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You can always tell when Eck and Nicola are comfortable in an interview.

They both have the habit (one suspects that Nicola has learned the trick from the master) of having a chuckle as they answer a question. They don’t actually laugh, they simply insert a wee splutter into words and pauses.

It is usually done to illustrate absurdity in the opponents’ arguments or to emphasise that what their opponents have done is what the Nats had suggested all along. Thus yesterday we had Eck barely able to conceal his glee at the UK government’s statement that they would guarantee all UK debt up to the date of the referendum should Scotland vote for independence. Eck’s view was “(splutter) Well one can hard(splutter)ly be surprised when the UK government steps (splutter) in to guarantee debt accumu (splutter) lated by the UK. This is to be welcomed and is of course the (splutter) common sense position”. I may have paraphrased the words and spluttering but that was the overall tone.

Nicola was also dead chuffed with herself when interviewed yesterday. She splutters a little more politely than Eck, in fact it’s almost like a gasp or cough but she uses it to similar effect.

Alistair Darling’s comparison yesterday of Scotland’s economy to a ‘tinpot South American’ one was a strange one. I had a teacher at Secondary school who used to say that wearing jeans would not only affect one’s life chances but that there was medical proof that they caused VD. I had a vision of him yesterday when listening to Darling go off on his tangent.

A good day for the Yes campaign I’d suggest.

BBC Scotlandshire has a cut out and keep guide here which has various experts examining the opposing political views on different aspects of independence and analysing them.

It turns out that the experts are spluttering a bit too.


A Page Turner?

My friends are, I would say, a fairly representative mix of Yes, No and Don’t Knows in the forthcoming Scottish Independence Referendum. I’m in the don’t know camp with head and heart playing tug o’ war with the issue. The thing is that no matter what your view or voting intentions, you probably know in which respective directions the brain and the blood pump are pulling.

Yesterday’s White Paper brought the impending Referendum into sharp focus in the kind of way that you realise that it’s only four weeks till Christmas. And there was Eck in the role of Santa Claus yesterday promising all sorts of bounty to everyone……but only if you’re good and vote the right way.

The White Paper (although at this stage I have to admit that I haven’t read it) seems to be a hybrid between a blueprint for independence and subsequent SNP manifesto for 2016 in an independent Scotland.

And what is in this Whizzer and Chips of a document?

Well I’m not going to spoil it all for you, because dear reader if you are in Scotland you will not be able to escape people debating its content at great length over the net ten and a half months.

However the bars/hurdles have been set high.

The disappearance of Trident from Scotland in the first term? I’d have thought that logistically impossible apart from anything.

We’ll be part of a Sterling zone says the White Paper. Oh no you won’t say all the UK political parties. The EU are biding their time on this but expect them to throw a cat amongst the doos on that soon. They will point out that regardless of any negotiations and politics, the legal position is that Scotland will be a new member and must commit to the Deutsch mark Euro. This would leave Scotland with a different currency from its largest trading partner (by some way) i.e. the UK.

Like the UK political establishment, they are implacably opposed to Scottish independence and will do all they can to prevent it. One feels too that countries facing their own separatist issues such as Spain and Belgium would continue to throw any spanner they could into the works to ensure that an independent Scotland would not be seen to be a success.

The most convincing case for me to vote Yes is the notion of dispensing with a parliament. The converse of that thinking led me to vote No in the devolution referendum (although admittedly I regret that now). There was one parliament when I was growing up and that always seemed a sufficiency of the bloody things. Now we have Edinburgh, Westminster and Strasbourg and as well as these being listed in terms of proximity, I’d also say that this is also their relevance as seen by many Scots (even if an objective view might challenge that with 80% of our law emanating from Strasbourg ). All politics is local politics they say.

Another reason to vote Yes is the fact that the SNP, from the sidelines at least, seem to be the most cohesive political unit of the major parties by some way and not only in a purely Scottish context. You could throw in all the UK parties into the mix there too. In Alex Salmond I think it’s hard to argue against the fact that he’s the most effective leader of those parties.

