Wednesday 14 November 2012

Guess who?

In an economic crisis millions of people suddenly decided to turn to an unconventional leader they thought had "charisma" because he connected with their fears, hopes and latent desire to blame others for their predicament.
Who are they talking about?

Alex Salmond?

No... Adolf Hitler.

(Told you there'd be Nazi references...)

Saturday 3 November 2012

Wishful thinking and the EU

So, after everyone else has offered their tuppenceworth on the debacle of the SNP's arrant wishful thinking on European Union membership, Union Jock has felt obliged to offer his.

In the lamentable absence of any real attempt by the SNP to determine the issues and obstacles facing an independent Scotland and EU membership, the nationalists have been clutching at any passing straws. They have naturally latched on to Graham Avery's written evidence on the foreign policy implications of, and for, a separate Scotland to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. But his is only one of 14 submissions to the committee, some of which directly contradict his views. And even Avery admits that Scotland would be unlikely to be able to negotiate opt-outs from obligations such as the Schengen Agreement, something the nats haven't been trumpeting quite so much.

Avery appears to be in part using the common nationalist argument about Scots being existing EU citizens and how it would be unthinkable to deny them this citizenship against their will. But those of us in Scotland who are British (and hence EU) citizens could (if we wished) surely remain so, until and unless our UK citizenship was withdrawn from us - and that could only be done by an act of the UK parliament. A Scottish declaration of independence would not in itself change our citizenship. As a historical precedent, after Irish independence in 1922, Irish citizens remained (as far as the UK was concerned) British subjects until after the British Nationality Act of 1948 was passed, and even then existing British passport holders, anomg others, continued to hold their British status.

The SNP still seem to be clinging to their dubious assertion that both Scotland and the rest of the UK would be considered successor states by the EU and other international organisations. Nationalists like to point to the 1978 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties, which decrees that states which result from "separation of parts of a state" are to be considered equal inheritors of the treaty rights and obligations of the original state. But that's not an EU convention, and it hasn't even been adopted widely internationally. In fact, only four EU countries (Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia and Slovenia) have ratified it.

Precedents for multiple successor state are rather thin on the ground - as today's article in The Economist point out, in the cases of the UK and Ireland, India and Pakistan, the Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Sudan and South Sudan, there was only one successor state recognised internationally. In the rather more symmetrical case of the break-up of Czechoslovakia, neither the Czech Republic nor Slovakia were considered successor states by the UN. Certainly, the recent statements by prominent European figures such as Barroso, Garcia-Margallo and Reding give no indication that they are entertaining the possibility.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Same old tunes on the Ross Bandstand.

Saturday's March of the McGlashans saw the usual uneasy alliance of Wee Eck, Margo, Patrick and Foxy, plus assorted hangers-on, all proclaiming their very different ideas of a separatist Scotland to a small and motley band of historical re-enactment enthusiasts, Basques, Venetians, Flemish, CND members, 32-county Irish republicans, Tommy Sheridan groupies and pot-smokers (sorry, the Legalise Cannabis Campaign). But the rhetoric was entirely predicable.

El Presidente opened with “Let’s think of some of the things Westminster chooses. Why should they choose austerity when we want to choose investment? We choose a different way to protect the people of Scotland and we want the right to choose whether our people should be sent into illegal wars and we want the right to choose to remove weapons of mass destruction from the shores of Scotland.”

Well, it's not just Westminster who chose austerity. Our neighbours in Eck's infamous "arc of prosperity" chose austerity too, and much more severe than ours. Though, being the small and vulnerable nation that it is, it was probably more of a necessity than a choice in Ireland's case.

As for "sending our people into illegal wars", well it may be news to Eck, but National Service ended 50 years ago. Our armed forces now consist of people who volunteered of their own free will to serve the UK. Anyone who joins up, especially in the last decade or so, does so in the full knowledge, or even expectation, or, dare I say it, even hope, that they will see active service, with all the risks to life and limb that that entails. This is amply illustrated by the fact that recruitment into HM Forces from, of all places, the Republic of Ireland, has increased in recent years. Scotland separating from the UK wouldn't stop those Scots who wanted to join the UK military from doing so, just as they do now.

And the right to choose to remove weapons of mass destruction? As Dr Michael Williams of Royal Holloway College pointed out this month, the UK's nuclear deterrent ain't going anywhere anytime soon; “Due to the sheer impossibility of relocating the assets at Faslane in the near term (if ever) a condition of Scottish independence will need to be long-term basing rights of the UK fleet in Faslane.”

Of course Eck claimed the recent British Social Attitudes survey "showed that independence was now the most popular option". Well, that 43% response that the nationalists have seized on with glee actually required a weasel-worded question which made no mention at all of the I-word. The more explicit question only resulted in 32% in favour of independence. Which just goes to prove how important it is for the referendum question to be clear and honest.

As for the supporting acts, Aamer Anwar made the embarrassing confession that he had been “inspired” by the film Braveheart. A film once described by John O'Farrell as being so historically inaccurate that it could not have been more historically inaccurate, even if a plasticine dog had been inserted in the film and the title changed to William Wallace and Gromit. Anwar went on: "The soul of Scotland, long suppressed, is finally finding its voice." Oops. Obviously didn't get the memo from Wee Eck earlier this year that "Scotland is not oppressed and we have no need to be liberated". Colin Fox announced “This is the beginning of the Scottish spring”. Sorry Colin, Gorgeous George got there first with his "Bradford Spring". Although to be fair, Foxy probably beats him for sheer ludicrousness by a nose.

Monday 17 September 2012

On the benefits of unification the SNP.

So, according to the Riaghaltas na h-Alba, we can look forward to a new, unified national Police Service of Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as of the 1st of April next year.

Curious about the justifications given for the unification of these services, Union Jock decided to peruse the Scottish Government's Police Reform Programme Outline Business Case, published in September 2011. Cutting to the chase (Chapter 8: Identifying the Preferred Option), the main benefit proposed is, of course, cost saving, due to the obvious economies of scale: an estimated annual recurring cash saving of £106 million, they claim.

