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Wednesday 11 January 2012

Verity Murphy | 13:31 UK time, Wednesday, 11 January 2012

After yesterday's announcement by Alex Salmond that he wants to hold an independence referendum in Scotland in the autumn of 2014, the political and legal arguments have already begun.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband have jointly urged Scotland to reject calls for independence and indeed the coalition says any vote would be unlawful without their approval.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has said he would be happy to work with Scotland's first minister to "sort out" legal issues, but Alex Salmond insists that Westminster need not get involved.

Tonight, we'll hear from Mr Salmond about the points of contention between London and Edinburgh and where the process goes from here.

Also, Hungary has seen its currency free-fall, its credit status reduced to junk status and is facing action from the EU over its budget deficit and new constitution. No wonder that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government is holding meetings with top IMF officials to prevent his country becoming the new Greece.
Newsnight's Economics editor Paul Mason reports live from Budapest and the Hungarian ambassador to the UK joins Gavin Esler in the Studio.

Plus, after David Cameron urged British filmmakers to focus on making more commercially successful movies, Steve Smith asks if the UK industry should go mainstream.


  • Comment number 1.

    If Scotand got independence would that mean Kirsty Wark would be sent Back...because if thats the case, I'll be fighting tooth and nail to keep the Union intact. I shall gather an army at the borders and quell this rebellion. Who does this Salmond Griffin fella think he is!.. William Wallace!

    God I hope the Warkster does tonights programme!

  • Comment number 2.

    I find the position of the private clinics who did the breast implants to be unbelievable. They are arguing that the NHS should pay to rectify the consequences of their elective cosmetic surgery using allegedly illegal medical devices - i.e. implants which did not conform to the licensed MHRA standard - this it is an outrage.

    Try this MHRA press release from two yeas ago:

    The MHRA is today advising breast implant surgeons not to use silicone gel-filled breast implants manufactured by the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

    The MHRA was informed by the French medical device regulatory authority (AFSSAPS) that it has suspended the company’s marketing, distribution and export of these products.

    AFSSAPS recently carried out an inspection of PIP’s manufacturing plant and found that most implants manufactured since 2001 have been filled with an unauthorised silicone gel which differs from the originally approved material.

    The MHRA is investigating, in collaboration with AFSSAPS, whether the unapproved gel affects the safety of these implants. AFSSAPS is carrying out tests to establish the level of risk.

    The MHRA has today issued a Medical Device Alert to breast implant surgeons and healthcare professionals.

    Director of Devices Clinical, Dr Susanne Ludgate said, “Clinicians should not implant these devices and they should quarantine any stock."


    There should be profound consequences for private medical companies from this.

    We can now see that private sector healthcare providers clearly expect the NHS to provide a free safety net for them, just as the banks expected the taxpayer to bail them out . THIS IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE.

    They must be forced to accept liability and insurance against it. That should decimate the number of private medical companies bidding for NHS work.

    I suspect the cosmetic surgery companies have done us a great service by revealing this just as the NHS reforms are being introduced - GP commissioners please note - write a compliance requirement for liability into all contracts!

  • Comment number 3.

    I have tried to find the Salmond/Warkster interview video so as to remind ourselves of the close warm friendship these two have...but sadly to no avail.

    So I'll leave you with this little ditty from George Formby instead:

  • Comment number 4.

    Don't believe all the faux HoP/Westminster hallabaloo over Scotish independance.

    As someone previously on these blogs has often said, this is all part of the hit job on Parliamentary Democracy. Can't you see that? New Labour wanted Regional Asemblies, i.e. devolution as with NI, Scotland and Wales. Now they talk of RDAs. These are all about the size of an EU NUT zone (6 million). It's all part of the erosion of power of the UK state. Anarchism or Balkanization = globalization. Power to the markets, and those who control industries etc. It's not power to people.
    The ConDem coalition gov't want exacly the same, except they just have to make it look like they want the opposite. It's all just bread and circuses for the dumbed down UK. It's called Pony Crapitalism.

