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Newsnight 7th November 2008

Len Freeman | 18:12 UK time, Friday, 7 November 2008

Here is Gavin Esler with details of tonight's programme.

Quote for the Day

"As you can probably guess, I'm not so much a lame duck now as a dead duck" -
Robert Tuttle, US Ambassador to London.

Obama.....It's the economy....

In fact some of us are hoping the new ambassador might be Oprah Winfrey, though I doubt if we will hear any news on that key appointment for a while. What we are expecting is Barack Obama's first news conference since being elected President and it is the economy that is expected to dominate. There was more evidence today that the US is in recession. The unemployment rate has reached a 14 year high and the car giant, General Motors, has said it may run out of cash next year. We're hoping to speak to a key member of Obama's transition team.

Rates Cut

The banks have finally agreed to pass on yesterday's rate cut, so have they given into government pressure, or are they just responding to a welcome fall in the Libor rate?

Brown Bounce

Labour held on to their seat in Glenrothes dealing a big blow to the hopes of the Scottish National Party. Does this mean Gordon Brown is bouncing back? And do the circumstances of Scotland - where the threat to Labour is the SNP - replicate themselves in the rest of the country, where the main threat of course is the Conservatives?

Georgia vs Russia

After Tim Whewell's exclusive report from South Ossetia, Tim now has an extraordinary follow up. One of the former OSCE staff in Tbilisi says that Georgia did launch an indiscriminate attack on the town of Tskhinvali, and claims that he tried to warn his organisation that Georgia was building up forces in the area. So why was he apparently ignored? I'll interview the Chairman in Office of the OSCE.

And finally my thanks to Newsnight viewer Sean Naylor for the following Joke Fit For a Recession.

Q: What is the definition of optimism?
A: A banker ironing five shirts on a Monday morning?

Newsnight - with plenty of freshly ironed shirts - is at 10.30pm on BBC 2



  • Comment number 1.

    Another electoral shock, this time in Glenrothes, and yet more personalisation of the ‘Brown Bounce’. What, however, the headline writers forget is that, with few exceptions, elections are lost not won.

    Had the election been in England not Scotland, Brown’s recent strong performance might have been a factor; since that has cancelled out at least some of his losing ways. More important, though, it would at last have exposed Cameron’s weaknesses. After a couple of hours of wisely hiding behind bi-partisanship the credit crunch mercilessly exposed the vacuum at the heart of the Tory strategic plans. He had no answer, even a poor one, and he should have done. This was not helped by the fact that his shadow chancellor was in hiding, unwilling to discuss his recent peccadillo. Eventually Cameron lapsed back into the Thatcher/Reaganomics, much as did McCain in the US. This long awaited exposure of the Tory policy weaknesses may eventually be far more damaging than any peccadillos.

    In Scotland, though, the fight was seemingly about more practical issues; and the SNP’s feared political machine managed to turn out a phenomenal 1,000 activists. Instead it was again political philosophy, Alex Salmond’s repeated (single-issue) commitment to independence, which brought down the SNP. Thus it was again the credit crunch which proved definitive. In the case of Scotland it brought down the two banks which were at the heart of the Scottish economy and fatally damaged Salmond’s ‘arc of success’ (especially his much vaunted Iceland economy). That Scotland had to be rescued by the English must have been hard for him to bear. It certainly undermined, perhaps fatally, the argument that Scotland has no need of the English.

    For Gordon Brown the good news must be that who needs friends when you can have enemies like these!

  • Comment number 2.

    I commented last night that the Bank of England was right in calling the banks bluff. I am delighted to see that it worked!

  • Comment number 3.

    Brown Bounce?

    No I think you will find the SNP lost it. The writing was on the wall. Check my postings over the last few days. They were never going to win.

    Get my article from Newstart magazine 18th January 2008, The Lion Rampant. Some of your studio guests used it in a studio discussion 23rd January. You might be able to get it off their website in time for you studio discussion. Because of legal copyright etc I cannot link to the original

    It is the best assessment you will find on the SNP economic policy, because it was accurate.

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 4.


    An optimist is anyone who continues to watch Newsnight, hoping for content with gravitas.

    A pessimist is masochist who never misses Newsnight.

  • Comment number 5.


    Dear Newsnight

    There again there is probably no law against typing in Google:

    Alex Salmond's Celtic Lion

    Just to see who they rank No 1 on the Scottish Government's economic strategy.

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 6.

    Gavin, ANOTHER joke from the BBC news website!

  • Comment number 7.

    Part of the problem in Glenrothes was that Labour campaigned on local issues which
    have nothing to do with election of an MP.

