17 Sep

A judge of my acquaintance once made a passing remark to me.

“ It’s amazing what you can see when you stop thinking like a lawyer!” he said, and went on to explain that when a committee of ten people, nine of whom were lawyers, came to consider a situation the nine lawyers all came to the same conclusion instantly and were unanimous on a course of action.

The one non lawyer was not the least intimidated by this and simply said that he saw things differently and went on to explain what he saw, why he saw it and what he thought should be done as a consequence. Needless to say it was a different course of action to that suggested by the nine lawyers.

The reaction to this dissenting voice was extra ordinary. One by one, all nine legal minds looked at the situation again, and one by one all of them came to the conclusion that their initial decision was wrong.

My friend was one of the nine, and what troubled him was that until the dissenter spoke he was convinced his initial decision was right. He was someone who regularly weighed up evidence and argument, cut the wheat from the chaff, and reached a decision.

However, in this case what bothered him was that it had become clear to him that he, as an individual, and his fellow lawyers as a group, had become almost institutionally bound to think a certain way….. and they did. All believing they were right, yet eventually coming to a conclusion that their automatic and natural response was in fact inappropriate and incorrect.

And that, he said, was scary.

That story is where I start my journey when it comes to the referendum on Scotland’s future which is set for 18th September. Have a look, consider the options, reach a decision … and then have another look and come at things differently and challenge your instinctive stance, and only once you have done that, make a final decision.

I have waited until now to write about this issue so that I can look at the entire picture, having listened to all the arguments and viewed the whole idea from a micro, macro and, dare I say it, a pub perspective.

And I have reached a conclusion. It is a conclusion that once reached I then challenged, argued against in my head and tried to talk myself out of. I have had others try to point me on a different path as well. However, I have finally reached my decision, having argued, read, researched, considered, and now at long last, I finally record my thoughts and ideas in written form below —- for all to shoot at if they so wish.

First a few statements of fact or opinion – it is not for me to judge which is the more appropriate term.

1. I am not a Nationalist per se and am more an Internationalist. I am not keen on borders, border regulations, barriers, obstacles, inward looking declarations of “ I am”, “ We are”, “ They are” or “ They will”. I am not at all sure I am keen on anything that approaches “Us” and “them”!

2. I am not anti English, anti British, anti Welsh, Irish or anti any “sh” you care to mention.

3. I am not a jingoist. I am not keen on Edward Elgar, pomp and circumstance, the beating of the great British drum, or the Scottish drum, The Empire Drum, Commonwealth Drum or any other kind of drum that is associated with a set of borders or the power to control or govern those within or outwith those borders.

4. I am not a member of the SNP. I have never joined a political party ( though in my youth I was a member of various societies that were associated to, if not affiliated with, The Labour Party.) My reluctance to join anything ( political party, trades union, gardening association, chess club or any other kind of organised plutocracy ) is based upon the fact that as sure as eggs are eggs I will eventually be expelled from the movement if I have not already resigned.
Traditionally, I am not a very good team player at anything, and I am not the best at listening to, or suffering, those who want to advance their “prospects” within any political party or movement. I am a curmudgeon when it comes to those who aspire to a career in politics.
Anyone who wants to be a politician should automatically be barred from being one!
5. I am, however, an optimist. I believe far more in the word “can” than “can’t” and when someone says “You can’t” I see that as merely an opinion that should be independently challenged before being meekly accepted. I am drawn to positive people far more than those who are perennial doubters and naysayers.

6. I cannot help being a lawyer – even although I no longer earn my living within that profession. I will read and read, stop and consider, argue and counter argue, and eventually reach a conclusion. Sometimes that is an infuriating practice however 30 plus years ago in my legal training I was told that the worst thing any lawyer can do for a client was to hedge your bets and fail to advise on a course of action. In other words, there comes a time to give an opinion: “Right, here is what we should do!” and then outline a plan and a process. Good lawyers don’t get skelves on the arse!

I have spent many years involved in the running of companies where at boardroom level you have to argue your corner, advance a strategy, be prepared to have your plan criticised, point out errors without making enemies, heal rifts, look at the short, medium and long terms and generally negotiate internally and externally.

Compromise is not a dirty word and more than one person can be right when two or more people are saying different things.

Business is business; it should be personable but not necessarily personal and stubborn intransigence will get no one anywhere. Business and politics in my opinion boil down to the art of the possible.

7. I believe I am passionate about certain things, but rarely angry, hopefully never ill-tempered, speak with a degree of confidence in support of what I believe, but never just dismiss the opinion of others. God gave us two ears and one mouth – those proportions were not an accident.

8. I believe that in approaching things you should not always put your own personal interests first. That is just the road to greedy decision-making. We are not allowed to steal, commit murder, or whatever for our own personal gain and in making any decision we should also consider others and what is right as opposed to what suits us personally.
I will not pretend for a moment that this is easy to do, and I know that such an attitude can be looked upon as sanctimonious and even twee. People will always consider what is best for them and their families, but that should never be the only consideration when thinking about Government, social justice and what is best for the country as a whole. And by country, I mean Scotland as well as the rest of the UK.
That is what I believe, and to be frank, if you have a problem with that please feel perfectly free to go and commit an act that should be physically impossible, requires being well endowed, double jointed and extremely supple but which should give you lots of pleasure. Good luck to you in your efforts!

9. Wealth is not solely measured in pounds shillings and pence ( or any other currency you care to mention ). Banks, Big Business, PLC’s, and Companies in general look after the interests of their shareholders. They require to balance the books and pay a dividend as opposed to looking at social welfare, or have any concerns about the civic community as a corporate goal. Of course many companies try to do both and succeed to a greater or lesser extent. Government, is, or at least should be, different. It is not just about money, balance sheets, share prices and figures.