  • Comment number 5.

    A question, will I be able to call myself English if Scotland go it alone? Most forms and questionaires won't let me. I realise us English have to give Scotland permission to go, so is it in our interest to be English, and not British anymore? And will all the immigrants here now become English, instead of British? In fact how can a non English person be called English, aren't we an ethnic group, so what will their nationality be described as if we are no longer the UK or Great Britain?

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 Good questions Lizzy...I don't think you'll find a media loving pollytician promoting themselves for interview to answer said questions. You'll probably find they will suddenly become shrinking violets.

    Maybe the NN team could have some devilish fun and slip them in here-and-there when the next of the limelight attention seekers visit the NN studios.

  • Comment number 7.

    ecolizzy @ 5

    It is not very complicated.

    If you think that you are English, then you are English.

    Being English is primarily about a state-of-mind, not a geographic location.

    Nevertheless, it would be awfully good if we English could somehow muster the enthusiasm to regain political control of our England.

    PS. The only reason this blogger can see as to why Cameron was trying to impose a date for the Scottish independence referendum whilst Salmond will to delay until late 2014, is because, on trend over time, the polls should a broadly declining support for the Union in Scotland alongside a commensurate increase in support for more independence. Therefore, later rather than sooner, the trends will cross over and then the Union is done for.

  • Comment number 8.

    Apart from any other considerations, there will be a whole cohort of politicians who will lose their jobs if Scotland become fully independent, namely the MP's representing Scottish constituencies at Westminster.

    Therefore, one might expect these people, your Alistair Darlings, Gordon Browns, Danny Alexanders and the sole Tory to fight very hard to retain their positions; afterall, their lives in an independent Scotland might not be too comfortable.

    The Unionist thrust in Scotland must logically come from the Lib-Dems because the Tories are almost extinct up there and Labour are tanished through treating Scotland as their personal fiefdom over decades.

    Adding it all up, it seems to be Salmonds and the SNPs referendum to lose in late 2014.

  • Comment number 9.


    Parliament is to debate the rotten treatment that tenant landlords get from SWINDLING pub owners. (A matter vital to civilisation, you will agree.)

    Should not our MPs first debate the rotten treatment the reluctant tenants of England get from SWINDLING WESTMINSTER?

    Barbarity begins at home (aka IN THE HOUSE).

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 10.

    The referendum will definitely be a NO vote, which is why it will never happen. Salmond won't be brave enough to have one because he knows he will lose & that would be the end of his career.

  • Comment number 11.

  • Comment number 12.

    'Tonight, we look at the points of contention'

    Well, any areas of agreement would not drive those ratings, would they?

    What with trying to provoke more grief in the Middle East than there is already, and now this, what more might one expect from a trusted, national broadcaster?

    Must look and see if incitement is in the Charter remit.

  • Comment number 13.

    Murray @ 10

    Au contraire, au contraire!

    Salmond will not lose the Scottish referendum as two questions will be posed i.e. full independence or devo-max, which is precisely why Salmond will ensure there are two options.

    If the Scots vote for devo-max then Salmond can claim to be fullfilling the wishes of the Scottish people, whilst simultaneously having got a step closer to full independence, whilst a majority vote for full independence achieves the nationalists primary goal.

    This is one poker game that Salmond cannot lose and Osborne is mistaken if he or anybody else at Westmonster thinks he can participate and not lose his shirt.

  • Comment number 14.

    private health care is another privatise the profit socialise the loss?

    why should the nhs backstop the private sector. it means there is no risk for the private sector? just like the banks?

    the uk seems to have been designed to screw the public and institutionally transfer the wealth from the many to the few?

  • Comment number 15.