    Aside from the issue of whether their scares about cuts in education budgets were true
    - Lindsay Roy's school actually got a funds
    increase from the SNP controlled Fife Council - there is a serious constitutional point here which was commented on by former Labour Health Minister Prof Susan Deacon when she was on the by-election
    results programme in the wee sma' hours.

    That said, however, Lindsay Roy will no doubt be a better MP than the last one.
    But there is still an awful lot of Labour
    deadwood on the Green benches down
    in Westminster. And they are really only
    Lobby Fodder these days with devolution.

  • Comment number 8.

    #7 Neil Robertson

    I understand your point over local issues. But I would say this is an artificial Cartesian reduction.

    Cuts at a local level are dependent on the effective management of the national socio-economic system.

    The SNP came in with an economic development strategy that was nothing more than TV property speculation. Completely dependent on increasing (global)
    economic growth.

    I told an SNP MP and senior MSP more than two years prior that the global economy would crash. I even gave them the solution.

    Try the Google test type:

    Scotland economic development strategy

    See who is the top independent strategist

    I gave the SNP £30 billion per year. They ignored it, they ignored the 100% guaranteed warning the economy would crash 2 years before it did.

    Chickens home to roost.

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 9.

    It was pretty clear from day one that Georgia was the aggressor. Quickly though, the media chose to focus on Russia, the official enemy. We even had this memorable line from Newsnight.

    "The Russians are calling it a peace enforcement operation, it's the kind of Newspeak that would make George Orwell proud."

    And yet the BBC are happy to regurgitate phrases like "hearts and minds campaign". When was the last time the BBC referred to a US or UK government announcement as "Orwellian Newspeak"?

  • Comment number 10.

    Did the Conservatives warn about today's economic woes back in 2005 ? Tories warn of debt time bomb[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    I found Chapter 2 the best bit.

  • Comment number 11.


    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 12.

    Corrected post , hopefully complying with the forum rules this time.

    Did the Conservatives warn about today's economic woes back in 2005 ?

    Tories warn of debt time bomb

    "What Price Credit [20/03/2005]"
    * Full Report
    I found Chapter 2 interesting.

    *Due to forum rules I can not link the pdf document directly, you will have to find the document yourself, if indeed you wish to read the full report that is in a pdf formatted document.

  • Comment number 13.

    "The SNP came in with an economic development strategy that was nothing more than TV property speculation. Completely dependent on increasing (global)
    economic growth."

    Nonsense ........ I was at the launch of their small business strategy and still remember
    how Alex Salmond analysed the impact of
    their business rates reduction proposal on every single property and business in the street in Edinburgh where the conference
    was held as part of a strategy to breath life into town centre communities across the whole of Scotland. Even CBI Scotland was pretty impressed by that "tour de force".

    And in government the SNP has done more on renewable energy than any government before.

  • Comment number 14.

    #12 Steve London

    Will check links

    The United Nations Environment and Development warned the UK Government in 2002 about debt and flaws in western economic policy. The Gov took climate change and Africa (2005 G8) and the climate change/ terrorism risk assessment, but ignored debt. One of many submissions on subject.

    originally off DEFRA site

    #3 Barrie


    In General

    Jon Stewart's The Daily Show was brilliant tonight and covered many of the points covered in these blogs over the last few days including black.

  • Comment number 15.

    To paraphrase...'Its the Unemployment stupid'.

    Its something like 10 supply chain workers depend upon each car worker.

    How can they bail out the car makers? What are they going to do? Build more SUVs no one buys? It takes several years to make new models.

    There is 50% less money in the economy than last year. That money isn't going to be lent out in the same way again. There is no lending. The train has run out of track.

    The Uk is in the same boat.
    So what is the way out? More debt? Bailing out industries that has no growth potential? The current Governomics?

    Or creating the conditions for industries that do have growth potential? Like a feed in tariff that has proven to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    By blocking/dragging their feet is the uk govt saying we don't need these jobs?

  • Comment number 16.

    Further to my post #7: let me illustrate the pointless of Scottish MPs at Westminster
    with this local vignette? Tonight I had
    occasion to attend the surgery of the
    Labour MP for Dundee West as one of
    only two folk who turned up to this
    surgery in Charleston. The woman
    in front of me explained while we
    were waiting (as the MP was late)
    that she wasn't quite sure what a
    local Councillor did. I told her that
    Mr McGovern used to be a cooncillor but now he was an MP down in London and
    tried to explain to her who did what etc

    I let her go in first ........ and that took five minutes. Having worked for an MP in the old days pre-devolution when they did a real job in Scotland I know that the majority of cases referred to MPs then were to do with housing matters and were redirected to the
    local Council. Post-devolution MSPs I'm sure have to do the same with their case-loads.

