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Getting on with it

Brian Taylor | 11:22 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

UPDATE: tax and timing.

On tax, the 10p plan gets the go-ahead from the UK government.

As billed here, they'd base it initially upon advance forecast tax revenues rather than actual revenues.

Controversial issue with the borrowing power. Calman said prudential capital borrowing should be permitted.

The Murphy statement says yes to that - but with the proviso that such borrowing should be funded by an increase in Scottish taxation.

The SNP say that's a "con": that such borrowing could, alternatively, be funded by paring costs from revenue expenditure.

They say it's a way of preventing implementation.

To be frank, there are voices here at Holyrood from other parties who are of a similar opinion. They wonder how workable such a scheme is.

Borrowing increase

From the Treasury perspective, this is a way of containing and constraining public borrowing overall.

The Treasury argues that any increase in borrowing must be matched by a palpable increase in revenue: not just by imprecise promises to vary existing spending.

On timing, the Calman Commission parties are now plainly diverging.

Labour says: act, but after the next election - when they may or may not be in power. The Liberal Democrats say: act now, produce a bill.

'Act now'

As for the Tories, it would appear - as forecast here earlier - that those who advocate sending a signal of early action on Calman have lost out.

David Cameron is backing the principle of devolving further taxation powers to Holyrood - but won't commit to early legislation.

The view of the leader and those around him is that there are other priorities.

Further, they won't commit to the white paper as set out today. They plan their own white paper which, self-evidently, opens the perspective of different decisions.

As for the Scottish government, they say: act now on the issues where there is agreement.

All up, this is largely turning into a dry run for the arguments which will be advanced at the forthcoming UK General election.

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

So. This Calman business. What's occurring?

We're standing by for a Commons statement from the Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy - plus a slew of reaction.

But this much we know. Mr Murphy will publish a white paper endorsing most of the proposals drawn up by the Calman Commission on further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

On individual taxes, I expect him to support devolving stamp duty land tax, aggregates levy and landfill tax. Those taxes would fall under Holyrood control.

I expect him to oppose devolving air passenger duty. I expect him to support new powers for Holyrood to set the drink driving rules and the national speed limit. I expect him to back the devolution of control over air guns.

On income tax, I expect broad support for the Calman plan to oblige Holyrood to set a tax rate, varied according to MSPs spending wishes.

This scheme has been examined in close detail by the Treasury - and ultimately accepted.

Bock grant

Under the Calman plan, the Treasury would start by cutting the standard and upper rates of income tax in Scotland - and cutting the Scottish block grant accordingly.

MSPs would then decide. If they fix upon a 10p tax rate from Scotland, then the block grant would be restored in full.

If they levy less in tax, they get less from the Treasury. If they levy more upon Scottish taxpayers, then they have more to spend as a consequence.

They can't alter the gap between standard and upper rates.

Supporters say it increases the accountability of the Scottish Parliament, forcing MSPs to take decisions annually on tax.

I expect Nationalist critics to say that it would leave Scottish spending vulnerable to changes in, for example, tax allowances over which Holyrood would still have no control.

They'll advocate full fiscal autonomy.

Budget stability

To counter that, I wouldn't be at all surprised if today's announcement by Mr Murphy featured interim arrangements in order to ensure relative stability in the budget available to Scotland - especially in these recessionary times when tax receipts are likely to fluctuate.

I also expect Mr Murphy to endorse capital borrowing powers for the Scottish Government - although, once again, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a caveat in the shape of a control mechanism to ensure that the repayment of such borrowing is funded.

That could be controversial.

There will be more, much more: for example, on Calman's proposals for enhancing inter-Government and inter-parliamentary links.

Likely reaction? This will focus upon timing. Mike Russell, the SNP's constitutional affairs minister, will deride the decision by the UK government to defer any movement on Calman until after the General Election.

UK ministers say the election is due in the spring and it is unreasonable to expect the package to be implemented by then.

Mr Russell will say much of the content - such as parliamentary liaison and control over airguns - is uncontentious and could be enacted early.

Middle way

He will argue that, philosophically, Calman is now the status quo. Not, in short, worthy of submitting to the voters in a referendum.

The Liberal Democrats will say: get on with it. They will voice impatience at delay, arguing there should be a bill now, not solely a white paper.

And the Tories? They have been divided roughly in three: between those who want to signal early action as a sign of their commitment to Scotland, those who think it's a reasonable notion but not a priority after more than a decade in opposition at Westminster and those who think the entire plan is nonsense.

Expect the middle way. They'll say they back the concept of Calman - but would require to draft their own white paper.

In similar vein, they won't commit to a timetable.

More later.


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 12:07pm on 25 Nov 2009, Blind_Captain wrote:

    I have another serious proposal.

    Let Scotland have full fiscal autonomy, including all our natural resources, and then, through a compassionate view, grant a block grant to the rest of the UK. All sorts of caveates could be attached to this grant; e.g. not for Trident replacement, not for foreign adventures....etc.

    That would work.

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  • 2. At 12:18pm on 25 Nov 2009, Dean wrote:

    Well in regards to the Tory position Brian, a prudent move would be to imediately back full devolution of fiscal autonomy.

    But I think your being unfair, not least because proving a "Scottishness" is hardly the only reason Tory kind will want to support further devolution, it simply makes sense that Holyrood should be fiscally responsible for the monies it is spending. Thus fiscal autonomy in the UK for Scotland [AND ENGLAND, as part of a wider fiscal federalist drive] is required to deliver value for the taxpayers dollars.

    And on a seperate note, I notice your lack of comment on the recent polling from YouGov! It makes rather godo reading, if your a Labourite. But from an SNP or Tory or even Liberal perspective the Telegraph YouGov polling numbers make seriously disapointing reading.

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  • 3. At 12:34pm on 25 Nov 2009, EphemeralDeception wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 4. At 12:41pm on 25 Nov 2009, Graham E wrote:

    Congratulations Mr Salmond - one more step along the road to Independance acomplished.

    MSP's with full tax raising powers. Sounds like it's time to sell the house and hot foot it over the border.

    As for controlling natural resources - take a look at the predictions for how rapidly North Sea oil & gas production is dropping. Our bailouts come from Westminster now!

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  • 5. At 12:48pm on 25 Nov 2009, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    I did an Independece Poll in my house hold and guess what, I found that there was 100 percent support for Independence.

    On that basis obviously the whole of Scotland must want Independence.

    It never fails to amaze me the patheticness and arrogance of some people and journalists who think that a small sample of voters represent everyone.

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  • 6. At 12:52pm on 25 Nov 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Getting Off With It.

    ''I expect him to back the devolution of control over air guns.''

    Would it be wise for such an unpopular man to to back any type of gun devolution ?

    Nationalist & Anti Theist.

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  • 7. At 12:53pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    Yesterday the BBC were again twice guilty of less than accurate reporting over the release of Al Megrahi.

    One poster requested I draft a complaint that could be copied by anyone who felt strongly enough to complain but didn't have the time to write out the details.

    The draft complaint is below:

    I am writing to complain about two items that appeared on BBC Radio Scotland on 24 November.

    Both items related to the release of Al Megrahi from Greenock prison and both drew attention to the medical prognosis/advice that led to the release.

    The first item was broadcast on Good Morning Scotland at around 07:35, the correspondent was Tim Reid. Mr Reid’s broadcast contained a blatant factual inaccuracy.

    Mr Reid stated that: "Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill released Megrahi who has prostate cancer and was given three months to live by doctors."

    This was not true, Megrahi has never been "given three months to live by doctors", to present such an inaccurate statement as fact in a matter as sensitive as the Megrahi release is at best incompetent and at worst malicious.

    Here is the official medical advice released by the Scottish Government:
    "The clinical assessment, therefore, is that a 3 month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate for this patient."

    The three month timescale was only ever an estimate as it is in all such cases.

    Later on that same evening at around 17:10 your Westminster correspondent David Porter made exactly the same erroneous claim, again stating that Megrahi had been given three months to live.

    Twice in one day the BBC have blatantly mislead Scottish listeners over a very serious matter, a matter that has been politicised by the Unionist parties at Holyrood.

    Indeed the Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson has been pursuing just this line in an attempt at casting doubt on the integrity of both the team who gave the medical advice and Mr MacAskill.

    This misreporting by the BBC will surely bolster Dr Simpsons case in the minds of those listeners not aware of the truth, that the three months period was an estimate.

    Following on from revelations that the BBC in Scotland were recently forced to issue a personal apology to the SNP's Alex Neil(but refused to broadcast it) after political reporter Catriona Renton attributed views to Mr Neil that he had not made, one is left with no alternative but to question the professionalism and objectivity of those who are in control of the BBC's political reporting in Scotland.

