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Down to earth

Brian Taylor | 13:59 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

By their very nature, party conferences are somewhat surreal affairs.

Here in Birmingham for the Conservative gig, the impression is heightened by the venue which is set amidst a corporate theme park carved into the centre of the city.

By that, I do not mean to be rude. As a family man, I have immersed myself eagerly in sundry theme parks in the past.

The Birmingham version is notably attractive, blending studied modernity with reconstituted canals and brand name restaurants. And the sense of mild displacement continued within.

Here was a Conservative finance spokesman lambasting the City - or, more precisely, elements therein.

Here too was an offer to freeze council tax. What was this? Had I suddenly been time-shifted to the SNP conference?

Was matter transportation the white knuckle thrill ride of the day?

'Flawed' system

But no. This was a notably down-to-earth speech from George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor. It had to be.

The circumstances demanded it - and the challenge had been laid down by the prime minister in Manchester last week.

In essence, Gordon Brown's argument was that the financial system is flawed - and that it requires a politician of experience to address that. The name? G. Brown.

(Or, at least, that is the summary version in political circles. Except, inclining more towards the demotic, they tend not to say "flawed". )

Mr Osborne, similarly, discerns flaws in the financial system. Too polite to use the demotic from the platform, he was nevertheless rather blunter than Mr Brown.

The party, Mr Osborne suggested, was over. Brown's boom was at an end - and Britain was bust.

However, he opened by acknowledging that folk wanted to know whether the Tories were up to it - and whether they would make a difference.

Big bucks

Hence the attack on aspects of the City, the declaration that those who make big bucks must suffer big bangs on the head when it goes wrong.

Mr Osborne knows his party is potentially vulnerable to Labour suggestions that they would do nothing to curb banking excess.

Hence the plan for an office of budget responsibility - a form of Bank of England for spending plans with independent power to monitor government.

Hence too the offer on council tax - a freeze for two years where councils come up with savings.

This exactly parallels the SNP logic which is that hard-working families have suffered enough and require fiscal relief.

In Mr Osborne's case, it sets out something precise at a point where he stresses he is unable to offer much on income tax, given the state of the economy.

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:45pm on 29 Sep 2008, northy wrote:

    I notice their plans for a high speed rail link to replace a third Heathrow run stops at Leeds. New Westminster government, same old anglocentrism!

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  • 2. At 2:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, BrianSH wrote:

    What! Theres something north of Leeds bar Barbarians?

    Heavens! Don't tell them or they'll be in our town centres handing out those dreaded posters and leaflets and wearing blue rosettes!

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  • 3. At 3:04pm on 29 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #1 northy

    Good point - Aunty Annabel may have something to say about that. OTOH perhaps they already regard the union as lost?

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  • 4. At 3:06pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    No doubt the Nats will say the Tories have stolen the SNP's kilt, and somehow argue that the policy is wrong, but only for Tories.
    I thought Osborne made a good speech. Showed what an Eton education can do for a chap. Made a lot of sense, in fingering Brown and city elements, made no empty promises of tax cuts, and still managed to convey the gravity of the situation.
    Scotland? He probably took the SNP advice and decided the Tories are an irrelevance in Scotland, choosing to go for a strong, stable UK, and hope that the anti-Independence faction in Scotland will dump Labour, and go for a better-governed UK.
    Imagine, a sensible Tory Government, and Annabelle doing well in Scotland...
    They couldn't recover.... could they?

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  • 5. At 3:39pm on 29 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    *Kneejerk Nationalist Reaction Alert*

    And who should pay the extra ?20bn to extend the line from Leeds to Edinburgh (and probably onto Glasgow)?

    Barnett means we will get ?2bn back, albeit over several years. I suppose we could put that towards the cost.....

    But is there a demand to make this massive investment worthwhile?

    Especially considering the air journey will still be quicker and cheaper?





    Try to maintain some kind of grip on this reality, eh.

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  • 6. At 3:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, tammienorrielass1 wrote:

    Reluctant Expat Within an area an integrated transport system would seem sensible and I assume that Newcastle and Carlisle are wondering where they figure in the Tory plans too. Last night, they were still in England.

    I mean to say, I had not noticed that the train lines suddenly changed as you crossed the Belgian/French border or from Norway into Sweden, so why not think integrated on this island too?

    Interesting the Council Tax freeze though. Very interesting! No wonder you thought you had been 'beamed to another dimension', Brian!

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  • 7. At 4:00pm on 29 Sep 2008, minuend wrote:

    As with the Labour conference we see promises by Tory politicians at their conference that only affects England.

    Since Scotland is no longer part of Labour's and the Tories discussions at UK level it allows nationalists to say, "Vote SNP and get rid of both Labour and the Tories for good."

    Who can argue with that!

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  • 8. At 4:00pm on 29 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #4 brigadierjohn

    Careful, Mr J, people will be thinking you're a NuLab agent provocateur like Reluctant-Expat if you can't spell Aunty Annabel's name properly, unless you know something about her birth certificate the rest of us don't, of course.

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  • 9. At 4:18pm on 29 Sep 2008, scottishrepublic wrote:

    Brigadierjohn, you couldnt be further from the truth when you assume that Scottish Patriots will be irate towards an English Party borrowing a great Scottish Initiative.

    That is the natural thing to happen to two different nations who run their own affairs yet still remain on good terms. Gordon Brown has been plagerising SNP Policy for the last Eighteen months ,so why not other English Political Parties. Alexander Salmond is proving to be a giant amongst lessor politicians in England,Wales and Irelands occupied territory.

    Should Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, David Cameron or Osbourne need guidance on what is good for England, I am sure Alex could ask John Swinnie to visit England to sort out the mess, they seem to have got their country into, AGAIN !!!!.

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  • 10. At 4:21pm on 29 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    6. Don't quite get what you mean about line gauges! Relevance?

    Surely you see that this is all about market demand?

    I can only assume that #10bn to extend the line to Newcastle may not provide sufficient return on such a huge investment.

    And another #10bn to extend it to Edinburgh/Glasgow is a lot of money to connect another inter-city rail line to just 1m people.

    And, of course, you can't just build the Edinburgh-border section and not the border-Leeds section!

    Wow, it seems this is a little more complicated that the aforementioned nationalist knee-jerk reaction suggests, don't yer think!

    7. And when should the parties announce England-only policies? In what forum would that be considered 'correct' by the nationalists?

