Alexander Lies Through His Teeth

Danny Alexander today announced the costs of setting up an independent Scotland. Unfortunately for The No Campaign, the academic on whose work the figure (£2.7 Billion) was based has condemned them for “badly misrepresenting” his data and said that it overestimated the cost by a factor of 12.

I watched Alexander’s press conference this morning and noted that at one point he claimed in answer to a question that while the Scottish government was playing up the assets of the UK which it would want a proportion of, in reality there would also be costs which would cancel these out meaning no real net difference. He then contradicted himself by making all these crazy claims about how we would be down billions on the deal. None of the hacks pulled him up on it.

Anyway – this from the Guardian (click on link for full article):

Patrick Dunleavy, a politics professor at the London School of Economics whose research was used to come up with the figure, said that it overestimated the cost by a factor of 12.

Posting on his Twitter account, Prof Dunleavy wrote: “UK Treasury press release on #Scotland costs of government badly misrepresents LSE research.”

He told the Financial Times: “The Treasury’s figures are bizarrely inaccurate. I don’t see why the Scottish government couldn’t do this for a very small amount of money.”

Research carried out by Prof Dunleavy in 2010 estimated that the cost of setting up a new Whitehall department was £15 million.

In coming up with its figure of £2.7 billion, the Treasury has simply multiplied Prof Dunleavy’s figure by 180 – the number of public bodies the Scottish government thinks it will need after independence.

Later, he tweeted: “Could they be this crude? Phone call from Treasury guy later confirms: Yes, they had been.”

Prof Dunleavy said that such a calculation involved three basic errors on the part of the Treasury – not all 180 bodies would be major departments, several already exist independently in Scotland, and that his figure represented the “chaotic” way Labour set up departments from scratch prior to 2010, not a more orderly transition.

He said that the Treasury overstated costs by around 12 times, estimating instead that the one-off set-up costs would be £150 to £200 million.

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Vote No Borders Cinema Ad

God help the No campaign if this is the kind of toe-curling shite they are willing to put out there.
It would be interesting to see what kind of reaction these cinema ads are getting in Scottish cinemas – not too positive, I would imagine.

 

EDIT

I have just posted this on Facebook.

It shows you how bad the stuff coming out of the No camp is that we in the Yes camp share it on social media.

Bye, Darling – Hello, Alexander!

From conservativehome.com:

Apparently, Alistair Darling has been sidelined, amid frustration and concern at the steady pace at which the Yes campaign has been munching up their early lead.Some would argue that’s unfair – the situation isn’t as grim as it seems, or Darling isn’t responsible for the problems – while others would greet his removal as overdue, after months of being out-glitzed by Alex Salmond. Whether you think it wise or stupid to change the leader of Better Together, few are likely to applaud the decision to replace Darling with Douglas Alexander.Yes, that’s right – the same Douglas Alexander with a reputation for stuffing up every campaign he has been in charge of, the same Douglas Alexander who runs the Labour election strategy which yesterday saw the party fall behind in the polls for the first time in two years.”

Alexander was the head of the 2010 election campaign for Gordon Brown, so some good form there. As Scottish Secretary he was also in charge of the 2007 Scottish election fiasco – the one with the crazy design which led to 140.000 spoiled ballot papers.

Way to go, Dougie!

Jon Snow ‘The visceral hatred of Westminister politics’

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Jon Snow’s Blog discusses the independence debate:

Having just spent a week in first the Western Isles, and second in Glasgow, hatred of Westminster is by far the most dominant factor in people who told me they were voting yes to Scottish independence. The theme was constantly repeated to me. For some, voting Yes is a long deep seated desire for an independent Scotland. But for far more it seems to be a relatively recent desire to have nothing to do with what so many spoke of as “the sleaze, dishonesty, and self-serving London-centric politics of Westminster”.