10. Government is about people, systems, rights, powers, checks, balances, representation, accountability and the common good. Banks, Corporations, Companies, Political Parties, Politicians, Statisticians, Clergymen, Fitba Teams, pantomime Dames and every other bugger then operates within that system of Government and then, and only then, can they bring their talents ( or lack of them ) to the fore for the benefit of the people – who in turn give them money – or votes – or abuse – in return for their services and actions.

It is the system of Government and the accountability of Government that comes first and foremost. Abraham Lincoln called it correct at Gettysburg and no one has ever improved upon his “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” philosophy – not in a democracy anyway.

11. Lastly, and most importantly, I am not always right and many people, good people, will have a view that is different to mine and they will be entitled to it. My view carries no more weight than the next man’s ( or woman’s ) and I do not write these words with a view to persuading anyone to my way of thinking, but more towards recording how I came to my own conclusions.

So, with a thousand or so words out of the way, why will I vote YES?

Quite simply because I believe that the system of Government in the UK does not work, and I think that becoming Independent provides the people and the businesses of Scotland with a real opportunity to live and work in a better system.

Further, I think the entire campaign to persuade us to vote no in this debate absolutely highlights all that is wrong in our political system and why our current system of Government does not work.

It does not work for Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland. In fact it doesn’t work for anywhere on the planet – even the city of London itself ( which is to blame for many a thing ) and so it must be changed as staying still and preserving the status quo is a non starter for all of us.

And before anyone shouts “ Devo Max” or any such thing – hey—that is a nonstarter. It has not been offered and in the last days of the campaign the leaders of the Westminster parties have realised that they have made a cod of it and are now offering something, somewhere sometime – they just don’t know what. They offer anything to retain power in Westminster – typical pathetic UK politics.

Back across the border, there are already those among their party rank and file who might just have something to say about what has been offered by the three party leaders and it is pretty plain to me that what the three amigos have allegedly offered will probably not be delivered by their parties in session, or by the Westminster Parliament.

Anyway, to other things.

INDEPENDENCE is no more than a word.

Different people can use the same word and mean many different things.

In this instance I believe that what we are talking about is a degree of political independence that is not at this time available to the Scottish electorate. Although it was previously available to the Scottish Parliament AND within the United Kingdom.

There is no such thing as complete political Independence, nor is there any possibility of complete monetary independence, in the modern world. So if Scotland votes YES what I think we will see and should strive for is greater and fairer INTERDEPENDENCE with our neighbours, with Europe and with the rest of the world.

Independence is an idea and an ideal, and how you make that idea and ideal a practical reality is what really counts.

So, what are we voting for on 18th September?

My answer is that we are voting for the idea of Independence and the RIGHT OF INDEPENDENCE (not the practicalities and the detail – they are to come and to evolve if we vote yes) and to change the existing system of Government.

Most importantly we are voting to completely change the substance and style of Government – not just in Scotland but in the UK as a whole.

We are not voting for any political party or any particular politician, and to vote NO because you don’t like Alex Salmond, The SNP, Wee Nicola, Paddy Harvey, Brian Cox, Tommy Sheridan or whoever is just plain daft.

You don’t decide to not buy a car or a house because you didn’t like the salesman. You might go to another garage, but you buy the model you want.

Equally, it is also daft to vote NO because of the style, tactics, dress sense, singing voice or because of the ugliness of any of these people.

None of that affects the system of Government under consideration.

It would be equally daft to vote yes because you don’t like George Galloway’s hat, David Cameron’s voice or, Alastair Darling’s eyebrows or whatever.

They themselves are an irrelevance as it is the issues and the opportunity which counts.

There are many who argue that you cannot vote YES without knowing the detail, the facts and figures, and a clear note of what we will and will not do, can and cannot do in an Independent Scotland? As a consequence they chose to vote NO with a view to preserving stability as they see it.

I understand the dilemma; appreciate the concerns and the worries when there is no immediate definite answer to fundamental questions. People are afraid of “into infinity and beyond” but I question that approach.

In so doing I have come to examine the evidence and consider the arguments proffered by both the yes and the no camps, and maybe some others that have been mooted by no one.

Since 1945, 142 countries have come into being as Independent states. Not one has sought to reverse the process. Not all of them started out with a definitive idea or road map for getting to where they are now. They evolved, went back to the polls, elected Governments after independence, voted on policies, kicked Governments out and selected new ones.

30 of those countries became Independent following upon referendums, others as a result of internal armed conflict, or war, or some other route.

In the course of history it has quite often been the case that the guys that lead a country to Independence were more or less immediately booted out of power as soon as Independence had been gained as they had served their purpose. Hang on to that notion!

However, all these new nations changed after independence. All eventually morphed into the representative countries we have today. The latest European countries arrived in 2006 when Serbia and Montenegro separated. In 2011 South Sudan was created.

So why shouldn’t Scotland want the “Idea” of Independence and could it work practically?

Well, again I would argue that Scotland has always been a nation. It has a distinct ancient physical geography. A distinct people. A distinct History. A distinct political and social make up when compared to the rest of the UK.

Scotland has a GDP that is greater than that of many Independent countries ( Ireland is an example ). It has an educated and skilful population, a tier of Government that could be extended without too much difficulty, a distinct International and Cultural Identity and a set of resources and assets like no other country of its size which combine in a unique formation making it undoubtedly viable as a stand alone independent country if left to its own devices.

Now, if you are in any doubt about whether Scotland could go it alone in terms of finance there is a whole welter of opinion that says that this is so. Nobel prize winning economists, world bankers, analysts from the Financial Times and other publications, University Professors and leading academics and many industry chiefs all say that Scotland can be, and has the tools to be, a successful financial country.

Then of course there is the McCrone report which, having been prepared for the Westminster Government in 1974, stated that if Scotland were to control all of its oil income and become independent ( politically ) it would be a haven for international investors and would be embarrassingly rich.