    (Could this be another 'nationalist knee-jerk reaction'?)

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  • 11. At 4:41pm on 29 Sep 2008, BrianSH wrote:

    #10 We were being facitious, but alas it is lost on you thanks to your narrow-minded union jack-tinted spectacles.

    Perhaps you should join us in yet another succesful result from the Scottish Devolution Experiment - Better government for the rest of the UK - and rightly so!

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  • 12. At 4:47pm on 29 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    9. Do those that want Scotland to stay in the UK count as 'Scottish patriots' or is it just nationalists?

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  • 13. At 4:49pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #8 Brownedov: Jake thinks I'm a closet Nationalist, you think I'm Labour (I think we've had enough of the nuLab nonsense, eh?). Allowing that I always vote for the candidate, not the party, if I was forced to vote for a party tomorrow it would be the Tories, I think. Probably Annabel(?) would accept my vote and forgive my laziness in not checking.

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  • 14. At 4:55pm on 29 Sep 2008, northhighlander wrote:

    Good to see the tories back on form, a freeze in council tax is really just stealth cuts in public services.

    Councils have to find the money and do so by cutting taxes. This is really poor politics, from politicians who don't have the nerve to highlight where councils need to cut services. Just cheap headline grabbing at the expense of the vulnerable.

    Amazing how close the parties really are in todays politics, especially when it comes down to honesty.

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  • 15. At 4:55pm on 29 Sep 2008, oldjeemy wrote:

    Oh! What a web of deceits we tend to weave; the Tory’s just like New Labour do want us to believe that they have the electorates’ wishes in mind.
    Was it not on their watch that the Lloyds, TSB, debacle was implemented under their ever so watchful eyes.
    They have much to consider it was them that allowed GEC to become the conglomerate that it became, then it was again on their watch that allowed Lloyds along with a group of like minded persons attempted to short sell that same company.
    That cost Lloyds some £500 million of a cash mountain out of their coffers, still the Tory’s put through a bill to allow that merger to take place.

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  • 16. At 4:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, Fit Like wrote:

    Expat - Have you tried travelling from Edinburgh to Leeds recently?

    If you take the train and things run on time, it will take you between 3 - 3.5 hours, city centre to city centre.

    Fly and, alowing half an hour to get from Edinburgh city centre to the airport (and that's only if you're lucky given all the disruption of putting in the tram infrastructure) and allowing for the fact that you are supposed to check in an hour before your flight, add on one hour's scheduled flight time then hanging around to disembark and collect your bags and then make your way from Leed/Bradford airport to Leeds city centre (which is at least 40 minutes outside the rush hour) and, lo and behold, it'll take you somewhere in the region of 3 - 3.5 hours with a heck of a lot of faffing about.

    I know which option I'd prefer and, if they were to upgrade the service to a high speed link, it would tip the balance even further in the train's favour.

    Trust me, we have an office in Leeds and I do this journey often enough to know which is the more convenient option.

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  • 17. At 4:59pm on 29 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    11. And there we have it.

    Continuing on from Salmond's astonishing claim that he would have borrowed #100bn (aka 80% of Scotland's GDP) just to save HBOS if he had the power - and aren't we all glad that he doesn't have the power!...

    ...We now have his young followers expecting the us to spend #20bn building a brand new high-speed rail line between Edinburgh and Leeds, regardless of whether such an massive investment could ever be recouped.

    And these are the same people who accuse others of having no credibility.

    13. They think I'm a Labour supporter too. And they call us "narrow-minded"!

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  • 18. At 5:03pm on 29 Sep 2008, Fit Like wrote:

    brigadierjohn #13

    I used to work that way and have voted for the person I thought best suited to the jonb on a number of occasions. My current predicament is, given that I'm in East Lothian, is being almost forced to vote SNP whether their candidate earns my vote or not, simply on the grounds that they are the only viable option of getting rid of one Iain Gray.

    Rocks and Hard Places spring to mind.

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  • 19. At 5:08pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #9 scottishrepublic: Scottish Patriots? I haven't seen that written since Wendy Wood went, tartan-clad, to her wee bit hill and glen in the sky. Of course you are right about plagiarising policy - a good idea is a good idea, so why not?
    On a serious point, you should be careful about terms like "Ireland's occupied territory." You could get mistaken for that heroic SNLA bank robber who ran away to the Republic.

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  • 20. At 5:09pm on 29 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #13 brigadierjohn

    Just joshing, Mr J. You're posts are too honest to be NuLab and most unlikely to be "real" Labour, so I'm happy to accept you'd probably vote Tory if they put up a half-way decent candidate.

    Don't take my word for the spelling, take Annabel's on the Holyrood website.

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  • 21. At 5:16pm on 29 Sep 2008, Trimm Trab wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat your narrow view of our transport system is why the UK is in the mess its in today.

    If we were only to give the places with the most people the best facilites then you end up with everyone moving there (SE England?). Then you get all the aggro that goes with it - lack of land, lack of housing, anti-immiragtion attitudes...etc...etc

    The UK should be linked like other countries from top to bottom in a well co-ordinated transport system. Not what we currently have.

    Let people live in all areas and dont try and suck us into the black hole that is London.

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  • 22. At 5:24pm on 29 Sep 2008, Roll_On_2010 wrote:

    I saw this article and it amused me, thought it may amuse others.

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  • 23. At 5:32pm on 29 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #18 Fit_Like
    "Rocks and Hard Places spring to mind."

    Spot on, but that's the only sensible way to use any voting system except STV or MTV.

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  • 24. At 5:34pm on 29 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    #22

    If Expat sees that, he might choke on his roast beef and carrots!

    Then again ...

    ;-)

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  • 25. At 5:39pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #18 Ft_Like: Is Gray a poor constituency member? Or do you simply dislike him as leader? I think you have to go for the least worst, if you follow.

    #20 Brownedov: There you go, giving me links again. Chorizo is my favourite.
    Seriously, don't stress me with references. I take your word in good faith.

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  • 26. At 5:53pm on 29 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #25 brigadierjohn

    OK, but the evidence is there if you wish to avail yourself.

    Spot on re your response to #18. I think most of life is about trying to choose leastworst options.

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  • 27. At 6:07pm on 29 Sep 2008, oldnat wrote:

    brigadier

    You're on form today. Enjoying your posts.

