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Waiting game

Brian Taylor | 14:59 UK time, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

How to pay for Scotland's schools and hospitals? Not to run them - but to build them in the first place.

The issue, rather topical at the moment, arises again from a report by Holyrood's finance committee.

To varying degree, there is something for everyone in the report - although majority opinion, reflecting parliamentary numbers, tends towards criticism of the Scottish Government's approach.

Ministers, however, can live relatively comfortably with a report which, rather than excoriating a single approach, picks faults with each of the capital spending options on offer.

Most attention has focused on criticism of the Scottish Futures Trust - although, in practice, all that is said is that the SFT remains "unproven".

The committee advises that no project should be delayed while Scotland waits . . . and waits for the SFT to swing into what passes for action.

Myself, I was more intrigued by two other findings. One re statistics (sorry, but I'm like that; I was hideously keen on sums as a youth.)

Exceptional constraints

The other re borrowing powers.

On stats, the committee gripes, entirely understandably, that it is extremely difficult to compare the lifelong cost of various funding methods, owing to the lack of consistency in data.

That is a point regularly made by Audit Scotland.

On borrowing, the committee notes the quite exceptional constraints upon the Scottish Government, even by comparison with local authorities.

That is something being examined within the ambit of the Calman Commission.

More immediately, it is a source of frustration to the Scottish Government, both ministers and senior civil servants.

Comments

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  • 1. At 3:22pm on 16 Dec 2008, newsjock wrote:

    Government fund raising on the agenda again !

    On average we are each entombed in a welter of personal debt.

    At local government level the same applies.

    At Westminster level national debt is 1.3 times gross domestic product, (not domestic income).

    Please, please spare us another level of debt enforced on us by our tartan representatives.

    The scourge of the UK is no longer poverty, poor health or lung cancer.

    It's debt !

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  • 2. At 3:39pm on 16 Dec 2008, minuend wrote:

    Lets retrace our steps here to gain insight into the problem.

    Current TOTAL PFI DEBT for Scotland: £25 BILLION

    Current PFI REPAYMENTS for Scotland: £800 MILLION PER YEAR

    PFI will be a HUGE MILLSTONE around our necks and our children necks for the next 30 YEARS.

    PFI is the BIGGEST FRAUD ever perpetrated against the taxpayer in history.

    So pray tell what are the complaints from LABOUR, the TORIES and the LIBDEMS over SFT?


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  • 3. At 3:53pm on 16 Dec 2008, oldmack wrote:

    “newsjock” I am afraid it is too late, what has not been on the balance sheet for quite some time is the PFI costs; these cost have been listed as off balance sheet.

    As the up-dated accounting requirement will require that P.P.P as well as P.F.I. costs will have to appear on the balance sheets as of 2009, I await the proverbial hitting the fan in a big way.

    So your “Tartan Tax” that you and many other do not fancy, I am afraid you like me will not have any choice.

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  • 4. At 3:58pm on 16 Dec 2008, sid the sceptic wrote:

    1- news jock- good post and i would add the following.
    the UK has the worst level of personal debt per head of population in Europe.

    the government at Westminster only have 4 months left to hide the real cost of PPP &PFI as from April next year these costs can no longer be hidden and must be shown on UK plc accounts.

    the committee notes the quite exceptional constraints placed on the Scottish government, even by comparison with local authorities.

    if ever the case for full fiscal autonomy could be made the committee just made it. they probably didn't mean too but hey it's done now.

    sid

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  • 5. At 4:11pm on 16 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    2. Minuend, according to the Scottish Government site, the grand total of all current PFI/PPP schemes is only #5.6billion with another #1.63billion under negotiation or under review. See:

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/Finance/18232/13368

    Where did you get #25billion from?

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  • 6. At 5:08pm on 16 Dec 2008, northhighlander wrote:

    Good post Brian

    In reality the SFT is a diversion. Considering the government had considerable time in opposition to work out the detail, this is a poor show by the SNP.

    It is time they came clean on this issue, no shame in trying something new and it not working. PFI is not a good scheme, but at least it works. My kids go to a third world school long overdue replacement. They will be retired before this happens at the rate the SFT is working at.

    In the end we don't have te mpney do we have to borrow some way. We need action not waffle.

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  • 7. At 5:18pm on 16 Dec 2008, irnbru_addict wrote:

    5. Reluctant-Expat

    I've criticised Expat regularly for being rude and aggressive. Now, I want to congratulate him.

    Expat your #5 post avoids any nastiness, venom or bile. You simply ask a question and give your evidence for why you question a previous posters assertions. You don't insult the original poster, posters generally or even Alex Salmond.

    I think you may be becoming house trained!

    I await Minuends reply with anticipation!

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  • 8. At 5:48pm on 16 Dec 2008, greenockboy wrote:

    Reluctant - Expat's post deserves a response:

    From Unison's report into PFI:
    Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney said on 2 August 2007 in a written answer to a question in the Scottish Parliament, that the total estimated unitary charge for the 102 existing PPP projects over their contractual life (a total period of 42 years to 2041) is £22.3 billion.

    This will have risen and may explain the £25 billion from the comment cited by Expat.

    The report explains that:
    "The previous Labour and the Liberal Democrats in their two terms of coalition running the Scottish Executive - have consistently claimed that PFI/PPP is good value for money."
    It goes on -
    "Obsessive secrecy and claims of commercial confidentiality have meant that it has often been difficult or impossible to obtain figures to properly assess the validity of value for money claims. Relevant documents have frequently either not been published or have had key financial information withheld."

    So, secrecy has surrounded PFI contracts since their inception and value for money cannot be acepted at face value.