    In this latest instance, an acknowledgement of the mistake made by your reporters is the very least you should do – an apology to the Scottish Government and your listeners would also be in order.

    Failing that, then please explain why such misreporting is deemed acceptable.


    Make your complaint by clicking here BBC Complaints.

    If we say nothing then the BBC will act with impunity.

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  • 8. At 12:54pm on 25 Nov 2009, redrobb wrote:

    Missed its mark, just how many ex-pats south of the border have been exploiting the progressive programmes now in place in Scotland. These paracites will just move on when the feeding trough becomes empty! Scotland mugged again me thinks!

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  • 9. At 12:59pm on 25 Nov 2009, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    Whichever way you slice it Calman was simply a political ploy by the unionist parties to try to undermine the SNP. They failed miserably.

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  • 10. At 1:15pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    Under the Calman plan, the Treasury would start by cutting the standard and upper rates of income tax in Scotland - and cutting the Scottish block grant accordingly.

    MSPs would then decide. If they fix upon a 10p tax rate from Scotland, then the block grant would be restored in full.

    A Hobson's choice if ever there was one.

    In effect, this is a waste of money as no Scottish Government will cut their own budget.

    So, administrative costs in calculating the grant cut back followed by administrative costs in restoring it - for no gain whatsoever.

    Any journalist promoting this nonsense as radical new powers may as well give up the title 'journalist'. If a party starts promoting clear tripe then come on, even if you support this Union you cannot stand back and say nothing.

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  • 11. At 1:21pm on 25 Nov 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    #9 Wee-Scamp,
    I think that the Scottish Labour party will use this "pledge" against the next tory Westminster government to try to gain support in Scotland and take some votes from the SNP.

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  • 12. At 1:36pm on 25 Nov 2009, LondonSteve wrote:

    4 graeme

    As for controlling natural resources - take a look at the predictions for how rapidly North Sea oil & gas production is dropping. Our bailouts come from Westminster now!

    And what happens when they finnaly do stop production? You think that the people of england and wales are gonna continue "bailing" us out with even greater wads of cash? will you be happy with that once you've skipped obver the border to your new utopia?

    Time to take full fiscal control so we can start building for all our futures in our own vision and not the vision of london that see's scotland as just one part of the UK. The scottish people and their needs cant be catergorised as one block of people, what better way to deliver what the scottish people need than by delivering it ourselves and not from "london bailouts"

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  • 13. At 1:55pm on 25 Nov 2009, FatherMacKenzie wrote:

    1. I agree with you to an extent

    The current proposals will have half of basic income tax, a quarter of the higher rate and a fifth of next year's top rate going to Holyrood.

    I don't understand the reasoning in 80% of a person's tax contributions going to reserved matters like defence when only 20% is going to devolved matters like health, education and transport.

    We should be calculating what percentage of total expenditure is from reserved matters and paying a share back to the UK government for these services rendered.

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  • 14. At 2:04pm on 25 Nov 2009, Wee-Scamp wrote:


    One of the main reasons that North Sea oil and gas production is falling as fast as it is is because of the attitude of the Treasury which steadfastly refuses to improve the taxation position. In short the Treasury is using the N Sea as a cash cow to help sort out the Labour Govt's debt problem. This is not just an appallingly short termist approach but it's an indication of the level of contempt it has for the oil and gas industry.

    Don't forget that Brown and Milliband the younger are off to Copenhagen soon to pledge the UKs' commitment to reducing global warming. They want the French to build nuclear power stations to power electric cars made in Japan and the oil and gas industry can go to blazes ....... After all, due also to their economic incompetence most of the oil and gas supply chain companies are foreign owned so what does Labour care.

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  • 15. At 2:05pm on 25 Nov 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    As i said in the previous thread the calman report was set up to fail . not one of the recommendations will be easily implemented, today's statement conveniently did not state what powers they wanted back .
    I am sorry Brian but today's title should be JAM TOMMOROW
    To promise to implement the majority of calman's shambles of a report ,but only if we win the next election is both FANTACY and ARROGANCE all rolled into 1.
    Mr Murphy's performance in parliament was pathetic, as was the performance of all the backbenchers -spineless the lot of them
    Bottom line- England cannot allow Scotland to go there own way


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  • 16. At 2:16pm on 25 Nov 2009, Astonished wrote:

    "It is entirely right, indeed essential, to ask awkward questions and expect answers." Brian Taylor yesterday (without a hint of irony).

    I would suggest in light of the above you ask Mr Murphy :

    Have the labour party lied to the people of Scotland for political gain ?

    Are you lying now ?

    Why don't we have full fiscal autonomy ? (supplemental question )Surely your proposals will only allow westminster to keep a large proportion of Scotland's wealth whereas full fiscal autonomy will let us see how much the union is costing us in jobs, money, esteem and journalistic integrity ?

    OF course bitter experience tells us that the BBC questioning will be along the lines of :

    "Mr Murphy -Your great ! Anything you'd like to say ?".

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  • 17. At 2:39pm on 25 Nov 2009, Robabody wrote:

    It's a spoiler ahead of St Andrews day, labour will do very little between now and the GE regarding Calman

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  • 18. At 2:39pm on 25 Nov 2009, JohnMcDonald wrote:

    What Scottish Government in its right mind would choose to cut its own block grant or use the power to vary income tax upwards when it has no other income tax powers? This additional "power" is no power at all.

    You have to start taking seriously the accusations of poor journalism when even someone as dim as me can see right through the con!

    How do you spell pathetic, Brian?

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  • 19. At 2:49pm on 25 Nov 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    Somewhere over the rainbow-------

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  • 20. At 2:52pm on 25 Nov 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    I gave up counting the number of misleading statements, pure spin, and downright untruths that were included in the statement given to Westminster this afternoon in between sneering at the 5 or 6 of THEM! and most of us getting a wee mention from Mr Mundell.
    What is more important however is all the things that were not Said like what powers they were going to snatch back!!!

    oh and yes before RE points it out i had a typo in my previous post sorry.

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  • 21. At 3:01pm on 25 Nov 2009, Nat_very_likely wrote:

    The Calman charade is just a repeat of the obfuscation and delaying tactics used against devolution in the late 70s.

    Back then there was a slender and diffident majority in favour of a talking shop assembly.Something that was easily brushed aside.

    Today a large majority of Scots fervently want either Independence or full fiscal autonomy and we know we are entitled to a referendum to decide which.And unlike 30 years ago this majority is backed up by a tigerish Government at Holyrood.

    This time it will be different and the Calman Commission will easily be brushed aside.

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  • 22. At 3:09pm on 25 Nov 2009, Iain Mackenzie wrote:

    Would agree that any extra powers are good for Scotland, so why the delay and not included in the Queen's speech of a few days ago?
    This has the pawmarks of New Labour's incompetent election strategists, electoral blackmail, the secret weapon, and about as useful as Trident at that..
    The above Calman inspired electoral wheeze reminds me that it is time for a visit to the hushed up McCrone Report of 1975 -
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    A timely reminder of just how desperate Labour politicians can become as their beloved union approaches it final breath..

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  • 23. At 3:09pm on 25 Nov 2009, albamac wrote:

    11. snowthistle
    "I think that the Scottish Labour party will use this "pledge" against the next tory Westminster government to try to gain support in Scotland and take some votes from the SNP."

    Don't want to 'labour' the point, snowthistle, but there is no such organisation as the Scottish Labour Party. That's just another example of their persistent and pervasive deceit.

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  • 24. At 3:18pm on 25 Nov 2009, bingowings87 wrote:


    "Today a large majority of Scots fervently want either Independence or full fiscal autonomy"

    Can you point me in the direction of the figures that back this up?

    If the desire is so fervent, why did a recent poll put Independence way down the list of the peoples priorities? Why did the same poll show a 2-1 majority AGAINST Independence?

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  • 25. At 3:18pm on 25 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 17 Robabody

    Of course it is. This is to give the journalists something to bite into so they don't have to bite into the other more important stories doing the rounds. The Calman report was hurriedly put together to act as a counter balance to the SNPs 'Conversation' and will be dropped after the next GE, everybody knows this. So why, the question should be asked, is this story doing the rounds?
    Nothing about the e-mails from the University of Anglia and the con of massaging the data on the 'Green House effect', or the £60 billion subsidy to HBOS which was kept quiet by the Bank of England, or the Labour MPs being referred to the CPS by Scotland Yard over expenses, or the Iraq inquiry.

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  • 26. At 3:23pm on 25 Nov 2009, EphemeralDeception wrote:

    My comment 3 has been referred to moderators before appearing and I have had no email explaining why.

