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Getting down to business

Brian Taylor | 15:13 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

Hugs and kisses, high fives, laughter and jubilation.

I haven't seen so many happy faces gathered together in one place since the last home game at Tannadice.

Yes, the SNP conference in Aviemore is the place for funsters. It is the 73rd such gathering but the first one to feature the party in power.

However, there are limits. The arrival of Alex Salmond on stage produced warm, genuine applause. They stood and clapped. But they didn't cheer or whoop. It was restrained.

Now perhaps the SNP doesn't do cheering or, indeed, whooping.Perhaps they're intuitively suspicious of even the mild orchestration which preceded his arrival. (Showing a Party Political Broadcast to stir the blood.)

But perhaps too they're alert to the strategy of Ministers at this event. Celebrate triumph by all means - but recollect that the triumph was constrained, that they're a minority government. And one with a huge challenge ahead.

John Swinney spelled it out when he described the new financial settlement. His political message was to claim that the relatively tight nature of that settlement made the case for independence. Oil prices, he said, were by contrast at a record high.

That, of course, is a longer term argument. Right now - on November 14, to be precise - Mr Swinney has to set out the details of his own budget.

And he faces problems. If, for example, he is to meet even the toned-down version of the pledge on police officers, then something else may have to go.

Further, expert analysis suggests that if the Scottish Government attempts to match the pledges for England on health and education, that of itself would swallow up virtually all the money available.

Today Fiona Hyslop has announced extra spending for colleges. But that doesn't set a general pattern. It's capital investment drawn down from the underspending fund, as per the agreement with the Treasury.

So it's going to be tough. Welcome to government.


  • 1.
  • At 03:27 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

Finally a government to be proud of. Labour aren't getting in again for a long long time.

Bring on independence

  • 2.
  • At 03:29 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • JohnMcDonald wrote:

"They stood and clapped. But they didn't cheer or whoop. It was restrained."
Despite being a minority government, it seems that the SNP Government is continuing to set the agenda while the opposition produce little of note.

But the most important point is that the SNP is in Government and is setting the agenda. Alex Salmond and his team have fitted into government remarkably well.

The voters don't expect miracles but do want competence and stability. And despite running on a minority the SNP are delivering.

Don't tell me that voters will not reward the SNP handsomely come the next Westminster election.

And, while a week in politics can be a long time and four years an age, come the next Parliament contest their gift will be a proper working majority for the SNP.

The SNP members should enjoy their conference, and they deserve to.

  • 3.
  • At 03:40 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

"And dispite running on a minority the SNP are delivering"

Delivering what tho'? So far they've made headlines by giving things away (prescription charges, student loans, bridge tolls) and stopping things happening (closing down of local hospitals).

But we haven't seen the impact of that yet. Where is the money coming from and what does keeping those hospitals open (can't remember the names) do to the overall provision of health in that area?

Brian is absolutely right, they've spent money from the budget doing this but that means that other things don't get spent on. What are they going to be?

  • 4.
  • At 03:51 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Hi Brian,

Ok they cant give us everything they put in the manifesto (did labour?). But so far they have done more in six months than the last lot did in 8 years. This we can all see quite plainly. The other parties are still bangin on with their ever so popular negative media broadcasts and yet the Nats still proceed with smiles and positivity. With the very very tight funding review partly undermining the policing pledge, it would be grosse negligence for the government to bankrupt the country for political gain. Im sure that the Nats would love to have the money for this issue, as a Nat im dissapointed too, but we must cut our cloth accordingly.

However we have saved 2 hospitals, removed bridge tolls, called ourselves a government (dont know why it makes a difference but it does)put together a coucil of economic advisors (why didnt labour do this? they had 8 years for gods sake)Want to remove the unfair council tax (C,mon Libs no more sour grapes lets get this done)Im sure theirs more but cant think at the moment.

  • 5.
  • At 03:55 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Mark Craig wrote:

A proper working majority? My god you must be high on something to believe all that spin. The SNP would be hard pushed to get a majority of MPs at the next General Election. And owing to the electoral system that's in place at Holyrood it's virtually impossible for any party to enjoy a working majority.

