Wednesday 18 September 2013


With 365 days to go before the referendum, some of us gathered on the top of the Law in Dundee to hear a few words of encouragement (and they were encouraging) from our Westminster MP, SNP Shadow Finance, Stewart Hosie... of which more later. Click on photo to enlarge.


  1. tris

    Bit sparse on the ground aint ya !

    Made my day listening to the wireless R4 and James Naughtie
    skewering Nicola with Alex Salmond saying ' Bin the pound '
    she made right twat of herself obfuscating on how they take advice from there panel of economic experts now.
    code for Alex made an arse of himself but now we have proper experts now.


    1. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, Niko.

      What do you think an independent Scotland should use for currency?

      Personally I think we probably should bin the pound, but people who know more about it than I say that if we did our currency would be so rock solid, that only few would be able to buy from us. Other really successful countries have the same problem... Switzerland and Norway have to work really hard to keep the value of their currencies as low as they can.

      At the same time, of course the pound, without the Scottish economy would sink like a stone. This would mean that one of our large export markets would no longer to be able to buy anything from us, but of course UK made goods would be importable at rock bottom prices.

      That is what the Channel Islands use currency in the sterling zones. States of Jersey and Guernsey pounds are used, otherwise the successful economies of these islands would make their currency too hard to sell anything to the UK and no Brits would be able to afford a holiday there.

      But your opinion would be appreciated.

      Of course when I ask for your opinion, I never get an answer.


  2. Today is exactly a year until the Scottish Independence referendum (it’s also my birthday, nice of Alex Salmond to get me such a good present next year!) so we have a slew of “one year to go” polls.

    First up there is a Scottish YouGov poll in the Times, with topline referendum figures of YES 32%, NO 52%. YouGov also asked people to think how they would vote if they were convinced that the Conservatives would win the UK general election in 2015, which narrowed the NO lead a little, but not a lot – YES 36%, NO 51%. Despite support for full fledged independence trailing, YouGov found wide support for more devolution, with majorities supporting the devolution of pensions, taxation, welfare benefits and drugs policy.

    A quick methodology note on YouGov: their previous Scottish polls have used party ID for political weighting, this poll switched to using recalled past Holyrood constituency vote for 2011 (but also separated out people who voted Labour at the 2010 general election, but SNP in the 2011 Holyrood election). It didn’t actually make a huge difference to the results – on the old weights it would have shown YES 31%, NO 53%. Full tabs are here.

    Secondly there is a poll by Progressive Scottish Opinion in the Daily Mail. They aren’t British Polling Council members, but did do regular polling before the last Scottish elections – their topline referendum figures are YES 27%, NO 59%, Don’t know 14%.

    Thirdly the Guardian have a British poll on Scottish independence. Across Britain as a whole 32% of people think Scotland should be an independent country, 52% should not (so actually fairly close to the split in Scotland itself – a little more NO than the Scottish ICM poll, but exactly the same as YouGov’s today).

    Fourthly there is a TNS-BMRB poll in the Herald, which asked about the economic effect of independence. 45% thought the Scottish economy would perform worse outside the UK, 23% thought it would improve, 15% thought it would be much the same. As far as I can tell TNS-BMRB did not ask the referendum question itself.

    Only a year to go!!!!

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    1. How is Utopia in that funny farm you appear to live in?

    2. Good good...

      It's fine that these polls keep coming out like that.

      It means that people who are indifferent Naysayers will not bother to go out and vote... Oh they dunnae need me tae vote... wes are gonnae win easy.

      Frankly I don't set a lot of store by these polls. They are designed to get the answers they get.

      But just like seeing the posh guys up from London to lecture us in their plummy tones (and I include Darling in their number), I'm always happy to see them.

    3. Up to now, I’ve avoided comments on MR about Scottish independence, since it’s a very serious matter that’s really none of my business, and I’ve therefore presumed that my usual fare of cleverly crafted (HA!) irony would be less than appreciated by my friends. On the other hand, we in the States have some history of ridding ourselves of the “English,” and Niko’s publication of a bit of verse by a famous American poet has prompted me finally to take computer in hand.

      So here it is:

      Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
      And sorry I could not travel both
      And be one traveler, long I stood
      And looked down one as far as I could
      To where it bent in the undergrowth;

      Then took the other, as just as fair,
      And having perhaps the better claim,
      Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
      Though as for that the passing there
      Had worn them really about the same,

      And both that morning equally lay
      In leaves no step had trodden black.
      Oh, I kept the first for another day!
      Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
      I doubted if I should ever come back.

      I shall be telling this with a sigh
      Somewhere ages and ages hence:
      Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
      I took the one less traveled by,
      And that has made all the difference.

      Extra points for identifying the poet that Niko and I have quoted. (Perhaps better known in Scotland than I suppose.) But taking the road “less travelled by”, and sighing in reflection on the "road not taken," has passed into the American idiom. And surely applies to the independence of nations.