    Basically my position is that all this Calman and Murphy nonsence is a pantomime and we are being deprived our democratic rights.

    The Scottish Secretary Mr Murphy is behaving as an anachronism of a colonial Governor telling us what is best and governing (ie controlling) the Scottish vassal region as his British mates see fit.

    Murphys says we will have accountability....yet there is no fiscal accounting.
    Murphy and Calman want to push through tax changes and changes to our constitution without a referendum.
    The elected government of Scotland has been excluded from the process of constitutional change. And no it was not that they didnt want to take part they were excluded from day one as were the greens and their views were not allowed to be aired. Political inclusion without the ability to express your view is NOT inclusion.

    Labour , Tory and Lib were not even elected on this as it wasn't a policy.


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  • 27. At 3:26pm on 25 Nov 2009, Andrew Dundas wrote:

    Not even the Calman Commission, nor anyone else, knows just how much income tax is, or could be, collected in Scotland. That's because many Scottish incomes are paid & taxed from England and many English incomes paid & taxed from Scottish sources. Many high incomes (eg for Company & BBC Directors/shareholders & landlords) are paid in different parts of our island and taxed from corresponding locations. Some pensioners live in Scotland and receive pensions paid from English sources and taxed there. It's all very complicated.
    People who work or stay on both sides of the border will be in an interesting position: whose side should they report their earnings to? Especially if Scottish tax rates turn out to be different. All that Calman could do was make shrewd guesses about what those '10p proceeds' might be. Hence Calman's formula that 'proceeds of 10p' would be delegated to Holyrood with a corresponding amount deducted from the 'Barnett' formula. Whatever that amount turns out to be?
    Nobody knows whether those '10p proceeds' will be accurate or not. It'll keep the HMRC accountants busy for long & weary. That'll cost us all a lot of money - who should pay for that? I believe we should be told.

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  • 28. At 3:30pm on 25 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Isn't it amazing how the SNP manages to keep on getting on with it. Donations Q3
    Con £5,000,000 8.4%= £420,000
    Lab £3,000,000 8.4%= £252,000
    Lib £ 800,000 8.4%= £ 67,200
    SNP £ 17,000 100% = £ 17,000
    No wonder the media are against them, there's no advertising spend to come from the SNP.

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  • 29. At 3:33pm on 25 Nov 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    albamac #23
    Yes ,you are of course correct, what I should have said was the North British branch of the labour party will use this as a stick to beat the tories in an attempt to draw some votes from the SNP. Something along the lines of "we promised to bring in the Calman recommendations, we're the only party capable of standing up for Scotland"

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  • 30. At 3:44pm on 25 Nov 2009, handclapping wrote:

    It shows up the result in Glasgow North East if Labour had £252,000 to spend and the SNP only £17,000. But what about the Tory and LibDem results there when they both had at least 3 times more than the SNP. Politics is about power and if the SNP don't have money, they'll just have to do it with boots on the streets the same way Labour did before they lost their soul to the money men.

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  • 31. At 3:49pm on 25 Nov 2009, Nat_very_likely wrote:

    #24. bingowings87

    It's the same old argument.Unionists say polls show only a minority in favour of Independence and we say levels of support for Independence vary according to how the question is worded.

    Do you really think if there was a multi-option referendum tommorrow that the status quo/slight increase in powers vote would be larger than the Independence/full fiscal autonomy vote?

    Perhaps it would.In that case why isn't there more unionist support for a referendum?

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  • 32. At 4:13pm on 25 Nov 2009, Tom wrote:

    I've said it before and I shall say it again: Calman Commission is the biggest hoax since the discovery of oil and Scots are falling for it, once again.

    How can limited tax powers ensure accountability? The energy industry, especially the north of east of Scotland contributes a huge amount to the economy, so surely it would be logical to have a major power in order to really plan for the future?

    Labour have promised the least amount of powers possible. If we have not used the current tax powers why would we use the similar new power proposed by Calman to vary income tax by 10p? It makes very little sense.

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  • 33. At 4:38pm on 25 Nov 2009, Chiefy1724 wrote:

    The Murph Muttering In Full:

    1/ It's all really good (lowers voice) but this will only happen in the next Parliament if NuLba win the 2010 General Election. If we can pass it through the Westminister Parliament.

    2/ Loyal Subjects of Northern Britain, if you are Very good and vote for Gordon then you might get some of what we might promise you sometime. Possibly.

    3/ NuLab will (in very small letters, "if elected") "complete Donald Dewar's Devolution Legacy"

    4/ Don't vote for those Nasty Nats. A vote for those Nasty Nats is a Vote for the Tories. Boo. Maggie Maggie Maggie, Out Out Out.

    5/ Er....

    6/ That's it.

    Peter, Have I got to say Anything Else ? Oh, you've arranged for The Usual on Reporting Northern Britain and Newsnicht tonight ? Glen or Catriona ? And Gary Robertson has been assigned as Special Correspondant from Rockall ? Jolly Good.

    Anyone got the latest betting on The Murph retaining Eastwood ?

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  • 34. At 4:48pm on 25 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    Quite a good description of the 'Muttering Murphy'.

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  • 35. At 4:52pm on 25 Nov 2009, Iain Mackenzie wrote:

    Further to my hushed-up URL pointing to the hushed-up McCrone Report of '75, google "The First McCrone report" to get the same PDF.
    Please circulate widely, everyone in Scotland should have a neb at this, best to wind down and pour a stiff dram before reading..

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  • 36. At 5:04pm on 25 Nov 2009, clachangowk wrote:


    Citing as a problem the example of living in Scotland and getting pensions from England is like the scaremongering of border posts between an independent England and independent Scotland.

    I get pension payments from Austria, the Netherlands and Germany thanks to the time I have worked and paid social security in these countries. I declare the income for tax here in Scotland -- although in fact the English take it. The last point is the only problem that I see

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  • 37. At 5:15pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed here

    Missed Mike Russell on radio just now, caught the last 30secs and sounded good.

    On the Calman proposals:
    Nothing radical, nothing at all really.

    We'll put your alarm clock back half an hour to give the impression that you can have a lie in, you can put it forward yourself if you don't want to be late for work - that's what the 'big tax idea' amounts to.

    Bad news is that the media are, as predicted, trying to paint them as radical new powers etc, etc.

    Good news is that it needs a good salesman to sell an empty box to a prospective buyer - Murphy is no salesman.

    These proposals will fade like a 'trouser cough' in the wind. Labour cannot build an election campaign on this stuff.

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  • 38. At 5:17pm on 25 Nov 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 35 Chattermac

    The Scottish Economy Report they Classified TOP SECRET

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  • 39. At 5:28pm on 25 Nov 2009, Skip_NC wrote:

    #27 Leftie, I agree with almost all of what you say. However, I do believe it is possible for HMRC to break down tax receipts in the manner you suggest. Of course it won't happen and here's why:

    The UK government has, for many years, led the world in "double taxation" treaties. In fact, the British model treaty was the basis for the one that is used throughout the world now. It would be simple enough to apply that treaty and compute the tax revenues due to the Scottish Treasury. I am sure a Revenue Officer could knock up a computer file in his tea-break. I am equally sure that he could be prevailed upon to send it by second-class unregistered mail in the hope that the file will get lost on its way to the Scottish Government.

    And therein lies the problem. The UK government is offering this unworkable, half-baked, inefficient scheme because the truth is unpalatable to them.

    Brian, we all know mathematics isn't your strong suit, so why don't you get a nice, helpful tutor to guide you through at least some of the basics so you can ask Jim Murphy searching questions on this topic?

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  • 40. At 5:45pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    Well, that was worth waiting for.

    Jim Murphy given a half decent grilling at last - not top of the range stuff but not the kid glove treatment he's used to - and boy did it show.

    Murphy struggled when pressed on a number of points and simply went into auto pilot mode attacking the SNP.

    Get this guy in front of a real interviewer for 10 minutes and I guarantee his short lived spell in the spotlight will end.

    He's truly awfull.

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  • 41. At 6:41pm on 25 Nov 2009, Calum McKay wrote:

    "Plans to give new tax-raising powers to the Scottish Parliament have been outlined by the UK government, as part of a radical shake-up of devolution."

    A power devolved is a power retained!

    Must have taken labour all of five minutes to think this wheeze up, Jackie Bailey perhaps, or the platinum blonde, McKelvey I think? Sadly there are some who will buy it, not for substance, but the usual folk who would vote for a dead parrot with a labour badge.