Of course the McCrone report was shamelessly hidden away on the orders of Harold Wilson so that no one in the UK could read it and was only released into the public domain after a period of thirty years.

Not that it received the national or international attention that it might have deserved when it was released.

I will come back to that report later.

So, new Independent countries are nothing new. They have emerged pretty regularly over the last 60-70 years and the world has kept spinning on its access and the sky hasn’t fallen in. Further it would appear that Scotland is pretty well equipped to become Independent if it wants to – so what’s the big deal?

Given that it has happened before, and will no doubt happen again elsewhere, surely the question we should be asking surrounding Independence is why not?

I mean in pure democratic terms it must be obvious that a single vote in 5 Million or so is more valuable than a single vote in 70 Million?

Who would not want their vote to be worth more than yesterday on a purely democratic numbers basis?

So, if it can be done, has been done elsewhere, and some pretty clever people say that it could be done successfully, then why not?

For me, the only sensible answer to that question would have to be “ Because you are better not to!” – so off I went to see if it would be better not to become Independent as a point of principle and to look at the pragmatics of implementing the principle should we vote YES.

But before I went too far, the old legal head kicked in and asked a straight forward legal question which every retired and practising court practitioner has faced a thousand times.

On whom does the balance of proof lie? Or in other words is there an onus on someone to persuade me to opt for Independence or is the onus on someone to persuade me to keep the current system and so vote NO to Independence?

After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that my starting point had to be the current system of Government and whether or not it was worth preserving. As I looked into Government in the UK in 2014, I concluded that it does not work, is a busted flush and has no prospect of recovering from a terminal position without radical surgery. At the bottom of this essay I list the sources I have looked at and relied upon to reach my conclusions. Yes, I know that there are other sources and that some point to an alternative view, but on balance this is the argument I favour and why.

The more I looked into things the more I became convinced that this system of Government is objectionable and simply does not work in principle or in practice and therefore has to be changed and yes is a vote for change. And by the way that change has to come for the benefit of the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland not just Scotland.

Here is why:

Westminster itself has the lowest council tax in the whole of the UK and is one of the richest areas in Northern Europe. Yet 9 of the 10 poorest areas in Northern Europe are governed by Westminster. 21st century Britain is glaringly unjust and getting worse.

Does that seem like good Government?
Is it Government of the people, for the people, by the people?

The gap between rich and poor in the UK is amongst the greatest in the developed world and it is getting bigger.

Is this acceptable?

Many people in England, Wales and elsewhere all think that the City of London is dangerously over cooked in terms of its economy and that for a long time Westminster Government has meant Government for London, by London, and in the interests of London – and to hell with everyone else.

The other large cities all around England and Wales have all called for an end to London centric Government and are seeking new devolved powers themselves so that they can gain a degree of autonomy for their cities.

Further, some areas of England feel completely overlooked by Westminster Government altogether. Cornwall has its own Independence movement and the areas and cities in the north of England have expressed a desire to forge closer links to an Independent Scotland should we vote yes. They propose a borderlands pact to improve trade and commerce.

Does this smack of good Government? Representative Government from Westminster?

Government from Westminster appears to have become more and more London centric with many areas of England becoming increasingly disenchanted with Westminster Government. Yet the “institutions” do nothing to support social justice and a fair crack of the whip outside London. There have been at least three BBC news pieces over the last few years which have suggested that London itself is so strong financially that it should perhaps become Independent of the rest of the UK.

Increasingly the Westminster Government appears to be a Government from London for London aided and abetted by the role of the Mayor of London – currently Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson has already revealed plans to have Westminster spend £1.3 Trillion ( the same amount as the entire UK Debt ) on improving the infrastructure for London. This sum is to be spent between now and 2050.

He is also famous for saying that £1 spent in Croydon is worth more to the UK than £1 spent in Strathclyde and that if you want to create jobs in Scotland then invest in Croydon.

Increasingly the politics of Westminster reflects the need to protect the structure and infrastructure of London and the financial interests of the city of London. It is remote from almost everywhere else in the UK and that feeling is very strong in Scotland in my opinion.

The proposed West Cost High Speed Train Line between London and Birmingham will cost £46 Billion approximately and Scotland under the current formula will contribute £4.6 Billion of that cost for absolutely no benefit.

Why? To be part of a union where you feel ignored?

That entire project is designed to get people from Birmingham into London quicker and easier — to go to work. The Government will not spend £46 Billion in and around Birmingham to create jobs, but will spend it to help service the jobs market in London.

London does not create enough graduates and so there is an ever-increasing brain drain of graduates and talented individuals who have to go to London from elsewhere in the UK to find employment and it is not in the interests of the City of London to have the Westminster Government invest in the regions ( including Scotland ) and so stem that flow.

In other words when it comes to Job creation, investment initiatives, and overall Government spend. London is our competitor and not our ally – yet it controls OUR purse strings! Everybody’s purse strings.

Not only that, but the City of London is the only city in the UK who has its own official Westminster officer – The Remembrancer – who sits behind the Speaker in the House of Commons and whose job is to remind the Westminster Parliament and all its officials and members of the interests of the City of London when it comes to any policy or enactment. In other words, in every single piece of legislation, great or small, the interests of the city have to be considered!

No other part of the UK enjoys such Parliamentary privilege.

The City of London is all about profit and loss, gain and financial advantage and it is only superficially interested in Scotland if there is a profit to be made — or not as the case may be.

The City of London is all about the big commercial interests much of which is represented by many household names — Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC, Nat West, The Financial Times, BP, Shell, RBOS, and all the other big BIG companies you can think of – they are all part of, and play a role in, The City of London and its infrastructure and interests.

Traditional industries in Scotland, such as shipbuilding, have diminished or disappeared over the last 30 years. Scotland makes not a single motor car. We have no steel plant, no heavy industry to speak of – when we used to have these skills.