But there are non-monetary benefits as well. According to the business case, these are as follows:

Retaining separate forces would perpetuate the existing inequalities of provision across Scotland. Compared to an alternative option of a small number of regional authorities, the unified option would remove unnecessary duplication and ensure consistency across Scotland, given the autonomy the regional bodies would have in developing their own delivery models. The regional option would also require the most complex, lengthy and potentially risky transformation programme. So a single service model presents the best opportunity to drive out duplication, ensure consistency, and rationalise existing systems and structures as far as possible. Efficiencies would be realised through economies of scale; expertise, capability and budgets could be pooled at a national level then targeted to local need. Stopping the duplication of support services and deploying specialist resources flexibly across all of Scotland in line with need, would protect the services people care about most and lead to a safer Scotland. Anything short of full unification would involve a series of compromises and sub-optimal arrangements which would cumulatively undermine the economic and organisational case.

So, in short, the SNP administration say that maintaining separate fiefdoms is bad because it wastes money, leads to inefficiencies and inequalities and prevents the pooling of resources. Only by unification can a service to the public be provided effectively. In addition, complex, lengthy and risky transformation programmes are best avoided.

Fancy that.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Chairman Eck's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution?

So Wee Eck has had a bash at answering one of my 37 questions in his speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Apparently BBC Scotland and the increasingly autonomous STV aren't tartan and shortbread enough for him. His idea of public service broadcasting in a separate Scotland would be to sequester the assets of BBC Scotland, and using the £320m annual licence fee income in Scotland to buy in programming from the BBC and create "more nationally focused material". To placate the proles, the bought-in content would focus on mainstream drivel (or "programmes of of outstanding quality" according to Eck) such as EastEnders, but anything remotely intellectual (or "not of overwhelming demand in Scotland" in his words) probably wouldn't make it to Scotland. So the subtext here would appear to be that Scotland is "too wee, too poor, too stupid" to care about anything in the rest of the UK other than soap operas, or to have any significant audience for high-brow content. And isn't "nationally focused" just a nice way of saying "parochial"?

Of course, he pointed to BBC Alba reaching viewing figures of 900,000 as an indication of demand for more Scottish content. BBC Alba is the Gaelic-language TV channel that knocked ten BBC radio stations (ironically including Radio nan Gaidheal) off Freeview in Scotland in order to entertain, educate and inform the 1.2% of the Scottish population who have the Gaelic. However, I presume he didn't point out that the 900,000 figure was reached when BBC Alba was showing a Rangers football match.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

37 Questions.

The Scottish Conservative chief whip has recently been attempting, to no avail, to get answers to some obvious and pertinent questions about the SNP's plans, or lack of plans, for a separate Scottish state. In total, 19 parliamentary questions, all of which have been returned unanswered.

As it happens, Union Jock has been working on his own list of national bodies and other aspects of UK national infrastructure that we now take for granted, and are not currently devolved (or in a few cases, not fully devolved) in Scotland. So far I have 37, though I'm sure the list is not exhaustive:

1. Defence and national security
2. Citizenship and passports
3. Foreign relations and diplomatic service
4. Immigration control
5. Social security
6. Tax and customs collection and administration
7. Central bank, currency, reserves, bonds etc.
8. Financial securities market (i.e. stock exchange)
9. Corporate law
10. Company registration infrastructure
11. Financial regulation
12. Academic research funding and infrastructure
13. Postal service
14. Driver and vehicle licensing
15. Civil aviation and air traffic control
16. Marine transport
17. Transport safety and accident investigation
18. Railway infrastructure and regulation
19. Public service broadcasting
20. Broadcasting regulation
21. Telecoms regulation
22. Energy regulation
23. Energy distribution infrastructure
24. Business and competition regulation
25. Professional regulation
26. Health and safety regulation
27. Employment legislation
28. Gambling regulation
29. Consumer protection
30. Advertising regulation
31. Medical ethics regulation
32. Data protection
33. Equal opportunities regulation
34. Industrial standards
35. Weather forecasting
36. Mapping and geographic information (i.e. Ordnance Survey)
37. Film and video game classification

If the SNP want to be taken seriously, and not as a bunch of delusional fantasists, then they need to be providing convincing and feasible proposals about how each of these these functions and responsibilities would be executed in their hypothetical independent Scotland, and by whom. Not only that, but honest, detailed estimates of the time, money and effort required to set up, transition to, and run their alternative arrangements are also needed.

We're waiting.

Thursday 19 July 2012

More defence drivel.

Following Angus Robertson's defence policy update (if by "update" he means shameless U-turn), it looks like El Presidente will be backing him at the inevitable conference showdown. Apparently "circumstances have changed" regarding the SNP and NATO.

Yes, of course the circumstances have changed - now that they have announced the referendum, the SNP is now desperate to persuade the electorate to take their pie-in-the-sky fantasies seriously, and they think downplaying their long-standing non-aligned peacenik stance will enhance their credibility.

But then he starts talking mince again: The nuclear weapons concerned are not Scotland’s nuclear weapons. If they are regarded as an asset, which I would find difficult to regard it as, then I am quite certain that we can trade that asset for something more useful. I find that difficult to regard too, Alex. Far from being an asset, insisting that the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent be relocated south of the border would create a massive liability - the cost of the huge civil engineering work required to build a new base, and transferring the facilities whilst maintaining the deterrent. Who's going to pay for that?

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Let battle commence?

So Field Marshal Robertson has been playing with his toy soldiers again and has "updated" what passes for the SNP defence policy today. The big news is that he has firmly nailed his colours to the NATO mast. This is a bold move, sure to rile the SNP's non-aligned/peacenik tendency. We should note some of the things his boss Wee Eck has said about the organisation: that the NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia was an "an act of dubious legality, but above all one of unpardonable folly", and of course his favourite soundbite about how an independent Scotland "would never again be spilling and wasting our best blood in illegal wars like Iraq". Presumably, by "wars like Iraq" he includes the war in Afghanistan which has largely been waged by NATO.

Robertson proposes an annual Scottish defence budget of £2.5bn - bigger than that of the Czech Republic, Austria or Finland, and about three times that of Ireland. At around 2% of a hypothetical Scottish GDP (depending, as always, on the uncertainties of hydrocarbon revenues), it wouldn't be far short of the projected 2015 UK defence budget of 2.2% GDP.

Exactly how the SNP's much-vaunted nuclear-free zone would work within NATO is... unclear. The current NATO "Strategic Concept" states: long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance ... The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance ... Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy ... We will ... ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies in collective defence planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control and consultation arrangements.

