STV Referendum Debate

Video of the STV Live Referendum debate I live-blogged the other night.



Willie Rennie, the Alfred E Neuman of Scottish politics, said yesterday:
It is day two of the happy clappy sect – nationalists for the white paper. Starry-eyed optimism. Worshipping the god of positivity. Alex Salmond – the patron saint of blind optimism.’Image

Thank god we do not all see optimism as a fault. And thank god I am not on the same side as that cynical buffoon.

Compare that with Alan Cumming’s inspiring article in today’s National Collective : Believe In The Power of Positivity:

Above all else I am an optimist and I believe in the power of positivity. I really can’t think of any situation, ever, that would have benefitted by more negativity and less hope.

The YES campaign for Scottish independence is, to me, the epitome of hope, optimism and positivity and I believe that independence is best for Scotland. That’s my opinion.




STV Live Referendum Debate

Live blog – never done this before!

Nicola Sturgeon V What’s His name, Alistair Carmichael, Scottish secretary. Very short opening statements

On no! Bernard (I put it to you, First Minister) Ponsonby is sniping from the studio.

Q – Do you accept that RUK have a legitimate say in indy debate?

Nicola – Independence can transform Scotland. ‘Scottish and UK govts signed an agreement to accept decision. It is in interests of RUK for Scotland to keep pound.

Q – Automatic membership of EU?

N – We are already a member. Chair keeps mentioning Spanish PM’s comments that we wouldn’t  be part of EU [Spain have their own indy movement in Catalan. Hardly neutral observer]

A C – Scotland would have chosen to leave – no automatic entry into EU

Q – You represent less than 20% of vote but are Scottish Secretary.

A C – Blusters, doesn’t address point. We had 13 years of Labour which reflected our voting [that’s all right then]

Q – mandate?

A C – blusters

Q – Currency?

N – No-one in UK govt has clearly said we won’t get to keep pound.

Q  – Cameron can veto

N – Not in their interests.

Q – Plan B?

N – They won’t stop us using pound – as much our pound as rUK’s

N – In interests of both us and rUK

Q – Policy to veto currency union

A C – Blusters quite badly. ‘Highly unlikely’

Why would independent Scotland want to be part?

N – We want fiscal independence.

Stronger fiscal position than rUK

Q – Structural deficit

N – Better able to address this when independent.

Q  – How many years to reduce deficit [come on! Who fucking knows?]

N – UK govt has put us into deficit

Q  is not being firm enough

Q – Where is your vision?

A C – We have published [something]

Q – What do we get if we vote no?

A C – My vision is anyone on minimum wage will not pay tax.

N – policies cutting welfare and putting more into poverty


Ponsonby – White paper re-hash of arguments [i.e. addressing the issues]

Then contradicts saying White Paper should concentrate on ‘bread & butter’ issues’

Colin somebody  – No definitive answer on currency from either side.

Ponsonby – Post indy, self interest will rule for both sides.

Colin – Constructive so far, engaging with issues – will hear more about Spanish PM’s comments.



N – No campaign has been demanding answers? What will happen to Scotland if we vote no? How many Scots children will be in poverty by 2020?

A C – We inherited in 2010 poor economy

N – How many children . Child Poverty Action Group – 50 – 100,000 more children in poverty by 2010 if we vote no.

A C – We are making difficult decisions, blah blah

N – Repeats q again. Is 100,000 more acceptable?

A C – How will you finance funding gap?

N – What powers if we vote no? Give us 3 powers.

A C – Begs Q to stop interrupts – told to answer question, which he doesn’t

N – Give me one power

A C _ again asks for help from Q

N – Scottish funding after ref? Barnett formula? 4 billion less? Come clean

A C – Nicola is scaremongering. Argues about former Scots secretary and position on Dr Who [?]

N – Has not answered a Q

N – We will always get govt we vote for if indy. Gurantee that Liberals will not impose a Tory govt?

A C – Still whines about Qs – doesn’t answer any q.

N _ Child poverty, powers, impose.|Tory govt – no answer.

AC – How will indy Scotland work? Membership of EU – Spanish PM again. Do you accept that we will leave EU.

N – No. Transition period where we will negotiate terms of continuing membership.

N – We will not be out

A C – Not continuing membership.

N _ It will be. Not you job to stand up for Scotland. Risk to our membership is not independence, but EU referendum

A C – again whines about Nicola playing too hard.

N – You said you couldn’t gurantee membership of EU because of EU vote.

