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Service update

I'm home. Two weeks on the road, 1300 miles driven, two international car ferries, two large SF conventions (the worldcon and the eurocon) and about six business meetings later ... I'm home. So normal blogging will resume once I catch my breath, work my way through the washing pile and the correspondence car-crash, and get time to think.

(Meanwhile. Some of you might have noticed that we're now into the last three weeks and change of the Scottish independence referendum campaign, and a major political debate took place yesterday. I wrote about the Scottish political singularity a while ago; I can write some more, if you want me to—or I can keep the blog a Scottish referendum free zone if enough of you yell at me. Opinions in comments, please!)

190 Comments

1:

Since precious little about the Scottish referendum is (currently) filtering its way through to the media I consume, I'd certainly appreciate some more blogging about it.

2:

If you're up to it, and you find the topic interesting, why not? We can always elect not to read it.

3:

Was nice to (briefly) talk to you post-Hugos, and I hope you are able to get the boots updated. Although you saw more of Ursula (my wife) than me, as I understand it.

And again, Congrats!

4:

I'd be interested in hearing more about it myself; I've been trying to keep a bit of an ear out for it, but damn little filters into my sphere from nearly the other side of the globe.

5:

Count me as a vote in favor of talking about Scottish independence. It's kind of fascinating watching the debate from over on this side of the pond, and a refreshing change from whatever we're f*cking up over here.

6:

I find the Scottish independence referendum really interesting.

Having previously lived in Ireland, I wonder what effect the decision might have on how Northern Ireland is governed. Continuing to read your opinions here would be excellent.

[aside: my as-yet uncaffeinated brain read the 2nd sentence as ".. international car Ferraris" - I suspect I have delusions about the jet-setting life of a science fiction author ]

7:

I would love some additional commentary. I admit as someone far from political ground zero, this makes me something of a rubbernecker but I still like the insight.

Something I really don't get to hear much opinion from is the people in the north and the islands. For example, how do the people closest to the North Sea oil operations feel? Perhaps it's been reported but I'll be damned if it's crossed my path.

8:

As a Welsh lifeform resident in the north of England (close enough for rapid defection to Scotland should it seem necessary), who finds your views on most things at the very least interesting, I'd value your thoughts on the matter.

I'm not entirely convinced by the "yes" campaign, but given that best the "no" side can produce is Captain Alistair Darling and Callmedave Cameron, it's hard to come up with a good case for keeping the UK in its current number of pieces...

9:

I'm definitely up for more discussion of it if you're agreeable!

10:

I believe Ken Macleod has an interesting principled position on why Scotland should stay in the UK. As I'm inclined to the opposite view -- for different principled reasons -- I'm trying to see if I can get him to do a guest op-ed here in the interests of balance.

(I still don't agree with the No campaign, but I think Ken's arguments are a whole lot stronger than anything the Westminster Consensus has produced so far, because at least they're rooted in a consistent ideological position.)

11:

I'm an American, so naturally I know more about last night's Emmys than I do about world affairs, whether I want to or not.

But, like everybody else in the comments so far, I find the Scottish Independence talk fascinating and am interested in hearing more.

12:

I would prefer more, or continuing, discussion of Scottish independence; after all, I am sure you referred to it in Accelerando :)

13:

Yes, more on the referendum, please. It's a really interesting topic for someone in the US. How often does a country have a peaceful referendum on splitting up versus a civil war? I find the whole thing quite interesting.

14:

For the benefit of Scots who are tired of hearing about independence -- perhaps have dedicated threads for it, and declare it off-topic for any others?

15:

Never fear, there will be Other Stuff™ on the blog between now and September 19th. Mostly Other Stuff™, in fact! And guest blog essays by Kameron Hurley (who is so damn good at blogging that two weeks ago she picked up two Hugo awards for doing so.) But I've largely kept my opinions on #IndyRef to twitter and ... well, I have opinions. Strong ones.

16:

Since protection of minorities is rather important, I have to agree with that.

17:

I am of the opinion that an "Independant" Scotland under the heel of the Puritan nannies masquerading as the SNP would be terrible for Scotland & its people, & not much better for the rest of us ...
But that's just me.
I hope that the result will be a vote of about 35-40% for Salmond's pettyness ...
Which might, just MIGHT give us all a chance for real reform.
I've said this before:
We need a United Federation of the Isles.
A close-fail at the referendum is a chance at this.
Can we hope?

Incidentally, this ties in with a fascinating discussion near the end of Worldcon that Charlie was involved in, called: "The Ruling Party" ...
Where the Lem-o-Crat fought her mistaken corner, honestly & the so-called "green" (a.k.a. Watermelon) took all & any criticism as personal ....
Then I came home to find that my (female, labour) MP wanted to talk to me (from a previous conversation, ongoing)
I still think she's part of the problem, not the solution, even though she has some good ideas, but as she is still part of "The party machine" - but it was, err ... interesting.

18:

Please write about the Scottish independence referendum. Having here guests with other opinions on the matter would be a bonus, and a much appreciated one, too.

19:

Chalk this Australian up as another one that's interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject; there's very little about it (apart from our turd of a prime minister sticking his oar in, in his typically gauche and overbearing manner) discussed in our mainstream media (just the standard "oh, and there'll be a vote on it on such-and-such a date, nothing to see here, move along please..." deprecating comments.)

Somebody from the "other" side, as a counterpoint, would also be interesting.

Rubbernecking? Absolutely. But anything to distract me from the current cesspool that is Australian political discourse at the moment...

20:

It's interesting...

The debate is certainly triggering high levels of political interest; I heard one suggestion that the referendum could result in an 80% voter turnout. The polls are still sitting at fractionally over half No, just over a third yes, remainder undecided; independence has traditionally sat at about one-third support for several decades now, the Yes campaign is working to convince the undecided. Interestingly, the Yes side is noticeably less well supported among female voters, and the 16-year-olds to whom the SNP have extended the vote don't seem to be voting in a particularly different profile. Scottish athletes' success at the recent Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow didn't cause a lift in the Yes polls; nor did the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn (for which they couldn't sell all the tickets).

It's also polite, for the most part (barring the second TV debate between each campaign's leaders, which had an utterly ineffectual chairman, and consequently lots of shouting over the top of any awkward questions); there are some muppets on each side, but I've only had one Yes-supporting acquaintance make comments about No-supporters (like me) being Quislings, when drinking and posting may have occurred. I had to point out the irony that Quisling was, in fact, a Nationalist...

My wife works for a large consultancy firm, and talks to a lot of businesses. Few individuals at a business operational level appear to support Yes; many have been making contingency plans to move their headquarters in the event of a Yes result; the lack of a coherent economic policy (e.g. currency, central bank, EU membership) from the Yes campaign is seen as a significant business risk. From a business perspective, there's a credibility gap for the SNP; lots of promises about free health, free tertiary education, pensions and social welfare at levels greater than currently operated by UK Government, alongside no increase in personal taxes, just don't add up with the revenue figures - every figure quoted by the SNP has been at the most optimistic end of their spectrum - so businesses are beginning to suspect that any independent SNP revenue gap is going to be filled by them. Any gap is met by claims that oil money will pay for it, while at the same time claiming that the oil money will provide a sovereign wealth fund like Norway's, so there's a lot of double-counting going on.

My suspicion is that Alex Salmond (the leader of the independence campaign) can't win. If the vote is Yes, then any Scottish government will be hamstrung by unafforable promises, and the nation will suffer. If the vote is no, the independence campaign will suffer and the knives will be out for him (Brutus to be played by Nicola Sturgeon)

21:

I actually just created an account to say that, as a US reader, I hadn't heard about the Scottish referendum outside of your blog - and that I find it to be an important issue, and enjoy your take on the matter.

22:

A meta-referendum, eh? I vote yes! As an English person with no skin in the game I find the whole independence thing very interesting (as in we live in 'interesting times'), and the comments last time were refreshingly insightful, and mostly free from the tedious partisan drivel infesting most other discussions of the subject.

Best case scenario? Scotland somehow transforms itself into the Scandinavian/Canadian style liberal democracy that its more enlightened citizens want it to be, maintains a functional economy, and those of us stuck in the increasingly oppressive and authoritarian* southern neighbour country look on with envy & resentment, leading to...well, we can dream.


*also militarily superior. But it won't come to that, right?

23:

Count me in as a yes, more please.

As another Ozian, one who is married to a Scot, I completely support what my compatriot slamble at comment 19 has said about the parlous state of antipodean politics at the moment.

24:

Firstly, I'd love to hear more about this from you. You're interesting and a bit more imnformative than my relatives "back home" (I've never been there) and their somewhat one-sided opinions. It's not something I would have guessed, but then my entire contact is via one cousin (loosely speaking) who is amused by various things about Australia. I'm amused by the idea that she thinks she speaks English, voice calls are amazingly funny.

I'm interested in whether there's a move towards more democracy rather than the gerrymander-based FPP system that the UK uses and other political-geek questions, as well as what "you, the people" think.

The politics of the "spend all the money" stuff are somewhat scary, but how much will those promises matter after the referendum? Presumably one of the first post-partition events will be be the swearing-in of a new government? Followed, presumably, by a great deal of swearing-at of said gummit.

25:

(BTW, said cousin lives on the Mainland, which for the non-UKians is the biggest Orkney Island up in the north and they're somewhat distinct from the rest of Scotland, with someone even floating the idea that they might split from Sccotland of there's a Yes vote and become an independent country... with a population of about 20,000. They'd be right up there with Tuvalu and Nauru, little dots of poverty in the Pacific)

26:

Sure, blog away. Although we did discuss it a lot while waiting in line at WorldCon to see one of your panels. Just passing the time...

27:

anything to distract me from Australian politics...

Have you looked at NZ politics in the last couple of weeks? They seem determined to make Abboot look progressive and honest. They're giving the worst of the UK MPs a run for their money on the corruption front as well.

"send in the clowns" remains the greatest political anthem of all time.

28:

I would love to hear more - for some strange reason I find the politics of countries not my own fascinating... (I need a different hobby.)

29:

Recognizing that I'm worlds apart politically from most of the folks on this blog, I 100% support Scottish independence. It will ensure Tory domination of Parliament in the residual UK. Ideally that will lead to them leaving the EU and avoiding the upcoming implosion.

First comment, long time lurker. life long intel analyst.

30:

Another vote for Stross on Scotland.

[And I agree that non-Scot parliament is likely a semi-permanent tory majority right now; that prospect fills me with dread.]

31:

Why not, everybody else is ...

First off, if Scotland does become independent, the blame, or credit, will rest with Cameron. The terms of the referendum were set by the UK government, who went all-in and excluded the popular 'devolution max' option from the ballot.

Secondly, an independent Scotland will need its own currency, and if, as seems likely, it rapidly joins the EU, it will ultimately be required to adopt the Euro as a condition of membership.

32:

Please, Sir, can I have some more?

33:

More please!

34:

All nationalism bad. I do not have a horse in this race.

35:

I'd be interested to read your take on it. Especially interested to read Ken Macleod's take as well, if he can be persuaded to write it as a counterpoint.

36:

I think Ken's arguments are a whole lot stronger than anything the Westminster Consensus has produced so far, because at least they're rooted in a consistent ideological position.

That's an unfair comparison - the "No" campaign is a cross party group, and it needs to speak to people across the political spectrum. Until the entire population of Scotland adopts a consistent ideological position, you can't expect either of the campaigns to.

37:

I'm getting a bit of "campaign fatigue", but I'd be interested in seeing a "No argument" that's founded on something other than "Worse Apart" fearmongering. Of course they lose in a Yes vote, as their budget for international affairs like the "Foreign Office" and "MoD" drops by 10%!

38:

Point of order; Kirkwall is on Mainland (no definite article). Next time you're talking, tell her that was pointed out to you by someone from the Western Isles and Glasgow before that.

39:

That's an unfair comparison - the "No" campaign is a cross party group, and it needs to speak to people across the political spectrum. Until the entire population of Scotland adopts a consistent ideological position, you can't expect either of the campaigns to.

And you think the "Yes" campaign isn't cross-party? At least in the sense of post-independance policy platforms.

40:

Also signed up for da first time. I'd be v interested to read your take on the YEs vote. For those wondering, Macleod's opinion is on his blog : http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/

What I am curious to know, as someone born in Scotland, is whether ex-pats like me get a vote or not, and whether anyone thinks we should or should not have. Having enjoyed sunny south africa for most of my life...

41:

I'm sure it is, that's why I said that you couldn't expect either side to look like a consistent ideological position. But Charlie's comment was specifically about the "no" side.

42:

; lots of promises about free health, free tertiary education, pensions and social welfare at levels greater than currently operated by UK Government ...
Which are quite deliberate (SNP) lies.
Health is already a fully devolved area of competence - it is fully controlled by Holyrood, right now.
Oops.
I'm also given to understand that all GB health spending is actually increasing, anyway - check this out for yourselves.