    Scottish MPs on the other hand - well what do they actually do? The Charleston Centre is next to a Post Office so there was nobody at this surgery complaining to Jim McGovern about his role in closing down the Post Offices in other parts of Dundee West.
    [He is also the PPS to the relevant minister].

    So there really was just me tonight with my complaint about British Council corruption in Palestine (a long-running saga). I was not however prepared for the row I was given by the MP for not making an appointment!

    When I explained that I had been told to attend by his constituency office, he told
    me that his constituency offices were not
    a 'drop-in centre'. I then asked: so why
    is there a big notice on the door then??

    Things went from bad to worse ...... it
    seemed he really wasn't interested in
    pursuing my case and showed me the
    door as 'other constituents are waiting'.
    I was escorted out past an empty room.

    I doubt whether I will vote for this man.
    This service also costs us taxpayers his
    salary plus his expenses of £149,089 in 2006/07. The better part of £200K per annum for constituents to be insulted?

    Oh and this summarises my complaint:

  • Comment number 17.

    #15 Neil

    I know there were all these fine details, but the basis, the datum, the reference was high levels of economic growth.

    They didn't restructure society, create a stable society. They didn't produce a strategy that played to the cultural strengths of Scotland.

    Everything depended on high levels of economic growth. Everything depended on an expanding world economy.

    Something that was never going to happen.

    Yes it is possible to have high levels of economic growth, but that may be only of a consequence of doing the right thing.

    The Scottish Government's strategy did not have courage or leadership to take Scotland and even the rest of the world with it, in a direction that was sustainable. Something that some could have considered radical or bold, but really was nothing more than pragmatic and appropriate.

    As the phrase just applied to Obama on the 10 O'clock. It lacked 'strategic vision'.

    'High levels of economic growth' are not a 'strategic vision'. There was no direction. Without direction they got lost.

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 18.


    Could one of Gordon's brilliant advisers, perhaps, tell him to stop shoe-horning the word FAIR into utterly gauche constructions?
    Today we have: "trumpet trumpet - governments that help people, FAIRLY, through the downturn." It was painful enough when his Wonder Word was 'prudence' but at least he used that in a comfortable way. Soon Scouts will be helping old ladies 'intellectually' across roads, while postmen deliver letters 'gallantly'. Why not espouse another new word like 'realistic' or even 'bonkers'?

  • Comment number 19.


    In days of Blair, earnest faces would declare Tony 'a good communicator' failing to realise that crowd-pleasing with oratory, is not communicating, as the latter is defined by actual transfer of information. This is every bit as true for 'New-Blair', Barack Obama, for whom the 'communicator' claim is also enthusiastically made - as on Newsnight, tonight.

    Then there is the confusion of education with schooling - a regular balls. Education is to lead out, schooling is shoving in.

    Finally, let's not muddle clever with intelligent. Have you ever heard anyone say: "Too intelligent by half"?

  • Comment number 20.

    "They didn't restructure society, create a stable society. They didn't produce a strategy that played to the cultural strengths of Scotland.

    Everything depended on high levels of economic growth. Everything depended on an expanding world economy."

    That's fair enough as a critique of the last 10 years of Labour Government - but the
    SNP so far only runs those functions that
    are currently devolved to Scotland from a
    minority governing position ...... that does
    make it a little hard to change everything?

    The vision is there - perhaps not always
    on the front burner (Jim Sillars's critique)
    but it is not all predicated on economic
    growth ..... go and read Alex Salmond's
    Gaelic College lecture again: it's not all
    about the celtic lion economy ............!!

  • Comment number 21.


    What did you physically notice in the full team picture? One has to think cognitive tilt here and what drives this, and in this picture it's less apparent because of the photo-shoot angle, the Newsnight footage was much better.

    What we'll hear is compensatory hyperbole I bet.

    They don't do correspondence or any variant thereof.

    Be afraid.

  • Comment number 22.

    #21 JJ

    To be honest I didn't like what I saw or what I heard.

    Obama looked tired, drawn and brow beaten. He has just been through more than a year of campaigning and I never saw him looking so haggard, or lacking in spirit. His eyes were dead and only smiled with his mouth.

    To me he looked like he had lost control. Perhaps now the deals are being done, or is it now time to pay the piper.

    There are known unknowns, there are unknown knowns and there are:

    unknown unknowns.

    I don't know, but I know I don't know. If you know what I mean.

  • Comment number 23.

    #21 JJ

    Check the headline, read after post 22 written.,8599,1857679,00.html

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 24.

    it's official then, the SNP cannot go it alone, they need the pursetrings of Westminster, didn't they always know that

  • Comment number 25.

