Sunday 26 January 2014


I welcomed, a couple of days ago, the news that the Scottish government was working with Labour to see if they could find ways to help people affected, through no fault of their own, by the bedroom tax.

DougtheDug replied to my post with information (as usual in his posts) based on his knowledge of the regulations. I was concerned that (as the original article was a few days ago) people would miss Doug's piece, so I have repeated it here.

Doug wrote:

Not just a spare bedroom, but a spare HOUSE
Hi Tris, a bit of background on why we can't mitigate the effects of the Bedroom Tax in Scotland.

Under Schedule 5, Section F1 of the 1998 Scotland Act the Scottish Government is not allowed to get involved in benefits as that is a reserved power. Housing benefit is actually named specifically as a reserved benefit.

How then, you ask, did John Swinney give £20 Million to the councils to help mitigate the bedroom tax. I'll come to that.

Housing benefit is distributed by the local authorities in Scotland as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which is the benefit the Bedroom Tax affects. The rules on how much LHA the councils can pay each claimant are set by strict guidelines from Westminster as benefits are a reserved power.

The councils have another fund called Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) which they can use as they wish to help those in need of housing assistance and this is the fund they are using to help those affected by the Bedroom Tax. The councils can decided who gets help and how much. This is also funded from Westminster by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and they gave £13.5 Million in total across all Scottish local authorities this year. Under the DWP rules the councils can add another 150% to the DHP from their own funds. Can you start to see where the £20 Million figure came from?

So how did John Swinney give the councils £20 Million for DHP if the Scottish Parliament is not allowed to get involved in benefits? The way round it was to give it to the councils as part of their general grant with no ring fencing. It's not defined as for benefits and the councils have no legal obligation to hand it out as DHP so it's "nod and a wink" stuff between the Scottish Parliament and the Councils.

So here's the two problems that Labour are unable to suggest a way round even though they bang on and on an on about how the SNP could help more.

The Scottish Government is forbidden from getting involved in benefits. It cannot hand out money directly to benefit claimants.

Ah, you think, but John Swinney has already handed out £20 Million to the councils as part of their general grant why can't he hand out another £30 million to the councils (assuming of course that he can find the money from his limited Westminster block grant) and they can distribute it for him.

Well he could but there would be no point. Remember the councils got £13.5 Million from the DWP and they can add another 150% to that which they got from John Swinney. That means they are at the limit of the £33.5 Million total that the DWP allows them to hand out as DHP's.

The councils are at the limit of what they are allowed to hand out and it doesn't matter how much more money John Swinney gives them they can't pass it on to those affected by the Bedroom Tax.

So now you see the problem. Unless the Labour party can find a legal way round Schedule 5 in the 1998 Scotland Act or the £33.5 Million limit the Department of Work and Pensions has placed on the Discretionary Housing Payments from the councils they are just blowing hot air from their nether regions when they bang on about how the Scottish Parliament has the power to alleviate the Bedroom Tax.
Douglas Alexander
I was wondering if there is anything more hilarious than an middle aged politician writing in a newspaper about what teenage kids think, and getting most of it horribly and hilariously wrong. Then I remembered that there's always a pantomime act talking about "nostalgia and nonsense", wearing a tartan jacket (has anyone seen anyone wear a tartan jacket in the last 20 years?) and cracking pantomime jokes about the first minister being either a chieftain of the pudding race or a pudding of the chieftain race. Laugh? I nearly did. Well, no, I didn't, really.

Then, of course, I remembered that the politician has a vested interest in persuading people to vote for the continuance of his well-paid safe-seat-for-life job in London, and his almost-undoubted future as an aristocrat in the British political equivalent of an old people's home (but where they pay you, rather than you pay them).
John Barrowman
The Brit-American pantomime dame may well feel, as a relatively highly-paid tv, broadway and recording star, that life under the Tories' low-tax-for-rich-people regime is a desirable political outcome, and hell mend the poor and the sick. I wonder though, why he feels that it is reasonable for him to have the nationality rights in two separate states which he would deny to Scottish people! I'm alright, Jack?


  1. Replies
    1. Doug, I just saw your reply to the Bedroom tax question, and so I changed the post a bit... and reprinted your response here. I'll go to look at your comments on Barrowman now.

      Thanks again for your authoritative response on the bedroom tax.

  2. HI Tris the Rev Stuart over on wings is looking for a source for the article you showed the one where the header says (the lie the truth), about unemployment and the 2700 sanctioned and classed as employed,I would be grateful if either just posted it here or posted it on wings if you have thanks:)

    1. Anon. It was on a Facebook page. I think it was one of the anti David Cameron ones. Perhaps David he the worst prime minister ever? or something like that.

      I can't post on Wings...not sure why, otherwise i would ahve let him know myself.

      I'm not sure that a f/b page would meet Stuarts high standards of authentication.



  3. tris

    has anyone seen anyone wear a tartan jacket in the last 20 years?

    Err! umm ! well !!!

    1. Ooops... sorry...well 'cept you and Rod Stewart?

    2. LOL ... he doesn't does he?

      I wonder he doesn't get locked up!

  4. John Barroman is really pleasant on my eyes. I'd like to see much more of him.

    That out of the way, on the issue of the vile bedroom tax and SLAB.

    SLAB is correct to condemn the vile bedroom tax, and Jackie Baillie was correct it seems in saying early last year you can expect Scots Labour to abolish it if we come back into power. This commitment ought to welcomed regardless of which side of the constitutional isle you come from.

    However I agree with what Tris is saying about how SLAB are just making mischief on the issue of mitigation and the SNP. The SNP hands are pretty robustly tied, but you can't blame Lamont for going for the jugular here. Its an open goal for her, she can demand the SNP 'do more' to mitigate the bedroom tax... all the while she knows they physically can't... for the reasons you highlighted. She is playing politics, but that is life in a parliamentary democracy. The SNP just need to 'man up' and deal with such shenanigans.

    1. Well, given what we just read, Dean, Iain Gray may have walked into a bit of a trap here. Before I knew the background to the legal limitations, I was welcoming Iain Gray's efforts to find a way around this, even if it meant that John Swinney had been wrong about his ability to ameliorate it more than he had. The most important thing is that sick and old people don;t get chucked on the street because there are no smaller houses for them to move to and they can't afford the extra rent.

      But from the link that Doug sent, I don't see that there can be. Jackie Baillie may have intended that the government overpay to the £50 million mark, and have the power taken back to London... diminishing the Edinburgh government. Iain Gray seemed genuine.

      I dunno about lamont going for the jugular. I mean if she expects to retain any kind of respect, she needs to remember that the "enemy" here is the Tories. If she is demanding that the SNP break the law of the sovereign government, she's on a sticky wicket. After all, if she is ever first minister, will she do that?

      It will be interesting to see what can be done. But Gray has put himself in a position where, if nothing can be done, the argument that only independence can solve this problem has gone up in a puff of smoke.

      And Mr Barrowman is a married man :) with a shocking taste in jackets!

    2. Tris

      No old people will lose their homes, they are the only group exempt from the bedroom tax and coincendently the group most likely to vote. I posted on WOS a couple of Herald links covering sanctions, not sure if they'll meet the Rev's high standards though!

    3. "If she is demanding that the SNP break the law of the sovereign government"

      You know, there's a term for that. And I thought SLAB were strongly against it.

    4. Oh right... thanks PP. I thought that older people were obliged to pay too.

  5. On a totally different subject, this WILL interest a few resident denizens of Munguin republic:
    It seems support for independence is up 33% among under 25s, and up 6% among 25-34 year olds. Check out John Curtice blog on this amazing (if true) shift in the polls! Just don't expect the MSM to even report this...

    1. They did but as a possible outlier!

    2. In fairness it may be so.

      Interesting the news that the under 25s are moving so much. A little embarrassing from old Dougie on the day he writes about young people.

      It's true of course that the younger people are the most likely to be aware of the alternative news to what the daily papers and the BBC report.

      And so they will read Newsnet, Wings and Bella and Scot goes Pop, etc. The rely much less of the BBC or the Daily Mail, and as the time gets closer they are more likely to see a bit more balance.

      It is brilliant news, but I'll be happier when I see a few more polls saying the same thing.

  6. Good question: "WHAT CAN THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT AND LABOUR DO ABOUT THE BEDROOM TAX? " Nothing, according to the responsible minister Margaret Burgess. She's going to look pretty silly when it turns out she's been wrong all along.

    1. Oh yes... Gordon's PFI. What a winner. I see they are being baled out left right and centre.

    2. Well you just have a nice wee gloat one way or the other BH.

      As I said I hope that they can find some way of helping people.

      You obviously just want to score political points.

    3. Tris, It's not just a political point. We've been trying to help people by ameliorating the effects of the bedroom tax for over a year and been getting rebuffed by Nats like Margaret Burgess who said it was impossible.

      Read Ms Burgess's press release if you want to see naked politicking- and BTW it was issued at the same time as people in the SG (maybe even herself, after all she's the responsible minister) were having behind the scenes talks to try to reach a compromise.

      Like you, I also hope we can find ways of helping people. I'm just annoyed that it's taken a year for the SG to even admit the possibility.

    4. Is this the good news we've been waiting for?

  7. Tris and DougtheDug,

    This finally gets to a fundamental question about politicians.

    Are they based in reality?

    It is all very well wanting to help people - tho' in the case of the Labour Party they appear to have abandoned any ideas of equality - and it is another thing to place blame for a policy at a door that had nothing to do with it.

    It was Westminster, Brown and Co., that started this lunacy and it has been followed up by Cameron, IDS and chums.

    Ameliorating evil, for evil it is, is not going to get us anywhere. I am more than heartily pissed off with Labour pretending to be the good guys here. Where was the attack - tris I recall the graphic about tax evasion - on the rich rather than the poor.

    They are hypocrites of the first order. Or, to answer my own question perhaps, delusional?

    DougtheDug, I mentioned you here, I hope you are OK with that.

    1. Poverty levels halved under Labour as a result of deliberate policy by Gordon Brown. Pensioner and child poverty was cut by almost two thirds. Now all poverty is rising again and all you guys can do is talk about the constitution. Please. No crocodile tears..

    2. Didn't they do that by moving the goalposts?

      I certainly seem to remember "poverty" having a somewhat fluid definition. Able to move the numbers as the political winds dictate.

      And remember the Labour showing at the vote to scrap the bedroom tax? I don't think Labour have much credibility left.

    3. The g[p between rich and poor widened under Labour.

    4. I think that is correct.

      Westminster are always redefining things to make their figures look better. Their Home Secretaries are, for example, never done redefining how crime is measured, and this coincides with crime figures reducing... and inflation coming down, and wages going up and yet, they are authorising water canon in England to deal with riots they suspect will come from the state of abject poverty of the working classes.

