Sunday, 31 August 2014

Not in the News -31st of August Edition

Welcome to another edition of our weekly 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. Our last edition can be found here.
 
 
Google-eyed!
No campaigner Kezia Dugdale MSP was caught on tape lying to an audience in Leith on Wednesday, the 20th of August. Further details about the meeting can be found here on Newsnet Scotland.

"I think Kezia is right and wonderful!" Fifi la Bonbon (probably)
And here is the list of main stream media outlets that reported this fact: [silence]

Scotland ahead
Credit Suisse made an announcement last week which highlighted their conviction that an independent Scotland would be a happier, more prosperous nation using the Human Development Index (even before we cut out Westminster's wasteful expenditure).

The internationally renowed finance company stressed that this wasn't dependent upon oil and gas, adding that even if Scotland had no north sea resources we would "still rank ahead of the UK".
 
And here is the list of main stream media outlets that reported this fact: [silence]

Finish him!!
The BBC may have ignored the wishes of over a thousand people to have a BSL interpreter on screen during the debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, but everyone knows who the winner was. In the words of Action 4 Equality Scotland, Yes played a blinder.

Note: not actual photograph from the debate
Despite initial claims by the BBC and the Guardian, it was a clear victory for the Yes Campaign and a defeat for project fear. 71% of people polled by ICM stated their belief that the First Minister of Scotland had won. So how did the papers react? Well the Times and Sky News both embarrassed themselves, but the prize for most blatantly ridiculous coverage comes from the Daily Mail, whose headlines in Scotland and the UK can be seen below:
 
 
Darling's cat is out of the bag
After bleating on about wanting to know what 'Plan B' was (something that Sign for Scotland blog readers have known since February), Alistair Darling, the Director of the 'no' campaign, answered his own question:
 
  
Of course we can use the pound. Anyone can use it and it was always ridiculous to suggest otherwise. Despite making jibes at the Republic of Panama (one of the most successful and stable countries in Central America) to try and defuse his momentary lapse into honesty, there was no escaping the fact that the main line of attack from the 'no' campaign just fell apart.

  
The cat is out of the bag. Mr Darling better make more corporate appearances over the next 3 weeks, because we suspect his £10,000 a night fee won't be lasting for much longer!
 
Floating Voters
Voters travelling to Shetland were treated to a Q&A session with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. She was heading for a Women for Independence / Yes Shetland event.

 
Yes supporters on board reported that seeing such a leading figure answering questions during the ferry crossing had left them feeling buoyed!
 
What Women Want!
Hilarity was shared across social media this week as #PatronisingBTLady spread like wildfire. It was even reported in Irish, Russian and Italian news outlets. The story started with an embarrassingly bad video from the no campaign, which was then widely shared and parodied across the internet, including on Wings Over Scotland, The Science of Independence, Witterings of a Weegiewarbler, Women for Independence and Logic's Rock. The most stinging (and thus enjoyable) criticism came from the Huffington Post and online:
 
    
Whilst many people thought it would be impossible for the no campaign to surpass #Hamatime for sheer ineptitude (see: Two wrongs make a far right) they pulled their creative resources together, attended 'lots' of focus groups, and created a parody fit for Saturday Night Live. At least this campaign is paying the mortgage of many senior unionists and during the week they managed to find someone to blame!
 
 
But compare and contrast with the new video from Yes Scotland entitled 'Yes Means'. Here is the video with subtitles available (just turn on captions):
 
 
2,500 is larger than 132 (I need to clarify this for the BBC)
During this week, 132 business figures signed a letter stating that people in Scotland should vote no. The primary reasons appeared to be surrounding the currency (which the head of the 'no' campaign Alistair Darling confirmed can be the £ without Westminster's permission - see above), EU membership (ha ha) and that they don't like the prospect of changes (especially ones which will increase competition).
  
But looking at the list, I'm not sure I want to be on the same side as them anyway.

  
The BBC, whose colleagues in the anti-independence organisation the CBI make up a significant percentage of the signatories, gave this story a great deal of promanence. Of course, the number of business people who support independence is over 2,500 (over 19 times larger). Do you believe the BBC has offered 19 times more coverage to business leaders who support independence than oppose it? Didn't think so.
 