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  • 28. At 6:28pm on 29 Sep 2008, oldnat wrote:

    Brigadier

    Even you might like to follow this link to a cartoon demonstrating the inanity of political party messages.

    Enjoy

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  • 29. At 6:29pm on 29 Sep 2008, crazyislander wrote:

    I'm simply not going to listen to any Tory who gives lectures on the economy. After all, it was them and their dragon queen who allowed the demutualisation of the building societies. And which 'banks' are the ones that have had the problems? Why the demutualised ones of course. Aside form Aunty Annabel who is a special case, the Tory writ does not run here in Scotland and is unlikely to again in my lifetime.

    How nice it is of Mr Plastic Cameron to say he'd be happy to work with a government headed by Alex Salmond..yea, like he'd have a choice.

    I just watched a clip of him talking about a, 'future Conservative government'. Doesn't he just look like a sleazy 'buy to let mortgage' salesman from Northern Rock/HBOS/Bradford and Bingley?

    Go away all these Anglocentric, Home Counties based party conferences. We have a land of your own to deal with and we don't talk wi' a bool in wir mooths.

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  • 30. At 6:53pm on 29 Sep 2008, Globaltraveller wrote:

    What kind of mandate in Scotland will a Conservative UK Government that garners the vast majority of seats outside Scotland have?

    I'm no political forecaster, but what's the best the Tories will do in Scotland at the 2010 election? 3 seats? 5 seats maximum? 7 on an extremely favourable day?

    I'm sure just about anything the Conservatives do in Scotland via their alien majority (should such a situation exist) can be met with the cries of "No Mandate".

    Interesting times ahead.

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  • 31. At 6:54pm on 29 Sep 2008, Roll_On_2010 wrote:

    I can but hope that I see some of you NuLabour numpties in Trafalgar Square at 1:30pm on 4th October.

    I will be there!

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  • 32. At 6:55pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #29 crazyislander: You've settled everything there. The rest of us can go back to the telly.
    Crazy name, crazy guy.

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  • 33. At 6:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    Stuff the train .... i work for BMI Regional so i think you should all fly....everywhere, and keep me in a job !!!

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  • 34. At 6:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, Roll_On_2010 wrote:

    wooops wrong blog!

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  • 35. At 7:11pm on 29 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #29 crazyislander

    I fully agree that encouraging demutualisation and effectively killing the Friendly Societies was an act of economic vandalism too far by Thatcher & Co, but one could hardly say that NuLab are any better, and at least the Tories were acting in accordance with their beliefs.

    You can hardly blame a crocodile for acting like a crocodile. The whole "New Labour" project built by Bliar & Brown behaves like that but pretends not to.

    While disliking both, I think it's fair to say that the Tories are leastworst without desiring to choose either.

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  • 36. At 7:17pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 7:27pm on 29 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    See the US House of Representatives has just vetoed the bail-out. I'm off to watch the talking heads.

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  • 38. At 7:34pm on 29 Sep 2008, enneffess wrote:

    33. At 6:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:
    Stuff the train .... i work for BMI Regional so i think you should all fly....everywhere, and keep me in a job !!!


    In that case, tell them to stop phoning me in the evening!!!! I take the train when travelling aroundmost of the UK on business. I can get from Glasgow to London quicker than using the plane. Well, about the same time but without the hassle of check ins.

    While the Tories are not everyone's cup of tea, the simple fact is that the UK (ok, England mainly) needs a change of Government.

    Personally though, I'd love to see Boris as PM!

    One quick question. Has Alex Salmond resigned his Westminster seat yet?

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  • 39. At 8:05pm on 29 Sep 2008, Globaltraveller wrote:

    #36 brigadierjohn

    In answer to your first question there was a huge amount of anti-Scottish and anti-Labour sentiment in the ONE instance that Scottish MPs votes have made any discernable difference to any vote in the House of Commons in recent history. However the 57 "knuckledraggers" that you point out, pale in comparison to the 500 odd "knuckledraggers" who are elected in England, with others in Wales and Northern Ireland.

    As it currently stands, the UK Parliament votes Scotland's budget on Appropriation at the beginning of each parliamentary term. That single most important vote, has a dramatic and disproportionate effect on Scotland's devolved structure and government. It is decided by an alien and unaccountable majority - yet it impinges on a Scottish Parliament and Government that is not accountable to them, but is to the Scottish people, who also send representatives to the House of Commons.

    That anomalous situation is ameliorated when Scottish MPs sit on the governing party, but if they do not.....

    Secondly, living with the concept of a United Kingdom is something I'm never going to support so my own point of view is entirely consistent and reasonable, as a consequence of that.

    Ayrshire is part of Scotland. It shares ALL the same political institutions with the rest of Scotland - legal, educational, constitutional and so on. England and Scotland do not do so. It is, therefore, not comparable to the United Kingdom, a supposedly multi-national state, with different institutions and political components between its various members.

    As a result of these different institutions, there is a different political culture.

    For all of those reasons your comparison of Ayrshire and Scotland, and Scotland and England is completely fallacious. End of story.

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  • 40. At 8:53pm on 29 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:

    #36.

    John.

    "In a UK election, the winners have a UK mandate. End of story."

    I believe that the great majority of Scots will consider themselves Scottish or at least Scottish first, British second. Those who feel themselves Scottish entirely or mainly will not be pleased that their opinion can be... ignored simply because one part of our 'United Kingdom' has more representatives then the others.

    This is not a 'Nat Rant' but I would press for a more equal footing with England in the United Kingdom. After all, were we not merged in equal partnership by the 'Act of the Union'?

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  • 41. At 8:58pm on 29 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    Dispatches on channel 4 just finished .... good to see David Cameron living up to the ideal image of a tory .... man of the people ...erm i mean rich people !! Hopefully he wont have much to do with us for long.

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  • 42. At 11:09pm on 29 Sep 2008, GRhino wrote:

    # 30- Global Traveller

    I made exactly the same point on Nick Robinsons Blog on Sunday, I think someone thought i was a NewLab fanatacist.

    But, yes, Cameron really has to watch his step if he doesn't want to be known as the man who destroyed the union.

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  • 43. At 11:42pm on 29 Sep 2008, impeachblair wrote:

    21. At 5:16pm on 29 Sep 2008, Trimmtrab wrote:

    Trimmtrab - R-Expat has already demonstrated, in the nuclear debate, that he/she is a fool, with pretentions.

    It is futile engaging with him/her, as it has only a loose grasp of anything numeric.