      Jeeeeez. How they must long for the days when we didn't get to know anything except what the Daily Mail told us (in between supporting the Nazis).

    5. Tris,
      The gap between the super-rich and everyone widened, everywhere, during the last 20 years. Nevertheless, in the UK, Gordon Brown's specific policies cut poverty by half and child and pensioner poverty by more, towards two thirds. You and other here can deny it and reject it as much as you want, because it doesn't suit your narrative that the UK is rotten, but it's fact.

      the definition of poverty was and is two-thirds of median wages. It never changed during the Blair/Brown years.

      Labour voted against the Bedroom Tax and will scrap it after 2016. Some Labour MPS were "paired" with Tories in the usual procedure for MPs who have other commitments. The "pairing" means their absence (with their Tory "pair") did not affect the vote.

      Or maybe you can name a specific Labour MP who was deliberately absent, not paired, because he/she supports the Bedroom Tax? Thought not.

      BYW, what was the performance of SNP MPs during the whole progress of the Bill including the BT? Bet you don't know.

    6. "the definition of poverty was and is two-thirds of median wages"

      So if the median wage goes down in real terms, then there are less people in poverty. Right, gotcha. (And as the rich have no effect on the median wage they can make whatever they want and it doesn't stop that effect)

      Roflcopters at "pairing". Pairing is explicitly mentioned as "not for important votes" in Westminster's regs, which means that Labour didn't consider the vote to scrap it important. Which is cheap politics, because it's an easy issue to campaign on. Particularly ironic since Labour introduced it in the first place!

  8. Douglas:

    The huge problem is that the Uk went hell for leather to have everyone owning their own home. Idiotic idea in my opinion. Not much followed on the continent.

    Poor people with not too stable jobs, can't really afford to buy a house. Of course, if they had a mortgage they couldn't go on strike so it was a good thing for employers and governments!

    But anyway, we did it. We sold off most of the decent council housing and the bad stuff was so awful it was pulled down and we built no more.

    Renting was something that only underclasses did. Tennant became a dirty word.

    But treating homes as investments , making more money on them than you could earn in a year, pushing the prices out of the range of ordinary people even with mortgages of 110% of the value and no deposit was always going to end in a crash.

    I always felt that the day would come where only Price Charlie and the Duck of Westminster would be able to afford to buy a house... and they didn't need one.

    But we built hardly any rentable houses, and what we did build seemed to have no relationship to the demographic of the country.

    The of course property was such an investment and buy to rent had taken off and in London and the south east rents had become exorbitant; wages were static or falling; unemployment was rising; pensions were ruined... the social security bill rose out of control.

    Hundreds of pounds a week to live in a sinking tip in a slum...

    So Labour started with the private sector knowing full well that the public sector couldnt take up the strain and then the Tories did it to the pubic sector too. leaving the poor, the sick, the old, nowhere to go.

    I imagine that the Conservative thinking is that these people, chucked out, will probably die of cold or starvation, and that that will save a fortune in rent allowances, but also on pensions and health care.

    It's a win win win win win situation if you are a heartless bastard, and who could call Duncan Smith anything but a heartless bastard?

    Labour were not going to do anything about it until Baillie and Sarwar made them look ridiculous by saying that they would... Both Balls and their social security spokesman said that they couldnt guarantee to do it.

    They are not the good guys.

    But at the moment this isn;t about point scoring. It's about doing away with a tax on the housing of last resort where there is no alternative for the tenants but the street, and in many cases, death.

    Get it sorted Scottish government, if you can. And if you were wrong about our powers suck it up. Just stop this inhuman policy.

    1. "Who could call Duncan Smith anything but a heartless bastard?"

      Tris, there are a lot of other things I could call IDS (as well as 'heartless bastard'), with 'hypocrite' at the top of the list.


    2. Of all of them Scara, he is the most repugnant. He quite literally makes me feel nauseous. He's a lying treaturous lump of shit. From day one in his miserable life he appears to have lied his way to where he has got.

      People like that always come to a bad end. One day one of his Sir Humphies, will see an opportunity to fry him.

      I believe he is very much disliked by those in charge. Gideon (not the sharpest knife in the drawer himself) is reputed to have scant regard for Smith's intellect.

      I will enjoy his downfall. Although, when he failed dismally at being party leader, making them even more unpopular than they had been under Hague, he simply bounced back He knows no shame.

      But one day someone will get him.

    3. IDS is Scottish. If we broke up the UK he could be PM of Scotland one day. A sound reason for voting NO! don't you agree?

    4. He could be PM of Scotland one day?

      Wouldn't he need votes?

  9. It is enough to make you weep. It is like the school bully making you eat shit just because they can.

    BH seems to believe that some way or another the Scottish government can indeed ameliorate this. I have no idea whether they can or they cannot legally. If they can then indeed they should. I imagine some flagship policy will have to be scrapped though.

    This is the victim being forced to pay for the crime and that sits very uncomfortably with me.

    Perhaps complete civil disobedience would be a more productive route to go down? I recall non-payment of Poll Tax as a weapon once upon a time.....

    1. I do believe that the SG could do something to ameliorate the bedroom tax. The SG also apparently believes the same, otherwise (I hope) we wouldn't have this "understanding" over the budget linked to "doing something" about the BT.

      Suggestions made by Labour last April and since include a no-evictions policy for BT arrears (as Labour proposed in my local council), re-defining the debt incurred from not complying with the tax so it didn't add to rent arrears, and defining a bedroom (not defined in the BT act) so as to exclude as many "spare" rooms as possible this defraying the costs to the tenant.
      There may be others. It's just a pity IMO that the SG has resisted looking for ways out of the mess for so long.

    2. Well, from a political standpoint, being able to say "That's reserved to Westminster, we're doing all we can. And we're trying to get the powers to get rid of it (Independance)" gives them some mighty high ground to stand on.

      I don't really blame them for taking that attitude. Especially as by the letter of the law, they're right.

      All the measures they've been able to do have been really sneaky workarounds on the intent of the laws.

      Of course, if you're arguing that they should just ignore Westminster completely, then I agree with you. But they're holding a referendum on that later this year.

    3. Douglas: It is certainly the wrong time, in my opinion, for most kinds of direct action.

      But stopping pay council tax, or council tenants stopping paying rent will only make the lack of funding worse. In fact all the non payment of council tax made no difference, except to impoverish local authorieis. When people rioted in London, where important people lived, that was when things started to happen... and fundamentally, politicians like Tarzan, saw an opportunity to kick Thatcher in the teeth and improve their own career. (He went on to become Deputy PM.)

      It's not that I am against direct action per se. I'd have no problem with a TV licence boycott, for example.

      As you say, if a way can be found, then something else will have to go. Let's hope that they manage to find something that will not transfer England's misery to other poor people. Maybe to find another £30 million we could stop expenses for all senior public servants, from parliamentarians to councillors and senior officials. Maybe we could reduce some of their salaries, by 10%.I'd have no problem with that. These people are well overpaid as it is.

      Yes BH... many people have done much to help. Some people did sod all. The problem is that we should never have had this tax forced upon us by the London government. But the idea was originally Labour's, and was introduced by Gordon Brown. It's all very well saying that people could move, but there isn't a vast raft of spare 2 roomed properties going around waiting for someone to take them... and of course, moving house costs a fortune and is a huge job. Old or sick people can't face packing everything up and don't have the money to pay someone else to do it, and then to redecorate and re carpet and curtain a smaller house.

      I salute the things that some councils have done to redefine living spaces and the excellent discovery of part of the legislation that IDS and his civil servants (of course it wouldn't be HIS fault) missed.

      I hope they find something even if it is embarrassing for the SG... but as we have said. The £30 million will have to be found from somewhere else.

      We could charge the MPs of whatever party who either didn't bother turning up for the vote in Eng;and, or who voted against repeal. After all people like Danny Alexander and Anas Sarwar must be millionaires.

      The information supplied b y Doug, suggests that there is not a legal way. And an illegal way is begging for the powers to be repatriated to Mother England, because we are not responsible enough to administer them.

      Illy... yes, that's bang on. It would be great if we could just say No. We aren't doing that to people.

      I understand the Tories want to do that with the EU. We should only approve of laws that suit England. Of course they won't get away with it any more than we would.

      In the case of Scotland, they hold the purse strings. We don't get a penny and they can close the Scottish parliament down and repatriate all powers to England at the drop of a hat.

      Civil disobedience, or blatant parliamentary disobedience might well do for that. It worked in Northern Eire.

  10. Illy
    of course I forgot the most obvious course which is to find the £30m to close the Housing Support gap.

    You make an interesting point when you ask: why have they avoided "work-rounds" that were fully within their power? Don't know. Why did they let the 3p tax power lapse? Don't know. Maybe they want to be powerless? Maybe that suits their psychology or their plans.

    You have to remember that all SNP manoeuvres are designed to get a yes vote. Helping the Scottish people, if it happens, is just a bonus as far as they are concerned.

    1. Still telling untruths over that 3p which was allowed to die under Lab/Lib admin but as your politicians are regularly writing now for the DM anything you say is taken with a bucket full of salt.

    2. sorry CH, you're wrong, it was Swinney that let it lapse.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.


    5. of course I forgot the most obvious course which is to find the £30m to close the Housing Support gap.

      Didn't you read my comment Braveheart?

      It's not finding the money that's the real problem it's that there is no legal way to get it to those who have been hit by the bedroom tax and if Labour know a way they're not telling anyone.

    6. So, since there is no legal way to give that money to the people who need it, you're suggesting that Hollyrood simply assume power over benefits, a power that is explicitly reserved to Westminster.

      I take it you're voting Yes in September then, so that Hollyrood can do that with minimum fuss?

      "You have to remember that all SNP manoeuvres are designed to get a yes vote."

      And as getting out from under Westminster control is the best way I can see to help the people in Scotland, I fully support them in doing that. It'd be nice if they can keep the moral high ground as well, but after we go independant things get far simpler, as then they can simply scrap the bedroom tax and raise the minimum wage.

      If you can see a better way to help the poorest, please enlighten me, but since Labour have abandoned the poor to get Tory votes I really don't see it happening under Westminster.

  11. LOL Maybe that's true. Maybe there isn't one decent person in the SNP who gives a toss whether people live or die as long as they get what they want... I don't know that and I suspect, with respect ,that you done either BH.

    But it's possible that your friend Mr Harris was right and Alex is a Hitler figure, with even more more repugnant policies than Iain Duncan Smith. Who knows. Politicians all lie through their teeth, probably as much as, or even more than bankers and estate agents (but probably not as much as aristocrats).