It's difficult to see how a new NATO member could sign up to that and still insist on a fellow NATO state withdrawing their nuclear weapons tout de suite from its territory without any alternative base available. Robertson says: "With agreement on the withdrawal of Trident and retaining the important role of the UN, Scotland can continue working with neighbours and allies within NATO." Agreement on the withdrawal of Trident? What UK government is going to agree to that in the near future?

He also reckons his "Scottish defence and peacekeeping services" will have a strength of 15,000 regulars and 5,000 reservists. But where would they come from? Existing members of the UK armed forces signed up to serve the United Kingdom, and surely any transfer of allegiance would have to be voluntary. In the words of a recent RUSI papermany of the most ambitious and talented Scots would probably opt to stay in the UK’s armed forces, just as many served in the English Army before 1707. As for new recruits, the recent influx of Irish citizens into the UK armed forces suggests that those intent on a military career don't mind serving in another country's forces, if it gives them greater opportunities.

However, there is one solution to the problem of manpower: conscription. Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Greece all currently have conscription-based armed forces. The Netherlands suspended conscription in 1997, but have yet to abolish it. Sweden only stopped in 2010. Strangely Mr Robertson hasn't mentioned it. I wonder why?

It seems Mr Robertson is still sticking to his much-derided "break a square off the chocolate bar" approach to equipping his peacekeeping service: The Scottish defence and peacekeeping forces will initially be equipped with Scotland’s share of current assets including ocean going vessels, fast jets for domestic air patrol duties, transport aircraft and helicopters as well as army vehicles, artillery and air defence systems.

So what's 8% of a fleet of six destroyers? 8% of two assault ships? 8% of six Boeing E-3 AWACS aircraft? 8% of eight Boeing C-17 transporters? How many Type 26 frigates could he afford at an estimated £400-500m a piece? To quote the RUSI paper again: But these are not free-standing units, able to be rebadged as Scotland’s armed forces in the way that schools or hospitals or police forces have been. They are part of an integrated whole, organised on a Union basis. The British Army has several thousand soldiers, based around a brigade headquarters, in Scotland. But the transport aircraft and helicopters needed to carry them around, the staff colleges needed to train them, the organisations that buy and maintain their weapons, and the strategic headquarters needed to command them are all in the rest of the United Kingdom.

But then this woolly thinking exemplifies the lack of detail in this so-called defence policy. Little more than two years away from the expected referendum, the Field Marshal really needs to be giving us a far more convincing plan detailing budgets, timescales, personnel, orders of battle, and transitional arrangements and costs. National defence and security is a much more complex issue than just saying "we'll have some of them, a few of those, oh and some of these too, and it's all going to be just dandy".

But he may be preoccupied with fighting battles closer to home. Already, the opposition within his party are hoping to "kick this into touch" at this year's party conference. Union Jock predicts some lively debating come October.

Monday 16 July 2012

On Wilson's witterings

So even Gordon Wilson, SNP leader from 1979 to 1990, thinks Wee Eck has bottled it over his referendum. Writing in today's Sunday Mail, he says "As yet, Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government have not agreed a second question on the ballot paper. There is only one reason why they would do so – defeatism, stemming from a belief that they can’t deliver a Yes vote." Yet another senior nationalist pooh-poohs the Second Question. Are there any left (apart from El Presidente of course) who haven't?

However it is interesting to note what this grandee of the SNP has to say today in favour of separation:

The “Great British” hullabaloo over the Jubilee and the Olympics will ebb to disclose the real picture of Britain today – in decline, riddled with corruption and scandal over MPs’ expenses, phone hacking, out-of-control banks and failure to reform the House of Lords.

So corruption and scandal are exclusive to British politics? I think the Irish would give us a good run for our money there. Phone hacking? How would Scottish separation stop that? Out-of-control banks? Just like the ones in Ireland or Iceland, for instance? Failure to reform the House of Lords? Is that really the worst of our problems?

He goes on:

This will go on till the end of time if Scotland votes No. Of course, southern England votes in Conservative governments.

Ahah, an excellent example of the SNP's Thousand-Year Tory Reich bogeyman. Perhaps Mr Wilson needs to be reminded that, regardless of the political leanings of southern England, a Conservative government wasn't voted in in 1997, 2001 or 2005. Strictly speaking, it didn't happen in 2010 either, or else they wouldn't have had to resort to a LibDem coalition.

But is it not odd that Scottish Labour support a Britain dominated by Home Counties Tories?

No, of course they support a Britain dominated by Labour, something they have the chance to achieve every 4 or 5 years. And of course, without Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster, being able to do that becomes much harder. So not odd at all really.

Thirty years ago, Scotland voted Yes in the first devolution referendum and got nothing. None of the fancy promises were kept.

Actually, only 32.9% of the electorate of Scotland voted yes. And the second time around, 44.9% voted yes, and I believe they got a brand new, shiny, no-expenses-spared Scottish Parliament as a result.

Sounds like Mr Wilson is playing the same old broken record. Time for a remix surely?

Thursday 12 July 2012

Electoral Omission?

A bit of an unfortunate response from John McCormick of the Electoral Commission yesterday to the Holyrood opposition parties' referendum question panel. It's a pity they omitted to square their plan with the EC before their big announcement. But let's note what he said: it's for the relevant government to propose a question. Relevant, not Scottish.

In their original response to the referendum consultations published in March, the EC made it clear that they are agnostic on the question of which government should propose a question; to quote: Irrespective of who is responsible for drafting or agreeing the referendum question (or questions), we recommend following our guidelines... The UK Government consultation paper expresses a preference for the proposed referendum to be held in accordance with PPERA, which contains provision for the UK Parliament to be provided with an assessment of the intelligibility of the wording of proposed referendum questions by the Electoral Commission. It is unclear from the Scottish Government consultation paper the mechanism that they envisage being used to consider the intelligibility of the proposed question. Whatever the legislative process, there will be an important role for the provision of informed and independent advice to the relevant Parliament about the intelligibility of the question that is finally presented for legislative approval.

Of course, the SNP have jumped on the rare opportunity to hit back at the unionist alliance, assuming incorrectly that McCormick meant the Scottish government. But just look at how Angus Robertson tries to squeeze as many mentions of the Tories as possible into his quote for the press. Clearly the SNP want you to believe all Unionists are Tories, and if you're not a Nat then you must be a Tory. Let's see how far that gets them.

