Opinion - Uncategorized

2007 - 2022

Yes for More


I’ve been Daily Mailed. Apparently I’ve ‘slated’ the Yes campaign and accused it of ‘deceit’. Who knew.
To explain, when I left government I promised on Newsnight Scotland to present my case that the issues at the heart of the referendum were more complex than the number of barrels of oil in the sea. Luath took me at my word and the short and eminently readable The People We Could Be came out this week.


On the first page it says I am voting YES and goes on to argue why. The state at large and the UK in particular is a busted flush and it’s the duty of this generation to design a new model of governance. I suggest a number of ways of doing that and explain why some were possible within government and others not.
Before I made the remarks on TV the Yes campaign was already outgrowing party interest and developing a popular and diverse critique of the state and the possibilities for the future. That process has blossomed and Scotland now surveys a dynamic political landscape the like of which has rarely been seen. In short, history has proven my view, and that of many others, correct. We are more than the SNP or the government case.
My mistake is to presume that with that expansion of political activity and consciousness we have also gained a more complex view of the UK and what Scotland can be. Well, presume that the Daily Mail can handle such complexity.


It’s true that I write that pensions are unaffordable, as that’s what the Institute for Fiscal Studies says about the UK pension system. The UK government itself reports a £30bn shortfall for the NHS in England, so its reasonable to assume the IFS’s verdict that tax will have to rise to keep the NHS on safe grounds is also accurate.


A YES vote will not stop spending cuts because the UK will impose them on Scotland before independence in 2016 – I rather imagined this was a critique of the status quo, but apparently not.
Similarly, when I said Governments lie, I thought readers might think of the Iraq War or denials over oil reserves – or indeed threats over currency unions – but not imagine the finger was pointed at St. Andrew’s House.
The sub-title of the book – not a diary as described – is ‘how to be £500 better off, build a fairer society and a safer world’. The £500 stuff is about how we could raise more money for a comprehensive Early Years policy. You see, you have to read beyond the headline, or title, to get at the detail. I wrote a book that I think is an honest contribution to my nation’s future.


Inevitably I stand accused of having an ‘axe to grind’. I don’t. My loyalties today are where they have always been, to Scotland and the best outcome for her people. To the former colleagues who are working so hard, and the legions who have transformed this country with the intelligence of the campaign they have fought, I am indebted. I don’t think it’s a mistake to treat Scots as smart, but accept that the Daily Mail is in a different category.

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  1. fehvepehs says:

    Ahem!! FFS! It’s the Daily Mail. Wouldna wipe my arse with it.

  2. Ken MacColl says:

    To be attacked by the Daily Mail is an honour indeed

    1. Tioc says:

      Amen to that a rag of a paper not worthy of reading.

  3. muttley79 says:

    It’s true that I write that pensions are unaffordable, as that’s what the Institute for Fiscal Studies says about the UK pension system.

    Is this a think tank? Why should people in Scotland have confidence in this body? Is it ideological or not? Does it have a political bias?

    1. brianmchugheng says:

      The UK government will be liable for all pension contributions to the date of independence… Scotlands pension liabilities will start at £0.00 on day one.

  4. deewal says:

    Is that the Scottish Daily Hate or both of them ? If it’s both you get double points. 🙂

  5. Having both read Alex’s excellent publication, ‘The People We Could Be’ and heard his inspiring talk at the launch event, it is an insight to read the Daily Mail article. An insight to how badly served the readership of the Daily Mail is by this level of purile ‘journalism’.

    The depths to which the Daily Mail ( and most other newspapers and broadcasters ) are stooping will only get worse in the next few weeks. So brace yourselves comrades and take heart that it is a sign they are worried. They are very, very worried.

  6. Jake Gittes says:

    The trouble is a lot of elderly NO voters, many of them well off with OAP + a private pension, read the Daily Mail, it is their in house newspaper.
    These people are comfortable and many are unwilling to think too much about politics or consider life beyond the status quo which has delivered for them a very sweet life. The Mail offers them just enough meat for them to cope with laced with huge doses of partisanship and naked prejudice which reduce complex issues into good and bad, with YES being bad. The Mail knows it’s readership well and is skilled in delivering it’s toxins in nice user friendly packets.