    But tell me, are there any decent people in Labour who are doing what they do for the good of other people, or are they all determined to to do whatever it takes to keep themselves in the UK, the gravy train and the hopes of one day meeting the president of the USA, and who knows being photographed with him , or as mr Cameron did, using his bed!!!! ?

    You said earlier about Labour making people better off... But you know, if every few Labour governments we get 18 years of Thatcher, Cameron low life taking us all the way back to where we were before Labour did anything, then where is the progress?

    I mean just where are we now with trades union power, for example? Is there anything left in public hands except education, water and health in Scotland, and that thanks to these supposedly right wing SNP?

    We are heading back to Dickensian Britain and if Scotland votes no, it will be on an express train to Victoriana... The only express train we will see. I've travelled so much in Europe and i don't think I've been anywhere as run down and second rate as Britain. Why are we like that?

    I'm not a member of the SNP, although some of my best mates are. I was never a member of Labour either, although I was a supporter who voted for them until I looked at their policies and thought... FGS it's like I'm voting for Mrs Thatcher, then I looked up, and there was Mr Brown and Mrs Thatcher together...

    What happened to Labour, I thought... and decided that they had sold their souls to the rich in the SE of England... per Mr Mandelson.

    1. Anyone who disagrees with Labour politicians are abusive and need to shutdown according to Murphy Kezia and other red Tories.

    2. I'm sure there are decent people in the SNP, as there are in all parties and countries. But this thread is about the Bedroom Tax. Labour has been trying for over a year to get SNP politicians to use whatever powers they have to do something about it, but the SNP leadership has calculated that a policy of quietism offends no-one and keeps on board votes that might go away if you decide something. Now they have (maybe) changed their minds, Hoorah! You don't have to go along with that, but it seems you do.

      Labour did make people better off, particularly the lower paid. Why do you need a "but"...? (serious question Tris, why do you need a but, SO MUCH you need it...). Accept that there can be good without "independence", it'll free your intellect from negative thoughts and enable you to see some good where it actually exists.

      If Scotland votes yes there will still be difficult decisions to be made.

      And Eck And John Swinney are both more neoliberal than Osborne (insofar as Osborne understands economic theory as opposed to asking those who do know find ways to achieve conservative outcomes) so they will probabaly make the same decisions - with less money - than Osborne would. Swinney even believes in the Laffer Curve!!! FFS, i.e, tax the rich less and you get more tax revenue back through their kindly consenting to pay the lower levels you dare to ask .A definitive right wing republican (US style) fantasy. I wouldn't want the Tea Party deciding MY budget, taverymuch.

      BTW your vision of Scotland seems to believe that their are no Tories in the land!!! Haven't you noticed they all vote SNP now? And why wouldn't they with lower business taxes, cuts in Council services and a centralised police force with "more" police officers on offer, all of that with cuts in nurses and teachers - it's a Tory paradise!!! And after "independence" they'll vote Tory again, so some Lairdish equivalent of DC looms on the horizon. Or do you plan to put all the Tories in jail or ban them from voting if you win?

      You are right about the "deserving and undeserving poor" direction of social policy, but we have a much better chance of avoiding it if we stick together. Remember the right wing mantra - divide and conquer - that's what those decent people in the SNP are achieving, You should have more courage and stay with Labour to fight the good fight.

    3. But this thread is about the Bedroom Tax.

      And who introduced it in the first place? Your red Tory party in the private sector with the proviso of extending it at a later date only the blue Tory's got there before you.

      There is only one way to bin this policy is to vote yes in September but as usual your party comes first.

      Vote no and this is what you get a privatized NHS.

      “That is why I am talking quite passionately about getting English Labour MPs back up the road and for me, sitting down with Neil [Findlay] and Richard [Simpson] and Rhoda [Grant] and others and saying, let’s get health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales. Wouldn’t that be a good thing, pulling in the same direction as opposed to pulling our separate ways? Devolution, in its early days, was about doing something different and it needs to enter a different phase where we start talking again more about a UK-wide policy because in the end, that helps everybody.”

      So stop crying wolf and start being honest once in your life.

    4. Before smearing others with your wild assertions look at your past leaders dismal failure in all things he touched.

      Gordon Brown and Economic Inequality

    5. Yeah that would be a great thing Andy. You could sell it off to your mates instead of the Tories selling it off cheap to their mates. How many Tories (and Labour) have interests in health companies?

      Another utter scandal.

    6. This And Eck And John Swinney are both more neoliberal than Osborne pure and utter mince.

      What you and your party fail to understand is that it is better to collect all of the tax and not allow the rife tax avoidance encouraged by successive blue Tory and red Tory party's for their future own personal career prospects.

      e.g. It is better to collect 100% of a 20% rate than 50% of a 25% rate.

    7. Sorry CH. Swinney is a self-confessed neoliberal. He has explicitly said he agrees with the Laffer Curve. There's no debate. It's not a WILD assertion. It's not even AN ASSERTION. It's a fact. And SNP stated policy (as far as they tell us) is to cut corporate tax and to freeze council tax. Both of these are Tory policies. They have so far opposed any amelioration of the Bedroom Tax. These are all concrete examples. Do you have any for your view?

    8. You and your party have really lost the plot.

      Labour froze the council tax first. We continue to support a freeze.

      Your party election leaflet at the recent by-election.

    9. Gordon Brown reduced corporation tax at least once, and I remember a speech where he said that as soon as it was possible he would do it again. (See Brown's Wiki page).

      No one used the income tax adjustor. Not Labour, not the SNP. Power over one tax is pretty much no power at all, an certainly not over something as headline as income tax. But Holyrood was being charged by Westminster for keeping the mechanism alive. We were simply giving money to the UK for something which could not be used.

      It was ridiculous too that HMRC swaid it would take a t least two years to reinstate the system if a future government wanted to use it. Why? Awkwardness?

      It was wrong of the government not to inform people, or to have a debate about doing it.

      Big fuss made by labour about how they wouldn't be able to do what they wanted when they got back into power as it was a useful tool. Weird as they had spurned it for 8 years when they were in power.

  12. I’ll try to deal with some of the points you made, BH.

    I don't accept that anything good can come of being part of a country that is ruled by a right wing party most of the time. And certainly not one that continues to pretend that it is a world power, important enough to be second fiddle to America… while it fails to provide enough work for its population, treats its unemployed like dirt, and allows people to be paid a wage that doesn’t allow them to afford their rent without benefits (and to be made to feel like scroungers to get that benefit).

    The Bedroom Tax is the fault of government. Rents at the ridiculous amounts that they are in London and the south east; people working for under £7 an hour; transport cost and heating and lighting costs are simply unaffordable on the wage rate that so many companies pay…and are allowed to pay. And no one thought to build houses for the kind of population that we have now. Single people largely split up with partners and unable to live with their spit up parents…

    I’m sure there are thing about the Uk that are good. I can’t think of any offhand, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t.

    But I can’t vote for a government in the Uk that even begins to understand my life, my lack of money. Or the lives of the people I work with desperately trying to find them some sort of work; what they call proper work; or politically incorrectly “men’s work”.

    I see no good whatsoever in the Conservatives or in New labour. They are servants of the banks and big business and, although some individuals may care about working people...Dennis Skinner comes to mind immediately... most of them seem to have no earthly idea what kind of hell it is to be poor in this country, no matter that you work all the hours god sends in some god awful supermarket or bingo hall.

    I don’t think anyone, least of all the first minister or deputy first minister, has proposed that there will not be problems in an independent country. There are problems in countries like Japan and Germany and Denmark, Sweden, Finland... countries far more advanced and better run than ours... or at least far better run for ordinary people than ours. It would be idiotic to assume that the streets will suddenly be paved with gold; people will all like each other, there will be so much money that we can all have decent homes, enough to eat, reasonable clothes and enough for a wee holiday.


  13. I don’t think though that we will all have turned on people from Pakistan within weeks of independence, or indeed Poles. I know there are Xenophobes in Scotland, but I have no idea where Smart got the impression that 100 years of David Cameron’s likes would be preferable to the racial hell of Scotland. Wow he must hate Scottish people. Even Nigel Farage isn’t that bad.

    It will be a long road, but it will be an uphill road… not the downward spiral that we are in now. It will take a long time to pay back our share of the unconscionable debt that has been accumulated by our warmongering, neocon governments and their WMDs that they see so determined other people shouldn't have, but that they, somehow better than other people, should have..

    I don’t think Osborne knows shit. He seems to me like a guy who got where he got because daddy could pay for it. Oxford is, I’m told, that kind of place. There’s something for everyone. Titled people, rich people, good sports people and clever people. He seems to have little depth or at least little understanding. His common sense in lacking.

    He knows about sniffing stuff and being very rich and putting his money where no one can get their hands on it. I don't think he understand the slightest bit about finance. I think Iain Gray has a better grasp on it than he does.

    I don’t think Gordon Brown had an idea either. The end to boom and bust is a fairy tale that everyone laughed at. There will never be an end to boom and bust… and by god he presided over a corker of a bust..

    You seem to have a problem with the central police force. Didn't Labour vote for that? It was I thought it was the Liberals who were against it, and possibly the Tories?

    I'm alarmed at the so many people seem to think that Scotland will always be ruled by Alex Salmond who is now a relatively old bloke close to retirement. I’m not in a political party. I probably would define myself as somewhere between the Liberals (well before they became Tories), Labour and the Scopttish Socialists, if they would stop all their silliness about whether their ex leader had sex in a sauna, like anyone gives a damn. If we had some decent people in Labour I would be a member Scottish (if we had one) Labour. I'm probably a socialist and a democrat. I vote SNP because there is no point in voting Scottish Socialist or Green. They aren’t about to get a referendum.


  14. Don't you think that Labour will ever be in government again? I can accept that it will be a hard thing when you have Johann Lamont as leader. The idea of her as First Minister is, I reckon, laughable,. She’s not that material. But there are surely some good people in Labour. I know some personally; indeed one of my ex councillors was an amazing man who worked tearlessly for this constituents. I have huge respect for Allan Grogan and Mr Chisholm.

    Yes of course there are Tories in the SNP. There are Liberals too (probably more than there are in the Liberal Party, although that’s not hard, and most of the people who comment on this blog are ex Labour supporters, who left because of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson and their overweening interest in attracting the stockbroker belt in the south of England.

    I have lived in England and quite liked it, but my experience of how they think of Scotland wasn’t good.

    Can you explain why you think that sticking together with a country that votes Tory most of the time will help us to have a less judgemental attitude to whether people who subsist deserve some help.

