Paris, after the grieving and soul searching, where do we go from here?


Of all the horrors to happen across the world in recent years, this felt all the more horrific. To have such a senseless massacre occur so close to home, not just geographically but also culturally, politically and spiritually. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to live in Paris right now, a city struck not once but twice this year by cowardly terrorism. A city seemingly under siege.

So where do we go from here? For Paris, the best thing to do is to pick up the ‘Blitz spirit’ — having the determination to face this situation — similar to that demonstrated after the Charlie Hebdo attack earlier this year. To send a message, that we, as a western society (and people) will not be cowed into fear. That these attacks will not weaken our resolve, but strengthen it.

It is also critical that we understand what we are really up against. It is Islamism, and in no way does it match with out 21st century democratic way of life. It is absurd to carry on insisting that this has NO religious link at all and it’s condescending in the extreme to behave as if any such acknowledgment will lead to some sort of Fourth Reich in Europe — it won’t. No one, of any religion or none, should be afraid to walk the streets of Europe.

One final point, I won’t deny the war in Iraq and ridding of Saddam Hussein in some way contributed to the creation, or at least laid the foundations of for ISIL. But this global terrorist network and its actions cannot be blamed on western foreign policy. Why does ISIL kill fellow Muslims in Syria and Iraq?Why does it throw homosexuals from buildings? Why does it kill aid workers helping fellow Muslims? Why is it enacting racial cleansing like that discovered in Sinjar? What foreign policy did any of the above do to merit senseless slaughter? None.

We need to eliminate this ISIL/ISIS/Daesh stain from the world and the obvious first step would be for Russia and the Western world to co-ordinate their efforts. For this global coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy this evil.

My original post.

Does freedom of speech give the right to offend? – #JeSuisCharlie


World leaders have descended on Paris to join a 1 million strong march of solidarity in the name of freedom and liberty. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo we have been forced to question our rights in society. What can we say, what can we write, what can we draw?

Firstly it’s important to distinguish that in our society everyone is free to take offence at anything but what they cannot do is insist that someone do not do something that does offend them. We are free to offend and we are free to be offended. The second thing to distinguish is that every idea is open to scrutiny and no idea whether it is a philosophy or a religion is immune or can/should be immune from criticism. And this is where people wrongly accuse one another of being phobic of their religion. It is not islamophobic to scrutinise Islam just as its not Christian-phobic to scrutinise Christianity.

Britain Has Invaded Nine Out Of Ten Countries, From France To United States


Having done a bit of reading the other day i came across the rather fascinating revelation that Britain has invaded nearly 90% of the world’s countries during its history, with only 22 out of 193 not on the receiving end of a bit of Great British aggression. The findings are detailed in a book, “All the countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To” (should have guessed) by historian Stuart Laycock who found the time to research into the matter.

Some of the 22 countries that have escaped British ambition include Andorra, Luxembourg and the Vatican City. The issue with this research, however informative it may be is that it stirs the endless debate in Britain of “was empire bad? If so how do we rid ourselves of such foul play?” The fact remains that the very same British Army / Navy that built an Empire also helped oust the Nazi’s from Europe and the Japanese from Asia, if you want to date further back we also saved Europe from the ever growing hands of Napoleon. Conquest and colonisation have been around a long time, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians etc.

Hitler was responsible for a war where approximately 30 million lives were lost, Stalin supposedly 60 million, many of which were his own people – does russia continuously go on about its bad past, or Germany? Yet here in Britain we will kick ourselves over the fact that we have brought nations across the world democracy, the rule of law, infrastructure, education and masses of knowledge.

How does comparing what happened hundreds of years ago, in a world that none of us can actually imagine existing in grant us the arrogance to denounce what occurred? What Britain did was beat everyone else doing exactly the same thing but in a nicer way (where possible). Britain survived better than most because its people well understood the society in which the world existed at the time. This is yet another “in hindsight” that keeps the British in their place, but at least we stopped one of the most hateful fascist armies the world has ever known in the 20th century, so all those places previously invaded ensured that we could do so. Stop berating British history because its nonsense to do so in a world that is now nothing like it!

Scottish Independence: Listen to George Galloway’s stirring speech in defence of the United Kingdom!