 

It is remarkable how much this has come to be the driving force, and main argument in the campaign – it is something which has developed during the campaign, and seems to be attracting people to our side. It is not just about independence, it is about what we can do to change the Westminster paradigm – but more, it is about getting the chance to re-shape our society in general, and in particular the shocking levels of inequality and unfairness which have been allowed to develop. As anyone with any sense knows – if you are looking for real change in this society, independence is the only game in town. Even if we lose the referendum, the debate will go on in Scotland – we are just starting to feel our power.

Jon goes on:

 

I have come away from Scotland deeply impressed by the high quality of debate, and the relatively low quality of many of the arguments put forward by the No campaign. I’m equally impressed by the range and quality of people who constantly surprised me by their commitment – often recently determined, to vote yes. My sense too is that where the vote on Scottish independence is concerned, Westminster politicians just don’t get it.”

The Sunday Herald Says Yes

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A striking, iconic Alasdair Grey cover of today’s Sunday Herald. I tried very hard to avoid getting any of my fried breakfast on it, though not entirely successfully, as I read the editorial.

When buying the paper, the newsagent passed comment, in a non-committal, newsagent kind of way. I mentioned Ian Bell’s article on Saturday’s Herald where he describes the unexpected level of interest and involvement in the campaign, and in grass-roots politics itself.

Scotland’s referendum has become a triumph without a vote being cast. People care, care deeply, and intend to show it with their ballot papers.”

 Here is today’s editorial in full:

The prize is a better country. It is as simple as that: why the Sunday Herald supports a Yes vote

ON September 18, Scotland must decide whether to remain within the United Kingdom or become an independent country.

No-one should find the decision easy. There is nothing simple, clean, or clinical about ending a union that has endured for better than three centuries. Nevertheless, having considered the arguments, the Sunday Herald sincerely and emphatically believes that the best outcome is a vote for independence.

We state our opinion not in an attempt to persuade our readers. That would be presumptuous and arrogant. We are well aware that there is good reason to assume the vote will be close. However, we are determined, as the debate enters its final, feverish stages, when emotions will doubtless run high, to make our position clear.

We believe that now is the time to roll up our sleeves and put our backs into creating the kind of society in which all Scots have a stake. Independence, this newspaper asserts, will put us in charge of our destiny. That being the case, Scots will have no-one to blame for their failings, no-one to condemn for perceived wrongs. We will, for the first time in three centuries, be responsible for our decisions, for better or worse.

The proposition is this: We believe independence offers Scotland an historic opportunity to choose the kind of country that might allow its people to prosper. Decisions affecting our lives will be made on our doorstep, by the people who live here. By us. A vote for independence says that a small country is not helpless in a big, troubling world.

At the Sunday Herald we want a Scotland that cares about others, everywhere, as much as it cares about its own. We believe in a society that is altruistic and compassionate, that looks after everyone in need irrespective of their ability to pay. But we also want a society that is meritocratic, that rewards work and encourages entrepreneurialism. Above all, we want a progressive, fair society in which the gulf between haves and have nots is no longer unbridgeable.

Come independence, the sky may still be blue (well, possibly not in Scotland in September) and the grass green, but there is no magic wand. Scotland will not overnight be transformed into a land flowing with milk and honey. A referendum cannot immediately wash away the legacy of the past. September’s vote is not a straight choice between that past and an already-formed future. What is offered is the chance to alter course, to travel roads less taken, to define a destiny.

As for that future, much remains unknowable. We cannot be certain the pound will be retained, that existing terms will be easily forthcoming, that the price of oil will be higher tomorrow than it is today, that pensions will dwindle or increase in value, that businesses big and small will stay or go. We can never know the future.

Few saw the financial crash coming. You never know what is – good or bad – around the corner. The best we can do is take informed and educated guesses and create a stable, well-structured society that is able to weather whatever is thrown in its direction. Scotland has that opportunity.

We therefore believe that a currency union is probable. Likewise we are confident that Scotland will be a member of the European Union. Moreover, we are sure that Scotland, through the talent of its people and its natural resources, can not only survive economically but can thrive, bringing lasting benefits for the common good. We view the referendum not as a choice between the status quo and an uncertain future, but as between a bankrupt, political structure and the chance to remake our society in a more equal, inclusive, open and just way.

