Sunday, 15 December 2013

Put Scotland first by voting Yes!

This entry is a little different from the majority that we write.
Normally we focus on the democratic, social, environmental or economic benefits following a Yes vote for Scotland and those beyond our borders, including those who the UK Government doesn't appear to have much concern for.  But this week, we're going to be a little selfish and say 'put the people of Scotland first'.

We know that the UK Government cannot put Scotland first because:
  1. Scotland directly elects just 4% of Westminster, and the number of MPs we will have is due to be reduced yet again, making our influence weaker than ever.
  2. Westminster's form of democracy disenfranchises us more than almost any other system imaginable.  Because Scotland has fewer 'marginal swing seats' between the only two parties who can form a government, the amount of effort and attention we are afforded is much lower, making our views up to 22 times less important.
  3. Much of the funding for Westminster's two main parties comes from the City of London.  Even though Labour receives large donations from Trade Unions, the lack of viable alternatives means that they just need to avoid appearing to be on the right of the Conservatives to be guaranteed these funds (and again, most trade union donations are generated outside Scotland, continuing the cycle above).
This isn't strictly true, we also store their WMDs and fight in their wars!
With Independence we will see a seismic shift in priorities.  The massive, pervasive influence of City financiers and war advocates will be greatly diminished.  No political party will ever be guaranteed to return to power, meaning that they will need to work much harder to get into, stay and return to office.  Greater choice will mean more positive campaigning in every part of Scotland and because every vote will matter, every voter becomes more significant and sought after.
In short, the people of Scotland will be the main priority of every party.
Having such a focus will undoubtedly help in a number of ways:
  1. Better transport connections will be advocated by all, with the people of Scotland deciding whether this primarily takes the form of more rail links, lower air-passenger fees, improved roads and/or better ports.
  2. Armed forces will be based in Scotland with Scotland's needs in mind.  Specialist desert equipment isn't needed in a wet country like ours, and aircraft carriers with no planes on them and nuclear weapons do nothing to keep us safe.  The people of Scotland will control the number of personnel, the type of equipment used, and where our troops are deployed.
  3. Scotland's interests in Europe will always be defended, with our farmers, fishing communities and exporters never being sacrificed for City greed and gain.
Message from our always impartial British State Broadcaster
I cannot say what the priorities of an independent Scotland will be, but I can guarantee that our money, which Westminster is wasting on nuclear weapons, HS2, stationing military personnel in over 80 countries, illegal wars and refurbishing the unelected House of Lords, will be used for the benefit of Scotland.
Only voting 'Yes' will put Scotland first.
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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Dome sweet dome

Those of us who have been in the ‘Yes’ campaign for a while will be familiar with this argument:
‘Spending in Scotland is higher than in the rest of the UK’.
This argument is an extension of ‘too poor’, as in ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’, and the conclusion we’re supposed to make is that Scots could not afford to look after themselves, or would be forced to accept poverty under any system other than Westminster’s.  It depends entirely upon the Barnett Formula, which allocates how much money Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receives as a consequence of expenditure in England.  Unfortunately for the no campaign, the conclusion they try to pedal is wrong.

Sign for Scotland
Before we get into the Barnett figures themselves, we need to look at expenditure versus affordability.  Affordability is easy.  Let’s say that there are two houses on a street.  House A has 10% higher income, and 5% higher expenses, than House B.  We can conclude, regardless of the actual figures, that the first house is better off, but just to highlight the point we'll add numbers:
House A
Income £11,000 Expenditure £11,550 Deficit £550
House B
Income £10,000 Expenditure £11,000 Deficit £1,000
House A has higher expenditure, but it more than makes up for this with greater income.  This is the case with Scotland.  We contribute a greater percentage of the UK’s income than we receive in UK expenditure. 
This affects other unionist arguments, including Scotland’s deficit.  An independent Scotland may have had a deficit if it had been run the same way as Westminster (including the numerous wars and Trident), but our deficit over the past 30 years would have been much, much smaller.  The conclusion we should make is that even if the Barnett figures were telling the whole story, we would still be in ‘House A’, and financially better off with independence.

Sign for Scotland
There is also the principle of Barnett.  At present, the first consideration is always ‘how much should we spend in England to meet England’s needs?’  Only after this has been decided does Westminster think ‘how much then do the Scots, Irish and Welsh receive?’  This isn’t how our government should operate.
A better solution would be for the money raised in Scotland to stay in Scotland, with our Government basing spending upon our needs and budget.  This is an option which Westminster will not allow, partly due to the vast income it receives from North Sea oil and gas, partly because they wouldn’t be able to neuter a free Scottish economy that could rival London’s hegemony, and partly because the people of Scotland would clearly see how much they are paying to be part of this union.  With our first set of accounts displaying vast sums of money heading south to bankroll wars we don’t want, the people of Scotland would quickly come to the conclusion that independence is the best option.