George Galloway

Hello all, we are coming ever closer to the very important question which will decide the future of our 300 year old union, the United Kingdom. In September Scotland will vote in a referendum as to whether it will continue to be part of the union or go it solo.At a debate held yesterday by the paper The Spectator, Respect MP George Galloway savaged the Yes campaign as he evoked the spirit of the Blitz and the spectre of a bankrupt post-oil Scotland in an impassioned plea for Britain to stick together.

The speech itself is brilliant, you read and listen below:

If Scotland votes Yes in September you will be handing the prize for which 100 years the SNP has fought. They have fought for it despite everything and anything that was happening. When London was burning under the Blitz, their poet laureate (Hugh) MacDiarmid said: “London is burning, I don’t care.” They said it was England’s war.

They want you to refight a battle 700 years ago between two French-speaking kings with Scottish people on both sides. I prefer to remember a rather more recent battle when this small island of English-speaking people stood alone and if we had not stood but capitulated like others had done before us we would be having this meeting in German if we were going to have it at all.

And not one person asked in that summer and autumn of 1940 and into 1941 if the pilots who were spinning above us defending us from invasion from the barbaric horde were from Suffolk or Sutherland. We were people together on a small piece of rock with 300 years of common history. That’s what they want to break up and all the rest is balderdash. That’s the truth of it. How come so few women are in favour of independence? Why are Scotland’s women the most resistant of all the demographics in this contest? And the reason is that women simply don’t like gambling.

And everything in their (the Yes campaign’s) project is about gambling – for your future, your pension, your children and their children’s future. And you are right not to like gambling. But just a few hundred yards from here on the North Bridge, one of Scotland’s women, one of our highest achieving women in the history of our entire country, JK Rowling sat in a café and wrote books that people all over the world love.

And what happened when she dared to opine as to how people should vote in September? She was subjected to a torrent of abuse and hatred online and in the post. And that is the second reason why women don’t like independence – because they can see that it has already generated and will generate a politics of grudge and division based on where one stood. I am tired of being called a quisling or a traitor or – I was ordered last night from the rougher end of the trade – “get back to England”.

I’ll go wherever I like in these islands or anywhere else and speak my mind and you see that is the authentic voice of those that seek to break up this country.

I have been divorced more than once. Trust me it is never ever amicable, whatever anybody tells you. But you can make a deal. You can give the partner who is walking out on you all the CDs the DVDs, the dog, the car – you can give them everything, but the one thing you will never ever give them is the right to continue to use the joint credit card.

And that is what their plan A – and they have no plan B – amounts to.

They want to use a currency issued by the Bank of England – the clue being in the name; they want to continue to use it and they imagine that the people that issue it will allow them to do so; to use the joint credit card, even though and as they are walking out the door.

So this is the first time ever that people in a small country, where everyone speaks the same language, are being asked to break up and break up on the basis that they don’t have a currency to use.

There will be no pound. Trust me on that. I came yesterday from Parliament (where) the leaders of the mainstream parties have not changed their minds. An independent Scotland will not have the pound.

What will it have instead? The euro – how’s that going? Anybody fancy that or are we going to bring back the groat?

I see one or two pensioners here, or people close to pensionable age. How do you fancy your pension in groats? How do you fancy a pension that is based entirely on the absolutely unstable price of a commodity that will be finished in 2050?

And in my lifetime oil has been as low as $9 a barrel and as high as $156 a barrel. Who wants to mortgage their children and their children’s future on a finite resource that will soon be finished and the price of which is simply un-calculable? Un-calculable.

There will be havoc if you vote Yes in September. Havoc in Edinburgh and throughout the land and you will break the hearts of many others too.

Because, as I look at my fellow debaters on my side, I was reminded of the Duke of Wellington reviewing his own troops before the battle of Waterloo: “I don’t know what they do to the enemy but they don’t half frighten me.” “The difference is we have come together but temporarily at a moment of national peril.

The nationalists on the other hand are permanently together for they have only one purpose – to persuade you that [Stagecoach Group transport firm founder and prominent Yes campaigner] Brian Souter, the gay-baiting billionaire, funder of their campaign is someone more worthy of looking up to than JK Rowling.

I know which side I’m on. I’m with JK Rowling. Just say No.

The City of London, in a World of it’s own?


