are going to vote Yes.

  • Paul Lamarra

    Apologies if anyone has pointed this out already but the referendum is taking place in September not November as Matthew states – does anyone down there know what’s going on?

  • John

    “A pleasant, steady and notably capable man” ! I will probably vote for status quo but Lang was hated and reviled by Scots. He implemented policies that we were bitterly opposed to and he is one of reasons why Tories are a minor party in Scotland. He was also against devolution.

    If very good commentators like yourself cannot reflect basic Scottish political history/opinion then God help us. It is articles like that this that can push people like myself who are on the cusp of voting Yes to change our decisions. Have you any idea what is going on in Scotland ?

    A lazy, poorly informed article.

  • CameronB

    So we can expect the rest of Europe to vote in the promised UK in-out referendum ‘brave Dave’ is backing?

    More fiscal responsibilities yet no monetary authority? A more ‘federal’, ‘looser’ UK? House of Lords?

  • TruthBeatsLies

    Scotland is still in effective geographic control of the North Sea Oil (& Gas) fields – so Scots should vote “Yes” in September and immediately invite the Falkland Islanders to vote for long-distance unity with an independent Scotland and pool their energy resources…! Then together they can grow into one of those delightfully small but very, very rich non-aligned nations that are the envy of all those stuck in massively overpopulated rat-races – like England, in the current UK…?

    • CameronB

      Sssh. That’s stage two.

  • No Nonsense

    A referendum for Scotland to split from the UK and ONLY Scots who live there are allowed to vote…As a patriotic Scot who lives in London I find it disgusting that the SNP would find it acceptable to exclude quite a wide population of people especially as even American Nationals who live & work outside of the US are allowed to vote in Presidential elections. I genuinely feel Scotland will still be apart of the UK come September & I genuinely believe we should have pushed for further devolved powers which would have been more beneficial to Scots.

    • CameronB

      As I said earlier, No Nonsence.

      So we can expect the rest of Europe to vote in the promised UK in-out referendum that ‘brave Dave’ is backing?

    • P_Cochrane

      Incorrect NoNon…residents of any nationality or creed can vote for the future of Scotland. You may disagree with this fact and it may be harsh but it is the only sensible way to go forward – allow those directly affected to vote.

      • No Nonsense

        I think you may have misinterpreted what I mean, For me as a Glaswegian Born & Bred Scot who lives and works out of London I am not entitled to vote on this referendum and that’s my issue with the vote as a whole, Its the same with many Scots and there is a large portion who live in the England the rest of the UK. I share the same views on the in/out EU referendum for UK Pullout of EU for me if Your a British passport holder you should be entitled and the way its done right now leaves alot to be desired, Its like I said I reckon the SNP will fail massively due to there clear lack of answers to key questions and those that dare to ask get called Elitist, Its not what I want for Scotland and I am sure its not what most of my friends & family want.

        • P_Cochrane

          No – I understand and I do think you have a case, unfortunately the pragmatism of using the current electoral roll has been decided upon.

          • No Nonsense

            Which is exactly my issue, The pragmatism of it is wrong and the fact the SNP go into this campaign half baked by excluding quite a large portion of Scots from the vote, I get what your point is and I understand it clearly but I just feel that this should have been & could have been done better.

          • domhnall dods

            The problem with that is where do you draw the line? How about my family in Canada and New Zealand? They feel themselves to be Scottish, but they never have any intention of moving back here, they are settled where they are, So do you have a test based on intent to move back at some stage? How do you determine that? I sympathise with your situation but there is a need for clarity and that’s what using the parliamentary electoral roll provides.

            As has been said, if you feel you really are directly affected by this then move back (if the Latvian can do it….).

          • No Nonsense

            Its like I said before which seem’s to be overlooked repeatedly if my passport says place of Birth Glasgow I should be entitled to cast a vote, Just like Americans who live in London can still vote in presidential elections outside of the states at the US Embassy why can’t those who still live in the UK do the same via postal vote or online?

            Its easy for you to say ohhh move back but that’s a copout and you know if it was so damn simple everyone would do it, The reality is I love my country and as a Scot born raised in Glasgow who’s passport states place of birth as Glasgow I should be entitled to the vote.

        • Randy McDonald

          Why is what you want relevant to a country you don’t live in? Should I, five generations removed from Scotland, likewise have a vote then?

          • No Nonsense

            I’m a Scottish national born and raised if I am not entitled to vote why should say a Latvian with no historical connection to the country but lived there the last 2yrs get the chance to vote? Its like I said in another post even in American Presidential elections those that live abroad can still vote, This should have been no different & Yes if you love your country and have family living there then yes as a born and raised Scot you should have a vote whether you choose to use it is purely down to you…Its called choice

          • Randy McDonald

            If the Latvian in question is actually living in Scotland and otherwise qualifies, why not?

            I can understand that you’re in an awkward position, with your country of birth going to vote on its future position within the United Kingdom. If you’re very concerned, though, the answer isn’t to arbitrarily determine who can and can not be part of the electorate while lacking essential connections (like residency) with Scotland. Why not move back?

