What a Bunch of Numpties


There is an excellent post today on Wings Over Scotland in which Stu Campbell does what he does best – debunking nonsense unionist statistics.

London “think tank” Europe Economics has published some research which “non-think tank” Scotland in Union is publicising. WoS has ripped this shoddy piece of work apart in a matter of hours – but there was one incredible claim that jumped out at me.

Basically, the terms of reference for this report were to – yet again – try to show that Scotland, without the largesse of the UK, would be an economic basket case and would run the most massive of massive deficits in the history of time (as no doubt Neil Oliver will be pointing out in his next series).

The following paragraph states one of the reasons for this gigantosaurus rex of a deficit:


If Scotland had become independent and became a new Member State of the EU, then it would become forbidden, under EU rules, for Scotland to charge fees to students from the rest of the UK as is done by Scottish universities at present. That is because under EU law “any person holding nationality of an EU member state is entitled to move freely and reside in another member state and in doing so should not face discrimination from the host member state”. As Scottish students do not pay fees and neither do students from other EU countries, students from the rest of the U.K. would also become entitled to study free of fees in an independent Scotland.

The fee income received by Scottish Universities from students from the rest of the U.K. has been estimated at £150m.”

It would appear that both Europe Economics and Scotland in Union have forgotten the little matter of Brexit and that the UK will no longer be an EU member state.

What a bunch of numpties!


The Canary in the Coal-mine

(with a heavy dose of sea faring metaphors)

The UK’s economic weather is currently viewed through the prism of big business – how are the multi nationals responding to Brexit? – ignoring the fact that 60% of private sector employees work in small and medium sized businesses.

Setting Sail

I am a partner in one such business and Brexit means our endeavour has no long term future. We employ ourselves, two part time staff and occasionally others at busy times. We built our business from nothing, with very little capital of our own, a business loan of £10,000 and no grants. Six years on we are successful, we could even be described as thriving. We could probably chug along as we are for a few more years but in order to make our business sustainable in the long term we need to earn more, to earn more we need to expand, to expand we need to borrow a large chunk of money. That money would be spent on securing premises, employing more people, purchasing building materials – in other words we’d be doing stuff! Wheels would be turning, our little cog in the Scottish economy would be engaged. This was our intention, then the Brexit iceberg hove into view and our plan for the future suddenly seems far too risky.

The Doldrums

So we’re waiting and watching, our cog still turns but our plans have shrunk. We’ll stay as we are for now, and improve our business in less costly ways, but should Scotland remain trapped aboard (not so) good ship Brexitannia we’ll very reluctantly start looking for another option. I’m sure that we are not alone as a (very) small business, feeling unable to carry out planned investments, choosing the “wait and see” option. We are the backbone of the UK economy, if we hold our breath what does that mean for our economy? Nissan, Vauxhall, Apple are not the canaries, we are – British small businesses. If we falter, the economy falters.

We have supported Scottish independence for many years now for a boat load of reasons, but from the point of view of our wee business what does self determination offer? Well, quite simply it gives us a fighting chance. The current UK government appear committed to fatal self harm, prioritising a reduction in immigration above all else. The chilling talk of “rebalancing” the economy, WTO rules and a deal with the orange “dude” doesn’t offer even a sliver of hope for Scotland.

Our business derives part of it’s income from the currently booming Scottish tourist industry. An industry which will start to struggle if staff from abroad are harder to recruit and if further austerity undermines our infrastructure. Brexit Britain may develop an image problem – tales of racist abuse on English streets have travelled the globe. As we know, not all news outlets understand that the UK is a union of nations, rather than a collection of English regions!

A New Course

An independent Scotland would quite simply prioritise Scottish needs – we need migration, a constructive relationship in, or with, the EU and to maintain our reputation as a welcoming, tolerant nation. Isn’t that more appealing than being unwilling guinea pigs in an ill conceived, right wing experiment? The defining feature of Brexit is anxiety over immigration, aided and abetted by hysterical, right wing press. This will define UK policy for years, decades to come. I think Scotland deserves better, can do better, can offer more than a future based on such narrow parameters.

Scottish Independence isn’t a rejection of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s about embracing something positive, creative and more suitable for Scotland. It’s about being ourselves and making the most of our considerable resources. How many other small nations have our renewables potential, the city of Edinburgh, science and technology, world class universities, a thriving tourist industry, jaw dropping scenery, Rabbie Burns, world famous food, drink and textiles? Oh and there’s that other stuff – the black substance lurking beneath the rocks under the North Sea.

