2007 - 2021

Now is the Time

There’s a trope in early Hollywood: a girl, bound to railway tracks, an oncoming train. That’s the situation we’re in now: Brexit is the oncoming train, and our Scotland, our Bella Caledonia, is bound to the tracks.

But with what are are we bound? With chains? No: with caution, with timidity. Folk are saying that is isn’t certain that with one bound we’ll be free. They’re right, of course. Folk are saying if she tries to bound free, and fails, we cannae try again for a generation.

Folk – Peter Arnott  (‘The Reality After this One’) are saying, there’s no need to worry. We can just let Brexit crash over us. It will cut the non-existent chains, the chains of our timidity, and when it’s passed, without any effort on our part, we’ll be free. Sans arms, sans legs, but free. And what did we care about Scotland’s arms and legs anyway?

Let us be clear what Brexit means to Scotland.

Absent the close trading relationship with Europe, the UK will need very quickly to agree trading relationships with other big, rich markets, and actually there are very few. India and China are big, but not rich; Canada, Australia, New Zealand rich but not big. So the Tories are going to have to do a deal with Trump’s United States. They’ll need it quick. And they aren’t great negotiators.

What does the USA want to sell us? Well, it does want to sell us food, produced to much lower standards than we’ve been used to. It wants to sell us ‘Scotch Whisky’ and ‘Cornish Pasties’, made in Illinois and Nebraska. But most of all it wants to sell us “healthcare”. The Tories will not be averse to this: many of them have existing links to healthcare companies. Selling off the health service will not mean just selling off the English health service; the trade treaty will not be between England and the USA, but between the UK and the USA. So that’s our health service gone. For ever. Independence after Brexit won’t bring it back.

But what did we care about Scotland’s health service anyway?

But then, there’s the economy. Scotland used to be big on manufacturing. It used, especially, to be big on marine engineering. Not any more. Scotland proudly boasts the world’s first floating wind farm – owned and installed by Norwegians using turbines from Germany on towers from Spain. Margaret Thatcher closed down most of our industry for her ‘leaner, fitter Britain’, and it’s never recovered. What manufacturing we have left depends significantly on just-in-time relationships with European partners; and those are going to be savaged by Brexit.

Margaret Thatcher’s big idea was that we switch from manufacturing into ‘services’; by which she chiefly meant financial services. Well, that’s OK, Scotland has always been big on financial services, too! We have the Bank of Scotland, and the Royal Bank of… oh, wait…

Seriously, we do still have some good financial services organisations. But with Brexit, they will lose their ‘passporting rights’ to Europe, which will take away a big chunk of their market at a stroke.

And the one thing that no-one is talking about is this: less than three years from today, every consignment of goods leaving the UK and every consignment of goods arriving in the UK is going to have to go through customs. Where is the customs infrastructure to handle that? When will it be built? Do you think the current British government is competent to build it, in under three years? Aye, right.

You’ve seen what happens to the shelves in our supermarkets after one day of snow. Imagine what they’ll be like after a month of chaos at the ports. Never mind, let them eat fish.

As a communist, obviously I believe that wealth should be shared equally – and obviously, that means equally across the globe. It is not just that workers in Scotland are paid more than workers in Mumbai or Shenzhen. In the long run that does have to change. But after Brexit, workers in Britain, outside the protective barriers of the EU, will be competing directly against workers in Mumbai and Shenzhen. We’re no longer better educated. We no longer have better infrastructure. There is nothing, in a free market, to maintain our historical differentials. If we demand to be paid more, businesses will just move the jobs. Outside the EU, there’s nothing to stop them.

But what did we care about Scotland’s economy, anyway?

And while there is a degree of justice in this, the sudden, drastic fall in incomes and loss of jobs will be very hard for us in Britain.

Scotland cannot be protected from this. The Scottish Government cannot tax more to maintain public services, if its tax base has collapsed. Brexit means the end not only of our health service, but also of our welfare state. We’re going to face a decade of economic collapse – probably two. Civil dissent will be met with repression. In those circumstances, secessionism is just another form of civil dissent, like trades unionism, to be crushed. We saw it in Scotland in the 1980s, we see it today in Catalunya.

I don’t know whether you are old enough to have campaigned in the 1979 referendum, or lived through the industrial conflict of the 1980s. I am; I did. Thatcher’s government was as hostile to nationalism as to the left. I believe the isolated, xenophobic, bankrupt Britain we face post-Brexit will be far more repressive than Thatcher ever was. Such a regime won’t tolerate any further independence referenda. If we do not achieve independence before Brexit, we will not achieve it in the lifetime of anyone now living.

But what did we care about Scotland’s civic freedoms, anyway?

Rewind. Cut.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

We can have another referendum.


Yes, it’s true that we don’t currently have a lead in the polls. We didn’t in 2012, when we started the independence referendum campaign. We didn’t in 1979, when we started the devolution campaign. In each case, we swung the polls more than 15% over the course of the campaign.

Yes, of course it’s true that there’s no guarantee we can do that again. But we don’t have to. We’re already much higher in the polls than we were in 2012, and the trend is positive.

All Scotland needs to bound free, to avoid the train, to keep her arms and legs, her health service, her economy, her labour differentials, her civic freedoms, is confidence. Courage and confidence. Yes, of course it’s true that it isn’t certain we can do it. We need to have a long campaign, because we didn’t keep the Yes Movement going after the 2014 defeat. The Yes Movement isn’t like a political party with a permanent membership system and secretariat. But we know from experience that given a long campaign, Yes is a formidable electoral machine.

And seriously, what are you going to say to your starving daughter as you hug her close to try to protect her from the damp and chill of a Scottish winter without fuel, and she asks you “what did you do to try to save Scotland from this?”

Are you really going to say “well, it looked hard, so we didn’t try.” Really?

Really really?

Nothing comes to those who wait. If we don’t forge the future, the future will go to those who are forging it while we wait. The Brexiteers are forging the future. We may not like the future they’re forging, but they’re doing it very effectively. The climate change deniers are forging the future. The far right are forging the future. They’re not waiting. It’s their future we will get if we wait.

Independence is not the key political issue of our age. Global warming is more important. Social justice is more important. Ecocide is more important. Peace is more important. Independence is important in as much as it helps towards those goals. But independence, like social justice, like an end to war, like a habitable planet, will not come if we wait. We must forge these things. This is no time for quietism. It is time for action.

Now is the time.

Comments (171)

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  1. Bpb Costello says:

    I absolutely agree with this piece and have been saying this for quite some time now but there is one thing in the way of this commonsense strategy. The SNP and in particular Nicola sturgeon and Peter Murrel., They both have to go. They have painted the yes movement into a corner with their flawed Brexit strategy and abandonment of the grassroots movement. A complete and utter failure to provide a credible roadmap to independence which means, at the very least addressing the issues we lost the last referendum on. It is not rocket science, what is their agenda?

    1. John Stuart Wilson says:

      The primary issue that bedevilled the independence campaign last time was currency. Salmond’s story about forcing the rUK into a currency union was never plausible. But he stuck with it because he knew that the only “Plan B” was an independent currency. The thing is: an independent currency is going to be incredibly expensive, and the people who are going to have to pay for it are ordinary Scots who will have their taxes raised and their services slashed in order to allow the independent Scottish Government to run primary budget surpluses for several years, to build up reserves.