    Personally, I found Dave's tendency to tell us of his love of the NHS, engendered of excellent attention received for Ivan during night emergencies, rather galling. I was Joe Nobody, attending my elderly brother as an 'emergency' stroke victim; my experience was a million miles from Dave's. We were abandoned by the triage nurse, with my brother in great distress, while she chatted, out of sight, with a friend. And as the night wore on, we spent 'for ever' in a dingy alcove with no idea what was next. It was after 3.00 am when I left. I didn't feel at all important, let alone VIP.

  • Comment number 16.

    13. At 17:54 11th Jan 2012, JohnConstable wrote:

    “If the Scots vote for devo-max then Salmond can claim to be fullfilling the wishes of the Scottish people, whilst simultaneously having got a step closer to full independence,...This is one poker game that Salmond cannot lose and Osborne is mistaken if he or anybody else at Westmonster thinks he can participate and not lose his shirt”


    I think you’re largely right. But in order to make a Devo-Max (clearly) legally binding it helps his cause if Westminster agrees to its inclusion on the paper. Osborne & Cameron will probably settle for Devo-Max anyway, but their opening gambit infers that there’ll be a price for that agreement. - Minimal Scottish presence at Westminster? If so, Osborne keeps his shirt whilst Ed joins Nick in losing his.

    Worth a thought?

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    John_Bull @ 16

    I'm not sure it actually 'helps' Alex Salmonds cause if Westminster agrees to anything he proposes. From Salmonds perspective, the more that the Westminster Unionists disagree with him, the better for his Party's cause.

    Legally, Scotland has somehow always managed to retain its own legal system, completely separate from Westminster.

    A basic principle in international law is that the seceding country decides whether it wants to become independent. For example, Montenegro did not have to ask Serbia to secede in 2006 and likewise Scotland will not need to ask the UK either (the doctrine of self-determination has been recognised as a fundamental principle of international politics and law since the 1st world war).

    That is the ultimate trump card that Salmond holds which Osborne will not be able to bluff.

  • Comment number 19.


    It never happens to me. But then, there are none so aurally impaired as those who have no intent to hear. And how can a political party, that has NO EXISTENCE, have any EARS?


  • Comment number 20.

    #7 'Cor blimey John

    "If you think that you are English, then you are English.

    Being English is primarily about a state-of-mind, not a geographic location."

    So anyone anywhere in the world can think they're English and they then are English?!!! ; )

  • Comment number 21.

    "No wonder that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government is holding meetings with top IMF officials to prevent his country becoming the new Greece."

    That is a statement of opinion which borders on the stupid. I expect better than this from the Newsnight team! Hungary undoubtedly has a crisis, and may default, but as a non-member of the Eurozone, the pressures are different, and the consequences for other countries are much less than those of a Greek default. The Greek economy is being strangled by Euro membership. Whereas Hungary has a significant manufacturing sector, eg the GM/Suzuki plant which will not be damaged by this crisis.

  • Comment number 22.

    Plenty of sense from JohnConstable tonight. I dislike Alex Salmond intensely, but opposing politicians underestimate him at their peril!

    Putting obstacles in the way of a referendum is a very unwise move. Dirty tricks will not work against people who are already semi-alienated. And north of a line from approximately the Severn to the Wash, Cameron & co's plummy accents have a very strong tendency to alienate. This may not be right, but it is part of British tribalism

  • Comment number 23.


    And I have heard Dave call himself a world statesman! Limited Ed says he can't fail. Tony thinks he's a Saint. IDS - words fail me.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 24.

    Lizzy@20, Barry @23

    For better or worse, English is as English does, otherwise it's a fetish - as in Tom Sharpe's 'Riotous Assembly', where Kommandant van Heerden arranges an impromptu execution so he can have the "heart of an English Gentleman" transplanted into him.

    Or, more sordidly, when my dad was stationed in Cairo during WWII (in 7th Hussars), a man in the street asked him "Do you want to meet my seester - almost white like English schoolteacher"? (He declined.) But it's interesting what it was thought he might be interested in.

  • Comment number 25.