England has set it’s course, for good or ill, it’s time we did the same. There are stormy seas ahead, all the more reason to plot our own course than have it plotted for us. (Am I overdoing the sailing metaphor??? Naaaah, I could be wittering about lions and unicorns….)

If Scotland says Aye to independence then we’ll press ahead with our business expansion, borrow some cash, build and expand. More than that we’d be a tiny cog in a nation building machine, and we’d be proud to be part of that.


You Don’t Have The Right!


It’s been poisoning us all for months now, affecting our ability to think clearly, clouding our vision and making us forget the past. Every time the Conservatives at Westminster make a proclamation, change a policy or announce a deal you’ll find me shouting “You don’t have the right!” into the gaping maw of the filthy end of whichever media pipeline happens to be spewing forth the toxic news.

Universal Media Blackout

What we are all forgetting is the 2015 General Election Expenses scandal. Whenever I mention it I’m shocked that so few people have any idea quite how large, complicated and potentially explosive it is. For those that do remember, most express surprise that it is still unresolved. Hardly surprising really as there’s an almost universal media blackout on the subject. The most recent, and isolated, article I can find is the one from December about Alison Hernandez PCC being questioned – and that was in the Exeter Express & Echo (a weekly with around 14,000 readers). It’s been suggested that the self-imposed media ‘silence’ is to ensure that whatever investigations may, or may not, be happening don’t have their potential crime scenes contaminated by giant journalistic footprints. It’s so unusual perhaps it’s true… or are they just waiting for the amnesia to kick in?

No Authority

In an effort to inoculate myself against forgetting I started writing a few notes and gathered together some of the more obvious #ToryElectionFraud articles. I quickly found it made more sense if I cross referenced them to the MPs in question. Very swiftly this in turn expanded to include the Police Authorities involved, the media outlets who had covered some aspect of the story, various tweets – contradicting the Conservatives claim that the Battlebus campaign was a national expense for example – and this all fed back to provide more ‘Players’ (people involved – no longer just MPs), more articles etc. etc. and all this required a database and naturally a site to present the data in a meaningful way. From everything I’ve collected so far what shines forth blindingly, like a billion watt bulb beneath the foamy media murk, is that the Conservatives have no authority.

Historic Tory Victory

The Conservatives appeared to have won the 2015 General Election. They did it with an incredibly slim 12 seat majority, which in any other political epoch would have been derided as an absolutely disastrous result, yet somehow this has been fed to us, and we lapped it up, as an historic Tory victory. In the process they destroyed their former coalition partners – the Liberal Democrats. Since then, faced with virtually no unified opposition and riding on their great victory, the Tories have been able to enact some of the most draconian, right wing and anti-democratic legislation this union has ever seen.

Very early in 2016 some cracks appeared in the political veneer and Channel 4 and The Mirror started picking away and swiftly alleged potential election fraud. Pretty quickly several other media outlets joined in, the Electoral Commission became involved and they ‘encouraged’ various Police Authorities to take the allegations seriously, the BBC tried their best to ignore it for as long as they could – and generated some of the most farcical political pantomime ever  – but eventually even they succumbed. As if by magic, with a few exceptions, everyone stopped talking about it in July 2016. The rest, as they don’t say, is not history.

Cheating At Politics

If you cheat at politics and no-one notices for a whole year, you get away with it. Apparently this is to stop us mere mortals from having to worry about the possibly destabilising effects of finding out that someone broke the law in order to end up in a position of authority. If no-one had made a fuss before May 7th 2016, if the Electoral Commission hadn’t got involved, if the Police hadn’t been asked to look at the allegations, if they hadn’t been ‘encouraged’ to apply to extend the time available in which to explore the possibility of prosecutions – this would all be done and dusted. Even if you have clear proof that MPs cheated to win, if it’s out of time then there’s nothing you can do about it. Time’s up on May 7th 2017 – whatever they decide, make sure you know about it.

The Democratic Will Of The People

By continuing to engage with the Tories as though they are the legitimate power at Westminster we are all effectively white-washing the Tory Election Expenses scandal from our collective memory. If just six MPs took it upon themselves to ‘cheat to win’ then the Conservatives don’t have a majority and pretty much everything that’s happened in the last two years does not represent the democratic will of the people.  More seriously, and more likely, is that if the party ‘cheated to win’ then the whole basis of our democracy is at question and we’ve all been well and truly scammed.

The various Police Authorities will reach their conclusions shortly. I want them to know that a great many of us are well informed, watching and waiting to see what they decide. My aim now is to keep finding and spreading the news, inform the public and keep them hungry for the results of the various Police Authorities deliberations. This can not be allowed to get quietly swept under the carpet.