    #25 leftoddbod

    The SNP is a political party, it is comprised of politicians.

    The Real Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 26.

    leftieoddbod, posting 24 YES!!

    Salmond is just another nonentity who saw his chance at the political trough via the SNP- a case of fooling all of the people all of the time. Thought he could become an Arab state with oil riches and then when that ran out, presuming he could get his hands on it, who knows how could have financed Scotland?

    As a seperate state he would have had to pay for his own forces, having kicked us out of Faslane, and set up his own industrial base etc. He could even re-build Hadrian's Wall. At least that would provide a lot of work in these uncertain job times, someting that Brown could propose?

    I always thought the break-up of the UK was a daft idea, but I had nothing against the Scots, Welsh for that matter, doing their own thing provided they did not want the English to pay for it. Both their "Parliaments" are just another tier of expensive politicians and civil servants-jobs for the boys- (no I can't say that in these PC times)- jobs for the persons!!??

    At least it took Obama off the agenda for a millisecond?

  • Comment number 27.

    #24 writes:

    "it's official then, the SNP cannot go it alone, they need the pursetrings of Westminster, didn't they always know that"

    you seem to be forgetting that it is actually Scotland's oil; and of course we want our money back

    SNP policy has also incidentally been one of 'independence within Europe' - for the
    better part of the last twenty years; so not only are you wrong to suggest that this is
    a 'go it alone' strategy being proposed, it
    is also interesting to reflect on how we all
    might have prospered inside the Euro with
    lower interest rates and a European style
    housing policy instead of 'boom and bust'.

    As for references to the 'arc of prosperity'
    I also noticed last night when re-reading
    Alex Salmond's Gaelic College lecture he
    said then that an independent Scotland
    had the skills and human resources to
    'match or surpass' Iceland and others!

    I would guess that within the EU we
    are catching up on Reykjavik which is
    of course outwith the European Union!

    #26 raises the possibility of further building work on Hadrian's Wall. That is of course a
    matter for Department of Culture, Media & Sport in England depending on how much Heritage Lottery Funding is left after the
    Londinium Olympiad. In Scotland the SNP
    Government's focus is on Antonine's Wall
    which this summer was also granted its
    Unesco World Heritage status thanks in
    part to the strong support this application
    got from Historic Scotland, The Antonine
    Guard and the SNP Government led by
    Mr Salmond who actually wrote a piece
    for the book produced about that Wall.

    What is interesting and innovative about this Unesco designation is that it forms a
    part of a trans-national World Heritage
    designation entitled 'Frontiers of The
    Roman Empire' which runs from The
    Antonine Wall in Scotland down the
    Danube ('The German Limes') to the
    Black Sea and continues through the
    archaeological sites in Jordan (where
    there is a particular interest in how
    the Roman forts there were watered)
    and into North Africa.

    And the related history of those inside and outside the Roman Limes is being studied.

    Calgacus was of course a Nationalist as
    was Asterix The Gaul and the Germani
    were of course on the Caledonian side
    of that great divide .........

    Note too that Alex Salmond was planning a visit to Qatar long before Brown went there
    to raise more money. 'Oil Sheik McCann' is on our side too!

  • Comment number 28.

    #28 Neil

    I understand everything what you write. I read the Gaelic lecture when he did it.

    I love Scotland but to me it is more than just an exercise in economic growth.

    I just think there is a better way for Scotland, the UK and the world.

    Perhaps for me the time has come to do it, rather than find fault in the attempts of others.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 29.

    Celtic Lion seems to me to be doing a fair job already combining the 'via activa' with
    the 'via contemplativa' as the Romans in
    Dunkeld would probably put it ...............

    But to get back to Glenrothes: what is of course daft is that the new MP Lindsay
    Roy had only been in the job as Heidie
    of Gordon Brown's old school Kirkcaldy
    High for THREE MONTHS when Labour
    tapped him on the shoulder and sent
    him off to Parliament down in London.

    Down there he may well speak on education, education, education -
    but only ENGLISH education as up
    here in Scotland (and in Kirkcaldy)
    education is a matter for the local
    authority in Fife and for HOLYROOD.

    It's called DEVOLUTION stupid - but
    naebody seems tae have tellt Mr Roy.
    He will now waste his talents as one
    of Gordon's Scottish backbench MP's
    called upon to force through laws for
    England when he can't otherwise get
    a majority at Westminster for his bills.

    Meanwhile, back in Fife, the loser in
    the election (SNP Leader of the Fife
    Council Peter Grant) has a problem:
    having found a great headmaster
    for Kirkcaldy High (Gordon Brown's
    old school) THREE MONTHS ago in
    Inverkeithing (where Brown lives),
    he now has to ask his Director of
    Education to advertise yet again!

