Popular Misconceptions No2: Scots Knew There Was Going To Be An EU Referendum


On Question Time last night a lady piped up with her opinion which received rapturous applause from the audience in Bognor Regis: Why are the Scots demanding a referendum now, because when they voted in 2014 they KNEW there was going to be a Brexit vote.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this stated. It’s nonsense of course and anyone with decent powers of recall or even better, access to google should be able to establish a few basic facts. But let’s give the good lady from Bognor the benefit of the doubt and say she wasn’t following the situation in this country as closely as we were here and look at just why she’s mistaken.
Joanna Cherry MP had a decent stab at addressing all the points put to her and to be honest it could have been an hour long show with just Ms Cherry, David Dimbleby and the audience of Bognor Regis, but the question above was one she didn’t respond to and in my view should have.
In the lead up to the September 2014 referendum Scots were being told by the print, radio and television media and by Labour politicians that if they voted No a Labour government was just round the corner. That if they voted No, in less than a year they could sweep the coalition from power and that Ed Miliband would become a Prime Minister who would hold Scotland in high regard. Indeed Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson deliberately played down the Tories chances of returning to power to reassure Scots voters that they should vote for the union. I was one of many warning that this wasn’t the case; that Ed Miliband was unelectable and that the Tories would not only take power but seek to emasculate Scotland in the process. I was correct on every single point.
From The Guardian, September 2014
“Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, highlighted fears of a yes vote when she told a cross-party referendum debate on STV on Tuesday night that the Tories are on course to lose the UK election. This was seen as an attempt to reassure wavering voters who are more likely to vote for independence if they believe the Tories will win the UK election, according to the former Labour first minister Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale.”
“Citing unguarded remarks on Monday night by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, that the Conservatives were unlikely to win the general election, Miliband will insist that Labour would win in 2015 – a year earlier than Scotland could become independent.”

But I digress. In the lead up to September 2014 the Tories were having internal rows and were under pressure from UKIP and David Cameron was floating the idea of an EU referendum to quiet the unruly within the party and to stop wavering voters from switching to UKIP. The EU referendum bill was actually introduced to the UK parliament in October 2014, just over a month after the Scottish referendum. It passed its first hurdle then floundered, before David Cameron included it as a manifesto pledge for the May 2015 election, and it was confirmed as going ahead later that month.
So in the pre-Indyref campaign the possibility of an EU referendum was certainly there, but it was being played down in Scotland by the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems, with all three campaigning on the same message: voting Yes was a sure fire way of taking Scotland OUT of Europe.

At the Labour Party (Scotland Branch) conference in March 2014, Margaret Curran made a conference speech in which she said:
“Because Alex Salmond knows Scots don’t really want independence.
What they want is a Labour Prime Minister and a Labour Government.
And rest assured, Conference, Alex Salmond know that his biggest threat is Ed Miliband is throwing David Cameron out of number 10.”

While the main thrust of the No campaign was squarely behind the Project Fear approach the one positive aspect that they did try to sell was a tenuous house of cards. If any one aspect was removed it all fell apart. Everything hinged on No winning, then hapless Ed Miliband winning the general election, so that there would be no EU referendum. Even the dog’s in the street could see that Ed was the weakest link in that chain, yet he was talked up by Labour as the best of both world’s. And still no one was willing to admit what anyone with any sense could see: that he was a short term solution to a long term problem, and that even had he by some miracle won that the Tories at some point would be back, vindictive as ever. The plan fell at the second hurdle and left Scotland facing another Tory government.
As we saw afterwards, once Scotland was secured within the union, focus returned to Europe. The Conservatives, ran their campaign with two major themes; that they would deliver a referendum on EU membership (which Cameron fully expected to win) and that Ed Miliband would be a puppet Prime Minister worked from the back by Alex Salmond. Having told Scotland it would be a valued and equal partner, within months Scotland was the enemy within, and while Labour tried to blame their loss of seats to the SNP for their defeat, simple mathematics showed that Labour had been roundly defeated by over a hundred seats and even had they retained their Scottish seats would still be languishing effectively a million miles behind the Tories.
Having brought in English Votes for English Laws which stripped Scottish MP’s of some voting rights the UK parliament has now moved to reduce Scottish MP’s by scrapping 6 seats. With a now tried and proven system in place for the election in the form of whipping up anti-Scottish sentiment and insinuating that Labour will (if they remain as one party) enter coalition with the SNP to deny the English electorate their rightful government, we have a recipe for Tory government in Scotland for years to come. So if there’s a way out of Brexit and from another lost generation of Tory rule, I’d grab it. Margaret Curran might think otherwise though…

Edited to add: Murdo Fraser caught red handed trying the same line with Andrew Neil (Video: Wings Over Scotland)



Popular Misconceptions No 1: Handing Sovereignty To Brussels


“Why would you want to leave one union to be ruled by another in Brussels?” asked an audience member on Question Time last night… “because you can’t be independent in the EU”.