    Now an explanation of SFT:
    The essential idea behind the Scottish Futures Trust is that public borrowing is cheaper than private and that tax efficient bond issues would generate sufficient funds to finance large infrastructure projects… The problem is that the Scottish Government does not have the necessary powers under the Scotland Act to borrow in this way. Other federal and devolved administrations elsewhere in the world have these powers and we would support the necessary amendment to the Scotland Act.

    IT DOES NOT DEPEND ON AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND !!

    In other words, this proposal is not about picking fights with Westminster, it is about value for money for the Scottish taxpayer.

    It is surely incumbent on all of us to ensure a replacement for the now discredited PFI is found. if Scotland can save billions by adopting the SFT method then the Westminster Government must amend the Scotland act.

    It is possible that some Unionists will state that the SNP could not guarantee such an amendment and that it proves they have been lying.

    They are free to say this, however, at the end of the day we still need a replacement for PFI - what do they propose?

    Adding levels of debt created through PFI is not an option in these turbulent financial times.

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  • 9. At 5:52pm on 16 Dec 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Regardless of the problems of SFT return to PFI/PPP is not an option and particularly in present economic and banking circumstances not even accessible. I have no idea why some posters here are even thinking about it.
    A responsible Government in Westminster would forbid its use with immediate effect , but we don't have a responsible government
    PFI/PPP is a disaster and as time goes on this will become more and more apparent and I can only imagine those who appear to support it (or make excuses for it) have political motivation to do so.
    As has been pointed out the Scottish Government has to find over £1billion per year out of its diminishing budget to service the PFI debts incurred by an irresponsible Labour/LibDem government who went about boasting about how many schools they had built when they had paid for none of them.
    As I have worked in third world schools let me assure northhighlander that his kids do not go to anything like that and silly remarks do nothing for this debate.
    Personally I would be over the moon if the Scottish Government decided to lay not another brick on building things we can't afford. The recently announced plan to build the new Southern General Hospital out of current revenues is the way to go.

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  • 10. At 5:52pm on 16 Dec 2008, greenockboy wrote:

    Oh, I urge everyone to read The Herald's take on the committee findings, if only to serve as an example of how far the paper has sunk.

    I give the paper roughly a year if it continues in the current vein.

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  • 11. At 7:11pm on 16 Dec 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Exactly, greenockboy.
    They are lifting stuff direct from Labour's web page and presenting it in headlines in the Herald.
    Even the Sunday Herald since Tom Gordon went there is running unbalanced and ridiculously hostile anti SNP pieces though McWhirter, Bell, Alan Taylor and Tom Shields still make it a must buy.

    BBC and in particular BBC Ceefax Scotland is really getting even less balanced and I no longer get replies when I complain.

    We are facing a huge plot that disgraces all who are part of it.,.
    On the Herald front complaint direct to the head office of Gannet in the US had a huge effect the last time the Herald dressed itself as the Daily Labour.
    I will look up contact details.
    A spring election?

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  • 12. At 8:43pm on 16 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #11 sneckedagain

    It's maybe laziness and incompetence rather than a "plot", but the result is the same.

    I would have thought that a reasonable political journalist would have had a look through the "regional" data from the latest YouGov poll for items of Scottish interest.

    For example, for the first time in many years, a question was asked about attitudes to the euro.

    Question : Thinking of the European Single Currency which of the following statements come closest to your view? (the responses from Wales are combined with the English Midlands).

    1. Britain should definitely join as soon as possible
    2. Join if and when the economic conditions are right
    3. Stay out for at least the next 4 or 5 years
    4. Rule out on principle

    (I'm having difficulty posting the results - so I'll try doing them separately)

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  • 13. At 9:04pm on 16 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    YouGov data

    Simplified version!

    Answers 1 and 2 are generally pro euro, while answers 3 and 4 are generally anti euro

    Scotland is pro euro (49% to 46%)

    All English regions are 53% anti euro

    That Scotland shows a pro-euro majority, while all English regions are against should have been a story.

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  • 14. At 9:13pm on 16 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #10 & #11

    I forced myself to read the Herald article. It was really dull so I read it again!

    Is it that it's only reported the negative comments from the committee, or that the copy is standardly knicked from some labour website i.e. poor journalism, or what ? (I thought Nicola sounded quite sensible?)

    Sorry to be such a 'thick-o' but I'm sensing that the paper is viewed as a threat? It's not just snobbery?
    :-P

    You don't have to bore yourselves by giving an answer, just know there are many voters who wouldn't even go so far as to ask! Thanks.

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  • 15. At 10:20pm on 16 Dec 2008, greenockboy wrote:

    No 14 - aye-right:

    The sad thing with regards to The Herald is that barely two years ago it was the best paper in Scotland by a country mile, there wasn't any other newspaper to touch it.

    It had a subtle bias towards the Union but it really didn't matter as stories were reported matter of factly.

    The change happened in the lead up to the 2007 election. Up until that point it could always afford to be magnanimous with regards to the SNP as they weren't perceived as a real threat. The weeks leading up to the 2007 Holyrood election changed everything in Scotland as far as the media were concerned.

    Much has been written about Labour's refusal to accept that the political landscape had changed. The biggest refusal to accept this new political climate was actually amongst our political commentators.

    A kind of political 'quarantine' has now been erected around Scotland. Our news is now managed to an extent never before seen, The Herald merely reflects this environment.

    It's my belief that we are witnessing a gradual move towards autonomy for Scotland, each by-election demonstrates this with consistent swings to the SNP.

    We have a news system that is entrenched in it's views and simply cannot or will not adjust in order to accurately reflect this new mood. My belief is that the journalists themselves are putting their names to articles they don't actually believe.

