Sunday, 26 January 2014

Not in the paper review - January edition

Welcome to the first of our monthly series looking back at the stories which the main stream media in Scotland didn't offer much attention to, and comparing them to those that hit the front pages.

(You can find more details about the story here)
"Yesterday the Labour Party’s representatives in the Scottish Parliament voted against a motion to provide free school meals to all Scottish children in Primary 1 to Primary 3, and to increase childcare funding for two-year-olds. They did so barely 48 hours after angrily demanding that the Scottish Government provide better childcare, an issue which Labour had explicitly tied into the independence debate by using an opinion poll commissioned by the “Better Together” campaign." Reverend Stuart Campbell - Wings over Scotland
Afterwards, Labour Education Spokewoman Kezia Dugdale MSP stated:
"We had to vote against the government’s motion today because the last line of the motion said that you needed independence to ensure that kids in Scotland had the best start in life, the best opportunity to grow up in the best country in the world. We disagree, we don’t think you need independence to do that." Kezia Dugdale MSP - Interview on Scotland Tonight 7/1/14
Labour would only accept the added provision for childcare and hot school meals for young children if the following text was included:
S4M-08707.3 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-08707 in the name of Alex Salmond (Scotland’s Future), leave out from “deplores” to end and insert “believes that the UK Government’s economic and social strategies have failed and threaten the progress made by the previous Labour administration in tackling child poverty; agrees that devolution allows the Scottish Parliament to take a different approach; notes that progress in tackling child poverty has stalled in Scotland under the current administration, and, while recognising the value of free school meals, calls on the Scottish Government to take action to deliver for children now, including providing 50% of two-year-olds with 600 hours of free early learning and care in 2014.”
The free school meals policy adopted by the Scottish Government will offer a great deal of help to the needy and avoid children being unfairly stigmatized. We can understand people standing on a platform that they believe there are more deserving causes, but we can't accept politicians who claim that they support a policy only to vote against it when it has a chance of becoming law.

The party which once coined the phrase 'Thatcher the milk snatcher' is gone, replaced by a leadership which say they will only support a motion on free school meals if they get praised for 'progress' they made whilst in office nearly 7 (Scotland) / 4 (UK) years earlier. The question we ask is would those in Labour for Independence have voted against extra childcare and free school meals?

Other stories which didn't make it
Quantifiable proof that the British State Broadcaster has been biased in its referendum coverage came to light following research from the University of the West of Scotland. STV was also found to be favouring the 'no' campaign, but not quite to the same extent. We first came across this story on Newsnet Scotland which was once again ahead of the mainstream media.
The research proves that the BBC broke article 1.3.2 of its own charter and it follows the revelation that BBC Scotland was found guilty of breaching editorial guidelines on accuracy by the BBC Trust, completing a miserable month for Pacific Quay.
Finally, the Office of National Statistics were forced to correct their own figures after having been found understating Scotland's economic growth since 1998 in an experimental report. According to the editor of the Financial Times, Chris Giles, this wrong data had the potential to change ‘the balance of the independence debate’. Once again, there weren't many articles in the Scottish media about this topic.
Glance over the BBC
While the story of Labour voting against their own policies (extra childcare provision and hot meals for young children) was taking place, another, vastly most important issue, was dominating the BBC News website.
Scottish Independence: Call for 'truce' during Glasgow 2014 was the big headline. The 'story' was about the sincere hope of Lord Jack McConnell, Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale, that athletes won't be used for political gain during the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The story became embarrassing for the Peer when Westminster's Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, made the following statement just a few days later:
Whether that's the British Lions [sic], or next month's Winter Olympics, or of course, our astonishing achievements in the London 2012 Olympic Games. At those Games, the UK won 29 gold medals. And over the Games, as the tally went higher, so did our collective sense of national pride. Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Katherine Granger. Those outstanding athletes weren't cheered on by parts of the UK, but by all of us. They were our representatives. They worked together, they competed together – many had trained together at facilities across the UK. Their success fed our pride."
Lord Jack McConnell, previously using athletes for political gain
Although the Commonwealth Games will be a fantastic sporting event, we don't believe that the referendum debate should be put on hold (and we're not going to be influenced by 'Peer' pressure).
Glance over the papers
Our comedy headline from the newspapers comes courtesy of The Telegraph from the 29th of December 2013: David Cameron: I would check my wallet after a drink with Alex Salmond.
David Cameron said that, out of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond, he would prefer to have a drink with his deputy Nick Clegg. This is presumably because Mr Clegg would be the most likely of the trio to act as waiter.