Sunday 8 July 2012

"Wir sind keine Nationalisten"

Last month, you may recall there was a bit of a hoo-hah following the SNP's baffling banning of the word "independence" in their rhetoric, which coincided with Angus Robertson's apparent denial that the SNP were nationalists (incidentally raising the obvious question: who are you, and what do you want?). The latter came from an interview in an Austrian newspaper, Wiener Zeitung. Union Jock thought it would be interesting to read what the Austrians are being told about the Scottish independence debate, so, armed with Google Translate and a smattering of schoolboy German, tracked down the article in question.

Opening with the usual nationalist gag of referring to the Queen as Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland, Robertson goes on to claim that Scotland should be independent because it has the same size of population as Denmark, Finland, Norway or Slovakia. Of course, he doesn't mention the German states of Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria, both of which have more than twice the population of Scotland, never mind North Rhine-Westphalia, which is about three times the size of Scotland. Are their independence accepted as self-evident too?

He goes on: Scotland has its own football and rugby team, we have our own churches, and even its own pound notes, there is no doubt that Scotland is a nation of their own. Sure, if you believe that grown men playing with balls in parks, the ever-diminishing relevance of the Church of Scotland, and the historical curiosity of seven banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland still retaining their 19th-century rights to issue their own promissory notes are the cornerstones of national identity.

We would definitely be more cooperative than the United Kingdom. Unlike the UK, Scotland has always been understood as a European nation. Well, being much smaller than the UK, Scotland wouldn't really have much alternative, as an EU member, to being co-operative with whatever Brussels decrees. And as for "always being understood as a European nation", it sounds like Mr Robertson is beginning to believe his own party's absurd propaganda about how we've always really been part of Scandinavia and never really had much to do with those people who live on the other side of the Cheviots.

However, he later returns to the purely political angle, citing the Conservatives' sole Scottish MP elected in the 2010 general election. Of course, no mention is made of the 11 Scottish LibDem MPs (or indeed the 6 SNP MPs). That would be as if the Austrian government would be dominated by Germany he says. A nice soundbite guaranteed to attract the attention of Austrian readers. But the relationship between Germany and Austria isn't particularly analogous to that of Scotland and the rest of the UK. Austria existed as a nation-state (and indeed an empire) long before Germany did, and its current size and status was determined by the outcomes of the First and Second World Wars.

No one has asked us whether we want to fight in Iraq, whether we want to have nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons on our soil. Well, actually we were asked when we had the 2010 general election. The fact that only 6 SNP MPs were elected presumably tells us the answer.

Robertson does however, proclaim himself to be a monarchist, and looks forward to Scotland being demoted from a part of the United Kingdom to a dominion of the Commonwealth (and the 22nd largest member of the Commonwealth at that, just behind Sierra Leone). Apparently that would cure the "disgruntled tenant" complex that we all suffer from. Hmmm.

And finally, he ends with: We Scots are open, friendly people, we are citizens of the world - therefore the German translation of my party annoys me: we are not nationalists. Open and friendly, except towards the other Inselaffen we share our islands with? The German translation he refers to is Schottischen Nationalpartei, which seems like a fairly obvious translation to me. I wonder what he would prefer - Schottischen Jeder außer England Partei maybe?

Sunday 1 July 2012

The Big Debate: Ladies' Night

So for the third in the series of Big Debates (curiously, only a month after the last one - did the SNP demand a rematch after their previous disappointing performance?), BBC Scotland decided to have an all-female planel, chaired by Brian Taylor injecting some much needed jocularity for a change.

Fiona Hyslop showed herself to be very adept at talking a lot but saying little but was at least slightly less annoying than La Sturgeon. Following Patrick Harvie's untimely yet predictable exit from the SNP's Yes Scotland fiasco, it must have been galling for Hyslop to hear Margo MacDonald, one of Scotland's better known and longest serving nationalist politicians, admitting that she declined to have anything to do with the ill-starred campaign.

Margaret Curran seemed a little shrill and defensive at times when trying to put her point across - no great improvement on Johann Lamont's previous appearance. In contrast, Annabel Goldie sounded very confident and authoritative. In fact, following her colleague Ruth Davidson's appearances in previous Big Debates, the Tories have proved to be the most skillful debaters so far. Goldie also raised the important point that the "geographic share" of oil revenues that now seem to be an implicit presumption in the SNP's promises of future prosperity would face a minefield of negotiations, both constitutional and commercial.

But the star of the show must have been the scary-looking guy with the bad teeth and the "Scottish not British" T-shirt, sitting at the back of audience, who managed to get two questions in. What a great advert for Scottish nationalism!

Friday 22 June 2012

Walt gets patronage, but the Dalai disnae.

So Wee Eck decided it was more important to pitch up at the Hollywood premiere of the latest Disney fairytale cartoon, resplendent in his tartan trews, than it was to receive the Dalai Lama on his visit to Scotland this week. But then the flame-haired heroine of the computer-generated pseudo-Caledonian fantasy (who, puzzlingly, seems to be named after a town in Spain) is according to Slate, a disappointingly stereotypical redhead: "rebellious, quick to yell, obstinate, easily offended." Sounds more like a stereotypical SNP supporter to me, frankly. No wonder he's so keen on the film.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Peaking too soon?

Union Jock read an interesting article in the New Scientist the other week. Surprisingly, Deutsche Bank's lead oil analyst reckons that global demand for petrol will peak in 2015 and then enter "an inexorable and accelerating decline". Global demand for crude oil will subsequently peak around 2020. By 2030, they say, US petrol consumption will be almost halved compared to today. This will be due mainly to the increasing numbers of hybrid and electric vehicles, and increasingly efficient internal combustion engine design. It has to be said that some other economists aren't quite so bearish in their predictions, but DB is backed up by automotive consultancy Ricardo, who also anticipate global oil demand peaking at the end of the decade, and falling by 10% by 2035.

So the "bright future" Wee Eck promised on Tuesday for the industry that has "powered the Scottish economy over the last 40 years" could well fizzle out much sooner than he thinks.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

The Big Debate, round 2.