      Sturgeon and Murrel do know know any easy way out of this predicament. Because there isn’t one. Hard currencies are prized possessions, and they can’t be had on the cheap. Robin McAlpine over at Common Weal has an amateur economist cranking out PDFs saying they are, but his data is bad and his arguments are ridiculous. “Plans” like that will never survive contact with the world outside the separatist bubble.

      So who did Nicola Sturgeon turn to when she needed to outsource her thinking about currency? A PR firm.

      That tells you all you need to know.

      Like Salmond before her, she is wedded to the idea that independence has to be sold as something that is easy and will make everyone better off. The “No” voters are the ones who see this ploy and assume that the costs of independence are going to greatly outweigh the benefits. So long as the independence movement is wedded to denying that these costs even exist, the needle is never going to move. What has to be done is for the movement to present a credible case as to why the costs – realistically assessed – will be worth it. It seems that they can’t do it.

      1. Interpolar says:

        The weakness of the pound “sterling” has already made part of the argument for us. A currency that will only get softer as Brexit hits. I predict parity to the Euro by this time next year.

        1. John Stuart Wilson says:

          “The weakness of the pound “sterling” has already made part of the argument for us. A currency that will only get softer as Brexit hits. I predict parity to the Euro by this time next year.”

          How does a weak sterling create currency for Scotland? That is a trick question – it doesn’t.

          How does a weak sterling make it easier for Scotland to accumulate the reserves it needs? That is a trick question – it doesn’t.

      2. Ken says:


        The example of Estonia is a great template which Scotland should investigate ASAP: when the Russians marched out in 1992 (or thereabouts) they took everything of value that hadn’t been securely fixed to the ground and left Estonia without a currency, a constitutional framework, a functional legal system, etc etc – in short a bankrupt state on its knees and without any meaningful infrastructure. Inside 12 years they created a Constitution, set-up a legal system, an electoral system, a Parliament and currency which they pegged to the DM (but later adopted the Euro). They applied to join the EU, United Nations and NATO, met all their convergence criteria and were accepted. All this was achieved from a standing start inside 12 years and all along they’ve run a stable economy with balanced budgets and controlled borrowing to fund investment programmes with repayments made out of project savings. They’ve also become one of the most advanced digital nations – light years ahead of old stick-in-the-mud, tradition-obsessed UK.

        Now why is it that Estonia, with a population of less than 1.5 million and a markedly smaller industrial base and poorer natural resources can do all of that inside 12 years, and, according to you and other naysayers, Scotland can’t?

        Our laws already reflect EU laws, so no convergence is required, we have a much bigger and more diverse economy than Estonia and we need far less infrastructure-building than they did, so why are we incapable of achieving the same goals at all, never mind in a shorter timescale? I’d be very interested in your views.

        As for currency, we need to have our own fiat currency to avoid our economy being adversely affected by other governments’ (eg rUK) political/economic decisions. The short-term answer is to float on par with GBP and peg its value to a basket of currencies: GBP and Euro for our major trading partners and US$ for petrochemicals. That way, we’re less exposed to adverse fluctuations in any one of those currencies, and, once our credit-worthiness is established, our currency can be allowed to float freely.

        None of this is guaranteed success, but how much success will we have if we’re tied into a chaotic Brexit whose economic outcomes are predicted (by all studies to date) to be catastrophic for every UK region except London?

        Better the devil we know? That’s not an option for any of us now, never mind our future generations.

        1. John Stuart Wilson says:

          Estonia is depopulating. Not experiencing slow population growth. Actually shrinking.

          Furthermore, how big was Estonia’s finance industry at the time of independence?

          One in twelve jobs in Scotland are dependant upon finance. We need a currency suitable for Scotland, no one suitable for Estonia.

          “The short-term answer is to float on par with GBP and peg its value to a basket of currencies: GBP and Euro for our major trading partners and US$ for petrochemicals.”
          And how do you propose to defend that peg?

          1. Ken says:


            Try reading my post and answering the questions I posed. However you raised a number of issues in your response which I’m happy to respond to:

            The whole point of my post was to demonstrate that a country, smaller and with vastly fewer resources than Scotland was able to go from a completely bankrupt state with national infrastructure to a full member of the EU, United Nations and Nato inside 12 years. I asked, given their position in 1992 and Scotland’s today, what is it that makes you think Scotland can’t do the same or better, or quicker? You have not answered that, but instead raise the issue of Estonia’s reducing population. In the context of my post, that is entirely irrelevant.

            You then ask “how big was Estonia’s finance industry at the time of independence?” Clearly you didn’t bother to read my post: at the time of independence Estonia had no currency (it was left with the worthless rouble when the Russians pulled out), it had no legal system (it had been under Soviet law since 1945) and no useful system of governance (it had been a puppet territory of Soviet Russia since 1945). How do you imagine it could have had any finance industry at all at independence (so another irrelevant question)?

            You deride my suggestion of floating our own fiat currency. At no point did I suggest that Scotland would “adopt a currency suitable for Estonia”. You have chosen to misrepresent what I wrote.

            What I wrote was: “As for currency, we need to have our own fiat currency to avoid our economy being adversely affected by other governments’ (eg rUK) political/economic decisions. The short-term answer is to float on par with GBP and peg its value to a basket of currencies: GBP and Euro for our major trading partners and US$ for petrochemicals. That way, we’re less exposed to adverse fluctuations in any one of those currencies and, once our credit-worthiness is established, our currency can be allowed to float freely.”

            This is a method which has been widely used by numerous countries on gaining independence. Initiate the new fiat currency at par with the previously-used currency to smooth the transition, but float it using a basket of currencies appropriate to our economy (to minimise fluctuations) and, once its credit-worthiness is established it floats on its own without peg. So “defending the peg” (as you ask) is irrelevant. The establishment of credit-worthiness is achieved by prudent management of our economy and, as you point out 1-in-12 jobs in Scotland are in the finance industry, so clearly we have a talent pool and infrastructure ready-made to draw on. That’s very different from Estonia in 1992, but they still got there. Why on earth do you think Scotland can’t?

      3. Graeme Purves says:

        Meanwhile the United Kingdom careers on its merry train ride to disaster. Was that a squirrel?

        1. John Stuart Wilson says:

          Graeme, how does the recent movements of sterling create a currency for Scotland?

          1. Graeme Purves says:

            That’s a non-question. We create our own currency, as many less wealthy countries have done successfully before us, including, as Ken points out, the Baltic countries.

            Unionist Scots behave like captive animals habituated to their cage.

          2. John Stuart Wilson says:

            “That’s a non-question. We create our own currency, as many less wealthy countries have done successfully before us, including, as Ken points out, the Baltic countries.”

            It is easier for a less wealthy country to do.

            The Baltic countries are NOT a model for Scotland.

            If it were easy to create a hard currency for Scotland, Salmond would have proposed that in 2014, instead of what he did.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      ‘Exactly right, Bpb Costello!

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Spot on.

    Westminster sterling is starting to consolidate powers to itself. If we sit back and wait for the Great Opportunity it will never come.

    Set a date for late this year or early next and get the boots on the ground to persuade the ones that might waver. That is what happened in 2014 and we went from lost cause to a near thing. It’s still near but the longer we leave it and the longer we suffer the negative stories from the BBC the harder it will be.

    1. David Allan says:

      I totally agree. This excellent piece by Simon Brooke succinctly expresses my aged views.