In the summer of 2013 Stephen Frey (undoubtedly a bloody genius) did a small series on the City of London, revealing that essentially it is in a world of it’s own. So bear with me whilst I try to explain just how the City of London functions as its own small entity.

Firstly the City of London and London are two different places – though both are known for their historical landmarks, modern skyscrapers, ancient markets and famous bridges. London however has a population of seven million and also houses the government and royal family, whereas the City of London has a far smaller population of seven thousand people. But, if you look map of London it will have a one-square mile hole near the middle — it’s here where the City of London lives inside of the city named London. Despite these confusingly close names the two London’s have separate city halls and elect separate mayors, who collect separate taxes to fund separate police who enforce separate laws.

The Mayor of the City of London has a fancy title ‘The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London’ to match his regal outfit.  He also gets to ride in a golden carriage and work in a Guildhall while the mayor of London has to wear a suit, ride a bike and work in an office building – none of which London Mayor Boris Johnson minds. The City of London also has its own flag and its own crest which is bloody cool, London however lacks both. To top it off the City of London gets to act more like one of the countries in the UK than just an oddly located city — for uniquely the corporation that runs the city of London is older than the United Kingdom by several hundred years.

So how did the UK end up with two London’s, one inside of the other? Because: Romans (bloody romans!) 2,000 years ago they came to Great Britain, killed a bunch of druids, and founded a trading post on the River Thames and named it Londonimium.  Being Romans they got to work doing what Romans do: enforcing laws, increasing trade, building temples, public baths, roads, bridges and a wall to defend their work. And it’s this wall which is why the current City of London exists — for though the Romans came and the Romans went and kingdoms rose and kingdoms fell, the wall endured protecting the city within.  And The City, governing itself and trading with the world, grew rich.

A thousand years after the Romans (yet still a thousand years ago) when William the Conqueror came to Great Britain to conquer everything and begin modern British history he found the City of London, with its sturdy walls more challenging to defeat. So he agreed to recognize the rights and privileges that the City of Londoners were used to in return for the them recognizing him as the new King. Though after the negotiation, William quickly built towers around the City of London (namely the Tower of London) which were just as much about protecting William from the locals within as defending against the Vikings from without. This started a thousand-year long tradition whereby Monarchs always reconfirmed that ‘yes’ the City of London is a special, unique place best left to its own business, while simultaneously distrusting it.

Many a monarch thought the City of London was too powerful and rich. And one even built a new Capital city nearby, named Westminster, to compete with the City of London and hopefully, suck power and wealth away from it. As the centuries passed, Westminster grew and merged with nearby towns eventually surrounding the walled-in, and still separate City of London. But, people began to call the whole urban collection ‘London’ and the name became official when Parliament joined towns together under a single municipal government with a mayor. But, the mayor of London still doesn’t have power over the tiny City of London which has rules and traditions like nowhere else in the country and possibly the world.

For example, the ruling monarch doesn’t just enter the City of London whenever he/she wants, but instead asks for permission from the Lord Mayor at a ceremony however it isn’t required by law. The City of London also has a representative in Parliament, The Remembrancer, whose job it is to protects the City’s special rights. Because of this, laws passed by Parliament sometimes don’t apply to the City of London: most notably voting reforms, and unlike anywhere else in the UK elections in the City of London involve Medieval Guilds (yes they still exist here in London) and modern companies.

Finally, the City of London also owns and operates land and buildings far outside its border, making it quite wealthy. Once you start looking for The City’s Crest you’ll find it in lots of places, but most notably on Tower Bridge which, while being in London is operated by City of London. Regardless The City of London is not an independent nation like the Vatican is, rather it’s a unique place in the United Kingdom with a long and complicated history. so the border between London and its secret inner city isn’t so obvious. So essentially its a city in a city in a country in a country..

#Budget2014 Introduces brand spanking new £1 Coin with a hint of tradition


The £1 coin is to be replaced with a new 12-sided version, shaped like the old “threepenny bit”, in a bid to tackle forgery, the government announced this morning.

Today Chancellor George Osborne will announce the replacement of the current £1 coin – which has been in circulation for over thirty years. The new coin will be the “most secure coin in the world”, the government says. With “advances in technology making high value coins like the £1 ever more vulnerable to counterfeiters, its vital that we keep several paces ahead of the criminals to maintain the integrity of our currency. I am particularly pleased that the coin will take a giant leap into the future, using cutting edge British technology while at the same time, paying a fitting tribute to past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit”.