    I can see some of your arguments, even if I don’t agree with them, but the idea that a London government will ever treat the people at the bottom of our society with anything other than complete ignorance and total disdain is beyond me.

    This government…and to be honest the last, went out of their way to demonise people on the dole. With the help of the gutter press of Shoutie Dacre and Dirty Desmond they have done a job on them. Top hear Mail readers you’d think that every unemployed person had 15 kids by different partners, drank, gambled, took drugs, didn’t wash, indulged in facial art and wore trackies. I worked for 15 years with unemployed people. Not many of them meet many of these criteria.
    Labour’s Atos programmes so happily taken up by the Tories have done the same thing to sick and disabled people. You shouldn’t be ashamed to be ill; you shouldn’t be ashamed to be dying. You need help when that happens, but people have been demonised in, franking the way that they did in Germany in the 1930s.

    Now pensioners are being told they should work longer and give something back in their retirement, otherwise, doubtless they too will be scroungers.

    There are so few scroungers in the working classes and manage to scrounge so little in comparison to the middle and upper classes.

    Do you seriously think we would have a Scotland that demonised being sick… or unemployed or low paid?

    I can't imagine it. There may be Tories in Scotland, but not enough to make that attitude acceptable.

  15. Finally, I’d really like to live in a democracy.

    Alex Salmond has said he will keep the Windsors. But as I said Alex Salmond won’t always be there, and there are SNP and Labour folk that want rid of this family of scroungers.

    I also want rid of the House of Lords. Founding principle of the Labour party was to rid us of rule by aristos and churchmen from the established English church. (Established church in the 21s century??? What the hell is that about?)

    That is never going to happen in the UK. Labour have tried and tried, but the Tories are against it and I don't see it happening.

    The idea that the electorate can reject a man like Chris Patten at a general election only to have him put into parliament by making him an aristocrat… is horrendous.

    And the house of Commoners is a joke. 2/3 of the seats don’t change hands. If you are socialist in Huntingdonshire, you might as well never vote again. You are excluded from the democratic process. If you're a Tory in Dundee ...likewise. Give up or move.

    I’d like PR and an end to people who inherit their power in parliament, an end to one church being represented and an end to people being put there because they have enough money to buy a seat.

    Now I’m exhausted… 

    Bonne nuit à toutes et à tous!

    1. Tris,

      There's a lot of it - and it all seems very negative to me.

      Do you have any positive reasons for breaking up the UK?

    2. "Do you have any positive reasons for breaking up the UK?"

      It's not a reason Labour understand or care about but for me one reason is that in the last 69 years the Conservatives have ruled the Scotland for 39 of them.

    3. The U.K does not work. 307 years and what have we got?

      One of the world"s most unequal societies.
      Food banks
      A political system where, unless you live in a "marginal"seat, your views count for nothing and you may as well stay at home on polling day.
      An economy based on a bunch of self serving gamblers in London, and poverty wages everywhere else.
      Huge levels of child poverty
      Huge levels of fuel poverty.
      Governments who think that the levels of poverty can really be reduced by redefining the terms.
      Unionists who try to persuade us to stay by telling us how shit we are. Give us some POSITIVE reasons and we'll think about it.

      Scotland is not pulling away from Britain, but forming direct links with the rest of the world. We don't need Uncle England telling us what we want - we KNOW what we want as a nation, and it isn't attainable under the present system.


    4. I think this is pretty simple really:

      England wants to go Right, Scotland wants to go Left.

      Since we obviously want to go in different directions (remember the year that Scotland didn't vote for a single Conservative Party MP?), why should we continue to have one government, dominated by one of the two countries?

      Every argument from Westminster has been glorifying our past, the arguments for Independance are talking about the things we can do in the future.

      I know which of those two is more appealing.

    5. Well you read them as negatives BH...But you turn every one of my thoughts around and they become positives.

      I see a country where there is democracy, unlike at present where there is none. I see a country where I can easily get to my parliament, not have an horrifically expensive train journey and overnight accommodation in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

      I see a country where I can easily talk to ministers. Not just SNP ministers. I’ve met many ministers from Scottish governments of both colours. On all occasions, whether they were labour or SNP these meetings were extremely useful (and I include meetings with Margret Curren in that…so you can see I have no prejudice). I’ve never met anyone from a UK government and the one time it was important for me to do so and I tried very hard, I was fobbed off. I simply wasn’t important enough to see a minister, even a junior unelected one from the lords. I got photocopied letters instead.

      I see a country where we spend the money we have on the country we live in, like other small countries, regardless of oil or other natural resources. I’ve travelled quite a lot, taught abroad, and I’ve many friends from other European countries. So I understand a bit of how things are out of Britain. None is perfect of course, but with few exceptions (Romania comes to mind) they are better.

      I want to live in a country where things work, transport is integrated, clean, modern, on time; where the health service is run properly; where most children can speak their own language properly and make a good stab at second one, because there is enough money to do that. I believe that if our ministers actually spent their time running the country instead of poking their ignorant noses in to other people’s affairs about which they know nothing, then there might be the money for Scotland.

      Of course I know it is very unexciting for a minister to have to deal with drains and roads and trains and what kids are learning and whether there are waiting lists for cancer operations, and I know that sitting in Airforce One with mr Obama and discussing whether or not to bomb some poor brown people is a lot more fun and I understand that Thatcher will go down in history, as will Blair and the prime minister of Iceland or Scotland won’t… but I’m looking forward to the day when my government runs my country 24/7.

      I believe that a Scottish government would be able to do that, not because I think Scots are any better than English, but because Scotland would be unimportant. Like Denmark is; like Luxembourg is; like Sweden is; like Iceland is; like Switzerland is. No one would expect or want us to prosecute wars and have the 4th largest military spend in the world. Is that something to be proud of?

      I’m not patriotic. Patriotism is a tool used by governments to make people do things for them that they don’t want to do… like support wars, money spent on aggrandisement of leaders, etc.

      Mr Cameron said that people respect Britain or fear Britain. I laughed. The Chinese don’t see to respect us much given their insult to Cameron when he was in their country. And the Americans only respect us when we are doing what we are told. Special relationships last only as long as we continue to spend money on being able to follow then into war as was pointed out to us only a few weeks ago.
      As for fearing Britain. Who does? And why? They should fear America perhaps. Not Britain. Not since Suez, for all the money it costs Britain is only a puppet.

      The negatives and positives are mixed up. Not being Britain would be a positive. Not having David Camron and Willie Hague empire types would be a positive.

      And god knows we can do it. We’re not stupid. We are clever and we are capable. There’s no reason why we couldn’t be a vibrant and happy country.

    6. I wouldn't call Iceland or Switzerland unimportant. Iceland did the right thing in the great banking casino robbery, and Switzerland has been showing the world how to keep a country safe without having a massive military for centuries.

      They may not be massive warmongering states that like enforcing their will on the world, but they provide a positive example of how we could be.

      I'd call a positive example more important than a negative one, even if the negative one has more impact. (But I think we're starting to get into which type of important we're talking about here: impact vs worth)

  16. Interesting, but not surprising that a unionist supporters see's as negative what a pro-independence supporters regards as a positive.

    Getting rid of the house of lords would be a positive thing; an unelected, untouchable, ill-informed, nepotistic and corrupt jobs-for-the-boys set up.

    And that's just one example.

    Democratic deficit
    So-called sharing and pooling of resources to benefit ???
    Scotland a perpetual after-thought in all UK negotiations
    A hostile media (not just to the idea of indy but to the idea of Scotland itself.)
    A trickle down of tory policies which will soon become inexorable and unavoidable (Bedroom tax is an example, and we have a unionist claiming this as the fault of the Scottish Government.)
    A corrupt House of Commons, totally out of touch not just with Scotland but with most of the UK (see low turn out figures.)

    The list goes on, the British Empire is in its final death throes - it needs put out of its misery and Westminster needs to wind its neck in and learn to live within its adjusted-down means.

    1. Aye trickle down Pa!

      Where does it trickle down to?

      According to the Business Secretary, it is sucking the life out of the rest of Britain.

      London and the SE is a rich country; the rest of us live in the third world.

    2. Tris,
      The recent poll showed London growing at the fastest rate in the UK (what you would call sucking the life out of the rest of the UK).

      Edinburgh grew at the second-fastest rate. Does that mean Edinburgh is sucking the life out of the rest of Scotland? Or would do so if you had your "independence"?

      BTW just how would an "independent" Scotland stop the London/Berlin/Milan golden triangle growing at the expense of the rest of the EU. If you know the answer to that a lucrative career in economics awaits you....

      Bet you haven't even considered it...

    3. I was quoting an Eng;lish government minister... (Cable, Cabinet Secretary for Business)

      I've not considered how to stop anyone else growing. I'm thinking about how we could grow. Spending all that money that we save on warring... and subsidising a dead imperial power.

      Surely that's positivity!

      Probably when the EU refuse to do what Mr Cameron demands of them, London will case to be a part of it anyway.

  17. "Bedroom tax is an example, and we have a unionist claiming this as the fault of the Scottish Government"

    Really? I thought they were just saying that the Scottish Government should break the law to pay Westminster what they want to get out of the poor?

  18. Doug
    A number of those times Scotland voted Tory. Do you intend to ban Tory voters if you get your "independence"?

    According to all the economic experts, the things you mention are likely to get worse immediately after "independence".
    Do you think self-serving gamblers in Edinburgh are an improvement. Or MORE child poverty? More poverty generally?

    Do you care at all about the poor getting poorer? If you do, vote No.

    1. Are you going to resign after a Yes vote?

      All you are doing is tying yourself in knots as you have no vision beyond power for powers sake.

      The Fear Factor.

    2. 'According to all the economic experts, the things you mention are likely to get worse immediately after "independence".'
      Please cite an example of *every* economic expert saying that. If you can't then you're lying.

      Quit it with the hyperbole. Plenty of economists are saying that Scotland would be better in the long run with independance.

      I know thinking beyond the next election isn't encouraged at Westminster, but everywhere else it's considered standard practice.

      "Do you think self-serving gamblers in Edinburgh are an improvement."
      Or, you know, we could use Iceland as an example of what to do with gamblers? Being independant would mean that we could do that.

      And since Westminster is responsible for the current trend, and seem happy to let it continue, why should I believe that things will get better if we let them keep at it?

    3. A number of those times Scotland voted Tory. Do you intend to ban Tory voters if you get your "independence"?

      Certainly not Braveheart. I just don't subscribe to the Labour slogan, "Better Tory than independent".