A Country Like Scotland

I’m not expecting the Government to fall as a result of the investigations that may or may not ensue from the various Police Authorities ruminations. In fact I’m expecting an extra large whitewash brush to be wheeled out soon – accompanied by some enormous fake news distraction headlines. My hope is that this, and other’s efforts, will contribute to Scottish dis-ease and mistrust of Westminster, its players and their goals. If the Tories cheated in their homeland, in front of their own supporters in order to beat their former allies, what might they be capable of in a country like Scotland with virtually no discernible support for their aims and objectives.

Quick, go and inoculate yourself against #ToryElectionFraudAmnesia right now before the uhh, ummm, you know… oh look! That lovely Maggie Thatcher’s on the telly again.


Whit aboot ma Pension?


One of the many lies peddled by Better Together during the 2014 Independence Campaign was the one that in an independent Scotland pensioners would lose out on their pensions; perhaps even losing them completely. This lie is still dripping away.

It is no coincidence that it was the higher age groups, those either drawing a pension, or about to, who voted proportionately more for “No” in 2014. These age groups are also those less likely to take their news from sources other than the mainstream, union-supporting media.

Let’s debunk the lie.

Firstly, private/occupational pensions are funded internationally from invested funds and it makes no difference whatsoever where the recipients paid into them or where they now live. Even Better Together wouldn’t be stupid enough to claim that these are at risk from an independent Scotland. It is the public pension they refer to.

So, let’s consider the public pension.

At the moment the UK government sends millions of pounds overseas to pensioners who earned their pensions by making National Insurance contributions in the UK during their working lives. These “expats” (more correctly “immigrants” in the countries they reside in) live in large numbers in places such as Florida, Portugal, France and, particularly, Spain. The UK Government confirmed that this would continue if Scotland were to become independent. Although there was some coverage of this in the better elements of the unionist media, it was kept as quiet as possible.

Let’s be clear then – anyone receiving a pension at the moment will continue to receive that pension from the UK Government, even if residing outwith the UK (including in an independent Scotland), and it will be on the same terms as anyone living in the UK has.

What about those not yet receiving a pension?

Arrangements regarding those not yet of pensionable age will be determined by negotiation between an Independent Scotland and the Rest of the UK (rUK). Now, no-one can know where these negotiations lead so here are my own thoughts on 3 possible scenarios.

1 – Scotland takes over full responsibility for payment of pensions. However, there would require to be a settlement from the rUK that involves payment for part of the National Insurance contributions made by all of the Scottish workforce up to the date of independence. This payment would be extremely large and, as the rUK would struggle to find funds of this nature, I don’t see this happening.

2 – Scotland and rUK operate a joint pension arrangement. Now, had there been a pension fund built up for pensions this might be possible (see NOTES below), with both Scotland and rUK continuing to pay into it and draw from it. However, as pensions are funded from current revenue, the level of cooperation that would be essential between the national governments might just be a step too far.

3 – Scotland starts its own pension system (hopefully establishing a pensions fund as part of it). Those reaching pension age will have a pension from the UK based on their contributions pre-independence, PLUS one from Scotland based on post-independence contributions. As time progresses those reaching pensions age would see the balance of their 2 pensions alter – more from Scotland, less from the UK. Politically, the Scottish pension would need to be at least at the same level as that of the rUK.

Now, what is not widely known is that the current UK pension is amongst the lowest in Europe at around £155 per week – roughly £8,000 per annum. Surely Scotland could do better than this? In another item The Playgroup will argue that – contrary to what the unionist media still claim – an independent Scotland will be much wealthier than it is at the moment and so pensions paid in that independent Scotland will be higher than in the rUK. (It could also be the case that the current trend to increasing pension age could be halted.)

I think that this option (3) is the more likely of the 3 outlined. Readers, hopefully, including those from within the pensions industry, are invited to submit their own views and ideas. If I am totally on the wrong track, let me know (politely, please!) Everyone else, let’s get the message out that pensioners, now, and in future, not only have nothing to fear for their pensions, but could see themselves better off than if we remain in the UK.



When the welfare state was introduced immediately after World War 2, by a Labour Party whose members must be collectively whirling in their graves at what calls itself “Labour” now, National Insurance contributions from employee and employer were intended to fund, on an ongoing basis, our new National Health Service, our Social Security and .. our Pension. Of course, subsequent governments, hell-bent on “maintaining Britain’s world position” treated National Insurance as just another tax to be thrown into the pot and spent. Just like with oil taxation revenue from the 1970s to today, no fund was set up from which we could draw for future social expenditure, like the Pension. So, pensions, social security and the national health service are funded from current tax revenues, including NI.