That is a consequence of LONDON Government.

London Government is about the best price for everything and the maximum profit – that is why the latest Navy Tankers are being built in Korea and not on the Clyde or in Belfast or on Tyneside.

London would build it themselves but they don’t have a shipyard! So the Government goes to the cheapest one they can find. No thought is given to the social infrastructure of the rest of the UK it is all about the best price.

That is not Government: That is consumerism: and I don’t vote to elect the winning contestant on the price is right or bargain hunt. I want a Government!

And preferably one that does not regularly, if not constantly, lie through its teeth!

By now everyone has heard it said that Scotland receives a great deal under the Barnett formula and that “England” or Westminster subsidise the standard of living in Scotland.

But when looked at closely, it would appear that this is not the case at all and that the formula itself is skewed and gives a skewed result as a consequence.

Further, Scotland has some really poor standard of living statistics and of course in recent years we have seen the rise and rise of food banks and real poverty. Child poverty, poor life expectancy, and areas of real deprivation are very much in existence in 2014

Is this really the best that wealthy Westminster can do for us?

Yet we are constantly told by wee Eck and others that Scotland could be a seriously rich country, so I had a look at that and found considerable support for that contention.

Not only that, the notion that we were subsidised by England appeared to be the exact opposite of what some economists and commentators were saying.

For the last 32 years, it would appear that the Westminster Government has failed to balance its book and ran at a loss. However, to keep the show on the road, it would appear that the Westminster Government came up with the plan of borrowing against future revenues – especially the oil and gas revenues from the natural resources which were located in Scottish waters.

Now, this may have been a fair enough accounting and fiscal policy if we were all in the UK together on an equal basis, or even a fair basis so to speak, but somehow or other the Westminster parties have allowed the myth to grow that the Scots are subsidised by the other countries in the UK and in calculating our contribution to the whole we are given no credit for any oil and gas taxes. While Westminster practices policies which make London and the South East appear to get ever richer in monetary terms, the further north you come from London the greater the obvious poverty in other areas.

This gap is now so great, so wanton, so obvious that it simply cannot be an accident and simply cannot be allowed to continue.

Now in the course of the debate I read constantly that Oil and Gas is a diminishing resource and that it will eventually run out and so produce no income. In which case the UK as a whole had better balance its books really quickly on a current term basis and reduce its borrowing rapidly thus forcing ever greater austerity on the populace.

Yet others say that there is still oil aplenty, in which case its value should not be squandered by a system which has allowed any previous wealth to result in some getting extremely rich whilst leaving others in obvious abject poverty.

I can either choose to believe there is going to be no oil or believe that there is every chance that there are increased oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and more likely in the Atlantic waters off Shetland.

Fortunately or unfortunately I know some people in the oil industry and they have told me that there is real excitement about the oil and gas discovered near Shetland and BP have indicated that the Clare ridge field is expected to produce 49 Million barrels of oil more than expected. Further, the investment in new exploration over the last few years means that in the coming year there will be an extra 750,000 barrels of oil coming on stream this year.

However, of even greater importance is the advancement in technology which makes the recovery of oil and gas from deeper areas much easier and more viable than before.

But let’s assume for a moment the oil is running out and that there is to be no income from oil and gas.

I am old enough to remember the previous referendum on the question of devolution when the people of Scotland were told by Westminster that the oil would run out within ten years.

Yet that same parliament, the same UK parties, were sitting all the time on the McCrone report which I remind you again said that Scotland would be an embarrassingly rich country if given access to its oil revenues.

Not only were those facts not given to us, the public, but they were also kept from all the potential investors who could have and probably would have chosen to invest in Scotland over the last 40 years!

Scotland lost out on that investment because politicians of all parties in London, together with civil servants who we all pay for, sat on that report and deliberately kept it secret!

Instead, what de facto happened was that Scotland did not get a devolved assembly or Parliament for 20 years or so and in the interim the UK Parliament spent away merrily and mortgaged the very income they chose to keep secret at the time of the last referendum.

To be honest that is just blatant fraud. It is fraudulent representation and fraudulent Government. That kind of Government I can do without.

Now one might argue that this was long ago and that it no longer really matters, but I am left begging the question do I want to be governed by a system which allows and perhaps encourages the decision makers of the day to simply lie to me or at the worst simply decide to withhold all the information from me which would allow me to reach a fully informed decision about anything?

However, a closer examination of current policies and the current campaign shows that this type of fraudulent and dishonest Government is far from untypical and in fact I believe that Westminster is now so self-obsessed, so self-serving, that it has ceased to be a Parliament of the union and instead has become a Parliament for Westminster and the City of London alone.

A couple of years ago, the 30 year rule revealed papers which showed that the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had gone to the nation, the public, and even Parliament, and stated that the budget for Scotland was £x. The papers then showed that behind the scenes she was secretly writing to the Scottish Secretary, George Younger, asking that he pass back £60 Million of that money to the UK treasury in secret.

Amazingly, Younger advised that he could not do that without it being noticed, but stated that he could send back £30 Million under the counter and get away with it!

That again is complete and utter fraud. There is no other word for it.

Forget about reneging on election promises, u turns on policy and all the usual things we get in politics, these letters show a crime being committed. If the same thing had happened in private industry whereby people were encouraged to invest on the basis of a major stakeholder saying they will invest £x but secretly having no such intention and then cooking the books to show that it looked like they had, then that is a matter for the police and the procurator fiscal’s office.

However, let’s come forward to the modern day:

According to one former UK Ambassador, Westminster buried the fact that they categorically knew that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction under the control of Saddam Hussein and the entire decision to embark on the gulf war was based on a race to gain control of ……. Oil!

In a different way this is history repeating itself. It is all about the control of an energy resource and if Westminster has to lie, deceive and even take up arms to get its share of the loot then history shows it will do so. Make no mistake we still have major energy resources in our back yard and there is no prospect of Westminster playing with a straight bat.