    Labour are due for a complete pasting in England, the English detest Brown and feel he has be foisted on them undemocratically. Frankly who can blame them, rather I sympathise with their plight. There will be a backlash in England against labour, fuelled partly by a sense of English nationalist injustice, power to them, Brown has had a catastrophic and negative impact on both our countries, he and his party must never be forgiven!

    Come June next year, who in Westminster will guard Scotland's interests, the SNP yes. Labour fodder and the anonymous liberals will pick up their wage packet and their expenses month by month with out uttering a word in Scotland's defence.

    As has been said many times the union is in place more for protecting the interests of the north british political elite rather than the needs or aspirations of Scots!

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  • 42. At 6:58pm on 25 Nov 2009, JTomlin wrote:

    4. Graham_e
    "As for controlling natural resources - take a look at the predictions for how rapidly North Sea oil & gas production is dropping. Our bailouts come from Westminster now!"

    Yep, isn't it just AMAZING how North Sea oil COULD save the UK's economy but couldn't save Scotlands?

    Oil to Save UK

    Amazing that! ;-)

    And those new finds won't help at all will they? OF COURSE, they won't.

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  • 43. At 7:05pm on 25 Nov 2009, JTomlin wrote:

    24. bingowings87
    "If the desire is so fervent, why did a recent poll put Independence way down the list of the peoples priorities? Why did the same poll show a 2-1 majority AGAINST Independence?"
    How was the question worded?

    Don't know?

    Until you know that a poll (ANY POLL) is largely meaningless.

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  • 44. At 7:21pm on 25 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #9 Wee Scamp

    Your on the money with that


    Calmans offer to adjust taxation is a trap and not a very good one. The SNP arn't stupid enough to agree on borrowing powers that are fundamentally toothless - and especialy when the only reason for Westmonster giving such power to the SNP in the first place (ahead of the Lib/Lab leadership(s)) would be to validate the unionist parties long sought after right to criticise the SNP's economic policy.

    The SNP cannot at the present moment be criticised for setting the "wrong budget" or "fiscal imprudence" (most of which are now synonymous with Labours last term in office) because the Block Grant (notice how the unionists call it what it is now?) is a fairly trivial aspect of devolved governance.

    I believe the term used was a "pocketmoney" parliament.

    I'd be tempted to liken it more with the evil yesteryear "oil for food" program that severly lacked in any sense of morality it tried to achieve (selling oil to the west for an utter pitance, not even a 10th of it's market price) while simultaneously failing to save the millions of poverty stricken Iraqi's the west told us they cared so much about.

    We might not be starving or dying of preventable disease like the Iraqi's were, but like the Iraqi's, we benefit the least from our relationship with the UK.

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  • 45. At 7:23pm on 25 Nov 2009, Rockycoast wrote:

    40 Onine Ed Here

    Would you please tell me where you heard the Murphy interview? It sounds worth a hearing.

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  • 46. At 7:48pm on 25 Nov 2009, nate_oz wrote:

    Why do people keep rattling on about polls when talking about Independence.

    The polls couldn't be more inaccurate for many reasons. The type or scope of people that participate in polls, the number of people that participate, and the information these people possess.

    Polls are grossly inaccurate at the best of times with history showing a pattern of them being wrong.

    There is not one person I've discussed independence with that has disagreed with the notion of Scotland needing full fiscal autonomy. Back when Thatcher hid the McCrone report from the Scottish people fearing independence, ever since these days of oil discovery the media has been on a campaign against it. Sadly most people believe what they read or are so uneducated they have no idea of what independence actually means.

    How can anyone agree that its right for a modern nation to have no state, to recieve a 100% handout from another parliament in order to survive? Quite frankly I find it embarrassing, it wasn't always this way, and it may be history long forgotten but many people died to prevent this current situation from happening.

    Robert Burns got it with "bought and sold for english gold", and although its different time's this is exactly what will happen again, some false promises and a negative media campaign to stop this flourishing country from going its own way in the world, and sadly I think it will work. Scotlands true potential may go forever unrealised, its a tragedy really.

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  • 47. At 7:49pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    45. At 7:23pm on 25 Nov 2009, Rockycoast wrote:
    40 Onine Ed Here

    Would you please tell me where you heard the Murphy interview? It sounds worth a hearing.

    Roughly 17:30 radio Scotland.

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  • 48. At 8:08pm on 25 Nov 2009, akava77 wrote:

    I haven't managed to see full coverage of the statement on Calman yet, although from what I saw on Reporting Scotland this evening, the whole non-event today looks to be a complete waste of time. The transfer of these powers will more than likely never be implemented as outlined today, given that Labour have no plans to do anything with them before they are inevitably kicked out of office next May and we are lumped with a Tory government that hardly anyone in Scotland wants. Some union dividend there then!!
    I did however manage to catch Scotland Question Time on BBC2 this afternoon, and the contrast with First Minister's Questions in Holyrood could not be greater. During FMQ's most of the time, we usually see a lively, interesting and relevant debate on issues affecting the daily lives of ordinary people in Scotland on a weekly basis with contributions from a wide range of opinions across the political spectrum.
    In Westminster, once a month we are treated to a more farcical affair entirely. Usually a bunch of Labour backbenchers trotting out the same tired old cliches one after another, either patting each other on the back in a sickly self-congratulatory manner for achieving absolutely nothing, or cheap point scoring against the Scottish Government and wasting everybody's time. With very little exception, both Jim Murphy and his female sidekick (who's name I instantly forget) go through the motions, fail to say anything inspiring, or of any relevance or usefulness to the debate. At one point today, Michael Connarty, a Labour backbencher, was even rebuked by the speaker for asking a question that wasn't even a question.
    Then on the other side, we have Tory MPs (usually from from the South of England) moaning about what they perceive as special treatment for Scotland, either that or they are being told off by the speaker for making too much noise in their own private conversations (and showing great disrespect to the people of Scotland in doing so). Occasionally when they are allowed to get a word in edgeways, a very small number of SNP and Lib Dems do get to ask questions that put ministers on the spot and add some small degree of relevance to the debate.
    I think what I watched today confirmed what I have thought all along - that the Westminster parliament is increasingly irrelevant to Scotland, that the Scotland Office has outlived its usefulness, should be scrapped immediately and all its responsibilites transferred to Holyrood, and that this monthly fiasco of Scotland Questions is put out of its misery and comes to an end. I really fail to see why Westminster even bothers with it any more, apart from letting Labour cling on to some sort of misguided belief that they actually still run Scotland.

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  • 49. At 8:53pm on 25 Nov 2009, Roddy Ferguson wrote:

    Calman, another sham which I can no better describe than in the
    immortal words from just an excuse "maybe's aye, maybe's naw"

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  • 50. At 8:56pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    Observing Jim Murphy, the Secretary of State for Scotland, being lauded by the Scottish media who have flocked around him pretty much echoing his every word, I remembered a song by the late great Jake Thackary.

    For those who have never heard of Jake he was an English satirical poet/songwriter who used to regularly appear on TV programmes like That's Life in the seventies - he was also very funny.

    Anyway, I thought that given the bull excrement being hawked by our Jim, that the following ditty seemed appropriate:

    Click Here

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  • 51. At 8:59pm on 25 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Over at STV: Dubbieside said...


    As someone once said in the Scotsman comments,

    "With devolution we get to ban air guns, with independence we get to ban Trident."

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  • 52. At 9:08pm on 25 Nov 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:


    Just an antidote to Graham_e Cringworthy's little piece.

    "Since 1970, approximately 40 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of oil and gas have been extracted from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Production has fallen a bit since 2000 but up to 25.0 billion boe have still to be extracted from presently identified and operational fields.

    “The year 2008/2009 has seen record numbers of applications for new exploration licences.

    Rising prices mean that the value of the remaining presently identified reserves on the UKCS has increased significantly. The US Energy Information Administration forecast that oil prices will average $105 a barrel over the next twenty years.
    This compares to an average price of $41 a barrel over the previous 20 years."

    I very much hope that people like Grahm_e leave us. I wouldn't like to share my country with them

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  • 53. At 9:28pm on 25 Nov 2009, Robabody wrote:

    @ 44 HI GA - Good point re oil for food but:

    “We might not be starving or dying of preventable disease like the Iraqi's were, but like the Iraqi's, we benefit the least from our relationship with the UK.”

    Oh I don’t know – I see a lot of our kids are getting malnutrition these days and stupid unionists want to end free meals to build a train set. Meanwhile cheap drink (and watch labour fluff it over the price per unit issue) is taking a steady toll.

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  • 54. At 10:02pm on 25 Nov 2009, Online Ed wrote:

    Online Ed Here

    If you had to design a tax regime and set such limitations on borrowing that were designed to ensure an economy collapsed and required a bank style treasury bale out then these tax proposals and borrowing restrictions are exactly that.