Yes enjoy the conference. The hard work of government has started. It's easy making promises in opposition. Harder to deliver - the debate about the 1,000 new police proves that. And if you read the manifesto carefully it does mention "new officers" and nothing about redeployment or encouraging older officers to defer retirement.

  • 6.
  • At 03:57 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Irving Parry wrote:

So John Macdonald says the SNP are delivering. Delivering what?. Where are the extra police officers?. What about their pledge to "immediately abolish prescription charges for folk suffering from chronic diseases"?. Well, they have delivered a White Paper,I grant you that. Very difficult, that one!. It seems that they promised the Earth if only the voters would put them into power. Well, the voters did. They should't hold their breath. Council Tax will not be replaced by a Local Income Tax; nor will any of their election promises be delivered.
Sadly we will have to wait for four years to kick them out.

  • 7.
  • At 03:58 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

#2 I agree totally. I think Gordon Brown took the threat of SNP gains in westminister seats seriously (before im picked up on this, I understand this has not been the trend in the past for the SNP to get many westminister seats, but never before have they had the chance to prove themselves in governement.) This was by no means the main reason he cancelled the election but i have no doubt he was worried about it. Now he will try and sqeeze the SNP government over the next four years, to stop their ability to function. This can be seen allready in the recent financial settlement.

However, this will not fool the Scottish people who have known turncoats like Brown throughout history. (Lovely pic of him and Thatcher don't you think??!) I believe the SNP to be the first party in a long time to govern in the Scottish national interest, unlike London Labour. Well done AS and co, its time for independence

  • 8.
  • At 04:10 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • jon potter wrote:

The verdict on the election voting fiasco was clear, but the SNP Government deny any responsibility.
All the parties stand accused, none of them can be trusted to arrange elections in Scotland. We need an independant body to manage the voting ritual. Politicians sadly deserve their reputation...treating the voters with contempt leads to distain for politicians as a whole. and does not serve the interests of democracy...the first minister is begining to display the arrogance he so often criticised.

  • 9.
  • At 05:25 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen S. wrote:

Sure, oil prices are high. They might even continue to increase. But the SNP should bear in mind that oil is not a sustainable resource, not a good resource to hedge our bets on due to highly variable prices, and is most certainly a resource which will continue to gradually decline.

North Sea oil has passed its peak, and production has dropped off substantially in the last few years. While there are decades of oil production still available in the area, we won't ever see those levels of production again. The UK now relies on imported oil. (See the "minor" crisis in January when the Russians shut down one of our main sources.)

The oil argument is not a good argument to be made. The SNP, credible as they already are and pleased with them as I already am, would sound a lot more grown up if they dropped "oil" as their "catch-all" argument for questions they haven't previously considered.

  • 10.
  • At 05:47 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

Much as I despised Jack McConnell and the previous administration, I have deep concerns about Alex Salmond's agenda.

He hell bent on a fight with Westminister in order to raise the political tension, cause unrest in England and hopefully get Scotland independant.

But all of this is being carried out without regards to the long term consequences for Scotland's economy. Where is the solid base? He seems to be basing his strategy on gaining the North Sea oil revenue, something that Westminister will never give away.

His approach is far more professional than that of Labour, which is pleasant to see. But he is a politician, and therefore should not be trusted.

He holds the SNP together, a party with more fault lines than San Andreas. If something should happen to him, the party would disintegrate.

  • 11.
  • At 06:58 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Raymond Groutage wrote:

Can all Scottish people who comment on the Government in London please remember, Scots have held all the major government positions for the last TEN years. Blair, Brown, Darling, Browne. BUT the Scots may mention names, but never that they are Scots !!!!

  • 12.
  • At 08:51 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Brian McHugh wrote:

The SNP have taken to power like a duck to water, which is interesting when you compare this with Labour's 50 years of trying - but not quite getting it right.

One thing is for sure, Labour will never again hold the monopoly on Scottish Politics. The SNP have come of age with a destinct maturity and confidence as seen from todays conference, which will no doubt serve them well in the belief that they can campaign and win many future elections.

2007 was truely a remarkable year in Scottish politics which signalled the true birth of Holyrood.