However perhaps of even greater concern is the fact that Westminster and the City of London are responsible, unquestionably responsible, for the 2008 banking crisis and the Euro crisis.

Don’t just take my word for it, take the word of someone who is regarded as the most respected EURO MP on financial matters – Sharon Bowles. By the way she is a Lib Dem and has made it clear that London is to blame for the financial crisis and that the Bank of England and the Government has accepted this when dealing with the rest of Europe and their banks. They just don’t want to admit the fact within the earshot of the UK electorate.

London and the City of London is in many respects looked upon and referred to as FRAUD CITY in financial terms.

The City of London hopelessly failed to regulate banks, insurance companies, stockbrokers and any number of other financial institutions and services. Years later, these same institutions are still being fined record sums for mis selling that, misrepresenting this, and generally deceiving customers and shareholders. Yet these are the same institutions who lobby parliament, donate to parliamentary parties and who influence the parties who regularly provide members to that parliament and who regularly form Governments.

MP’s themselves are caught up in the Westminster moneygoround. I could go on and on about the expenses scandals, monetary irregularities, party donors and their connections and so on as they have all been regularly mentioned in the news.

However, if I bring things right up to date, a few weeks ago it was revealed that over 200 MP’s or members of the Lords ( an outdated and relatively useless institution ) had direct contracts with companies who had been awarded contracts related to the NHS as effectively managed through Westminster.

If this is not having your nose in the trough then I don’t know what is?

When you consider all the other areas where contracts may be awarded – defence, utilities, education ( by the way did you know that the company which produces the financial times also produces education books, and operates an education authority which recommends its own books ) etc then the mind boggles about the notion of conflict of interest.

There are any number of examples of where Westminster completely fails in my opinion and so I ask:

Is this the best we can do? Is this the kind of policy and structure that I want my children and grandchildren to live under? Is this a good system of Government? Is this what we should expect from the Mother of all Parliaments?

The answer to all of those questions is no.

And don’t tell me that I can vote at the next election and get rid of Cameron or all the other Westminster MP’s. By this time the main political parties are so closely aligned, so attuned to the Westminster psyche and system, and so beholden to the financial institutions of the City of London that it makes little difference who is elected to Westminster especially if you come from Scotland.

At the start of the current Government’s term we had the farcical situation where 16 members of the cabinet went to the one school!

That is not representation of the people by the people for the people that is a tuck shop reunion! It is farcical.

From the selection process to the election process our Governmental system needs a swift kick in the arse – big style and this referendum is that opportunity.

Westminster is currently bent over like Bishop Brennan with its arse exposed and you are invited to swing your representational leg and give it an almighty boot!

Not only will that make you feel good, you will be better for it and actually Westminster will ultimately be better for it too!

Now lest I am accused of being too facetious about such a serious subject, one of the the best arguments for maintaining the status quo would be the effect of disruption and the consequences of change especially after a global recession.

On that front, I find the No campaign deeply disingenuous and absolutely lacking in any positive argument or thinking which can reasonably expected to persuade the Scottish electorate that the United Kingdom is good for them.

Instead, what we have been fed is a whole series of arguments which proclaim one thing but which when examined more closely really show another.

For example, the point about banks moving office is a complete red herring as it is in potential compliance with an EU regulation which has been around since 1995!

Further many American banks are making similar provisions in respect of the UK potentially leaving the UK – they are going to Dublin!

In any change of system there is going to be a need for change, and when there is change then the so-called “markets” start to get twitchy.

Well guess who controls the markets in this country? I know you will fall down in apoplexy when I say – Westminster and the City of London!

I too would be shitting a brick if I could see the oil & gas revenue I have been using to balance my books disappearing into the ballot box.

Just when would be a good time to talk about the consequences of Independence? At what point in the economic cycle? Top of a boom? Bottom of a bust? When we are recovering? When we are sliding into recession?

In all honesty, there is no right time or wrong time or even easy time to set out the arrangements for a new country but that should not be a reason for voting NO.

Further, the uncertainty is at least aggravated by a Westminster regime which is playing hardball and being obstructive in its own interest.

Now I don’t blame them for that but lets not pretend that market uncertainty is all caused by the right of an electorate to choose to change the system of Government and let’s not pretend that the existing system of Government is a guarantee of stability and promises an easy economic ride.

When you stop and look at Westminster over the last 50 years ( I am 52 ) there have been as many booms as you get from the dearly departed Concorde’s arse and as many busts as you could spot in a Miss World contest.

I was in the head offices of the Bank of Scotland in London in April 2008 when a bank official announced that the Bank could not borrow a penny in the city of London and was a busted flush.

I was a schoolboy who lived through the three-day week when schools closed due to lack of oil and the electricity went off at home at 8pm. I studied by candlelight and recall the streets filled with uncollected garbage and all of that.

I have lived through the Miner’s strikes, Toxteth riots, London riots, Falkland’s War, Gulf war times two, Afghanistan, various recessions and can recount various politicians of various parties all promising to end boom and bust.

As I have said before, the City of London was largely responsible for the financial collapse of 2008 and they have sent their officials around the other financial centres of the world to acknowledge that.

And now we have Boris wanting to buy a few water cannon for some reason? Maybe they are included in his £1.3 Trillion for London — by the way Scotland’s share is a mere £130 Billion.

If Scotland had £130 Billion to spend do you think it would want to spend it in London so that Scotland could be a better place with a more vibrant economy?

London Government does not work – and I haven’t even started on things like the Poll Tax, The Bedroom tax, Hundreds of food banks, Trident ( a weapon which prevented none of the conflicts listed above ) and so on and so forth.

Government from London is out of touch and is particularly out of touch with Scotland. It is rotten and unrepresentative. So why keep it? Why not ditch it altogether?