      There were roads that “diverged in a yellow wood” for Scotland in 1707, as surely as there will be in 2014. And you’ll never know about the road not taken.

      And let me make my American point. Whatever is decided, and hopefully independence, the very essence of the State and its form of government is MUCH too important to be left to the ad hoc sovereign will of a popularly elected parliament. It was for want of a Scottish constitution that permitted what happened in 1707. Don’t give a popular assembly in Edinburgh that kind of authority ever again. They are politicians, and sooner or later you’ll find them to be venal and stupid.

    4. Absolutely, Danny.

      And of course that is exactly what they were.

      Well said.

      So many of our politicians in the UK have a vested interest in the revenues (and no, not just oil) that come from Scotland. We make an appreciable subsidy for the UK, and at a time when they are grasping for every few thousand pounds, so broke is the country, the loss of Scottish revenue would be sadly missed.

      So many of the unionist politicians in Scotland have an agenda. And that is to get away from Edinburgh, to London, where hopefully they will rub shoulders with people who do really run the world, and maybe bask in their reflected glory. Finally, of course, I suspect that most of them see themselves in red robes with ermine collars insisting that the little people call them My Lord.

      Anyway..., I think everyone's views of whatever shade, and from wherever they come, is interesting and to a certain extend adds something to the debate. So feel free to put your two cents about independence any time. After all, as you point out, you're the one who actually has some experience of it!

  3. tris

    Epicurus-“The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it.”

    Perhaps you will achieve Glory in the end but the evidence at the present time
    suggests strongly not

    1. Well, let's say Niko, the evidence of the heavily biased UK press suggests not.

      Other evidence may suggest otherwise, but that's private polling based on far more sophisticated methods than Yougov can afford.

      But I repeat, I welcome the news that No supporters can take it easy.

      Remember too, Niko, that the Yes campaign is about to begin.

      The No campaign has wheezed out all its doom and gloom. And unless the prime minister can contrive to arrange something pretty spectacular with MI5 or the likes, they have nothing left to say. You're better together with austerity (for the poor, but of course not for the London bankers, politicians, royals and aristocracy).

      Of course a terrorist attack on the palace of Holyroodhouse a week before the referendum, put down by English troops. might concentrate people's minds. It may have crossed their minds.

      Or they might decide to have a great celebration in Glasgow and wheel out the Queen and duke and of course Willie and and wee Georgie for his first outing wrapped in a union flag, just before the referendum... with a banner saying please don't take away half my future kingdom.

      ...Oh wait, they have already come up with that in a tasteless celebration of the start of a war that killed thousands of Scots.

  4. Nice pic CH...

    I've always wondered what happened to Wales when it came to the flag? Was it just forgotten about, or did they think it was too wee, too poor, too insignificant or too stupid to have a flag?

    Seriously, I realise that with its dragon it would have been an awkward addition, but surely the top left hand corner could have been taken out and the dragon put in.

    What a bloody insult to Wales that it is not included.

  5. As we have a perfectly good flag of our own, we wouldn't really want to be on the Union Jack, Tris. But on special occasions we do fly a flag which shows the relative importance of Wales and the UK. It's here.

    Actually, it's an old version. We update it regularly and the bit on the left gets crushed a little bit smaller each time.

    1. MH

      That is just brilliant, and it does look as if it's getting crushed. Well, serves it right. It's done a fair bit of crushing in its time, and what goes around comes around.

      Thanks for contributing that.

      Cymru am byth

  6. Danny

    I have a mind myself and recognize

    Mind when I meet with it in any guise

    No one can know how glad I am to find

    On any sheet the least display of mind

    1. Ah Conan, you win the Robert Frost competition.

      And with a piece from one of his lesser known poems.


    2. The unofficial poet laureate of New England is strongly associated with New Hampshire. Frost lived near London for a time, and his first volume of poetry was published in England.

      Thinking of walls between neighbors, his famous "Mending Wall" seems to be a message about walls of separation which (at least one of the neighbors) believes make "good neighbors."


      Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
      That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
      And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
      And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
      The work of hunters is another thing:
      I have come after them and made repair
      Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
      But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
      To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
      No one has seen them made or heard them made,
      But at spring mending-time we find them there.
      I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
      And on a day we meet to walk the line
      And set the wall between us once again.
      We keep the wall between us as we go.
      To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
      And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
      We have to use a spell to make them balance:
      'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
      We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
      Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
      One on a side. It comes to little more:
      There where it is we do not need the wall:
      He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
      My apple trees will never get across
      And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
      He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
      Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
      If I could put a notion in his head:
      'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
      Where there are cows?
      But here there are no cows.
      Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
      What I was walling in or walling out,
      And to whom I was like to give offence.
      Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
      That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
      But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
      He said it for himself. I see him there
      Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
      In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
      He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
      Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
      He will not go behind his father's saying,
      And he likes having thought of it so well
      He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

    3. Aye Conan's weel read, Danny (what with him being an ex-librarian).

      It's all a bit too intellectual for the likes of me and Munguin though. :)

      But we have intellectual friends!!