Putting the boot in
A source at Fifa, the governing body for international football, has stated that a 'no' vote in the referendum will likely see the end of the Scottish national football teams.
“If Scotland votes No then you're going to see that debate [about the UK pitching four teams] erupt again. There is going to be real pressure to have that UK disparity finally dealt with. In the wake of a No vote many of the countries envious of the UK's special footballing status would see this as a perfect opportunity,” NIA Novosti news agency
Vote no and you'll never see this again
Or this either
A Yes vote will give us the upper-hand in any negotations. A no vote gives Westminster and FIFA the opportunity to put the boot in. If you believe Scotland is a nation, and that we should be allowed to represent outselves, in either politics or sport, then you have to vote Yes.
 
What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Jim Murphy MP was the victim of a soft egg being patted onto his back (or 'an attack' if you read the Mail online, which you probably don't). But who was the perpetrator of this heinous crime? Yes International engaged in journalism, a rarity in Scotland, and found an interesting result:
 
 
That is a picture of the man who used the egg according to STV. And below is an image of what is believed to be the same person.
 
 
At Sign for Scotland, we know a little bit about hearing aids. What is in the picture above is not something you can pick up from Specsavers.
"[The earpiece is] known as an acoustic radio police radio earpiece with push to talk. Normally used by the police, by the security services on operations and by private security firms." Yes International
It is possible that this person is a Yes campaigner and not someone inciting trouble (see here for recent UK based examples of agent provocateurs from the Guardian, Channel 4 news, Liberal Conspiracy and Medialens) but the main stream media in Scotland should have attempted a little journalism before jumping to baseless conclusions. As a side note, Jim Murphy now has an excuse to cut short his disasterous 100 street tour.
 
The real mastermind behind the egg
In other, less serious news, a person has been found guilty of abuse after threatening to assassinate First Minster Alex Salmond. But that's not as important as an egg story.
 
#GlasgowTakeover
On Saturday, the 30th of August, Radical Independence made a mass gathering at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow. It was extremely well attended a featured a number of famous Yes supporters.
 
 
This is the type of grassroots campaigning that the no campaign just can't match. If you'd like to know more about this event, then check out this blog by James Owens.
  
Join us again on Sunday for our next look at what's 'not in the news'!
Drew
 
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Vote no, get nothing

This blog is about reasons for voting ‘Yes’ during the referendum for Scottish Independence. We largely focus on economic, social and political reasons why we, the people of Scotland, would be better off having the decisions affecting our lives being made within our borders by politicians who are answerable to us. We try to use logic and facts to back up our arguments and avoid personal attacks (wherever possible).


But it’s important to acknowledge the future that awaits us if we vote no. No offers no economic stability; just as the ‘Yes’ campaign cannot guarantee that an independent Scotland will become richer despite a mountain of evidence which suggests that it would, the ‘no’ campaign cannot promise to stop the UK’s economic slide and stagnation.
 
The ‘no’ campaign cannot tell us what tax rates we will have, for even if everyone in Scotland were to agree on an approach we would be unable to enforce such a policy within the UK due to our minority status. The ‘no’ campaign cannot tell us what currency we will use, for the decision is a reserved matter at Westminster. There is nothing to stop David Cameron from taking us into the Euro or adopting the US Dollar. He doesn’t need our permission, the way an independent Scottish Parliament would, as all he would need is to have a majority of MPs to back his idea, and he can easily gain them in England alone (and even if he were forced into a referendum, a 55% - 45% vote in Scotland would only affect the overall outcome by less than 1%, reducing us to spectators).

"We'll make all the important decisions for you," Westminster's 'offer'
The Conservatives will not transfer new powers to a Scottish Parliament which they are unlikely to control. This means that whenever we get a Tory Government ruling us, the transfer of power can only move south. Most people agree on this point. What about the only alternative to the Conservatives at Westminster, the Labour Party?

Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, has repeatedly called for ‘One Nation’.
“I’ve set out a vision of what this country can be, one nation…from business to education to welfare.” (New Year speech, December 2012)
A ‘one nation’ approach to business means that the power to vary the rate and thresholds for corporation tax cannot be held in Scotland (which Mr Miliband has relegated to a region). A ‘one nation’ approach to education, means that the tuition fees which students resident in Scotland can currently avoid will be imposed, with a £9,000 per year charge becoming the norm. A ‘one nation’ approach to welfare means that the prevailing attitudes in Westminster towards those receiving benefits will be adopted, regardless of whether those values match those of the Scottish People. ‘One nation’ doesn’t leave much room for the transfer of powers towards Scotland.


The Scottish Parliament will no longer be for a nation within a nation, regardless of which half of Westminster wins. If we want a meaningful say in our future and for our parliament to hold onto the powers that it has, then we need to support independence. The two Westminster parties are like railroad tracks running parallel to one another. Their direction is clear; reduce the authority of the Scottish Parliament until it is unable to do anything and hoard all power in the southeast.
Only ‘Yes’ can maintain what we have.  If you vote no, you'll get nothing.
Drew
 
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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Not in the News -24th of August Edition

Welcome to another edition of our weekly 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. Our last edition can be found here.

 
Bankers' Loyalty
A prime example of why it is better to build an economy on real goods and commodities was revealed this week as a number of US Banks threatened to re-locate from the City of London to locations within the EU.

  
With it appearing increasingly likely that Westminster will leave the EU (and have to negotiate a free-trade agreement that will not have favourable terms for Scotland), the American Banks are making contingencies to move operations to Dublin and/or Frankfurt. With independence, Scotland could also enjoy some benefit from the Bankers' flight from London, but re-industrialising our country will be the priority.

And of course, there are others who are looking to re-locate to Scotland.
 
Two wrongs make a far right!
You can read the story of Yvonne Hama, who appeared on the front page of the official no campaign website, here. It so shocking that even the BBC had to report it!
 
But none of that stopped Ms Hama from starring in the no campaign TV broadcast a day later. It's #hamatime!


Go Westminster! (Seriously, just go away and stop interfering)
Everyone in Scotland who is reading this article will be pleased to know that the tax they pay is contributing to the 'no' campaign! HM Government has been paying for better together adverts on various websites in an attempt to prevent a Yes vote in September's referendum.
 
This story appeared on aworkingclassman.com, whose evidence comes from Google Adwords used on their site. It was confirmed that this process has continued into the final 28 days of the referendum, which is in direct contravention of the Edinburgh Agreement. The real question is whether or not the Electoral Commission will record this expenditure as part of the no campaign budget and act on this breach of election rules. We don't have high expectations.
 
Vote Yes and we'll punish you (vote no and we'll really punish you!)
Westminster's idle threats against Scottish Independence have been around since the start of the referendum campaign, but their very geniune signals of intent following a 'no' vote have become much clearer during the past week. The Times, the Herald, the Telegraph, the Scotsman and even the BBC are highlighting the coming cuts (although they use the estimate of £4 billion per year rather than the more likely £7 billion figure).

And these extra cuts are likely to come about despite up to 1,000,000 being unable to afford adequate housing with 100,000 of them being deemed too poor for even minimum standards. Instead of looking at money that is being wasted, it is those who have the least that will bare the brunt of future London budgets.
 
Vote Yes and Westminster will have to cut off its own leg to scratch us, vote no, and we'll be left defenceless to resist their austerity programme (as well as the demand for a pound of flesh from voters in England).
  
The missing 8 billion barrels of oil - Let's 'Frack' this case!
If you have any interaction with the Main Stream Media in Scotland, then you will have come across the name Ian Wood. This week, he claimed that there is just 15,000,000,000 to 16,500,000,000 barrels of oil left in the North Sea, which is much lower than the amount in Scottish Government's White Paper on Independence (24,000,000,000 barrels). The fact that this was significantly higher than the OBR's estimate of 10,000,000,000 barrels wasn't as widely reported.

So what do other experts in the field believe? Well the UK Government's own Department of Energy and Climate Change put the oil reserves at 35,000,000,000 barrels, and N-56, a think tank with members that operate in the North Sea, has estimates closer to 60,000,000,000. You can also read the reply to Mr Wood by economist and former advisor to Labour and Conservative Secretaries of State for Scotland Donald MacKay here.
 