    Mind you: that goes with the territory,
    I guess when you're running Scotland.

  • Comment number 30.

    #29 Neil

    Thanks for the comments on via active via contemplativa.

    That's what i was er...thinking about when your comment appeared.

    Thanks also for explaining to a (wider audience), though that might not be your intention, the problems we have living 'up here'.

    "Mind you: that goes with the territory, I guess when you're running Scotland."

    That is the problem, just who is running Scotland. I don't know and I live here!

    Back to via activa. I am so frustrated. I told the SNP in an hour meeting in Jan 2006 the Scottish, UK and global economies would crash if nothing was done.

    I produced the outline strategy to get Scotland and UK out the mess and nothing was done.

    The media is now full of the consequences of a known and avoidable situation.

    To be as it seems the only person in the world who knew the economy would crash, when it would crash, and the magnitude involved, is so frustrating when those who could have done something didn't.

    Years of study research and experience went into being able to do that. The country didn't benefit. The only people who benefited are those who couldn't work it out for themselves and are now getting paid to discuss what went wrong and how to fix it.

    I just feel let down on behalf of everybody, if you follow that.

    Its like something JJ goes on about. The only people who get the attention are the lawyers, politicians and media analysts. Those who couldn't see it coming.

    These are the only ones judged worthy in our society for their views to be heard. Engineers, 'doers', ecologists and the like are ignored.

    If you can't get enough results from your via activa based on your via contemplativa, if you have to go through 3rd parties who do nothing, it is frustrating.

    The planet's in a mess, if doing something about it puts money into the economy. Why not do it?

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 31.

    Neil Robertson, just get real!! It's NOT Scottish oil. It belongs to the big business's/multi nationals that gets it out of the sea.
    Who gave YOU the right to claim that bit of the North sea for Scottish sole use? You were not bothered before BP et al decided to have a look then it suddenly became SCOTTISH OIL.
    So I just love your selfish view. The rest of the UK can go and "boil their bottoms" as Monty Python said (The French taunter)

    Carry on fighting the battle of Culloden and all those Scottish heros. The world has moved on since then. You apparently haven't.
    We cursed English will continue to climb on your backs and give you the chip that many of you wish to continue. Bring back "stinking Billy" You would love that.

  • Comment number 32.

    #31 asks:

    'Who gave YOU the right to claim that bit of the North sea for Scottish sole use?'

    I would need to go and check - but off the top of my head I seem to remember that
    it was a Scottish Tory Prime Minister Sir
    Alec Douglas-Home ...................?

    I seem to remember something about him nationalising the sea-bed and stipulating
    that Rockall was part of Inverness-shire?

    Not sure either whether anyone up here in Scotland would want a re-run of Culloden:
    that was a battle that we lost ..................

    I also remember being on the bridge of the SS Nevasa (on a British India school cruise)
    in 1970 when I spotted Sea Quest on the chart and suggested to the Captain that
    a change of course would be interesting.

    I still have the Super-8 film of the rig as we sailed past. And a few months later BP told the rest of the world about the Forties Field:

    I wasn't in the SNP in those days - but I do recall a meeting that year in Hawick at which Gordon Wilson of the SNP told a
    sceptical audience that this would be a
    clinching economic argument for Scotland's case for independence.

    In the weeks immediately before the Feb 1974 Election, a paper 'classified "secret"
    'and given only a most restricted circulation in the Scottish Office because of the extreme sensitivity of the subject' and which was kept under wraps for 30 years
    even after it was sent to Leo Pliatzky at
    HM Treasury on 23 April 1975, concluded:

    'This paper has shown that the advent of North Sea oil has completely overturned the traditional economic arguments used against Scottish nationalism. An independent Scotland could now expect to have massive surpluses both on its budget and on its balance of payments and with the proper husbanding of resources this situation could last for a very long time into the future.

    ' Wealth does not automatically mean full employment and the end of emigration. But provided sensible policies are pursued, it is possible to see how this situation could be used to re-equip Scottish industry and renew outword social capital thereby providing the expansion necessary to absorb Scotland's excess labour and the increase in productivity required to raise incomes. Thus, for the first time since the
    Act of Union was passed, it can now be credibly argued that Scotland's economic advantage lies in its repeal. When this situation comes to be fully appreciated in the years ahead, it is likely to have a major impact on Scottish politics, since it is on social and political grounds alone that the case for retention of the union will in future have to be based."

    The reaction of the Labour Government was
    to make sure that this analysis (by Chief Economist at The Scottish Office Dr Gavin
    McCrone) was locked away for 30 years!