43:

Rejoin the Jarldom of Orkney as a semi-detached part of Norway, you mean?
Could be interesting - especiallyu as it's Orkney & SHetland's Oil, not "Scotland's" if you want to go down that road.
Shades of the Candain "Indian" nations telling the PQ that if Quebec separated, then so would they ....

44:

Am I the only one who suspects that both Ken and Charlie's opinion ultimately come down to them both having SF novels that will retroactively become alternate history if the Scottish political singularity doesn't work out the way they respectively predict?

At the very least, Ken would presumably need to change his blog title to something like 'the last days of a nation that was never all that good anayway'.

45:

NO YOU DON'T (get a say)
Salmond was desperate to secure this & Camoron fell for it.
My wife is Scots' - her parents were Ayrshire & I also have Johnston (as in the Maxwell-Johnston fued) connections.
Her opinion of the SNP is not fit for a family magazine.

46:

Go for it Charlie; on the understanding you probably won't like half the posts.

In my experience even comments which are closely tied to factual data and evidence are getting shouted down as heresy - ie it's gone religious.

We are a long way from an evidence based, factual debate about the best way forward - and positions have gotten entrenched.

47:

As someone who lives in England, I've been carefully not having an opinion (and it's not like the rest of us even get the option of seceding from London).
However, I have been keeping an eye on both campaigns, while still not knowing whether "Yes" means "Yes to independence", or "Yes to union".
It's much more fun this way.

48:

Also detest the SNP. But thanks for answering my question Greg.

49:

I'm a British reader (in England, since you ask) who's very interested in the referendum and the politics around it. Can I suggest two separate posts - one about nuclear & defence issues, and one explicitly not?

This blog's readership has a lot of expertise (or at least informed opinions) on defence & nuclear tech & tactics, and I'd love to see what they make of the various talking points around the referendum. You wouldn't really have to even write anything, just post a link or a quote to get the ball rolling.

Also, as has been seen across many other threads, defence is one of the standard comments attractors where they always end up, so it might be a good idea to section off those comments and keep the other thread on-topic.

I'd love to hear Ken MacLeod's No position, too - maybe that could be the defence-free thread?

50:

the "No" campaign is a cross party group, and it needs to speak to people across the political spectrum.

Said spectrum is so narrowly defined by the parties in the "No" campaign that it excludes anyone who isn't 100% on-message with the neoliberal consensus -- it consists of a hard-right party and two centre-right parties.[*]


[*] Labour and the LibDems today are about where Thatcher stood in the 1980s; the Conservatives are colonizing BNP territory on immigration/race and don't so much represent English supremacism as the supremacy of the Square Mile. There are no actual social democratic, much less socialist, parties left in the "mainstream", with the arguable exception of the Greens, who have colonized what used to be respectable middle-of-the-road social democracy.

51:

Greg, if you keep up with the abuse I'm going to have to ban you from this -- and any other threads on the topic of the referendum.

(Hint: it's not about personalities or individual politicians, and it's not about specific economic or policy issues: it's about the future of a nation. Politicians come and go, issues come and go, this is something more fundamental. Stop trying to muddy the water, please!)

52:

To be fair, going by 'currently resident in Scotland' is pretty much the only practical way to do it. Any kind of 'Scottish connections' test would be a nightmare to construct and lead to all sorts of bizarre corner cases.

The only alternative I can think of would be to make it a 'currently resident in the UK' vote - this has some merit, since the rest of us in rUK are going to be affected by the outcome; but the optics of a Scottish referendum being swamped by English votes makes that a complete non-starter.

Regards
Luke

53:

Also I second dr_demento's suggestion to try and corral the defence/nukes attractor into a specific thread.

54:

I'd like to know more too. This kind of this is fascinating to me

55:

This blog's readership has a lot of expertise (or at least informed opinions) on defence & nuclear tech & tactics

Which are utterly irrelevant to the question of Scottish independence.

One thing about the whole matter which should be glaringly obvious to all is that An Independent Scotland would not have the same foreign policy or defense interests as the pre-independence UK. A peripheral European anglophone nation of some 5 million people is not going to have the ability -- or the perceived need -- to practice diplomacy on the basis of it being the heir to a global empire and still in occupation of a permanent UN Security Council seat.

In terms of successor states emerging after a national split, think of Estonia, rather than Russia, emerging from the wreckage of the USSR. Estonia does not operate Tu-160s or SSBNs, and doesn't go around invading weaker neighbours. "Defence" is, these days, a euphemism that covers both legitimate civil defense and force projection on other territory, either in support of local factions or in the face of violent opposition: while the USA or the UK might practice the latter usage of the term, an independent Scotland is unlikely to have the capability or the economic incentives to develop the capability to do so, and so "defense" means exactly what it says on the tin.

Realistically, Scotland's influence on the world stage is going to be maximized via participation in transnational organizations such as the EU, UN, and NATO -- and defence policy will inevitably be oriented along these lines, and defence procurement and capabilities accordingly. Prognosis: think in terms of Ireland or New Zealand -- fisheries and coastal patrol, air/sea rescue, possibly some minesweepers and ASW capability, a small army mostly oriented around UN peacekeeping missions and/or disaster assistance, possibly no air force at all and certainly not one that's fielding squadrons of Typhoon IIs on 24x7 quick response.

(I've seen a cost estimate that the price of an entry-level ticket to that game is on the order of £1Bn/year, just for a single squadron of 12 Typhoons, which is what you need in order to have 2 aircraft available for interception on a 24x7 basis: it's the platinum-plated logistics tail that comes with the price tag, adding a second squadron is a lot cheaper. The same goes for any other expensive weapons system, like a single Type 45 Destroyer or an Astute-class SSN, or a tank battalion equipped with Challenger-IIs. Realistically, Scotland simply isn't going to pay a billion a year each for a dozen weapons systems, quantity: one. At best, it may cost-share with a residual UK for obvious joint interests like air defence. But an independent Scotland's foreign policy will likely be so different to that of the UK -- much less interventionist, for starters -- that a lot of those expensive toys make no sense whatsoever in a Scottish context.)

56:

The effect on UK politics interests me too: if Scottish independence would ensure Tory control of the rest of the UK (which is also my understanding, at least for the next election), why are the Tories against it? It seems fishy to me.

57:

At the risk of attracting Charlie's ire (it is off topic) I heard an interesting side commentary about Alex Salmond to the effect that he's essentially getting to the end of his shelf-life anyway. (He may or may not wish to acknowledge this of course.)

But from the SNPs wider perspective, it's a great time for the referendum. They're obviously popular and powerful in Scotland. If they win, they will edge Salmond out soon as 'the tired old man' and not live up to his more outrageous campaign promises with the clean sweep and 'the new direction in the new Scotland' kind of thing. if they lose, he'll resign anyway, probably, and they'll get their new face.

58:

I was looking some of this up for other reasons, and looking over what Denmark and Norway have, and Scotland would be armed more like them than the current/planned UK. And a big driver for current British expenditure is those aircraft carriers, which are tied to the expensive F-35B. the Type 45 Destroyers, and sundry other items.

Though the current choices of those countries are rather old. You can still get a new-build F-16 or F/A-18, but those countries are certainly looking at the Typhoon II and the F-35 for the future.

Whether it gets beyond window-shopping is the hard question. The current British government seems to be struggling with the idea of doing any deals with foreigners on defence, beyond just handing more money to the USA. A future Scotland might be able to do deals which make a difference, sharing some of the logistics and training with other small NATO countries

And why should a future Scotland run three armed services? They could still be the Black Watch, but part of the Navy, Commandos.

We hear often enough how the Royal Navy has more admirals than warships. There has to be a lot more logistic backup, but how much could Scotland trim the fat?

Maybe they should just put everything in one armed service, with a new name. Galactic Patrol, anyone?

59:

Salmond is too old to be more than a one-term first minister of an independent Scotland.

Which is why references to his personality are one of the most useful indications that a given line of anti-independence argument is totally bogus.

(Greg, this is a Hint. If you're really worried about the Grim Meathook SNP Future of Scotland, you need to find a reason to panic at Nicola Sturgeon.)

60:

One interesting side of the debate which is note widely discussed is where the money financing the YES side of the debate is coming from. From the tenor of discussion, you'd think it a groundswell of political support from a huge number of Scots.

Actually, you'd be wrong.

About 80% of the funding comes from two people who a while ago won an enormous lottery prize. The other 20% or so comes from a mere handful of other rich folks; there isn't a groundswell of financial support for an independent Scotland at all. There may well be a lot of people talking about it, but almost nobody is putting their hand in their pocket over it, and the few that are doing so are so rich that a million or two is chump change.

This, I think, puts a very different complexion on the debate. This isn't a mass movement. This is a few politicians on a mission financed by a few richer-than-Croesius folks also on a mission.

61:

Well if anyone can manage to combine being tightly controlled between centre-right and hard-right while also lacking a consistent ideological position then it's a New Labour politician...

More seriously, I'm not sure that any major party has a consistent ideological position, they're all "big tent" organisations and even the folks who are fully signed up to the neoliberal consensus got there by quite different routes.

As an outsider I probably haven't noted the distinction between the views of the official No campaign and other people's argument for a No vote.

62:

A peripheral European anglophone nation of some 5 million people is not going to have the ability -- or the perceived need -- to practice diplomacy on the basis of it being the heir to a global empire and still in occupation of a permanent UN Security Council seat.

I'm interested in the situation in Scotland, partly because I'm a citizen of a peripheral European nation of some 5 million people. Also, although I haven't visited Scotland, my parents have, and they describe as a very Nordic country - at least when compared to England.

Of course the situation in Finland is a bit different, with respect to defence. As we were a part of an empire quite recently, less than a hundred years ago, and there were some attempts to integrate us a second time a bit after we left the empire, we have had a tricky situation militarily.

Now, when said empire is again flexing its muscles, it seems that some of the decision makers have made the decision to increase the co-operation with NATO. I'm not sure this is a good idea. It also seems that at least some of the people responsible for the Finnish military spending have want the defence forces to be more of a tool for power projection and not, well, a defence force against military threats on our own soil. This does not really calm me at all.

Anyway, I think an independent Scotland might be a good thing, at least for you. A country of five million people has its perks, too. Also I think England will not threaten to invade you, at least not soon.

63:

On the transnational organisations thing - this is what I thought is the strength of the Yes case. Take away the pointy bits from the list of responsibilities existing nation states have and merge them into larger entities. Retain autonomy with constraints around scope, sharing security and other major cost sinks.

In the 1890s when the Australian colonies all held referenda about joining the Commonwealth, there were strong Yes votes in central and northern Queensland. The rationale was that being part of the federation would lead more easily to independence from Brisbane. By this thinking there would have been a state of Central Queensland with a capital in Rockhampton and a state of Northern Queensland with a capital in Townsville. It didn't happen of course. I think the current situation, where the federal government collects the overwhelming majority of taxes and disburses funds to the states was the other way around in the years after federation, meaning that the Queensland government in Brisbane had if anything an even tighter grip on the north.

I think I had some thoughts about how that is relevant to the Scottish situation, but I've lost them while typing. Don't mind me, nothing to see here...

64:
Which are utterly irrelevant to the question of Scottish independence.

Oh, absolutely - but I'm pretty sure this commentariat will end up exploring the implications anyway. This thread will suffice though!

Thanks for your response. I'd elaborate but it turns out we have the same views on it.

65:

Why would Scotland need an army at all? Who's going to invade, Vikings? Look at Costa Rica, they haven't had an army for 66 years and did quite well despite all the conflicts around them.

66:

Thanks for that: Ken has addressed points I'd not considered, and glossed over or even ignored some that I had.

On the point of "who gets to vote", why would or should anyone not registered to vote in Scotland expect to be entitled to vote?

67:

It depends on how you define a 'groundswell' and 'mass support' and also what you're used to in terms of political funding.

The SNP won a majority in the Scottish elections, a system that was basically designed to prevent any party reaching a majority. Since their main distinguishing feature has always been a platform of "an independent Scotland" it's pretty hard to say there's not mass support for the idea. OK, voters vote on other things - they're also a centre-left party at a time when the traditional left of centre party has drifted to be pretty centre or right of centre on many issues, so they have probably picked up votes on that basis too.

Also, voluntary political funding in the UK largely comes from very small numbers of people. Although Labour might in trouble after Milliband's reform and the unions doing away with the political levy (anyone in a union had part of their dues go to support Labour, even if they were a Conservative party activist) the Tories might well have some fun after the guy that basically funded about 75% of their last election campaign has decided to support UKIP at the next election. So 2 people funding the Yes campaign isn't really that unusual a situation in UK politics.

And frankly, although drifting WAY off topic, it's why I'd like to see tightly regulated publicly funded advertising with no donation support for election campaigns. Likely to win > 100 seats, here's £5M. Likely to win > 10 seats (so that's the Lib Dems, UKIP, the SNP, the NI parties etc.) here's £2M. Likely to win less than that? You can spend up to your deposit on advertising (you can pool if you're standing in multiple seats). Referenda would be £2M for each side. Not that they happen often. Voting should be based on my advertising is bigger and slicker than yours.

68:

I'd suggest that "Defence" is at least somewhat relevant in terms of costing.