    Interesting hit piece by newsnight on Hungary..didn't really go that well though eh. The Hungarian ambassador held his own whilst Gavin threw girlie punches. I remember the rise of Hugo Chavez, (Irans Armadinnerjackets best mate) the Venezualen president and his buddies closing down TV and radio stations and other non-communist cultural institutions etc. And let me tell you, he didn't sit down and have cups of tea and buttered scones whilst implementing his brand of Marxism...people went missing..and never came back. I also remember the BBC not thinking it worthy of reporting..not a word!!!!

    Some would call that a double standard.

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 Isn't Hugo Chavez very ill and not expected to live much longer Kev? I thought he was treated for cancer in Cuba.

    If so where does that leave Armadinnerjacket?

  • Comment number 27.


    Looks as if the answer is 'he will be killed' Lizzy.

    I noticed Hillary simply said 'not us', but made no attempt to stand up for Israel's 'certain' innocence. The plot thickens.

  • Comment number 28.

    Chavez was getting treatment I think. If its slash, burn or chemo, he's got 2-5years, if he's lucky. (if he'd know me, I'd cure him for pennies, even if he is a Marxist) He recently stated that the US had given him and other Latino leaders the "cancer potion". He was made to look like a nut job from our ever efficent managed media press, although to be fair, thats easy to do. He may be on to something there though when one considers the 70+ years of big pharma and their chemicals and vaccines. They make people ill, then they provide the "cures"...those expensive cures$$$.. there's a lot of money to be made from those sickly people. Reading books from any of the R*********s and their minions (to name one: Holdren: ecoscience) will help you along in the path to enlightenment..yes, they even write books on how they've done it or whats next planned.

    Chavez might've read this book:

    As for the USA made bogeyman in Iran (although, to be fair, thats easy to do as well) he's got a little box of fireworks ready for display, China's coming to watch - they have there own, they always do - and the Americans and the Israelis have some big boxes too. Joking aside Lizzy, this years a bad year to be sure.

    P:S Lizzy, I have to censore the name above. Whenever I write the name, posts get pulled. I'll give you a clue, its not the Rothchilds..its the other lot. Theres a 'rock' in it and a couple of 'fellas'. I hope I didn't bore you too much with that there above.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just saw this posted over on Nick Robinson's blog

    The infallable judgemment of Alex Salmond...

  • Comment number 30.

    Scotland needs a referendum on Independence?

    'No' - SNP need some maths lessons!

  • Comment number 31.


    '25. At 23:21 11th Jan 2012, kevseywevsey wrote:
    Interesting hit piece by newsnight on Hungary..

    That's the country Paul Mason called out for special 'wingist' distain last week, before going on to refer to the UK as 'throwing its toys out of the pram' over the EU.

    Still awaiting a 'thank you for your comments, but we don't answer pertinent ones' reply for asking about that one.

    Plus asking about how all Israelis are also Zionists in the eyes of Aunty's finest, or how people 'died' when bombs 'exploded' without connecting the Chechen terr... er.. 'fighter's' fingers on the triggers.

    Guessing there will be a fair bit on Taliban outrage on conflict conduct, mind.

    "Whose 'line' is it anyway?" takes on a whole new meaning.

  • Comment number 32.

    There used to be a trite saying that the first duty of a state was national defence. I always thought that the "zeroth law"* was to make sure that the state was actually worth defending.

    Greece may be effectively bankrupt, but still spends billions on defence. Whilst cutting social programmes to the bone, it is nevertheless under pressure, not only to honour existing arms contracts with France and Germany, but allegedly to sign new ones too.

    *The term "zeroth law" originated in thermodynamics after, having formulated three laws, physicists realised that they'd missed something basic out: something so obvious that they's previously taken it for granted.

  • Comment number 33.

    One good reason why the US/Israeli war with Iran will probably remain covert...

    "Simply because if actions against Iran trigger a shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world's daily sea-borne oil passes, oil prices will spike, the world's teetering economy will slump, and the arrival of the next financial emergency will be hastened."