    This dear people, whatever side of the constitutional debate you reside, is economic sabotage.

    These 'indecent' proposals cannot work [they aren't designed to], there are too many variables and reactive restrictions. The obvious flaw is the scenario we find ourselves in now - a recession with a reduced and unexpected tax take from income. The budget will have already been decided prior to the onset of these lean times.

    The usual method of maintaining services during periods like this is borrowing. However by insisting that borrowing be paid for by tax on income ensures Scots are taxed more just to keep current services, we then enter a vicious cycle.

    The end result is a nation that cannot sustain itself and needs to be baled out by the treasury.

    What Jim Murphy proposed today is the strategic ruin of Scotland - he is probably unaware of the implications of the proposals [I honestly don't think that Murphy has the intellect to see it] but that is what they will bring about.

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  • 55. At 10:04pm on 25 Nov 2009, X_Sticks wrote:

    Nothing less than full fiscal autonomy will do. This tweaking of the pocket money by Calman is just a distracting game. A game concocted by the westmonster unionists to retain control of Scotland's finance. If you want to continue to live in a third world country under the thumb of a rich, ruthless, selfish overlord, then vote for anyone except the SNP. The SNP are the only means to an end. The SNP are only a means to an end.
    Without full fiscal autonomy Scotland can't restructure as it must to survive in the world that politicians, global business and global finance have created for us through their greed and mismanagement. We need government that works with our industries to maximise the benefits they create for the good of all Scots, not just the elite.
    The restructuring must start at the bottom. Education. Scotland used to have the best education in the world. Bar none. It needs the investment and encouragement at all levels to rebuild it into what it should be. It needs to feed the universities, who in turn need to work with business to develop new technologies and industries. These should be spread across the country to regenerate in all areas - in a fair way that would satisfy the likes of cynicalhighlander. This would turn provides opportunities and hope for our children and their children.
    We have abundant natural resources that, if carefully managed, can provide us revenue long into the future. Water (which will probably be worth more than the oil ultimately, which is why it must never be privatised), oil, whisky, tourism, renewable energy, coal, and above all these, people. We have abundant skills in software, electronics, biology, finance, film, and medicine (to mention just a few).
    But there is a problem.
    People are always afraid of change. Change means the unknown, uncertainty, possible threats, fear. It's the turkeys voting for Xmas syndrome. Some are just plain scared by the scale of change that independence means. They doubt themselves, Wir too wee, too poor, wis need oor Mammy!
    It's' one of the reasons that the Unionists are in disarray. Unionist politicos and business greats just do not want to give up that gravy train to the titles and tat. They will do anything to keep their minions from even dreaming of independence. Many of our disadvantaged just haven't got the courage to let go Mammy's hand (that makes me think of Wee Jim). They don't want change.
    I'm no great lover of the SNP. They don't and won't always make the right decisions. But what has impressed me is that they have, by their very desire for independence, shut the door to the westminster baubles and self-serving selfishness (why does that make me think of Lord Foulkes?!). Because of this they have only the best for Scotland at heart (oh, all right then, perhaps a little self seeking too), but not Lordships nor Knighthoods. They've shown that they can be trusted to make difficult decisions on the big stage. They promise independence.
    There has I think, just been a major political earthquake in Scotland whether we all realise it or not. We have most certainly moved a step closer to possible independence. But the closer we move to it the scarier it gets.
    Here's where we need to draw on our own Scottish heritage. We are without a shadow of a doubt - possibly ;) - the most ingenious, inventive, adaptable, determined, hard-working nation on the planet. When we want to be. We've never been afraid to set foot abroad, to adventure, to explore, to discover.
    We used (the much maligned) British Empire to our great advantage, and have spread our - mostly good - reputation to every corner of the planet. Take a look at the histories of America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Africa and almost every country in the Commonwealth and you will find influential Scots. Scots ingenuity gave us much of civilisation as we know it today, both the technologies and the philosophies. And what kind of world would it be without whisky and Auld Lang Syne?
    Why then are we so feart to stand on our own two feet in our own homeland? Perhaps it's a lifetime's indoctrination into the British establishment. An establishment that has always undermined any Scottish desire for independence. An establishment that feels it would lose something by the loss of Scotland from its empire and is prepared to go to any lengths to prevent it.
    In some ways they are right. It would be the end of the empire. But I don't think the common Scots ever wanted the "Empire", they just wanted the challenge. And here's the challenge of the day - reclaiming the right of sovereignty over Scotland.
    To do this we need to convince ourselves that we have the capability of running our own affairs. The Unionists don't think that we do, and consequently can't have any confidence in themselves. The harder they argue against it they more they undermine their position.
    We need to trust ourselves to be successful, to have the ability to manage our country for the best, for the common good. In this respect we are well placed. We have our heritage to draw on. We have a country that is blessed with an abundance of resources that, if properly managed for the good of the country, can provide both ourselves (and the rest of this island) with power and water into the 21st century. We have standards of engineering and research that are world class. This is all in spite of the asset stripping that is currently being perpetrated on our business and industry. We want socially responsible business and industry - Robert Owen proved it is possible.
    We need to inspire ourselves to independence. We need to encourage self-belief - we can do it. We must do it. We will do it.
    I want my country FREE. I want pride in Scotland once again. I want to give my children the country they deserve. Nothing less than independence will do.
    Apologies for the rant, but I'm getting bored with all the negativity.

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  • 56. At 10:06pm on 25 Nov 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Why doesn't Westminster give full fiscal authority to Holyrood, with the caveat that if Holyrood screws up during a full parliamentary term, Westminster will retract the authority.

    While oil appears to be in sufficient supply for several years to come, the rest of the economy must be built up to ensure we do not rely on oil, but rather oil provides additional revenue.


    The article does not make it clear if teachers accepting early retirement will lose any pension benefits. Perhaps someone could clarify if this would happen, as it might affect the numbers who take early retirement.

    The plan to keep teachers skills updated does have merit however.

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  • 57. At 10:09pm on 25 Nov 2009, dear_wendy wrote:

    I'll make a prediction right now.

    Tories will win in 2010, and will introduce none of this in their first term.

    This is a Labour fudge, which they also know will not be implemented. Nor do they want it to be. The promise of it at some point in the future may just keep a few of their Scottish MPs on the gravy train for a few more years though.

    Wake up Scotland - we're being taken for mugs once again.

    This is a Westminster proposal, by a London based party that always places the Union and their own party interests above those of the people of Scotland. Those are pretty blatant facts.

    Given that - Who do you think this proposal is designed to benefit?

    The people of Scotland?

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  • 58. At 10:14pm on 25 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #48 Akava77

    The Scotland Office and indeed the position of "Secretary of State for Scotland is totally irrelevant to the Scottish people. We don't need representation at westminster from a westminster politician.

    We didn't need one during the Lib/lab pact, where thon useless wee nyaff Douglas Alexander and Des Browne half-timed it along with the transport and defence briefs respectively - neither did we need one during the Tories reign of terror, for all the good Lang, Rifkind and Forsyth did for us.

    The real reason this brief has been dusted down and given an airing is because the Westminster gang don't like what they see in Scotland. It makes them very nervous to see a nationalist party govern credibly and with greater impetus given to what is in Scotland best interests as opposed to westminster.

    Nescient fools like Reluctant Expat might see that impetus as "picking fights" with Westminster to further a nationalist agenda - but ask yourself this; by giving such a previously irrelevant position such a fanfare and clamour - are Labour not showing that for the 10 years before the SNP rose to power - that they really didn't see Scotland as something worth bothering with.

    That's the question people should ask themselves come polling day.

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  • 59. At 10:31pm on 25 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:



    Fantastic post - a little bit wooly and self congratulatory (ok, I suppose we are an exceptional breed of people when we're not being told otherwise!)

    I am an SNP member, but I fully agree that the SNP are a means to an end. They are they only party who has the aspiration of independent rule at the core of it's being - but thats not to say if they do secure us an independent, free and prosperous country that I would want them to govern it for all time.

    In my heart of hearts I want to see Annabel Goldie swayed by a strong and resounding call for Scottish independence. I think if she warmed to the prospect of holding Scotland in greater esteem than the Union she would be a wonderful leader and certainly - with her and Salmond constantly at loggerheads in an independent parliament, both would work tirelessly to hold the other to account.

    I can but dream!