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  • 44. At 11:47pm on 29 Sep 2008, Simon_Brooke wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 45. At 03:27am on 30 Sep 2008, scot2010 wrote:

    Saw John McFall MP on the daily politics. He was asked about the Osborne announcement of a Council Tax freeze. Predictably , he immediately launched into an attack on the "Scottish Nationalist Party" (sic) and how the Council Tax freeze here was causing problems to cooncil services.

    My mother, who is living off a pension, was telling me that her gas/electricity direct debit has just gone up 75%. This is combined with a 20-30% increase in her food bill, all of which is coming off her fixed, limited income. She is not alone in this. The Council Tax freeze has helped her cope, which is more than can be said for the actions of McFall's Leader, Gordon 'courageous' Brown.

    McFall was also almost crowing about the collapse of capitalism (as he saw it). From the Chair of the Common's Finance Select Committee, this was interesting as so many ordinary people are suffering at the moment. Given the comrades "almost punching the air" celebrating the demise of HBOS at last week's conference, it just shows the callousness of Labour political dogma. The sooner they are consigned to the dustbin of history the better. (given their actions recently, is this the first case of the trash throwing itself out?)

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  • 46. At 08:32am on 30 Sep 2008, snowthistle wrote:

    rabbiehippo Dispatches was depressing wasn't it.
    I wonder if a post independence tory party under AB would be different. I can't imagine Auntie Annabel getting up to those seedy practises.

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  • 47. At 08:33am on 30 Sep 2008, BrianSH wrote:

    I think Scotland has realised that Labour are not a party of the workers despite what they may say they are:- They are now the party of the dole dodgers, the workshy and the super-rich holier than thou.

    Hopefully the other citizens of the UK and those left in Scotland who still believe Labour are a good thing will change allegiance to remove this blight upon the political landscape.

    The Tories may be for upper/middle-england: But at least they don't pretend they are something else.

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  • 48. At 08:46am on 30 Sep 2008, Fredcringe wrote:

    It does not matter what the Tories mouth off at their Conference - they are still the same old Party that imposed the Poll Tax on Scotland; created Negative Equity, put 17% VAT on fuel; allowed inflation to rise to 18%; created a "Loadsa Money" society; and did nothing for Pensioners and those others in poverty. Oh yes, lest we forget - they put tolls on the Skye Bridge!. Vote Tory?. Why put the clock back?.

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  • 49. At 08:47am on 30 Sep 2008, japanesewhispers wrote:

    In post 10 Reluctant Ex Pat suggests that it wouldn't be worth and extra £20m (wherever that figure comes from) to extend the line to Edinburgh and Glasgow for an extra 1 million people, which would actually be more like 2.5m for Greater Edinburg and Greater Glasgow, why is it worth, however much they are spending, to have a line to Leeds for just 761,000 people? I'm seriously confused. That's not taking into account that, according to expat, £10m would take the line to Newcastle about 190,000, therefore for £20m you'd be extending the line to roughly 2.7 million people. Is that not better value than however much they are spending to make a line to Leeds for 761,000 people?
    Plus, air travel is far more polluting and a lot more hassle than an efficient integrated high speed rail network.

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  • 50. At 09:29am on 30 Sep 2008, Simon_Brooke wrote:

    Re: #44 - that's the first time I've had a post referred to the moderators. It feels like a rite of passage...

    #47, BrianSH: it's wrong to characterise Labour as the party of the jobless and the workshy. Those people, by and large, don't vote - and Labour know it. More importantly, they don't fund political parties with large debts. Labour's problem is they are targeting exactly the same slice of the population as the Tories - those who are rich, and those who aspire (however vainly) to be rich. These are people who do vote, and some of whom do fund political parties. To appeal to the same segment, they have to offer the same policies.

    #49, the person hiding behind the name 'Reluctant Ex-Pat' is probably right to say that, considered in isolation, spending 20Bn (if his figure is right) on a high speed rail link will not provide a return on investment. And that is precisely why independence for Scotland is now inevitable.

    The parties which support the union are unable or unwilling to put a financial value on the things which could bind the union together. So each such tie is evaluated on its narrow economic merits, and each such tie fails.

    I'm not complaining. I'd much rather see Scotland's strategic transport money (if anyone has any money left after this meltdown) spent on high speed ferry links to Germany and Denmark - but then I'm not trying to preserve an anachronistic union.

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  • 51. At 09:38am on 30 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    49 ... I think you'll find that the railway system is so screwed up ..a high speed line will run well over its budget and cost a fortune to use .

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  • 52. At 09:40am on 30 Sep 2008, Jake-the-S wrote:

    I hate this time of year.
    The leaves are falling off the trees, the mornings and evenings are drawing in and last but not least its party politcal conference time where the absolute bull spewed out of the mouths of our aspiring politicians is met with 5 minute standing ovations by the masses in the conference hall.

    Do the parties employ hypnotists?

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  • 53. At 09:41am on 30 Sep 2008, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    Everything seems to be going according to plan.

    Conservatives become the next UK government and Scotland then becomes Independent.

    It is not rocket science.

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  • 54. At 10:30am on 30 Sep 2008, irnbru_addict wrote:

    48. Fredcringe wrote attacking the Tories for a whole number of very legitimate reasons.

    How about the following exposure of Gordon Brown and Labour from the Guido Fawkes site, read it and tell me, any Labour supporter, why I would trust Labour?

    Paul Myners is a director of the hedge fund manager GLG, which with $25 billion under management is one of europe's biggest hedge fund managers. It was until recently 10% owned by Lehmans. Paul Myners gave money to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign and he also gave money to Gordon Brown's think-tank the Smith Institute. Gordon rewarded him with appointments to the Treasury's pension review.

    Derek Tullet has also given huge amounts of money to the Labour Party. Tullet's broking firm specialises in servicing hedge funds who want to go short stocks and derivatives.

    Gilad Hayeem of the Lehman Brothers backed $2 billion hedge fund, Marble Bar Asset Management (Cayman), contributed to Hilary Benn's deputy leadership campaign.

    There are plenty more "evil speculators" who have backed the Labour Party.

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  • 55. At 10:54am on 30 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    #54 Aye Labour are just as bad ... but i wont be voting for them either ! Now what can they dig up about Sean Connery or Brian Souter ?