  • 13.
  • At 08:57 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Furby wrote:

Brian, noticed you used hyperlink thingys in your last report about the Gould report. Just a wee suggestion but it would be nice if the links were not just to BBC reports but to sources. Like a link to the Gould Report or a link to Alex Salmond's speech. Keep up the good work tho. There's not much comment on Scottish politics on the web so I'm glad yours is pretty decent.

  • 14.
  • At 10:29 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Conference will be a chance for the SNP to appeal directly to the people. "You chose us in May ... we have achieved this ... (dont let the opposition hijack the budget statement)." May well work - the fact that the Labour Party is still in such an obvious mess is surprising. It seems their idea of a fightback is to send Dougie Alexander out on the offensive, despite his obvious guilt concerning the elections in May.

  • 15.
  • At 12:58 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Alex Salmond has made claims that those currently controlling Westminster are operating to the disadvantage of Scots and Scotland, I must admit I expected and predicted such pettiness from those in power; what we need is evidence, I know calculations were given in support of the latest items, support for farmers affected by the foot and mouth outbreak in England and the claims of jiggery-pokery with English NHS budgets have an effect on the Scottish budget calculations.

I fully accept that if any future attempts to disadvantage Scots and Scotland were to be attempted they will be clandestinely delivered and that proof and details relevant to that proof will not be a simple A – B = C, it is therefore important that any proof should be explained so that all Scottish voters, Labour, Liberal, Conservative, SNP and others can witness what their Westminster Government are delivering to their disadvantage.

Those that wish to hide behind their personal choice of non SNP rosette should be aware that their own rights may equally be being sacrificed on the surface of Labour’s Westminster altar as these disadvantages, although SNP targeted, will result in cuts that will disadvantage all Scots irrespective of political allegiance; voters who go to the polls at the next United Kingdom General Election should be aware of any proof that they have been delivered of a lesser service than their counterparts in England only because Scotland had the audacity to oust failed First Minister Jack McConnell from office.

It would be unwise and dangerous to deliver merely a single sided view of the complainant, the Government position and answers to any charges must equally be delivered, failure to respond or merely issue a generic statement of denial in my opinion will be tantamount to proof that the SNP have delivered proof of Westminster malice.

  • 16.
  • At 05:00 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Ok Labour give us 30 billion a year to look after ourselves, We pay into the treasury 47 billion a year, add to this the 32 billion that comes from the oil revenues alone(you can trust me on this oil is now 93 usd a barrel and predicted to increase to over 100 in the next two years and wont come down because of ever increaseing demands and lack of resources world wide)and you can see why the uk says were all to useless to look after ourselve's but wont let us go. These are just the plain numbers coming from the treasury. No fiddling, no politicising, were just being robbed and sitting here and taking it

  • 17.
  • At 09:33 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

Hurray for the SNP! Bring on Scottish Independence! Considering though that the SNP plans on basically making everything in Scotland free not forgetting lower tax, i would love to see where you all will get your money from... your oil won't last forever and with the SNP and the Greens marching together, it does seem slightly contradicitive relying on a non renewable energy source (or a financial pillar); i thought the SNP were heading towards relying greater on renewable energy as well? Finally, what exactly have the SNP physically changed in Scotland... they've given some strong speeches, resolved a few problems... but they also wanted to close down schools, which they soon backed out of to tame the people and they also want to spend millions on creating Scottish embassies world wide and where will all the money come from to build a ministry of defence, etc for Scotland... alot of spending for such a cost cutting party. Goodluck!

  • 18.
  • At 10:20 AM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Fair enough ,we have the usual one liner statements by the unionists which have the usual negatives as they continue to put down their People and Country.

Oil is not the be all as far as the SNP Scottish Government is concerned. It is merely a bonus that can be used to increase the entire Scottish Economy. After eight and a half years we have a First Minister who is actually taking his responsabilities very seriously.

This is a First Minister who in one of his first acts, put together a group of Economic Advisors who would be the envy of many countries. This man fronted the worlds most respected Enonomic/Political Think Tanks as a Professional Leader of a Modern Country wishing to grow its opportunities on the World stage.He did not turn up in New York in a kilt that had more in common with a womans skirt.