The Daily Record came a close second with the headline 'Alex Salmond admits Scotland could be forced to ditch pound if country votes Yes in September's referendum', even though Alex Salmond didn't say anything and Scotland can't be forced into using an alternative currency.
The very next day came a rebuttal from Lawyer George C Gebbie who wrote that instead of increasing the likelihood that the Scotland would drop the pound, the story was " affirmation of the use of Sterling now and in the future by the Scottish Government." At the time of writing, we aren't aware of any corrections made by the Daily Record.
Join us again for our next 'not in the paper' review in February!
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Sunday, 19 January 2014

EU or not EU? We'll gain either way with a 'Yes'!

A more appropriate title for this blog would be 'EU or EFTA', for they are the only two realistic positions an independent Scotland would find itself in come the 25th of March 2016. But, regardless of which path we take, voting Yes will leave our country better off in regards to Europe, and we're going to show you why.

Don't let Westminster decide everything for you, take charge of your own country!
Scotland as a full member of the EU
At present, Scotland, population 5.3 million, has 6 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). By comparison, Independent Lithuania, population 3 million, has 12 MEPs. This is due to the Nice Treaty (which you can read about here). Despite being smaller, independence gives Lithuania twice as much influence as we have and they are looking to increase their influence further.
Independence is better for Lithuania.
The European Parliament isn't the only place where independent nations gain. At present, Scotland isn't directly represented in the Council of the European Union either, and thus we control 0 votes. The Independent Republic of Ireland, home to 4.6 million people, has 7 votes (2% of the total with less than 1% of the population). It also held the presidency of the Council from the 1st of January to the end of June last year. Being independent gives Ireland influence at the top table, and leaves us behind with the other regions.
Independence is better for the Republic of Ireland.

Independence not only affects representation, but how policies are applied across Europe. At present, Scotland receives the equivalent of €130 per hectare for Pillar 1 payments under the common agricultural policy. Independent Denmark, despite having an eligible area that is half the size of Scotland's, receives one and a half times as much money (almost three times the rate that Scottish Farmers receive). The gap is equally startling for Pillar 2 payments, with €24 per hectare for Denmark and only €9 per hectare for Scotland. Being independent gives Denmark the opportunity to advance the interests of its farmers.

Independence is better for Denmark.

The only counterargument offered by the no campaign against the principle of an independent Scotland being a direct member of the EU is that we would become so wealthy, our contribution to the common fund would increase. It's like arguing that we should keep giving away £15 to Westminster for no added return because otherwise we'd be giving £5 to the EU: losing £5 and gaining £15 is still a better deal than the nothing Westminster is offering.

All of these are a form of EU membership.  Where we fit in will ultimately be up to us when we vote Yes
Scotland as a member of the EFTA
It appears increasingly likely that, despite what the people of Scotland may wish, the UK will be leaving the EU in the near future. EU Membership is unlikely to be an option under Westminster.
But an Independent Scotland has a distinct advantage over the rest of the UK under these circumstances. We have the option to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a group of small, independent nations which already has longstanding free-trade agreements with the EU.
"An independent Scotland would be welcomed into the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) if it could not secure EU membership...EFTA spokesman, Tom Gronningsater, said that EFTA membership offered “several advantages” to Scotland." EU Observer, 12th November 2012
This arrangement would have no negative impacts on business trade for companies operating in Scotland (something which the UK can't promise after it's referendum). EFTA membership also includes a free-trade agreement with non-EU countries including Canada, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea. Scott Minto from Wings Over Scotland covers this point in more detail here.
Westminster is much more limited. They would need to negotiate agreements from scratch and the loss of all of their MEPs will have an affect on London's influence. And whilst headlines such as 'We need to stay in the European Union - or risk losing up to £92bn a year' do ignore the reality that Westminster would come to some type of agreement with the EU, it is hard to image that the price for protecting the City of London will be cheap for anyone outside the M25.