Never mind the hapless windae hinger Johan Lamont or Ruth (Miss Jean Brodie) Davidson, Eck knocks Cameron, Clegg and Miliband into a cocked hat


Yesterday I was struck by the almost euphoric response on the broadcast media from those Yes supporting commentators. On Radio Scotland, Irish academic Owen Dudley Edwards compared the White Paper to the Declaration of Arbroath and the American Declaration of Independence.

My blog friend Kate Higgins is always an enthusiastic advocate of independence. Much as I enjoy Kate’s optimistic and positive take on issues, I thought that yesterday on Radio Scotland she sounded like a combination of Pollyanna and Dr Pangloss as she gushed about the brochure as if the Referendum was now a formality.

The last time I can remember such optimism in a Scottish sense was in the run up to the World Cup in 1978……..

But then there’s Doctor No, aka Alistair Darling, the chancellor who presided over complete collapse of the banking system in 2008 and now lectures us on financial probity. He has previous form on not being able to predict how many days will be in the following year. Al was in high dudgeon yesterday attempting to rubbish the whole idea of independence. To be fair this is his remit but if yesterday confirmed anything it was that ‘Better Together’ have the wrong guy in charge.

I wrote here about Darling’s blink rate but I see the video in that article has been deleted.

I know that the usual indication of a politician lying is that their lips move, but from the article above:

Here is a link to an aricle by Linda Prestonseven signs you are being lied to

“BLINKING. A person who is lying will blink a lot,as blinking seems to correlate to the amount of mental stress we are under. In a normal conversation where a person is attuned to you, he will blink at roughly the same rate as you, often at moments when you pause in your speech. Be wary of someone who is blinking frantically as they speak with you.”

Here’s Alistair…

Better Together?

I still haven’t decided how I’ll vote in the referendum on Scottish Independence.

Partly, that’s because I have yet to examine the issues properly and come to an informed decision. Partly though, I think I’d like to know what I’m voting for or against. It’d be a help if I knew what the question was and if there is to be one or two questions.

The Yes campaign, trailed as a multi party effort, was launched a few weeks ago. High profile fellow travellers like the Greens’ Patrick Harvie and independent Margo MacDonald have since jumped ship because they say the SNP is dominating the campaign.

I’m truly shocked by that.

Who’d have thought that the SNP would be positioning themselves at the forefront of such a campaign?

Anyway the Yes campaign launch had actors Allan Cumming and Brian Cox there and of course Sir Shshawn is a long term supporter.

Yesterday “Better Together” (i.e. the No lobby) launched their campaign.

It is fronted by Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer who, lets face it, presided over the best period of growth and stability worst banking and financial crisis the UK has experienced in 300 years.

The bold Alistair said yesterday, obviously referring to the Yes campaign launch:

“I don’t think people are impressed when you line up actors, no matter how good they may be, who have flown in from the other side of the Atlantic to tell us what to do.
“This campaign will be decided in Scotland by people living here.”

This roughly translates to:

“We couldn’t get any actors”

Mind you, the campaign song is a snappy one:

As well as such luminaries as Nick Clegg, Ruth Davidson and Michael Moore, the BT team paraded some ordinary Scots who let their feelings be known.

For example:

I cast my mind back to 1971 and the days prior to the liquidation of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

Edward Heath, the Prime Minister of the day, stepped in and with his government saved the yards from the risk of closure by pumping investment into them refused to give UCS, who had a full order book and projected profit for the following year, a £6 million bail out to allow them to continue.

Only after a widespread trade union and civic campaign did the Heath government relent and put some money in.

But really, I do wonder about the whole campaign thing. The SNP seem to be even more afraid of the “I” word than anyone else and seem to be spending most of their time telling folk how they won’t really notice much difference. We’ll still have Pudsey Bear, Michael McIntyre and Alan Titchmarsh on the telly and the Queen adorning our currency and opening our parliament.

Kind of makes you think, er…what’s the point?

Will the Eurozone crisis and the resultant fall out not be much more relevant to Scotland’s future than any referendum?