Yes the SNP have taken on a huge commitment to changing things for the better in Scotland. And Yes the London Controlled Political Parties are focussed on trying to undermine Scottish Voters Choice of Government. But I will take an additional 1000 Police Officers on frontline services any day of the week, especially when NO other Party made a commitment for even one new policeman. If it ends up 500,600,700 or the thousand the police Unions Reid said two days ago, it would be a great tool to allow the police to state that "if you break the law we are coming after you".

A little piece of strategic advice for Annabel, Nicol and Wendy would be to stop for one moment and have a good look at how you are potraying your party to the Scottish Public. The SNP are seen as Progressive,Pro Scottish People,Pro Scotland, Pro Patient Care, Pro Business.

The English Controlled Parties are Stale with no new ideas other than raising taxes to pay for Bad Governance, Out of touch with the people who Voted for them, Denying them a referendum on the EU Constitutional Changes, Grabbing Record amounts of expenses and most importantly Chipping Away at Their Freedoms.

  • 19.
  • At 02:02 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Cameron wrote:

Having just seen Mr.Alexander's interview on the 'Politics show' earlier I was duly staggered at the seemingly permanent Labour sleaze factor - and, yet again, the manner of the actual interview itself.

It seemed to be amount to some kind of staged reiteration of the 'apology', the one we've had to wait weeks for.

To begin with, WHY does the BBC not ask the obvious questions? Why was THIS interview not set in the usual Paxmanesque/Warkfactor aggresive stance we've come to expect when nationalist politicians are questioned?

Would the BBC have made much of such a situation if the SNP were in office at the time?

The interview seemed to exist to promote the following messages from Mr.Alexander:

- It wasn't 'only' my fault
- If anything, I'm to blame for considering the other parties 'too much' [what an amazing statement]
- We DEFINITELY had simply NOTHING to do with the 'clarification' letter
- I've been big enough to 'apologise', Alex Salmond isn't.

Here is the bottom-line. Labour's Scottish executive were in control of the elections in which they took part. We all remember the various 'reviews' the previous Labour administration sanctioned on voting borders, as they so fit.

Conflict of interest!? We are talking about a party who seemed quite happy to send senior Labour politicians to 'talk' to the BBC political team mere weeks before the election, to discuss, if memory serves - its concerns over political features which cast the SNP in too positive a light!

I was also blown away to hear Mr.Alexander's rant regarding Alex Salmond and how '...he likes to think of himself as a big man in Scottish Politics...'

Douglas, I know you were out that day [at the polling stations??] but the the SNP won. Truly, they did. Making Alex Salmond the First Minister of the country. Just giving you the heads up.

It takes a little stretch of the imagination, frankly, to see what this Scottish Labour Party are capable of - and with Political Salamanders like Douglas Alexander again managing [on the back of a gifting British media] to deny anything approaching culpability on an alarming and obvious conflict of interest.

Alexander the Salamander. There you go. You heard it here first. ;o)

  • 20.
  • At 04:11 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Morris wrote:

Some of the independence advocates really need to calm down a bit. Sure the SNP "won" the Holyrood elections, albeit by a whisker, and they are entitled to bask in their "glory" but the wiser heads in the party, including Salmond, know that they are a million miles away from independence.
There has never been a majority for the SNP's ultimate goal of an independent Scotland. To get to that position the SNP will need to do a lot more than win a one seat advantage over Labour in the Holyrood elections. Ironically, they could be in a worse situation next time round as it seems unlikely they will be able to point to a glorious record in their four years as the Scottish Government, given the fragile arithmetic in Edinburgh. It might be unfair, but there seems every chance the electorate will punish them for "not doing very much" when they had the chance. The SNP will be hoping the voters take the view that with more power the SNP could have done a lot more but somehow I doubt it.

  • 21.
  • At 05:09 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

"Picking fights with Westminster" is obviously just unionist and media code for standing up for Scotland's interests. When the London Government causes hardship to Scottish farmers because of a foot-and-mouth outbreak hundreds of miles away but denies them compensation purely because they live in Scotland - the Scottish Government is meant to look on and do nothing?! This is what a government is meant to do. Not picking fights, protecting Scottish interests and the livelihood of Scottish farmers. Where was Ms Alexander on this issue incidentally? We simply dont know because she was too busy hiding, as Jack McConnell did before her whilst in Government.