For example, on your costing of QRA, Typhoons wouldn't be my system of choice, but QRA aircraft potentially do more than just chase off Russian photo-recce aircraft. For example, Canada has integrated them into their Search And Rescue mission, and they do have potential uses in assisting civil aircraft that have equipment failures, in counter-terrorism...

OTOH, unless you have sufficient dilusions of empire to need a blue-water navy, aircraft carriers and the battle groups to escort them don't figure. Fisheries Protection vessels, mine hunters and the like do.

TL:DR - I don't agree about the lack of need for fast jets because we have more nearer neighbours than NZ does.

69:

The QRA costing that included Typhoons said "but if you don't have them, who's going to chase away Tu-95s sailing down the North Sea, or intercept hijacked airliners before they crash into Canary Wharf Edinburgh Castle?"

Thing is, Typhoon-IIs can supercruise at Mach 2, meaning one can get anywhere in the UK, from North to South, in about 30 minutes; from Lossiemouth to anywhere in Scotland in 15. A P-8 Poseidon or an A319-MPA would be much more useful for finding shipwrecked sailors or skulking submarines, but they're not much use as an air supremacy fighter/interceptor.

On the other hand: what is the risk to an independent Scotland of terrorists pulling a 9/11? "Vanishingly small, especially if we don't keep invading the Middle East" is about the only rational answer. So that leaves chasing Bears, and is that pursuit a sufficiently high priority to justify spending £1000/household/year for the entire country? Put it another way, what level of threat would justify the USA spending an extra $100Bn/year to guard against?

(My take is that "but an independent Scotland would need Typhoons!" is another example of the Wookie Defense as applied to arguing against independence. Other, less gold-plated options exist, even if you concede the need for a hot fighter aircraft: SAAB Gripen, F/A-18, F-16. The Typhoon-II is very much in the same class as the F-22, aside from the [dubious] benefits of the F-22's 1990's vintage stealth airframe. Unless you're planning on fighting world war three you probably don't need that ...)

70:

One other aspect of an independent Scotland is that where foreign relations and a secret intelligence service is concerned, they would be starting from essentially nil. Most of the local players would be moderately interested in getting a few sleepers into any nascent intelligence service in iScotland, so much of the new intelligence service's early years would be spent mole-hunting.

It is most unlikely that the remainder UK would leave Scotland undefended as such; the Scottish government would likely end up being repeatedly told to pipe down over incursions from Typhoons chasing up to intercept and escort Bears out of the local area.

As Salmond seems to be setting great store by the huge amount of renewable energy Scotland has, such political shenanigans would likely take the form of "Shut up, or we won't buy any power from you".

As a final note, I would very much doubt that another oil boom would ride to the rescue of an independent Scotland. The SNP's politics look distinctly Socialist, a creed traditionally associated with taxing anything and everything which looks profitable. As such, the major oil companies would be forewarned of an impending tax monster, and will at present be quietly backing up data on new oil finds, and possible tight oil to extract and removing it from anywhere that a possible independent Scotland could find it.

The likely business plan would be to mothball most operations in the Scottish area until the independent Scotland has had time to go bust and elect a more sensible government; recklessly making profits under the nose of known kleptocrats is unwise in the extreme.

71:

An army's a defensible way for a government to employ a miscellaneous bunch of engineers, logistics experts, HGV drivers etc. without an immediate obvious need for them, which can come in handy in disaster recovery scenarios.

72:

I agree pretty much all of that. I wasn't going to nominate an airframe, but I was thinking very much in terms of SAAB Gripen or maybe high-end fit F-16 (think of some of the stuff IAI have done with those).

73:

And here I was thinking having an army was all about being Macho, harassing smaller countries and forking lucrative contracts to your cronies from the defense industry. You say we need armies so we can cope with disaster recovery?

74:

"Estonia does not operate Tu-160s or SSBNs, and doesn't go around invading weaker neighbours."

I can advise you, however, that the Estonian capital Tallinn is home to a very impressive museum of military marine memorabilia - including a submarine built in UK for the prewar Estonian navy.

75:

And the UFO buffs among you will be thrilled to learn that said sub was named the "EML Lembit":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EML_Lembit

76:

Point taken
However - there are a lot of expatriate Scots who are very angry & annoyed that they don't/won't get a say.
Also, I tend to agree with a previous poster, that if Scotland votes for the SNP's proposal, we're ALL shafted, because:
Scotland wil collapse, economically in less than 6 months, as the money runs away.
And the rest of us will be shafted as the followers of the Shrub ream us in England.
I disagree with you about the square mile ( remember what my wife does for a living) but there are nonethelsss, some very unpleasant people out there, only too ready to take us down the USA's road to peonage ... and an "Independant" Scotland will assist that journey, IMHO.
My trouble with Salmond, irrespective of his policies, is that he reminds me of both Harold Wilson & Reginald Mauding, neither of whom could be trusted further than one could spit ....
I'll try to keep to the "party" rather than the personal line in future (!)

77:

Because there are tories who are scared of their own right wing & who still believe in "One Nation" toryism, that's why.
They can see that Scottish indpendance would kill that, as we head down the road to further enriching the 0.1%
Think "left-wing" (for some such value of same) US Republicans, fighting the Tea Party, huh?

78:

I'm worried about the Grim Meathook future of all our countries, actually.
How did we get into this mess?

79:

For a variety of reasons a nation without armed forces would probably end up with fairly heavily armed paramilitary Coast Guard, and a similarily heavily armed special police unit. See the Icelandic Coast Guard for example; their ships are not warships, but would outgun any criminals who might turn up in Icelandic waters.

80:


Hopefully this isn't too far off topic, but have other secession-minded folks around the globe shown interest in the events in Scotland? The Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño comes to mind as an e.g.

81:
You say we need armies so we can cope with disaster recovery?
No, I say they're useful for it, and that we should possibly consider how else to do the parts of the job conducted without gun in hand before getting rid of it.
82:

one hopes that the people opposing self-determination on the grounds that all nationalism is bad, mmmkay, will be burning their passports and trashing all tax demands from now on, foul indications of national statehood that they are...
oh hang on, being a citizen/subject of a nation state right here & now is fine, post-USSR, post-Yugoslavia, post-Czechoslovakia, post-British Empire etc but any further shifting of borders hereinafter is an offence against socialism? aye, right… how startlingly convenient for the City/Westminster power structures

83:

also see, 'We will never reach heaven/the workers' paradise/nirvana/valhalla unless we lock the missus in the basement because we'll never get there without her…' Nice.

84:

I would say that nuclear policy will affect an independent Scotland because moving Faslane and associated facilities will be a long and costly process. So long and so costly that I suspect that the obvious thing to do for the post-independence UK is to offer Scotland a good deal on everything else, help to smooth Scotland's path and so on - but conditional on (say) a 99 year lease on all nuclear facilities and access to same.

The question would then be who blinks first if negotiations get tough. My money would be on Scotland, for realpolitik reasons. After all, there's no real change from now, all that (newly foreign) money keeps being pumped into the local economy and your largest neighbour will be helping with the transition. The alternative is that they get bloody minded, the US get bloody minded (they want to keep the UK deterrent subsidising their own) and it's still going to be there for a while as moving that sort of thing is hardly quick.

And as to transfers of defence hardware, I'm struggling to think of anything that's not ITAR related that Scotland would want from the UK. So better get the government to government agreements in place with the US.

85:

Well, as a newly minted UK citizen from the heavily Scottish bit of a small, peripheral Anglo country of 4.5 million, I am pretty interested in the Referendum.

I think I'd vote No, if I had a vote, which I do not, living in the deep South. Not necessarily because Scotland couldn't make it work, because lets face it, lots of small nations have made the transition to successful countries and Scotland has had a decade of training, which is a rarity.

I'd vote No because the UK is a country together and whilst there are several nations, there is a shared identity that has merit. As an aligned outsider (Anglo-Scots descent Kiwi), you all look alike to me, to be frank. Your cities feel the same, your peoples do too, despite occasional differences. This goes for Belfast and Norn too. This sense of similarity to me is much more persuasive that hankering to some imagined Nordic community.

Although I'll give the Northern Isles their Nordic due, as they've long made a point of that identity (the NZ Shetland Society apparently long refused to align with the Scottish society because they felt more Nordic!).

86:

I really want Scotland to make the jump and go full independence, complete with independent monetary policy (I'm an American). Aside from the fact that I think it will make Scots happier (eventually), it will be a very useful natural experiment in policymaking - kind of like the Korean split, except that Scotland isn't turning into a totalitarian dictatorship.

87:

Greg@17:

While I didn't get to the "Ruling Party" panel, the transcript doesn't support your claim that the Green panelist took any criticism personally.

In addition, your use of the egregious and inappropriate dog-whistle "watermelon" against someone I have known for over 20 years as being in no way any shade of red really makes we wonder if you know what you're talking about in this case.

88:

" Why would Scotland need an army at all? Who's going to invade "


' Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English families, and they raided the entire border country without regard to their victims' nationality. Their heyday was perhaps in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stewart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor Dynasty in England. .... Livestock was easily rustled and driven back to raiders' territory by mounted reivers who knew the country well. The raiders also often removed "insight," easily portable household goods or valuables, and took prisoners for ransom."


Modern eqivilents to 'cattle ' might be S.U.V. s and candidates for kidnapping for ransom?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Reivers

89:

Not that I think this is very likely but ...

In one year's time we could have an independent Scotland and a rUK with a semi permanent Tory/Eurosceptic majority about to exit the EU.

Not very likely but possible.

Also even if it's a No Thanks vote there has got to be a move to some sort of English government if the Tories (and or LibDems) get in - why would they put up with all those extra Labour MPs if they go through with DevoMax?

90:

It seems possible to me that the gap between the support the SNP has in Scotland and the lesser support for a YES in the referendum is due to many voting for the SNP as a bulwark against Westminster given that the other 'Scottish' parties are Westminster sock-puppets. If there were a Yes vote then the Holyrood elections in an independent Scotland would be between Scottish parties and SNP support might greatly decline.

So a NO vote keeps the SNP in power for another 25 years or so.

91:

except that Scotland isn't turning into a totalitarian dictatorship.
Bets?
The SNP is often characterised as "socialist".
But it isn't.
It's nannying to an alarming degree.
It's the lowland Scts Presyterian heritage of knowing what's GOOD FOR YOU & WE ARE GOING TO ENFORCE IT (no matter how much it hurts, because it's good for you...)
This is my real gripe about these people & it is truly scary (to me)

92:

The green party, so-called are against nuclear power, even for baseload generation. { I call this STUPID ]
They want to abolish the body that protects Epping Forest (look it up) against the devlopers & concreters.
They also appear to be (even more than most political parties) total control freaks.
As you may gather, I don't like them.
I consider mayself environmentally-aware & in favour of more real ecological/ewnvironmental support from guvmint. Yet, the "green" party are the LAST people I'd vote for ....
Remember, I'm an allotment-holder & apart from onions (not enough space) I simply do not buy vegetables, I grow all of my own.

93:

Rejoin the Jarldom of Orkney as a semi-detached part of Norway, you mean?

That's specifically off the table as too radical and not enough support. The idea seems to be that as "independent nation(s)" they could stay part of the UK when Scotland does whatever it does. My impression is that there's a lot of cynicism about the SNP and Scotland in general on the islands, and the feeling is more or less "we will be ruled by a remote majority who only remembers us when they want oil/fish, why get all excited about changing the names?" So there's a pretty strong No vote up there.

One point to note is that we are only talking about a small number of people in a small area with limited communications and mobility. Meaning it's very easy to advertise to, and if you were a smart person wanting to fsck up the "yes" vote this second referendum would be an excellent way to sabotage a newly independent Scotland.

94:

(and yes, Mainland not 'the Mainland', sorry)

As someone on the other side of the world I think we'd all be better off if there was a better model for collective action by small nations than the empire and federation models we see breaking around us. 3-5 million seems like a workable size for a country, but to be effective as a trade/defense/political bloc you seem to need 300 million or more. Preferably more. But I don't see any evidence that it's possible to run a country of 300+ million effectively, let alone democratically or ethically. In that sense the EU was a noble experiment.

I keep thinking there has to be a way to get the global benefits of federation without losing too many of the advantages of a small country. Something like the Federated States of Micronesia (now there's a global power bloc you don't hear much from) but ideally without being just another US satrap. Viz, each 'nation-state' elects a couple of senators/ EuroMPs who run off to the central capital and run the external interfaces, funding themselves by taxing external trade. Meanwhile the internal states run themselves.

95:

(Are we having the discussion right here?)

@84 Think you might be overvaluing Faslane there.

My guess is Westminster would add the cost of a new facility to the debt scotland will be given (probably phrased as a discount on that debt if they play ball) and membership of NATO would be made contingent on allowing an orderly transition over a sensible period of time.

And I doubt they would do much work for a few years, if only to see if scotland immediately folds anyway.