"Please, Better Together...don't tell me any more about the positive case for the union...anything but that!!"
Despite the 'Rainbow of Scares' coming from the no campaign, with their predictions ranging from we'll be left out in the cold to Brussels will take us over in a 300 year old scheme to dominate England, the EU wants Scotland to be a full and equal member (alongside other nations). Even a senior MEP from England stated that the democratically expressed will of the people is what matters, which is what we'll get in September.
EU or not EU? Scotland will be better off either way because making decision for ourselves and putting our interests first, also known as Independence, is better for Scotland.
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Monday, 13 January 2014

I'm voting yes! [Video]

The team here at Sign for Scotland have just released our latest video: 'I'm voting yes'. It is the biggest project we have undertaken so far and was great fun to be involved in. We plan to add more videos to our YouTube channel in the lead up to the referendum so keep an eye out for them!

'I'm voting yes' is our first chain video and features many of the key figures from within the independence debate. This included three of Scotland's leading politicians; Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Minister for International Development Humza Yousaf MSP and John Finnie MSP (who has helped our group so much since we started last year). Other recognisable figures such as Jonathon Shafi from Radical Independence and McV also added contributions.

Women for Independence sent us a number of recordings and we were very grateful to receive them.  Natalie McGarry and Shona McAlpine have done a great deal of work so far in the campaign and we're sure they will play important roles in the months to come. We're really proud to have them, and all the other Women for Independence members, feature in our video.

We'd like to wish Natalie all the best for the upcoming Cowdenbeath By-Election
We also received clips from Yes Scotland board members. Having support from Blair Jenkins, Elaine C Smith, Dennis Canavan, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Colin Fox made us feel really valued and makes us determined to contribute as much as we can to help achieve a 'Yes' vote in September.

The last couple of 'thank yous' we'd like to make are to the people of 'Yes Moray', 'Yes Moray Coast', 'Yes Speymouth', 'Yes Fiddlers', Charlie and Craig from the Proclaimers and those who we recorded at the 2013 March and Rally for Scottish Independence. Unfortunately we couldn't use every clip we received, but the thought and time given is much appreciated.

From everyone at Sign for Scotland (from those who featured in the video to those who were a little too shy to get in front of the camera) we'd like to say 'thank you' for helping us.
Finally, we have a project that we'd like to do before September, so if you use BSL (at whatever level) and would like to feature in a future Sign for Scotland video, then please contact us. Our email address is:
Normal blogs will resume next week
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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sign in, Sign up and Sign proud

Sign for Scotland wants you.  And I do mean you.

You may or may not be fluent with BSL.  You might be Deaf, an interrupter, or use Sign language to communicate with a relative or co-worker.  You might be a beginner who has mastered the alphabet but struggles with all the different symbols we use.  It could be that you don’t sign at all yet value how important Sign language is, but there is one thing that everyone who visits this page has in common; they care about BSL and they care about Scotland.

Sign for Scotland
Sign for Scotland is for all parties and none
Sign for Scotland combines these two passions.  We want to bring both the facts of independence and the passion of the Yes Scotland campaign to everyone who cares about BSL.  We want as many people as possible to vote ‘Yes’ because we believe this is the greatest opportunity for change that this generation will ever have, and that independence is the greatest gift we can leave our children.  But we want Sign for Scotland to become more.
We want to make sure that the Deaf Community and everyone who cares about BSL become more relevant.  We want politicians to value us and the contributions we make.  We want our language to become more widely recognised and used, and for the concerns of the Signing Community to be acknowledged.
Sign for Scotland does not endorse any political party but we will be contacting lots of politicians and members of Civil Scotland to give them a platform to reach you.  But to encourage a speedy response we need you to give us the strength we need.
You can join us at:        Facebook - Sign for Scotland
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                                   Twitter - Sign4Scotland
If you'd like to feature in one of our videos (or if you are an interpreter who is willing to help out different Yes groups) then you can reach us here at this blog or email us at  The more people who join us, the more influence we can have.

Sign for Scotland
We're really a friendly bunch when you get to know us!
This is the dawn of the most important year in our nation’s history, and an independent Scotland will need everyone to pull together to create a brighter future.  Let’s make sure that we take the first step.  Sign in, Sign up and Sign proud.

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