  • 22.
  • At 05:54 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

The SNP's only aim is to wreck the UK and with it Scotland's influence in the world. Scotland would lose its seat on the UN security council and influence in the EU, and become an irrelevent fringe member of both.

No political party has ever sought to reduce its people so far.

Imagine if separatists tore Germany apart in this way. Or some other major EU member? The EU is about an ever closer political union, not an ever more divided one, and the SNP is no different from any of the other ugly nationalist parties in Europe who threaten to tear it apart.

In 1967, the SNP's MP for Hamilton, Mrs Ewing, famously said that the party's aim was to see Scotland seated at the UN between Saudi Arabia and Senegal. That still says it all.

  • 23.
  • At 06:13 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Kenny H wrote:

Watched the coverage of the SNP conference and makes me and the family even prouder, if thats possible, to be Scottish.

Well done Alex Salmond and his team in regenerating belief and respect in ourselves as a Nation. As Alex correctly suggested, we are a nation with a proud and distinguished past. A nation of invention and innovation, a country of diversity and as yet unrealised wealth.

However we are currently emerging as Nation in recovery, one that has been run down in progressive years of Labour led neglect. Gradually and with some conviction SNP are puting Scotland back on the right track. A track that leads to Independence and we should welcome the opportunity with open arms and minds.

As once portrayed in our history "Go back to England and tell them there that Scotland's daughters and her sons are yours no more"

Scotland can and will prosper on its own, SNP may be a minority Governnment but they are growing in stature and strength with careful policy and decisions that put the people of Scotland first, of that there is no doubt.

Good luck to England, hope your own Independence happens soon.

  • 24.
  • At 06:42 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • jon wrote:

Speaking as an English bloke down here in London I think the SNP should start putting up candidates in Tory run rural English constituencies. I reckon the SNP would do rather well! We little Englanders love Wee Eck, he speaks our language and we like shortbread too. Then once Scotland gains indepence from .... someone, the Welsh? Gordon Brown? Alister Darling? Malcolm Rifkind? Ian Paisley? I forget ..... then all 50 million of us will move north and enroll on a university course (can't wait to down a few pints of 80/- in the uni bar, of course we'll need to decant to Cardiff to get hangover remedies). Little Englanders need Alex - you can keep Sturgeon.

  • 25.
  • At 08:05 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Kenny H wrote:

Watched the coverage of the SNP conference and makes me and the family even prouder, if thats possible, to be Scottish.

Well done Alex Salmond and his team in regenerating belief and respect in ourselves as a Nation. As Alex correctly suggested, we are a nation with a proud and distinguished past. A nation of invention and innovation, a country of diversity and as yet unrealised wealth.

However Scotland is currently emerging as Nation in recovery, one that has been run down in progressive years of Labour led neglect. Gradually and with some conviction SNP are puting Scotland back on the right track. A track that leads to Independence and we should welcome the opportunity with open arms and minds.

As once portrayed in our history "Go back to England and tell them there that Scotland's daughters and her sons are yours no more"

Scotland can and will prosper on its own, SNP may be a minority Governnment but they are growing in stature and strength with careful policy and decisions that put the people of Scotland first, of that there is no doubt.

Good luck to our friends in England, hope your own Independence happens soon.
Kenny H

  • 26.
  • At 08:07 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

No mention of the SNP Scottish Governments released figures that prove beyond doubt that Scotland would be the third wealthiest Country in Europe behind Luxembourg and Ireland.

Still no thanks from Brian and the staff at the BBC Scotland Headquarters for the extra money that they have been given because Alex stood up for them. Surely 50 million is worth a thankyou. Perhaps you lot should be backing Alex Salmond and Independance to try save the unfair retrenchments being forced upon you. It looks like following Londons line did no good at all for the 200 plus.

In a perverse sort of way the success of the SNP has given a big impetus ro English nationalism. The break up of the Union will envigorate the four countries and put pride in their people.

  • 28.
  • At 09:49 AM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • si wrote:

Why would anybody in Scotland vote again for a party that is ruled from London?

You have to give the SNP a few years before you can tell how they govern.

Looking on from Wales I think you should all go for independence.
For far too long, London has controlled you.