    4. Thanks to Illy for picking up those points.

      BH, I notice you didn't mention the growing inequality in this country - under the three right of centre parties likely to hold power in 2015, that is not going to change. The rich will keep getting richer and the poor will be blamed.

      it is also a little white lie to say that Scotland voted Tory at any time - the party they voted for (it was even before my time...) was the Unionist Party, which was later absorbed into the English/Welsh Conservative party.

      All unionists bleat about "shared history" and past glories. This is about the future - not us, but our children and grandchildren, and THEIR children and grandchildren. Westminster sees Scottish assets as trinkets to be traded for their wee bit of "clout", their "seat at the top table", their EU rebate.

      We need a Government of those who live here, whose families depend on Scotland's success, because they are the people who will appreciate what's at risk here.

      That can only be achieved in an independent Scotland.

  19. Illy
    No doubt you could find a stray with "economist" in his/her job description who might support "independence", Hughes Halkett comes to mind, but he has been quiet recently.

    All the respected in-depth studies are bad news for those like yourself.

    The latest from the IFS. Others from The Fraser of Allander Institute, Prof Midwinter, Chantry Vallecott. Even the Cuthberts left the GERS Committee saying that there was an undeniable gap between income and expenditure in Scotland.

    If there is one in-depth comprehensive respected published economic study that says there will not be an adverse impact of "independence" I would be happy to read it, if you refer.

    1. try this...

    2. Ah! Prof Midwimter allowed speak unchallenged on the airwaves that he is impartial with no political baggage. He was a Labour councilor for 30yrs so lying seems to be part of his training to join the Labour gravy train.

      You are adding nothing to the debate with your persistent trolling.

    3. As published I the FT last month

      How would a yes vote for independence affect the Scottish economy and the rest of the UK in 2014?
      Richard Jeffrey, Cazenove:
      I think there is an insufficient understanding of the impact that (full) Scottish independence would have on either its or the wider UK economy. I would include myself as having an insufficient understanding. My suspicion is that for Scotland to have to maintain its own fiscal and monetary institutions would be very onerous; it is also possible that Scotland would see some of its finance industry migrate south of the border. I would also be concerned that independence could cause skilled labour to leave the country. It could also result, longer term, in more extreme economic cycles.
      If we start from first principles, independence would inevitably create uncertainty. Uncertainty is normally damaging to growth. That damage is likely to be greater within an economy with less mass, unless there is sufficient policy flexibility to counteract/contain the short-term disruption.
      Professor Nick Bosanquet, Imperial College:
      There would be great concern that a notably stable group in the UK had taken leave of its senses. Such a vote would leave the UK on the edge of a new spiral of falling confidence. It would raise concerns about the EU referendum. This uncertainty would be the biggest threat to UK economic stability. The Yes vote would be a disaster for the UK as a whole not just for Scotland.
      James Knightley, ING:
      I am a bit of a pessimist on this as no one knows what they are signing up to. Depending on the agreement struck between Scotland and the rest of the UK, which could take years to agree in any case, there may be the argument for another referendum on whether this is what the population actually wants. I think the uncertainty will be damaging for everyone, plus the uncertainty relating to the UK’s own potential referendum on EU membership. It is going to make a lot of foreign companies think twice about investing in the UK and competitor economies in Europe are not going to be slow in pointing this out to potential investors.

    4. Cont...
      Erik Nielsen, UniCredit:
      A yes-vote would cause massive uncertainty as the parties would begin to flesh out how to divide assets and liabilities as well as income streams. Scotland would also face the additional uncertainty of being (at least temporarily) outside the EU, and using a currency with (apparently) no influence on monetary policy. I am somewhat surprised that the market seems to brush aside the risk of a yes-vote.
      Samuel Brittan, Financial Times:
      Rest of economy, very little. Scotland would get a downward hit at first, then recover.
      Peter Dixon, Commerzbank:
      Scotland will probably fare better than Whitehall believes and worse than the SNP thinks if it were to go it alone. But there are many unknowns and they will only become evident in due course. Oil revenues are likely to fall over time and someone will have to bear the costs of decommissioning, so it is not the one-way bet which Mr Salmond is telling the Scots. A fiscally independent Scotland will – at least initially – be dependent on monetary policy set in London suggesting no guarantee of monetary and fiscal co-ordination. Scotland is also a long way from the European mainland and, like the north east of England, may struggle to attract inward investment. The biggest single issue for the rest of the UK is probably how to manage its nuclear defence capabilities. But for those of us who identify themselves as British, it would be more of an emotional loss resulting in a diminished nation with less global clout. The remainder of the UK (mainly England) may well become even more eurosceptic and it will raise the prospects of the Conservatives remaining in office after the 2015 election, and thus the prospect of a referendum on EU membership. So a Scottish “yes” may end up hastening the UK’s departure from the EU.
      John Hawksworth, PwC:
      No comment
      Professor Mike Wickens, York University:
      It would reduce the rate of growth of Scottish GDP due to lower capital investment and increase the share of Scottish GDP spent by its government on welfare and administration. It would give Scotland an even more unsuitable monetary policy than at present as monetary policy would be set for UK which would have a higher rate of inflation than at present due to the removal of lower Scottish inflation from the present UK average figure. It may also result in higher migration to UK.
      Philip Booth, Institute of Economic Affairs:
      The first major problem Scotland will have will be how to deal with a debt of nearly 100 per cent of national income and an ageing population as a new country with no debt servicing record. For that reason, I suspect Scots will be risk averse and not vote for independence!

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Cont...

      Philip Rush, Nomura:
      Higher taxes on income would push many wealthy individuals and some companies they work for south of the border, harming Scotland’s economy. More interventionist policies also appear likely and this could easily stifle the creative capitalistic tendencies that ultimately drive growth. A fate similar to the secular stagnation in productivity seen in parts of Europe’s socialist south may await, just without the extra adjustment pains to go through, at least at the start. Meanwhile the more free market friendly rump of the UK should get to benefit from a more vibrant (albeit brutal) economy, including lower taxation since it will cease cross-subsidising Scottish spending. Scottish independence would also increase the probability of “Brexit” because the rest of the UK is inherently more eurosceptic and a Conservative victory in the May-15 general election would become almost certain, confirming that the referendum on EU membership actually happens. The effect of all that is another question though . . .
      Ruth Porter, Policy Exchange:
      It is difficult to see how an independent Scotland bound by the Bank of England would work. Not only would the end of the Union damage the valuable economic and social integration across the nations involved with untold consequences, but the raft of economically incoherent policies being proposed by Alex Salmond would be disastrous for Scotland specifically.
      I think this is more a PhD thesis than a question. It is also one that I see as largely hypothetical – not least after the recent revised growth estimates for Scotland. However, I can see this as having nothing but a damaging effect for Scotland. Without sharp shift in corporate tax rates which the country can ill-afford, the immediate impact of the severe increase in uncertainty for Scotland (and to some extent the rest of the UK) would be a stalling of any further business investment. The real issue in the near term would be one of uncertainty along the well-rehearsed lines of what currency; how would monetary policy shift to accommodate Scottish sterling; the division of assets including income streams (and future decommissioning liabilities) of N Sea; EU membership. It is not clear that business would be prepared to invest in Scotland with these uncertainties hanging over him, just at a time when business investment is necessary to sustain the recovery.
      Over the longer-term and beyond 2014, the sustainability of the Scottish public finances looks questionable unless a newly independent Scottish government can re-craft fiscal policy to underpin a marked increase in trend growth rates. I doubt this is possible.
      David Riley, BlueBay Asset Management:
      In the near-term, a vote for independence would have little effect on the Scottish and UK economies. The longer-term effect for Scotland would depend on the terms and conditions of its exit from the UK.

    7. Cont...
      Phil Thornton, Clarity Economics:
      Pass (but intuitively feel it will be negative for both).
      Patrick Minford, Cardiff Business School:
      I think it would substantially disrupt the Scottish economy and Scottish business confidence as economic policies in Scotland seem to be essentially socialist in approach. As far as the UK economy is concerned it would be shrugged off as of course the UK economy is largely powered by London and the South East.
      Less than most people think.
      Charles Goodhart, former MPC member:
      The uncertainty up to September will be a minor headwind. If Scotland should vote yes, it would have an adverse effect on the Scottish economy, but not one that would be immediately obvious for a year or two. There would be a minor blip in financial markets in the UK, but that would soon pass.
      Geoffrey Dicks, former BRC member:
      There is always one question that I pass on.
      Tony Dolphin, IPPR:
      Negatively. It would create huge uncertainty, which is bad for investment, in particular, but demand in general.
      Ray Barrell, Brunel University:
      The impacts in 2014 would be small. Independence is the introduction of a new border. That is likely to reduce Scottish GDP by 3 per cent, and English GDP by 1 per cent, in the long run.
      However, in the longer term, England would have a significant regime change, as we would no longer be ruled by Browns, Blairs, Homes/Humes, Camerons or Macmillans, but rather just Majors, Thatchers, and Wilsons.
      Richard Barwell, RBS:
      I don’t really have an informed view on this question.
      George Buckley, Deutsche Bank:
      A “yes” vote for Scotland seems the least likely option of the two possibilities at the moment. It would probably have little impact on the immediate prospects for the “continuing UK”, but with Scotland’s economy highly geared to oil (though less so

    8. Cont...
      than in the past) the prospects for the Scottish economy could be highly volatile. Perhaps more importantly, a yes vote may have implications for an EU referendum for the UK – it could prove difficult for the government to push its case for staying in the EU if it can’t keep the UK together in the first place.
      Trevor Williams, Lloyds Banking Group:
      Scotland will decide.
      Andrew Smithers, Smithers & Co:
      Unlikely events cause unexpected shocks, which tend to be more disruptive than the same event when expected, but the impact would not be large in fundamental terms.
      George Magnus, adviser to UBS:
      It’s hard to be positive about a Scottish yes vote economically, in spite of oil revenues, which is the whole case in favour. In fact, viable Scottish economic independence is a bit of an oxymoron, as the terms of secession would reveal, so what’s the point? And it’s a massive contingent liability for the rest of the UK, not least if, as seems likely, the industrial commodity supercycle is now over. As regards 2014, early effects of a yes might include capital flight from north to south, and a sulk in Sterling.
      Not much. For sure, there will be a bit of worry, but at heart Scotland would remain a country with good institutions, the rule of law, good trade links, good human capital, good infrastructure, etc. If Scotland wants to go its own way it should not be put off by scare stories and threats about the £, membership of the EU, etc. These things will surely follow.
      Lee Hopley, EEF:
      The run-up to the vote will probably add another uncertainty to the list for potential investors, but it will be a struggle to isolate this factor. A yes vote won’t be game changing economically in 2014, nor on its own in the years that follow. It’s not just independence that will make the difference, it’s what a future Scottish government does with it that will matter.
      Keith Wade, Schroders:
      If we get a yes there would be massive wrangling over fiscal arrangements in order to avoid a rerun of the euro crisis within the new GBP zone. When combined with the considerable uncertainty over whether Scotland can remain in the EU, Scottish business would start to head south. From an economic perspective the rest of the UK would be better off as business relocates and if it can be rid of the fiscal burden of Scotland under the new system.

