I have decided to answer some of the Questions from someone calling themselves ScotlandsFuture on Twitter about Scots independence:
1) Discussion of Scottish independence in chatrooms and forums is always shut down by extreme SNP supporters
That's not my experience, quite the reverse. British unionists own the papers and can block pro-independence comments. I find that the independence side tends to provide a logical argument ie that independence is normality and most countries are independent. The unionist case depends upon the illogical assumption that Scotland is incapable of independence and often it descends into abuse against 'sweaty socks' (Jocks) etc I could point you towards loads of such comments on youtube and in fact I've made a film about it here!
2) It seems they can't answer valid questions so they mount ad-hominem attacks, calling people traiters, anti-Scottish, Labour stooges etc
No Questions yet but more witless allegations.
3) But I want those questions out in the open. I want people to really think about the consequences and implications of independence
In other words I want to scaremonger and put people of, yet no questions yet
4) Maybe there are good answers and I have nothing to worry about. I would very much like to hear some answers from decent SNP supporters
You'll get them but I doubt you will listen!
5) So I'll use this account to ask some of those questions. Who knows, maybe someone will answer...
Maybe they will, get on with it!
6) Here goes - How much would an independent Scottish government have to spend on services and how would it compare to the current arrangement?
This is impossible to answer because we don't know what the economic situation will be when we are independent. We do know from GERS that Scotland puts more in than we get back out, that Labour wasted hundreds of billions and lied about Scotland's economic prospects with independence in the 1970's. But just as Gordon Brown can't accurately predict the British budget in ten years time I can't forsee the future either, what a shock eh, bet you're really disappointed.
7) SNP want to reduce voting age in independence referendum. A cynical attempt to manipulate the result?
No. The SNP have had this policy for years to reduce the voting age to 16. It's not new and it wasn't arrived at recently.
8) How can the SNP find the money for a bill which won't get through parliament when they're cutting spending on everything else?
As you should be aware the Scottish parliament as a devolved parliament exists on a financial settlement provided by Westminster. Within that settlement the SNP can choose to use the money as they see fit. The pary has already produced a draft bill. They have also extended the debate through the National Conversation. The unionists didn't want to discuss independence and set up the Calman commission and filled it with various worthies whose only qualification was that they were willing to ignore independence. That cost money, produced a report and then it was kicked into the long grass because the Tories (who are likely to form the next Government) didn't like its conclusions.
All they suggested was a 10p unusable tax rather than 3p unusable tax but the Conservatives prefer as little power as possible going to Scotland (as they proved in office last time) Calman was a costly sham.
Labour have said they support a referendum on independence and would vote for it. That was when Wendy was leader, unfortunately she didn't clear it with Gordon (her boss) so the policy has always been confused.
Despite the SNP coming up with the only possible question which reflects the current powers of the Scots parliament Labour like to pretend the question is 'rigged' (they are experts in this area themselves after the 1979 referendum) and now pretend that because of the recession we can't have a referendum. Yet they caused the recession by following Conservative gospel on deregulation and it is obvious we need power over our own economy. So I'm sorry this bill would be cheap, it is important and yes we can and should be able to consult the people on their future.
The SNP are working within a lower financial settlement in real terms but so far they are not 'cutting spending on everything else' this is simply inaccurate.
9) Assuming an independent Scotland dumps the pound, what effect will exchange rate fluctuation and conversion charges have on our businesses?
SNP Policy is actually to retain the pound for as long as required then move to the Euro when it is economically appropriate. Some of your other questions relate to this point.
10) If we did adopt the Euro wouldn't that take financial decision making even further away from Scotland than it is already?
Well your question admits that financial decision making is far from Scotland just now and indeed it is. If we are in the Euro then we have a common currency with much of the EU. This makes trade easier. It also means we would have a more stable currency, as the pound fluctuates violently against other currencies at the moment.
Yes the European Central Bank would take decisions on interest rates etc for the good of the EU as a whole but in the interests of financial stability I think that makes better sense.
However it is important to remember that the ultimate decision on whether to stay in the EU or adopt the Euro or keep the Queen as head of state will be made by our own Government after independence. The SNP have a policy on these things and it right that they have but that does not mean that is what will happen after independence.
11) Would those who vote against independence be stripped of British citizenship and forced to adopt Scottish nationality against their will?