      Well written Simon. Inspiring stuff.

      “The Health Service can only be saved if we Vote NO” by Better Together 2014. Come on Geacher and Jamsie and the other clone (yes that’s not a mis-spelling) JWS. How is the NHS going to survive a TTIP US Trade deal.

      And then there will be” GM” MONSANTO to deal with as well. Better Together -HOW ?

  3. Donald McNicol says:

    The most succinct, pragmatic and powerful argument for voting for independence that I have encountered. As the article says all we need is confidence, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. After all it cannot get any worse. If you had to bet your future on Nicola Sturgeon or Theresa May which would any rational and informed person go for?
    Wonderful writing!

  4. Darby O'Gill says:

    Inspiring stuff.

  5. Darby O'Gill says:

    Inspiring stuff

  6. John Stuart Wilson says:

    “Yes, it’s true that we don’t currently have a lead in the polls. We didn’t in 2012, when we started the independence referendum campaign.”
    But in 2012 there was a pool of undecideds to tap into. Take, for example, this polls from You Gov from October 2011. http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/mkn31luozg/YG-Archives-Pol-Scotsman-results-111028.pdf
    Yes: 34%
    No: 52%
    Don’t Know: 12%

    Now, add “Don’t Know” and “Yes” together, and you have an image of the 2014 result, within the margin of error of this poll.

    There is zero evidence that a mass of No voters were converted to Yes.

    There is, however, ample evidence that the people of Scotland do not even want to revisit the question. That was the message Nicola Sturgeon received from the GE, when the SNP lost 21 seats and saw its votes share fall to 37%, and less than 50% in every constituency – which is rather a big deal for a party that says it only exists for the binary question of independence. There have been and handful of polls since Brexit asking if Scots want IndyRef2; they have all been >60% “No”, which reflects the GE result.

    1. Iam Scott says:

      You are wrongly equating SNP support with support for independence.

      Whilst the SNPs share of the vote dropped, polls show support for independence has been rock solid.

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        But IndyRef2 the centerpiece of the GE campaign for both the SNP and the Unionist parties. Nicola Sturgeon asked the voters to give her a triumph on June 8, because then Theresa May’s refusal to agree to a second independence referendum would be unsustainable.

        So you must believe that there are a huge number of voters in Scotland who want independence but don’t want IndyRef2.

        If that is the case, think about what their real message is: I am sympathetic toward the IDEA of independence but I don’t think I would like the REALITY of it, so I’m not going to vote for it.

        “rock solid” but stuck at 40% gets you nowhere.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          You appear still to be fighting the Better Together campaign of 2014, John. Meanwhile the world has moved on and Brexit Britain careers chaotically towards disaster. You really need some better, more up-to-date ‘lines to take’ if your contributions are to avoid looking like the anachronistic efforts of a superannuated troll.

          1. John Stuart Wilson says:

            I’m point out to you that there is a massive DIFFERENCE now compared to 2014.

            “Meanwhile the world has moved on”
            Nothing that has changed makes Independence more appealing to the majority of voters in Scotland.

            “and Brexit Britain careers chaotically towards disaster.”
            The “disaster” that Sturgeon is predicting is based on the idea that she is capable of projecting out two trend lines to 2030 and saying that one of them will be lower than the other. She isn’t predicting depression, she isn’t predicting recession…she is claiming that she can say definitively 12 years from now growth will be lower than it would have been. It is ridiculous.

            If the businesses of the UK thought a disaster was coming, the rush for the exits would already be visible. So where is it?

        2. Simon Brooke says:

          The SNP solidly won the 2017 general election in Scotland, although their vote declined considerably from a historically remarkable high. Labour’s vote also declined; the Tory vote was stable.

          So there was no “Tory success”. The SNP ended with an absolute majority of Scottish seats. In Margaret Thatcher’s view – and this is the view of most experts on the UK constitution – this is a mandate to declare UDI, so it’s certainly a mandate for a referendum.

          1. John Stuart Wilson says:

            The SNP vote share in the GE is was 37%. That isn’t a mandate for anything.

          2. Alf Baird says:

            Simon, constitutionally Scotland remains very much a sovereign people, if not currently a sovereign state. By virtue of international Treaty and Act, Scotland is a member of the UK union. And similarly, by virtue of international Treaty and Act, the UK is a member of another union, the European Union. As the UK has elected to withdraw from the EU, by Treaty and Act, so Scotland’s sovereign people can elect to withdraw from the UK, by Treaty and Act. There is no requirement to ‘declare UDI’ from a union that a sovereign nation and people have entered into, and hence may leave by the same process. The process by which Scotland entered the UK union was through a simple majority decision of its national representatives and that, constitutionally, must therefore be the way the withdrawal occurs.

          3. geacher says:

            “A mandate to declare UDI”?????
            Oh dear
            A political process grants the right to call an illegal one?
            You are Alf Baird and I claim my 10/-

          4. John S Warren says:

            Hi, “fella”.

            “You are a troll and I claim my 10/-. Idiot”. I couldn’t say it better myself.

            Thanks for coming here and so amply demonstrating my point. I think I can say, not without a little modest pride, QED.

    2. John Burrows says:

      I 2014, over a hundred thousand no voters were EU residents, fearful of loosing their EU citizenship. Of five hundred thousand plus residents from the rest of the UK, 80% of them voted no. Of the 3.6 million who voted in the 2014 referendum, the difference between Yes and No was four hundred thousand votes.

      Scots born voted for independence by a margin of 52.8 to 47.2% showing a slight majority in favor of independence among the native population. A better result attained by Leave in the EU referendum. However, and to their undying shame, Westminster didn’t extend the same courtesy to EU residents in the UK for that vote. Yet another difference between us. Ironically, if they had, we could have all been rid of the Tory “bastards” forever and a day. Ah well.

      But we Scots are a pragmatic and a just lot. Given that we have guests among us, people who have chosen to build their lives here, it was only fair they be given a fair share in this decision. Particularly given the narrow margin for/against among the Scots themselves. Although I was disappointed on September 19th, 2014, I parked it.

      In the 2017 election, the loss of half a million SNP voters resulted in the loss of 21 seats to the parties representing the Union. Most likely this was due to Independence/Leave voters not bothering to show up for the poll. These folk just basically don’t want to belong to any union. I see their point.

      There was no substantial movement of these folks to the Union in 2017. Given the option, these voters will still vote for independence. They simply just didn’t turn up for this particular ballot. Again, I sympathise. There isn’t really any point for independence supporters to elect anyone to a Westminster seat, unless it is to remove ourselves from the Union. I believe that opportunity was available when the SNP swept the election in 2015. But it was an opportunity lost.

      The pragmatism and stoicism of the Scots is legendary. We have remained in this Union because we have invested much in its building. Unfortunately for the UK, and Scotland in particular, we have been forced to watch from the sidelines while Westminster continues to piss this heritage and investment away, while turning London into a banking casino and a denizen for oligarchs, tin pot dictators and generally any criminal with money.

      This for me has been the essence of Brexit. And it is for this same reason that our fellow citizens will be convinced to cut our losses and end this failed, archaic and bankrupt economic model that is the Union.

      It is unlikely that the UK government will restrict the voting rights of EU citizens resident in Scotland, during a theoretical second referendum, within the next 18 months. The optics would be catastrophic for them. For these folks, an Independent Scotland is their only pathway back into Europe. They will vote as a block for independence.