A C – Currency. Salmond said years ago that pound was millstone round our neck. Do you agree?

N – Circumstances change

A C – Makes sense to have currency union – we are 2nd biggest market of r UK – it makes sense to keep

A C – USA is 1st market – we don’t need currency union. Why do you want this weak independence?

N – We want fiscal independence.

A C – Shipbuilding. Independence threat to jobs, quoting some union convener.

N – I will support Clyde if independent or not? You said that contracts will not come to Scotland as a matter of law. Clyde best place to build them. You were quoted in Portsmouth newspaper talking down the Clyde.

A C – When has UK built warship abroad?

N – They are looking abroad at the moment.


[Descended into talking over each other a bit too much – lots of heat, but little light. Alistair Carmichael wasn’t very forthcoming, and Nicola a bit too much sniping. It didn’t flow very well as they didn’t allow each other to speak.]

I give it to Nicola.



Ponsonby – Nicola won – when she was being cross-examined, she turned the tables.

Colin agrees – Nicola won.

Ponsonby – Nicola’s issues were about child poverty etc – Carmichael’s issues were dry.

Colin – Carmichael wasn’t thinking on his feet.

[Off to my kip. Go Nicola!]

John Harris: If I had the vote I’d grab the chance of Scottish independence

‘The debate so far shows there’s potential for at least one part of these islands to reject the consensus and seek something better’

There is an excellent article in today’s Guardian here by John Harris.

John Harris gets it:

‘… something very exciting is afoot. In England, the spectacle of mainstream politics frequently suggests a world gone mad: heated debate about whether schools should employ unqualified teachers, varying degrees of nastiness towards immigrants and people on benefits, white men with expensive educations endlessly frothing about “social mobility”. In Scotland, by contrast, within a political culture firmly fixed on the centre-left, the possibility of independence has sparked a snowballing conversation focused on just about every issue that gets picked apart on this site, and a common understanding that politics as practised in SW1 no longer works.’

He quotes Robin McAlpine the director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, addressing an English audience:

‘The big irony … is that you think this is something to do with identity. But Scotland crossed that bridge ages ago … We’re talking about raising tax and nationalising energy generation. If you fall into the trap of writing us off as ethnicity-based gripers, you will not only miss the best political debate Britain has had in decades, you will play a part in quashing it. Come up, offer your expertise, help us build. If we succeed, finally you’ll have the proof that Thatcher wasn’t right with that ‘there is no alternative’ stuff.’

He is describing classic mistake that those on the Left make, where they blindly wear the clothes of their enemies and betray their stated beliefs. They did it by allying themselves with Islamo-Fascists, as they did it by supporting the Soviet Union of old. Here is a chance to change the paradigm we have had foisted onto us by the Tories and their fellow-travellers on the Neo-Con road, the Liberals, and sadly, the Labour Party:

‘But here’s the crucial point. They and millions of others in Scotland know that 30 years of what some call neoliberalism has done them few favours, and that the current Westminster government – indeed, Westminster politics across the board – is making things worse. For all the complexities of independence, given the chance to forever leave behind the Conservative party and a rotten London establishment by voting for secession, you’d surely forgive them for grabbing it while they can.’


Grangemouth and Clyde Shipbuilding

Twice in the past couple of weeks Scotland has had a Damoclean sword suspended over two of its most important and strategic industrial giants – Grangemouth, and Clyde shipbuilding. I do not as a rule subscribe to conspiracy theories, but this is getting a wee bit suspicious.

In abusive relationships the bully partner is often very adept at emotional manipulation, backed by the threat of using their power over the victim. A classic scenario is when the bully threatens the victim, or allows them to be threatened, then stays their hand or steps in as a saviour. The victim’s fear is transformed into servile gratitude, and their place in the relationship firmly established. This is exactly what has happened twice in Scotland in a few days.

I don’t know the general feeling about this – I am firmly pro-independence, and see everything through that lens, but others may see things differently. I think that the above scenario has strengthened the case for a Yes vote – it shows the people of Scotland quite clearly how powerless they really are at the hands of the Tory government and vindictive individual industrialists. Surely this would lead people to seek more power for themselves to forestall a similar scenario in the future, or at least to be able to do something to mitigate the effects. In any event, Alex Salmond has certainly come out well and proved himself an effective leader of the country. ‘Leader of the country’ is not a phrase that has previously been often applied to a First Minister, but I think that is what he has gradually become. By establishing this kind of legitimacy, he may be able to lead us to ‘Yes’ vote in September 2014.