Well some people say that to change things will cause a destabilising of the whole economy.

Again I ask, what happened with all these other new countries? Are they all on their backside struggling? It doesn’t seem so.

In any event, I believe that Scotland has a unique case to argue.

If Scotland votes Yes, economic stability in any transition period could be, and in fact must be, far smoother in the interests of all of the people in the UK as it makes for common sense. Here is why it should be so at least.

In 1603, the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in a personal union when James VI, King of Scots, inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London; each country nevertheless remained a separate political entity and retained its separate political, legal, and religious institutions.

The term Britain is often used as synonym for the United Kingdom. The term Great Britain, by contrast, refers conventionally to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England, Scotland and Wales in combination.

The 1707 Acts of Union declared that the Kingdoms of England and Scotland were “United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain” though the new state is also referred to in the Acts as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The name “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” was adopted by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927. It reflected the independence of the Irish Free State, and the partition of Ireland, in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the UK.

So, if I pause there and stop to consider all the loose worded bullshit we have been inaccurately fed by both politicians and the press, the fact of the matter is that:

A – no matter what way Scotland votes it is not ceasing to be part of Great Britain and:

B – following upon the Union of the Crowns there was a United Kingdom, under one monarch, in which Scotland had its own Parliament, legal system and so forth and was politically Independent. That is the History of the British Isles.

Therefore these Islands existed in that fashion and with that political make up for over 100 years.

If it happened before, why should it not happen now?

Oh that is all ancient history I hear someone say and has no relevance at all to modern day Scotland and the current situation.

With respect, I would beg to differ as there are important principles here for all to consider.

For a start, The Bank of England was founded in 1694 although it had been proposed three years before by a Scotsman by the name of William Patterson. Its initial purpose was to raise a loan of £1.2 Million for the English Parliament so that they could completely build a new English Navy following the battle of Beachy Head where the French sank the entire English fleet.

Two important factors come from this history lesson.

The first is that the Bank of England existed prior to the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 and so existed while Scotland enjoyed complete political autonomy.

The second is that The Bank of England remained a completely private concern until it was nationalised by the Atlee Government in 1946. It was only at that time that it became a central bank to the whole of the UK.

The Bank is custodian to the official gold reserves of the United Kingdom and many other countries. Since 1998 it has been the function of the bank to set, look after and advise on the monetary policy of the whole of the UK independent from Government – any Government.

The Bank performs all the functions of a central bank. The most important of these is supposed to be maintaining price stability and supporting the economic policies of the Government ( of the UK ), thus promoting economic growth. There are two main areas which are tackled by the Bank to ensure it carries out these functions efficiently

1. Monetary stability

Stable prices and confidence in the currency are the two main criteria for monetary stability. Stable prices are maintained by making sure price increases meet the Government’s inflation target. The Bank aims to meet this target by adjusting the base interest rate, which is decided by the Monetary Policy Committee, and through its communications strategy, such as publishing yield curves.

Ensuring Financial stability

Maintaining financial stability involves protecting against threats to the whole financial system. Threats are detected by the Bank’s surveillance and market intelligence functions. The threats are then dealt with through financial and other operations, both at home and abroad. In exceptional circumstances, the Bank may act as the lender of last resort by extending credit when no other institution will.

The Bank works together with other institutions to secure both monetary and financial stability, including:

HM Treasury, the Government department responsible for financial and economic policy and other central banks and international organisations, ( including Governments where necessary ) with the aim of improving the international financial system.

The 1997 Memorandum of Understanding describes the terms under which the Bank, the Treasury and the FSA work toward the common aim of increased financial stability. In 2010 the incoming Chancellor announced his intention to merge the FSA back into the Bank.

So, if I pause there, to my mind, The Bank of England has a duty to ensure financial stability in respect of the whole of the UK, independent from Government, and works towards that aim sometimes with other banks, international bodies and occasionally Governments.

Further, as it was nationalised as recently as 1946 by a UK Government, it is a truly UK asset in which we all have a vested interest and share.

Whilst it might be officially named “ Bank of England” it is not England’s bank – it is the UK’s bank.

So far so good.

Except that part of the greatest problem with the whole public debate is that there are those who take the view that the Bank of England would have nothing to do with an Independent Scotland and is in essence a “foreign body”.

I do not believe that to be true as it is a national asset, and so has to have regard to the interests of Scotland, at least certainly during the transition period and any negotiations following a Yes vote.

There is also a perfectly good argument to say that an Independent Scotland would be entitled to a share in the Bank of England or at least to its reserves – reserves which could be moved to set up a new Central Bank for Scotland or which could be held separately by the Bank of England for the benefit of Scotland.

However, of even greater importance is the fact that its stated aim is to preserve and maintain fiscal stability – throughout the UK, not just in London – and again that is meant to be Independent of Government – any Government.

Accordingly, it seems to me that one of the big red herrings in this whole debate is about financial stability and the role to be played by the Bank of England in ensuring financial stability in the event of Scotland choosing to return to political independency.

Has there ever been an emergent country which, if independent, starts on day one with either a share in a central bank or which starts out with a situation where a world leading central bank has a duty to bring about financial stability while that nation becomes established?

How many other potentially emergent nations would sign up for that?

However, let’s leave the Bank of England behind and look at Government and the decision to keep it or change it again.

When the Parliaments “merged” to form this union, Scotland was meant to join as a partner. However, it strikes me that it has long been the case that the Westminster Government has ceased to be anything other than a Parliament that looks after the interests of the City of London, and it would appear that I am far from being alone in reaching that conclusion.

Westminster has devolved power to Edinburgh, but only after a prolonged political campaign to re- establish any kind of Scottish Parliament. In the interim, London, Westminster and the City of London has forged ever closer and ever more interdependent links.