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  • 60. At 10:31pm on 25 Nov 2009, X_Sticks wrote:

    Oh, and while I'm at it...
    I meant to mention that I think our Brian gets a pretty hard time on here. I think we should cut him a bit of slack. The man has to walk a political tightrope. I think he may have his own political leanings, but by and large he is pretty impartial. I also think that he cuts us a fair bit of slack on this blog, and I'm sure the mods on here do get some direction from the man himself. While sometimes there may be complaints regarding his choice of one subject over another, he (and the mods) do let us stray onto subjects that are probably *not* strictly "on subject", but that we want to discuss.IMHO.

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  • 61. At 10:31pm on 25 Nov 2009, dear_wendy wrote:

    #54 Online Ed

    Well done, I think you may just have highlighted "The Eastwood Question".

    (apologies to Mr T. Dalyell!)

    Why should a Westminster Government be able to respond to an unforeseen drop in income tax by borrowing and stimulating the economy, while a Scottish Government be hamstrung by having to raise taxes and thus stifling the economy and entering a vicious circle of decline?

    Lets have a proper Scottish Government.

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  • 62. At 10:53pm on 25 Nov 2009, dear_wendy wrote:

    Quote from Murphy today (in responding to Angus Robertson)

    "A Nationalist puts the SNP first, a patriot puts Scotland first, and that's the difference between my party and yours, and why increasingly Scotland is turning its back on the SNP."

    Following that, here's another of those "awkward questions" Brian......

    "Mr Murphy - When faced with a political decision that would benefit Scotland at the expense of the Union, or benefit the Union at the expense of Scotland...... Which would you choose?"

    Likely answer :- squirm squirm squirm

    Then, ask the same question to Mr Salmond......

    Likely answer : - Scotland, Scotland, Scotland.

    Give it a try at some point before the election Brian. Please!!!!

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  • 63. At 11:00pm on 25 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #62 Dear_Wendy

    "Give it a try at some point before the election Brian. Please!!!!"

    You've no chance! He's Brian Taylor not Johnathan Dimbleby!

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  • 64. At 11:12pm on 25 Nov 2009, dear_wendy wrote:

    Nice One Gordon Brewer!!!

    On Borrowing Powers, and the requirement for borrowing to be balanced by tax increase -
    "If this applied to Westminster, over the last year, with the amount borrowed we'd all have been paying 150% income tax!"

    Nailed it!! Very Un-Glencampbelly!

    Then follows up with.....

    "So if this is a good idea, are you proposing that this be applied to Westminster borrowing also?"

    Proper interviewing by Brewer. Anne McKechin left floundering. Well done.

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  • 65. At 11:22pm on 25 Nov 2009, mrbfaethedee wrote:

    Labour accept the link between cost and consumption but won't support minimum pricing on alchohol!

    How LOW will LABOUR go?!
    There are no depths to which they will not sink.

    Petty politicking with the health of the nation.


    How come we have to reap the sorrow they sow?

    Bring on the labour apologists...
    GO ON, tell me what Labour is the party of? Gie's a laugh, we all like a bit of gallows humour.

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  • 66. At 11:31pm on 25 Nov 2009, hamish42 wrote:

    Why are the unionists prepared to accept this taxation plan which can put Scotland at a disadvatage when they themselves may at some time in the future have to cope with it?

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  • 67. At 11:54pm on 25 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:


    Think of what will happen if Call me Dave gets in with the mandate to raise taxes and slash public services in his 30 day budget.

    There will be outright anarchy in the UK - yet him and his cohorts will still attend society dinners with the White City bankers, toasting thier respective successes, revelling in the fact that a flawed Labour term in office will take much of the flak for the first 12 months.

    God I hope we get 20 MP's... we NEED 20 MP's or we're all for the swannie.

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  • 68. At 11:55pm on 25 Nov 2009, X_Sticks wrote:

    59. GAberdeen

    Thanks GA, I just needed a wooly rant.
    I'd like to see Malcolm Chisolm (remember him Brian?) step up to the plate in an independent Scotland.
    Nice one Gordon Brewer, that was more like impartial and searching journalism. More please.
    The Scotland Office is a waste of time and money. The Jim and Anne show. Anyone remember Pinky and Perky?

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  • 69. At 11:58pm on 25 Nov 2009, enneffess wrote:

    The most worrying aspect is the threat by Areva to abandon the whole construction.

    I'm in favour of nuclear power, but not in the manner this seems to being carried out.

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  • 70. At 00:09am on 26 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #65 Mrbfaethedee - good post

    Labour refuse to support it because it's pragmatic and forward thinking...? no, because it's pragmatic and forward thinking and the SNP proposed it.

    The Smoking ban turned out to be a very popular policy - Well done Jack (fagban) McConnel, not that fagbanning is what he'll be remembered for... Godfathering/Discovering/Saving/ Malawi AND fagbanning :)

    Pragmatic and daring... and completely copying the Irish - but that's life. I got a jibe thrown at me by an english colleauge today about England sorting out the "double jepordy" law and how Scotland is a backward country and thats why we hadn't...

    I loved the look on his face when I pointed out that in England, clamping is still a staple of English Road Traffic Law.... He had no idea that clamping was deemed illegal here over 15 years ago and was legally considered tantamount to theft and extortion - from a man who prided himself on his Lamborghini Gallardo it was obvious he had no pithy "backward" comment to retort with :)

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  • 71. At 00:58am on 26 Nov 2009, mrbfaethedee wrote:

    70. GAberdeen
    "Labour refuse to support it because it's pragmatic and forward thinking...? no, because it's pragmatic and forward thinking and the SNP proposed it."

    Too true GAberdeen!
    The very worst of politcs - petty and cynical - trust Labour to deliver!

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  • 72. At 03:10am on 26 Nov 2009, JTomlin wrote:

    55. X_Sticks
    "We need to trust ourselves to be successful, to have the ability to manage our country for the best, for the common good. In this respect we are well placed. We have our heritage to draw on. We have a country that is blessed with an abundance of resources that, if properly managed for the good of the country, can provide both ourselves (and the rest of this island) with power and water into the 21st century. We have standards of engineering and research that are world class. This is all in spite of the asset stripping that is currently being perpetrated on our business and industry. We want socially responsible business and industry - Robert Owen proved it is possible.
    We need to inspire ourselves to independence. We need to encourage self-belief - we can do it. We must do it. We will do it.
    I want my country FREE. I want pride in Scotland once again. I want to give my children the country they deserve. Nothing less than independence will do.
    Apologies for the rant, but I'm getting bored with all the negativity.


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  • 73. At 06:20am on 26 Nov 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    I see Mr Gray intends to "set up a commission to look at alternative pricing mechanisms such as local sales tax"
    What are they like? Alternative parallel government on behalf of the labour party.

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  • 74. At 07:26am on 26 Nov 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    I had stopped watching Newsnight - or its " best bits" harrumph! - because I was so irritated by the whole thing.
    I turn my back and Gordon Brewer does a proper interview!

    Since the Government in Westminster is suggesting copying the SNP over booze , why is Mr Grey and his merry band of men and women, voting against the proposal?

    Apart from the politics of spite and spin .

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  • 75. At 07:52am on 26 Nov 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    #74 Diabloandco

    "politics of spite and spin" I like that, can I quote it?

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  • 76. At 08:14am on 26 Nov 2009, coineach watson wrote:

    Instead or proposing the Scottish (SNP) Government is going to be more accountable for the money they spend - bet that will be recinded IF there is ever another NuLabour administration in Scotland - how about a Judicial Enquiry - UNDER OATH about the money NuLabour and Conservative Parties receive from TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS.
    Under the UN Resolution of December 1987 at which 157 contries voted for the Resolution, 1 (Hondurus) abstained and 2 (The USA and Israel) voted against. The Resolution was to define TERRORISM and by the UN definition both The USA and Israel were deemed to be TERRORIST STATES. Should we not then be arresting these MPs who have received money (directly or indirectly) and supported Zionist Israel for TERRORISM under the current Terrorist Laws of the United Kingdom???
    How much has NuLabour and Conservative MSPs received??

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  • 77. At 09:18am on 26 Nov 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    Feel free Snowthistle!

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  • 78. At 09:27am on 26 Nov 2009, Nat_very_likely wrote:

    #55. X_Sticks

    Well said.As good a case for Independence as I've heard.

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  • 79. At 09:31am on 26 Nov 2009, john wrote:

    I am quite frequently exasperated by politicians, but this morning I am actually really angry by what the poor people's champions have done. How can they:
    1. demand a debate then announce their intentions before the debate has started?
    2. Go against the advice of the police and the medical community just because "the extra money paid will not go to the government" (do they not realise that the scottish parliment does not have that particular power anyway).
    3. Have the sheer affrontery to do this and then sit on their hands smugly and suggest nothing on their part. They are wreckers pure and simple, and not fit to form a stain on the sole of societie's shoe.

