Dispelling the myths: Scottish Independence is more than feasible

February 6, 2012

People are all too quick to assume Scotland wouldn�t cope as an independent nation but when you actually bother to look for the facts you�ll soon discover an independent Scotland is feasible. For those too lazy to base their arguments on facts I have written this blog to dispel the myths.

Arguments against independence and rebuttals:

The Union has served both countries well for 300 years. Devolution is a young experiment, and it is too soon to judge.

Scotland only united with England and Wales because of financial hardship; they needed the English for their trading knoxville security doors links. In any case, the signatories on the Act of Union are alleged to be falsified, so even 300 years ago when the Scottish really needed England to stay afloat support for the union was questionable. The whole premise of 300 years together in harmony isn’t a reason for our countries to stick together and anyhow they were an independent nation for 864 years, 553 years longer than they’ve been in union.

There is a gap between public spending in Scotland (40bn) and revenues raised there (27bn). A Scottish government would have to choose between higher taxes and cuts in public services.

The Barnett Formula used to allocate funding to Scotland is massively unfair and Lord Barnett who devised the formula in the 1970s says it was meant to be a temporary measure and has now publically stated it’s not fit for purpose. Official statistics from Keyword position tracker the Office of National Statistics show if Scotland's North Sea Oil and whiskey exports are included in the Barnett Formula Scotland would have a surplus of 1.2 billion.

Scotland has more influence in Brussels as part of the UK than it could have as an independent state.

Scotland is the same or larger in terms of economics and population than 11 of the 27 EU nations. Scotland would have a GDP of almost $200 billion dollars. It'd be the 45th richest nation of earth above countries like New Zealand and similar to Israel and Ireland. Its GDP per capital would be 22nd in the world next to France and Finland so the notion that Scotland would be a minute little country with no international prestige is profoundly wrong.

What about defence and security?

Switzerland uses just 1% of its GDP to provide a modern efficient Army and Air Force. The UK spends 2.3% of its GDP on its armed forces (including TRIDENT) Scotland can afford 1.6% of its GDP and still have modern professional armed forces half the size of the UK present.

Scotland's Government says it does not wish to join NATO and that they want to be in the Partnership for Peace Organisation like Sweden, Finland, Austria and many other nations. They have also said they're against nuclear proliferation and resent the fact TRIDENT’s based in Scotland.

What about the monarchy?

The SNP Scottish Government wish to keep the monarchy if independent just like 16 Commonwealth Realm have done, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica and 12 other nations. Also, don't forget we've shared a monarch since 1606, over 100 years longer than we've been in union.

Referendum should be held UK wide, not just in Scotland

Absolutely not, what would happen if Northern Ireland, Wales and England voted no but Scotland voted yes. Would we suppress the Scottish populace and deny them independence? Also, what if Northern Ireland, Wales and England voted yes but Scotland voted no, would we forcibly expunge them?

If we separate from Scotland it could lead to the whole of the UK breaking up

Independence is only on the cards for Scotland. Plaid Cymru the nationalist party equivalent of the SNP is the 3rd largest party in the Welsh Assembly behind both the Conservatives and Labour. They actually lost four seats in the 2011 election. Also, the turnout in the 1997 devolution referendum in Wales was 50% and only 51% of the 50% that turned out voted for devolution. So the Welsh desire for independence is definitely low. Northern Ireland is also very different to Scotland, as the unionist party won the most seats, they also want to remain in the UK because they’re a protestant country and resent their catholic neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.

Oil is going to run out, then they’ll be poor

According to Professor Alex Kemp, of Petroleum Economics at the University of Aberdeen. North Sea Oil and gas production will still be present in 2050. There is as much known oil left to extract than has already been extracted. Scotland has 17.5% of Europes oil reserves. BP and Shell say there are 60 years or more left of extraction. So why should Scotland have to pay 65% tax on oil when they produce enough to be self sustaining? Plus, because of Scotland's geographical location they have 25% of Europes wind power and have invested heavily in renewable energy. Norway since gaining independence from Sweden had built up a Government Petroleum Fund worth over 250 billion pounds, think of the investment opportunities that'd buy in Scotland.

Scotland has more influence in the UK

Scotland has 59 MPs out of 650 in the UK Parliament, thats not exactly massive influence! Real influence would be if Scotland as an independent nation state of the EU had botox training for nurses membership of the EU, was on the Council of Ministers in the EU and had 7 MEPs fighting for Scottish policies in Europe.

Who will decide who's Scottish and who's English, what about the cross border workers?