Well, that was another disappointing, badly chaired shouting match. But it was worth watching just to see Sturgeon looking distinctly uncomfortable in her inability to provide convincing answers. What are the chances that her first words to Wee Eck after the show were "You bloody do it next time!"? Even her chum Harvie, who was there at the Declaration of Cineworld on Friday, was singing from quite a different hymn sheet at times. It would appear that the Greens, whilst declaring themselves non-nationalist, see Scottish separation as an opportunity to create some kind of anarcho-syndicalist collective enclave where they can shun big business and sit around knitting muesli all day. I can see their alliance with the SNP is going to be an uneasy one.

Interesting that most of the audience questions seemed to be from a Unionist perspective - given that the BBC assure us that the audience were carefully selected to give a balance of opinion, I can only assume that the nationalists were quite satisfied with the vague promises of a future Caledonian Utopia offered on Friday and thus had no further questions?

Saturday 26 May 2012

Is that it?

So, the "Yes Scotland" campaign (how exactly are you supposed to parse that? Isn't there a missing comma there?) has now kicked off. Seems like a slightly presumptuous slogan, given that the wording of the referendum question has yet to be settled and a "yes/no" format is seen as biased by the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee. But I digress.

According to Wee Eck, if they get one million pledges of allegiance to their cause, then the referendum is won. Not sure how he worked that one out - maybe they intend to rig the referendum so that only 19% have to be in favour of separation?

So what does this declaration they want us to sign say?

"I believe that it is fundamentally better for us all if decisions about Scotland's future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland.

I think you'll find quite a lot of decisions about Scotland are already taken by the people of Scotland who have been elected to the Scottish Parliament. And even more of them will be taken after the Scotland Act 2012 comes into play.

"Being independent means Scotland's future will be in Scotland's hands.

Or in other words,  "Being independent means Scotland will be given enough rope to hang itself". Doesn't sound quite so exciting?

"There is no doubt that Scotland has great potential. We are blessed with talent, resources and creativity. We have the opportunity to make our nation a better place to live, for this and future generations. We can build a greener, fairer and more prosperous society that is stronger and more successful than it is today.

Stereotypical airy-fairly political speech boilerplate. Replace the word "Scotland" and it could be the output of any presidential candidate's speechwriter.

"I want a Scotland that speaks with her own voice and makes her own unique contribution to the world - a Scotland that stands alongside the other nations on these isles, as an independent nation."

Getting a bit anthropomorphic here - quite typical of nationalist rhetoric of course. Isn't Scotland's greatest asset its people? And are their voices, talents, creativity and ability to contribute to the world somehow diminished by having "British Citizen" printed in their passports?

The SNP's attempt to create the facade of a cross-party alliance was less than convincing - Patrick Harvie's declaration that "Greens are not nationalists" must have dampened the atmosphere somewhat, and Colin Fox's presence was surely slightly awkward given his recent criticism of Salmond as an untrustworthy puppet of big business.

And what of the dazzling array of celebs they were expected to wheel out?
  • Sean Connery - Probably Scotland's most famous wife-beating tax exile.
  • Alan Cumming - New York resident and US citizen. Well if you wanted to be in movies, why would you stay in Scotland?
  • Brian Cox - previously a lifelong Labour supporter who reportedly only switched his allegiance last year over free higher education. Also a resident of New York.
  • Pat Kane - '80s has-been, and ex-husband of that infamous embarrassment to the SNP, Joan McAlpine.
  • Liz Lochhead - who seemed quite pleased with the nice shiny badge she had been given.
  • Some bloke who used to be the BBC Scotland news boss.
  • An actor from Greenock you've never heard of.
So no great surprises there then. And some of them didn't even bother to pitch up in person. If you thought things couldn't get any more clichéd, then you would have been proved wrong when they even got Dougie McLean on to sing his mawkish drivel, so that we could be treated to the unedifying spectacle of Wee Eck having a wee greet to himself.

Someone at SNP HQ is clearly bereft of new ideas if this damp squib was the best they could do.

Friday 18 May 2012

Back soon...

You may have noticed Union Jock has been rather quiet of late, but fear not, I'll haven't gone away!

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Sturgeon's seven soundbites

So, the Economist's fairly balanced and objective article about the economic repercussions of Scottish separation (albeit illustrated by a rather cheeky front cover) seems to have got the McGlashans in a bit of a lather. So much so, that the Wicked Witch o' the West immediately commandeered the Scottish Executive Government's PR machinery to issue a rebuttal, regurgitating some of the SNP's old propaganda for want of anything more substantial.

Shall we take a closer look at that?

1.     Overall Wealth: An independent Scotland would be ranked 6th in the OECD in terms of GDP per head, compared to the UK's sixteenth place (in 2010).
Maybe, but that's largely thanks to the SNP's hypothetical "geographical share" of  North Sea hydrocarbon revenues, and that would be very much subject to negotiation, not to mention subject to the vagaries of market prices, and oil production. The recent near-disaster of the Elgin platform is a timely reminder of the latter.

2.      Oil: There is up to 24 billion barrels remaining in the North Sea. Such a figure equates to a wholesale value of some £1.5 trillion in today's prices.
Hmmm. The latest UK government estimates say the maximum theoretical remaining reserves of all UK oil is around 8 billion barrels.

3.      Renewables: Scotland has around 25 percent of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy, and a tenth of Europe’s wave power potential.
And exactly how many wind farms and tidal barrages would have to be built to realise anything like that potential?

4.      Food & Drink:  The latest food and drink export figures show exports are at an all time high of £5.4 billion, and growing.
 Well it's good to know that whisky is still such a popular drink throughout the world, isn't it?

5.      Public Finances: In terms of our public finances, Scotland is better off than the UK as a whole to the tune of £510 for every man, women and child in Scotland in the most recent year (2010/11).
 Oh yes, that'll be that imaginary "geographical share" again. Haven't we already covered that?

6.      Education: Scotland has five of the top 200 universities in the world.
And the UK as a whole has five of the top 20 universities in the world.

7.      Inward Investment: Scottish Development International are an award winning agency, with major companies continuing to locate in Scotland.
Major companies like Amazon, who were given a £10.6m incentive by the Scottish Government to locate in Scotland, despite not paying a penny in UK corporation tax, you mean?

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

On that bombshell...