Since Britain would no longer exist there would ultimately be a choice between English and Scots nationality, however Mike Russell has indicated that there might be some interim arrangements with the rump UK state for as long as that exists.
12) What would happen to Scots living in England and Wales who become unemployed? Would they be paid benefits by Scotland, Britain or neither?
For those who live In England and Wales it would be paid by the Governments there. In Scotland it would be paid by the Scottish Government
13) What about the 10% of Scotland's population who were born in England? Will they be forced to choose between Scottishness and Englishness?
No, those who live in Scotland will be treated as Scots, those who think of themselves as Scottish or were born in Scotland could also apply for Scottish citizenship if they chose.
14) Will the 800,000+ Scots living in England and Wales be forced to choose between Scottish and British citizenship?
Ultimately yes because Britain won't exist any more but as I say the Scottish Government is open to suggestions for an interim arrangement.
15) Our remaining shipywards are only surviving because of large orders from the UK navy. What would happen to them after independence?
Well there isn't many of them left but those that do have a contract which wil run its course. Afterwards Scotland will require a Navy and under EU rules they could also apply for English military contracts on an equitable basis.
16) The (Scotland's conversation) website doesn't answer the key questions around currency or finance nor can it guarantee how the EU and UK will react.
No that's correct, we can't guarantee how the EU or rump UK will react to independence because it hasn't happened yet! British unionists like to pretend that the EU will reject Scots membership however our opinion (unsurprisingly) is that the reverse is true. If we do have to re-negotiate membership we might well end up with a better deal or Scotland's independent Government might decide that it prefers to stay out of the EU altogether. That is the ultimate beauty of independence the Scots will decide what we want to do in Scotland! The UK/British state as it stands will not exist however we do know that because without Scotland there is no Britain.
Anyway, 'Scotlandsfuture' you can no longer say that no-one has answered your questions. You might not like the answers but you have got them.
Personally I think you should remove your Union Jack tinted specs and genuinely think about Scotland's future. Unlike the UK or Britain, Scotland is a country and we deserve better than the sterile status quo or right wing Government whether that be from Labour or Tories.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I have decided to answer some of the Questions from someone calling themselves ScotlandsFuture on Twitter about Scots independence:
Monday, September 28, 2009
Compass think-tank warns that a Cameron victory could mean political oblivion for Labour
Tory plans for fewer MPs, reforms cutting Labour's link to the unions and Scottish independence would be 'final blow' to the party
by Toby Helm [Whitehall editor The Observer, Sunday 27 September 2009]
Gordon Brown could be leading the last-ever Labour government unless he offers people a chance to change the voting system at the next general election, a prominent leftwing pressure group warns today.
In a doom-laden assessment of the party's prospects ahead of this week's Labour conference in Brighton, the influential thinktank Compass predicts that a Conservative victory would be just the first disaster David Cameron's party would inflict on Labour.
Armed with new polling evidence, it argues in a report to be released at conference that the party would face a triple assault under the Tories that could slash its number of seats at Westminster from 349 at present to a rump of around 130 in opposition.
The collapse of its Westminster representation, Compass argues, is likely because of a greater chance of Scottish independence if the Tories, who are less popular north of the border, came to power.
At a stroke, Scottish independence would strip Labour of its 41 Scottish seats in Westminster. It also predicts the loss of up to 45 more Labour seats as a result of Cameron's plan to cut the overall number of MPs by 10%.
The final blow to its viability as a governing party of the future would come as a result of likely Tory reforms to party funding, which Compass believes would break the historic link between Labour and the trade unions and further destabilise an organisation which is heavily in debt and has a sharply declining membership base.
The report, entitled "The Last Labour Government", says: "These three factors could then combine to ensure that an already intellectually and organisationally weak party fails to ever recover."
Polling conducted for Compass by YouGov to accompany the report shows that, if the Conservatives win power, 34% of the Scottish electorate will be more like to vote Yes in the referendum on independence promised by the SNP by the end of 2010.
The polling shows that 31% of Scots would currently back independence and 53% oppose it. But the extra 34% who say they might be swayed to support a split if the Tories came to power could tilt the balance in favour. "This could be enough to see a Yes vote through," Compass argues.
It predicts that Tory plans to cut the number of Westminster seats by 65 will hit Labour hardest of all the main parties because the biggest reduction will be in areas which have seen population flight, including Labour strongholds in Wales and the industrial heartlands.