The Royal Mint estimates that 3 per cent of £1 coins, totalling £45m, are now forgeries – and in some parts of the country the figure is as high as 6 per cent. Around two million counterfeit coins have been removed from circulation each year over the past few years, the government says, at a “direct cost to the banks and cash handling centres, and to the economy”.

The new coin will be of a “bi-metallic construction” with two colours (as in the €1 coin), will be twelve-sided, and will include the Royal Mint’s new iSIS technology, (Integrated Secure Identification System), which incorporates three tiers of banknote-strength security and “can be authenticated via high-speed automated detection at all points within the cash cycle”. It is expected that the coin can be introduced in 2017.



The Better Together Campaign: Lets keep Scotland Prosperous in the UK!


On the 26th November Alex Salmond and the SNP revealed their ‘Scotland’s Future’ White Paper. Within hours critics were picking up on the lack of fact, misinformation, and the all agreed that the document amounted to nothing but a wish list with no real backing or evidence behind it to make it reality.

Just yesterday the Spanish Prime Minister corrected Alex Salmond on his claim in the White Paper that an Independent Scotland could simply continue on as a member of the European Union, saying:

I would like that the consequences of that secession be presented with realism to Scots. Citizens have the right to be well informed and particularly when it’s about taking decisions like this one.

I respect all the decisions taken by the British, but I know for sure that a region that would separate from a member state of the European Union would remain outside the European Union and that should be known by the Scots and the rest of the European citizens

To become the 29th member of the EU, Scotland would need to win agreement of all current 28 members. And the Spanish may be less than keen to set the precedent of giving a breakaway state an easy ride in its membership talks. Scotland is NOT an integral part of the EU other than as part of the UK membership. As an independent country it would not be a signatory to the Treaty of Rome or the Maastricht Treaty and thus would not retain EU membership but would definitely need to apply for entry in exactly the same way as any other nation. It only takes one veto for a country applying to the EU to be barred from entry. So essentially this means categorically and Independent Scotland would not be allowed EU membership.

Somehow i think Alex Salmond knew this was the case but decided to brush it under the carpet instead of face the reality of the situation. The White Paper lasted all but one day before being entirely undermined by not only lack of costings, but also the Spanish PM’s comments and the reality that Scotland may not be allowed the Pound Sterling as a currency either.

Please support the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland prosperous in the UK.
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This is what the experts said about the White Paper: 


Stuart Adam, Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said:

“The White Paper… is more specific about tax cuts than about tax rises.  The obvious drawback of tax cuts is the cost. Since an independent Scotland would face an even bigger long-term fiscal challenge than the UK as a whole, an independent Scotland might find itself looking for ways to increase, rather than reduce, taxes.”

Professor David Bell, University of Stirling, said:

“Yet even with the concerted efforts of the Scottish Government to produce a comprehensive prospectus, there are still issues that need further detail.”

“The key issue that the White Paper does not cover is why the rest of the UK should agree to this [debt] arrangement. Clearly we have a very weighty document, but there is still some way to go before all of the issues are resolved. With some, it is not clear that they can be sorted out prior to independence.”

Peter McGregor, University of Strathclyde:

“There is considerable uncertainty over the economic impact of such radical constitutional change… retention of the pound is something that would have to be negotiated with the rest of the UK (rUK)… Even if successfully negotiated, a “one size fits all” monetary policy would prevail.”

Tony Mackay, Mackay Consultants, said:

“The SNP propose setting up an Oil Fund to use the oil revenues for future generations, along the lines of a similar fund in Norway. That would have been a very sensible proposal in the 1970s but I believe is unrealistic now, for two main reasons: the declining oil revenues; and the SNP’s commitments to a high level of public spending. There would be therefore be little or no money left to invest in an oil fund.”


Dr Angus Armstrong, Director of Macroeconomic Research at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said:

“Even if a currency union is agreed by 2016, it may not be Scotland’s choice in the years thereafter. If citizens on either side of the border have no guarantee that the Sterling union will continue to be the preferred option in future, then the arrangement is fragile because of this possibility of future changes of heart. To unconditionally commit to a currency union in perpetuity requires political union. Indeed the Euro has survived precisely because there is a high degree of political commitment. Scottish independence is a political move in the opposite direction.” 