So last Sunday's Scotland on Sunday led with the story of more secret Sunday Times tapes of Peter Cruddas opening his mouth and putting his foot in it. But is the SNP's description of a "bombshell" warranted? Let's just look at what he said. About Cameron: He told me that he wants to fight to keep the Union… he told me that was, those were his true feelings. So a Tory Prime Minister expresses the same conviction in public and in private? Extraordinary! He goes on: ...however even if they're not, we as a party have to be seen to be fighting to keep the Union together, even if we don’t agree with it. Note that he doesn't actually accuse Cameron, or any other senior party members, of not believing in the union. He goes on to justify this hypothetical situation as a pretext for the UK government to assume a hard-bargaining posture in the event of Scottish secession. But then, of course the UK government would be legally and morally obliged to obtain the best settlement possible for the rest of the UK in this scenario. Scotland would be on the opposite side of the negotiating table and would no longer be the UK government's responsibility. These negotiations would not be easy or quick - the gloves would be well and truly off.

So, in short, Cameron has been caught telling the truth, and in the event of separation, the UK government would do what it could to protect its own interests. Where's the bombshell?

Wednesday 28 March 2012

The new McGlashans

When reading the fulminations of cybernats, Union Jock can't help but be reminded of McGlashan, from the brilliant early 90s Channel 4 sketch show Absolutely (incidentally, a Scottish/English/Welsh collaboration). Twenty years ago, McGlashan was an absurd caricature of a rabidly Anglophobic Scottish nationalist. Do today's cybernats think they'll be taken any more seriously?

Monday 26 March 2012

On Schengen

Now Theresa May isn't someone that Union Jock usually takes too seriously. But yesterday, she might have had a point when she raised the spectre of a closed Scotland-England border. The Schengen Agreement is now part of the EU acquis, and hence can be considered a prior condition of entry for new applicant states, as is joining the ERM II as a precursor to entering the Eurozone (but that's a matter for another post). Of course, the SNP's presumption is that a separate Scotland would be treated as one of two successor states to the current UK, but, frankly, these are uncharted waters and no-one can say what settlement would be reached with the EU, until and unless Wee Eck and his friends actually attempt to negotiate them.

So what if the EU did demand Schengen membership of the new state? In that case, a UK government that took immigration and border control seriously would be compelled to close the border and install checkpoints, otherwise its opt-out from Schengen would have been in vain. This would obviously throw a seriously big spanner in the works of independence.

The SNP's retort to this is typically facile. According to Pete Wishart, "The reality is that an independent Scotland will be part of the common travel area which already exists within and between the UK and Ireland". Well, actually, the reality is that the Common Travel Area Arrangement is a bilateral agreement that exists between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. I very much doubt it mentions Scotland at all. What would happen in the event of Scottish separation, both in relation to the UK and the EU, is pure conjecture, not reality.  Ireland's opt-out from Schengen was specifically granted in order to preserve the Common Travel Area, and is conditional on it remaining in place - would the EU let it happen again?

Sunday 18 March 2012

On SNP scaremongering

Yes, you read that right - SNP scaremongering, not unionist scaremongering, for a change. As I have discussed before, the fundamental problem with Scottish nationalism is that there aren't any of the usual motivations that drive secessionist movements. Scotland just doesn't have the distinct ethnic identity of, say, the Basque country, or the distinct cultural and linguistic identity of Catalonia, or the distinct religious identity of the Irish Free State (as was). Without these things, you don't have real nationalism; you just have politics.

The rhetoric from the SNP of late tacitly acknowledges this. And this is why they have resorted to creating the absurd bogeyman of the Tory Thousand-Year Reich in order to justify themselves. At their conference last week, Salmond's oft-quoted soundbite was "Home Rule with independence beats Tory rule from Westminster". Today, Kenneth Gibson parroted the same line: "When the people of Scotland are given the choice in 2014 between home rule with independence or Tory rule from Westminster, I am confident they will trust themselves and vote Yes for independence." What about Labour rule from Westminster? Is that a negligible possibility, now and forever? I seem to remember, not so long ago, we actually had a Labour government at Westminster - with Scotsmen at both No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street and at the Ministries of Defence and International Development, to boot! Not bad for the UK's "surly lodger". But the SNP must cast the UK as a perpetual Tory single-party state, as their only remotely tenable argument is that Scotland is just too socialist to ever be politically reconcilable with the rest of the UK.

But that's just politics, not nationalism. Politics is an ever-changing landscape - let's not forget that the 1955 general election was a landslide victory for the Conservative-aligned Scottish Unionist Party. And the fact that a Conservative currently has a five-year lease on a house in Downing Street is not a good enough reason to rip up a 300-year-old constitution.

Saturday 10 March 2012

More Nonsense from Nicola

The Wicked Witch of the West has finally been cornered on the often-asked question of what would have happened to RBS in 2008 if Scotland had been independent.  She admits that the UK would still have ended up bailing it out because "90% of its activity is in England" but that Scotland would have "paid its way". Hmm, exactly how far would that way go, with a GDP somewhat less than that of, say, Portugal? (and yes, that does include the notional oil & gas revenues that the SNP always like to include). I think another way of putting that would be Scotland having to go cap in hand to Westminster - another illustration of how independence really means dependence.

And I'm not sure where she got that "90%" from - in the latest annual report, 38% of RBS's income was outside of the UK, with the US accounting for 20%.

She points to the similar case of Fortis, where, she claims, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg "came together to save the Fortis Bank". Actually, no, Nicola, what really happened was that they came together to carve up the rotting carcass between them. The Dutch portion is now part of the new ABN Amro; the Belgian chunk is now part of BNP Paribas. So, presumably, what she really means is that the UK would have bailed out and assumed control of 90% of RBS, which would then be UK property and no longer contribute to the Scottish GDP. More likely, the UK, US, Ireland and the Netherlands (and possibly others) would each have been obliged to take control various parts of the defunct bank, just like Fortis. Either way, what would the People's Republic of Scotia have been left with? Not a lot - a parochial little retail bank, much like RBS was in the 70s, in fact.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Not a clue, pt.3.

Further evidence that the SNP are out of their depth when it comes to defence matters: now the word on the street is that the SNP high command are thinking that NATO membership might be a good thing after all. In a poll of SNP members, the subject of NATO membership was fairly evenly split, with 52.7% in favour, so this is obviously a great source of controversy within the party. Remembering Salmond's outburst thirteen years ago, when he notoriously accused NATO of committing "an act of dubious legality, but above all one of unpardonable folly", I'm guessing there may be some entrenched positions here.