There are 5.5 million Scots, all of whom would be able to work in the UK as its in the EU. Perhaps English and Welsh students will be permitted to attend Scottish universities for free like all the other EU nation states�

My terrifying Oxford University Conservative Association experience – with a socialist friend!

January 19, 2012
As someone who’s from a fairly ordinary background it’s fair to say the goings on at the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) weren't exactly clear in my mind. Sure, we've all heard ghastly rumours about Nazi songs being sung and stately educated people being abashed but I never expected any of the stories to be accurate – I was wrong. Entering the Oxford Union where the OUCA holds its weekly Sunday Port and Policy discussions requires someone who is an Oxford Union member, as there's a very sophisticated electronic gate which requires a swipe from an Oxford Union membership card to open. Luckily I was actually invited to this OUCA event by a decent chap I met at a Conservative Future event in London. Still, rather than lurch for him outside of the gate I decided to invite my friend who's studying PPE at Hertford and a member of the union. The only problem with her attending the OUCA event was the small anomaly of her being a socialist/Marxist/republican.
Anyhow, we made it through the gate and into the Oxford Union building, after we strategically negotiated ourselves past all of the posh folk in their white tie attire of course. I was told by my OUCA friend that the Port and Web design Policy event would be held in the Macmillan Room, my socialist friend was not sure where this room was located so we had to wander a bit before actually finding it. We waited outside the room for 15 minutes, it was 8:45pm, 15 minutes after the event was meant to have started. Luckily, although it really isn't lucky, a chap dressed in what looked like pajama trousers and a tweed jacket came up to us and enquired as to whether we were attending the OUCA event, we replied that we were and he then introduced himself in a rather unusual way by taking our hands and sort of caressing them in some form of handshake. We both introduced ourselves and he repeated our names very slowly and looked at us in the eyes in a very odd fashion. Anywho, we survived that awkward experience and were told the event had been temporarily moved into a smaller room because of some organisational mishap by the union staff. The OUCA members were rather bewildered, as they couldn't understand what could possibly be going on in the usual room that was more important than their needs.
Arriving in the room, we instantly knew we were not of the appropriate calibre to be attendees. Firstly, I was dressed in a bright yellow jumper and jeans, this provoked rather scorning stares from the OUCA members who were all dressed in either white or black tie tuxedo suits, a lounge suit with a handkerchief in their breast pocket or tweed jackets with pocket watch chains protruding from their trousers. I felt as if I had walked into the funeral of Queen Victoria, the only thing missing was top hats, but I assume they weren't wearing those because the're too gentlemen like and took them off before coming inside. My socialist friend and I weren't greeted and we noticed a queue of members paying at the door, we ignored this, walked past them and sat down on a bench.
My OUCA member friend had yet to arrive so my socialist friend and I decided to tweet on our mobile devices, much to the astounded faces of the posh folk. Little did they know, we were tweeting about how hilarious their attire and general first impressions were, it was genuinely quite difficult not to burst out laughing as members greeted each other with salutations, old son and after being asked if they were keeping well all members replied with œsound. My friend and I after the 40th time of hearing a member say sound or unsound actually felt felt physically sick.

My OUCA friend was 30 minutes late and still yet to arrive, this was annoying because the leader of the event wielded a port bottle and bashed it on the table as hard as feasibly possible about 7 times calling for order. Order was gained and the leader informed us that the first debate of the evening would commence and was on the minimum wage. Offers to propose the motion were offered and a member in tweed with a pocket watch and an American accident from Texas (yes, a neo-con) jumped at the opportunity. He spoke for 5 minutes, using words like honourable members and œin the other place, as if he was actually in the House of Commons, for this is how OUCA members see themselves, already deserving of parliamentary seats. Other members joined in the debate with one person saying the debate was wrong and it should instead be on the scrapping of welfare, not minimum wage, that same person also said the Government ought not be curtailed by the press – my socialist friend and I agreed he was deeply disturbed.

My OUCA friend arrived and soon after he secured the members their place in the Macmillan Room as originally planned. I didn’t know my OUCA friend was quite so powerful within the organisation and so when we said hello to each other the other members flocked to say hello to me too even though they had ignored me for half an hour in the smaller room, for this is how these events work seemingly – very hierarchically. Unluckily for my socialist friend she was also introduced to everyone and asked why she had yet to join OUCA, she lied through her teeth and said she had been intending to for some time, unbeknown to the posh folk however, there was a Labour membership card in her pocket.