Compass argues that the only hope of avoiding catastrophe would be a referendum on voting reform, which could be a "game changer". "It is now the only way for the party not just to avoid crushing defeat but the strong chance that it will never govern again."
It says the offer of a fairer voting system would draw people to Labour and allow it to paint the Tories – who are strongly opposed to ditching "first past the post" – as opposed to reform of a political system severely discredited by the scandal over MPs' expenses: "A referendum moves the party from zero chance of the Tories not losing next May to striking distance of a hung parliament and Labour being the biggest single party. The decision could decide not just Labour's future for one or two parliaments, not even for a generation, but for ever."
Brown is known to be considering offering a referendum on voting reform, possibly in the party's election manifesto. While some senior cabinet ministers, including home secretary Alan Johnson, are pressing the case strongly, others such as Ed Balls, the schools secretary, have serious reservations.
In particular, Balls and chief whip Nick Brown oppose the idea of holding a vote on the same day as the general election, arguing that it will look like gerrymandering, confuse voters and distract from the government's central election message on the economy. Ratcheting up the pressure on Brown, Compass says that Labour desperately needs a "game changer; a policy that wakes up the electorate".
A recent survey by YouGov for the Electoral Reform Society showed that around 30% of Liberal Democrats and 30% of Labour-inclined voters would be more likely to plump for Labour if a referendum on electoral reform was promised.
"Now everyone who wants the party to win, or at least to keep out the Tories, must be able to see the prize of backing a referendum and the dangers of refusing to do so: potential political oblivion," says Compass chairman Neal Lawson.
On party funding, the report says: "The party is already heavily reliant on the unions and could be more so if in opposition. But the Tories, with a healthy majority and a fresh mandate, could easily introduce new funding rules to cut off union funds while allowing business and personal funding to flow and they will be much harder to regulate. The evidence is there that this is exactly what they will do.
"The Conservative argument has been that a donation cap of £50,000 is necessary to restrict influence of companies, individuals and trade unions. Under current legislation, trade union affiliation payments – the collective membership payment of ordinary members – are counted as donations to the party. For the purposes of a donation cap, each trade union would be treated as a single individual within the cap.
"This could end the ability of trade unions to affiliate to the party, ending the relationship that has sustained social progress throughout the last century. Labour without a secure funding basis would find it almost impossible to renew itself."
Published on the first day of Labour conference 2009, this report argues that the current Labour Government could well be the very last and argues only a referendum on the electoral system can save Labour now.
Download it here.
I added the following comment:
All I can say is good! Labour have wasted their years in power and an independent Scotland will be able to escape from the stifling right wing consensus which exists in Britain. With Britain gone Wales would emerge as an independent country and Cornwall would move in that direction with perhaps devolution initially. NI is unlikely to want to be part of England though one never knows but the chances of re-unification with Eire would be more likely.
Without Britain's imperial pretensions and Scotland's Oil an independent England would likely drop Trident (the Scottish people don't want nuclear submarines and an SNP Government would ask for them to be removed.)
England would initially get the right wing Government which they will get anyway under Britain and have suffered to an extent under Labour anyway, but the pendulum might shift back again and this time there might be an actual socialist party in existence ready to make reforms. There isn't one at the moment as Labour are a busted flush who rely on the House of Lords for their ministers and whose MP's are almost as corrupt as the Tories.
Yes to electoral reform but no Labour won't go for it and in any case Scotland has a much brighter future without the obstacle of Britain.
Scotland isn't at the next climate change conference 'because that is the way it has always been done', things need to change. Joe Middleton, Edinburgh.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Why Cornwall (Kernow) deserves it's independence just like the other Celtic countries. Some might wish to settle for devolution but devolution only ever get's offered if you put the foot on the pedal for independence. Ignore the most logical option of independence and Britain will give you nothing.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:53 PM
This is one of a number of vids where the sound was muted due to a copyright issue, I challenged this and sound has returned, at least for the moment! It's about an international conference for stateless nations and it was very interesting and educational to hear about other countries experiences.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:49 PM
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I didn't realise this excellent programme was on youtube, but it is! Until the DVD comes out (or you can hunt up an elusive VHS tape) this is the best option to learn Gaelic.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 7:58 AM