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  • 56. At 11:28am on 30 Sep 2008, minceandmealie wrote:

    The very Tory policy of demutualisation and flotation of building societies has proven to be a complete failure, with the taxpayer (that's us) picking up the very large tab. As mutuals they were contrained in their commercial activities and had a strong emphasis on attracting deposits and looknig after the interests of the depositors. Run like supermarkets they competed for market share using a retail model (get money from the wholesale supplier, sell as much money as you can, pay bonues based on quarterly or at most yearly performance) even though what they were selling has a twenty-five year timespan. Excess money pours after a fairly fixed supply of houses, price rises draw in speculative investment, leading to more price rises...everyone knew it was a bubble apart from the clever people paid millions to be at the top of these banks, apparently.

    So the Tories aren't free of responsibility for the current mess. But you can be sure that when they get in (and they will) the interests of property owners (especially those with expensive houses) will be addressed by abolishing inheritance tax, 'simplifying' stamp duty (guess what that will mean) and 'streamlining' capital gains tax (guess what that will mean).

    These tax cuts - targeted at Conservative supporters - will inevitably result in a large transfer of money from Scotland to the south east of England, similar to the use by Thatcher of North Sea oil revenue to cut higher rate income tax (remember those champagne corks? Scotland actually paid for that...)

    Does anyone think this will be otherwise?

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  • 57. At 12:09pm on 30 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #50 Simon_Brooke

    Excellent points generally and particularly your: "The parties which support the union are unable or unwilling to put a financial value on the things which could bind the union together."

    With a physical size much greater than Great Britain, unitary France has realised this since the days of Bonaparte and their national road and rail networks are now an example most of the rest of Europe follows, except for their version of road-pricing.

    No UK government has ever been interested in the kinds of investment levels needed to achieve that, and you may well be right that it's a key factor in ending the union.

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  • 58. At 12:20pm on 30 Sep 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #56 minceandmealie

    Probably largely true, but what's your conclusion and what do you suggest can be done about it?

    Aren't NuLab are likely to offer much the same in a desperate attempt to recapture "middle England", with little prospect of success so long as "Duff" Gordon is in charge.

    Some kind of progressive alliance is needed, but with the LibDems having seemingly buried their federal policies that hardly seems likely.

    At the next general election, isn't the best hope for Scotland simply to get rid of as many useless NuLab MPs as possible by voting tactically for whoever has the best chance of beating them?

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  • 59. At 12:30pm on 30 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #39 Globaltraveller: Sorry to be so long replying, I went off to watch the news.
    In the first part of your response, you outline what is nothing more or less than the Rules of the Devolution Game.
    In the second part you express your incompatibility with the concept of the UK.
    Your use of the world "alien" in the pejorative sense seems to say much about your mindset, and leads me to suspect that even in Utopia you might engineer yourself into a disaffected minority.
    I fully accept that there are people like you, and I support your right to hold these views and to campaign to change the system. End of story.
    You had the privilege of reading my post, which has unaccountably (to me) disappeared. Apart from our divergence of views, I would be pleased to learn from you if I expressed my opinion in any way offensively, or if you can suggest any reason why it might be taken down.

    #40 Thomas: Good to hear from you again. I never did learn the outcome of your Army application. Sorry if I missed your report.
    As to your post, it could have been written with equal passion by a Cornishman or a Yorkshireman. I just cannot buy into this idea that the English are out to do us down.

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  • 60. At 2:40pm on 30 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    50. Simon_Brooke: "And that is precisely why independence for Scotland is now inevitable."

    Yawn.

    Please feel free to show us all any manifestation of any type of this so-called inevitability.

    Maybe a mass petition?
    Maybe a mass of contributions to a certain pro-independence website?
    Maybe increasing support in the polls?

    Anything?

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  • 61. At 3:00pm on 30 Sep 2008, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat... Independence is indeed an inevitability.

    It is a matter of 'when', not 'if'.

    Anyone who thinks other than this is short sighted, no country has forever ruled another and no country ever will. End of.

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  • 62. At 3:17pm on 30 Sep 2008, inmykip wrote:

    #35, #59 brigadier you're post #36 hit the nail on the head (nothing wrong with that unless you are a nail) and it explained the reason quite adequately as to why I vote for independence from Westminster.

    #60 with the devolution of power over some of our affairs from Westminster to Edinburgh comes confidence, with growing confidence comes the desire to have more powers over more of our affairs, the culmination of that would logically be independence, which is quite likely should our self-confidence and devolment of powers to Edinburgh continue to grow but not necessarily inevitable. That's my view, some may choose to disagree and no doubt they will..........

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  • 63. At 3:35pm on 30 Sep 2008, irnbru_addict wrote:

    More from Guido Fawkes:

    Still it is not all bad news, Gordon Browns favourite financier Paul Myners and appointee as chairman of the Low Pay Commission, is doing well. The massive hedge fund of which he is a director, GLG, had the biggest short in the market in Bradford and Bingley. Peter Oborne points out that Ronnie Cohen, "Gordon's private banker" and a huge Labour Party donor, has just set up a new hedge fund to take advantage of the market situation. Good to see some people doing well out of the misery and mayhem...

    and the liberals...

    ...one of the party's biggest donors, Paul Marshall is worth some £300m. Marshall also funds CentreForum, the orange tinged think-tank. His donations are well into seven-figures.

    He is half of Marshall-Wace, hedge fund managers, who are evil speculators who, whisper it softly, short shares! In fact they have a reputation amongst City brokers for having a particularly high churn. Just as well given the hundreds of thousands of Marshall's profits that have ended up in the LibDem's coffers.

    ...and don't even ask about the Tories, nowhere near enough room!


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  • 64. At 6:05pm on 30 Sep 2008, SKaufman wrote:

    Just wondering if once this "inevitable" independence of Scotland is obtained, will we also split Scotland up into it's historical boundaries. Should we return the Shetlands to Norway? Should we even retain the name Scotland, the Scots were after all just a conquering tribe not native to Caledonia. How about entry into Europe, Norway survive with out it, why would be in any more need than Norway? Would we have to adopt the Euro if we did join the EU as an independent state? That is all dependent on were our Central Bank is Located, who will we let control our interest rates, would they control them in an Independent Scotland's Interests? Do you think we should have an army? What about the actual vote on independence, do we let non Scottish people who live in Scotland vote on it? What about Scots who live in England can they have a vote?