  • Comment number 34.

    @30 Salmond knows the arithmetic doesn't add up - yet. As Muse has pointed out, the bankers' friend has made mistakes in the past, but he hasn't made a major political mistake yet.

    He is by far the most experienced and most wily politician in the UK. He deliberately makes offensive remarks against the English, not only to please his core support, but to provoke angry responses from the English public and politicians. He is relying on the Westminster leadership to miscalculate and try to bully the Scottish electorate. This would play into his hands. Even if he loses narrowly, he personally still wins.

    The only hope for toppling Alex Salmond is that he will become a victim of his own hubris: but I wouldn't bet on it!

  • Comment number 35.

    Or maybe not...

    "Washington is getting all of us in over our heads. Washington has declared the “Asia-Pacific” and the South China Sea to be areas of “America’s national interest.” What sense does this make? It makes the same sense as if China declared the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea to be areas of China’s national interest."

  • Comment number 36.

    @36 Who knows what the next 20 years will bring. Suppose the divisions in the US lead to secession and civil war, or even just paralyse it politically. Suppose too that, whatever its cause, global warming opens the Arctic's seaways and opens its mineral wealth to easier exploitation.

    We may yet see Chinese warships patrolling the English Channel on the grounds that it is a 'vital international seaway and it is in "China's national interest" to keep it open'. Who knows, we may see Iranian warships there too as a military ally of China, just as we currently see UK warships in the Gulf as a military ally of the US?

  • Comment number 37.

    the Hungarians have form, who attacked Stalingrad along with the SS and 'helped out' in the systematic elimination of the Jews in eastern Europe yes...the Magyars, they always go to the right and never the left so it is no surprise to see them trashing all civilised forms of government a bit like Dave's lot only for Newsnight and the Guardian, after listening to Kelvin lately most of the right wing press would applaud Hungary at least I can watch him make an ass of himself on tonight's QT....pip pip

  • Comment number 38.

    IMHO, on NN last night, Alex Salmond did not even need to get out of first gear, effortlessly answering Gavin Estlers questions, even slipping in sly dig at the hapless Nick Clegg, who has certainly lost his mojo along with a lot of Lib-Dem support in Scotland.

    Far from being offensive towards us English people, Salmond has pointed out that independence for Scotland also means us English taking a step towards independence from the Westminster Unionists.

    For us ordinary English people, who seek self-determination, self-respect and our own Parliament, whats not to like about that?

  • Comment number 39.

    @35 It's not so much Washington, as AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which, at least until the Presidential Election. will have a stranglehold over policy, that is at least a veto even if it can't dictate.

    Here is the opinion of another Jew who isn't pro-Israel:

    Actually, Rosenberg's previous articles make very interesting reading:

  • Comment number 40.

    Mr. Mason doesn't like Hungary's new government much, does he? - 5min in is especially worthy of note.

    I guess that explains him using the right-wing appellation, when such qualifiers are often denied other regimes more in favour with the BBC mindset, in the same slot he called the UK Government failing to find merit in the EU/ro bail out plans and not jumping in, 'throwing toys out of the pram'. I still await BBC feedback on what he meant by that.

    I am also interested in Mr. Mason's stout concerns at conflating racial or demographic terms in a less than stellar manner, even if in private. I must ask whether he would be so determined for an answer from his colleague who wrote (as I now believe they did, having had no denial, that it was added in the edit) that all Israelis were Zionists... in writing, in public.

  • Comment number 41.

    @38 John "For us ordinary English people, who seek self-determination, self-respect and our own Parliament, whats not to like about that?"

    It depends upon your view of Englishness, and also class politics. In the seventies it was sometimes observed that the political faultline in the UK approximated to the old border between the Danelaw and Wessex. However, this, as in ancient times, was a flexible border and victory for the Tories or for Labour depended upon how it moved.