      That leaves our residents from the rest of the UK as the last significant minority who could conceivably swing the vote against independence. But we must remember that these folks have also much invested in this Union. They also will be harmed by impending events. Indeed, the majority being from England, are sure to be deeply traumatised by another vote for Scottish independence, knowing as we all do that with the next referendum, they will be unable to hold back the tide.

      They will see this event as a separation from loved ones in the rest of the UK, and it will be heart rending for them. But it need not be. I for one would see no benefit in erecting serious barriers to movement on these islands. England, Ireland and Wales will still need our help. But economically, there can be no question. Westminster can no longer be trusted with the silver. There are two many thieves in its halls.

      I can only hope that our fellow citizens from the rest of the UK will see reason, and accept that an Independent Scotland is now the only path open to anyone on these islands to help build/restore a more secure and democratic society in their own lifetimes. The UK has abandoned all democratic ambitions. It is a failed state. Brexit is its epitaph.

      I hope they will join us. We would be better together, to turn a phrase 🙂

      1. geacher says:

        “Most likely this was due to Independence/Leave voters not bothering to show up for the poll” Oh yes… really? 480,000 SNP supporters woke up on that June day and thought “I’m not going to vote today, nope not me”
        Come on John, you can’t seriously believe that….. less than three months after Elsie said she was going for Indyref2, almost half a million SNP voters decided they couldn’t be arsed voting? Your article is well written, but like the OP (“..the trend is positive.”) it goes against all available data and defies common sense… all EU citizens will vote “in block” for independence. Really? I jnow that not to be true. Support for indy is dwindling…polls show this to be true, and support for Sturgeon is also falling…support for the SNP is starting to slip away. You need to face up to reality ” England, Ireland and Wales will still need our help.” There was NO fiscal transfer from us to rUK… the GDP and tax output of London alone is more that Scotland’ Ireland and combined, much more.
        However John, I will ask you the same question that nobody has been able to answer thus far on this thread….given that brexit may be as bad for the economy as Sturgeon says, why is it wise for us to cut ourselves off from rUK and lose our fiscal transfer and our currency and gain a debt which is (still) the largest in the EU?

        1. John S Warren says:

          Hi “fella”. Still trolling I see. Excellent.

          Unfortunately, unlike Mr Burrows, you can’t write. Somehow, eloquent phrases like “couldn’t be arsed voting”, just don’t quite do it (compare with Mr Burrow’s measured prose). I would be at a loss to understand how your crude vulgarity, muddled thinking, sneering contempt, and unpolished writing could possibly be thought of, not least by you, as persuasive with readers here. It is less baffling than bizarre! I would not recommend it, but it is your foolish call.

          Of course the reason is obvious; you are an anonymous troll; hiding spinelessly behind a pseudonym because your purpose is not to persuade, but to deliver unremitting, personal vitriol and poison (which turns out to be milk-sop when swallowed). Beyond some inexplicable and purposeless loathing, your contributions here have no point. You are a troll, but you are not even good at it (which requires a certain subtlety to succeed, a capacity I doubt you either possess, or can even spell). You are a salutary reminder that if Unionism is relying on this squalid ineptitude, and sadly you are only too typical of worrying current trends, it really has fallen on hard times. Surely Unionism can do better than this miserable rubbish.

          1. geacher says:

            Ach John, I’m touched… you been up all night waiting on me posting? Oh how your wee eyes must have shone when you saw my name….I’m happy for you, really, I am!

          2. John S Warren says:

            Hi “fella”. Yes. Even night-soil removal, in the age before modern domestic sewage sytems, was a useful trade in society. Somebody had to do it.

          3. John S Warren says:

            Incidentally, I notice that you are an anonymous troll; yet you have taken to using the familiarity of using commenters first names (“John” for both me and Mr Burrows). Readers should please note the sudden, but creepy use of familiarity; suggesting a friendly and warm exchange of views; from a troll who deals only in the sneer, vitriol and crudity. It is typical of his methods. I cannot stop you using my first name on an open discourse site (how lucky you are to be treated better than you deserve); but I withdraw my consent (never given) to you to use my Christian name, fella.

        2. John Burrows says:

          Actually I know it to be true, within my own small microcosm of friends and family. And the voices they have related to me. But what you and I believe is hardly relevant in the greater scheme of things. Only a referendum would resolve the issue, one way or another. It is bootless to argue with you about it.

          As for polls and politics, these are fields of battle. Their are no atheists in foxholes – we are all driven by faith. Leave’ success in the EU referendum was a stunning surprise. Particularly for the Leave voters. Their problem is they never thought they would win. The problem for us all is they still haven’t figured out what to do with their victory. Hannibal had the same problem after Cannae. He couldn’t figure out how to use his great victory to overcome Rome.

          This is why Westminster has resorted to resurrecting the powers of a long dead tyrant of England. But Absolutism is the antithesis of Democracy. By this act, Westminster has propelled this Union towards despotism. The suborning of devolution in Northern Ireland has been followed by the arresting of devolution in Scotland and Wales. In a truly mature democracy, these conspirators would already be in chains.

          Finally, I cannot accept your contention that Scotland has a greater debt than any other member of the EU. The suggestion that a small nation of just over five million people has somehow incurred a greater debt than Germany’s is preposterous in the extreme. You do no service to your cause by engaging in such extreme hyperbole. I can’t take such statements seriously.

          1. geacher says:

            The debt is per capita John….I thought you would have realised that, but I should have made that clear, apologies. Scotland’s GDP PC debt is 9.7%, and the closest to us in the EU is Spain at 5.5%. The EU accepted maximum is 3%, rUK’s is 2.8%. Finally Greece at its worse was 12.7%

      2. Alf Baird says:

        Far too many maybe’s in there, John. It is not only where one is born which influences and guides one’s dominant culture and fundamental beliefs. Think of Scotland’s diaspora of millions of people around the world who still retain to this day a very strong cultural affinity to Scotland that has continued over multiple generations and even over centuries. In Scotland, those of a predominantly English (or British) national ‘heritage’ and culture easily exceed one million people today (and perhaps as many as two million) given historical census data confirming, since records began, that this comprises the largest ethnic group of migrants into Scotland, ever, and particularly prevalent across the professions, i.e. the middle classes (wha tend tae vote Tory an Libdem an aye unionist). Should we be surprised that the latter group does not perhaps hold an especially strong cultural affinity towards Scotland? One that squeezes out the more dominant cultural affinity they might hold towards England and/or Britain? Meanwhile, over the past century and more, several million mostly working-class Scots were virtually forced, economically and socially, to leave Scotland – yet over the same period our population has remained relatively stable; the main explanation for this is the sustained in-migration from England over a very prolonged period of a century and more. Recent demographic trends suggest this major long-term population change in Scotland has actually accelerated since devolution, and is now being boosted at the rate of around half a million more English/British people coming here each decade. Scots cannot afford to gamble their nationhood on the beliefs of those of a quite different national heritage and culture who naturally and predominantly have little if any desire for Scottish nationhood or citizenship, and who for the most part (80% or so) will actually endeavour to block and prevent the self-determination of the Scots, as they did in 2014. Does Scotland’s supposed ‘offer’ of some ‘possible’ EU safety net make much difference? A hae ma doots. Aside from this fundamental demographic and cultural challenge to the Scots self-determination, there is also the small matter of getting Westminster’s ‘approval’ to hold another referendum, which is highly unlikely, certainly prior to any brexit ‘date’. So, it remains that the only realistic (and incidentally constitutionally correct) prospect for Scotland to withdraw from the UK union prior to brexit is to deploy Scotland’s current independence supporting parliamentary majorities to good effect, as was done to create and enter the UK union in the first place.