    A few other things:
    Labour's continual bringing up of the anomoly of Buckfast shows how parochial and west coast they are. I only see empty buckfast bottles in glasgow and lanarkshire, never saw them in edinburgh, aberdeen or inverness.

    Nice tear jerking story on GMS this morning, and I accept her point that she would have stolen for alcohol if she didn't have the money. But surely even the most intellectually crippled reporter would have realised that the aim of minimum pricing is to get people away from alcohol before they get to the dependance stage. Once someone is addicted, possibly the only measure (as the woman herself illustrated) is the intervention of a loved one, or a similar lightbulb moment.


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  • 80. At 09:40am on 26 Nov 2009, Chiefy1724 wrote:

    Is there a Wind Of Change blowing through BBC Northern Britain Newsroom (and associated outposts) ? Brewer delivers on Newsnicht and the GMS team are clearly having a good go.

    Gary Robertson obviously survived his session in Room 101 yesterday and came back this morning for an interview with The Grey Man on Minimum Pricing on GMS (Around 7-35am). The awkward questions were asked ("Are you not just turning this into a political issue rather than looking to the best interests of the health of the nation ? Your "commission" is just another way of kicking this into the long grass before the UK General Election ?") Of course, no replies, and The Grey Man just kept on talking over Gary as he had clearly been taught to do in his "Meedja Training".

    The best one though was "If your commission recommends minimum pricing, will you accept that". The Grey Man replies "Well, it simply won't".

    Also interesting to note that Gary finished the interview by referring to The Grey Man by his correct title of "The Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament" as opposed to the usual BBC Northern Britain "Leader of Scottish Labour".

    Didn't hear Nicola on GMS at 8-10. How did she get on ?

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  • 81. At 09:45am on 26 Nov 2009, Nat_very_likely wrote:

    #60. X_Sticks

    I've just read your #60 and I'd like to second it.

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  • 82. At 09:53am on 26 Nov 2009, skint wrote:

    #55 X_Sticks

    Well said, we do forget how influential Scots have been in helping to develop the world we live in today.

    We do have a significant brain drain in this country and independence is probably the only route to resolving that.

    I also agree with other bloggers that an independant Scottish Government would need a good opposition as long as they are politicj=king for the god of Scotland an not their British masters.

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  • 83. At 10:18am on 26 Nov 2009, Richard_the_Rogue wrote:

    Brian, why are you even bothering to talk about this? You and I know full well that these proposals will never be implemented. Labour won't get a majority at the next UK general election, the Tories will punt them in to the long grass, and the Lib Dems, well...

    This is nothing more than spin and empty promises. Even if the promises were to be fulfilled, they are either deeply flawed (tax/ borrowing) or relatively small beer. It's a sop to the voters to try and persuade them that Labour are doing something to help Scotland but you know what, folks? They ain't.

    PS Congratulations BBC on growing some cojones at last, but I reserve judgement until I see how you behave on Monday.

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  • 84. At 10:46am on 26 Nov 2009, X_Sticks wrote:

    I listned to GMS this morning and I couldn't believe what I heard from IGor. Let's have another (no doubt expensive) commission to try to find an excuse to trash the SNP proposals for minimum pricing! Do we need a commission to find out what we already know; that Scotland has a drink problem. No. If you need any proof of this try visiting and A&E (alcoholics & emergency) department of ANY Scottish hospital on a Friday or Saturday night.
    The cost to the taxpayer to deal with this problem is horrendous. Meanwhile the profits from the sale of alcohol go to the (far too powerful) supermarkets, the (far too powerful) alcohol industry, and, not leastly, the treasury.
    There should be a "damage" tax applied to alcohol, which should be set at a level that does create a minimum price. The revenue should be used to a) educate people about the dangers of alcohol, and b) pay for the damage that alcohol does. Alcohol related incidents should be removed from our A&E's - there should be a separate section in the hospitals for alcohol related emergencies. This should be staffed with police and medics trained to deal with the idiots that get themselves into alcoholic states. Why should ordinary citizens have to face the disgraceful (and often violent) behavior witnessed in A&E just because they have a REAL emergency on a Friday or Saturday night - they shouldn't.
    I'm old enough to remember a time when there was a ban on the advertising of alcohol. This MUST be brought back. Half of the problem with alcohol is the scandalous advertising of alcohol aimed at the younger generations. "Drink OUR hooch and you too can "look cool", or get a beautiful (always scantily clad) woman". The advertising of alcohol was banned for good reason. It sells alcohol.
    We have allowed the drinks industry away with far too much and they should be brought back under control. Of course this won't happen under westmonster rule, they have many rich friends in the industry and many MPs have vested interests.
    I think we should have a commission on the validity of the Labour party in Scottish politics. It would be more productive, and money well spent in my view.

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  • 85. At 10:59am on 26 Nov 2009, govanite wrote:

    Brewer did well last night - as he should more often. He is after all a serious interviewer who presented Newsnight often enough when Paxman was unavailable. He is probably the most capable of BBC Scotland's political staff - although Gary Robertson is also very able. It is a pity that they don't always seem up for a fight, particularly with Labour spokespeople.

    Watching Paxman getting stuck in to New Labour apparatchiks is refreshing and not just for show. His rigourous attack on Lord Hunt was excellent. Why do BBC Scotland staff seem determined to appear like lapdogs to Labour ? They should be ashamed, their credibility is in tatters.

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  • 86. At 11:12am on 26 Nov 2009, dubbieside wrote:


    Re need to ask tough questions.

    It looks like Gordon Brewer and Gary Robertson have already started. When can we expect you to follow?

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  • 87. At 11:14am on 26 Nov 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    X_Sticks 55&60 what splendid posts.
    you will find out just how good as the day progresses. most of us can see how excellent they really are, BUT, how will the likes of RE respond or will they respond at all???

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  • 88. At 11:29am on 26 Nov 2009, bingowings87 wrote:

    #43 JRMacClure,

    Relevant questions from the poll are:

    Scotland and the Scottish people face a number of problems at the moment. To which TWO of the following do you think the Scottish Parliament should give the highest priority? (Please select up to TWO answer options.)

    Reducing unemployment in Scotland 63%
    Tackling the problem of drug abuse in Scotland 36%
    Discouraging further immigration into Scotland 26%
    Improving the quality of Scottish housing 23%
    Restoring the position of Scotland’s historic banks, such as RBS and the Bank of Scotland 16%
    Holding a referendum on Scottish independence 12%
    Dealing with the effects that climate change is bound to have on Scotland 11%
    None of these 1%
    Don’t know 3%

    The SNP wishes to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in due course. Voters would be asked whether they agree or disagree ‘that the Scottish government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state’.
    How would you vote if such a referendum were held tomorrow?

    I would vote YES (i.e. for Scottish independence) 29%
    I would vote NO (i.e. against Scottish independence) 57%
    Would not vote 4%
    Don’t know 11%

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  • 89. At 11:37am on 26 Nov 2009, bingowings87 wrote:

    #31 mistydougie,

    The question on independence was asked using the SNP's favoured form - see my #88 above.

    We'll just have to wait and see whether a multi option referendum is among what is presented on the 30th.

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  • 90. At 11:50am on 26 Nov 2009, albamac wrote:

    Unionist applause for bingowings:

    Flap! Flap! Flap!

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  • 91. At 11:50am on 26 Nov 2009, Richard_the_Rogue wrote:

    84. X_Sticks

    Re: posts 55 & 84

    Are you in politics? If not, you should be. More sense in two posts than in a decade of hot air from most politicians put together!

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  • 92. At 11:54am on 26 Nov 2009, dubbieside wrote:


    It appears that some of the rest of the Scottish media are starting to ask tough questions.

    Have the Scottish media finally realized that Labour are a dead duck and will be out of power for a long time.

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  • 93. At 11:56am on 26 Nov 2009, john wrote:

    Given the first question, I am surprised that even 12% gave holding a referendum such a high priority. After all it is the duty of any government to look after the people. This can most simply be stated as defending them, giving them a roof over their heads and giving them a job. What the question totally ignores is the cause and effect of different policies. After all if Scotland was independant, then the Scottish government would have amny more tools with which to tackle the other problems listed. The question also totally disregards the effort taken in each of the various tasks. Are you really trying to tell me that setting up and acting on a referendum will take the same amount of resources and time as the task of tackling drug abuse in Scotland?

    That question can be paraphrased as: "Which of these would you prefer: World peace, a cure for cancer, a referendum on your countries future?" Everyone would obviously ask for one of the first two, but that does not mean that they don't want the third.