Personally I think the hokey cokey in the event of a yes vote would be short term (In-Out-In, shake it all about) as the money runs for the hills and the budget tanks spectacularly. From a business perspective I just don't see the benefit in the short-medium term future for any company that sticks around. From what I can see, the scottish business community is also of that view - sentimentality doesn't count when there's money to be made in the upheaval.

96:

The green party, so-called are against nuclear power, even for baseload generation. { I call this STUPID ]

That sounds weird. Our local Greens are all "open up your heart and let the giant fireball of nuclear fury shine in". Often against vigorous opposition from so-called conservatives who want to use radical new technologies despite the obvious risks. Someone should explain to them what "conservative" means, I reckon.

But if you mean "earth-surface stimulated fission", then yes, that's the freaky shit that the "conservatives" want to experiment with. It seems profoundly odd that they can look at Sellafield and say "we want one of those in Australia".

And even the most enthusiastic proponents of UK nuclear waste generation don't have any suggestions for where the waste should be stored once manufactured. Except, obviously, "Not In My Back Yard". Until I see a real campaign saying "we want a high level nuclear waste dump in Berkshire" (from people who live in Berkshire, obviously) I regard it as just another round of "this has benefits for us and we can impose the costs on people we don't care about".

97:

Charlie - just for my nitpicky OCD, you wouldn't get a Typhoon to supercruise at M2, the figure is apparently M1.6 for a "clean" aircraft.

Anyway... It's not as if iScotland would need an interception capability; the Baltic States and Iceland are covered by NATO units on rotation. As you point out, the P-8 is a possible option, especially in its "Multimission Aircraft" role; then some Fishery protection, some transport helicopters, and that's about it.

Unfortunately, the SNP white paper section dealing with defence was unrealistic and naive; hardly surprising, as they have no policy-making experience in the area. The question is how Scotland earns its keep in NATO. Smaller countries can't operate across the full spectrum, so they provide niche capabilities. Light-role ground troops, minesweepers, and helicopters rather than heavy armour, aircraft carriers, and fighter planes - the question is whether those cheaper roles (say, infantry) are equipped and trained sufficiently well to inter operate with other countries' forces - night vision equipment, compatible encrypted radios, fire support, vehicles safe and capable enough to operate alongside other armies. And an expectation of 2% of GDP in the defence budget.

Where it gets interesting is in Intelligence. Scotland, strange as it may seem, has had a terrorist presence for forty years - both sides of Northern Irish extremism used Scotland as a "safe base", but staying quiet for their mutually agreed benefit (apart from that one bomb at Edinburgh Castle in the early 1970s, attempting to kill the lone piper at the Tattoo). An iScotland would instantly lose access to the "five eyes" products; a sharing agreement between UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Setting up new agencies wouldn't be cheap, even if formed on a nucleus of Special Branch...

98:

As someone on the other side of the world I think we'd all be better off if there was a better model for collective action by small nations than the empire and federation models we see breaking around us. 3-5 million seems like a workable size for a country, but to be effective as a trade/defense/political bloc you seem to need 300 million or more.

I'm biased but I agree with you. Finland has a bit over 5 million people, and while we do have probelms, I think in general the country works well. (I only see a small portion of the country, though.)

99:

I don't expect to be entitled to vote, I was curious whether ex-pats would be able to vote. The referendum gets 0 coverage in South Africa.

I am somewhat of the Billy Connolly "Don't vote for politicians, it just encourages them" bent. However, I do think this is an important issue.

On the other hand, taking your point, I am equally detached from grass-roots issues in Scotland, and so probably do not deserve the right.

100:

And as to transfers of defence hardware, I'm struggling to think of anything that's not ITAR related that Scotland would want from the UK. So better get the government to government agreements in place with the US.

I'd have thought you'd know better Phil. Hint - Start with ASRAAM, Meteor, Brimstone and maybe Storm Shadow.

101:

SO you'll be ok with us regarding New Zealand as an extra state of Australia then? ;-)

If your reaction to that is about what I expect, then you actually know how Scots feel about being told "you're pretty much the same as the English".

102:

There's always the West Virgina option I suppose ...
Secede from the seceders & re-join the first lot ....
[ IIRC that's what the Canadian "Indians" were treatening to do to the PQ? ]
Um.

103:

No problem; the point was more "Other Scots do know and care about Orkney and Shetland" than anything else.

104:

Fair enough; unless you want to visit the UK it has 0 effect on you after all.

105:

Well, some countries with army have those, too. I'm not against coast guards and border patrols as far as they are needed to control smuggling. I just don't see any need for tanks, ICBMs or fighter jets.

106:

"No, I say they're useful for it, and that we should possibly consider how else to do the parts of the job conducted without gun in hand before getting rid of it."

Ah, but an independent Scotland would need to create a new army in the first place, no? So instead of just copying what the Royal Army / Navy / Air Force was they should just build a new civilian disaster recovery agency and maybe beef up their border patrol somewhat (my guess is that's part of the police, no?)

107:

Well, for the record I've lived in Australia, have a lot of family &friends there and support federation between the two countries (not that this is on the table at all). For similar reasons as to why I continue to support a united country containing England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the islands.

I do take your point that people in both countries might be insulted and perhaps I should be more clear in what I meant. Maybe it is just a hard point to put across without offence.

I see the peoples of Britain to be far more similar than not and that this is or should be a common identity and worth preserving for that alone. It doesn't detract from other national identity, at least to me anyway. I'm happy enough as a Kiwi, Brit, at the same time and don't feel they contradict each other, nor does being Scottish and British. Or being Northern Irish and a citizen of the UK. I did not mean that Scots are the same as English precisely, more that all the peoples of the island share many similarities to this outsider. To define it in simple terms like that buys into awful reactive nationalism (Being Scottish in opposition to perceived English identity?).

108:

I think the Border Reivers appeared because the police and judicial system broke down, not because the army was missing.

109:

I've no specific objection to "being British", well except that this means effectively being ruled by "what the English want" due to their built-in majority in the legislature.

To take a few places where my own, most of my friends' and the SNP's beliefs and policies diverge from the ConDems, universal healthcare and income support, immigration, some aspects of foreign policy like the EU.

110:

Yeah, my understanding is that both sides considered the area the Reivers operated from as "the other side's jurisdiction" and thus the Reivers as "their problem"; not unlike Bi'r Tawīl would be (briefly) if it were the base of a population of lawless raiders rather than something that nomads pass through between Egypt and Sudan.

111:

An iScotland would instantly lose access to the "five eyes" products; a sharing agreement between UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Setting up new agencies wouldn't be cheap, even if formed on a nucleus of Special Branch...

You're doing it again, just like the folks who insist an iScotland needs Typhoons and a carrier group: only this time for intelligence.

Frankly, about 90-95% of actual useful intel -- aside from the global internet trawl provided by the five eyes -- is available from the public domain. The ELINT trawl doesn't actually seem to be very cost-effective or useful: when challenged lately one NSA director was unable to point to any terrorist plots against the USA that were foiled due to domestic phone and data taps. If you're looking for global online chatter among radical communities overseas who are planning atrocities against you, then that's a different matter ... but if your national foreign policy doesn't make you a target in the first place, is that even necessary?

Much domestic counter-subversion/counter-terrorism is best carried out as a policing activity, so an iScotland would likely need to expand the Specialist Crime Division a bit, and possibly add a diplomatic service intel unit similar to (albeit smaller than) the US state department's INR (probably the top-rated intel analysis organization in the entire US intelligence empire, and also one of the smallest and cheapest to operate).

In other words, go for the intel equivalent of P-8s and minesweepers instead of Typhoons and Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

112:

On the subject of the weaponry needs of small peripheral states, let it be noted that Aotearoa/New Zealand scrapped its jet fighters in 2001:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_New_Zealand_Air_Force#21st_century_government_defence_changes

Nor is my own country overendowed with big silver birds of the military kind:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Corps_%28Ireland%29#Current

113:

ITAR applies to components as well as the complete item. So for instance ASRAAM, with a Hughes seeker, is ITAR controlled regardless of where it is assembled. ITAR is a recurring problem for UK designed defence equipment sales - and indeed US sales. My last employer made a point of offering non-ITAR solutions but it was not a simple matter to produce them as you had to track down to component level.

And to get back to the independent Scotland case, without the necessary agreements in place the UK cannot transfer anything to which ITAR relates. Any credible defence policy must plan to put that in place or have a definitively ITAR free shopping list. (So not the P-8 then.)

And it's not just military kit. In my current job we do work with US partners under bog standard export licences. Said licences have a list of acceptable sole and dual nationalities on them, no others are allowed. So here's another area where international agreement needs to be put in place before Scottish passports are issued to anyone.

114:

Of course Scotland can be independent. If a number of people no longer feel part of Britain, that if their part of the country does not feel represented if Labour are not in power, then maybe they should go.

But what annoys me is the SNP's campaign. All problems begin in London and you know who. Meanwhile everything will be better post independence. There are no risks and no tough choices to make.

Maybe people will believe them, but come a yes vote they will be in for a surprise. Or maybe it will all the English's fault for denying the will of the Scottish people and not agreeing to a currency Union.

But as an English taxpayer I will not want us to underwrite Edinburgh banks. So come independence Edinburgh is in for some lean years.

As to the threat to not pay it's share of the National debt, well I'll file that under interesting and brave, and lets see how that goes down with the English electorate.

115:

One unexpected benefit iScotland would experience is flight of R&D intensive tech companies from south of the border.

If, as seems likely, the Remnant UK goes further UKIP-wards and pulls out of some of the EU agreements, the Commission will stop any future involvement in Horizon 2020. I already know a few companies who do a lot of European work who are planning to re-register themselves north of the Wall if that happens...

116:

As a Welsh taxpayer currently living in the North of England (but I've just come of a spree of looking at places to live in Cardiff so not for much longer) I'd say there's a distinct feeling that a lot of the problems we see here have been exacerbated by the "we've got to get London and the banks back on their feet" attitude of a certain ex-public schoolboy and his side-kick the ex-independent schoolboy. We could, of course, be wrong, but there is a distinct feeling of that.

But characterising it as a threat not to pay its share of the national debt is missing half the argument. You missed off the bit that goes, if you don't want to share the national assets, then you can't expect us to bear our share of the national debt. Phrased like that... it doesn't seem completely outrageous.

Does sharing the national assets mean that rUK taxpayers underwrite the Scottish banks? Unclear because the Westminster parties have, IMO, been so irresponsibly sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "No, you can't share, we're not listening, go away you nasty little Scotsman, la, la, la" that there hasn't been any serious discussion of options.

There could be some agreed limited liability held by the Bank of England. There could be some agreed buy-out process - just like Faslane won't be dismantled and moved in a day but it will have to go, there could be a gradual process so that a Scottish central bank has a chance to build up a reserve to underwrite the banks and the rUK taxpayers lose that liability. There could be a direct transfer of a share of the Bank of England's reserve - just like asset sharing after a divorce, and then they're on their own. There could be some combination of these. There could be something else.

It's pretty unlikely that the rUK taxpayer will be the backstop because the shiny new Scottish parliament with its tax powers would bail out the Scottish banks, just as Gordon Brown did for Northern Rock, and others, with the whole UK tax money way back when.

Currency union is more about having a say in decisions about interest rates and the like. That does affect us as taxpayers somewhat, but it affects us as savers and borrowers more. Let's say there's an agreement about this and Scotland gets 2 votes on the BOE monetary policy committee by right. If we get to a situation where the Scots and 3 of the 7 remaining rUK members vote for something like a rise we get a rise earlier than perhaps we would. Just how bad that is we'll have to wait and see, if it actually ever happens.

117:

for the record I've lived in Australia, have a lot of family &friends there and support federation between the two countries (not that this is on the table at all)

Imagine England was a religious monarchy and Scotland was a democracy. To merge them the Scots would have to accept a state religion and the leadership of their new monarch, with a rewrite of their legal system from the ground up to accomodate the change. Or there would have to be two sort-of-independent legal systems with different rights and obligations depending on where you lived.

In Aotearoa/NZ, the law is built on a treaty of joint occupation of the land by Maori (tangata whenua) and immigrants (pakeha) under license from the British Crown (the Queen of New Zealand, distinct from the Maori Queen). In Australia, the law is built on a doctrine of terra nullius ("a land without people for a people without land", as they say) and licensed by genocide. To merge the two systems would require either the genocide of the Maori (previous attempts have been resisted) or some kind of weird split legal system where a Maori in NSW would have significantly fewer rights than that same Maori in Aotearoa.

Amusingly, Tuhoe in that situation could stand in for the northern islands of Scotland, since they never signed the Treaty and some regard them as less than full members of New Zealand society (some both within Tuhoe and outside it, FWIW).

118:

Ah, that's a bit different and makes more sense. At the level I usually meet systems, ITAR only gets applied to US-assembled systems.

119:

But characterising it as a threat not to pay its share of the national debt is missing half the argument. You missed off the bit that goes, if you don't want to share the national assets, then you can't expect us to bear our share of the national debt. Phrased like that... it doesn't seem completely outrageous.
And yet the "British"BC consistently fail to report that bit.