  • 29.
  • At 10:06 AM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • michael loftus wrote:

#9, yes I agree that oil is not a sutainable asset, however I dont hear anyone mention our other permanently sutainable asset "Scotch Whisky" how much do Westminister get on revenue from this Scottish product. Come on AS.

  • 30.
  • At 11:21 AM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • mairi macleod wrote:

hi brian,
what a conferance!!
what a result for dundee u.!!
now down to brass-tacks,it would seem not all of the bloggers on thees pages are happy,they dont want us to prosper,our glass is half-empty
ect.ect.perhaps we're getting it right too often for the old CANT DO
all scotlands fault that westm. is picking fight with holyrood,of cource
beuty is in the eye of the beholder
so old habits are hard to break,
but things ARE changing slowly, the old cringing is getting less, i'll live in hope.

  • 31.
  • At 12:52 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • JK Doran wrote:

Why doesn't the SNP government seek to raise income tax to pay for its promises?

  • 32.
  • At 01:01 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

I watched the speech yesterday and was proud to be scottish. Alex and his team are a credit to this nation and unionists, its now only a matter of time.

Scotland the Brave!!

  • 33.
  • At 01:44 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • john dyer wrote:

As a Sassenach, I have been interested in following developments in Scottish politics since the SNP took over. We are undoubtedly approaching a watershed in British politics, because the more successful that AS is in delivering on his promises, the more favourably people will look upon the independence argument. But in reality the real issue for Labour is their survival as the government of the UK. Over time, the argument that only English MPs may vote on issues affecting England will become more persuasive. Certainly, doing nothing on this is not an option, but Gordon Brown is in a no-win situation. The main beneficiary of Alex Salmond's success is likely to be David Cameron.

If Scotland ultimately achieves independence, then Labours hold over England and Wales becomes much weaker: indeed they may never achieve power again. We in England will have to ponder the possibility of permanent Tory government- but you will have to accomodate a number of unemployed politicians of Scottish ancestry, who may find they no longer have a role to play at Westminster.

  • 34.
  • At 03:59 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Brian, where is the article on Scotland's 3rd place ranking in Europe in terms of wealth (and sixth in the world)? Coming on the heels of 13th in FIFA rankings I think it is pretty big news! I can understand its absence from your blog considering the heroics of Dundee United the other day, but you would think that the venerable British Broadcasting Corporation would like to carry a report somewhere on its website on the issue, for the sake of impartiality. (In the same way it reported the nonsensical GERS figures every year, for instance).

I simply cannot imagine how New-er Labour will fight the next election. No longer "you're too wee", "you're too poor" and "you're too stupid/incompetent" ... but "you're too rich"?!

# 22 Jon - Scotland doesn't have a seat at the security council, "Britain" does (meaning it represents everything south of the Watford Gap). Also, Scotland would have double the representation it currently does in the EU if it were independent. And, yes it would have automatic right to remain within the EU as Britain is a union-state with no one successor state the outcome of "break-up". Greenland did not opt for independence but had to opt to leave the EU following a further grant of power, despite being physically a part of North America. Name one issue in which Scottish interests have been the deciding factor in a British Government negotiating position either at the United Nations or in the European Union.

  • 35.
  • At 12:54 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • WRM wrote:

Comment #5 - re the 1,000 police pledge. I don't know what was specifically said during the election campaign, but the manifesto gives the SNP wiggle room - I downloaded the document, and it says on p58: "...we will set out plans in our first Budget for Scotland for 1,000 more police officers and will encourage Chief Constables to focus these new resources on community policing. We want to see these new police officers becoming part of the fabric of communities....."

They're definitely skating on thin ice, but their pledge was to do something in the budget so that there are 1,000 MORE officers. That's it - the subsequent pieces about 'new resources' and 'new police officers' follow on from their Budget pledge, IMO. If they get 'more' officers through encouraging experienced ones to stay as well as hiring newbies, that would seem to be a good thing. I think people might actually like a more experienced force than a wave of rookies.

Whether they do that remains to be seen. But, if there are 1,000 more officers than when they took power, then they've fulfilled the strict language of their pledge; if not, they haven't.