    As for the second question, I would need to know the sample size/demographic before I could comment. What does strike me is that the no preference is higher than most similar polls held in the last year.


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  • 94. At 12:30pm on 26 Nov 2009, bingowings87 wrote:


    I'm not sure of the relevance of your "effort taken in each of the tasks" point. Lots of things in life are easy. Abolishing prescription charges - easy. Abolishing hospital parking charges - easy (and both welcome, IMO). Abolishing bridge tolls - easy.

    Governments should not select their priorities based on what is easy to achieve. The mark of a good government is how it handles the difficult issues in life.

    The sample size & demographic info should be available at this link:

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  • 95. At 12:41pm on 26 Nov 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #79 ___John

    I can assure you, with much regret that from Aberdeen along the North East Coastline to Inverness that Buckfast is the prefered staple of underage drinkers.

    Buckfast was drunk in great numbers by 15/16+ year olds throughout my Sencondary School education, along with the cheap ciders and high strength alcopops they are still selling.

    Something needs to be done. It DOES start a culture of driking in Children, many of my own schoolfriends who I lost contact with when I moved away have become habitual drinkers, recovering alcoholics and some have even died of alcohol abuse.

    It's disingenious for Labour to say they care about the health of Scotland when this was a major problem when I was a schoolchild and I'm now in my mid to late 20's. Things have to change and if they don't, I hope everyone lays the blame squarely at the feet of those who opposed these very reasonable measures to curtail the drinking culture that thrives.

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  • 96. At 12:45pm on 26 Nov 2009, X_Sticks wrote:

    JRMacClure, mistydougie, skintybroko
    Thanks for the support!
    87. sidthesceptic wrote:
    X_Sticks 55&60 what splendid posts.
    you will find out just how good as the day progresses. most of us can see how excellent they really are, BUT, how will the likes of RE respond or will they respond at all?
    Thanks Sid. I really don't care what RE thinks - s/he is an annoying irrelevance in the grand scheme of things.
    91. Richard_the_Rogue wrote:
    Are you in politics? If not, you should be. More sense in two posts than in a decade of hot air from most politicians put together!
    No Richard, I'm not in politics. I doubt my temper would hold for more than 2 minutes in Holyrood (would be seconds in westmonster!). I wish I had more sense! I'm scunnered with politics in general. I've seen more joined up thinking in a creche. It's time politicians were "divorced" from vested interests, whether party, business or finance. Thnks for the kind words.

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  • 97. At 12:54pm on 26 Nov 2009, Nat_very_likely wrote:

    A revealing incident in Scottish Questions yesterday.Mundell got up and prefaced his first question by congratulating Murphy on his Top Scot at Westminster award and good humouredly suggested that the Prime Minister would be pleased,to laughter from all sides of the House.What was Murphy's response?He first of all,as is usual,thanked Mundell for his congratulations on the award.But then gratuitously added that "on a very long short list I noticed that he(Mundell)wasn't on it".The man is just class.

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  • 98. At 12:56pm on 26 Nov 2009, john wrote:

    It's also the wooliness of the other options that skew the result. The referendum option is the only one to which you can say "yes I know exactly how that will be done". The others are just wish lists of what you would like to be the result of a policy. After all there are many different ways that someone might go about improving the housing stock. All these options are listed as one. There is only one way of holding a referendum.

    It's like comparing a wishlist to an action. not like with like.


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  • 99. At 1:07pm on 26 Nov 2009, john wrote:

    I bow to your greater experience of youth drinking in Aberdeen. I however did live there for 2 years but I was however never there as a teenager. The point stands though that I see much more evidence of buckfast in the west than east. It might have to do with the sort of people I mix with, but that is my impression. I also know of no pub outside glasgow/the west that has buckfast on tap.

    I think that kids in particular (especially those starting to develop a habit) will go for the cheapest drink available if they are drinking alone or in small groups. This is where the real downwards slope in terms of health is.

    Underage drinkers in social groups are a different matter, as they are more likely to drink to be cool and therefor will more often drink something that is not the cheepest. They are trying to impress. While that is a problem, particularly a social problem, this aspect is better tackled through education. However this does not cover everyone.

    Lets not be fooled. There is not a single answer, but there must be a range of measures. Minimum pricing tackles one aspect only but at least it tackles something.


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  • 100. At 1:16pm on 26 Nov 2009, LondonSteve wrote:

    55 x_sticks

    Loved the rant, absolutely loved it. You'll never find such an empassioned rant from a unionist defending the union and telling us whats so great about it and why being in the union is to our advatage.

    I love guys/gals like you that can write so passionately about our country and the people of our land. Makes you proud to know that not everyone has been sucked in by the scaremongering.

    "The harder they argue against it they more they undermine their position."

    Brilliant line and I think more and more people are seeing and realising this. They are talking down their own abilities but also telling the scottish people they aren't up to the task. If you aren't up to the task to run our country then you shouldn't put yourself forward as an MSP.

    Cant wait for your next one.

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  • 101. At 1:49pm on 26 Nov 2009, Andrew Dundas wrote:

    #36 & 39

    Tax collection throughout our islands is much more complicated than either of you appears to imagine. Those complications are one of the reasons why local income taxes are so difficult to operate. For a start, a high proportion of the highest income & corporation tax payers have addresses on both sides of our border. So they could flip their tax domicile as often as MPs re-designate their home addresses. When the tax rates suit them.
    Much the same applies to taxes deducted at source from savings and investments. Not everyone remembers to declare their savings’ tax liabilities each year. Some companies have hundreds of thousands of shareholders scattered at locations unknown to them. With a common island-wide tax rate, that doesn’t matter. But with differential rates all sorts of evasions – inadvertent or otherwise – will arise. A partial solution is a withholding tax. But you may not want that for other reasons.
    Now consider the case of employers with employees located on both sides of our borders. Right now, their taxes are assessed for PAYE and collected wherever their employer’s local tax office is located. Another complication is that our State pensions are not taxed at source, but via altered tax codes used by third party pension payees. Soon that’ll change and pensioners will each have one dedicated UK-wide tax office. Which will be much better. But instead of having just one rate, the objective of the devolution of tax raising is (eventually) to enable different rates to apply either side of the border. That will greatly complicate matters and requires HMRC to be able to track the true location of each taxpayer. That sort of tracking will not come cheap.
    It’s also worth bearing in mind that Austrian, German and Netherland income tax rates are each higher than Scotland’s current rates. So, of course it’s worth declaring other European pensions here. But that advantage may not last forever.
    Calman’s tax recommendations are a beginning of the search for solutions to these issues, and should be viewed in that way. Just get used to the fact that complications will arise and someone will have to pay to iron them out.

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  • 102. At 6:43pm on 26 Nov 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    69. Neil_Small147
    I'm in favour of nuclear power, but not in the manner this seems to being carried out.

    They are still scratching their heads here UK plutonium cuts strategy 'in disarray' - scientists

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  • 103. At 00:16am on 27 Nov 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Nuclear power is finished. We are running out of uranium. We don't have any anyway and are totally dependent on supply of it from some very unreliable sources. A very bad situation to be in indeed.

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  • 104. At 00:20am on 27 Nov 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    The same sort of situations apply across much of mainland Europe and the people involved cope perfectly adequately with them.

    Is there something specific about the Scottish/ English border that renders it a more difficult kind of border or is just that we Scots are less capable or flexible?

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  • 105. At 6:34pm on 28 Nov 2009, Roddy Ferguson wrote:

    #231 soosider
    you're correct that alcohol should not be on the same floor space as food.
    As a previous blogger pointed out, Canada has much stricter alcohol regulations.
    I have first hand knowledge of this as I live here.
    Firstly, if you wish to purchase alcohol at the supermarket then it will be in a completely seperate building adjacent to the food hall.
    You in effect have to make a conscious decision to go there to make the puchase and not be "tempted" by alcohol as you pass that isle while shopping for food.
    Secondly, if you wish to purchase outwith the major supermarkets this is only possible at liqor stores which, naturally, are liceced.
    These are the only two ways to purchase alcohol for consumption at home.
    There are no licenced grocers & no pub off-sales.
    I have to tell you that this system, in my experience, appears to work well and while not perfect certainly is an effective means of achieving the balance between availability to those legally entitled to enjoy alcohol and restriction to those for whom it's prohibited.
    It's just one more idea Scotland might like to consider.

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  • 106. At 6:14pm on 29 Nov 2009, Peter_fae_Fife wrote:

    Having witnessed Mr Murphy's display at the dispatch box, far be it from succeeding in downing the SNP at every turn Mr Murphy displayed only political fear; the Murphy doth protest too much, methinks.

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