In particular London has become spectacularly rich, an ever bigger financial centre, and a metropolitan beast where house prices bear no relation to comparative properties in other areas of the UK. To stay in London companies have to offer greater salaries, bigger bonuses, charge higher rents and so on and so forth and on and on it goes. This has now gotten so crazy that London cannot afford to lose influence, and both the city and the parliament have become fat, arrogant and lazy – so much so that they have, in my opinion, made a fundamental political and economic error.

Much of that fat has been the result of Scottish Economic activity and the issue of potential Scottish Independence has been a real live issue for many years.

Any sensible manager should have seen that if Independence arrived, the desk jockeys in London would lose control over vast money-making assets and money-making potential that is Scottish. The same should have been seen by the Westminster politicians.

In short, if the money men and the politicians in Westminster had been in any way clever at all, they would have bent over backwards to deliver far better Government for the people of Scotland – noticeably better Government—to such an extent that the notion of Independence would be of no interest to the average Scot.

The very fact that we are having a referendum at all shows that Westminster is or was failing and the fact that anything close to 50% of the available electorate would consider ditching Westminster altogether shows that this system has de facto failed – past tense!

Further, when it comes to banking and finance, it appears to me that whenever a new nation emerges the banks and the finance houses are keen to get in the door so as to be part of any opportunity that exists.

Who has ever heard of a country with oil and gas reserves, large hydroelectric capability, and various other resources where the banks and the money men have all stayed away and kept out of the road?

I go back to the McCrone report again which predicted that foreign investors would pile into Scotland with investment. If McCrone was wrong and that the world financiers would not pile into a Scotland with spectacular resources, why hide the report away?

No, for me, Westminster in all its forms has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to Scotland and its potential, and when it woke up all it could do was cry Boo and attempt to scare the living daylights out of anyone contemplating voting YES.

Westminster doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in any shape or form and it should be booted into touch by the Scottish Voters and if it wants it can reinvent itself – Parliament, city, institution in the reality that up the road there is a wee nation that at any given time will say “ Maybe’s Aye, Maybe’s Naw” in response to any situation rather than just sit there and be told what gives by the chaps in the South.

However, let me be very clear about something:

There is no point in voting yes and getting rid of the wastrels at Westminster if all you are going to do is replace it with a similar, smaller, just as useless model in Edinburgh.

That won’t do and if Scotland does become Independent then I am all for booting any YES politician in the arse who is not on their metal and who does not come up to scratch. The same goes when it comes to setting up any new or reformed institutions. Having empowered the people of Scotland, don’t think for a minute that we should go back into our boxes and return to political slumberland. Ordinary folk will want a say in a lot more things from now on and rightly so.

Further, in the event of YES I want to hear how the Labour party, The Conservative Party, The Lib Dems and anyone else would see the way forward for an Independent Scotland.

I would want to see and hear all parties do their utmost to implement the spirit of the Scotland Act which says that not only will the result be accepted but that all parties will do their best to maintain stability in the markets, in Government and in society – all with the view to making the transition to independence work.

A very different debate starts immediately the result is known no matter what the outcome of the vote. That is a discussion which will be every bit as intense as the referendum debate, but which should be geared towards creating a stable, economically stable, socially just and successful Scotland.

A very prosperous Scotland is very possible according to very many experts and commentators and my gut instinct based on listening, reading and researching says that it is achievable. Not only is it achievable and desirable for all the reasons I have set out above, but when I stop thinking like the lawyer, when I stop analysing, arguing and counter arguing and look at things a different way, it just feels right.

Do we have the ability to forge excellent individual, business and cultural relationships with the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond?

Yes we do!

Can we run our own business and forge partnerships with international traders and our fellow inhabitants of the British Isles?

Yes we can.

Do we have the resources, the knowledge, the guile, the savvy, the charm and the common sense to be able to attract investment, manage our business, create jobs, housing, capital projects, better infrastructure, research and development, greater creativity in the arts and so on?

Yes I believe we can.

Can we create a better society where wealth and opportunity here in Scotland is more readily abundant and available to all ages, classes, colours, creeds, backgrounds, areas, sexes and right throughout society? And can we be an inspiration and show that a different and more socially just system of Government is possible in the UK?

Yes we can!

Do I believe that the banks and the financiers will come into an Independent Scotland in droves?

Yes I do because that is what the capitalist marketeers have always done since time immemorial. They more than anyone else will rush to create and be involved in a stable financially successful Scotland because that is how they make money. They would have to be properly regulated of course.

A man from Kuwait said recently that oil exploitation had started in his country in 1951. Before that the country had been poor and the standard of living low. Once the oil was discovered, Kuwait was inundated with Americans, Russians, fellow Arabs, Europeans and most noticeably The British.

All these people brought their banks, diplomats, insurance companies, engineers, road builders, construction companies, hotels, airlines, telecommunications, news reporters and so on.

The man from Kuwait asked a question; “Do you think all these bastards came for the sand?”

Scotland has far more than just oil to attract the very same bastards into doing business directly with us as a nation while maintaining an excellent cultural, social and fiscal relationship with the remainder of the UK. And by the way a proper relationship with the rest of the UK and its people is a must. The Scottish electorate by voting yes can improve the governmental system of the rest of the UK.

So that is my view, my take, on why I will vote YES.

In my head I am a capitalist. I like business things. I enjoy business and it is essential that everything is done to ensure that Scotland is open for business right away.

In my heart, I am a socialist. I want a fairer society, a better society where money is not everything and regard for your fellow-man is paramount. Robert Burns’ a man’s a man is a basic mantra.

In my soul, I am an anarchist. If the system does not work – change the system. Boot it unceremoniously in the arse. Boot the politicos – all of them – who have let us down right in the gonads. Get rid of the system and don’t be afraid to change it and the people who run it for a new system and new people. Don’t accept the perceived wisdom of the establishment because their greatest interest is self-preservation. Challenge the norm and question the existing.

I see those three ideals as living in perfect harmony.