As I say, I haven’t made up my mind on how to vote but knowing Scotland as I do, I just can’t see a yes vote being achieved from this vantage point. To do so would require the independence lobby to have a massive majority at this stage because there will inevitably be a shrinkage in that vote as the time draws near. They haven’t and what support they do have seems to be ebbing already.

The SNP is the only cohesive and remotely plausible political party in Scotland just now. It is going to take all of their skill and powers of persuasion to win the vote.

I don’t think they will, and that is nothing to do with “Better Together”.

It is because to persuade others of your case you have to be 100% certain of it yourself.

The SNP just don’t give the impression that they are.

Mind you, Brave hasn’t been released here yet……..


When Thieves Fall Out

I noticed with no little amusement this article from the Metro regarding Alistair Darling’s new book.

Then I recalled two previous postings from this very journal firstly this one:

And then this one:

To be kind one would just have to say that Al’s memory is playing tricks. The less kind amongst us may say he was being less than frank on at least one occasion.

If he was being entirely honest with his opinions, then I have to ask:

Could it be that a blogger who plays the moothie and likes a dram but alas has no financial or political experience whatsoever, had a better handle on what was going on than the Prime Minister or the Chancellor?

Only asking.

Vat’s Wrong! (2)

I wrote here about the temporary VAT reduction to 15% in November 2008. I said that “This is not the time to reduce VAT even by the allowed 2.5%. The result of this would inevitably be a hike to 20% or even 25% in the future.”
The Tories promised during their election campaign that they would not increase VAT but unless I’m very much mistaken they look as if they are going to do that very thing.
The economic situation for many businesses is much worse than it was in November 2008 and now they will be saddled with this increase.

Cue inflation and a sharp rise in unemployment.

So Farewell Then

So farewell then Alistair “Blink” Darling

“I’m very sorry” – that was your catchphrase

And quite apart from the recession, you had much to be very sorry about.

You introduced tougher, some might say draconian, penalties

For those submitting erroneous tax returns

Or claiming for things that that they shouldn’t have

You seemed to think that your penalty for such a “mistake”

Would be a “sorry” and a repaying of what you wrongly claimed

Sadly it looks as if it will be rather more tough, some might say draconian, than that.

EZ Fiddle (BLFP poet in residence)

Here is a link to an aricle by Linda Prestonseven signs you are being lied to

“BLINKING. A person who is lying will blink a lot,as blinking seems to correlate to the amount of mental stress we are under. In a normal conversation where a person is attuned to you, he will blink at roughly the same rate as you, often at moments when you pause in your speech. Be wary of someone who is blinking frantically as they speak with you.”

With that in mind, watch the first 15 seconds of the above video. I counted 16 blinks.

The Budget

Oh! Sch...........!

Blimey he’s at it again!

That’s Alistair Darling I’m talking about.

He said yesterday in his speech that the economy would shrink 3.5% this year but somehow bounce back and grow at 1.25% in 2010 and to an astonishing 3.5% in 2011.

How the MP’s on all sides laughed.

Alistair is the very man for your wild predictions you know.

I feel I must reprise my posting of January 5th this year.

Alistair Darling

Doo-Doo the clown

The tax increase for those earning £150,000 or more is akin to taking a key and scraping it along the side of a Rolls Royce. Everyone on modest incomes gets a wee glow for a while but in reality it doesn’t mean much.

This measure will raise about £3 billion pounds for the exchequer but the truth is that over 100 times that is needed over the next three years.

To put that in perspective the £384 billion that the government intends to borrow over the next two years is more than all governments added together have borrowed since the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694.

Darling has repeated his VAT trick of last year too with the car scrappage scheme. Pointless tinkering that will cost the exchequer but will have no lasting benefit to the economy.

It also further guarantees the inevitable.

Future tax rises.

Why should the car industry be a special case? Every business selling goods is finding it tough and all the scrappage scheme will do is divert much of the disposable income that people are prepared to part with into cars at the expense of the wider economy.

I suppose that whatever was announced yesterday would really be tinkering and hoping and so it proved.

Of course the only alternative UK government is Cameron’s Conservatives.

They are now the government elect.

It’s a matter of time.

How will Scotland respond?