    Much of the old industrial north is nearer to Edinburgh and Glasgow than to London. English is now the dominant language in Scotland, not because it was recently imposed, but because the Angle Kingdom of Northumbria stretched from the Humber to the Forth. I was born in Middlesbrough. My grandfather was a steelworkers' shop steward in the 1926 General Strike. Many North-Eastern MPs like Manny Shinwell or Ramsay MacDonald came from Scotland. Despite the decimation of our industry, the working class culture of the north still has more in common with that of South Wales and the lowlands of Scotland than it does with the Tory dominated southern shires.

    Do not expect an independent England to be a happy or united place.

  • Comment number 42.

    Sasha Clarkson @ 41

    I expect an independent England, via a genuine English Parliament, to dump its London-centric attitude and to focus much more on the English regions, some of which have been shamefully neglected and where the local economies are way-out-out-kilter, i.e. far too dependent on the public sector for jobs.

    it seems to me that the Unionist Labour and Tory Parties have been particularly divisive for our England, which is reflected in the split between the South-East/London and the rest of England.

    Its criminal really, what they have done to our England over the decades, using our country as a proxy for their pathetic little class wars.

    We English need to rise above it and show that we English mean business, in every sense of the word.

  • Comment number 43.

    JC @42. You are undoubtedly a civilised person, but I do not share your sense of optimism. For a start, the voice of the (ex) industrial regions will be proportionately smaller in an independent England than it is in the UK, and the City will be more powerful. The class disputes weren't petty, but based upon a conflicts of economic interest and often of culture, for example nonconformism versus Anglicanism. The real divisions in the UK were between those places and communities moulded and forged by the Industrial Revolution, versus the rest.

    The British nation created in the 18th and 19th centuries succeeded as a broad church - a union of disparate communities. If that broad church becomes narrower, then expect further fragmentation and strife. Why should the Durham ex pit villages be loyal to the same England as the small towns in the stockbroker belt? It is far more natural for them to be loyal to the same Britain as the south Wales Valleys, the Lancashire ex-cotton towns and the former steel towns of Scotland.

    I don't share Alex Salmond's vision and I don't share yours. I'm rather pessimistic. As separate countries, England and Scotland were more often bad neighbours than good. Expect the first border dispute of a Balkanised Britain to be about the status of Berwick!

  • Comment number 44.

    Sasha Clarkson @ 43

    You ask why should the Durham ex pit villages be loyal to the same England as the small towns in the stockbroker belt?

    I answer - because "we are the 99%" applies just as much to a small town in the stockbroker belt as it does to a Durham ex pit village.

    It is a great pity that Alex Salmonds counterpart at Westminster is somebody who represents the Unionists, rather than somebody who exclusively represents England but in time, post-Scottish independence, that would correct itself and we would be good neighbours, within the greater framework of the Commonwealth and EU.

    PS. Berwick is Berwick but the English side of the river should be English and not Scottish, as at present - that is not right.

  • Comment number 45.

    John @44 "English side of the river should be English and not Scottish, as at present - that is not right."

    Alas, you demonstrate my point. And one local community will be divided and expected to be loyal to different states: It will be worse when UKIP wins the English general election: it doesn't have a chance in Scotland or Wales.

    The Anglo-Scottish border has a very bloody history post-Norman Conquest, partly because it divides ancient Bernicia in two. Had the outcome of some battles been different, the border might have been at the Tees, or at the Forth. I'd prefer it not to be there at all.

    Gan canny!
    (that's Geordie/Pitmatic and not Scots ;-D )

  • Comment number 46.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 47.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 48.

    @47 A cousin of mine lived in a non-gated community om a hill in Tucson for a while, but it was next door to a gated community. In my mind I could see the motto of the latter above its iron gates: not "Arbeit Macht Frei", but "You Too Can Live In Fear".

  • Comment number 49.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 50.

    @49 - ah yes, the Gaza Ghetto: I suppose it depends whether you're locked in, or are locking others out.

    Strength through Purity!......

    G'night ;-)


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