120:

Ha ha. I had actually planned to take my kids around Scotland this past northern summer, but HMPO managed to totally bollix that up for me. Which aroused my interest in whether I would be able to vote Yes as a way of venting pique. Yes, petty - I know.

121:

Two problems with that argument:

1) they undoubtedly will get a far share of assets (basically what's on their soil), but if you are walking away from union, you don't get to still benefit from the benefits of that union - least of all the Bank of England bailing you out and acting as a backstop. That's what being responsible for your own destiny means.

2) the terms will get agreed and signed into law in Westminster. In the end scotland will get the debt it's given - it goes hand in hand with the same law that's giving independence in the first place (can't have one without the other). And the financiers in London aren't going to look well on scotland trying to repudiate that debt - as I've remarked before, it's the fastest national suicide in history to not service your debt when you are going to need lots of finance.

Thing is, none of this is hidden or debatable - it's the basics of what voting to leave the union means. You might not *like* how cold those winds are, but don't go out in an Hawaiian shirt and act surprised you catch cold. Deal with what is; rather than some "everyone will do what we want" la-la land.

122:

1 problem with that "argument" - It boils down to you saying "What's yours is ours unless it's bolted down at your place, and what's ours is our own".

123:

What is boils down to is the same song that's been sung in international relations since the year dot - what's yours is what you can enforce.

Scotland thinks its going to get what it wants because .... it says it thinks it owed it.

Brutal reality; the stuff they should have been considering; is that they are holding no aces. They have no way of imposing anything, and nothing that's particularly needed. Therefore, independent of right and wrong (and I think scotland should be repaying, not receiving) they should have a plan that works in that reality.

Who are scotland's friends?

124:

You're doing it again, just like the folks who insist an iScotland needs Typhoons and a carrier group: only this time for intelligence.

Hardly. I'm merely pointing out the removal of one major source of intelligence, and suggesting that the provision of a useful intelligence / counter-intelligence apparatus would be expensive.

You can choose not to spend the money, of course... I'm not saying it's vital, I'm saying that we would effectively be saying "all this other stuff, maybe we'll catch it by accident".

Frankly, about 90-95% of actual useful intel -- aside from the global internet trawl provided by the five eyes -- is available from the public domain... Much domestic counter-subversion/counter-terrorism is best carried out as a policing activity

Except when it isn't...

I'll grant you that most intelligence is available open-source (intelligence types have been cribbing from Janes' and the Economist Intelligence Unit for years, and all those diplomatic drinks parties are followed by the typing-up of reports), but counter-intelligence is by its nature more covert.

For example: our local CID may well trawl the web, but the bulk of its actionable intelligence will be human-sourced, not web-sourced. Human sources need human handlers, and those handlers need trained and paid and overseen. And that's just against small-town criminals, i.e. sociopaths too stupid to think of another way to earn money - because the high-functioning sociopaths are all salesmen, bankers, and politicians...

Aiming your criminal (and financial, and political, and diplomatic, and military) counter-intelligence resources against the least capable, and hence easiest targets is cheap, but very definitely second best - after all, the easy targets are by definition the least capable, and have least freedom of action. Great if you want to catch some angry and self-righteous teenagers, not so good against career criminals.

Try working out the cost of establishing a new government department, with reasonable computer resources and (for sake of argument) a staff of 250. Factor in the costs of liaison, travel, etc; the need to establish trusted working relationships with neighbours and areas of interest. Even assuming that we wouldn't have a GCHQ, or an offensive cyberwarfare capability, we'd still need a defensive one (as the Baltic states found out when they dared to disagree with Russian foreign policy).

Assume a median salary of £30k, a cost of employment twice that, and you're looking at £15million a year salary costs alone. Throw in a whole new government IT project to support it, and a shiny office block, and you understand why SNP insistence that the whole missing slice of UK civil services can be rebuilt for only a few tens of millions are... smiled at.

...if your national foreign policy doesn't make you a target in the first place, is that even necessary?

If you're a terrorist, you go for what's easy. Spain was hardly a prime mover in the invasion of Iraq, but they still had scores killed when their trains were blown up. "Being a member of NATO" is good enough for some.

Terrorists go for soft targets. So do criminals. So do foreign powers. Foreign policy have nothing to do with it - the Israelis spy on the USA (see Jonathan Pollard), the USA on the Germans, and the French allegedly spy on everyone :)

If your banking industry gets a little too eager for foreign business, of course the money launderers and market traders aren't going to chatter about what they're going to do on an open internet forum or website. Do you think there won't be attempts to suborn banking officials, or politicians?

(2006 - SNP announces plans to re-regulate Scotland's bus services if elected. March 2007 - Brian Soutar donates £0.5million to the SNP. April 2007 - SNP drops re-regulation policy. These facts are of course completely unconnected, and declared openly and honestly by all involved.)

If your country chairs the EU, of course other countries will be interested in what changes you plan, negotiations you make, positions you hold. If it gets a rotating place on the UN Security Council, then of course the major powers are going to be interested in which way your government will instruct its diplomats. If your NATO commitment allows other NATO members to operate on your bases, then of course potential NATO opponents will be looking at them for an "easy way in" to operational or technical intelligence.

Designing a counter-intelligence on the assumption that a small country only need worry about petty criminals and frankly amateurish terrorists, seems unwise.

125:

From what you're writing here you seem to not be bothered by whether Scotland go or not, but you're making the assumption that election campaign rhetoric is going to be the same as the final signed agreement.

Westminster seems to be doing its best to assume that just because every other referendum has voted no, this one will too. The latest opinion poll has suggested that the No vote has gone from a comfortable lead to a lead that's within the margin of error of the poll in the space of a week. Oops. Between a good debate for Salmond and a crass advert on TV it could be just a blip but it might be time to panic.

And sorry, it's not the way that international relations always work. The point of the referendum is to stop a rebellion and a civil war. Callmedave, by agreeing to it, kind of committed to go along with it and have a reasonable and equitable solution. That's not the same as saying everyone gets what they want on everything, but an amicable divorce. Those of us old enough to remember the troubles remember what unfriendly divorces when you share a land border can be like. Given the choice between the very unlikely prospect of bailing out the Scottish banks (which isn't on the table if the Scots have currency union in any debate I've seen) or a terrorist campaign with the Scots, I'll go for the former thanks.

126:

Is a currency really an asset which can be divided into two? Salmond says he wants a currency union with rUK, but how independent can a country really be if it needs to agree monetary policy with a neighbour 10 times its size? Germany is < 30% of the Eurozone, and the peripherial Euro nations have spent 5 years suffering under a German-dominated monetary policy. At least as part of the UK, Labour governments consider Scotland's interest in setting economic policy.

127:
If your country chairs the EU, of course other countries will be interested in what changes you plan, negotiations you make, positions you hold. If it gets a rotating place on the UN Security Council, then of course the major powers are going to be interested in which way your government will instruct its diplomats.
Ireland's held both those positions, and has had terrorist groups operating in the country for decades. Ireland has two intelligence services; their budgets are not public, but their parent agencies have a combined budget of €2.5 billion, and have to run the army and police force out of that as well.


Many "No" contentions of the impossibility of separation ignore Ireland and the (then) rUK managed to muddle through all this 90 years ago, after a war, without a devolved Parliament.

128:

Looking at who was doing some of the negotiation over Ireland…

David Cameron isn't Winston Churchill and Alex Salmond isn't Michael Collins.

129:

Do you think Alistair Carmichael's auditioning for the Arthur Griffith role? :-)

130:

And Ireland didn't become fully, formally, independent until the declaration of the Republic in 1949. That was preceded by a couple of decades during which relations between Dublin and London that were often tense and difficult.

Those negotiations between Churchill and Collins, amongst other things, left a lot of mistrust that took a long time to overcome.

131:

I think you're misunderstanding what currency union means. Or I am. And there's certainly a lot of uncertainty and doubt floating around and fear being stirred up.

RationalPlan's first objection was to English (and Welsh) taxpayers underwriting banks in a separate country. That has clearly happened in other countries in the Euro zone but I don't recall it being part of the plan for an independent Scotland at all. It's not been mentioned. Each time it has happened it's need special legislation, it's not an automatic event, there's no reason to assume it will happen automatically here.

As I understand it, "currency union" here is shorthand for the idea that they're looking to carry on using the pound and to have seats on the BOE monetary policy committee to have an influence on setting monetary policy for the pound, particularly interest rates. It wouldn't surprise me to see a request for a share of the BOE's reserves or some system to let them borrow against those reserves or similar. Certainly if there isn't a share sent North, a say in how they're spent. I don't know the details. I don't think anyone knows the details. They rely on a) a yes vote, then b) a lot of negotiation.

However, there are 9 members of the MPC. 1 is obviously the governor of the BOE, then there are the bank's 3 deputy governors, the bank's chief economist and 4 people appointed by the chancellor. Something like adding the governor of the BOS (which might not be the right title, but the equivalent post) and one person appointed by the Scottish chancellor or maybe 2 would be a plausible way of sharing. Scotland would always have some influence, even under a Tory government. Maybe not enough but some - it could certainly shift policy faster.

Now, I need to point out I'm not an economic expert. I'm sure there are things I've missed. Some of this depends on a degree of good will.

But, equally, because the Westminster parties have all stood up and said "bugger off, Jock" in various degrees of posh English accent, Salmond hasn't been pressed about what he'd actually ask for, he's been able to portray the English as the bullies and himself as the plucky Scot standing up for Scotland. It's a position he's held all his political life and he's always looked very comfortable in it.

Are their weaknesses to the plan? Yes, for sure. At this point I refer you back to the "I'm not an economist" line. I'm largely of the opinion that economics is witchcraft, not science, certainly macroeconomics where it crosses with politics. You choose your starting conditions, put your data in, and get the answers you expect, according to the model you select. With those provisos - I'm not sure comparing a "Sterling zone" to the "Euro zone" is fair. The geography is tighter, the economic cultures are more similar - you're not trying to mix Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, France etc. all into one cook pot. It's also clear, now, that several of the Euro zone countries were fiddling the books to met the criteria for entry. Since the UK will be hiving off Scotland, once the election rhetoric is over, they'll have a damn good idea of the state of the books, so it will be hard to fiddle them.

Now, the only clear, measurable economic asset I've mentioned there is the share of BOE's reserve. But if Scotland is independent and doesn't get some say in their distribution, not accepting a share of the national debt doesn't seem like a totally outrageous bargaining position to put up. I'm not saying it's a good end position for an amicable separation but it's not an outrageous counter-position to the 'tude they've been offered.

132:

And, mistrust etc left on one side ...
Look at the grinding, desperate poverty that was the norm in Ireland from 1923 until the early 1960's.
Does Scotland really want to follow this model?
Even if Scotland was, historically a richer country than Irealand, anyway ....

133:

That grinding, desperate poverty was the norm long before 1923, Greg.

134:

And independent Irish governments made at least some effort, inadequate though it was, to deal with that poverty.

There is widespread assumption that home rule or non-independence would have led to better social and cultural outcomes than we saw in post-independence Ireland. There is no good reason for assuming that (look at how the poorest regions of UK in 1923 are still the poorest today) and plenty of good reasons for assuming they wouldn't have been (look at social conservatism and poverty in Quebec prior to the Quiet Revolution for example).

That said, it does seem to me that some pro-independence Scots think that everything will be OK once they raise the Saltire over a free Edinburgh. . . that's not a wise assumption to make either.

135:

I think we do agree on what a currency union means, "have seats on the BOE monetary policy committee to have an influence on setting monetary policy" means having a shared monetary policy. But Scotland would get more like 1 seat on the MPC rather than 3, even assuming that the rUK representatives didn't vote as a bloc. And "interest rates being set to benefit London" is part of the problem.

The BoE's reserves are much smaller than the UK's national debt. I agree that both of those are things that can be split, but I don't think that the ability to print currency to meet your debts can be, and ultimately that's what underpins a country's ability to issue bonds.

136:

Well we know the MPC representatives don't always vote as a bloc - they didn't at the last meeting for example. I think it was 7:2.

As for the numbers, like I said, it's all up for negotiation, assuming there's a yes vote. I think the Scots would ask for 3 or 4, and probably settle for 2. I think rUK would offer 1. I don't know and can't really find data I trust about the likely relative sizes of the economies. The 9:1 ratio seems to be based on the populations but is that reasonable for the sizes of the economies after the split? But some balance there will be found.

And I'd forgotten bonds and printing currency. I told you I wasn't an economist. I guess all of that will have to be on the table too.

But I still think that the no payment is a combination of a response to the attitude of the Westminster parties and the start of a negotiating position if the yes campaign is successful. It's easy for the SNP to negotiated to a more moderate position after all.

137:

Ireland's held both those positions, and has had terrorist groups operating in the country for decades. Ireland has two intelligence services; their budgets are not public, but their parent agencies have a combined budget of €2.5 billion, and have to run the army and police force out of that as well.

It also had widespread corruption at the highest possible levels (see: Charles Haughey), and terrorist organisations operating with a fair degree of freedom (sufficient to view the Republic as a safe haven). Some organisations viewed themselves as completely above the law (see: Church, Political fiefdoms) and operated without oversight, analysis, or fear of interference.