          • No Nonsense

            I left Scotland last year due to the lack of opportunities in my line of work and ultimately found a v.well paid job in London, Its like I said I don’t necessarily have an issue with said Latvian maybe voting cos they live there BUT I just feel if after living in Glasgow for 28yrs and being born there that I cannot vote in what is Scotland’s biggest decision in several centuries I just find that its simply not right at the end of the day its my unhappiness nobody else’s I just feel its wrong.

          • Randy McDonald

            It’s an awkward position, but what can I say? Whatever’s necessary to avoid pacing the electoral rolls either way, with supporters or opponents, is essential. Best to consult only the people who are actually registered as being voters in the territory, in order to maximize legitimacy.

          • Jambo25

            Its not awkward in any sense. You left for more money but you want to go on having a say in the future of those who chose to stay and commit their future to Scotland. How shall I put this-tough!

          • No Nonsense

            Speaks the ramblings of a fool, When a company the size of mine actually HQ’s themselves out Scotland then maybe I would have stayed, It doesn’t make me less of a Scot, You small minded petulant little man.

            Bottomline is I went where the work was and I wont allow my ambitions be held back for the benefit of a small minded person demanding I stay just so it allows you to say TOUGH!

          • Jambo25

            So the usual Unionist response. Self pity and resort to personal abuse. You chose to move for more money. Fine but don’t then whine that you don’t get a vote in a jurisdiction you have chosen to leave.

          • Jambo25

            Because the voting rights are based on residency: not blood and soil.

        • Jambo25

          Move back to Scotland and you get a vote. Simple.

    • Randy McDonald

      Why is it wrong that only people actually living in a particular territory should have a right to decide how that territory will govern itself?

      Going to Canada, I suspect that every respectable politician would have agreed that the referenda on Quebec independence should have been voted on only by people who were actually living in Quebec at the time of the referendum. Not people born in Quebec but spread all over the planet, not only French Canadians (within Quebec only or across Canada), but all people, regardless of ethnicity, who actually lived within the province that was considering becoming an independent nation-state.

      Quite honestly, if you’re so concerned about the fate of Scotland as a polity, why aren’t you actually living in the country?

    • KingCuilean

      500,000 English live in Scotland and they all have an equal right to vote along with their Scots neighbours. Many are voting YES, Its not an anti English vote, it is a pro scottish vote and I think these whole isles will be better with a free Scotland. just think no more Scots MPs at Westminster

  • Sal20111

    There is a greater and much more important debate to be had, that is latent in the article’s theme and common among the devo-max urges as well as the UKIP anti-EU brigade. The current democratic system needs to be improved. And I’m not referring to the failed proportional representation ideas of the Lib Dems, which is just another way of redistributing the vote among candidates, but how the citizens get to exercise democratic controls over their representatives. Under the current system, the citizens don’t have much control – either in terms of choice or timeliness – over the most important executive and legislative decisions which affect their lives. The more important the matter, the less the citizen can seem do anything about it. For example if the Bank of England decides to systematically and relentlessly raid savers to fill the coffers of profligate bankers, we are largely helpless about it. If our most private and intimate communications are going to be placed under surveillance, collected, and used for whatever purpose in the future, we can’t do much but resign ourselves to this fate.

    This increasing concentration of state power, controlled by a few vested interests behind the masks of the select mainstream parties, is the real reason for the Scots wanting out of Westminster’s overall command and the populist anti-EU rage. The catch-22 is that the entrenched political parties who have a stranglehold over Westminster have no incentive to change the game. The MPs have become the representatives of the state power structure and not the people. That defeats the purpose of democracy. One obvious remedy is greater decentalisation of power down to local levels where the elected reps are closer to the people. That’s the main driver for the continuing devo-max movements. It won’t go away till we modernise our political system of democracy.

  • albertcooper

    Slippery Scotish Salmon,sitting in your ivory tower of power,puffing and spluttering,just get on with it..yes but never again, and with no more support from the English Parliament ever !

    • KingCuilean

      The English Parliament ceased to exist in 1707 along with the Scottish one, The Parliament to which you refer is in fact the British Parliament of the United Kingdom(s of Scotland & England).

      • albertcooper

        Scotland has a parliament,as England ! lets have them separated,then no more bagpipes as they are Scottish,and England has the pound sterling.

        • KingCuilean

          albert I love England (my daughter’s father is from Cornwall) but she and I will both be voting Yes. Its nothing to do with being anti-English (or bagpipes)!. It’s just wanting a better future for the people who live here. I also believe that this will be better for England too.I’ll also be rooting for England in Brazil this summer.

          • albertcooper

            I do not dislike anybody,but I feel no “love” for Scotland,in the way you feel for England

  • David Lindsay

    In opposing Scottish separatism, the Prime Minister talks of “something precious”. He is correct.

    The Welfare State, workers’ rights, full employment, a strong Parliament, trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies, mutual building societies, and nationalised industries.

    Those last, often with the word “British” in their names, were historically successful in creating communities of interest among the several parts of the United Kingdom, thus safeguarding and strengthening the Union.

    The public stakes in the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland are such permanent, non-negotiable safeguards of the Union. Any profits from those stakes ought therefore to be divided equally among all households in the United Kingdom.