  7. I wish I could have made that photo gathering, but the middle of a working day is not a good time. Especially when I only get 30 minutes break.

    1. Jutie...

      It was really good. Of course most people couldn't make it, being at the time and place it was, but we tried to get as many people there as possible.

      I brought along Cllr John Corrigan. It was the first time I'd met him and our journey there was filled with his tales of his many years as a councillor and all the fascinating changes that have happened in that time. You'd never believe it but he's 87 now!!

      Stewart made a short, very encouraging speech, of which more later. I asked him to email the facts and figures from it, because they are quite revealing, and I'll write a little about it.

    2. I tried to upload it CH, but Blogger couldn't find it on Youtube, despite me typing in the exact name...


      Anyway, well done Jimmy... a great video.

  8. For utter nonsense, this just has to be read.

    Of course, Heffer isn't trying to convince Scots with these arguments. He probably doesn't know we can read.

    He's writing for the pursed lipped, vinegar pickled Daily Mail reading little Englander that's never been north of Watford.

    If it is read in Scotland, it is more likely his hatred for us will swing more people to Yes.

    But it's interesting to see what Heffer thinks of us. Just take your blood pressure pills before you read it.

    If he were talking about Indians, it seems to me it would be racist.


      Yes Scotland's answers... to Heffer's racist attack on us.

  9. Tris

    A year feels like a long time and there is a risk that people might be turned off as the time goes around. I also appreciate you felt that the campaign started too early and I understand that, but given the never ending polls, the fear that the panelbase one might be correct has seen a plethera of shows, esp the BBC suddenly getting interested and really going for the union, so another year will be long and in many ways frustrating but is needed I think.

    One of the interesting things about this weeks debate or lack of debates is that the more bitter together spout their lies the more I sense people are starting to turn to yes as a reaction to be told too wee too poor too stupid. The Kirsty Wark debate was a disgrace and someone should seriously lose their job for that hogmany show but the audience turned with the constand negativity. The no so great debate I watched today again showed an audience starting to turn. Better Together have no positive case and will stick to their argument, the three tory parties will come up with nothing before the referendum that is written in stone so I think YES definately need the year to continue their slow but sure progress.

    They do need to step it up on the economy though, for me the argument is about democracy, but for many it is about money and services. The services argument is won but needs to be hammered home but the economic one is still there to be fought for so a lot of work to be done. But with a year to go I would say listening to the debates, talking to people etc it is all up for grabs. I really feel that Bitter Together had better up their game because the polls are just not what people are saying when you talk to them and I suspect that many are saying no but will be voting yes.

    Interesting times and I hope BT keep rolling out Willie Rennie, Goldie, Lamont as they really are assets to the YES Campaign.


  10. yes, I agree with you Bruce. The constant negativity, but without the ability for any of them to say...YOU CAN'T DO YOU is tying them up in knots.

    Added to that they have some really poor people. Flipping Darling, Willie Rennie, Mr Pointlees, Ruth Davidson, Johann Lamont and David Cameron, are pretty dim lights next to John Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond... and as I found out yesterday when I heard him speak, our own MP Stewart Hosie.

    Stewart is the Finance Spokesman in Westminster, the shadow chancellor, and he is quite compelling on finance.

    He's a good speaker with good delivery skills and we should hear more of him.

    All this crap about we can't afford it is absolute rubbish. We have a far better chance of being able to pay pensions and social security than the UK does.

    We are a rich country without the massive defence commitments that the UK has to keep itself at the top table, and we don't have a massive community of super rich to keep happy

    There is a really good article too over on Wings today, written by Mark, an Englishman who lives here.

    Worth a read.

  11. Replies
    1. “I am appalled that Alex Salmond’s independence plans would see Scotland opt-out of the universal service obligation..."

      OK Willie. I'm appalled that Liberal Democrat ministers would privatise the Royal Mail. Was that in your manifesto?

      Secondly, after independence Willie, we will be a separate country. You know, jsy like Denmark is a separate country from Sweden. They work together by they don't have the same organisations, and you know what Willie, when someone posts a letter in Denmark, it can go to Sweden over the bridge no bother at all.

      Oh and for the half wit that said that we wouldn't be able to call it the Royal Mail. Well not that it matters, but I understand that the current plans are for the Queen to be head of state, just like she is in Canada and Australia, where they have a load of stuff with ROYAL in front of it.

    2. As to how he got elected... He had been an MP, won at a by-election on a protest vote and was rejected at the General Election, so they put him at the top of the regional list.

      Because they got almost no votes for their constituency MSPs, they rightly picked up a few regional seats so that their representation reflected the fact that some people had voted for them.

      He got in that way by being at the top of their list.

      There were 5 of them elected (Orkney and Shetland and 3 regional), one of them had just resigned as leader having lost more than 2/3 of all their seats. I suspect they drew straws, or maybe he was the best of the other three... Who knows? Who cares really?