We proceeded through the corridor to the big room and sat down on some very comfortable wooden chairs, my OUCA friend gave us a glass of port, even though we did not pay. Perhaps the istock promo code members realised we hadn't paid but my socialist friend and I smugly assumed we had outwitted the posh folk. The next debate commenced once order had been assumed by bashing the port bottle on the huge wooden table which everyone was now seated around. The debate was on grammar schools and 3 members gave speeches in support of them, one member however said that he was educated at a comprehensive school, this caused a member at the back of the room to shout "SHAME" which then led to practically all the members in a sedentary position to bash port bottles on the table and laugh in the pretentious manner that my socialist friend and I had become accustom to so quickly. At this moment I realised that although it was entertaining, it was also quite tragic. For some of these people would undoubtedly go on to become Conservative MPs and even members of the Government, just like dozens of OUCA members in the past who currently hold Government posts. People with such prejudices, humiliating a state educated person will go on to rule over a country where 92% of people are state educated. Do these elite OUCA members all look down on the vast majority of the country they aim to rule?

The next debate was titled This House supports an elected House of Lords. The ghasts that ensued after the title was read were loud, however they weren't as loud as the ghasts that were made when a female OUCA member started the debate. The misogyny was obviously quite evident here, the female member was talked over for her entire speech, none of the members paid a blind bit of notice to her. The next speaker, who my socialist friend and I suspect is the leader of the Bullingdon Club because of the fact other members were calling him General, addressed the gentlemen and �smidgen of girls, he then went on to say that he hadn't had a good œsmidgen in ages, obviously a sexual innuendo and yet more misogyny. This caused my feminist socialist friend to fidget with unease.

Luckily the debates were now over, all that was left was to toast the Queen and sing the National Anthem. I toasted the Queen but my socialist friend quietly said œto the republic. The members got up and started to mingle for a few minutes until it was announced that OUCA was moving onto the King's Arms (KA) pub and then Baby Love. My socialist friend and I decided we couldn't go with them, as we may kill them in our drunkenness, so we walked off rapidly without even saying goodbye, when I say rapid, I mean run. Never again will I attend an OUCA event and I believe OUCA's association with the Conservative Party which it gained in 2009 should be reversed AGAIN.

Does this country have an opposition?

January 15, 2012

Ed Balls change of rhetoric took me by surprise. It would seem he now proposes that because George Osbornes deficit reduction strategy wont be completed within this Parliament, he cannot promise to reverse any of the Coalitions cuts. However, this is extremely difficult to sell because Labour has promised three different deficit reduction plans within the last 16 months:

1)The Darling plan which would have cut 80% of what the Coalitions cutting this year, eased back on the cuts for the remaining four years and continued the deficit reduction into the next Parliament.

2)  The two Eds plan which was still in force prior to last week was to arbitrarily oppose every cut and offer the alternative of a bankers bonus tax to magically make the UKs economy boom and reduce the deficit through economic growth. This is despite the Coalition Governments bank levy which not only raises £500 million more than the previous governments one off bankers tax but stops bankers from finding ways to avoid the tax which undoubtedly would happen if the bankers tax was made permanent.

3)    New strategy of continuing to oppose all the cuts but not promising to reverse them if they gain power in 2015, which is clearly meant to be a cunning way of condoning the cuts without actually cutting themselves.

But the crucial fact is Ed Balls has never promised to close the deficit completely before 2015 within the current Parliament. So to suddenly pose that because the Chancellors reduction strategy continues beyond 2015 he now cannot reverse the cuts is nonsensical – he didnt intend to clear the deficit by 2015 in the first place. If Ed Balls plan is as credible as he insists, surely he would be able to utilise it after 2015 and continue cutting the other half of the deficit by reversing the cuts and cutting taxes. After all, the cuts would still be too far and for ideological reasons, unless of course that line wouldnt be applicable if it was a Labour government continuing with the exact same cuts as the Coalition after 2015.

Apparently, the lack of growth in the economy is proof the Coalitions economic strategy is failing and George Osborne is reckless. Thankfully however, they're wrong; last week we saw the downgrading of dozens of EU countries including France. The multiple downgrade meant the only countries to retain their sacred triple A credit ratings were the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. If that's not a sign we're on the right track, I don't know what is.

The claim Ed Balls seems to be making is that Labour would be able to pay off the deficit through economic growth. He would however need to widen the deficit in the short term until the results of his experiment materialised, this would surely result in the credit rating of the UK being downgraded. That would mean the cost of borrowing would increase and because the UKs deficit is so large we'd be entangled in a web of debt, so even if Ed Balls achieved economic growth it'd be cancelled out by the increased cost of borrowing.