    This is why The Herald is in such sharp decline, as is it's Johnstone press owned counterpart. They have an intelligent and sophisticated readership who are being fed junk that would not be out of place in a taboid.

    This SFT story is a microcosm of this larger 'controlled environment'. In the current financial climate and, given the state of the UK's economy, an alternative to PFI simply has to be found. Coupled with this is the need to inject capital into the economy as work becomes scarce.

    Here we have a system with excellent potential that could provide much needed building work a great deal cheaper than PFI, whilst at the same time creating jobs and maintaining public services.

    Such a situation would normally have resulted in the media, especially the press, pushing for political parties to find a way to implement this idea. Instead, what we have is a very good idea being traduced by people who's only desire is to undermine another political party.

    But it's actually worse, the press are taking the side of the snipers who have no alternative suggestions. They see the hurdles to this policy not as a challenge to be met and conquered but as an aid in preventing progress.

    That is why we see statements such as 'Labour reacted with glee' when just such a hurdle is erected to a well intentioned idea. They are more interested in thwarting the SNP than in seeing Scotland governed well.

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  • 16. At 10:45pm on 16 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #15 greenockboy

    An excellent analysis.

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  • 17. At 10:49pm on 16 Dec 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    #13
    Oldnat

    Glad to see the penny has dropped!

    Go on my good man make it an issue!


    OTOH, I see that clown Mandelson has just wrecked the labour fight back.............

    New labour....on the march again! ouch!

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  • 18. At 10:55pm on 16 Dec 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    TNT makes bid for Post Office part-privatisation

    Its ok to pump billions into the banks but not the PO as the people don't matter. I believe the Barnett formula is being discussed in private in the Lords tomorrow so much for open government behind closed doors.

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  • 19. At 11:07pm on 16 Dec 2008, enneffess wrote:

    13. At 9:04pm on 16 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:
    YouGov data

    Simplified version!

    Answers 1 and 2 are generally pro euro, while answers 3 and 4 are generally anti euro

    Scotland is pro euro (49% to 46%)

    All English regions are 53% anti euro

    That Scotland shows a pro-euro majority, while all English regions are against should have been a story.

    ------------------

    Problem is, I don't trust the way Europe is run. My view is that there is a lack of control which has led in some cases to corruption. You cannot run a federation of states - since that what the EU is (or will be) - when the budget is out of control.

    On the other hand, the EU does give a lifeline to countries having serious financial issues.

    Difficult choice. But how does the Scottish Government deal with issues such as fishing? They are pro-Europe, but Europe wants to basically ban fishing off the West Coast of Scotland.

    Back to topic, I still cannot understand why Councils do not retain control of public buildings, rather than outsourcing them to private companies at greater cost than if kept in public ownership. It is still taxpayers money so what is the difference? Let me guess.........accountability.

    About time we had politicians who are willing to accept responsibility, something lacking across the board.

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  • 20. At 11:26pm on 16 Dec 2008, dubbieside wrote:

    cynicalHighlander

    A big part of the Royal Mail problems started when they had to open up to competition.

    Royal Mail gets 13pence per letter that the likes of TNT collects from DVLA etc. It costs the Royal Mail 21pence to deliver.

    Anyone with half a brain could see that sending one large truck to collect thousands of letters is the easy and cheap part of the exercise, compared to delivering these letters to individual addresses.

    The really strange part is that the Post Office union still donate huge sums of money to the Labour party. Turkeys and Christmas comes to mind.

    P.S. Anyone with half a brain leaves out the present Labour government, as they have none. What was it someone once said about knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.

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  • 21. At 11:36pm on 16 Dec 2008, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    It may be a silly question but why exactly are we continously building new schools?

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  • 22. At 11:46pm on 16 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #19 Neil_Small147

    "Problem is, I don't trust the way Europe is run."

    If I've understood your postings correctly you also don't trust the way your council, Scotland or the UK are run. (not that I necessarily disagree with you on any of those positions!)

    However, the poll was not on the Lisbon Treaty or the institutions of Europe, but on whether the UK should join the eurozone, instead of sticking to a small independent currency, which the rest of the world is rapidly abandoning.

    That Scots seem to favour joining the euro (the next most supportive area is London) suggests to me that more Scots want to be part of a wider union than do the English.

    I hope you're not a British seperatist.

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  • 23. At 11:53pm on 16 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    15. greenockboy

    Thanks. I appreciate your info.! Enthralling and well told. You may know I find resistance to independence plainly insane and I wonder how some people can make it logical. If you apply dispassionate analysis I don't see that you can. So thanks for shining a light. Anyway...

    Personally I don't care for the papers or the news much (I do watch) as I know it is only one version of events eg. Russia & Georgia - western point of view. I prefer to watch the inevitable documentary! So I have to make do with the BBC and a pinch of salt. And even then I'm far from trusting.

    But it sounds like it's a shame for those of you who rated the Herald. How odd that all the media is Unionist? What threat is independence to them I wonder. (Worry about losing their prestigious BBC?) I assume the paper owner is a Labour supporter then.

    It's a bother. In politics it seems to me you don't need to be in the right, just the majority. However with such a simple ploy by the Herald (and I don't think it's that effective - for one thing, overdoing your argument makes you seem as though you are on shaky ground) there must be several ways to thwart it.

    Conceivably some rich nat could buy a paper and turn it nationalist! But I don't think that would add credence to any argument. I think national newspapers have a grimy image.

    I'd think about copying the trail blazed by Obama. Facebook users don't know the difference between PPI, SFT and even MFI but they do know who was voted out of Big Brother or who won the X Factor.

    I think oldnat could do a daily blog 'What the Herald meant to say!' - it might gain a cult following! :-)

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  • 24. At 00:03am on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    22.oldnat

    Oldnat, are you trying to trick the moderators again?! ;-)

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  • 25. At 00:11am on 17 Dec 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    #22

    Great stuff Oldnat! exactly!