    When comparing the populations of Glasgow/Edinburgh, why use the the Greater parts of the two Scottish cities involved, making up half the Scottish population! You only included the metropolitan area of Leeds, have you ever been to Leeds? The area that would use a leeds connection would contain Millions, it is a pretty condensed area of towns and cities around there!

    Do you think all the SNP donors/advisers are clean! There is always a story, but i see Irnbru_addict didn't point them out!

    Independence for Galloway, that's what i reckon!

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  • 65. At 6:29pm on 30 Sep 2008, Globaltraveller wrote:

    #59 brigadierjohn

    First of all, I didn't report your post at #36. Whilst I didn't agree with it, I didn't find it objectionable in any way. I'm sorry it has been removed because, I can't really see how it broke BBC House rules in any way?

    As to my post, I may well be outlining the rules of the devolution game, but it should be clear that such a situation is (a) anomalous (b) unsustainable. The point about English MPs having a disproportionate impact on Scotland's budget (and hence all devolved issues stemming from that) is something that is much overlooked. I think it waters down the thesis that a UK mandate is all that is needed to legitimise a UK Government, irrespective of where in the UK it garners its votes. That is put under even sharper focus when we have devolution, and the devolved Scottish Government and Parliament, which should be accountable to the Scottish electorate and no-one else.

    Secondly the use of the word "alien" is not perjorative. I could have equally used "foreign", but it should be taken in context of what we are discussing here, not in some kind of stand alone context. And that is MPs - doesn't matter a jot where they come from - who are not bound by the same political or civic institutions as Scots, or their representatives, yet have disproportionate political rights over Scotland. In other words, it is the symmetrical opposite to the much remarked upon "West Lothian Question".

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  • 66. At 6:56pm on 30 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    61. So, in summary, there isn't any evidence to back up the endless, tedious nationalist claims that "independence is inevitable".

    Oh dear.

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  • 67. At 7:01pm on 30 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #65 Globaltraveller: I didn't suspect you of complaining. Nothing in your style suggests such would be likely. But it's bizarre.
    However, I agree that the current set-up is unsustainable. I lean towards federalism, but more powers to the Scottish Government, coupled with a ban on Scots MPs voting on purely English matters, might help in the meantime.
    But I think the whole Independence argument has overtones (undertones?) of frying pans and fires.

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  • 68. At 7:15pm on 30 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:

    You are in the wrong forum SKaufman. I do believe that Brian's Blog is about the Conservative Conferance, more specifically their policies. I will answer several of your points though... Just a little reminder, this blog is not about Independence and what I write is not up for discussion.

    If Scotland was to be brought back to our original boundries then Scotland would gain part of Northern England, plus Shetland was apart of Scotland before Norway came along. Please search back and you will find out yourself.

    Norway was lucky enough to be able to negociate for the benefits of the European Union. They also have major wealth that Scotland does not have at the moment. Scotland would have to accept the European Union like everyone else would. The Euro would benefit the Scottish economy because the rates are currently lower for the economy.

    "Do you think we should have an army?"

    If you can give one logical reasons why we won't then I will answer this question.

    Everyone who lives in Scotland should be able to vote on our future, I don't believe that those Scots who live in England should be allowed. After all, they do not have to live with the answer to the referendum.

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  • 69. At 7:43pm on 30 Sep 2008, Globaltraveller wrote:

    #64 To take some of your points:

    I don't know about others, but I know most people don't advocate independence for "historical" reasons. Most people advocate independence for civic, political and economic reasons. I know, at least I do. Like my Ayrshire example above, Galloway, Caithness and Glasgow all share the same political, civic and constitutional institutions that Galloway and Cornwall, do not, for example.

    As for the rest of your questions, they are very much for the independent Scottish Government and the people to decide upon come Scottish independence. A blank canvas indeed :-)

    (2) "Should we even retain the name Scotland, the Scots were after all just a conquering tribe not native to Caledonia."

    A nonsense argument. No ancient people were indigenous to what we call "Scotland. Civilisation didn't begin in "Scotland".

    (1) "Do you think we should have an army?"

    I think we should, but it needn't be large or unaffordale. The Army should be primarily concerned with the defence of Scotland. That means not engaging in expensive overseas military operations at the burdensome expense to the Scottish taxpayer that such operations entail.

    (2) "How about entry into Europe, Norway survive with out it, why would be in any more need than Norway?"

    We wouldn't really need to be part of the EU or not part of the EU. Provided Scotland is part of the Single trade EEA (European Economic Area) like Norway is, then a great many pitfalls might be avoided. Scotland's EU status will be a matter for the Scottish people to decide, in conjunction with the Scottish Government and the European Commission.

    (3) "Would we have to adopt the Euro if we did join the EU as an independent state?"

    Most likely. We'd probably have to satisfy the appropriate criteria first - on government debt, inflation etc.

    (4) "That is all dependent on were our Central Bank is Located, who will we let control our interest rates, would they control them in an Independent Scotland's Interests?"

    If we are part of the Eurozone it will be the ECB. That may not be a bad thing. Germany, France, the Benelux nations and Italy are all equivalent, in many ways to Scotland. They are generally post-industrial, slow growing economies, with similar demographic profiles to Scotland and equivalent demographic problems. They, therefore operate on a similar business cycle to Scotland, and there is anecdotal evidence to show that the monetary environment provided by the ECB may be a better economic stimulus for Scotland than that provided by the Bank of England. In short, Scotland's economy, intrinsically, may have much more in common with the likes of Belgium and western Germany than Southern England.

    That is not to say, however, that monetary policy, for Scotland would necessarily be best served by joining the Eurozone.


    (5) "You only included the metropolitan area of Leeds, have you ever been to Leeds? The area that would use a leeds connection would contain Millions, it is a pretty condensed area of towns and cities around there!"

    A bit like Central Scotland then! In the axis between Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is a pretty condensed area of millions of people! Such a connection is only is as good as the rail lines running through it. There would only be one, in this situation, which I think handily dispenses with your argument :-)

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  • 70. At 8:48pm on 30 Sep 2008, FatherMacKenzie wrote:

    66. So, in summary, there isn't any evidence to back up the endless, tedious nationalist claims that "independence is inevitable".

    Isn't it Tam Dalyell's claim?

    68. Everyone who lives in Scotland should be able to vote on our future, I don't believe that those Scots who live in England should be allowed. After all, they do not have to live with the answer to the referendum.

    Surely everyone living in the UK has to live with the answer to the referendum?