    His assessment of the prospects that then faced England were also pretty sobering:

    "Yet undoubtedly the greatest weakness in the nationalist economic case is that Scotland, even with its oil (sic)(NB he
    said it not me!), cannot expect to prosper in isolation. Economic conditions in Europe and above all in England, with whom Scotland will remain closely tied in trade, are of particular importance. Even with greater diversification of Scottish trade to Europe and to North America, an impoverished England or one perpetually suffering the rigours of deman restraint would have most serious consequences for the Scottish economy. Britain is now counting so heavily on North Sea oil to redress its balance of payments that it is easy to imagine England in dire straits without it. The oil prices since the Yom Kippur was make this a much more serious matter than could have been imagined before; and it is now likely that transfer of North Sea oil to Scottish ownership would occasion much bitterness in England if not an attempt to forcibly prevent it."

    (The Economics of Nationalism Re-Examined
    - classified 'Secret'; Scottish Economic Planning Department, 1974)

  • Comment number 33.

    McCrone also provides a reply to the charge of selfishness in that 'Secret' Government
    paper back in 1974:

    "Nationalist policy as outlined in this paper can, of course, be regarded as extremely selfish. Undoubtedly it is, but it can be argued in reply that so long as Scottish GDP per head is only 70 per cent of the European average, the unemployment and emigration rates among the highest and the country regarded by the EEC as one of its worst problem regions, then Scotland is justified in using her own resources to rectify these problems rather than relying on the generosity of others at least until she has managed to catch up."

    That paragraph, incidentally, comes just before the section quoted above where he argues the case for Scotland coming to the assistance of England which would be 'in dire straits without it [Scotland's oil!]'.

  • Comment number 34.

    Further to post #32:

    I've now checked and ... yes ... it seems it was Sir Alec Douglas-Home's Conservative Government who gave Scotland our oil. It
    says in Richard Saville's 'Bank of Scotland:
    A History, 1695-1995' no less:

    "The UK and Norway divided the bulk of the North Sea, with the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark qualifying for smaller slices,
    a division out of which Norway did
    particularly well. The UK government, under the UK Continental Shelf Act, 1964, created a new British province and, through the three continental shelf (jurisdiction) orders of 1964, 1965 and 1968, applied Scots law to two-thirds of the UK allocation." QED??!

    As for BP, the same history of the Bank of Scotland also points out that 'the Bank was approached in 1972 at the start of negotiations for the funding of the Forties field to be operated by British Petroleum, and was the first UK bank to respond positively to the proposal. This was the first major funding in the North Sea oil concessions and was of significance not least because of the way in which the burden of risk was shared, with banks only having a partial recourse to BP [which was then 51% owned by the state?] and having to rely on the value of the oil reservoir in place in the ground.'

    And there is much more - in Chapter 26
    of the official history of Bank of Scotland.

    This history is perhaps worth remembering too given this weekend's breaking news of attempts by two of Scotland's bankers to
    keep all options open in respect of HBOS:

  • Comment number 35.

    "Carry on fighting the battle of Culloden and all those Scottish heros. The world has moved on since then. You apparently haven't.
    We cursed English will continue to climb on your backs and give you the chip that many of you wish to continue. Bring back "stinking Billy" You would love that." writes #31???!

    At your peril .......... Salmond has that angle covered! For Scottish Government Guidance on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort
    (June 2008): Scottish Government
    Guidance on How To Prevent the Spread
    of Ragwort (aka "Stinking Billy").

  • Comment number 36.

    The purse strings of Westminster are a red herring for Scotland. If Scotland wants away the EU will cough up in pursuit of peace and harmony. England/UK may be no better or worse off as I daresay the EU may want to see its a genuine divorce before agreeing terms.

    As for oil I thought the recent understanding was that the loss of oil would hit the UK but that the net effect would be almost neutral.

    Personally if it pushed on the rush to be carbon free its a bonus.

  • Comment number 37.

    CARBON (and guilt) FREE

    After the arbitrary setting of allowances and offsetting against window-box pansies that were going to be planted anyway, carbon IS free!

    I hope we are all singing along to the new 'Chicken Song' about O'Bama the Irishman? perhaps we need a Carbon Anthem: "God save that Planet-tree, it's worth a lot to me, flying the world. I have no guilt to bear, as long as that tree's there, as Gordon would say: it's quite FAIR
    Go-od save that tree.

  • Comment number 38.

    Neil, Thanks for the history lesson. It just confirms the "Mushroom Theory" to which the public is subjected.

    It just makes my point that "working together, unity is strength" are not bad maxims as I am an old trade union activist.