Jo Armstrong, Centre for Public Policy for Regions, said:

“it has a feeling of a manifesto about it … it doesn’t give us an understanding of the costs associated with [independence] …  It would be in Scotland’s interests potentially to have [the sterling] but probably not as it would want to use its own fiscal levers. [Being] fixed to a currency over which it has no control doesn’t make a lot of economic sense. Politically I can see why you wouldn’t want to create uncertainty in the minds of individuals about what currency we’re going to be using. I think it’s much much less in England’s interest. … I think the balance of payments, benefits for England have been much overblown.”

“There’s two debt issues: one is the amount of debt we take on at the point of becoming independent. But as of day one, we are running a fiscal deficit. We spend more than we are raising in revenue, so we need to borrow. So we need to find a way that will make the markets comfortable with us issuing our own bonds, paying our own interest charges. There absolutely nothing in [the White Paper] about that and it’s almost a day one issue”

Peter McGregor, Head of Economics, Strathclyde University said:

“The pound is something that would have to be negotiated with rUK, the concentration of Scotland’s trade flows adds to the challenge of stimulating Scottish exports and, finally, the plans for lower corporation tax, with the intention of stimulating economic activity through enhanced competitiveness, assumes the absence of retaliation from rUK” 

Dr Nicola McEwen, ESRC Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“The Scottish government may legitimately claim to be in a position to determine what is in Scotland’s best interests, but it can’t define the interests of the rest of the UK. The UK government, for its part, has given heavy hints that formally sharing a currency and other such arrangements may not be in their interests, with the Secretary of State and others demanding a ‘plan B’ from the Scottish government in case such offers of partnership and co-operation are refused.”


Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC said:

“The White Paper does raise questions about how an independent Scottish Government might develop a sustainable approach to taxation in order to fund important and legitimate additional social investments. It is also disappointing that new arguments weren’t forthcoming to rebut genuine concerns around a formal currency union with rUK.”

Pat Donnelly, Community Union’s executive member for Scotland, said:

“Community disappointed by plan for independent Scotland… I’m really concerned that if Scotland were to leave the UK, we will witness a race to the bottom between Scottish workers and our friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – competing, not on skills but on low wages and poor conditions.”

“Most worryingly, this white paper says nothing new about workers’ rights and I know our members will be particularly concerned about the lack of a commitment to abolish zero-hours contracts.”

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s General Secretary, said:

“This white paper is a thick document full of false promises”


John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

“The CBI believes that the nations of the UK are stronger together and that Scotland’s business and economic interests will be best served by remaining as part of the UK.”

Ian McKay, Scottish Chairman of the Institute of Directors:

“While the White Paper maintains there will be no increase in the basic rate of tax, this will inevitable mean rises in other taxes to fund initiatives like increases in childcare provision, and it is not immediately clear how these services will be funded.”

Jim Milne CBE, Chairman and Managing Director, Balmoral Group Holdings Ltd. said:

“As part of the UK we are optimally placed to maximise the potential of the North Sea for years to come. Not only is it imperative for the wider economy to be able to manage the revenues derived from the North Sea, but economies of scale mean that tax breaks and decommissioning relief worth billions are attracting new investment into the province. Our industry is achieving this as part of the UK. I don’t believe such a level of influence would be possible if Scotland was independent.

“Our business depends on exporting leading-edge products to the global oil and gas industry. Having the strength and security of such an influential country as the UK is vitally important when I travel overseas and speak to international business people about our company. Why would we want to give that position of influence up? We are not losing our ‘Scottishness’ by being part of the UK but indeed are benefiting from it.”

Margaret McPherson, chair of Intelligent Office UK said:

“I have worked in business all across the world, and I know how important it is being part of a large and successful economy. Business people I talk to in places like New York can’t understand why we would want to cut ourselves off from the successful single UK market. I don’t understand it either.

“I started my business in Scotland and now have clients in 35 locations across the UK with over 80% of our revenues being generated in England. Being part of the one country meant it was easier for me to develop my business without huge barriers like a different currency and a different regulatory regime. I don’t want new businesses to miss out on the opportunities I had to grow my company in a market of over 60 million people rather than just 5 million.”