        1. John Stuart Wilson says:

          I would like to see your evidence of half a million more English/British people coming here each decade.

        2. John Burrows says:

          I believe you are right. Thatcher – deity of the arch brexiters and their minions – set the bar. How can they possibly argue with the leader of their faith. They are hoist on their own petard.

          The people have made their political decision already. Pro-independence parties have a working majority in Holyrood and a majority of Westminster seats. The Thatcher Doctrine is satisfied. I have my doubts that they will accept the argument. They will simply pretend that she was quoted out of context 🙂

  7. Crubag says:

    I think this is the tension between a movement – as the article points out, largely unfocused without a deadline to work to – and a party, which has the day to day to focus on.

    If the SNP are going to take it forward, then they will publish their Growth Commission report (headed up by an economist, rather than a PR firm, though he does also work in communications). This has been much heralded, and as recently as the end of last year, was going to be published in the new year, setting out options for issues such as currency.

    Brexit has raised the bar on what is accepted as evidence, so it’s possible it is still being rewritten, but if it doesn’t come out by Easter, I don’t think it ever will, and there will instead be a post-Brexit Growth Commission II.

    Given the uncertainties over borders and customs, that might be the best option.

    1. John Stuart Wilson says:

      “(headed up by an economist, rather than a PR firm, though he does also work in communications)”
      Andrew Wilson is not an economist. He was a civil servant, then a banker, then an SNP politician, and then he founded and continues to manage one of the most influential PR and lobbying firms in Scotland.

      There are many fine, professional economists in Scotland. If Nicola Sturgeon wanted one to head her “Growth Commission”, she could have chosen one. She did not, because she wanted someone loyal to the SNP who was good at PR.

      1. geacher says:

        And when are we going to see this fabled report? It was given the Sturgeon by Andrew Wilson on March 31st last year to be then revealed to the public, then….nothing.
        This emerged however….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/snp-economic-adviser-andrew-wilson-scotland-independence-10-years-economy-recovery-nicola-sturgeon-a7630621.html
        What is interesting that despite the protestations of the SNP of the validity of the report, the magazine editor stuck to her guns and no retraction was printed. Why?
        Then last October we were told that the report would be publicised “early in the new year.”
        Then a few weeks ago we were told it would be April.
        Why the tardiness?

      2. Crubag says:

        He has a degree in economics and has worked as an economist, amongst other things.

        That’s maybe different to a curent, full-time economist but those are quite rare outside of academia, the banks and the civil service.

        He has perhaps been left in a difficult position after the Brexit impact statements were published, which are projections of disruption to the status quo rather than advocacy for change. The Growth Commission report will need to give a nod to those.

        1. John Stuart Wilson says:

          He has a degree in “politics and economics”, which is not the same as a degree in economics. If you doubt this, ask a real economist. He says that he worked as a “business economist” at RBS, because he doesn’t want “banker” on his CV. He is also at pains to point out that he was only there briefly.

          1. Crubag says:

            Well, his RBS phase was as an economist, but then that also coincided with the reign of Fred…

            It’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about the future of financial services now compared to his 2006 paper.

          2. John S Warren says:

            Your faith in economics and economists is endearing, if perhaps a little far-fetched; but since you raised the matter, perhaps you would care to name the “real economists”? You are clearly an expert.

          3. Interpolar says:

            In any event, understanding both economics and politics is not a bad thing in the field of economy and statecraft. Economics alone is bound to failure.

          4. John Stuart Wilson says:

            He was put in charge of the “growth commission” because of his understanding of PR.

          5. Logiemink says:

            So name the fine economists you talk of and ask if they managed to predict the financial crash of 2008.

          6. John Stuart Wilson says:

            Are you saying that Andrew Wilson predicted the the financial crash of 2008?

          7. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wison,

            I have not the slightest interest in the dispute about Mr Andrew Wilson, but ‘Logiemink’s comment reminded me that we never did find out who you thought the “real” economists were. Economics is a discipline in some current internal intellectual turmoil, so your list may prove enlightening.

          8. John Stuart Wilson says:

            A real economist is someone who practises the discipline of economics as their profession.

          9. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            Forgive me, but I find your answer a little Delphic. I was looking for the names of “real” economists; because I am sure you know there are some real differences in the principles of modern economics between different conceptual schools (e.g., MMT and its variants); and something of a passing of the old order, the somewhat creaky conventional wisdom.

          10. John Stuart Wilson says:

            You: “we never did find out who you thought the “real” economists were”
            Me: “A real economist is someone who practises the discipline of economics as their profession.”

            How much more clarity do you need?

          11. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            Profession of economics? Not quite sure I understand the scope of this definition. Does that mean real economists are solely to be found in universities? If I understood you correctly (perhaps I do not), you appeared to have dismissed banking as something a real economist would do? Or is it a special kind of banking? Other applications that meet your criteria? And how do you make the distinction about real/unreal for someone with (say) a 1st in econometrics, and perhaps a PhD, working in a bank principally on CDSs, or in an NGO?

            Incidentally, until I think around the early 1980s, economics degrees were often tradionally termed “Political Economy” within, especially the ancient university faculties, and only separated (with multi-disciplinarity) around that time. Much earlier, the great David Ricardo had no degree in anything. He worked in the City; personally, I think he was a real economist.

          12. geacher says:

            JSW, Mr Warren, (or “John” as he hates to be called) is a simple soul, he needs expansion and clarification on everything that any unionist posts… for example when I put up a post earlier stating what Scotland’s GDP deficit *is*, he dismissed the data which was taken from ScotGov’s own page and he replied with this beauty:
            ” the year of the data; whether he includes) or excludes North Sea Oil; whether it is the Net Fiscal Balance; or the Current Budget Balance……”
            If one understands what a GDP deficit *IS* then these questions are superfluous, and if you understand the meaning of the word *is*, then you know what year. Tries to be smart, but doesn’t have the nous to back it up. He patently does not understand much, and as you see from your exchange above re a central, he asks a questions, ignores the answer and asks another. Another denier, tho’ I will say that he has a dictionary and knows how to use it.

          13. John S Warren says:

            Well, troll you are too literal; a simple-minded fool. The idea that because you use the present tense a reader can know the year to which the data applies is absurd. It would not pass muster anywhere. As it happens I know the figures, and could not reconcile them; it would be easy if you knew how to use sources and gave them – but you don’t. More rubbish from a troll.

          14. John Stuart Wilson says:

            Things are a bit different now than the way they were in the 19th century.

            If you want to say that Andrew Wilson is an economist because he has an undergraduate degree in politics and economics whereas David Ricardo had no degree at all, go right ahead.

            I’ll continue pointing out that there are many well credentialed economists in Scotland who practice the discipline as their profession. Nicola Sturgeon bypassed all of them and outsourced her thinking about currency to Andrew Wilson because he is a party loyalist who runs a PR firm.