    Who "owns" what and why has been the cause of too many conflicts in this world so I make my point again that the idea of "devolution" was a daft idea.
    Just been talking to some submariners who have left their sub. up in Faslane. Hope they will be able to return to it provided the Scots haven't closed the base whilst they are away on Remembrance duties. A fine body of men who do us proud and who protect the whole of the UK not just one part of it.

    Any more "snippets" divulged from the depths of Government secrecy? I wondered why we should have kept our 200 mile limit, more to do with oil than fishing rights, hence why we annexed that rock in the middle of the Atlantic??

  • Comment number 39.

    #37 Barrie

    Carbon Tat

    Thanks for mentioning the complete and total nonsense and drivel of the 'carbon economy'.

    'Climate change' 'carbon emissions' 'carbon offsetting'...etc etc.

    'Soundbites' to make our celebrity 'driven' culture appear 'smart'.

    I watched BBC Breakfast News about 12 month ago. They had an actress from Eastenders talking about 'climate change' and the solutions. It was complete and absolute dangerous total rubbish.

    But must have been true because she was a 'celebrity'.

    "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

    Next week, haven't the time in you busy schedule to take your child to the doctor. Don't worry the cast of The Bill will be here to talk about DIY kitchen table brain surgery.

    BBC stop it!

    Do you really think you can prepare a car for an MoT when you only talk about filling the wind screen wiper bottle.

    Do you really think you can stop the ecological life support system of the planet crashing when you only supply misinformation about climate change.

    Well Barrie first Brown bailed out the banks. Now Obama wants a 'stimulus package' for the car industry.

    Fair's fair, first come first served, I say. I have noticed a lack of employment opportunities in the 'send children up chimneys' business.

    Got to go there is a delegation outside from the 'Throw Christians to the Lions Union'. Obviously some confusion here.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 40.

    #38 Bill

    I think the planet can no longer afford ships and submarines to do nothing more than sail around the world carring WMDs.

    I would feel more protected and safer if they got rid of all their weapons and did something more productive and constructive with their resources.

    Like cleaning up the world's oceans of pollution, dangerous wrecks, chemical dumps etc. Did oceanographic research and looked after the animals that live in the seas. Etc etc

    It still takes professionalism, technical knowledge etc but is a more productive common goal.

    "working together, unity is strength", as you say.

    One World, One Love.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 41.


    Special Envoy Blair (retired Messiah) is calling upon Obama to be as clever as he is, so that the world becomes a better place.
    Good grief! They are both vacuous orators with charisma and rhetoric to spare, who having realised the fortuitous powers they wield, went for maximum personal power. What more can the guy do?
    I would rather see our Tony parade through the streets of Britain explaining himself. Perhaps Barack might suggest that in return for Tony's wisdom?

  • Comment number 42.

    #41Saw it Barrie on news.

    I just could believe the blatant hypocrisy and how he managed to say it with a straight face.

    Blair is asking O'Bama to join a Middle East peace process. How short his memory and that of the world's?

    There is no need for a 'peace process'.

    Some truths should be held self evident.

    We all live on the same planet.

    Stop fighting and start living in a common cause.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 43.

    Bill Bradbury writes:

    'It just makes my point that "working together, unity is strength" are not bad maxims as I am an old trade union activist.'

    Unity is indeed strength. Indeed it is the motto of the old "Scottish Trades Union
    Review" for which I was privileged to be
    a columnist over many years - courtesy
    of generous sponsorship support from
    The Fire Brigades Union and the STUC.

    Both organisations were at the head of the campaign for devolution in Scotland - along
    with the NUM and others. The old ILP lives!

    I know indeed that the submariners from Faslane are a fine body of men as are the
    Royal Marines who guard them in the port.
    And this morning thoughts were not only
    with Scotland's servicemen and women -
    but also with the Russian submariners...

    As a long-standing member of CND since the late 1970's I am opposed to nuclear
    weapons and therefore hope that those
    who are entrusted with that deadly duty
    will find more productive employment soon.

    You are absolutely spot on about the real reason for annexing Rockall I suspect and
    glad that you share our concerns over the
    fishing industry. I hope your submariner
    friends on the Clyde take care not to snag nets off Girvan when sailing up and down!

    On Blair and Palestine I guess that I am in a minority of one in still thinking that his heart is in the right place .......... he has genuinely
    worked very hard at that (as with Ireland)
    and I for one supported him down in Gaza.

    Unlike some politicians, both Blair and Clinton visited Gaza - with their wives!
    That commands respect from me ........

  • Comment number 44.

    Dundee also remembered the men of The
    International Brigade a few weeks ago -
    in the company of Jack Jones and Jack

  • Comment number 45.