    9. Cont.....
      Peter Westaway, Vanguard:
      A yes vote for independence for Scotland would likely damage the Scottish economy. With ongoing uncertainty about the role of Scotland in Europe, private investment would likely fall, positive fiscal transfers from England would dry up and the status of who runs Scottish monetary policy would undermine monetary stability. The rest of the UK would likely be harmed at the margin too (despite the potential fiscal benefits). My hope is that these potential ramifications are well aired before the vote takes place.
      Jonathan Portes, NIESR:
      I will leave this to my colleague Angus Armstrong.
      Don’t know enough about Scotland. Neutral for the rest of the UK in the short run and favourable in the longer run (though I don’t want them to go).
      Professor John Muellbauer, Oxford University:
      Not much in the short run, but much depends on the details of the new monetary and fiscal arrangements.
      Scotland I haven’t really thought enough about this to give a worthwhile view I’m afraid – primarily because I very much doubt that Scotland will vote “yes”.
      James Ashley, RBC Capital Markets:
      Given the likelihood that not all of the detailed, step-by-step plans of how to dissolve the union will have been enunciated prior to the referendum – or at least there will be elements of those plans that will not be entirely clear – then a ‘yes’ vote in September would most likely lead to significant market volatility in sterling assets during Q4/13. The uncertainty behind that volatility would also be manifest in the real economy with businesses perhaps initially more reluctant to invest (in both Scotland and the continuing-UK) until the dust has settled and there is greater clarity on how the relationship between the two legally separate states will work in practice (and what will be their respective relationships/statuses with the EU) and what are the economic prospects for each of the two countries.

    10. Cont....

      David B. Smith, Shadow MPC:
      The main issues with Scottish independence are geopolitical and defence ones. Think what would have happened to England in 1940, or the Napoleonic Wars, or at the time of the Spanish armada, if Scotland had been neutral or hostile, for example. Irish independence and the loss of its West coast ‘treaty ports’ nearly cost Britain the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. The economic issues are trivial by comparison, unless one is assuming that there will never ever be another comparable external threat – e.g., from Putin’s Russia. One suspects that if Scotland did achieve independence it would follow a similar path to Slovakia – i.e., starting by trying to maintain a hardline socialist state, ending up with a major economic crisis, and then doing a volte face towards ultra-liberalism. The Scots would probably be well advised to set up a currency board arrangement, either with sterling or the euro. A major regulatory problem would be the Royal Bank of Scotland group, which may control half the domestic Scottish banking market. The Scots could nationalise the domestic RBS – to control this near monopoly position – but could not afford to take over the entire group. It is surprising that Mr Salmond, who is an ex-RBS employee, is not leading a campaign to split the NatWest from the RBS part of the group.
      Philip Shaw, Investec:
      Difficult to say. With an economy so dependent on oil, it will have to live with the fact that overall it will be on a slow growth path, given that official projections of oil and gas output are flat over the medium-term. For the rest of the UK one issue is what would happen to the nuclear submarine facility which is located in Faslane, Scotland. Also would Scotland be allowed into a monetary union with the UK? Would this leave the UK acting as the lender of last resort to Scotland in the eventuality of an economic accident? We would point out that most opinion polls put the majority for a ‘no’ vote in the region of 20 per cent.
      Michael Saunders, Citi:
      No effect on monetary or fiscal policies. But dramatic political implications over the UK’s place in the world and Labour’s ability to get a parliamentary majority in the rest of the UK. 2014 is the year that political uncertainty returns with a band for the UK, with the Scottish referendum followed by the 2015 general election and possible EU referendum further ahead. The combination of those could leave the UK looking very different in political terms over the next few years.
      Jonathan Loynes, Capital Economics:
      As the vote takes place in September, the outcome seems unlikely to have a big effect on Scotland or the rest of the UK in 2014. Further ahead, though, we don’t think a Yes vote would have much impact on Scotland, but it could be negative for the rest of the UK because of the potential loss of some North Sea revenues and the continued monetary obligations and exposures.
      Ross Walker, RBS:
      I’m wrestling with this. At heart I am strongly in favour of the Union and believe that maintaining the status quo would ultimately be beneficial for both Scotland and the rest of the UK. But there is also an attraction – certainly from an ‘economic experiment’ perspective – in a ‘Yes’ vote. An independent Scotland would almost certainly have more left-of-centre policies (a more interventionist State, higher public spending and taxation) than the rest of the UK. Empirically, the relative economic performance (even over as a short a timeframe as a decade) might help to resolve a number of contentious economic policy issues.
      The Scottish referendum is hard to trade in financial markets – eg, in the currency space an independent Scotland would retain sterling. I suspect the immediate/short-

    11. Cont,,,

      term market reaction to a ‘Yes’ vote would be negative for the pound and for sterling assets in general due to the heightened political uncertainty/risk.
      And, as a Scot living in England I don’t get a vote – which doesn’t seem right.
      Professor Chris Pissarides, LSE:
      It would not be good for either, especially the Scottish economy. Being part of the UK gives a smaller economy like Scotland’s the assurance that if something goes wrong there will be help forthcoming. The last thing any Scot should wish is to give up the support potentially available from the UK (England?) for support from the European Union under Germany’s rules.
      It would be a catastrophe.
      Gary Styles, GPS Economics:
      Very difficult to answer with any accuracy. Any modelling exercise with the current data is likely to prove flawed as the new environment will require a completely new model for the Scottish economy and how this relates to the UK and the rest of the world. However, putting aside these uncertainties and the recent understatement of Scottish output growth, I would expect a yes vote to be positive for the rest of the UK assuming all of the major uncertainties on deficit contribution, oil revenue, sterling use, defence spending can be quickly resolved!
      David Owen, Jeffries:
      The starting point for an independent Scotland would be government debt to GDP of between 75 and 85 per cent and a budget deficit of around 3 per cent of GDP. Given the example of Canada they would only be able to fund themselves by issuing bonds trading between 250 and 300 basis points over gilts at least initially when this spread could come in below 200. EMU is no longer an option and there is a high risk they will be asked – led by the Spanish to leave the EU. Threatening to walk away from their obligations in the event that the BoE would not provide lender of last resort for their banks inside a monetary union with the rest of the UK is not credible. That would amount to a default which would severely limit their options, substantially raise their funding costs and plunge Scotland into deep recession. As it is Scotland is likely to see an ongoing loss of business as it migrates south of the border. However the rest of the UK would also suffer given some loss of trade with a very important trading partner. Gilt funding costs would rise. On economic grounds does not make sense.

    12. Cont....
      Vicky Pryce, independent economist:
      Add to that the unsettling effects of a Scottish referendum which is at present hard to call and the likely defeat of all the major parties by Ukip in the European elections. The policy prescription therefore must be: handle with care!”
      Howard Davies, chairman Airports Commission:
      In 2014, not at all. But thereafter the road to the isles could be rocky.
      Ian Plenderleith, former MPC member:
      No comment.
      Professor Richard Portes, London Business School:
      It won’t happen.
      Andrew Sentance, former MPC member:
      I do not expect a Yes vote for Scottish independence. If it did occur, the economic consequences would be limited, as in many respects the SNP want to maintain the status quo on economic policy – eg keeping sterling as Scotland’s currency. An independent Scotland would find itself more constrained on fiscal policy as implicit subsidies from south of the border would cease. England would probably be the main beneficiary of a vote for Scottish independence!
      Professor Jagjit Chadha, University of Kent:
      I do not think we fully understand the impact of Scottish Independence on the UK economy. The monetary and financial settlement for an independent Scotland is far from established and questions of defence and reintegration with the EU are not at all clear. Independence would certainly create a of work for legislators. If the Referendum can promote a sensible debate on the costs and benefits of Independence, as well as a coherent plan in the case of a Yes vote, then it will have achieved much already. But time is rather short.
      Peter Warburton, Economic Perspectives:
      Much depends on the currency issue. Alex Salmond should give up on the currency union plan and launch an independent Scottish currency.
      Brian Hilliard, Société Générale:
      It would create major uncertainty about the viability of the country as an economic unit. Growth would be hurt. Little impact on the rest of the UK in 2014 but it should change the election dynamics in 2015 – slightly increasing the chances of the Conservatives retaining power.
      Malcolm Barr, JPMorgan:
      For Scotland it creates narrow energy dependence and uncertainty. For the rest of the UK, it simply creates uncertainty, which could restrict investment spending and bias choices in terms of industrial location.

    13. Cont.....
      Dhaval Joshi, BCA Research:
      It would be deeply ironic if the United Kingdom established fiscal independence with monetary union just as the euro area concludes that such a set-up is unworkable. There would be minimal short-term economic impact, but the long-term viability of such a structure would be as suspect as it has been in the euro area.
      Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Oxford University:
      On fiscal matters the negotiating position of an independent Scotland is weak, and as a result arrangements if they keep Sterling will be tough. I would not be surprised if we ended up with a new Scottish currency if Scotland votes for independence. I suspect the SNP know this, but want to avoid admitting it before the vote.
      Don Smith, ICAP:
      Short term, I suspect very little effect – certainly in 2014. If anything, a yes vote would generate uncertainty about the economic impact and institutional structures going forward and would likely be negative for GDP growth in the short term, in Scotland, impinging on real investment and consumer confidence, but much of this will likely play out in 2015.
      David Goodhart, Demos:
      It would be a big economic shock and would produce a huge number of uncertainties. The subsequent untangling could take more than a decade to complete and would be a significant drag on business confidence, perhaps sufficient to knock the recovery off course. This in itself ought to be another good reason to stick to the constitutional status quo, which has proved pretty flexible for Scotland in recent years.
      Charles Davis, Centre for Economics and Business Research:
      A yes vote for Scotland could be challenging economically as I am not sure businesses really understand what it actually means and that uncertainty is likely to hold back the investment pipeline; there are too many unresolved issues and challenges in the details of the notion of Scottish independence. At the most basic level, an independent Scotland is going to have to deal with its deficit just as much as the next government in Westminster is; the North Sea revenue only really covers up higher public spending commitments per head in Scotland and that is the nub of the issue. As we know at a UK-level, whichever party or coalition of parties wins the 2015 election is going to have to deliver a credible plan for deficit reduction – and just the same imperative will apply in Holyrood. Therefore, there will be similar fiscal tightening pressures for the Scottish government no matter what happens.