This is hardly a triumph for "security spending". Domestic political considerations trumped any outward view, and for decades Ireland stagnated as its brightest emigrated.

PIRA and the INLA were operating as a very successful criminal gang in the Republic; robbing Post Offices, corrupting civil servants, running safe houses and operational headquarters, launching attacks from just across the border. The IRA traded on the reputation of the organisation of the same name from the 1920s, and it wasn't until they started killing Gardai during their money-raising crimes of the 1970s and 80s that things started to work against them.

Many "No" contentions of the impossibility of separation ignore Ireland and the (then) rUK managed to muddle through all this 90 years ago, after a war, without a devolved Parliament.

I have never contended "impossibility", so that's a straw man. I merely point out that the costs exceed the wholly unrealistic optimism of the SNP white paper.

You should also note that after a vicious counter-insurgency, and the creation of the Irish Free State, there was promptly a falling-out between the victors over who got to run things, and a rather messy Civil War for a couple of years, the scars of which lasted another fifty. Who killed Michael Collins, indeed? Again, I am in no way suggesting that this is possible, I'm just pointing out the holes in your narrative of cheerful independence.

In a sense, you make my point. You get the defence, diplomatic, and intelligence / counter-intelligence organisations that you're willing to pay for. Current SNP proposals insist that all of these things can be done on the cheap. I'm merely pointing out that this might have some drawbacks.

138:

With a true currency union, it is implicit that all banks are underwritten by the central bank, the strength of countries financial system is backed up by the depth of it's tax base, as we have all recently discovered. The earlier Euro crisis was because Germany was not prepared in the early stages to bail out other countries.

So I'm sorry a currency union does imply that we will rescue Scottish banks and help the Scottish state if it ran in to difficulties. Which ultimately means the ability to tax rUK citizens.

If a currency union meant the ability to just trade easily with the UK then all Scotland needs to do is have it's own currency pegged to the pound, or just use the pound instead of it's own currency. Though that does severely limit your ability to run a deficit.

A real currency union offers much more, but it would require effectively full control of the Scottish economic policy. Why would we agree to weak sauce version of the current EURO. Look how that turned out!

The reason Mr Salmond wants a currency union, is because it's the only way to avoid decimation of the Scottish financial sector. To put it simply currently Scotlands financial sector is far to large for it to be credibly underwritten by an independent Scotland. I can't remember the exact figures but Scotlands finacial sector is twice the size of Cyprus's, before it's collapse, as % of GDP. An independent Scotland would be extremely vulnerable and would not have the resources to guarantee them. Why would any English person put money into a Scottish company, it won't be covered by the BOE deposit insurance scheme, nor will Parliament step in to automatically guarantee deposit held in a foreign country, as the recent crisis showed. I used to work in a bank and remember that roller coaster of a ride that was the crash and I heard plenty of tales of woe of people who lost some of their savings, because they were chasing higher rates offered by foreign banks.

Therefore any Scottish financial company would be considered a significant risk. Which is why all Scottish financial companies are drawing up plans to either move South or split themselves into separate companies with most of their assets protected by the Bank of England. It will have to more than a paper exercise as well, so that the BOE is happy that any problems in Scotland do not risk infecting their English subsidiary.

Either way Edinburgh is in for a significantly bumpy ride if independence happens.

The problem is that the Scottish economy has grown within the UK economy and has fitted within niches provided their. It is now proposing to occupy an entirely different environment.


As to the division of assets issue. It's not a straight split weighted on numbers. If you start going around saying we own 8% of embassies or downing street, then it follow we own 92% of assets in Scotland.

But that's not how it works in real life. It's settled in international law, that all fixed assets on Scottish soil would become part of the Scottish state, all assets outside it would go to the successor state.


Lets look at another problem. Pensions.

There are several different issues here. The basic old age pension is paid out of current taxation, there is no investment covering it, the same goes for nearly all public sector pensions.

For people who have never moved across the Border no big deal. Each state will have to sort funding it's own commitments. The problem arises with people who worked both sides of the border. I suspect that some complex formula will be used to work out where each person has worked, but each state will probably have to cover their pension wherever they choose to retire. There may be some cross border payments to be made if they start each state only covers the percentage of pension earned in each state.

More complex will be private pensions, they will be paid in the local currency of the firm from whom they buy their annuity from.

More reason for heavy pressure from English pensioners to ensure that their pensions are controlled and administered in England, where there are no currency risks.

As to future retires I suspect that upon retirement you will need to decide what side of the border you will take your pension, because once that decision is made I doubt they will allow you to switch currencies again and more importantly which country will pay the pension.

139:

Then there's the European "Military list", which is what happens when you take the union of many disparate technical worries.

Suffice it to say that being able to make a very smooth surface on metal becomes a military capability...

140:

El,

You are correct in assuming I'm about as far from this as it's possible to be - it really doesn't affect me particularly, and I can look at it from a distance without constant media bombardment.

Point it, I have a much less sanguine view of international relations and Cameron's motives than you do. I think he's looking for advantage and has done (or has had done) a much more detailed plan than the SNP have managed to knock up over the past decades of how this can play out.

You seem to be taking the SNP viewpoint that in this run up to referendum Westminster is being much more strident than they would be after a 'yes' vote. A little thought should tell you it's very likely to be the reverse - being nice and conciliatory before the vote, but if it's a vote for divorce, suddenly getting much more hard and unforgiving. And if your reasoning for wanting independence is 'you don't trust those b*st*rds in London', it's a bit strange to expect them to be nicer *post* 'yes' vote...

As for war-war rather than jaw-jaw - I think Cameron would LOVE that. Just look at how some islamic idiots thousands of miles away have been exploited to push repressive policy ideas. Now consider them being just over a land border and with a convenient accent to define them.

As I said above, most of the problem in this 'debate' is its gone away from rational argument, evidence and logic towards 'religious' arguments and 'feels' that ignore how this is virtually certain to play out. It's not much of an advert for democracy - more an exemplar of how mobs can be played.

And I'm still expecting the chinless wonder, Tory saying something monumentally dumb to tip this over the edge in the last week or two of the campaign.

141:

Actually, it wasn't.
Ireland was always the poorest part of the old UK ...
But the first civil war certainly didn't help ... And then, the final act of the on-going tragedy really screwed it.
Collins was murdered by ultras in the second civil war &, eventualy de Valera became Irish leader.
After that second civil war, the economy just tanked totally.
And any lingering desire, or hope, to wipe the slate as of the treaty of '22 was lost utterly. It also re-inforced the protestant ultras in the North, with results that erupted after 1970.
When I forst went to Ireland in 1965, even then, even naive young me, could tell that something was wrong, both N & S of the border.
[ Being asked by Irish customs, at Amiens Street station, if I had any contraceptives on me was, shall we say, unusual? ]

142:

Err
Scotland's total population is less than half that living inside the M25.
How big a proportion of the vote do you think they should get, then?
Paricularly when you add in the head-count for the rest of England & Wales & N Ireland as well?

143:

If you made the effort to read rather than snipe you might work out I was suggesting that I was suggesting a reasonable balance on economic policy might be in terms of the relative sizes of the economies. I also said I couldn't find reliable data for that

Population of Scotland is about 5.3M. rUK about 55M. 1 extra seat on panel that's currently 9 strong is about right at 10% give or take.

But it wouldn't surprise me if the size of the Scottish economy is bigger, proportionately, than the size of its population. Whether it's close enough to 18% to justify 2 seats on what would be an 11 strong panel I've already said twice I can't find data to say for sure but it wouldn't surprise me.

144:

You might be right, we'll wait and see.

I'm just not convinced.

There are, potentially, electoral advantages to the Tories to losing Scotland from the Union, other than the terrorist threat. Scotland typically returns < 2 Tory MPs and ~ 40 Labour MPs for example. Not offering Devo Max, knowing that that would win made sense because he would be weakening Westminster and not losing that block of Scottish Labour advantage in the commons. Whether the blow to the "one nation Conservative" values matters more will be interesting to see, because if there is a yes vote, Callmedave will be the guy that broke the union. That might well be an unforgivable sin in the eyes of many hard core Tories.

And the Scottish seats won't have gone by the 2015 General Election. So he'll have lost votes to wherever from those who are disgusted he's broken up the union. If the UKIP vote at the european elections wasn't just a protest vote, the Tories will be losing votes to UKIP disproportionately more than the other parties. (Yes, all the parties lose some to UKIP, but the Tories more, the Lib-Dem support just stayed home mostly.) Those same Euro elections suggest the Tory MPs could get pretty much wiped out in London.

It's a big gamble for the hope of the Tory party for the 2020 election when he won't be in charge.

145:

On the electoral numbers, seats at Westminster, that last election was unusual. Removing the Scots MPs doesn't usually make a significant difference in the Tory/Labour balance, and the (currently) 50+ Scots seats in Westminster would have last mattered 40 years ago. Labour majorities are usually bigger.

So expecting independence to bias election results to the Conservative Party may be a little optimistic. We might not need a coalition, but Labour wins seem to be generally too big to be affected. It's the Conservatives who have a history of ruling on small majorities.

The next UK General Election is going to matter, and if the Referendum goes for Scots Independence it is going to give us the government and parliament that decide what happens. But I am inclined to think it is an election for Labour to lose.

I see Labour as the least-worst choice, and the big benefit a break from the pattern of long-running governments by one party or another. I want the bastards to all be scared they could lose an election, individually and collectively. It's the one lever we have left (and if that lever turns out to be a hard-swung tyre-iron, so be it). Despite all the corruption of political funding, we still manage to run fairly honest elections in this country.

146:

I've seen the data that it doesn't usually make a difference, but a smaller majority still makes a difference too. Although it's usually the Tories that suffer back bench rebellions and "the awkward squad" it makes for more interesting leadership styles. Mind you, I think Bliar with a smaller majority for his first two terms might well have been a better leader than he was. Who knows, he might not even have been so keen to be Bush's poodle. But that's a whole different can of worms. Although his majority was still pretty big at the time so maybe not.

But I think the demographics in rUK are shifting against the Tories. Both age wise and in terms of the colour of skin of the voters where non-white voters tend not to vote Conservative. Losing a guaranteed chunk of Scottish Labour MPs against that tendencies of current tory voters to die and so on isn't a bad bet. It's not as extreme as it is for the Republicans in the US as I understand it but it's a similar story. And it requires no gerrymandering, the Scots (well some of them) want to go!

147:

I hadn't thought that much about what smaller majorities for Tony Blair would have led to, but it's all part of the "scare the bastards" meme-set.

I keep having to remind myself that 25-seats moving from A to B is a 50-seat majority change, and the 50-odd seats in Scotland aren't the same sort of change.

148:

I meant to comment on this earlier, but I too think the next UK General Election is going to be fascinating. Pretty much regardless of the Scottish Referendum result, although the effects of that too will be interesting to see.

Even if UKIP don't win a seat, which is certainly possible, although there's some South Coast Tory heartland seats that might be very uncomfortable, not just Clacton, they're going to suck votes. Some from Labour but more from the Tories and that's going to swing Tory marginals to Labour if it doesn't make them go UKIP. I imagine, except in a very few seats, the Lib Dem vote is going to collapse. Most voters will just stay at home, or maybe vote Labour because it's got to be better than voting for the Tories that got the Lib Dems into this mess. But I think most will stay home, or vote Green or similar. Which won't get any more Green MPs elected but won't offend their principles.

So, yes. Labour's election to lose. Just how ravaged will the Lib Dems be? How big will Labour's majority be? How many, if any UKIP MPs will there be? The cephologists, professional and amateur, should be rubbing their hands with glee, but I wouldn't trust their predictions about the size of the actual parties worth a damn.

149:

and in terms of the colour of skin of the voters where non-white voters tend not to vote Conservative
Especially in Rotherham, of course!
[ Yes, that was an extremely sick comment - it was meant to be. ]
What really bothers me about "Rotherham" is that it appears that the local police were utterly complicit. Shades of the S. Lawrence case, where the local plod would rather be thought "racist" - though it didn't help that some of theme were - than corrupt & bent & in the pay of the local gangsters. In Rotherham it seems that the local plod were, erm, corrupt & bent & in the pay of the local gangsters, oops.
You are referred back to the "Ferguson" thread etc ....

Oh, & there is at least one small political party which is (apparently) openly racist here, that currently gets away with it ... though that may not last, given that all 3 of the other main parties are now accusing it of electoral fraud:
L Rahman's Tower Hamlets grouping (I forget it's proper name - "Tower Hamlets First" ?? )
Where there is one female councillor & IIRC, all its' councillors & 90%+ of its members are all adherents to one sect of one religion & are all descended from people from one small geographical area.

All this may change in the near future - or so some of us hope.
I speak as a descendant of people who lived in that area, originally as religous/political refugees, for over 200 years (1685 - 1905 ish )

150:

Rotherham and Ferguson are both towns which grabbed headlines that are not all that unusual.