Peter Page, a leading business figure for 25 years, said:

“Scotland has some of the best and most successful businesses in the world, yet independence puts this at risk.

“There is too much uncertainty. How can I plan and manage an international business from Scotland when it isn’t even clear what currency we will be using in a few years time or if Scotland will be a member of the EU and on what terms?

“What we have today works well. The single UK market gives Scottish businesses a domestic market of over 60 million people and a platform for the international stage. Why would we want to put up a barrier to that market? There are simply too many risks involved with independence.”


David Wood, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, said:

“ICAS asked questions about how EU rules would affect defined benefit schemes operating across the UK, which would become cross-border in the case of a ‘Yes’ vote. EU rules mean these schemes would face enormous, immediate funding requirements. Today’s paper doesn’t shine any further light on what these would be. Instead, it says negotiations on transitional arrangements should begin immediately. It appears unlikely that the UK government would agree to this”

Martin Potter, leader of the IFoA’s Scottish Board:

“There is a great deal to digest in today’s wide ranging White Paper by the Scottish Government.  The IFoA identified a number of challenges that Scotland and the rest of the UK will face should Scotland become independent (in our October paper: Commentary on the key challenges facing an independent Scotland within financial services  Whilst today’s paper offers further clarity on the Scottish Government’s proposals for an independent nation state, questions remain around how this will be achieved.

“In particular we would welcome further detail on the proposed regulatory frameworks for financial services. Today’s paper sets out the Scottish Government’s intentions regarding membership of the EU and retention of Sterling. It also outlines the creation of certain Scottish regulatory bodies yet proposes a pan UK regulatory framework in other areas. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of a patchwork regulatory system is vitally important for the financial services sector and consumers.  The IFoA will seek further detail from all bodies to better understand the risks and benefits such changes would present.”


Graeme Cooke and Guy Lodge of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said:

“The Scottish government’s long awaited white paper is a piece of fantasy economics. More spending and lower taxes: everybody wins. Alex Salmond’s argument today is that Scottish voters can have it all. All gain and no pain … Other than a (contentious) assertion that the tax base north of the border is stronger than in the rest of the UK, it is unclear how any of this can be paid for.”

“One of the headline grabbing aspects of today’s announcement is on childcare, where the Scottish government rightly advances an argument for following a Nordic path of extending provision for parents with young children. The first obvious point to note in response is that childcare is already a devolved issue, so there is no need for independence for such important progress to be made. The trickier problem for the SNP is, again, how the extra provision would be paid for.”

“What the white paper fails to mention is that Scotland stands a much better chance of meeting the future costs of welfare if it remains part of the UK social union. By coming together the nations of the UK are able to pool financial resources and share risks across a large and resilient political community.”

“Independence, however, would permanently break the UK’s social union weakening the ability of Scotland to cope with the fiscal and demographic pressures welfare states the world over face.”

David Phillips, The Institute for Fiscal Studies, said:

“IFS research suggests that even if oil revenues rebound strongly during the first few years of independence, an independent Scotland would need to raise taxes or cut spending by more than the UK in the longer term. Increasing benefit spending would make this task harder and it would not be surprising if the government of an independent Scotland felt the need to cut rather than increase the generosity of at least some benefits to help balance its books.” 

David Comerford, University of Stirling Management School said:

“This enhanced childcare policy can be criticised as something that can be implemented under the current devolved settlement.”


Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, said:

“The first obvious concern to the engineering manufacturing sector is the apparent haste with which the first independent parliament would ditch Trident with the consequent loss of employment. At current levels this would involve at least 1,600 jobs at Faslane and Coulport. Add to that the large number of secondary jobs within the supporting supply chain and you will create a massive group of highly skilled jobseekers. I would also like to know how the promise of boosting high value jobs through increased manufacturing activity is to be delivered. The manufacturing engineering industry as it exists in Scotland today has demonstrated excellent stewardship to come through a prolonged and deep recession. What is the accelerator that politicians in an independent Scotland think they can activate to improve on this?”


Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain, said:

“It is clear to me that a region which asks for independence from a state within the European Union, will be left outside the EU. It is good thing that the citizens, the Scottish people know this, along with other Europeans.”