That seems to us to be a more exciting, imaginative and inspiring proposition than the alternative proposed by the No campaign. That it has been remorselessly negative need not detain us here. Its leaders have told us constantly what we can’t do, aren’t able to do, must avoid doing at all costs. Scotland removed from the Union, they insist, will be a poorer, parochial, rather pathetic place, with no voice in the corridors of power.

These tactics have given the media much fat on which to chew. While polls have consistently shown there to be strong support for independence – albeit not enough yet for a majority – this has not been reflected in the press. Some newspapers are against independence, others merely unsympathetic to the notion. We do not believe this to be healthy. Scotland’s media should reflect the diversity of opinion within the country. We believe that in a real democracy the public should have access to a wide range of views and opinions. The media should not speak with one voice.

Diversity of opinion is reflected within the Sunday Herald’s staff. Some of our team support independence, some do not, and others are still considering the arguments. Some are unconvinced by the merits of supporting a Yes vote. Far from regarding this as a weakness, we welcome it. The Sunday Herald has always been a broad church. We consider the fact a strength which we will always protect.

Nevertheless, this newspaper’s view is that independence is the right course for the country to take. Another auld song, 300 years in the singing, has come to its end. The stratagems of Better Together seem only to confirm that the United Kingdom has too little to say for itself, and too little to say to Scotland. We can manage matters better on our own account, and make a future for ourselves. The prize is a better country. It is, truly, as simple as that.

That the Sunday Herald has decided to lend its support to independence does not mean that its sister papers, the daily Herald and the Evening Times, will do likewise. That is a decision for their editors to make. Nor does our decision reflect the position of our owners, the Herald and Times group. Tim Blott, managing director of the Herald and Times group, says: “Our policy is to give individual editors the freedom to decide their own newspaper’s position on this hugely important constitutional issue but our own official company stance will remain non-political and neutral in the independence debate.”

Meanwhile, the Sunday Herald’s advocacy of independence does not mean it will support unquestioningly the Scottish National Party or its allies. We have in the past published stories and views critical of both the SNP and the Yes campaign. We will continue to do so, and to break stories and report the news, whether or not it touches on our opinion. As a newspaper, we too are proud of our independence.

And we will continue to seek the views of Better Together to maintain balance in our news stories. Clearly we do not share the views of the No campaign but we respect their right to their opinion and believe that they are as passionate about Scotland’s future as we are. This is not an argument which should be mired in personal hatred.

Scotland is an ancient nation and a modern society. We understand the past, as best we can, and guess at the future. But history is as nothing to the lives of the children being born now, this morning, in the cities, towns and villages of this country. On their behalf, we assert a claim to a better, more decent, more just future in which a country’s governments will be ruled always by the decisions of its citizens.

Scots have never been afraid to astonish the world. A small country has made a habit of producing big thinkers. The Sunday Herald says that it is time to think big once again. And to think for ourselves.”

Southland

From today’s Huffington Post :

Ed Miliband has been warned by one of his earliest supporters that voters in the South of England do not think Labour understands them and that this will make it increasingly difficult for the party to win elections.

John Denham, the Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, said on Wednesday evening that the party was “not on the agenda for most southern voters”. And he pleaded with his Labour colleagues to stop talking about a “North/South divide” because it irritated people South of London.”

 

This is why Labour will not and cannot be representative of the Scottish electorate. As Denham knows, the south of England will always be the main prize in any UK general election, and policies will always have to be tailored to suit their needs. The north of England, never mind Scotland, will always be the poor relatives.

He goes on:

The first thing Labour has got to do, we have to stop comparing the South to everywhere else. Despite my best efforts many of my party colleagues insist on talking about a North/South divide. It’s one of the problems we have in winning support for Labour in the South.”

 

At no point in talking about the next general election is Scotland mentioned, or the possibility that the UK will not even exist come the election.