    A British seperatist? a very shrewd political manoeuvre.

    Where is that promised referendum?

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  • 26. At 00:18am on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #21 Wee-Scamp

    "It may be a silly question but why exactly are we continously building new schools?"

    Not a silly question at all.

    There are many reasons - some of them good.

    Like most public facilities, the lack of investment in basic maintenance during the '80s and '90s means that a number can be more cheaply demolished and rebuilt than repaired.

    The number of children has decreased significantly, and it can often be cheaper to close two old schools and replace them with one new one.

    A number of the schools built in the '60s and '70s to deal with the post war "bulge" were often cheaply and badly constructed with a very high level of asbestos in their construction. Asbestos panels crumble with age and release asbestos dust into classrooms.

    Some reasons are bad - in my council area, there is a remarkable correlation between the PFI schools built (which will cost the North Ayrshire taxpayers GBP380m over 30 years) and the wards where there had been no school building replaced recently. In at least one case the new school seems to be poorer than the old one! - PRIMARY KIDS GET NO HOT FOOD

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  • 27. At 00:38am on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    19. Neil_Small147

    On recent investigation I learned that the European Union is all about the member states. Never mind the European Parliament, that's not where the power lies.

    Without even the powers of a normal parliament, it's status is further diluted as MEPs are regarded as either young, inexperienced and just entering their political career, or retired members of domestic parliaments merely playing out the last days of theirs.

    No, the power lies with the European Commission, made up of 27 Commissioners appointed by......each of the member states (ah!), and even more so with the Council of Ministers as it represents the views of the governments of the member states.

    The Commission is supposed to be the most supranational but in fact is the most intergovernmental part of the EU - surprise, surprise.

    As for Scotland, well (from SIC site)
    "In the EU Scotland would probably have seven eight votes in the council of ministers, just like member states of a similar size including Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland. England, Wales and Northern Ireland would inherit the bulk of the present UK’s 29 votes.

    The EU would not simply dock seven from the UK’s 29. The size of the rump UK’s population would prevent that. And so there would be a voting bonus when the “British” presence was disaggregated. It would benefit all countries because almost all of the time they would vote together on matters of common interest.

    An independent Scotland and the rump UK would therefore have more, not less, voting power than at present. Scotland would also gain perhaps 12 or so Members of the European Parliament to speak for us in Brussels and Strasbourg whereas now we have only seven (and five of them are Unionists). We would also be entitled to one European Commissioner whereas currently we are represented by Peter Mandelson!"

    If that's how it works and where the power is, should we not 'get in about it'?

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  • 28. At 00:39am on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #23 aye_write

    "I'd think about copying the trail blazed by Obama. Facebook users don't know the difference between PPI, SFT and even MFI but they do know who was voted out of Big Brother or who won the X Factor."

    You are absolutely right!

    It's really only oldies like me who buy papers (habit really). Neither of my kids would dream of buying one.

    Electronic news has the advantage that it exposes the reader to a world wide view that should make your generation less parochial. At the same time there is less space for Scottish issues. The SNP should be creating an online journal, emailed out to anyone that is vaguely interested, that gives the independence view on current stories - but without the heavy political message that can be very off putting.

    However, it needs people like you to tell them what it should contain, and the style to adopt.

    Go for it girl!

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  • 29. At 01:11am on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #28 oldnat

    Em, thanks! :-)

    Ouch though, I recall it was nearly divorce while I was Chairperson of the playgroup!!

    I have an idea for a logo - we'll see how that goes first...
    (Then you send me all of your posts from the last X years!)

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  • 30. At 01:11am on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #27 aye_write

    A challenge for you!

    That was a good post - now translate it into a format that would persuade others of the "Facebook Generation".

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  • 31. At 01:32am on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #29 aye_write

    Only 6 months of posting (though it seems longer!). You can check anyone's previous posts by clicking on their user name.

    Soon it will be time for me to move on from the blogs anyway. I'll be spending a few weeks looking after my grandson, which will be much more satisfying!

    I will of course keep an eye on you youngsters to make sure you don't get out of hand!

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  • 32. At 02:32am on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    30. oldnat

    Thanks! I learned what I know about it in an hour and a half and wondered if you would 'reconstruct' it, as I figure you have looked into Europe slightly more thoroughly!

    Funny! How did you know I would respond to a challenge? Well, I am that transparent, so I will certainly think about it (after present wrapping and card writing...!).

    Rambling, off the top of my head, I would simplify it, split it up and break it down(!) My first thoughts are to use two duplicated simple graphics (fish-eyed maps?) maybe, with shading depicting information eg. no. of MSPs, one depicting as we are now and one as it would be, so the shaded content contrasts. Perhaps too complicated? A pie chart? A bar chart?

    There's a danger that could look too frivolous aswell, so maybe only use two colours (bolder red under a finer black, like a cross betwen a graphic designer's two-tone vision of a new car and a naval chart, for gravitas!?) and make sure the tone of the accompanying text 'clevered' it up a bit. i.e. eye-friendly but not 'cartoony'.

    I notice mind that cartoons e.g. the 'Flight of Scotchmen' (was it?) in the past hundred and more years, were very good at getting accross a point, so once any such SNP journal was up and running and (crucially) established it's credibility, perhaps updated animation showing what, say, Westminster is really up to would be effective. These of course can be almost spammed across the nation as forwarded 'joke of the day' e-mails too.

    Back to the graphic, have two opposing sets of paragraphs (one either side of the 2 maps?) each centering on the same sub-subject eg. 'now' one on the LHS says eg. we have this many (7) MEPs and the 'would be' one on the RHS says we would have this many (12) MEPs. i.e. make it so it's hard not to get (at a glance).