Apparently the SNP's delusions of Scotland as a Scandinavian country have led to comparisons with the military of Norway and Denmark, both, of course, NATO members. However, let's not forget that NATO membership brings certain obligations. NATO members are expected to spend at least 2% of GDP on their military. In 2009, Denmark spent $4.3bn on defence, and Norway $6.2bn. Norway and Denmark, being, like Scotland, rather small countries, both have conscription-based armed forces. Are the SNP going to tell that to the 16 and 17-year-olds they want to vote in the referendum? And of course, NATO has been instrumental in some of those "unjust wars" that Salmond keeps promising a separate Scotland would have nothing to do with.

And how exactly would the SNP's proposed nuclear-free zone sit with NATO membership? Would a separate Scotland have to retain HMNB Clyde as the price for defence co-operation with the UK?

Looks like at least some of Salmond's promises might prove to be somewhat empty, if he was ever called on to keep them.

Thursday 23 February 2012

It's Scotland's Snake Oil, pt.2

Looks like Union Jock wasn't the only one to look askance at Wee Eck's sovereign wealth fund fantasiesA report by the Centre for Public Policy for Regions has also expressed skepticism. In particular, "establishing such a fund would mean some very difficult decisions would need to be taken, in the absence of oil prices and production far exceeding current expectations" (nicely put!). Also, to get to £30bn would require "a substantially higher annual compound return than the 2% to 3% achieved by the Norwegian government's oil fund." In short, "There is little prospect of any surplus becoming available for an oil fund, and certainly not of the size being suggested." Quite.

Sunday 19 February 2012

The view from two centuries ago.

Union Jock recently received a present of An Abridgement of the History of Scotland from the Death of Alexander III to the Union of the Two Kingdoms under Queen Anne, published in 1805. Naturally, he was curious to find out how the Union of the Parliaments had been presented, less than a century after it actually occurred. Skipping, therefore, to the end of the book, this is what it had to say on the subject:
The experience of a century of increasing prosperity supersedes any eulogium on the firmness and political sagacity of the men who planned and accomplished the Union; the pride of national independence has been cheaply exchanged for opulence and security; and the mind contemplates with satisfaction prejudices obliterated, the spirit of rivalship extinguished, and cordiality and confidence taking place of the rancour of hostility and mutual aggression. Divided, Great Britain might have fallen a prey to her more powerful neighbours; united, she holds a high and dignified place among the nations, and bids defiance to the threats and exterminating designs of the half of Europe.
Concordia parvæ res crescunt, discordia maximæ dilabuntur.
[By concord, small things grow, by discord, the greatest fall into ruin. Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86-34 BC) in Bellum Iugurthinum Ch. X.]

Thursday 16 February 2012

It's Scotland's Snake Oil.

El Presidente reckons a separate Scotland could put less than 10% of oil and gas revenues into a sovereign wealth fund every year for the next 20 years and end up with £30bn by 2035. That would imply more than £10bn revenues every year for the next 20 years. Seems pretty optimistic, given that even the Scottish Government's own figures for Scotland's "geographic share" of North Sea revenue for 2009-10 was less than £6bn. Not to mention that UK oil production peaked in 1999, and according to official figures, somewhere between 76% and 90% of all UK oil reserves had already been extracted by the end of 2010.

And £30bn sounds a lot, but compare it with the £59.2bn total public expenditure in Scotland for 2009-10 (which, of course, didn't include all the considerable costs that an independent country would incur) and it doesn't seem so impressive.

Sunday 12 February 2012

On Motivations for Secession

El Presidente, in his piece on "My Scotland" for the Sunday Herald a few weeks ago, claimed that the fact that there are now 190 members of the UN, compared to 51 when he was born, was some kind of justification for Scottish separatism. Of course, this is, as is to be expected from him, quite disingenuous. Some well-established nations, like Italy, Spain, Portugal or Japan didn't join the UN until after 1954. Most of the other nations were the result of the dismantling and fragmentation of various global empires, including of course, the British Empire that Scotland played a major part in building. And of course there were also the nations who regained in the 1990s, the identities they lost in the great failed 20th century experiment in communism. But, counter to this perceived trend, some of the former Soviet republics (particularly Belarus and Russia) have been making moves in recent years towards re-unification.

However, if we actually consider the notable separatist movements of recent years across the world, we see it usually involves some ethnic or religious motivation - think of the Basques, Catalonia, Quebec, Flemish nationalists in Belgium, the Balkans and indeed the former Soviet republics. Even the break-up of Czechoslovakia can be traced back to the fact that the Czechs and Slovaks didn't really have a great deal in common when they found themselves joined together after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.

But of course, there is no great ethnic, religious, linguistic or cultural divide marked by the Scotland-England border. In the worlds of William McIlvanney, Scotland is, just as the UK as a whole, a "mongrel nation", whether you consider either the indigenous descendants of Britons, Celts, Angles, Saxons etc, or our entire multi-ethnic, multi-national population. The theological differences between the Churches of England and Scotland are of little consequence to the Scottish separatist movement. Despite the existence of BBC Alba, Scotland is almost entirely an English-speaking land. And what possible cultural differences do we have with England that could justify tearing up a 300-year-old union? Eating haggis and ceilidh dancing?

So, what's left, without ethnic, religious or cultural divisions as a justification? The only remaining possible rational motivation is merely political. Despite the SNP's ham-fisted attempt to drum up some romantic Hail Caledonia! nationalism, this is really what it boils down to. The Scottish nationalist movement is the SNP, notwithstanding the lunatic fringe of Trotskyists and hardcore republicans. But the independence referendum will be about the future of a 300-year-old constitution, not the transient ebb and flow of party politics. Unlike a general election, there will be no opportunity in another five years' time to express your disappointment in what you just voted for.

And let's not forget that the most powerful country in Europe is the result, not of a secession, but of a unification of two countries with quite different political systems, 22 years ago.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Fat man speak with forked tongue.

Wee Eck likes to reassure us that a separate Scotland would keep the Queen as head of state.