Myrto Tsakatika, Senior Lecturer in European politics, University of Glasgow, said:

“Why would the positions of other member states for which Scottish independence sets a dangerous precedent or indeed of the UK itself be as accommodating in these negotiations as the White Paper reckons?”

Stephen Tierney, ESRC Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“The process of achieving membership has been a thorny one for the Scottish Government and it is revisited in the White Paper. It seems to be conceded by the Scottish Government that Scotland would need to apply for new membership”


Andrew Neal, Principal Convenor of the ESRC seminar series ‘Security in Scotland, with or without constitutional change’, said:

“The white paper recognises that a new security service may not be completely in place by independence day, and so calls for continuing UK assistance. Questions remain over how this assistance would eventually be drawn down and how the UK security agencies providing the assistance would be held accountable in an independent Scotland.”


Bruce Beveridge, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said:

“Given the different positions being taken by the UK and Scottish governments, it is difficult to understand the most likely currency arrangements if the Scottish people were to vote for independence next year. It is hard to have a proper debate against a background of uncertainty on such an important issue as this. The Scottish government should be setting out its contingency plans if its preference on currency cannot be achieved. Equally, the UK government needs to be clearer on why it could or would not support such a shared currency arrangement.”

Scottish independence: Is Scotland’s Future really safe in Salmond’s hand?


Today the Scottish Government released its 670 page White paper, Alex Salmond’s blueprint for the break-up of Britain. In the first instance the Scottish First Minister paints a bold image of what an independent Scotland might be like, firstly promising voters they would be £600 better off in an independent Scotland in which the tax system would be fairer and childcare would be improved.

His long list of policy pledges, which would depend on the SNP being elected as the first government in a separate Scotland, includes free childcare for all preschool school children, no rise in general taxation and an end to the Coalition’s unpopular “bedroom tax”.He also pledged to remove Trident nuclear weapons from Scottish soil by 2020 and said the minimum wage would rise alongside the cost of living, with basic rate tax allowances and tax credits rising in line with inflation.

The document, entitled Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland, also said Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing would “still be available in Scotland”, although the BBC would become the Scottish Broadcasting Service on January 1, 2017. The First Minister claimed the white paper answered the key questions about separation, and urged voters to read it before deciding how to vote in next year’s referendum.

The white paper also includes 200 pages on which 650 different questions are answered. It proposes up to 90 new embassies and consulates, suggests cutting corporation tax to three per cent below the UK level, and promises a “transformational expansion in childcare” to encourage women into work – and in a bid to attract women voters who are known to be more sceptical about independence.

The paper states that, by the end of the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament, every three and four-year-old could benefit from 1,140 hours of free childcare – the equivalent of 30 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year. This expansion would be done in a way that is “affordable and sustainable”, the paper states, adding that such a change would also require a “substantial increase in the workforce”, creating about 35,000 jobs.

HOWEVER.. I think we need to dig into this a little deeper. These are infact empty promises. Looking through the White paper you will see the words “we will” and “Scotland will” will in reality it should be “We want” or “We will try to” because in reality Alex Salmond won’t be able to do many of the things the Document says he will.


He says that “Scotland will retain the pound sterling currency” (Because nothing says “FREEDOM!” quite like letting the Bank of England set your monetary policy) yet both George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, have made clear they are not in favour of the proposal, and the Welsh Minister has said he would veto it if it was put to vote. Furthermore Salmond pushed the point of an improved childcare system during his speech and indeed in the document released today, yet as pointed out by Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, that power is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament. They could in fact introduce this whenever they want, they could have done so when they were first elected. Essentially the White paper is a work of fiction, full of meaningless assertions.

“We will continue to be a member of the EU..” This really means Scotland will have to reapply for EU membership as it cannot just pick up where the UK was. This could take a long time as an Independent Scotland would have to get its economy kicking before it could be considered. “We will be a non-nuclear member of NATO..” But what good would Scotland be within NATO if it has nothing but a small defence force?

On R4 Today this morning Nicola Sturgeon threatened not to accept Scotland’s share of the national debt if they aren’t allowed to keep the pound. How can you negotiate with people who are that unprincipled? You can’t trust a word they’re saying. Debt is not something you negotiate, it is something you have. If they fail to shoulder their fair share they won’t be able to raise loans because lenders won’t trust them and Scotland, having defaulted on its loans, will start its new life bankrupt.