Balls is doubly wrong though, the UK economy relative to other EU countries is growing well, Q3 saw growth of 0.6%, 0.4% above the European Union average and 0.3% above France. The whole world is stagnating; even the USA saw 0.2% growth in Q1 despite a trillion dollar stimulus. Despite this Ed Balls insists we're chocking off growth and the credit rating agencies would have faith in his plan because once a few months ago the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde said countries need to cut with caution, or something like that, the quote changes with every shadow cabinet member interview.

There's a very serious point to this blog though. The Coalition is dominating all areas of policy and holding HMs Opposition to account when it ought to be the other way round. This country no longer has proper pluralism which is essential if the Government is to be held accountable, how can the Government be kept in check when the Lib Dems are in bed with the Tories and Labour are now under the bed hiding away and hoping it doesn't collapse.

We don’t need Bill Bratton and his New York policing baton

August 17, 2011

David Cameron got a bit carried away last week and decided to offer New York's former police Chief Bill Bratton the currently vacant job of MET Commissioner. Cameron obviously thinks Bratton's not afraid to use his baton but the Home Office blocked his appointment and urged only British citizens to apply for the now dubbed supercop role. I completely agree with the Home Office's decision, the role certainly shouldn't be given to someone from abroad, particularly not a Yank. When arguing this previously I've been labelled xenophobic and perhaps it is but I believe a man from a country where policing the streets of New York involves rocket launches and high powered assault rifles wouldn't fare well on the streets of London. After all, the British police didn't even use water to fire at last week's looters, let alone bullets!

I'm sure Bill Bratton's an excellent police officer and is very adept at combatting gangs but last week's riots were nothing to do with gangs. It was a sporadic, opportunistic and copycat bout of thievery with the catalyst being the original disorder in Tottenham over the death of Mark Duggan. These riots were unprecedented and subsequently it appeared as if the police were inept but they certainly were not. The police nowadays are aware that unequivocal evidence is required to convict; so their tactics allow people to commit crime so they can then rely on CCTV and footage from television crews to charge the perpetrators and make a compelling case for the Courts. 1000 yobbos alone were charged in London but if the police prevented the looting then its unlikely many people would've been charged at all.

The job of Commissioner isn't solely about combatting gangs and quite frankly, if it was, I wouldnt want Bill Bratton in charge considering New York has over 400 of them and London has a mere 20. We've got to appoint someone who's going to be at the helm of this country's national security with a seat on COBRA and responsibility for combating terrorism – particularly with the impending Olympics. I think it is only right a British citizen has these duties and has more than a speciality in combating gangs. We don't have the right to bare arms like in the USA and your average British Bobby doesn't have a gun either, that's partly why London's murder rate is 75% lower than New York's. Bill Bratton would need to completely alter his style of policing because what he's used to stamping out in New York doesn't often occur in London. This leads us to why the PM considered Bill Bratton at all.

The Prime Minister in the August 11th Public Disorder debate, which I watched from the HoC public gallery claimed the United Kingdom possesses the greatest police force in the world, which I'm inclined to agree with but seemingly the Prime Minister cannot put his money where his mouth is and seek the recruitment of a home grown British officer as MET Commissioner. What message does this send to all of our serving officers? Most of whom demonstrated extreme bravery in the riots while their colleagues were mowed down by cars, projectiles including bricks and glass bottles were thrown at them and their cars set alight. I find it incredibly hard to believe that the UK cannot muster a Bobby to fill the role, which leads me to question why Cameron thought it necessary to appoint Bill Bratton. Was he guilty of a desperate PR move or were people in Downing Street like sky blue thinking Steve Hilton guilty of yet more poor advice. I suspect the latter.

In my view, it's not about policing, it's about justice. The perpetrators of these mindless acts of thievery and criminal damage wouldn't have been so bold were it not for the weak justice people in the UK are becoming all too accustomed with. If the consequence is an electronic tagging device to show off how cool you are to your bredrins or a few days community service, one might consider it worth having a laugh and pilfering a plasma to watch emulations of their lives on the Jeremy Kyle show. That's why I commend David Cameron for taking a tough stance, making it clear you cannot expect the state to prop you up when you're bulldozing the very pillars supporting you. Cutting benefits, removing people from subsidised Council housing in communities they've willingly destroyed and making those responsible for the destruction clear it up in high visibility jackets (or as Nick Clegg says, orange things is right but it's also more than that. It's making sure these hooded thugs are put in front of a judge and given a hefty custodial sentence to deliver retribution to the communities destroyed and police officers injured. If these opportunistic riots are dealt with in the courts harshly the first time then we shan't be needing Bill Bratton's advice, as we won't be seeing these riots again.



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