    14. Cont.....
      Andrew Hilton, Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation:
      If there were a Yes vote (and I am less sanguine than many, given that I can still remember my children’s political sophistication at the age of 16), there would be an utter panic – with the Scottish fund managers heading for the border in droves. Then the sun would come up the next morning (well, maybe that’s too much to ask for in Scotland), and everyone would realise that there will be a couple of years’ negotiation, and things would settle down again. That said, the Spanish and Belgians (and maybe the French and Italians) would get very nervous . . .
      John Llewellyn, Llewellyn Consulting:
      I have no idea – as, I suspect, is the case with most people, especially those who express a strong view.
      Neil Blake, Experian:
      Uncertainty never does any good
      Gavyn Davies, Fulcrum Asset Management:
      This would be an unmitigated disaster for Scotland, and a modest negative for the rest of the UK, because of the huge economic disruption it would cause in the Scottish economy.
      Professor Andrew Oswald, University of Warwick:
      As someone with two economics degrees from Scottish universities, independence would likely make Scotland a bit happier, because of greater autonomy, and a bit poorer, because of the need to switch currency and the lack of funding from the southeast of the UK. As money usually wins in people’s minds, it seems like that the independence vote will be turned down.
      Andrew Simms, New Economics Foundation:
      Most obviously a yes vote would signal a long and complex negotiation over what independence means in practice for the economy – ranging from the currency and money supply, to control of contracts and revenue streams from the fossil fuel sector, to the labour market and membership of the European Union. The full, long-term effects of the change will take a while to emerge, with many unpredictable and dependent on subsequent policy choices. For example, would the revenues from North Sea oil and gas be better or worse managed, invested to pave the way for more sustainable energy systems or spent on minimising the costs of separation? I would be cautious of any overconfident predictions, positive or negative. For the rest of the UK it will change how we think of ourselves and, I suspect, have a much bigger political than economic consequence. If we believe in freedom and self-determination, however, we should respect Scotland’s right to choose for itself.
      Stephen King, HSBC:
      A disaster for Scotland, a shrug of the shoulders for everybody else.

    15. Cont.....

      Gerard Lyons, Adviser to the London Mayor:
      It is not just the vote but the policies that are pursued after that are key. But the immediate implication will be uncertainty regarding the future policy stance and institutional set-up. It would be premature to draw too many conclusions from Scotland’s vote to a UK Referendum vote. I don’t think a yes vote would derail the UK recovery.
      Howard Archer, IHS Global Insight:
      Given that the referendum is not taking place until September, the impact in 2014 would likely be limited unless opinion polls start pointing to a very close vote or even a yes vote early on in the year. Even if there is a yes vote, independence will not occur until 2016 so the impact of a yes vote may still be limited over the final months of 2014.
      A yes vote would cause serious uncertainty, especially given many economic aspects of independence remain unclear such as the role of the Bank of England and how exactly the public finances of Scotland and the rest of the UK will be affected.
      Uncertainty may cause some delaying of companies‘ investment/business decisions while they waited for greater clarity on how exactly they Scottish economy will look after independence and what policies the Scottish government will really be able to follow given the state of their public finances.
      While the rest of the UK would obviously be affected economically, it needs to be borne in mind that Scotland only accounts for some 8 per cent of UK GDP.
      Amit Kara, UBS:
      UK risk premia will jump higher. This will be reflected in higher bond yields, a weaker currency and falling equity prices. Investment spending and consumption will suffer.
      Bridget Rosewell, Volterra:
      Such a vote will create alarm, uncertainty and confusion which will remain until it is clear what currency and what debt Scotland will use. Then they will probably join the rest of continental Europe in the slow slide to the lowest common denominator.
      Ryan Bourne, Centre for Policy Studies:
      This is a moot question because it will not happen. But in the event it did, I believe the process would be extremely disruptive for both Scotland and the UK, due to the unanswered questions surrounding monetary policy and the division of the UK’s existing national debt. I also believe a “no” vote could be good economically for the UK, as it is very likely we’ll end up with more tax and spending powers devolved to the Scottish government.

    16. Cont.....

      Melanie Baker, Morgan Stanley:
      One of the most significant initial impacts seems likely to be increased uncertainty for businesses and markets, partly given that the issues of how the debt will be divided up and what the currency arrangements will be seem far from being settled.
      Neville Hill, Credit Suisse:
      If Scotland was to vote “yes” the issue may not be whether Scotland keeps the pound but whether the pound keeps Scotland. One lesson of the euro area crisis is that if markets sniff a risk of currency redenomination in a currency union, cross border capital flows can verge on the economically catastrophic until or unless the authorities state they’ll do “whatever it takes” to ensure that redenomination doesn’t happen. The capital flows wouldn’t be as dramatic as they were in Spain or Italy – but the flow of direct and portfolio investment, as well as some bank deposits, south of the border would provide Scotland with a nasty negative monetary shock. And nobody in the UK would be willing or able to do a Draghi.
      Professor Nicholas Barr, London School of Economics:
      Since the issue is (a) vastly multidimensional, (b) affected by decisions yet to be taken (e.g. terms on which Scotland could join the EU), and (c) influenced by behavioural change, outcomes are unknowable. Uncertainty about the effects of a complex change would itself lead to some turbulence.
      Frances Cairncross, Exeter College, Oxford University:
      A yes vote would have little effect in 2014. But in the longer run, it would probably result in a slightly poorer Scotland and a wealthier north of England, as some activity shifted south. That assumes the Scots don’t get away with a big cut in corporation tax – and do end up having to raise income tax beyond southern levels because of higher spending.
      Professor John van Reenen, Centre for Economic Performance:
      It would have a negative effect on Scotland and the UK. Scottish debt would face a larger risk premium because of being a smaller and more volatile economy (as it is resource based).
      Professor Peter Spencer, York University:
      We have stood together through thick and thin despite our differences and I think it would be a great pity if our Scottish neighbours voted for independence. I am particularly concerned that our reluctance to take sides and sway the decision looks to many Scots like English indifference. Having said that, Scottish independence would not be a disaster. Assuming that the English do not leave, we can all prosper as part of the wider European Union.

    17. Cont....

      Jamie Dannhauser, Lombard Street Research:
      A Scottish “Yes” to independence would clearly drive some businesses south – people too in all probability, often the most able ones – witness Quebec in the 1970s, where business fled Montreal for Toronto, much of it permanently. In the long run there is no reason why Scotland should not be viable as an economy – if it is forced down the Irish 1980s-90s road that could be all to the good. As with the Irish, Scotland would be better off with its own currency, given the north/south divide in the UK economy – with its own currency, the loser could be the north of England.
      Rob Wood, Berenberg Bank:
      The immediate impact would be a large rise in uncertainty and saving, probably on both sides of the border. A Scottish exit would weigh on the rump-UK for a year or two but it would pass. Scotland might be more damaged. It has 5mn of the 63mn inhabitants of the UK and is more reliant than the rump-UK on a declining source of income: oil. And the post split monetary arrangement do not seem well worked out.
      The more profound implications for the rump-UK are what a Scottish exit would mean for the likely EU membership referendum in 2017. Losing the relatively Europhile Scots could make a rump-UK exit from the EU more likely, which would matter long-term. 45 per cent of UK exports go to the EU, membership encourages inward investment. And, if Germany is anything to go by, it does not discourage exporting a lot to fast growing countries like China.
      If Ukip gains a lot in the European elections and Scotland votes out of the UK, worries about UK exit of the EU will rise materially, adding to uncertainty, discouraging investment and hurting the nascent UK recovery.

    18. I think I may have got the sequencing a bit cocked u at the start, but you see the lesson. Dozens of economists, v few even neutral on the damaging effects on Scotland and the UK.

      Evidence enough for you guys?

    19. Prof John Kay, former economic adviser to Alex Salmond:

      "If I represented the Scottish government in the extensive
      negotiations required by the creation of an independent
      state, I would try to secure a monetary union with England,
      and expect to fail … So Scotland might be driven towards the option of an independent Scottish currency.

      Alex Salmond has said I think rather stupidly that there is
      no plan B. The trouble with having no plan B is you don’t have any negotiating power if you don’t have a Plan B. So there has to be a Plan B. And Plan B has to be an independent currency.”

    20. Dr Angus Armstrong, Director of Macroeconomic
      Research at National Institute of Economic and Social Research and ESRC Scotland fellow

      “If citizens on either side of the border have no guarantee
      that the sterling union will continue to be the preferred option in future, then the arrangement is fragile because of this possibility of future changes of heart. Suggesting that the currency union may not be permanent leaves the system exposed. We have argued that the higher the level of debt an independent Scotland inherits the more vulnerable the currency union would be. To unconditionally commit to a currency union in perpetuity requires political union. Indeed the euro has survived precisely because there is a high degree of political commitment. Scottish independence is a political
      move in the opposite direction.”

    21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    22. David Marsh
      Former Europe editor for the Financial Times & Chair of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum

      “Salmond has chosen to ignore the prime lesson of economic and monetary union (EMU) – that you need political union to make monetary union work … Salmond says the Bank of England and sterling are ‘as much Scotland’s assets as London’s assets.’ He doesn’t seem to have thought that this could change in the event that Scotland withdraws from the British union. The rest of Britain’s government and people, drawing the appropriate conclusions from the EMU debacle, would be likely to refuse to endorse a currency union with a country over which they had no political control.”

      “The glaring absence in the white paper of a ‘Plan B’ for
      the probable rejection of the ‘monetary-union-without political- union’ plan has been advanced as one reason
      why the document is unlikely to change the present
      Scottish opinion poll majority in favour of maintaining the link with England.”

    23. Or this...

    24. Too much text, only skimmed it.

      Sum it up for me, how many of those economists are from London, how many from the South-East of England, how many from Scotland, and how many from the rest of the UK?

      I'm talking where they've lived for the last few years, and where their jobs are, not where they were born.

    25. Ronald MacDonald, Adam Smith Chair of Political Economy at the University of Glasgow

      “An alternative to plan A, a continued sterling monetary union post-independence, is urgently needed since as I and others have pointed out it suffers from huge problems. The sterling zone would be untenable from day one of independence, or more likely a long time before independence, because financial markets are forward looking.”
      “So with no well thought through plan B in place the outcome of a Yes vote would produce a very uncertain time for the Scottish economy, with likely massive disruption to employment and output which would be generational in its impact. Without a plan B, then, on the currency issue the Scottish public are effectively being duped about the potential massive costs and disruption to the Scottish economy.”