    BLAIR'S HEART (#43)

    So much I could say that throws light on the evidence for what drives Blair. Its all on the web from myself and others. I think his poor heart has taken a back seat for a long time, and inner conflict now shows in his face. He knows what he has done, but I doubt he dare know why. It is the tragedy of mankind, as currently configured, that we will ever elevate the driven individual to power (especially if in possession of charisma, oratory and rhetoric) passing over the quietly competent. Nowhere to run.

  • Comment number 46.

    Neil, as a regular vistor to Fleetwood I saw for myself what has happened to that industry.
    Whereas I can fully understand the idea of preserving fishing stocks and over-fishing the whole idea of quotas and the discarding of catches over the side needs an urgent review otherwise we will end up relying on the EU members' fishing quotas to provide me with my regular fish and chips.

    As to nuclear disarmenent, I have had no problem with those that oppose nuclear but I think they are wrong, especially as I have just been looking at the Russian sub in Vladivostok, for whose submariners we remembered at our service yesterday. There is a code of conduct of all nations in mutual respect for those that live underwater.

    Cancel such? Perhaps you may wish to discuss that with the citizens of Barrow.

    The next job concern is less than 20 miles from where I live at Warton and Preston with the possible curtailment of the Euro Fighter order. Potential more job losses. Unfortunately there is not much call for "ploughshares" these days.

  • Comment number 47.


    That must be - de facto - the motto for the New Millennium, Bill. What a terrible bind we are in.

  • Comment number 48.


    This has been covered in terms of jobs and audits. For those who want to go deeper into the subject.

    Barrie, any policy or strategy must have 'ploughshares' as the first aim. I call it by different terms. But it's still a rose.

    This then relates to Paul Mason's blog "How 'Radical' is O'Bamaomics?"

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 49.

    #46 Bill

    "The next job concern is less than 20 miles from where I live at Warton and Preston with the possible curtailment of the Euro Fighter order. Potential more job losses. Unfortunately there is not much call for "ploughshares" these days."

    Somebody in the media recently referred to this as the "Change We Need".

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 50.

    Back in the 1980's a great deal of work was done by the Alternative Employment Strategy Group in Dumbarton and others on defence diversification - but what is sad is that when Labour got into Government it
    did absolutely nothing to move Britain away from this poisonous depedence on the arms
    industry. BAE Systems had New Labour even
    putting pressure on the Crown Prosecution Service to drop charges when they faced a
    problem over alleged kickbacks to get orders. The authorities in the US were
    not quite such a pushover and it will be
    interesting to watch the progress of the
    investigations across the pond - as well
    as future of British offshore tax havens
    in the early months of the new regime?

    The people of Barrow would be much better employed building yachts for the Russians?!
    The yacht in the Mandelson controversy was built in Germany. Why is that I ask?

    I also want to know why BAE Systems and the appalling British Council are involved in
    introducing primary school children in India
    and Humberside to the UK defence industry
    - using Teddy Bears and school exchanges?

    If tobacco companies were doing this there would be an outcry .........

  • Comment number 51.


    Looking at the end of this Q and A (I've yet to see any positive contributions from ETS as promised, although I'm not surprised). Does anyone else see the elephant in the room?

    Whilst it's worth looking up the September 2008 report entitled 'Balanced Migration' written by Migration Watch for Parliament, this isn't just a migration issue, it's wider demographically, i.e the birth rates. So long as people continue to not take on board what really matters, they'll continue to dangerously dream that education is a panacea rather than Trojan Horse.

  • Comment number 52.

    #61 Jaded_Jean

    All I see is BNP style propaganda that a six year old would see through, dressed up in pseudo-intellectual clothes and dumped on a web site.

    Waste of time!

    For neutrals you will see phrases like "race realist" and statistics on Jewish survival rates from the 30's so be warned.

  • Comment number 53.

    thegangofone (#52) Can please explain to us how US (ETS), UK (DFSC) and international (OECD/PISA) education data along with UK, US and EU census data and demographic projections comprises 'BNP style pseudo-intellectual propaganda'?

    Alternatively, are we to conclude that you have a problem recognising sources of sound data and are prone to behaving abusively when facts that you can't confront are pointed out to you?

    The informed international scientific community tends towards 'race realism' because of data consensus.

    The very small change in the Jewish population between 1933 and today needs to be explained given below replacement level fertility of Europeans.

    However, given this sort of behaviour, one should not, I expect, assume too much rationality from those who tend to put dogma and belief before reason and evidence.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm a great admirer of Jeremy Paxman but he made a slip of the tongue tonight when he said that the QE2 is now sailing to Dubai.

    The QE2 is sailing to Gibraltar first where we're (note the use of apostrophes) looking forward to seeing her on Friday - I hope

    Phil Money


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