    This is the remedy against the Balkanisation of Britain by means of devolution and the separatism that it was designed to appease, and against their weakening of trade union negotiating power.

    This is the remedy against their ruinous effects on the Scottish Highlands, Islands and Borders; on North, Mid and West Wales; and on the North and West of England; all of which accurately predicted by Labour MPs and activists from the 1970s onwards.

    This is the remedy against the Welsh-speaking oligarchy based in English-speaking areas, which uses devolution to dominate Welsh affairs against the interests of Welsh workers South and North, industrial and agricultural, English-speaking and Welsh-speaking.

    And this is the remedy against the fears that are rightly expressed by English,
    Scottish and Welsh ethnic minorities and Catholics that we no more want to go down the road of who is or is not “really” English, Scottish or Welsh than Ulster Protestants want to go down the road of who is or is not “really” Irish.

    • asalord

      I’ve really tried to understand you comment,yet I cannot.
      So,as far as I’m concerned,it’s still vote Yes.

  • asalord

    Mr Parris praises Lord Lang. “Lang’s speech, thoughtful, comprehensive and sometimes moving… ”

    When I vote Yes in September it will be,according to Lord Lang in his “thoughtful” speech,an act to “dishonour the sacrifices made in common case of those who died for the United Kingdom”.
    Presumably,when I buy a poppy in November,it will be,according to Lang’s “comprehensive” British-nationalist logic another act to “dishonour the sacrifices made in common case of those who died for the United Kingdom”.
    Mr Parris hears nothing wrong in this. Scotland and England are truly two very different countries.
    I will,however,continue to contribute to the poppy appeal.

  • Slicer

    All this obsession with Scotland from The Spectator. How many readers do they have in Scotland? Two?

  • Andy mx

    The UK is not the EU where you keep having referenda until the people vote the ‘right’ way. The SNP wont get another independence referendum this century.

  • Cymrugel

    Mr Parris
    Elsewhere I mentioned my memory of your soft voiced rant over home rule many years ago on breakfast television.
    In an opinion slot in which you were a frequent flyer, speaking on many subjects, you for reasons best know to yourself chose to speak about the possibility of Scottish home rule or independence.
    In a five minute catty little mew of scorn over all things Scottish you basically said that in the struggle between Scotland and England “we won” (we being England, although I believe you are in fact a white African) . This was the core of your speech ; that England had overwhelmed Scotland by force and taken by right all that she had to give.
    The gist was that a victorious England has taken everything of value and that of Scotland now wished to break away they should go as there was nothing left worth taking.
    Your speech was remarkable in that it was an open and unashamed admission that the larger more powerful nation had simply conquered and looted the smaller one, rather than the usual waffle about how England had done Scotland a favour.
    It was like watching a party to a rape, having violated someone telling them they were now free to go as their usefulness had been expended; voice dripping with scorn and contempt.
    It was one of the most astonishingly nasty little rants I have ever seen on public television and I was amazed at the time that you got away with it. It also changed my view of you as a person forever.
    Sadly this all took place before the advent of Youtube. Would that people could view it today.
    Would you care you comment on this event; indeed can you even remember it?
    What say you?

  • Peter A Bell

    Only the shallowest of fools refers to it as Alex Salmond’s referendum. The referendum is a noble and worthy democratic process which belongs to the people of Scotland.

  • KingCuilean

    You are assuming we vote No. All polls prior to the last Scottish parliament election in 2011 predicted a comfortable win for Labour. They were completely and utterly wrong & the SNP won a landslide victory. Its the same companies which are publishing a comfortable ‘no’ vote now! And what ‘debate’ old boy? With no dissenting voice? Come, come, hardly a ‘debate’ and from a bunch of political dinosaurs all fawning over each other, being completely unelected on £300 per day allowance spree PLUS expenses. That’s something else to vote ‘YES’ to next September, Yes to getting rid of the nauseating old cronies fest which is the Lords! And let me ask, if Scotland votes Yes, (which, by God, it will) are the unelected English dinosaurs going to keep paying for all these old Scottish ‘has been’ relics?. I think not! This alleged ‘debate’ was all about keeping their own little noses buried deep in the Westminster trough. Pass the truffles old bean.

  • Desyduk

    “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

    The Plot: “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short Scottish tale about two weavers called Alex and Nicola who play to the pride and vanity of The Scots in promising free welfare for all based on plenty of oil, Secession from the Union, the Pound
    Stir-ling and Union with Europe. All these promises are of course like so much
    will-o’-the-wisp to those who are either unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent, English or mainland Europeans.

    After years of spinning and weaving Alex and Nicola parade their tale before the people of Scotland and a child cries out:

    “They’ve no got the wherewithal at all”

    • FrankieThompson

      Don’t give up the day job.

      • Desyduk

        Argumentum ad populum.

  • James Moore

    question. Seeing a lot of comment about scotland leaving the UK but In the event of scotland voting yes does the UK still exist?

  • rjbh

    The city state of London wrecked the Union some time ago, its up to Scotland to extract itself from the right wing chaos, and Alex Salmond will do his best to do just that

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