Hmmm. Let us not forget that the Irish Free State was founded as a Dominion of the Commonwealth with the King as head of state. That didn't last long once the republicans gained the upper hand after independence. And the SNP certainly has its republican faction - Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill, Roseanna Cunningham and Stewart Stevenson were all members of the '79 Group, the self-proclaimed "Scottish Socialist Republican" SNP splinter group. Roseanna Cunningham certainly still holds republican views - how many others are keeping quiet about theirs until their time comes? And the official student wing of the SNP, the obvious breeding ground for future SNP politicians, is expressly republican.

And another thing... Salmond is being either ignorant or disingenuous about a separate Scotland "not leaving the UK". Prior to the 1707 Treaty of Union, there was no "united kingdom", either small u, small k, or capital U, capital K. There was a Kingdom of England and a Kingdom of Scotland, and they just happened to have the same monarch. In fact, the term United Kingdom only became official with the union with Ireland in 1801. So, no, Alex, a separate Scotland would be leaving the UK and we damn well should be reminded of this on our voting papers when the day comes.

Saturday 28 January 2012

On currency unions

In trying to justify their proposal to use Sterling in a separate Scotland, Wee Eck and his pal, the Wicked Witch of the West, like to point out that there are currently 67 countries in the world using another country's currency (actually, I'm not sure about that number, Wikipedia would suggest around 33, not including those using currencies specifically intended to be supranational, such as the Euro or the CFA Franc). But even taking those into account, how many are just de facto situations where a stable currency like the US dollar has become the norm, rather than formal monetary unions? How many are tiny states like Kiribati or Saint Lucia or the Cook Islands that have no practical alternative to using another country's money? How many are third-world countries like Niger or Mali who can't really aspire to having their own functional, stable currency? How can the SNP pretend this would be a desirable state of affairs to have?

Friday 27 January 2012

The Big Shouting Match

So, what conclusions can we draw from BBC Scotland's "Big Debate" on Wednesday?

  • Jim  Wallace has been out of the game too long and made an erse of himself.
  • Johann Lamont needs to sit on her hands when she's engaging in debate. Some firmer opinions would help too.
  • Nicola Sturgeon didn't deny the accusation that the SNP want 16 and 17-year-olds to be enfranchised because they think they be easily impressed by the nationalist cause. But that was obvious anyway. She also didn't have any answers to the very significant questions of citizenship and passports. Either the SNP really haven't thought about this, or they have something to hide on the matter. And she had a lucky escape when the question on diplomatic representation in foreign countries was deemed out of time.
  • Glenn Campbell is no David Dimbleby.

Monday 23 January 2012

Never mind the economy or your job security, feel the freedom!

Crawford Beveridge, somebody who hasn't had to worry about his personal finances or job security for quite a while, I imagine, says we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about whether the economy of a separate Scotland will go down the toilet and take our jobs with it. Self-determination is far more important than these trifling matters. But it's all going to be just fine and rosy anyway. Well what did you expect from one of El Presidente Salmondo's poodles?

Sunday 22 January 2012

Not a clue, pt.2

More on the incoherence of the SNP's pronouncements on defence matters in today's SoS. Interesting that their much-vaunted promise of kicking the SSBNs out of Faslane could become a bargaining chip to be traded against unspecified favours from the UK. Everyone has their price, don't they Alex?

Iain Macwhirter and his "scare stories"...

So Mr Mcwhirter attacks Unionist "scare stories" in the Sunday Herald today.

If Ukraine didn't have to pay for the relocation of Russian missiles, it might have been because Russia already had plenty facilities to accomodate them, Russia's cold-war nuclear arsenal being somewhat bigger than the UK's current fleet of four SSBNs, with a single operating base. And no, there's more to operating an SSBN fleet than just finding somewhere to keep the missiles, as surely Mr Mcwhirter knows.

No, the effects of the 2010 SDSR weren't quite the same as picking individual military units and expecting them to operate effectively in, and for, a foreign country while their supporting units, establishments and other resources remain loyal to the mother country. And how much cross-border military co-operation has happened in the "one small island" of Ireland since 1922?

Yes, saying Scotland "couldn't" keep the pound seems a bit silly. But if they did, they'd be using a foreign currency controlled by another country's central bank and treasury, with fiscal policy driven by that country's own interests. What kind of independence is that?

"Scotland would remain a part of the EU because we are already in the EU" - well, as I understand it, EU membership is by country. The UK is already in the EU, but a separate Scotland would be a new country -  all bets will be off. So it would be understandable if the EU insisted it jumped through at least some of the usual hoops that new applicants are obliged to. But some clarity from the EU itself on this matter would be good, sooner rather than later.

Denmark, Holland and Norway are doing pretty well? Maybe that's because Denmark and Norway are outside of the Eurozone, and the Netherlands had a lucky escape when RBS took their toxic assets off their hands when it bought ABN Amro just before everything went pear-shaped.

And does Mr Mcwhirter really not care if a separate Scotland's cost of borrowing goes up, if it means the rest of the UK is similarly worse off? A lose-lose situation is OK as long as the other loser is England?

Friday 20 January 2012

Not a clue

Someone who appears to know a lot more about these things than anybody connected to the SNP has written an in-depth analysis of the problems an independent Scotland would face in organising its own armed forces. Really, the more the SNP talk about defence, the more it's obvious they haven't the faintest idea about it.

"Your Scotland, Your Future"

Is this slender pamphlet supposed to pass for the SNP's independence manifesto? 21 pages of content-free rhetoric, padded out with full-page photos of assorted sadly unphotogenic SNP politicians? Half the topics are already devolved matters anyway. Interesting that the "Citizenship" section doesn't really address the thorny issue of what they plan to do with existing UK citizens who happen to live in Scotland. Will we have Scottish citizenship thrust upon us, or will we be cajoled into applying for it? And to call the "Defence" section vague speculation would be flattering it. Come on, you'll have to do better than this, folks.

Oh, and their website's user interface is rubbish too.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Daddy, what did YOU do when Alex Salmond was trying to destroy the UK?

I've decided to start this blog as an outlet for my rants against those who I view as the Anglophobes and fantasists trying to hoodwink the Scottish public into voting for the unprecedented breakup of a 300-year-old union between fellow island-dwellers ... and also to make a token effort towards the Unionist cause from the comfort of my own sofa. Now that things seem to have kicked off properly between FM and PM, it's time to nail my colours to the mast. Expect plenty of references to Nazi Germany and tin-pot banana republics.