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, in February of this year Ian Wood wrote a report saying that he believed there to be around 24,000,000,000 barrels left in the North Sea (yes, the same Ian Wood who, with no new information being presented to him, now believes that 8 billion barrels worth of oil has magically disappeared). He also advised young people to get involved in the North Sea industry as it can offer them 'a job for life'. Let's hope that none of them were silly enough to listen to him!

 
While nothing has changed with regards to the amount of extractable oil, a new feature is UK Government contracts for fracking becoming available. Mr Wood's company, the imaginatively titled 'Wood Group', is heavily involved in fracking, and Westminster will be handing out lucrative licences in various locations across Scotland and the UK. If the Wood Group were to receive enough of these, then Mr Wood's grandchildren would certainly be thankful for a no vote!
 
 
But the central question remains: do you believe the Scottish Government's position that we will have a massive windfall for numerous decades to come, a position based on record levels of investment by numerous oil companies as well as the evidence presented above, or Westminster's predictions that it will all be gone the moment we become independent. Here's a final bit of evidence to consider before you decide.
 
Things I don't know because I trust the BBC...#YesBecause!
The whole #YesBecause trend of twitter seemed to pass the BBC by this week. There were some fantastic messages of hope and optimism (as well as a few cheeky replies!) which helped to highlight the causes that we are campaigning for. It was fantastic that #YesBecause was seen around the world and it came just 1 day before Yes Scotland announced that 1 million voters in Scotland had signed the Yes Declaration.

Of course, there were a few #nobecause messages:
 
 
Remember to check our next 'not in the news' to find out what else I wouldn't know about if I trusted the BBC!
 
Silence in Unison
"SNP under fire for 'scandalous deceit' on future of NHS" was the headline in the Daily Express this week as the Yes Scotland campaign highlighted the threats to our health service. So it was no surprise that the controlled media in Scotland offered very little coverage to the warnings of NHS privatisation made by trade union group UNISON.
 
 
As you should know by now, if you want the facts, you need to look online. Our favourite article on this topic comes from Wings over Scotland with "More lying nationalists".
  
Join us again on Sunday for our next look at what's 'not in the news'!
Drew
 
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Friday, 22 August 2014

Plans A, B, C, D and E (I know you don't care about currency but it's the only thing the Westminster Defence League talk about)

We at Sign for Scotland were recently asked about the best way to respond to people who bring up the topic of currency. So here is our handly little guide. Just remember that the best references  to this subject can be found in the 'Wee Blue Book' (starting on page 11) and on the Business for Scotland website (especially the article 'Euro, Pound Sterling or Scottish Pound'). The different options available to us are also listed on the Scottish Government's White Paper on Independence (starting page 109).
 
If the show 'Spice and Wolf' can use a wolf deity to explain economics then so can we!

Currency Union
The term ‘Currency Union’ can be a bit mis-leading. It has nothing to do with using the £ itself (as options 2 and 3 below will prove), it only means that the Bank of England will continue to act as ‘lender of second last resort’ (see reference [1] and [2]). The main feature of this approach is that things remain the same for people on both sides of the border. There will be no transaction costs and banks operating in Scotland have a local lender with the ability to shore up their finances. This option gives the Scottish Parliament no direct control over the supply of money, although we have the flexibility to set our own tax types and rates [3] [4].
  
This approach was successfully used by Luxembourg and Belgium for over 7 decades [5] and could be replaced with any of the other options listed at a future date. Below is a video in BSL explaining why Westminster will want a currency union, and why they are pretending to be against it during the referendum campaign.

video
 
Sterlingisation
Sterlingisation means using a currency without having a central bank. This is the same as ‘Dollarisation’ and is a popular choice around the world [6]. In our case, Sterlingisation results in us using the £ as normal, as well as reduced debt payments to Westminster. This is because the Bank of England holds a number of assets that would be withheld from us [7], and thus we would not be liable for any debt that was accrued to secure those assets.
  
Sterlingisation would not affect the guarantee on savers, which means savers with up to €100,000 in their accounts will continue to be protected [8]. Banks operating in Scotland would not be guaranteed bailouts should they fail, which will force them to act more responsibly [9]. This can be achieved without agreement with Westminster and be replaced with any of the other options listed at a future date.