          15. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            That may well be true, but candidly I am not interested in where Nicola Sturgeon sourced her advisor. My thinking does not revolve round the SNP, independence or the Union; and as I said I have no interest in the Andrew Wilson discussion; to borrow a phrase “who cares?”. I am simply giving some credence to the prospect that you were offering an insight (rather than a tautology) to the concept of a “real” economist. But you are right; the way you describe it, it is turns out the idea is banal.

          16. John Stuart Wilson says:

            “candidly I am not interested in where Nicola Sturgeon sourced her advisor. ”

            Then one wonders what you are doing spending so much time on this thread.

          17. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            You think the Andrew Wilson issue is the sole relevant matter in this thread? In a prallel universe, perhaps.

          18. John Stuart Wilson says:

            What other relevant matters did you find in this thread that inspired you to spend time on it?

          19. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            Ideology in the hands of dogmatists.

  8. Alba woman says:

    Fortune favours the Brave ……Scotland has the good fortune of having a talented, educated population ….the young want independence and so we are fortunate again in potentially having the energy of youth to campaign for and win our independence.

    We must summon up and direct our courage. Fortune calls us.

    1. John Stuart Wilson says:

      “the young want independence”
      The most recent poll I have seen says:
      16-34 age group: 55% Yes
      35-54 age group: 41% Yes
      55+ age group: 32% Yes
      Which indicates that the matter really is settled for a generation, just like Nicola Sturgeon told us it would be

      1. John S Warren says:

        Actually the poll results you used do not indicate “that the matter really is settled for a generation”. A poll is a snapshot of an opinion at a specific time, and that is all; and all that any statistically competent pollster would claim. I have no idea how you manage to draw that very sweeping conclusion from the evidence you actually present. I would be interested to read your detailed argument and the precise supporting evidence you have, in explanation.

      2. Interpolar says:

        @Wilson. Do exclude the Don’t knows from your statistics or at least list the NOs alongside the YESes.

        I would also like you to familiarise yourself with Swiss referenda voting patterns. There nothing is settled for a generation and issues are frequently revisited. Normally, there politics already adapt to such high rates of Yes votes, which the Vow here or there has not happened in UK politics.

      3. Simon Brooke says:

        We know we can move the polls by 15%. We did in 1997. We did in 2012-2014. We can again. The polls are a starting point, not an end point. Our job is to persuade, convince, encourage. We can do that.

        All we need is courage.

        1. geacher says:

          @Simon….OK, persuade, encourage, convince, whatever then. persuade me that losing a £10b fiscal transfer will be a good thing. Encourage me to accept that an iScotland could survive having a £13n deficit without a level of austerity that would make a Greek’s eyes water, convince me that we have the wherewithal to fund a central bank for our own currency.
          Floor’s all yours.

          1. Simon Brooke says:

            I don’t recognise that fictional 10Bn. Scotland contributes more to the exchequer than the exchequer contributes to Scotland, and always has.

        2. John Stuart Wilson says:

          The polls moved toward Yes previously because there was a pool of undecided. You now need to convert No to Yes, on the basis of nothing but a bunch of economically ignorant emotive arguments.

  9. Geacher says:

    Two quick bullet points here…..
    “We’re already higher in the polls than were in 2012” That maybe so, but right now you are polling lower than what you did in 2014 when we had the referendum that you lost….THAT is the benchmark.
    Secondly, if brexit is as bad to Scottish economy as Ms Sturgeon predicts, how stupid is it to scream “independence now” and immediately lose the £10b fiscal transfer and our currency?
    It is voodoo economics

    1. John S Warren says:

      I would be interested to know what hard facts, evidence or precise data you have that demonstrates Brexit is not bad for the Scottish economy? Do please provide your forensic analysis.

      We now know that the Conservative Government’s own Economic impact assessments offer a quite dreadful outcome for all practical Brexit options. Of course they could be wrong (economic is the dismal science), but they are the Government’s own sponsored assessments, they only confirm the assessments of everybody else who has carried out the work, and they are all we have; because the hapless pro-Brexiteers have been unable to produce any assessments with good results. You may wish to read this; this is Brexit:


      It is worth remembering that Remainers simply want what they have; it will dawn on many more people – sooner or later. It is not incumbent upon us to prove anything. What you see in our EU membership is what you get. If you are actually going to do Brexit you are going to have to demonstrate that it works to the advantage of the public. So show us what you are made of. No more ‘phoney war’. What is Brexit actually going to do for the economy of Scotland? Facts only please; no waffle, no blandishments, no empty rhetorical flourishes, no ‘motherhood and apple pie’. The time for Brexit guff is over.

      1. geacher says:

        @ John I’ve answered that question elsewhere…if brexit is going to be bad as Elsie says. why would we put ourselves in a position where not only would we have to cope with the downside of leaving the EU, we would have the downside of leaving a market four and a half times the size of the EU PLUS give up on a shared currency PLUS lose the £10billion fiscal transfer PLUS somehow cope with the biggest GDP deficit in Europe without the help of rUK.
        Your turn.

        1. John S Warren says:

          Because there is no “market” of the size of the EU elsewhere available to the UK to join. Joining or creating a market is not the equivalent of going shopping. Your opinion is extraordinarily naive and hopelessly ill-informed (I could even say – what argument, its just waffle), and in Britain or in Scotland we cannot afford this kind of mypopic naivety any longer. Ignorance is not an argument. We no longer have the time for this kind of amateurishly peddled low-grade guff.

          I think I can now leave the reader to draw the conclusion from the kind of comments and responses you make, the kind of insight you are bringing to the Brexit party: none. With me at least, your time is up.

          1. geacher says:

            @John. Interesting that you did not address my points in any way whatsoever.
            “Your opinion is extraordinarily naive and hopelessly ill-informed (I could even say – what argument, its just waffle),”
            OK, what part is ill informed? That we will lose the £10b fiscal transfer upon independence? Nope, can’t be that. That we would no longer rely on the UK to absorb our yearly deficit? Nope, not that either. That there would be no way we could share sterling with the UK? Nope.
            So what, exactly? I strongly suspect that your “With me at least, your time is up” response is because you have no response.

        2. John S warren says:

          You really are hopeless. You raised Brexit, and my issue was Brexit alone; not Scottish independence. This was obvious, but it was inconvenient, so you ignored it. Your reference to £10bn and Scottish independence is totally irrelevant to Brexit for Britain (and Scotland). My argument had nothing whatsoever to do with independence in Scotland. Clearly you have real difficulty understanding the issues, or you are merely trolling. Either way, you are not worth reading. I am simply here to illustrate this.

          Your argument, to be very precise was “I have covered this elsewhere”. Elsewhere is not an argument: pathetic. On the basis of what you actually write, why would anyone bother trying to discover what you think? It is typical of people who hide behind anonymity (readers will find the meaning in a Scots dictionary) that they airily pretend to extensive knowledge about everything; prove bereft of knowledge, and have absolutely nothing illuminating to say.

          I suggest if you have an argument, then write it and publish it at the length required; provide your sources, present substantive evidence – and use your own name. You appear unable to fulfil any of the basic criteria; so I can only conclude that you are just a blowhard who comments here to give yourself a sense of self-importance. You can of course, prove me wrong; but you cannot do it here, and it would require quite a lot more effort, endeavour and accomplishment than anything I have seen you demonstrate here. Commenting here seems to present you the opportunity, with self-inflated imperious authority, to latch on to, and sweepingly dismiss – with as much contempt as you can concentrate – the contributions of other commenters. What a miserable ambition.