If the proper running of the business of the day ( capitalism ) does not result in the greater creation and sharing of wealth ( socialism ) then tear up the business plan and the system and start again ( anarchy ).

Feck me – sometimes I am deep and profound – other times I am just an arse!

And by the way the press needs a boot in the nuts too! The BBC should look at their licence fee take from Scotland and reassess the allocation of funds to Scottish Broadcasting.

If the licence fee were properly distributed and BBC Scotland were to receive its fair proportion of national income, then there is a great opportunity in the creative industries across Scotland who are completely ignored and underfunded by one and all.

Oh, and if you are wee Eck, Nicola or any other Yesser – if you win then you had better go out and get some of those padded cycle pants because eventually my cowboy boots will connect with your arses too!

Lastly – whoever wins, whoever loses – this is politics. It’s not personal and it’s not worth losing close friendships over nor being rude to anyone about.

Mind you, if you hold any position of power and influence after this referendum is over then I have a message for you:

If you don’t get off your arse and do something for the people of Clydebank, Dalmuir, Old Kilpatrick, Bowling and Dumbarton really quickly ….….. then I hope your legs fall off in the middle of the night and that your arse falls into a puddle of acid!

I leave you with my list of references below but first of all the fantastic and inspiring words of Mr David Hayman who stirs the soul with fiery speech — and i love a good fiery speech!

I have never joined a political party — I have always been —- Of Independent Mind!



  1. settingfreethebears September 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Have to say that much of that was devoted to reasons why you don’t believe No and distrust Westminster. That I can go along with.

    However, there was much less clarity on why the alternative would be better. You posed a question about why there would be huge costs involved in a break up and answered it by saying you don’t believe there will be a flight of capital, which is an answer to a very different question. There will be huge one-off costs in setting up alternative systems to Scotify all the existing UK-wide administrative services and billing systems, much of which will be public service costs. You are much less detailed in explaining why that would be worth it.

    When you pose all those questions about why an Edinburgh based government could not be more honest, vibrant, fair minded, or any list of positive virtues you care to attribute to the unproven future, and you answer it by basically saying, Why not ?, you ignore a couple of things. Firstly, the same question could be posed of Westminster Government and the same answer deduced of why not, if you believe that English and Welsh folk have just as many of the positive virtues that you accord to the future population of Scotland. Secondly, you ignore the possibility that, instead of being much better it could either be much worse or much the same. Not all change is good, as the Sinclair C5 proved.

    You list 142 countries that have seceded or freed themselves to rule within their preferred boundaries since the end of WW2. If that trend replicates, then sections will break away from those 142 countries and, potentially we will not be happy until we are a democracy of one. It is a very anomic vision. The Nation State desire is heavily associated with 19th century Romanticism. It is not a newly discovered road. Much like Sex and the 1960’s, it was always there but other generations made less of a song and dance about it.

    To round this back to your starting point, the one dissenting man who managed to unite 9 lawyers to share his opinion was not arguing with the One True Voice. He was exercising his opinion and he persuaded others of his merits. The possibility remains, without knowing the details, that the lawyers views or the majority views were right and the changed opinion wrong. To be truly iconoclastic, we should reject the trend to secession that has been the boring modern trend and take the radical road to unite, to compromise our identity, to share our democratic deficits, to settle our differences via our football teams rather than our armies.

    See, I can do wide eyed idealism for a NO vote, too

    • Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan September 19, 2014 at 11:52 am #


      I have deliberately waited to reply until after the vote was made, counted and announced, partly because I did not want to spark a debate and partly because I have just been busy with family matters.

      I agree with you, Westminster could change for the better if all the people of the UK rose up and shouted “object” at the top of its voice.

      But not all of the UK had a say in this referendum – only Scotland.

      I am much more an Internationalist than a Nationalist and I am not at all sure that I will end my days in the country where I was born. People are people the world over let alone in this wee bit of land, and I would love to think that all peoples could shake their fist and get a fair share of the cake from all Governments.

      However, my experience, my belief if you like, is that history shows that those in power divide and conquer always.

      In this instance, Scotland and Scotland alone had a unique opportunity to upset the apple-cart and to place a dagger into the heart of Westminster for the good of all – including those who had no vote.

      Further, I believe that the economics are such that Scotland could stand on its own two feet. It might be difficult, of course, but hey it would be self empowering and enriching.

      Wide eyed idealism, to use your phrase, can work for both sides of the argument, and I will take wide eyed idealism any day and in any way over the practice of self interest and greed.

      Further, I think it must be taken over the politics of fear as that is a terribly dangerous route to start down. Fear of the economy, fear of the immigrant, fear of truth, fear of allowing people a straight choice, fear which leads to irrationality, depression of civil liberties and the introduction of draconian measures in pursuit of an ideal or cause and the fear of it being defeated.

      I want no part of political fear like that, and so when I argue “change the system”, you are right I don not proffer a remedy for the alternative just a hope to set up differently, or set up better.

      That would be another debate entirely.

      Anyway, the die is cast.

      I find it neither a day to rejoice nor a day for self loathing, blame, acrimony, finger pointing, sanctimonious valedictories, gnashing of teeth, renting of hair and all sorts of negative stuff.

      We will see what the politicos and the City Merchants do next.

      They do not have a good record on delivering re promises though in this instance the money men should ignore the politicians and go for a good old fashioned banking hedge.

      If they really upped their game and ploughed money into Scotland the very notion of a further referendum down the line would get nowhere.They should lean on Gov’t to placate the Scots, give them powers and a sense of self fulfilment.

      Had they done that in the first place there would never have been a referendum at all.

      However, such a notion throws the control of politics into the hands of those who control the city – and of course that is the very thing I rail against.

      But hey ho — time for me to go and get on with delivering a couple of projects of my own as opposed to giving my thoughts on the world and its granny.


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