    Maybe better a question and answer format:
    (Bold) How many MEPs do we have now?
    (Standard type) 7
    (Bold) How many would an independent Scotland have?
    (ST) 12

    As for the home page format of any journal or webpage, I suggest it be more like an internet shopping site! Easy-peasy to use with loads of links up and down the sides to entice you in. I mean not the 'flat' format of many political sites, but slick.

    Well, those are my very unrefined thoughts!

    Just read #31

    You're right, kids are it. My little boys are 1-1/2, 3-1/2, 6 & 7 and if they are anything to go by, as I'm sure you know, you will be more than entertained! Eldest (to a more slim Santa), "Is it me, or have you been exercising?"!

    Good night :-)

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  • 33. At 02:41am on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    32 "with shading depicting information eg. no. of MSPs"

    Oops, I meant MEPs (- sacked before I've started!)
    Bed beckons I think. :-)

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  • 34. At 09:12am on 17 Dec 2008, Alasdair_McGray wrote:

    This argument over money highlights the reason a devolved parliament was set up by the unionists. It’s a distraction.

    Keep the Jocks squabbling amongst themselves how to fund certain items in their budget, whilst the grown ups in Westminster get on with real the business.

    The real business being, screwing up the economy of an oil rich country. Took some doing, but hey, Labour pulled it off.

    How on earth are the SNP to run Scotland's finances when it is reliant upon pocket money given to them by another country?

    This leads two options, can Scotland continue for the centuries to come to be the ever present scrounger with its hand stretched out pretending to be a country or member of the international community reliant upon the wits of its people and the country's material resources?

    Answers on a ………………

    A McG

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  • 35. At 10:19am on 17 Dec 2008, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    If we had not invaded Iraq and Afghanistan... If we are not trying to replace nuclear weapons and if we are not trying to build new nuclear power statons, we would have all the cash we needed to build all the schools, transport and other capital projects we needed.

    End of story.

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  • 36. At 10:33am on 17 Dec 2008, salmondella wrote:

    #Super Ally

    The SNP could start by showing that they can make good use of the funds Scotland receives - which people in other parts of the UK contest is over generous!! I can't get you lot, one and a half years playing at being a Government and you know it all and feel you can tell others how to govern and run the economy!! Well, I suppose if you can feel informed about Europe after reading about it for an hour and half #32 then that might well explain it!! Aye right!!

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  • 37. At 10:46am on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #36 salmondella

    It was at a University actually! :-D Maybe my lecturer made it all up? But no matter.

    Why don't you put me right then, 'oh knowledgeable one'? (See if you're brains enough to prove someone with only 1-1/2 hours on the subject wrong!)

    (I think you'll find before that we've had a few hundred years experience actually = one of the oldest nations in the world, if you want to be picky-pants about it...)

    While you're at it, why is it that any resistence to independence is voiced in such a sneering, acrid way? It's so charming. Just wondering... No doubt you'll know that too!

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  • 38. At 11:01am on 17 Dec 2008, sid the sceptic wrote:

    salmonella@36- that will be the funds that were cut because brown spat the dummy. I don't think the Scottish government is "playing at being a government" they are trying to be a government with 1 hand tied behind their back.
    how many parts of the UK feel it is overgenerous ?? oh yes that will be England cos that's what the media tell them everyday. if it was overgenerous why is Mr Brown fighting so hard to keep his beloved Scotland in the union?
    "you know it all and feel you can tell others how to govern and run the economy"
    the government at Westminster is doing that after 11 years with GB saving the world etc.and how is our economy doing ?? oh yes "it wisnae us a big boy done it and ran away" bog standard labour answer

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  • 39. At 11:13am on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    8. So the #22.3/25bn figure comes from Swinney?

    Can someone please explain why the Scottish Government figures I linked to in #5 are so different?

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  • 40. At 11:17am on 17 Dec 2008, salmondella wrote:

    #37 aye_write

    It really is rich of you lot to continually attack others for sneering when that is the thrust of the vast majority of nationalist rhetoric on theses blogs: sneering at Brown; sneering at Darling; sneering at Murphy; sneering at Gray; sneering at unionists. And this all comes from backers of a government that can't support our construction industry in these difficult times; lied about ridding students old and new of their debt; has passed the buck for non-delivery of their manifesto promises to local authorities; can't provide jobs for teachers when they had asked that more people enter the profession; wanted the Bank of China to be given the opportunity to take over one of our banks - hypocricy of the highest order or just showing their obsession to pick fights with the UK Government??!!!!! etc. etc. etc.

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  • 41. At 11:18am on 17 Dec 2008, Sheneval wrote:

    Has anyone had a close look at many of the schools built recently - instead of good solid brick which should last close to 100 years, many have these fancy plastic facades that will have to be renewed, if not completely rebuilt, in 30 years or so - they are the equivalent of the 1960's eyesores of the future and we will be paying Private Enterprise a fortune for them being financially involved in their construction.

    Better to have waited till we could afford to build them properly than going down the road of PPI.

    In my private life, like millions of others in my age group, I have worked hard and carefully avoided debt as much as possible.

    I have a feeling that my children and grandchildren's future has been sold down the river by Politician's in order to appease the 'must have it now brigade' and the Press who stir up these issues.

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  • 42. At 11:36am on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    13. Oldnat: "Simplified version!

    Answers 1 and 2 are generally pro euro, while answers 3 and 4 are generally anti euro

    Scotland is pro euro (49% to 46%)

    All English regions are 53% anti euro

    That Scotland shows a pro-euro majority, while all English regions are against should have been a story."