          I trust that will do for a response to your request; it is more than you deserve.

          1. geacher says:

            @John. STILL you cannot rebut any of my points, resorting to the time honoured adhom tactics.
            So I will take this slowly. My initial response was to the OP who writes that with brexit looming, “we can have another referendum”, and I was pointing out the folly of being out of the UK AND the EU at the same time. You jump in with “I would be interested to know what hard facts, evidence or precise data you have that demonstrates Brexit is not bad for the Scottish economy?” Where did I say that I was of the opinion that brexit wouldn’t be bad for the Scottish economy???? Nowhere, that’s where, and if anyone on here can show me the benefits of being out of both single markets, then feel free to state your case. So fella, it is you that is arguing in the wrong thread.
            And as for my name, what is the problem? I have been known as geacher for as long as I can remember.
            So, I ask you again, show me we will be better off after brexit by leaving the UK single market. can you do that?

          2. John S Warren says:

            Your standard trope is the ‘argumentum ad hominem’, and deflection. I invite readers to track your insidious little sneers inserted immediately following a number of commenters in this thread; but you do not like having to answer a question. You made a claim about Brexit, I asked a question. You ducked the answer: ““I have covered this elsewhere”. It isn’t an answer. You have now tried to deflect from the poverty of your position by asking me irrelevant questions. You are ‘making smoke’ (readers and commenters please note the technique).

            You are also mistaken in thinking I am committed to proposing leaving a single UK market; nor have I said anything to suggest it. You are drawing fallacious conclusions because you are prejudiced; you make crude, over-simple judgements about the people who write or comment here and generalise about their opinions, without knowing – or understanding them. It is idiotic, and clueless, but it is clearly what you do. But deflection will not work with me. You made a claim about Brexit – it is for you to answer the question.

            Your words were, “if brexit is as bad to Scottish economy (as Nicola Strugeon implies)…” It is reasonable to draw the conclusion that this implies that Brexit it is not as bad for the economy than is generally implied (not least by the UK Government Impact Assessments). I give you the credence that your words mean something coherent. I now realise I was wrong; incoherence is your only friend. Your wording was exceedingly sloppy, but that is your problem. It now seems “Where did I say that I was of the opinion that brexit wouldn’t be bad for the Scottish economy????” is supposed to manufacture your escape (four question marks makes it easier, given your limited repertoire, than using illuminating vocabulary). The style is as wretched as your meaning is impossible to fathom. If you think this rubbish is worth reading, you are simply mistaken.

            Try answering a fair question without deflection. As I said, you are hopeless.

            As for your name (you might uselfully look up a Scots dictionary). I do not know you; and what you are known as personally is of no interest to me. You are using a pseudonym in a public space. If you are going to do that I consider that you owe your audience greater respect than to indulge your contemptuous, sneering, dismissive (and ludicrously improbable) arrogance while hiding your identity. Use arguments and evidence to challenge them, and treat them with respect.

    2. Interpolar says:

      Because the step has to be taken at some point. It may be painful now, but it will be torturous later. With all our independent neighbours far wealthier than Scotland, we have a robust demonstration that the Union is not working for Scotland, at least economically.

    3. David Allan says:

      2014 Better Together Project Fear – “Vote No to remain in EUROPE EU” Westminster deliver Brexit.

      “Vote NO to preserve NHS in Scotland” distinct possibility of future trade TTIP type deal with USA delivered by Westminster.

      “Vote NO to ensure future Clyde Naval Ship Contracts” Westminster fail to deliver!

      2017 Scotland ruled by a Tory Government it didn’t vote for again!

      – Four years on Remind me Better Together HOW?

    4. Simon Brooke says:

      I’m not a supporter of the SNP. When I say “we”, I’m not talking about the SNP, I’m talking about the Yes movement. The Yes movement isn’t anywhere “in the polls” because it isn’t a political party, but includes folk from many political parties and none. Where the SNP are in the polls is an irrelevance. They are a party of cautious, centrist, centralist government; they’re not the Yes movement.

      As to currency, Sterling has already fallen 15% against the Euro since the Brexit referendum, and Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. A Scottish currency could hardly do worse.

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        “As to currency, Sterling has already fallen 15% against the Euro since the Brexit referendum, and Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. A Scottish currency could hardly do worse.”

        The important thing for Scotland’s private sector is the stability of the currency against sterling. Swings in either direction would be major problems. The Euro/sterling exchange doesn’t have any impact on the requirement for independent Scotland to come up with tens of billions to back an independent currency.

        1. John S Warren says:

          Mr Wilson,

          “The Euro/sterling exchange doesn’t have any impact on the requirement for independent Scotland to come up with tens of billions to back an independent currency.”

          An interesting comment, but terse. I am not sure I fully understand what precisely you are saying. Perhaps you could provide your understanding of the monetary theory (particularly on monetary creation and currency) that underpins your proposition?

          1. John Stuart Wilson says:

            @ John S Warren
            I am saying, quite obviously, that independent Scotland has to come up with the equivalent of tens of billions of pounds to back an independent currency. Someone pointing to the Euro/sterling exchange rate and saying “There!” is demonstrating that they hate the Union but don’t understand the first thing about the currency issue, and why both Salmond and now Sturgeon wish they could make it go away.

          2. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            Forgive me, but that is not an answer; it is rather a tautological response. I did not ask you about the Union, I asked about your understanding of the monetary theory that presumably (I pay you the courtesy that you understand the question) underpins your statement. It is your statement. You must have some understanding about how money is created, the status of a currency and how it functions. I am making no assumptions about independence or Union; it is irrelevant. I am asking about a substantive issue in monetary economics, and your understanding of it. That is all.

          3. John Stuart Wilson says:

            You: “I am not sure I fully understand what precisely you are saying. ”
            Me: “I am saying, quite obviously, that independent Scotland has to come up with the equivalent of tens of billions of pounds to back an independent currency.”

            How much more clarity do you need?

          4. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            I am genuinely puzzled at you literalism. Let me approach this from a fresh angle. We are discussing currency and money creation by an independent country, we may assume with its own Central Bank. This is not about Scotland or the Union; it applies to the UK or the USA or any country in such a situation. I am not interested in the Scottish dimension here. The question is more basic, and goes to the meaning of what you wrote. Let me put it this way: how is money created by a Central Bank, in its own currency?

          5. John Stuart Wilson says:

            @John S Warren
            By lending, printing, or simple electronic conjuring.

            But who cares?

            It doesn’t matter how the new Scottish central bank creates money. The issue is whether or not the rest of the world outside Scotland will agree to treat 1 Scottish pound as the equivalent of 1 pound sterling.

            That will only happen if the Scottish central bank has billions of pounds of reserves it can use to defend the currency, and someone in charge who knows when to intervene and is not afraid to burn through billions if that is what it takes.

            Denmark is the same size as Scotland and is in a similar circumstance: it shares a border with a much larger currency area with which it does the preponderance of its trade. Their experienced central bankers find they need the equivalent of 55 billion pounds sterling to defend their peg.

          6. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            With all due respect your first explanation was extremely truncated and lacked clarity. I understand better that you are only referring to foreign exchange reserves, but did also wonder where that was going, and in your example – all the way to a peg; which is not ideal of course (as you know), but also not necessarily the only policy option that may be available. Clearly it is yours, but it is, at least not quite the exhaustive answer that might have seemed to be on offer. You might have referred to the peg in your initial answer, and saved us both some time; but thank you.