Unfortunately David Dimbleby didn’t allow Joanna Cherry MP to respond to that particular point, but it’s one that needs addressed.

The idea that the UK is a benevolent “partnership” while the EU is an overbearing dictatorship seems to strike a chord with some people, however this avoids one blatantly obvious point.

When the UK wanted to hold a referendum on EU membership the UK held a referendum. It didn’t have to seek permission. Because it is a sovereign nation.

When Scotland stated it’s intention to hold another referendum on UK membership it has to seek permission, because it’s not a sovereign nation. It has to ask the permission of the largest nation in the “partnership”. And that nation said No.

So the idea that Scotland would be recovering it’s sovereignty only to “hand it back to Brussels” is one of the greatest fallacies of the whole debate, and one which may have to keep countering for some time to come. “Luckily” Theresa May has given us a blatant example of this in practice. Lucky us, eh?

The Tone Of The Debate

It’s been little over 24 hours since the starting pistol was fired on what the British Nationalists were hoping was bluff and bluster. All that pent up fear and loathing exploded in raw hatred as social media went into meltdown.  The hatred isn’t new as you can see by the tweet above from Michael Sheridan of the Labour Party. Nationalist Scum is pretty tame in comparison to this exchange between Daily Express columnist Professor Jill Stephenson, AKA Historywoman and “Reynard” who is believed to be a former Lib-Dem candidate.

Were either of those tweets sent by a Scottish Nationalist you can have no doubt that they would be focused on by the media. They were by British Nationalists so the normal rules of decency don’t apply.

The lesson is clear. Don’t bite when a baited hook is thrown in front of you. Keep the head, keep it clean and keep a screenshot. For those of you using Android tablets and phones it’s as simple as pressing  the power button and volume down at the same time.

Let the British Nationalists fight from the gutter, and let us rise above it. We are better than that.

#Indyref2 #Scotref #BritNatAbuse

BBC taking the lead in Misreporting Scotland

It’ s been hard to miss the BBC and others in the press giving great coverage to the figures showing that Scotland’s trade with the UK is 4 times that of it’s trade with the rest of the EU. The story is presented in such a manner that implies that an independent Scotland would have to choose to trade with one bloc or the other, EU or UK. While the UK government maintain that trade with Europe will continue post Brexit, they at the same time infer that somehow what remains of the UK will not trade with Scotland; they’ll take an almighty huff and stop buying Scottish products. Historically that’s an approach that England took against Scotland AFTER it was joined under the one monarch with the Union of the Crowns. We would hope that rUK has moved on somewhat in the last 300 odd years, and that a vindictive blockade and boycott of Scottish goods and services would not be on the cards. Assuming it would, then it merely helps strengthen the case as to who an independent Scotland should be part of the EU trading bloc.


Crisis? Scot Crisis?

wp-1483896044798.jpgMany sections of the UK media have reported on the latest “crisis” in the NHS the intervention by the British Red Cross, where by and large they fail to make one simple distinction. There is no British NHS as such. Lazy UK journalism like this creates the impression that there is a UK problem, which may or may not be the case. Surely it’s time that the Scottish Government took a deliberate line of rebranding NHS Scotland to the SNHS or SHS so that there is less chance of health issues in other parts of the UK being confused with specifically Scottish ones. Why should Scotland’s performance be held up to scrutiny because England is failing miserably?
If it’s confusing for many people across the country, this wasn’t helped by the online activity of two STV “Journalists” (and I use the term loosely, as they are apparently paid for what they do), Aidan Kerr and Oliver Dickinson.wp-1483896040492.jpg

Aidan Kerr tweeted that for the fourth month running Scottish A&E departments had failed to reach their waiting time target of 95% within 4hrs. It was left to members of the public to ask some of the most basic questions: how does this compare with previous months; has it significantly worsened and what factors could account for any fall? Only after asking was it revealed that there was no great movement and the figures were within 1.5% of those recorded for the same period in the last five years: in real terms, pretty much where they had been. But when there’s an atmosphere of crisis on the big news, the local guys can’t help trying to get in on the act, which is no doubt why STV’s Oliver Dickinson took to twitter to search for anyone who had an operation cancelled or delayed. It’s one thing when members of the public get in touch with concerns and you bring that story to the fore because it deserves airing. It’s quite another to have an agenda and then tout on social media for stories to back it up! Following this Mr Kerr then presented figures for cancelled operations, again utterly without context until pressed to do so. One person pointed out that their father was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation to save his life, and due to that three routine operations he was due to have were cancelled. Those three operations are no doubt in the total of cancelled operations, but without proper context the headline is meaningless, unless you want to present a picture which is not entirely accurate.
This isn’t investigative journalism, it’s trawling social media, inflaming opinion and presenting it as news. STV’s Digital reporting has not covered itself in glory in recent months and if they aren’t careful they will soon be viewed with the same disdain that the BBC is.