    What results were you looking at? How does "Not for another 4-5 years" equate to anti-Euro?

    The next question is quite clear and does not need such subjective interpretation:

    If there were a referendum tomorrow on whether Britain should join Europe's single currency, the euro, how would you vote?

    Yes:
    London 24%
    South 22%
    Midlands/Wales 22%
    North 25%
    Scotland 34%

    No:
    London 56%
    South 61%
    Midlands/Wales 60%
    North 58%
    Scotland 52%


    In other words, the entire UK is clearly against it. We are marginally less anti- but there is still a very large gap.

    By no stretch, can anyone conclude "Scotland is pro euro".

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  • 43. At 11:41am on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    40. The SNP will always have the unconditional support of the nationalists while they support independence.

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  • 44. At 11:54am on 17 Dec 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    WIKI-Private Finance Initiative

    "The public sector spending liability due to PFI is extremely large. As of October 2007 the total capital value of PFI contracts signed throughout the UK was £56.9bn[25], committing central government and local authorities to paying out £180bn over the lifetime of the contracts up to 2032[26]. In their statement of evidence to the Finance Committee of the Scottish Parliament, Prof. Allyson Pollock and Mark Hellowell stated that the £5.2bn of PFI investment in Scotland up to 2007 has created a public sector cash liability of £22.3bn[27]. In their evidence to the National Assembly for Wales Finance Committee they stated that the investment of £618m via PFI in Wales up to 2007 has created a public sector cash liability of £3.3bn[28]."

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  • 45. At 12:16pm on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    44. I calculate that as 3.55% interest per year going by the 42 year span mentioned by Swinney. I assume this rate will decrease further as base rates fall.

    That's all less than the lowest-interest bond (4%) on issue by the government.

    http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/fds/hi/business/market_data/gilt/default.stm

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  • 46. At 12:21pm on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #42 Reluctant-Expat

    The referendum question was disingenuous.

    Referendum tomorrow??

    I'd vote no myself, if the question was for immediate entry, since the economic conditions are inappropriate.

    Much more appropriate to look at attitudes to the euro at this stage.

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  • 47. At 12:34pm on 17 Dec 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    42 Ex Pat

    Do those same figures justify these actions?


    Gordon Brown finally signed Britain up to the European Union's new constitutional treaty this afternoon - arriving in Lisbon four hours after the official signing ceremony attended by every other European Union leader.

    The'unelected' Prime Minister put his name to the EU reform treaty alone, behind closed doors.

    Moral compass ?

    Wansanshoo




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  • 48. At 12:46pm on 17 Dec 2008, Leftie wrote:

    'Newsjock' assures us that national Westminster debts are at 1.3 times national product. I.E., 130% of GDP. This is not so.

    The actual proportion at the end of April was 37% of national product (GDP) and is projected to rise to 57% by 2012. Which are quite low percentages in comparison with both historical and international levels.

    Moreover, whereas interest payments on national debt required £1 of every £11 of our taxes in 1997, by 2012 the interest is likely to be just £1 on every £22 of taxes. Because interest rates are much lower nowadays, and falling.

    Of course, Newsjock is entitled to believe that any debt is bad. But without debts there could be no pensions paid from the interest paid on such investments.

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  • 49. At 12:47pm on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    46. You still haven't explained how "Not for another 4-5 years at least" equates to being 'anti-Euro'.

    When's the earliest you see economic conditions being appropriate? 4-5 years?

    (I'm in the appropriate conditions group too, by the way. Although I see no sign of the Euro having been beneficial to the current members yet.)

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  • 50. At 12:54pm on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    47. I'm in favour of much of the Lisbon Treaty so this is not a problem for me. It tidies up a lot of bureaucratic nonsense and contradiction in one document, more clearly defines the limits of EU involvement, reforms the EC executive and also the voting rights.

    I thought the same people who were in favour of a codified UK constitution would also be in favour of this.

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  • 51. At 1:20pm on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #49 Reluctant-Expat

    I said "generally", as the options available to respondents were limited, it will include many people who are generally "eurosceptic" but who don't see defending sterling as a matter of principle.

    You're right, of course, that the category will include some who are pro-euro, but think it impractical for 4 or 5 years.

    (I'd written my original post in MS Word, and for some reason, it was interpreted as having an HTML component that I couldn't trace)

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  • 52. At 1:28pm on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #32 aye_write

    Thanks for the response. I just hope that someone in the SNP hierarchy reads it!

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  • 53. At 1:34pm on 17 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #50 Reluctant-Expat

    While I think Brown was silly to sign the Treaty in the way that he did, Lisbon is a significant improvement for the EU.

    That's twice I've agreed with you on the same thread!

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  • 54. At 1:56pm on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #40 salmondella

    "It really is rich of you lot to continually attack others for sneering when that is the thrust of the vast majority of nationalist rhetoric on theses blogs: sneering at Brown; sneering at Darling; sneering at Murphy; sneering at Gray; sneering at unionists."

    Perhaps. I'll give you that it doesn't help the argument, however the above doesn't offend me personally 1. because nationalist stuff like that is usually done with a sense of humour and not solely to be poisonous like the spin of the unionists'. 2. more importantly because we have reasons to gripe, unionists don't.

    Leaving aside critical analysis of your attacks on the SNP government for the moment, they might add up in your eyes to reasons not to have an SNP govt. but they don’t change any of the arguments for Scotland to be independent. After independence Scotland could vote to ditch the SNP and elect another party to power. My other half would maybe go Scottish Tory!

    But it’s not a fair playing field where you can compare the Scottish govt. as it stands with other national governments who can raise and spend their own taxes etc. I am not seeking here to exonerate the SNP govt. of any culpability but you have to admit they are in a difficult situation.