    1. Iain Hill says:

      No doubt you are right but do not generalise. I am 69, with both pensions, but I would always support measures to increase taxes if it was intended to reduce inequality. Don’t forget that many of us oldies come from a world where social solidarity was the norm, and the word Labour stood for redistributive values. I remember paying 65% tax in the eighties (?) without grumbling.

      1. Iain Hill says:

        PS I read only the Guardian!

  7. gonzalo1 says:

    How living next to a one-legged, gay black man can reduce the value of your house. That’s the kind of headline that piece of excrement publishes. It panders to the prejudices of the pseudo middle class trash out there.

    1. Heather says:

      I like that, pseudo middle class, this applies, as Jake Gittes says here, to the ones who have had a ‘very sweet life’. Many will have studied for free, ie no tuition fees and bought into the housing market before it reached ridiculous high prices so they could afford to live very nicely. That they are quite happy to deny younger generations the chance of a better life, instead of low or no wages and extremely high rents or mortgages etc, makes my blood boil.

  8. bearinorkney says:

    ‘The trouble is a lot of elderly NO voters, many of them well off with OAP + a private pension’

    I’m elderly and have a private pension, relatively comfortably off and most certainly don’t buy or read the Daily Mail. I’ve always voted SNP and will vote ‘Yes’.

    Stop putting folk in wee boxes and say with certainty say what they will do. Someone who thinks this way may be doomed to disappointment or indeed pleasantly surprised. We aren’t all greedy self obsessed old tadgers who wouldn’t give a fuck for social justice. A lot of us actually do.

  9. Marian says:

    It just show you that YES supporters have to be extremely careful about what they say and write all the time because the likes of the Daily Mail is out there just waiting to pounce on anything that they can twist around to fire against their presumed arch enemy AlicSammin.

    Meanwhile the NO campaign can say whatever they like in the sure and certain knowledge that it will be air-brushed out of history by the likes of the Daily Mail.

  10. Dan Huil says:

    The Daily Mail’s notorious Zinoviev Letter of 1924 has nothing on the lies spewed out daily by today’s British nationalist media.

  11. Clootie says:

    The Daily Mail is reason enough to vote YES.

    1. iain t says:


  12. m caldwell hunter says:

    More than enough. The most xenophobic and anti-scottish chip holder of them all.

  13. Scottie says:

    Yes, the daily mail, no more need be said.

  14. florian albert says:

    Alex Bell doth protest too much.
    When Alex Salmond’s former Head of Policy speaks as disparagingly of the SNP, as he did at the launch of his book, it is a news story. At the same launch, Alex Bell spoke passionately about the need for a consensus in Scottish politics. Such a policy would have to include the 90,000 Scots who buy the Daily Mail – as well as the much smaller number of Scots who buy the Guardian, Scotsman and Herald.
    Alex Bell has, too hurriedly, retreated into the comfort zone of denunciation.

  15. What is the readership of said paper ? I think the DM should be like fags its use should be discouraged on Health grounds. Now I know you may think thats a severe approach but I am thinking for those who can not. think of the reduced levels of anger and fake indignation from those who choose to risk their health and general well being. Keep the people of an iScotland safe keep the daily heil in rUK. If we can’t get a fair share of the only good bits why should we take the worst of their society .

  16. Barontorc says:

    Alex Bell should know that there’s no point in trying to be balanced and objective with comments, the vile media will distort and magnify the least point that suits their particular unionist agenda and from the Daily Mail that is somewhere deep and dark.

    I was however pleasantly surprised to read in the above that they only have a 90,000 readership in Scotland, which will have a 4,200,000 voter base in the referendum and of that over 1,000,000 have signed the YES Declaration; in other words the Daily Mail can go take a running festering jump.

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