In particular, I've read the report on Rotherham, and it mentions other places were similar abuse happened. It also mentioned other pimping groups with racial connections, going back a long way. It's not just race, it's something that allows criminal outsiders to rake in huge amounts of cash.

One thing to be aware of: puberty is hitting at a younger age, although it's not matched on the mental side. I genuinely was a teenager before the biology hit. Today, it seems possible, and rather scary, that I wouldn't even have started Secondary School. In my day, things hotted up in the school year of your 15th birthday. It's definitely younger now.

So there is a window of particular vulnerability, maybe not helped by rules and guidelines that are based on calendar age.

The other angle is that the report suggests some widespread institutional sexism. Nobody seemed to be listening to the women, especially in the immigrant community, and I don't think that was just down to cultural "don't talk to stranger men" barriers.

And how do you offer help without laying up trouble. What can you do? Call the cops?

151:

Point it, I have a much less sanguine view of international relations and Cameron's motives than you do.

I think you attribute far too much intelligence and far-sighted scheming to Call me Dave.

Until relatively recently, the view from Westminster was that the "No" campaign had a comfortably 20% lead; meanwhile, they'd already rolled the Lib Dems on one referendum -- on proportional representation. So the indy ref was seen as a lever for reining in the SNP. Let them have their little vote, see that they've got far less support than their accidental majority in the Scottish Parliament might lead them to believe, then go to the mattress renegotiating the Barnett Formula once they can't plausibly use heavy cuts in Scotland as a rallying cry for independence.

Dave is, first and foremost, a public relations flak. In fact, it's his only job (other than politician and millionaire heiress's husband).

They made a propaganda position out of not making any contingency plans for a "yes" vote, so that they could shriek that in event of a vote for independence the Scots couldn't assume that any particular service/facility would be available. Sort of like the way one Mr Rumsfeld refused to make any plans for occupying Iraq after the invasion: "they'll welcome us with flowers".

Sticking your head in the sand seems to be becoming a standard way of dealing with unexpected future situations for conservative politicians this century. After all, if you've got a 20% lead in the polls/total air and ground supremacy and your ideology assures you that free market pixie dust will make everything better (and your bank balance agrees with your ideology because you're plugged into the right loop to profit from privatizations), why would you need to make contingency plans?

The results are not pretty.

152:

Thing is Charlie, the Tories might just be cartoonishly evil (or just cartoonishly right wing), but the civil service isn't.

Gaming the rise in the scottish independence movement is pretty core of an organisation that has "British" in it's heart. And they've had plenty of time to do so. In short, they had the failure tree analysis of how this could play out done decades back - and it's unreasonable to assume that they wouldn't have a whole set of contingencies worked out as well. They might be Oxbridge, but you don't get there without brains.

Hence my point about "had done".

It would have been perfectly possible for them to have allowed the SNP to hold their original, little, planned referendum, and then said "very interesting, we'll appoint a commission to look into it" - code for kicking it a decade down the line. They didn't HAVE to take it seriously, or take any notice of the 'biased result' at all.

When someone gives you what you want, unbidden, you should be looking that gift horse in the mouth with an electron microscope.

Cameron wasn't up to the Machiavellian scheming on his own, but the civil servants had this one, and his back, since before Thatcher.

Personally I don't think on their own the scottish people would be dumb enough to vote for a bunch of clueless, naive fools like the SNP - with no plan except wide-eyed optimism - which is why I think someone has their thumb on the scales and a longer term game. The fact that this is happening just as the oil runs out - well, that just makes it smell more fishy.

Selling it to Cameron as a way of getting rid of a bunch of Trotskyish voters makes sense - but it's likely only phase 1 of a bigger plan, I feel.

153:

the Tories might just be cartoonishly evil (or just cartoonishly right wing)....
Actually, just cartoonish.
Along with the LemmingCrats & Nuliebour
All three known as LibLabCon - or "The Ruling Party"

It's a disgrace.
Meanwhile thanks to the "secret" & much-mistrusted TTIP negotiations,
SEE HERE
HERE TOO
And here as well and it looks as though the EU corporate crooks are getting into bed with the US corporate crooks to shaft all of us.
THAT might be the long-term plan you hinted at.
I certainly don't want any part of it.

As Charlie pointed out, long ago, maybe in a previous thread, the "Devo-Max" option, which was actually not really wanted by the SNP English-haters & ultras, and would have been the runaway winner (Probably with something like 80% of the vote) if it had been on the ballot paper.
We all got shafted & it isn't there.
Probably because that would then have automatically meant Devo-Max for everyone - work the rest out for yourself.

How nice.

154:

Is there a need to assume scheming any more deep than "they'll obviously vote no, and that will take devo-anything-we-don't-want-to-devo off the table for a generation"?

I draw a slightly different set of parallels to the Iraq invasion than Charlie: As you say, Cameron and the civil service are unionist / British to the core, and so there is the obvious failure mode of not realising that not everybody thinks the same.

155:

The problem with your view that they just put forward what they thought would be an unpalatable "yes to divorce" vote with the idea of getting a "no" vote is it won't stop the SNP and the independence crowd for more than a few years, let alone a generation.

The same song will continue to be sung, the same demand for independence. That goes for devo-max as well - it continues to give the SNP somewhere to go, a validated reason to exist and electoral base. And eventually circumstances will be so bad in the UK that scotland will vote 'yes'.

Better to get them to vote 'yes' at a time and in a manner of your choosing. Then, when it really falls flat on its face you CAN bring them back into the union, redefine the terms, and kill independence talk for many generations. And what helps ensure it falls flat is incompetent leadership (check), the ending of the oil paycheck (check), the EU being unappealing as a bolt hole (check) and the ability to write the terms of the split (check).

In short, think Sun Tzu. That's why devo-max was so emphatically taken off the table, it doesn't deliver the "tried that, didn't work" outcome.

156:

A hint might be obtained from the value of the currencies in (approx) 1707, when the Act of Union was signed & after Darien.
A Pound Scots = 1/-8d or 9.3 (recurring) p

Ian S
You forgot the other really unpleasant bit about the SNP
They are authoritarian in your kitchen & your house.
They certainly appear to be interfering puritan nannies of the worst sort - in the *best* traditons of Scots' Presbyteriaism.

157:

With the possible exception of the "Royal Bank of Scotland" (legally based in Scotland, but incurred its losses in "The City") all the institutions that actually required bailed out, even the "Halifax (Bank of Scotland)" (shows a minimum of clearing bank-shaped activities to customers of other clearing banks, so actually behaves more like a building society) were based in England.

Also, you may be aware of how the 3 main Scottish clearing banks (Clydesdale, "Halifax (Bank of Scotland)" and "Royal Bank of Scotland") (oh and the Northern Irish clearing banks too) print their own bills of exchange, and none of the English clearing banks do. The right to do this is a priviledge extended to clearing banks by the Bank of England, and withdrawn from all English banks following a spate of bankrupcies amongst English banks caused by them printing too many bills of exchange.

158:

The first time I went to Scotland, the "British Linen Bank" also had its' own notes printed - very pretty!

Paws: I believe that, these days, they keep count (!)
Of course, If Scotland falls for the SNP's taradiddle, that grant of priviledge will be withdrawn - probably very quickly.

159:

The name "British Linen Bank" struck a chord. It was (despite the name) based in Edinburgh (so actually a Scottish clearing bank) and was acquired by Bank of Scotland in 1969.

Greg, the value of the bills of exchange which a Scottish clearing bank is allowed to have in circulation at any time is based on them having funds to that value on deposit with the Bank of England. This means that those bills of exchange are actually better guaranteed than Bank of England notes, and have been ever since the UK came off the Gold Standard.

160:

And money on deposit with the bank of England is as real as any other money: just numbers in a file (computer now rather than a ledger). About the only thing about those Bills of Exchange is that they're backed by the Bank of England because they require the fund matching.

And that money cannot just vanish with Independence.

161:

Please as a former inmate of HBOS. I can't let the lie that it was the Halifax that sunk the Bank. Without the merger (ha, it was a BOS takeover) the Halifax would still have been shaky financially, but it was BOS commercial lending arm in Edinburgh that sank the bank with £8 billion in losses to companies. It's commercial property arm was also monumentally inept.

As an aside, the truth is that bank knew trouble was coming. I can remember a couple of years before the crash, the bank tried to make a great play in changing it's mortgage strategy. Benny higgins from Natwest was drafted in and the idea was we were no longer going to chase the remortgage market. It made no sense to chase new business with spreads of just 0.25%, while offering poor rates to existing customers. We sat hours of power point torture looking at all the dreadful figures of all our competitor banks, with figures showing all the new business they were getting from remortgage customers was only replacing what was lost as people chased the lowest rate. With margins so low I wondered how we seemed to be making money.

Anyway the new strategy was drawn up and we were not going to chase low margin business and the hope was other banks would regain their sense and follow us and restore their margins.

Well you can guess this did not work. Northern Rock and other took out Ads directed at Halifax customers and Money Mail (they always hated the Halifax) had a field day over the banks crap rates. Our mortgage market share plunged, and no one followed us. The City got upset and Benny Higgins fired and business as normal resumed.

Ah well that ended well, but it is noted that James Crosby (the architect of HBOS vision)jumped ship just before the crash and poor old ex Asda man Andy Hornby was left carrying the can as the whole thing burned to the ground and we were fitted up with ill thought out merger with Lloyds designed to avoid nationisation (ha). Good one Gordon, why destroy one bank when you can destroy two.

I will spare you the the horror of the merger, execpt to say we then lost 35,000 staff as Lloyds tried to squeeze some profit out of its ill considered buy and boy did they make sure their feelings about it were communicated to the helpless staff.

Turning back to referendum. I feel some peoples hatred of Cameron and the Tories is twisting their common sense, seeing conspiracy where there is none.

I think Cameron has played it as best as he can in the circumstances. Once the SNP won the election with a manifesto pledge to a referendum. How could he have ignored it, as much as the SNP would have relished the prospect? There was no reasonable alterntive, anything else would have been 'denying the will of the Scottish people' and English bully boys etc.

If Scotland gains independence, then their will have been many fathers to this failure. Remember 'devolution killing independence stone dead'

Scottish Labour gained a great deal electorally, from framing the Tories as anti Scottish and weaving a myth that the Scots are naturally more Social democratic than those money obsessed southerners.

When of course their are only a couple of percentage points difference on social attitude surveys.

3% spread between England and Scotland does not signify the foundation for a new Nordic nation, where social justice will flow.

162:

I'll be voting no, for a reason I don't hear either side talk about very much which is that, should Scotland become a country, there is the real possibility that it will start to matter which side of that border you are working, claiming benefits, paying taxes et cetera. If I spend much of my life moving between the two, working sometimes in Scotland, sometimes in rUK, will it be straightforward to claim my pension? If I live in Scotland and want to retire to England in my old age (or vice versa) who is responsible for paying my healthcare costs? The EU provides a partial solution to this, but in the long term, I'm not sure how stable an institution the EU will turn out to be. At the least, I can see it resulting in a lot of extra form-filling and bureaucracy for those of us whose lives are split across what will become a national border. At worst, I can see it ultimately reducing the freedom of Scots and rUKians to simply up sticks and move to each others' countries.

All this might be worth it if I genuinely believed that the Yes Scotland campaigners are right - that an independent Scotland would be more social-democratic, less likely to pursue the sort of policies that the current Tory government in Westminster are pursuing. But I don't believe it. A race to the bottom on taxation and welfare - particularly a Dutch auction on corporation tax - seems more likely. - I accept I'll only find out if my side lose the vote.

163:

State pensions will be messed up for anyone who changes between the countries. There are currently rules on the number of years contributions needed to get a pension. You could be below the limit in both countries.

I suppose private pension schemes will be in the same sort of territory as existing job changes. The Euro zone dodges some problems, but no-shared-currency could kill job-mobility.

Devolution could shift the balance of the labour market towards employers. But can people escape low-employment areas of the UK under the current systems? With the structure of the housing system, will Devolution actually change labour-mvement patterns?

However it comes out, we're already screwed.

164:

ATT
However it comes out, we're already screwed
Yes
I said this before.
LOOK UP "TTIP"
It is truly scary.
EU - US joint corprate corruption potentially shafting everyone.
And this on top of any fallout (& there will be plenty, if it comes to pass) from Scottish "independence"

165:

The Common Travel Area is older than the UN (modulo a break known to most as World War 2). There's no rational reason whatsoever independent Scotland wouldn't join, especially given it was set up to deal with rUK and [other country] on one land mass. Pensions remain complicated, but permission to work in the other country should be covered under EU law or Common Travel Area provisions.

166:

I'm not trying to change your mind. it's a very real issue. The debate so far as I've seen, from a moderate distance down here in rUK, hasn't touched on it.

But I'm kind of not surprised. If there's a yes vote it's a detail that will have to be thrashed out. I doubt they'll leave it to the EU rules (especially if Scotland has to apply for EU membership) because sorting out the historical situation will be different to what the current rules for how separate countries joining into the EU should behave - although that may be the basis for how things will be going forward for 16 year old joining the workforce.