Sign for Scotland
"Give all our money to Westminster for pocket money?  I don't konw, Davey."
Finally, let’s look at the numbers that are missing from Barnett.  There are numerous examples of ‘UK’ expenditure which does not trigger Barnett (and thus are not considered by unionists).  The Millennium Dome is a good example.  It was deemed ‘UK expenditure’, and therefore there were no payments to the ‘regions’.  The £4,200,000,000 (£4,200 million) London sewerage project was an even more expensive use of this trick.  The Jubilee Line, which cost £3,500,000,000 (£3,500 million) and the £1,200,000,000 (£1,200 million) being spent at Cheltenham on new communications headquarters are the same. The London Olympics is yet another example, with expenditure being classed as ‘UK wide’, despite only 0.04% of public sector spending reaching Scotland.
Then there is the redirection of national lottery funding, the dramatically higher Ministry of Defence spending in the South of England, and the multitude of civil service jobs that are based in London.  These things don’t count towards Barnett.  This additional expenditure, coupled with vastly superior infrastructure, the ‘London allowance’ and strong Government focus, is the source of the south east’s economic strength.  If anywhere else in the UK had the same systemic advantages, they would doubtlessly have the same success.
So the next time someone says ‘Scotland can’t cope without subsidies’, just remember that beneath the surface, the figures tell a different story.  Scotland doesn’t receive subsidies; we’re just getting back some of our own money.
With independence, we wouldn’t give it away in the first place.

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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Nobody Wants You (so please stay with us!)

The phrase ‘too small, too poor, too stupid’ has been used to describe the principle arguments against Scottish Independence.  I feel that it this is too simple.  There is also ‘[name] is bad and supports independence, thus independence is bad’ (also known as ‘Salmond ate my hamster’), ‘Everyone is so jealous of Britain’ (also known as ‘Empire was a great thing’) and ‘there’s too much uncertainty’ (also known as ‘we don’t want to acknowledge anything positive about independence’).
But today we’re going to focus on perhaps the most dishonest and hurtful argument that the ‘no’ campaign has been using in its rainbow of scares so far: nobody wants you.  This is always international in scope and borrows aspects of all of the above.  To explain what I mean, let’s look at some examples.

"You'll be alone and poor and friendless if you vote Yes," cast of Rainbow (probably)
We’re told that NATO doesn’t want us if we’re nuclear free (the way Iceland, Denmark and Norway are).  We know from historical prcedence that this threat has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, so what is the underlying basis for this scare?
Well the conclusion we’re supposed to come to is that we aren’t wanted.  NATO won’t treat us fairly because we’re not important enough to deserve fair treatment and can't offer anything of value.  Let’s look at other examples.
We’re told that the EU doesn’t want us if we become independent and that membership will be awkward for us.  We know from actual comments (see here, here and here) that this threat has nothing to do with self determination, so what is the underlying basis for this scare?
We’re supposed to believe that we aren’t wanted.  The EU won’t treat us fairly because we’re not important enough to deserve fair treatment and can't offer anything of value.  Let’s continue.

Sign for Scotland
I know which vision I prefer
We’re told that we might not be able to use the Pound Sterling following independence.  We know from historical precedence (see here and here) that this threat has nothing to do with what money we use, so what is the underlying basis for this scare? 
No-one wants us.  The Bank of England won’t treat us fairly because we’re not important enough to deserve fair treatment and can't offer anything of value.
The truth is that we do have value, would be warmly welcomed to join the family of nations and that there are very few people who wish us ill.  NATO wants us because of our strategic location, historical alliances and highly regarded personnel.  The EU wants us because many people from EU nations call Scotland home and many European businesses have operations in Scotland.  The Bank of England want us to use the pound because we’re an exporting nation which adds to the value to the currency.

Sign for Scotland

The only people who talk us down are those who stand to lose their positions of unmerited privilege, and those in the ‘no’ campaign who claim that every little thing is a problem, and that others will put up obstacles against us.  We’re supposed to accept what we have instead of reaching for what we want.
I believe that Scotland can be a better place, and that leaving power at Westminster will bring nothing good, even if they claim to be the only ones who want us.
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