Another point i’d like to make: I love how they have already set a date for their independence, how ridiculous & secondly i love how they gave English & Welsh journalists at today’s Press Conference ‘Foreign Press’ badges – Believe it or not you are still part of the UK.

In the end only the Scottish people can decide their future BUT if they do then there must be a complete break from the UK including the UK Parliament. No half measures or cherry picking the good bits of belonging to the Union of the United Kingdom. Personally I hope the Scots see through Alex Salmond and his Party and stay with us as they have through thick and thin for 300 years.

Alistair Darling: “What currency would we use? Who will set our mortgage rates? How much would taxes have to go up? How will we pay pensions and benefits in future? It is a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership. The white paper is a work of fiction. It is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions. They haven’t answered any of the fundamental questions to which Scotland wants the answers. Instead of a credible and costed plan, we have a wish-list of political promises without any answers on how Alex Salmond would pay for them.”

David Cameron’s speech on the United Kingdom in response to supposed Russian ‘Small Island’ remarks


“Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience.

Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism – and was resolute in doing that throughout World War Two.

Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world, that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world.

We are very proud of everything we do as a small island – a small island that has the sixth-largest economy, the fourth best-funded military, some of the most effective diplomats, the proudest history, one of the best records for art and literature and contribution to philosophy and world civilisation.

For the people who live in Northern Ireland, I should say we are not just an island, we are a collection of islands. I don’t want anyone in Shetland or Orkney to feel left out by this.

I’m thinking of setting this to music…”

Syria Crisis: The UK & US position, the stalled strike on Assad

A wounded Free Syrian Army commander walks through rubble in the Salaheddine neighbourhood of central Aleppo

I have steered away from this topic on this blog because I am myself torn as to a resolution to this issue and how my country should react. As many of you know gas attacks took place in Syria last week killing just over a 1000 people, the issue is we don’t know who did it. The UK & US are pretty certain it was the government leader Assad, President Obama even mentioning they have evidence to support it. But really we have no way of telling until the United Nations investigatory group return with a report of their findings.

Just yesterday however it looked like Britain & America we’re well on the way to war with Syria as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to present a draft resolution of military action against Syria to the UN Security Council and that Parliament would be recalled today (Thursday 29th) to debate and vote on whether or not the UK should take such action with the US & French following. However this morning news reported that PM Cameron had decided instead to wait for the full findings of the UN report and then decide.

So why am i torn on this topic? On one hand i feel we should get involved. If Assad and his government is behind these illegal gas attacks then they should be brought to justice, if the United Nations is unable to provide security for the people of Syria or free them from a murdering leader then it is up to better off countries to get involved. Military involvement would not mean putting boots on the ground, but instead missile attacks on strategic military locations, as well as imposing a no-fly zone over the country, effectively disabling the Syrian military’s capability of launching devastating attacks on its civilian population.

On the other hand however i am tired of watching my nation get involved and spend money on conflicts that in no way benefit us. Look at Iraq, look at Afghanistan and look at Libya. All conflicts that cost British lives yet brought no benefit to our shores. Why is the UK & US playing the role of international police officer? Our own countries still need fixing let alone getting involved in others.

Public support is extremely low for any action with 75% of the british public being against it and only 10% of americans being for it. But whats your opinion on the Syrian crisis?


On a side note i wanted to talk about Ed Miliband the leader of the opposition in the UK (Labour Party) because i absolutely detest the man and have ZERO respect for him. Just yesterday he had a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the Syria situation after which he said he fully supported the PM’s position and believed military action was the right response providing it was “legal and specifically limited to deterring the future use of chemical weapons”. Just this morning however he completely backtracked. Despite the PM backing down and agreeing to delay a military attack in Syria, Miliband has reversed Labours position to opposing Cameron in this matter.

Labour has said it will be “pressing ahead” with its own amendment to the Government motion because it “sets out [a] clearer criteria of what must be done before any military action is taken”. Mr Cameron last night said he will wait for a report by United Nations weapons inspectors before seeking the approval of MPs for “direct British involvement” in the Syrian intervention. Downing Street has accused Mr Miliband of “playing politics” with security issues and attempting to “divide the nation and the House of Commons” A government source was reportedly angry with Mr Miliband saying: “No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f—–g c–t and a copper-bottomed s–t.” And i agree.