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  • 71. At 9:22pm on 30 Sep 2008, SKaufman wrote:

    #Thomas_Porter, i feel exactly the same! Every topic seems to get brought to the independence issue or at least the evils of the Unionist parties. I take the point about historical boundries, and say that you mean the Kingdom of Northumberland! You see once you start taking about historical boundries, you end up with none! What about the limbo and the damage it would do to the scottish economy while we awaited membership.

    I've not clicked onto the next topic yet, but i have a sneaky feeling that either independence or Unionist failings have been mentioned!

    #Globetraveller, i like you.

    So do you think that say Annan has more ties with Thurso than Carlisle? Is the news in Skye more relevent to those in Berwick, than Newcastle is to those in Berwick! I'll lay my cards on the line and say i don't see the relevence of have the home nations and would just have one big nation! I think we are all a bit to obsessed about us and them.





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  • 72. At 10:08pm on 30 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:

    SKaufman:

    The Independence debate will start closer to the date of the referendum. Then it will be exciting. I would not press for the borders to change, however the people of Berwick-upon-Tweed and Carlisle have shown interest to be re-unified with Scotland and should be allowed to do so (or vice-versa) since they both were once apart of Scotland and of course are next to the borders so may feel connected to Scotland rather then England. Do you believe that places near the borders of Wales and Scotland should be allowed to switch sides? After all these borders were forged through war and pain but the people will hold their own loyalties and culture.

    I feel that Scotland could remain in the European Union. It would be far simpler to continue then for Scotland to sign the Treaties etc etc so business is not harmed. Would the people from other countries in Europe be immediatly under arrest for being illegal immigrants? Technically they have the right to move within countries in the European Union but then Scotland won't be apart of the Union... So it would be simpler for Scotland to sign the papers or at least be under European Rules etc etc so Free Trade and Freedom of movement is not harmed.

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  • 73. At 10:13pm on 30 Sep 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    The reason every issue turns to the independence issue is that that is the most important political issue facing Scotland and the UK today.
    Much as those who are against independence and who are steadily loosing all the arguments would like it to be otherwise it will continue to be the most important issue until it is achieved. Sorry about that but there it is.
    Every issue will be considered now on in on the basis of how differently it might be dealt with if Scottland were independent.

    And of course any referendum on Scottish independence will include only those who live in Scotland.
    What the English may think about Scottish independence may be interesting but it will have no constitutional validity and no more than the French would have any say in anything the English may want for themselves.

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  • 74. At 10:26pm on 30 Sep 2008, Sheneval wrote:

    17 - Reluctant Ex

    Anyone who knows anything about Railway costs knows only too well that you don't expect them to pay directly - most of the benefit to the country comes from the value to Business.

    It would be natural to assume that any Government in waiting contemplating a major improvement to the East Coast Main Line would carry out such works between London and Edinburgh unless they are of the opinion that separation is inevitable.

    It may be that the Conservatives are more realistic than we realise.

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  • 75. At 00:18am on 01 Oct 2008, Wyrdtimes wrote:

    #1 northy wrote:

    "I notice their plans for a high speed rail link to replace a third Heathrow run stops at Leeds. New Westminster government, same old anglocentrism!"

    You cheeky begger. You'll get your pound of flesh via the Barnett Robbery.

    You'll also get your free prescriptions, care, higher education etc etc.

    The MOD has even rescheduled the refit of a West Country warship from Devenport to Scotland. Securing Scottish jobs at the expense of English jobs (lives). Google "theCEP" for more information.

    No doubt Scottish staff will have preference over English staff in the final HBOS settlement too.

    If love Scotland more than you hate England for Gods sake vote SNP and get this thing done.

    We canna take much more.

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  • 76. At 04:12am on 01 Oct 2008, scottishrepublic wrote:

    Englandrise,

    I feel very sad that you actually believe Scottish Independence is based on some sort of hatred of the English People.

    Perhaps you read to many right leaning Newspapers, and a biased BBC.

    I can honestly state that I dont actually know one SNP supporter (and I know many of them) who hates the English People. Its a mistake many parts of the media uses to create division.

    Scottish Independence is about Scots taking control of their own Nation, and making decisions that are pertinent to the Scottish People.

    Scotlands people have little or no say on their nations future in a Westminster System that is set up to outvote any Scottish needs. If there were equal voting per Nation like for example 100 votes per nation perhaps there would be an arguement to stay in what is an un United Kingdoms.

    100 votes per nation would include Scotland,Wales and England. Obviously Northern Ireland should be absorbed back into its own country of Ireland.

    Surely the 100 votes per nation would be a fairer system if we all accept that the three nations are entitled to equal representation. Of course the Government Departments and the seat of Government would have to be moved to equal parts of the individual nations. No more London Centric Government can only be a good thing.

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  • 77. At 07:12am on 01 Oct 2008, Tim wrote:

    #57 - Brownedov; The French railway system whilst fast is certainly not perfect. It exists on a spoke system with all the spokes leading to the centre - and that centre is Paris. Whilst that may be fine for a Frwnch model, it is very different to the ritish model. Britain does not have a spoke/hub system, and indeed has an excellent cross-country inter city network, meaning that one can avail oneself of many parts of the UK without having to be on a London centric route.
    #76 - Scottishrepublic; If you can honestly say that you don't know one SNP member who hates the English, then I feel you must live in an area without many English residents. Come to my area and you will see the bile - spouted by SNP members AND their adherents against the English and anything vaguely UK related. I should probably point out that I am a Scot, and it makes me ashamed to be such, when I hear the toe curling racists rubbish spouted by these 'ultra-nats' If that is a guage of SNP members and adherents, then I fear for our nation (and our neighbours) should independence ever happen.

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  • 78. At 07:14am on 01 Oct 2008, Tim wrote:

    I note - another blog from Brian, and the same old rabid Nationalists telling us all about independence. My reading of the blog was that it was a Tory conference blog not a Nationalist platform. Oh well, must have missed the bit between the lines again!

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  • 79. At 07:45am on 01 Oct 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    donstim ... not only are about 1/3 of the people in my area English but some of them have been trying to become councillors for the SNP so you must live in a sort of dodgy uninformed red top reading area just like englandrise . I couldnt care less who lives nearby as long as they are not scroungers and work for a living.