    26. Oh dear Illy

      "how many of those economists are from London, how many from the South-East of England, how many from Scotland, and how many from the rest of the UK?"

      Why should it matter? These are respecte professionals with reputations and careers at risk if they cock it up. Do you think if they are English or lived in England they would lie?

      You asked for the names of prominent economists that would say "independence" is a mistake. I gave you dozens (and I have more if you want) but you still can't accept it.

      The economic case for "independence" is sunk. Doon the stank. The ba' is, as they say, in the slates. You should accept it.

      Or have you evidence to the contrary? If so, let's see it.

    27. It matters because they will be looking out for their own interests in how they write their reports, and be influenced by the culture that they are surrounded by.

      No-one is unbiased, and understanding reports' bias is important in judging it.

      Also, I note that you didn't give me the stats there, you just mentioned one from Glasgow. Can I assume that he's the only one on your list from Scotland?

      (another fun fact, *DAVID CAMERON* has said that an independant Scotland would be a perfectly sucessful counrty. I tend to trust politicians when they're saying something that puts them at a disadvantage, because it normally means that they're feeling that they can't lie about it)

    28. "No-one is unbiased,"... so who do you believe?

    29. Sir John Gieve, Former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England

      “If a new Scotland wanted to have a formal currency union, it would need to agree the terms with the remaining UK government. I would expect that government to drive a
      pretty hard bargain. For example, it would want to onstrain
      how much the Scottish Government borrowed.”

    30. Yes, who do you believe:

      Someone who may have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo (anyone who lives of London's coattails does), and is saying "status quo good"

      Or someone who has a vested interest in maintianing the status quo, and is saying "Of course Scotland would be a successful independant country" (David Cameron), or is saying "Scotland would be substansially better off than currently under independance" (Westminster's economic report on Scotland (GERS), recently reported in the Financial Times).

      I know I'm more likely to believe the person who's admitted a point that weakens his position than one spouting stuff that supports it.

    31. Also: Sir John Gieve. Not a vested interest in maintaining the UK at all there, right?

      This is the guy responsible for MI5 when we followed America to war over nukes that didn't exist, and "Deputy Governor for Financial Stability" at the Bank of England during the great banking casino robbery (officially known as "the bank bailout").

      Why am I not convinced that his opinion is worth anything useful?

  20. Doug,
    "Do you have any positive reasons for breaking up the UK?"

    It's not a reason Labour understand or care about but for me one reason is that in the last 69 years the Conservatives have ruled the Scotland for 39 of them.""

    That seems profoundly anti-democratic to me. Does it mean that 70 years on, if Tories from, say Perth, are unhappy, they should break up Scotland?

    1. If by that time Perth has its own sense of national identity, legal system, NHS, education system, national sporting teams and they discover it was only joined to Scotland via a treaty which has been repeatedly broken by the Scots and they also have a Perth National Party which is running Perth after winning a majority through an election run under proportional representation and has called an independence referendum promised in its manifesto at election time then I can't see why not.

    2. So you agree it is anti-democratic and a reason that could be used for another area, e.g. Shetland, to break up Scotland.

    3. How in hell did you manage to parse Doug's statment like that?

    4. Because he didn't reply to the first bit about it being anti-democratic, indicating he had no response and he confirmed the second bit that the argument could be used in certain circumstances to justify breaking up Scotland.

    5. "anti-democratic" is such a fluid and loadable phrase that it's essentially meaningless except as a synonym for "bad/evil/terrorist/brown folk country"

    6. Doug doesn't like the fact that the people have voted Tory more times than he likes. But rather than accept that it's democracy in action, and some you lose, he wants to change the borders of the vote so that he can have the party he votes for in power (more often? permanently?).

      That doesn't show much respect for democracy. What if, after destroying the UK Doug still votes for the losing party too often? What does he do then?

    7. That shows no less respect for democracy than any politician I know of. Look up "Gerrymandering" sometime.

      And he's right that Scotland has never elected the Conservatives. They elected the Unionist Party, which *later* joined with the Conservative Party to form the current Conservative and Unionist Party.

  21. Returning to the subject of the post, the Bedroom Tax, it seems the SNP CAN mitigate the effects, but will they?

    News from Scottish Labour
    Immediate Release - 29 January 2014

    Following a meeting with John Swinney this morning, Scottish Labour is calling on the Scottish Government to turn rhetoric into reality and to finally act to fully mitigate the effects of the Bedroom Tax. Scottish Labour has shown the Scottish Government examples where the Bedroom Tax is being fully mitigated and is now calling on the SNP to implement a national solution.

    Renfrewshire Council has introduced a Council Tenant Assistance Fund which removes the debt from tenants falling into arrears as a result of the Bedroom Tax. This has been signed off by Audit Scotland as an acceptable approach to tackling the impact of the Bedroom Tax.

    East Lothian Housing Association has similarly set up a scheme which would write-off debt accrued by households as a result of the Bedroom Tax.

    Scottish Labour's Social Justice Spokesperson, Jackie Baillie MSP, said:

    "For a year, we've been told that the Scottish Government can't fully mitigate the impact of the Bedroom Tax as it doesn't have the powers. Scottish Labour has shown that it can be done. Therefore the SNP must now act.

    "Today, we have shown John Swinney two different ways in which local solutions are putting into effect a fully mitigated solution to the Bedroom Tax for our most vulnerable households. We now know that there is a solution out there. But we can't have a postcode lottery of protection. That's why the SNP must now act.

    "Once again, it has fallen to local councils and housing associations to fill the void left by SNP inaction. Now the solution has been shown and, importantly, signed off by Audit Scotland, there can no longer be any excuse for inaction."

    Scottish Labour’s Finance Spokesperson, Iain Gray MSP, said:

    "We know that the Scottish Government has the money to fully mitigate the impact of the Bedroom Tax.

    “Both Labour and the SNP want to see the impact of the Bedroom Tax be fully mitigated. We’ve been told there is a legal barrier to so doing. Now we know that it can be overcome.

    “It’s time for our parties to work together to deliver what thousands of Scottish households desperately need. This is a moment for politicians to work together. Scottish Labour has put a solution on the table and we call on the Scottish Government to find the money in the budget next week.”

    Cllr. Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said:

    "The Bedroom Tax is pushing tens of thousands of families further into poverty and financial hardship. In Renfrewshire alone we are spending nearly £1.3million to assist our families. We have set up a specific fund of £600,000, called the Council Tenant Assistance Fund to write-off tenants housing debts caused by welfare cuts.

    "In addition we have £700,000 in our Discretionary Housing Fund and we are doing all we can to protect people from the worst effects of the welfare and housing cuts. If a local authority can do this we can see no reason that the Scottish Government with all its powers cannot do likewise. We have the political will to help those most in need - and so should the SNP.”

    1. "the Scottish Government can't fully mitigate the impact of the Bedroom Tax as it doesn't have the powers. Scottish Labour has shown that it can be done."

      "We’ve been told there is a legal barrier to so doing. Now we know that it can be overcome."

      "If a local authority can do this we can see no reason that the Scottish Government with all its powers cannot do likewise."

      So they're saying that local councils have the power to mitigate the bedroom tax, not Holyrood.

      And since most local councils are a Labour/Conservative alliance, why is Labour complaining to the SNP about this? Oh, right, the Conservatives don't want to play ball on this, and Labour will vote against it on principle if the SNP propose it.

      Or are they saying that Holyrood should ignore the law of the land and pay Westminster the money anyway?

      It's a little funny that Westminster's rules are preventing Westminster getting some money, but I guess they want lots of people homeless and destitute more than they want the money, or Westminster would have fixed the rules already to allow Holyrood to do something.

    2. What do you think of all the economists I've dug up for you? And you didn't believe me.... Oh ye of little faith!

      Do you have any?

    3. Your *own source* is saying that it's the local councils that have the power to mitigate the bedroom tax, not Holyrood. Yet Labour want Holyrood to do something about it.

      What do economists have to do with that? Lets keep threads of discussion in their own threads, shall we? It's easier to understand that way.

    4. or this

    5. illy
      the SG could mitigate the effects of the Bedroom Tax by: fully funding the DHA so that vulnerable tenants can get the difference paid, by redefining rent arrears attributable to the tax so that eviction does not automatically follow and by defining (because it's not in the BT Act) what a bedroom is, leaving smaller rooms out of the calculation so they don't count and the tenant isn't charged for them.

      Labour proposed all of these things a year ago.

      The other examples show that smaller orgs like Councils and Housing Associations can come up with solutions. If so, why not the SG with thousands of civil servants on hand and great brains like Margaret Burgess in office? (that last bit was a joke).

      The economist bit was down to your challenge when I said all prominent economists thing independence would be a mistake. You said "all"? prove it. So I did with 50odd named economists and their indy quotes. But you seemed to think that good economists don't live in London, or something, not quite clear....

      Just like Doug, who doesn't like losing votes in a democracy, you seem to want to chose the economists to believe and where they live seems a key criteria... TBH I don't quite get that, but c'est la vie, live and let live I say.

      What I have shown here is that the SNP's so-called economic case for independence is a fantasy, that almost all respected economic commentators agree with me and that the pro-indy people like yourself have no evidential case that you can quote in response.

      With the Bedroom Tax, the SG could do something but so far has tried to find reasons to do nothing.

    6. So you're *still* saying that Holyrood should break the law to give Westminster the money they want to get out of the poor.

      You know, I like Robin Hood stories as much as the next guy, but he stole from the rich to give to the poor, not the other way around.

    7. Illy. as I said in my first comment (above) about Margaret Burgess, the problem with sticking unthinkingly to the party line is that when the party changes the line you look foolish.

      Looks like Nicola agrees with me and something can be done and could have been done months ago.

    8. So you're taking Nicola saying "We don't have the power at the moment, so we'll ask Westminster nicely if they'll consider giving Holyrood more powers, so that we can give Westminster some of our block grant instead of spending it on something useful" to mean "we could have done something about this months ago"?

      Interesting take on things there.

    9. Yep. That's how I've been taking it. You have to admit it's a lot more than she has been willing to say 'til now. Of course she'll want to play it her way and put her spin on it so she can say she did it her way and also to give you guys a fig-leaf of cover.

      But that's all right. I don't mind as long as we get the money and the help to those that need it. People first, constitutional later, as I always say, not being a Nationalist..

    10. "get the money [...] to those that need it"

      You're saying Westminster need more money? Seriously?

      I suppose they think they do, but they're eating off gold when people are starving, so I think I disagree.

      What are you suggesting gets cut to pay off Westminster?

  22. Nice letter here....

    Could you help Eck with his reply?

  23. Great to see the Nats coming round to Labour's position... at last.