    Some might argue the answer is to change the ruling party, but it must also be to change the constitutional set up in which that party operates, as how can it take 'grown up' actions to tackle serious problems when it is forced to take its pocket money like a child?

    If you conclude that an incapable govt. equals a nation should not govern itself, then Britain’s current government, and many if not all of the last ones, indicates that Britain should not govern itself. I could come up with a longer list of attacks here. As the Majority of MPs voted into these governments are from English constituencies, you might say England should not govern itself.

    What type of government would you like to see in Holyrood?

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  • 55. At 1:59pm on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    52. oldnat

    :-)

    There's bound to be cooler cats than me in amongst them there who you'd think could run with a good idea?

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  • 56. At 2:30pm on 17 Dec 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    #50
    Re.

    Would it not be folly to base your argument on a projected criteria in 4 to 5 years time?

    The process of democracy is debating! bringing the argument of the single currency to the people with all its pro's and cons.

    How many member state's would still match up to the EU entry criteria, giving the now world down-turn?

    Why did the government promise a referendum in 2005?

    Christ! the pound may never recover, A single state currency will find it very difficult
    to raise it level against the euro from now! on in.

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  • 57. At 3:02pm on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    56. Currencies fluctuate all the time. Not so long ago, the pound was approaching parity with the dollar for example.

    The pound is suffering now as our interest rates are very low, we are more at risk due to the size of our financial industry and we have boosted spending and borrowing. A strategy being copied by a large number of countries, including Germany who lambasted this approach last week, may I remind you.

    The overwhelming opinion, among those who know about such matters, say this recession will be coming to an end in about 12 months. And, as with all previous recessions, there will be a sizeable surge in growth in the year or two that follows. The pound will then start to recover. We have had 16-ish consecutive years of 3% average growth and now will see 12-18months of 2% shrinkage. At the end of it, our GDP per capita will obviously be only marginally lower than it is now and from then it will again start growing. In the last 15 years, our GDP per capita has crept past Italy, then Canada, then France, then mighty Germany and then even mightier Japan. We were even starting to breath down the USA's neck a little while back (I suspect we still are). Things will definitely not be the same on the other side but this is certainly not the armageddon that some of the more-excitable amateur economists are shreiking about.

    As for the euro, the Eurozone has seen lower growth, higher unemployment and higher government borrowing compared to the UK. Our economy has little in common with the continental economy - different inflationary pressures, different economic cycle as well as higher growth, lower unemployment and lower government debt (still).

    Until this crisis kicked into gear, the pound was extremely strong compared to both the dollar and the euro. None of this is any argument for joining the euro in the short-term.

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  • 58. At 3:14pm on 17 Dec 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    50 Ex Pat

    Labour misled voters in respect of a Euro referendum, the consequential treaty may suit you, however, YOUR statistics clearly show that the people of this island had no stomach for Europe.

    The European decision to hold another referendum in the Irsh Republic is appalling, a move which makes Robert Mugabwe look democratic.

    Wansanshoo.



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  • 59. At 3:17pm on 17 Dec 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    #57

    I tend to think that the economist have been way out of line on this recession, and simply dont know how to approach the confidence that needs to be restored, I would not rule out another massive injection from the government, to try and restore confidence in lending.

    What is clear is when theres a down-turn it's effective on the world wide bases.

    Every thing points to a collective recovery,
    The pound may never recover! I think we should at least debate the issue.

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  • 60. At 3:38pm on 17 Dec 2008, dubbieside wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat

    You are trying to re write history again.

    "The pound is suffering now as our interest rates are very low"

    Totally wrong, the pound is suffering as the international money markets think the UK is the country worst placed to weather the global downturn.

    If the pound is low because of low interest rates how do you explain the drop of about 25% against the Dollar, given that interest rates in the USA are lower than in the UK.

    Or as Brown and Darling would say "it wina me a big boy did it and ran away"

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  • 61. At 4:20pm on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    60. Shock, horror. Dubbieside selectively quotes (where's the rest of that sentence?) as part of another desperate attempt to convince us we all live in the worst country in the world.

    The UK is "the worst country" among whom? The whole world? Northern hemisphere? Europe? Western Europe? G7?

    Go back to the Herald. Just go.

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  • 62. At 4:56pm on 17 Dec 2008, dubbieside wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat

    No I will stay here and answer your Labour spin.

    You said that the pound was low because our interest rates were low, so would you please answer the question.

    How has the pound dropped in value by 25% against the dollar when interest rates are lower in the USA.

    More of your Labour spin, please point out and re post any post were I have said Scotland is the the worst country in the world.

    You sound just like Alex from the Herald posts, are you related. He never answered a question either.

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  • 63. At 6:08pm on 17 Dec 2008, freedjmac wrote:

    Re 60/61

    Rep One, You really need to get to grips with some hard facts, such as UK interest rates are far higher than countries such as the US and Japan, so, by your logic, higher rates should attract foreign funds and help the currency rise?? Right??

    Wrong!!.

    The markets have decided to put a big 'SELL' sign against the pound - and your fine wee theory is in tatters!! In the markets' view, a sell sign against the currency is a sell sign against the government - now that won't sit well with you, will it??

    But the markets have made their judgment!

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  • 64. At 6:48pm on 17 Dec 2008, dubbieside wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat

    Quote

    "A weak currency is a sign of a weak economy and a sign of weak government"

    Do you agree with the above quote, or do you think that the person who said it was talking mince.

    Watch now the guy who said it saved the world.

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  • 65. At 7:14pm on 17 Dec 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    Well, obviously you two can't read.

    This is what I wrote:

    "The pound is suffering now as our interest rates are very low, we are more at risk due to the size of our financial industry and we have boosted spending and borrowing."