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  • 80. At 07:58am on 01 Oct 2008, Tim wrote:

    Try coming up here and listening to somee of the abuse that is given to our servicemen - the majority of whom are English and try not being ashamed! By the way I have never read a 'redtop' in my life, and certainly do not intend to start now!
    No I'm afraid that you must accept that there are SOME nasty people in and around the SNP.
    By no means the majority, but some of these people simply resort to bile should you either disagree or, heaven forfend, argue a point with them!

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  • 81. At 08:18am on 01 Oct 2008, SKaufman wrote:

    #Scottish Republic

    So you think the views of the Welsh are more important, than that of Scotland. You must also think the views of the Scots are more important than that of the English! How very undemocratic. Do you actually believe that, it seems a very dodgy posistion. You also wish to ignore the views of all the Ulstermen and want a forced reunification between Northern and Southern Ireland.

    I think we are all aware of the ignorant remarks made against the english, normally just in a jokey manner of course!! When you have to use someones nationality as a descriptive word, such as English @$£%, it is surely can't be described as not being anti english!

    I'm not a natural born Scot, all the i love my adopted homeland as do i that the area i was born! Yorkshire just in case you wondered. I think the differences between the two generic groups of people are mainly what socio-economic group you associated with each one the most and not the actual nationality. Or the artificial divides some wish to put in place for their own neeeds, such as the monsters under the bed.

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  • 82. At 08:26am on 01 Oct 2008, Blackivar wrote:

    Scottishrepublic

    Isn't it curious how you cry foul about Scotland's place within the union - a union you claim (despite the evidence, I have yet to see a pool showing a majority in favour of indenpendence, but nevermind that for now) that is unpalatable to the people of Scotland and yet you would happily force the people of Northern Ireland into such a union with the Republic - considering a majority of that population is vehemently opposed to a United Ireland.

    Your attitude suggests you are just plain anti-United Kingdom.

    Sadly this is a position I have witnessed in many of the SNP (that is pro-United Ireland), surprising considering how well Alex Salmond got on with Big Ian.

    If he can recognise the democratic will of the Northern Irish, why can't you?



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  • 83. At 08:28am on 01 Oct 2008, Wyrdtimes wrote:

    For the record and to avoid confusion:

    "If love Scotland more than you hate England for Gods sake vote SNP and get this thing done. "

    ...was aimed at Scottish Labour voters as it's them that are inflicting prolonged torture on the English.

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  • 84. At 08:28am on 01 Oct 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    Up here ! I take it you are referring to Lossie or Kinloss ... Alas i am in Aberdeen and the majority of people i work with are English and have lived here for some time, but we work well together. I accept what your saying though in that some people are ignorant, but having lived in England for 7 years and had abuse 'sweaty sock' etc id say its not confined to Scotland.Also its not as bad as some places in England which now have BNP councillors which id say is pretty grim.

    ps ... the high point of my time in Crawley must have been when watching 'Braveheart ' at the local cinema and the part where William Wallaces wife is killed i shouted out 'You B*****d' in a broad Scots accent !

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  • 85. At 09:00am on 01 Oct 2008, BrianSH wrote:

    Woah! Wake up at 7.15 in the morning, get to work at my office in Aberdeen at 9.00 and the past 10 post have mostly been Daily Mail readers!

    They must be waiting for Camerons speach at the Tory party conference...

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  • 86. At 09:08am on 01 Oct 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    85 Lol .... Daily Mail readers .... true but only cos its the only newspaper lying around the crew room ... well that and the Daily Star. Actually the Daily Mail was having a bit of a go at the torys yesterday for some strange reason.... must have lost some money.

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  • 87. At 10:36am on 01 Oct 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    73 sneckedagain: "Much as those who are against independence and who are steadily loosing all the arguments..."

    Just what planet are you on?

    And if you actually pay some attention in school, you might improve your spelling.

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  • 88. At 11:10am on 01 Oct 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    Now now Reluctant Exbrat .... im sure if we delve into some of your posts, your spelling will be wrong somewhere .... but im to busy.

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  • 89. At 11:10am on 01 Oct 2008, BrianSH wrote:

    #87 What planet are you on to rubbish others opinions bar Cuckoo land?

    Oh wait... Reluctant-expat land!

    For your information Mr. Perfect, you should never start a sentence with and.

    Clearly some self improvement is required by some of the contributors to this board before they sling mud upon others.

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  • 90. At 12:08pm on 01 Oct 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #77 donstim wrote:
    "The French railway system whilst fast is certainly not perfect. It exists on a spoke system with all the spokes leading to the centre - and that centre is Paris. "

    Quite true with a very few exceptions. I did not intend to imply in my #57 that it was but simply that it was good enough to help France remain a unitary state. My apologies if I confused anyone.

    Their road system is also mainly spoke-based although they now have a major North - South route between Rheims and Dijon which allows much traffic to bypass Paris.

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  • 91. At 12:20pm on 01 Oct 2008, Globaltraveller wrote:

    #71 Skaufman

    "So do you think that say Annan has more ties with Thurso than Carlisle? Is the news in Skye more relevent to those in Berwick, than Newcastle is to those in Berwick!"

    Yup, I do. Annan and Thurso share the same civil, political, institutional and legal institutions as part of Scotland, that Annan and Carlisle do not share.

    News about things happening in Scotland, for example in education or in law or in national politics, is equally relevant in Orkney and Galloway. News on these topics are not equivalent for Orkney and Carlisle, because of the existence of the different civic institutions and structures between Scotland and England.

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  • 92. At 12:48pm on 01 Oct 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    You're 2 threads behind on this issue now, folks and as the new thread is specifically about the Tories and Scotland, I suggest it's time to move on to the new thread.

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  • 93. At 12:53pm on 01 Oct 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    90. An additional point about SNCF is the losses it's been racking up in recent years.

    Although it made a small profit this year (on the back of high airline fuel costs and passengers' environmental concerns), it lost 500m euros in the previous two years alone.

    It would be wonderful if the 'home of the railway' had a swanky high-speed network but is it worth the cost?

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  • 94. At 6:32pm on 01 Oct 2008, SKaufman wrote:

    #Globaltraveler

    I think you give a great argument towards uniformity throughout all of the UK. The personal ties exist between the people of Annan and Carlisle, and surely it is the people that matter the most. I'm afraid i would guess most people prefer to know what is happening next door than 300 miles away in a place they have never been.

    Anyway, the brown guy is right, time to move on! Remember and we are trying to avoid the words independence, unionists and nationalists in all future links!

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