But the yes campaign gains nothing from saying "We'll have to negotiate this out" although you'd hope they've got an outline plan for their desired outcomes if the no campaign ever raised it. The no campaign have mostly focused on "You won't have the pound, scary" and not got into the nitty-gritty of things like this. (At least that's how it appears from here.)

I appreciate that I don't get a vote. I'm also moving to Wales which might change my opinion once I settle there. Currently I'm torn. I think the current Westminster model is deeply, deeply flawed and needs a root and branch reform. While completely destroying the political classes and moving to something that is actually a democracy based in the 21st Century would be my really preferred answer that's not likely to happen. Failing that, moving to some kind of federalist system more like Germany (certainly not more like the USA) or perhaps with unicameral regional governments with large scale powers and a unicameral national senate with a much smaller range of emergency powers or similar - imagine regions with a Scottish Devo-Max deal and a tiny reformed Westminster keeping what's left and enough power to step in if a regional government collapse. I'm just left wondering which of a Yes vote and then Callmedave changing his mind (or losing the next election and the next government not being bound by his word) or a really, really close No vote is more likely to kick Westminster where it will do most good and make them actually think about making some changes that might actually improve things.

168:

We just imagined the bit where Luxembourg used the Belgian Franc, oh and joined the EU without a central bank?

169:

Luxembourg was a founder member of the EEC, has a population of 500k, and is richer than Croesus due to the tax havens.

None of which apply to scotland.

Face it, plan A is dead, plan B can only be a very temporary stop gap. Since the euro can only be joined after a period of stability, the only plan C available is a scottish currency - which would be VERY interesting when the currency markets got their teeth into it (particularly with the debt and overly large banking sector).

The only good bet in the event of a yes vote would be to have your assets outside scotland and your debts inside - and I doubt the banks are going to fall for that one.

170:

"...supremacy of the Square Mile."

Charlie, as an American I don't understand this. Does this mean the City?

171:

"One other aspect of an independent Scotland is that where foreign relations and a secret intelligence service is concerned, they would be starting from essentially nil. Most of the local players would be moderately interested in getting a few sleepers into any nascent intelligence service in iScotland, so much of the new intelligence service's early years would be spent mole-hunting."

Mole-hunting is like a preoccupation of all intelligence services. Scotland would actually be better off, since they could build things more from scratch.


"As a final note, I would very much doubt that another oil boom would ride to the rescue of an independent Scotland. The SNP's politics look distinctly Socialist, a creed traditionally associated with taxing anything and everything which looks profitable. As such, the major oil companies would be forewarned of an impending tax monster, and will at present be quietly backing up data on new oil finds, and possible tight oil to extract and removing it from anywhere that a possible independent Scotland could find it."

What governments are similar? Russia, Nigeria the Gulf States, and pretty much anybody who has oil, except for the USA, where the government probably is a net subsidizer of the oil companies.

"The likely business plan would be to mothball most operations in the Scottish area until the independent Scotland has had time to go bust and elect a more sensible government; recklessly making profits under the nose of known kleptocrats is unwise in the extreme."

You're assuming (a) the Scottish government would be extremely ignorant and/or stupid and (b) all of the world's oil companies would act in concert.

172:

"An army's a defensible way for a government to employ a miscellaneous bunch of engineers, logistics experts, HGV drivers etc. without an immediate obvious need for them, which can come in handy in disaster recovery scenarios."

Except for the incredible percentage of waste. For example, a squadron of fighter jets would be close to 100% useless in such a scenario.

Although it is funny to watch military Keynesianism still be defensible, even after all of these years.

173:

"...the US get bloody minded (they want to keep the UK deterrent subsidising their own) and it's still going to be there for a while as moving that sort of thing is hardly quick."

That would be interesting, because of some conflicts:

1) I don't think that the people running the USA really want the UK/France/etc. to have a nuclear force; it's not under US control, and might be used (even as a threat). Conventional 'sepoy' forces, yes.

2) Elite interests in the USA (which means Wall St, the military-industrial complex, and the oil companies) might oppose Scottish independence on the grounds that it might disrupt their current interests. Or they might support it on the assumptions that (a) the Tories rule in England and (b) Scotland can be bullied (or made into an example).

174:

"An iScotland would instantly lose access to the "five eyes" products; a sharing agreement between UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Setting up new agencies wouldn't be cheap, even if formed on a nucleus of Special Branch..."

You're assuming that this would be a huge loss. It might be, but I'd like to see something backing that.

175:

Yes, the City of London (the old city, where most of the financial institutions, the Bank of England and the like are) are within a square mile within the heart of Greater London, the City that's loosely bounded by the M25.

It's often called The Square Mile, proper noun, or The City, because The City of London while actually precise is confusing even to a lot of British people who don't work in The City and aren't sure exactly what the difference between City of London and London is.

City of London is managed (that's probably the right term) by the Lord Mayor and the Guilds, the rest of London is administered by the elected Mayor (BoJo) and so on. If you're familiar enough with British folk history, Dick Whittington of nursery rhyme and pantomime fame was Lord Mayor for example.

176:

I did say "army" on purpose; I was thinking almost exclusively of infantry and associated logistics. I know Ireland (roughly similar population size, theoretically similar roles minus any NATO commitment) has ~8,000 soldiers, no main battle tanks, and 30 aircraft (including the police helicopters, Navy maritime patrol planes, and the Government jet). Where does military Keynesianism come into it?

177:

Barry: Yup. Bigger explanation here. The "City of London" is not the same as London (the capital city); it's just over one square mile in area and it's probably the richest/most powerful square mile on the planet.

The rest of the UK is merely an afterthought; as far as our current lords and masters are concerned, our interests are secondary to the prosperity of the Square Mile. Probably because trading there turns over around $2Tn/day ...

178:

And as we close on the referendum date, yet more shoes are dropping.

Here are the tory backbenchers making sure that scottish MPs won't be part of any next UK parliament, via extending the date of the election.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/03/calls-to-postpone-uk-general-election-scots-independence

It points up that currently Labour would need the scottish MPs to form the next government - and the tory MPs are not going to allow that to happen.

Of course there are other options - like throwing out all scottish MPs after a 'yes' vote, and indeed, throwing scotland out of the union before the election.

As I said before, I'm sure this has been gamed - as have placing immediate currency controls on scottish bank deposits on 19th Sept.

179:

Ultimately, it means that we English don't get the chance to have any vote in Independence, even in the confused mess of a General Election, and it looks like a pretty blatant power grab.

If the Referendum votes for Independence (not certain) Ed Milliband and David Cameron are going to have to set out a plan during the election campaign. If the No campaign does win, people are still going to expect some changes, but what? There's so much where the parties seem to be in lockstep that Scotland has to be important as a campaign issue.

The Scots MPs will go. That's 52 seats, but they vanish. Votes do not move from one party to another. Historically, Labour has often had a much larger majority. There is an argument that rUK gets the boundary changes that the Conservatives have delayed, and, come Independence Day, Parliament is dissolved and we have a new election.

I am not sure that the Lib-Dem part of the coalition has any influence, I am not sure it would do them any good, but they could gain a little back if they declared against a delayed election, or rushed Independence.

And it's possible that amongst the changes brought by an election will be a transfer of Lib-Dem seats to Labour.

(For those watching from overseas, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party are becoming hard to distinguish. It's a bit like the way Republican and Democrat can look similar. Both have moved towards the political right, compared to 20 and 30 years ago. The change still matters, but whether Wall St. or The City, the puppeteer doesn't change.)

And I am not sure I trust the Mr Punch Party that these back-benchers belong to.

180:

Ian s & A T T
Why do you think I'm so agin the Scots voting "yes"
That way we all, both sides of the Border, get the worst of both worlds.

181:

There's a big difference between Tory backbenchers saying "We want this to happen" and it happening.

Tory backbenchers are generally a pretty unruly bench. If you listen to things that Tory backbenchers and assume they automatically happen we'd have already left the EU, abolished abortion, reintroduced the death penalty, brought back corporal punishment and more. We'd have a spy in every bed and every journalist would be in jail. We wouldn't have gay marriage. And that's just under the current coalition. We'd probably be at war with Russia, Syria, interring every Muslim and more but, in fairness, it's hard to tell the backbench voices from some of the front bench voices there. At various points in my adult life we'd have brought back national service, but I don't think we've had that one in the last 4 years.

Given Cameron mounted part of his campaign and one of his first pieces of legislation was to remove one of the powers of the PM and fix the term of this parliament to the maximum allowed of five years, extending the term of the parliament is a big no-no. It is actually the one remaining veto power of the House of Lords, the House of Commons is not allowed to vote to extend how long it can sit without calling an election.

The only time it will get through is, as in World War II, if there's a "government of national unity" for the duration of the war. And there's not a hope of that.

They can bleat and call for it, but not a chance.

And while the electoral odds shift in the Tory's favour after the election with the loss of about 30-40 Labour seats from Scotland as opposed to 0-2 Conservative seats (with current numbers), Antonia is right - if you take out the Scottish MPs it changes the actual outcome (different party winning) in precisely one election since WII. It would have trimmed the size of Labour majorities often but never to the point that it would have made them particularly uncomfortable to lead.

There's a lot of hot air and bluster but I rather suspect it's more because the Tory backbenchers have realised, all of a sudden, there's a decent chance they'll be characterised as the party that broke up the union and "One Nation Conservatism" is a big rallying cry for Tory voters, and they'll probably lose the next election bar a miracle. They're fighting to try and be seen in the media and be able to say "Callmedave was bad, but I did my bit, vote for me as your local MP, I'm a safe pair of hands and stood up for what you believe in." It's a positioning against UKIP defectors more than an expectation of this actually coming to pass.

182:

That would be "Tory backbenchers are generally a pretty unruly bunch" although bench kind of works too.

183:

A question from a non-Brit who doesn't normally follow UK-domestic politics very closely: How did David Cameron come to the "Call me Dave"-nomer? Even http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_me_Dave redirects to the normal entry about him, so I suppose it must be a well-known meme, but I seem to have missed it.

184:

Well, my memory has it that it was his attempt to downplay his very posh background as part of his "We're all in this together" line that he tried to feed us. As soon as he opens his mouth it's clear we're not all in this together, but being "David" heightens that, "Dave" if he was less ultra-rich and ultra-posh could lessen it. (You might tell from the tone in which I'm writing I consider it failed attempt.)

However, on the BBC News site I can find references to it back as far as February 2008, although it's spelt out in full David "Call me Dave" Cameron" so it certainly predates my memory of it. The format suggests that might be a new form.

Without better evidence (and some time spent searching for one) I rather suspect the Wikipedia article might have the clue. It might be a reaction to the Daniel Finklestein column condemning those who call him Dave to belittle him (published Oct 2006). We're a pretty irreverent bunch, unless we have to be otherwise (like we're Tory front bench MPs say) so being told off for calling him Dave is just going to make it more likely. Knowing he doesn't really like... poor baby.

Satirists, comedians and so on will have used it. People that listen to and read and watch them will pick it up. It probably exploded into much wider use after "We're all in this together" because it just works so well to undermine it. Although I must admit I'd expect to have come across it before that but maybe it just didn't really register until then. Or maybe I'm just getting too old.

185:

I think it's been around since about when he became Tory leader in 2005, and like you say it's a dig at him attempting to portray himself as "just a regular guy".

186:

I thought it was the media reaction to his policy in interviews.

We Brits are very traditional about our feudal overlords, and the "Westminister media" tends to respect that.

The bellicose Labour chap had such a long term relationship with the media pool that he was "call me Tony" Blair - "please, treat me as your friend rather than the head of state".

The Rt Hon D. Cameron, Bullingdon Club, attempted to pick up some of this credibility, by playing down his formal rank, hence, "call-me-dave".

187:

"Feudal overlords" doesn't fit.

Fealty goes both ways. If they don't protect us, if they don't put their lives and honour on the line for us, we cannot be their vassals.

The media sucking up to those in power is a whole different ugliness.

188:

:) You're not suggesting that there's a reason that the many children of the hereditary nobility get packed off to Sandhurst or Dartmouth*, and a few years of getting cold or hot, miserable, and shot at, are you? :)

It's rather in contrast to the children of politicians getting packed off to an internship with a US Senator, then a quiet parachuting in for a constituency selection...

* You'll notice I didn't say Cranwell, one must have some standards :)

189:

I'm sure there's a reason.

Not convinced an outdated sense of feudal duty is the one though.

Some of them, like having a family doctor, lawyer and the like make sense when viewed from the outside. Family army officer or naval officer, not so immediately obvious. But it seems to work for them.

190:

Well, those who were convinced there was a master plan how are you feeling in light of the appearance of a mad scrabble to firm up plans for both the time-table and the details of exactly what devo-max will entail after a no vote to try and persuade (or bribe depending on your POV) the Scots back to voting no?

Even the BBC, which the Scots feel has been quite biased in it's coverage (pro-No) had an element of glee in their interview with Alistair Darling on Today this morning asking just how badly the wheels had come off and watching him squirm.

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