To PMK, you say Scotland is not a member of the UN Security Council, Britain is. Then Scotland is not a member of the EU either, except by being part of Britain. Romano Prodi, while serving as president of the commission, stated that Scotland would not automatically have a right to EU membership. Other EU states might also seek to prevent it. No one in Brussels wants to see the EU carved up, quite the opposite, and the Scottish Civil Service report does not speak for the EU.

You ask me to name one area where the British government has defended Scotland's interests. One big answer is defense policy, where British defense contracts are worth tens of billions of pounds. The carrier programme and type 45 destroyer force are examples. British taxpayers will accept British defense jobs going to British workers in Scotland, but English taxpayers will not accept English defense jobs going there. If Scotland wrecks the UK, no government in London will send such jobs north again, and in the decades ahead they will be worth far more to Scotland than declining North Sea oil revenues.

Lastly, one and a half million British servicemen sacrificed their lives to save Britain. The union is not just about money, North Sea oil or otherwise. Britain has national rights also, and they were dearly paid for.

  • 37.
  • At 03:47 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Britain has no national rights, it is a Union State and therefore it is merely the sum of its parts. As for the navy somehow being in Scotland's interests! I can think of alot better ways to spend £20-plus billion than on Trident, nevermind the farce of the three additional aircraft carriers, for which we have ordered US planes that - by definition - cant land on them (they would melt the deck). Defence is one area by which Scotland suffers most - as shown by the higher likelihood of being killed if you are Scots soldier in every war from at least 1914, or the fact that WMD remain on the Clyde.

Romano Prodi displays exactly the same ignorance about Great Britain as yourself, he cannot grasp the simple idea that it is not a single entity, but a collective composed of four smaller constituent countries. He is merely an Italian politician, and by no means a brilliant legal mind. I could describe the Pope's personal opinion on birth-control if you like? ... I do not think it would be any more or less substantive than Mr Prodi on the break-up of Britain!

If you take your incredible "people died" approach to history, then surely we should all be agitating for the Roman Empire! It is an argument against all change ... no-one suggests that because New Zealand and Australia are independent that the memory of British Empire war-dead is being somehow dishonoured! It is a ridiculous stance that could only be thought up by a New Labour voting drone: "ma Da voted Labour, his Da did ... so I must". History progresses, things change. Past generations must not impede us making the best possible decision on Scotland's constitutional future!

To PMK, it is two carriers, not three, and the joint strike fighter will not melt the decks of either. To the thousands of Scottish workers building them it is not a farce. The MoD is the largest employer in Scotland and you appear to know nothing on the subject.

Britain was a nation long before the Scots or English invaded, and more than three quarters of Scots oppose breaking her up. The SNP does not represent Scotland's majority. Britain's right to exist was bought and paid for by our war dead and to sneer at them is to simply show the ugly face of Scottish nationalism for what it is. British democracy does have a future, separatist bigotry does not.

The rest of your comments on an elder statesman like Mr Prodi are too ignorant to merit a reply, except that they are consistent.

  • 39.
  • At 02:05 PM on 31 Oct 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

Do not call me ignorant when you clearly know nothing of history. Or the future come to that!

War dead have nothing to do with the future. I in no way dishonoured the war dead, can you explain that assertion in any other way than "things must stay exactly the same now as they were then"? Surely then women should not have the right to vote, and those without property should also be disenfranchised so as not to anger the restless dead of the Boer or First World Wars?

Why has Australia and NZ leaving London control not "dishonoured the war dead" by your twisted logic? You never answered that question from last time! You are increasingly coming across as a political Luddite.

I repeat Britain has no natral right to exist. It is merely a union state: a collection of constituent nations. It ceases to exist by definition whenever one of them leaves. There is no natural successor state. Therefore you must argue either that (in the case of Scottish independence): A) both the rump and Scotland are allowed to remain in the EU, or B) both begin their seperate existances outwith it. You will have to reconcile yourself with this reality at some point, at least theoretically if not in practice!

I am not going to check this thread again ... so please yourself posting whatever lies and slurs you like here.

Australia and New Zealand were never part of the UK.

Mr Salmond presents a moderate image of the SNP to the world, his supporters do not. Which is the real SNP?

You have spoken, I have answered. Others may decide what 'slurs and lies' have been said. The future? Peaceful and united I hope. Finis.

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