Scottish Currency pegged to the Pound
The third option is for Scotland to have its own currency that will have the same value as the £. Bank of England notes would continue to be accepted in Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament could, at a future date, decide to remove the peg (see option 4) giving much more freedom of choice to future generations.
 
A Scottish Central Bank would be formed (or an existing bank in Scotland could be changed into a central bank) which would adopt the same functions that the Bank of England currently has. The strength of this central bank would depend upon the post-referendum negotiations: if our share of the Bank of England’s assets were transferred, then the corresponding levels of UK debt would be transferred too. If no assets were transferred, then Scotland would have vastly reduced debt payments. This is the option that Switzerland successfully uses today [10]. Any transaction costs would be small as a Scottish Pound and a Bank of England Pound would have equal value.

The new no campaign poster
Scottish Currency that floats freely
This approach would see Scotland have its own Central Bank and currency. There would be transaction costs when trading with the UK if we picked this choice similar to those we have when trading with the rest of the world. The advantage of this option is that full control over the supply of money would be held by the Scottish Parliament. The result of this option would be that Scottish bank notes would have a higher value than those produced by the Bank of England [11], which means that anyone holding Scottish currency (i.e everyone in Scotland) would become wealthier, as our money could purchase more goods from abroad than before. The downside is that our exports would become more expensive to others and tourists would view Scotland as a more pricey place to visit.

We're pretty sure Holo is not refering to this story here
Euro
Scotland cannot officially use the Euro due to ERM2 [12]. ERM2 demands that any country that wants to join the Eurozone has to be using a currency that is ‘pegged’ to the Euro for at least 2 years. Scotland can only meet this qualification if we adopt option 4 for at least 2 years (which isn’t physically possible as our independence day will be the 24th of March 2016 [13]). Scotland could unofficially use the Euro in the same way as we could use the £ in option 2 however there are few immediate advantages with this approach.
 
  
After Independence there will be even more options to pick from however those will be discussed and debated at elections. We, the people who live in Scotland, will get to decide what we want. That's the spirit of democracy and something that Westminster doesn't offer. And it's one of the best reasons to vote Yes.
Drew
 
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List of references:
[1] Crisis, Conditions, and Capital – The Effect of International Monetary Fund Agreements on Foreign Direct Investment Inflows [Nathan M Jensen, Department of Political Science, Washington University, St. Louis] - http://jcr.sagepub.com/content/48/2/194
[2] U.S. planned British economic bailout in the 1970s, newly released documents reveal…with haunting echoes today [Dan Atkinson, Mail on Sunday Economics Editor] - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1266871/A-warning-British-economy-haunting-echoes--34-years-on.html
[3] The race that’s never run [Reverend Stuart Campbell, Wings over Scotland] - http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-race-thats-never-run/
[4] Tax rates online [KPMG, international audit, tax & advisory company] - http://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/services/Tax/tax-tools-and-resources/Pages/tax-rates-online.aspx
[5] Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union [Encyclopaedia Britannica] - http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/59408/Belgium-Luxembourg-Economic-Union
[6] Dollarization [How Money Works, William F Hummel] - http://wfhummel.cnchost.com/dollarization.html
[8] Deposit Guarantee Schemes [The EU Single Market, EC Europa] - http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/bank/guarantee/index_en.htm
[9] An independent Scotland should use the pound without permission from rUK, says new ASI report [Adam Smith Institute] - http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/money-banking/an-independent-scotland-should-use-the-pound-without-permission-from-ruk/
[10] Swiss National Bank pegs franc to euro [The Week, Business magazine] - http://www.theweek.co.uk/business/2433/swiss-national-bank-pegs-franc-euro
[11] Scottish independence gets boost from Hong Kong’s money markets [South China Morning Post] - http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1224903/scottish-independence-gets-boost-hong-kongs-money-markets
[12] Euro, Pound Sterling or Scottish Pound? [Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, Business for Scotland] - http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/euro-pound-or-scottish-pound/
[13] How will Scotland become independent? [Yes Scotland] - http://www.yesscotland.net/answers/how-will-scotland-become-independent