    Do you see? Mmm? Anything? No light bulbs appearing above your clearly challenged crania?

    Off you go now. Bless.

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  • 66. At 7:41pm on 17 Dec 2008, freedjmac wrote:

    65 Rep One:

    Your statement was:

    "The pound is suffering now as our interest rates are very low, we are more at risk due to the size of our financial industry and we have boosted spending and borrowing."

    Do you see? Mmm? Anything? No light bulbs appearing above your clearly challenged crania?

    Here's the facts:

    1. The pound is NOT low because of very low interest rates, since other countries rates are higher than the UK's and their currencies have not suffered in the same way as the pound!

    2. The UK is not more at risk because of the size of its financial industry!! But it is MORE at risk because of the 'no regulation is good' policy of one G Brown.

    3. Other countries have boosted their spending and borrowing as well, you say, but the markets have taken the view that the UK can't support that level of borrowing, so the pound is for sale.

    The UK government, in the less than safe hands of Paw Broon, seems to have provided the markets with all the ammunition they need to conclude that what's good for HBOS, is good enough for the pound!

    And, as HBOS learned, you canny beat the markets!

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  • 67. At 8:21pm on 17 Dec 2008, bluelaw wrote:

    salmondella

    The only sneering I see is from British Nationalist Unionists undermining every attempt by the SNP to stick up for Scots and Scotland whilst under constant siege from a hostile UK government and equally hostile media. Moreso, these so-called Scots routinely delight in the downfall of anything that dares to be Scottish, that dares to do anything for the interests of people who live in Scotland and with glee watch as we are still further subsumed by a redundant moribund and bankrupt union.

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  • 68. At 10:25pm on 17 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #67.

    bluelaw,

    Is 'salmondella' supposed to be a pun on Salmond and salmonella?
    If so, that's got to vaporise his/her arguments, as it takes the prize for the most ignorant AND offensive! :-D

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  • 69. At 11:19pm on 17 Dec 2008, bluelaw wrote:

    aye=right

    I think so. It's cute but ultimately very lame. Salmond though really is a superbug to all these Britnat unionists though... ;-)

    I'll get my coat...

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  • 70. At 11:20pm on 17 Dec 2008, bluelaw wrote:

    ayeright

    I think so. It's cute but ultimately very lame. Salmond though really is a superbug to all these Britnat unionists though... ;-) I'll get my coat...

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  • 71. At 10:05am on 18 Dec 2008, salmondella wrote:

    ayeright and bluelaw

    Are you two the Scottish Ant and Dec?!

    #67 bluelaw - in terms of sneering on these blogs, you are probably one of the worst offenders. But maybe that's just your response to being "under constant seige". Really!!, you lot need to come out into the real world now and again!! It is not nearly as unpleasant and threatening as you might think :O)

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  • 72. At 11:47am on 18 Dec 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    I don't mind how much the unionists sneer. It's all they've got left.
    Just as long as the swing to the SNP continues I'm a lot happier than they are.
    They exhibit their despair by their silly, sneering, distorted, anti Scottish posts.

    It looks to me that here is a steady swing against all the unionist parties going on in Scotland or, at least, no improvement in their positions electorally.
    Usually they go up as the other goes down. Doesn't seem to be happening at the moment.

    Wouldn't it be great if they were to merge into the Scottish Unionist Party and move everything onto the SNP's chosen ground.

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  • 73. At 12:15pm on 18 Dec 2008, bluelaw wrote:

    I don't sneer. I do however regard British Nationalist Unionists as the lowest of the low because I think they're are cowards and traitors to their country. They're so pathetic I almost feel sorry for them but I won't shy away from attacking them in the most scathing of ways because the damage they have done and what they preside over in terms of impoverished Scottish lives is absolutely unforgivable.

    There's no other description but under siege. The aggression towards the SNP and independence is palpable. There is no level playing field for independence because of the snivelling 'fearty' nature of Britnat unionists. They're too frightened to even discuss independence as the risible Calman calamity proved.

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  • 74. At 1:10pm on 18 Dec 2008, salmondella wrote:

    #73 bluelaw - is that a case for your defence or prosecution?!!

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  • 75. At 1:38pm on 18 Dec 2008, inmykip wrote:

    #40 Every government has good times bad times the SNP included maybe your are suffering from a communication breakdown that's leaving you dazed and confused, but let's not ramble on, no matter what party is in power the song remains the same, we the voters get trampled under foot and given no quarter. However I am a realistic supporter of independence, I realise it will be no stairway to heaven, but the union for many is a heartbreaker, it is not something I have a whole lotta love for, and I for one am glad to witness the unionist houses of the holy begin to crumble, their arguments for it remaining are like Achilles last stand, but hey that's rock n'roll for you

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  • 76. At 1:41pm on 18 Dec 2008, inmykip wrote:

    #73 bluelaw you mean British Unionist Member Sect

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  • 77. At 1:55pm on 18 Dec 2008, handclapping wrote:

    #74 salmondella

    Clever.

    You might however consider how well you have done to create such loathing.

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  • 78. At 7:26pm on 18 Dec 2008, bluelaw wrote:

    You obviously don't know what the word sneering means Salmondella...

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  • 79. At 00:19am on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #71. salmondella

    "ayeright and bluelaw

    Are you two the Scottish Ant and Dec?!"

    Great, I like them!
    But I have to be Ant. Dec's voice is much to slimy... (So are you in the jungle?!)

    PS I'd go for your name more if it was really funny! It has the same impact as Grolera (Gray + Cholera) for me, sorry!

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  • 80. At 3:07pm on 22 Dec 2008, inmykip wrote:

    #75 went down like a Led Zepplin....oh well.

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