          7. John Stuart Wilson says:

            You enjoy using more words than are necessary; I do not.

          8. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            On the other hand, perhaps you are using fewer ideas than it appears.

          9. John Stuart Wilson says:

            I’m using no ideas at all. I’m pointing to real world evidence that explains why first Salmond and now Sturgeon are terrified of having to sell and independence Scottish currency to the voters.

          10. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            Having read some of your contributions on this thread, the proposition that you are using pure evidence, and no ideas at all seems to me to to be a position, that with mature reflection, you would wish to qualify. You have just had a bad idea.

            Newton once wrote “Hypotheses non fingo”; he was doing cutting-edge physics, and he was wrong. You are not Newton. I think you have over-egged your pudding!

            As for Salmond and Sturgeon; you do go on, and on; I am not interested and your obsession with it is of no substantive significance.

          11. geacher says:

            This is better than TV, watching John going round and round and round……
            “I am not interested”
            Yet he STILL responds to every Unionist post… he would have been better served writing “I AM interested, but I ain’t got a clue….”

          12. John Stuart Wilson says:

            Upon reflection, I believe:

            1) Four mentions of Salmond and Sturgeon in a long discussion of the issue of a currency for independent Scotland is not over-doing it.


            2) They are more relevant to matter at hand than Isaac Newton.


            3) It is not a “bad idea” to say that Denmark, which is so similar to Scotland in so many ways, is the real world example the reason why the currency issue is primary problem with the economic case for independence. Just like it was in 2014.

          13. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,


            1) My quick check suggests 6 references to Salmond by you (and a coupl of others in the thread); I think 13 references to Sturgeon by you (please audit by all means), and 24 in the comments section alone. I rest my case.
            2) It is the concept the reference to Newton implied; not the antiquarianism that mattered.
            3) No, it is not a bad idea; but it is not the only idea.

            But I respect the reflection undertaken; point taken.

          14. John Stuart Wilson says:

            Don’t you mean having moved the goal posts, I rest my case?

          15. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            Did I mis-count your references to Salmond and Sturgeon? I said “As for Salmond and Sturgeon; you do go on, and on”; if I did not mis-count, in what way have I moved the goal-posts? You did not only go on, and on about Salmond and Sturgeon regarding currency, but the General Election, Opinion Polling, economics and advisors. That isn’t moving the goal posts, it is highlighting the fairly clear fact that you go on, and on about them, on just about any subject to which you can bend the thread. You were very, very selective in focusing on currency in your response to me (a sort-of confirmation bias, perhaps?!). I am not here to tee-up easy shots for you; I am not your caddie. Perhaps you need another period of reflection.

          16. geacher says:

            Honestly, I’ve just got myself a giant bag of popcorn…. this is wonderfully entertaining stuff here watching Mr Warren make an absolute tit of himself. JSW, have you noticed that Mr W never actually puts up any original opinions of his own, his modus is to ask you to expand whatever point you are making whilst chewing a dictionary at the same time…….”I am genuinely puzzled at you literalism…..” Forgive me, but I find your answer a little Delphic……” but he has not once actually produced any counterpoints to your argument…I wonder why that is?
            It is the argument of deflection, all smoke and mirrors, a guise to hide that he has nothing to oppose your -or mine, or Jamsies- arguments so he deflects and delays, bluffs and waffles. I’m still waiting for him to respond to a question I asked him three days ago, to which he has responded with the usual adhom so beloved by the separatists. He needs to throw his shovel away and give up.

          17. John S Warren says:

            Keep eating the popcorn, troll. I am delighted to entertain any completely witless simpleton who enjoys something, while failing comprehensively to understand it; now that is funny. As for a dialogue with you? Having fully explored and exhausted your slim-to-non-existent repertoire of blind, sneering and utterly pointless prejudices, and smarmy over-familiarity (ugh!); I do not waste my time feeding strawberries to elephants. Thats your lot, fella.

          18. Geacher says:

            And you have just confirmed up everything I said in my last post… the gift that keeps on giving, fella.

  10. Alf Baird says:

    Scotland cannot depend on the Tories to permit us another referendum, and certainly not prior to brexit. The ‘independence movement’ must instead take the initiative and deploy its existing parliamentary majorities in favour of independence to achieve its aims. That process could include the following:

    1. The majority of Scotland’s MP’s hand the Westminster Speaker a note giving their notice of Scotland’s withdrawal from the UK union from a set date prior to brexit, as they are constitutionally entitled to do;
    2. The Scottish Government brings forward a ‘Withdrawal from UK Union (Scotland) Bill’ at Holyrood;
    3. The latter Bill/Act may include provision for the Scottish Government to hold a referendum to ratify its decision to withdraw Scotland from the UK union.

    1. geacher says:

      Alf peddling the same old nonsense….. time to add another string to your bow, fella?

      1. David Allan says:

        You guys are reflecting the panic that’s beginning to set into Unionist circles. Carry on posting!

        “fella” what part of the UK does that patronising expression originate? certainly not Scotland.

        1. geacher says:

          Oooh……. we have the language police now, have we? Using non Scottish lingo is against nationalist rules? Excuse me whilst I dunk my Walker’s shortbread biscuit into my morning coffee.
          Panic? Why on earth would we be panicking? Your movement is dying fella, but you are too blind to see it.

          1. Graeme Purves says:

            If it’s dying, why do you remain so exercised about it? Wouldn’t you be better employed exercising your geachin talents elsewhere?

          2. David Allan says:

            Hope you choke on it ! If you don’t choke on that try something from Tunnocks next time. Aye your language is a bit of a giveaway. How much did you earn this week from Scotland in Union?

            The Panic in your ranks is palpable.

            Still waiting on an answer to my above question ….. go on tell me why am I a better Scot being part of the English Westminster parliament ruled union ?

          3. David Allan says:

            Merely establishing that your views are expressed from an non Scottish perspective.

    2. Willie says:

      Absolutely bang on Alf.

      We elected a majority of MPs in Scotland whose ticket was independence.

      It is their constitutional right to move for secession.

      Although from a different time, this was how the Act of Union was brought about when a Scottish majority voted for it.

  11. Big Jock says:

    Perhaps Alf’s suggestion is not as far fetched as it seems. The SNP are Democrats and are welded to consential referendums.

    However what the Tories are doing is breaking the back of the devolution settlement. We are already in the first third of a constitutional crisis. Events may force the Scottish parliament to take emergency control of non devolved matters. This will be for self preservation.

    If WM tries to block a referendum it will go down the legal route. If the Lord advocate says Scotland can call a binding referendum and the English courts say no. Then Scotland can declare independence by withdrawing all of its MPs from WM.

    I fear this is exactly where we are heading. The Tories are dumb enough to think they can ignore Scotland parliament!

    1. Jamsie says:

      Ah …….The old Catalonia tactic?
      Yes that makes sense eh?
      Politicians acting illegally and outside their mandate.
      Desperate or what?
      Isn’t it interesting that somehow the economic effect of Brexit is considered by the self proclaimed intelligentsia on here to be worse for Scotland than that if Indy?
      Mind you Westminster has produced assessments which identify the risks faced which is more than can be said for the SNP.
      The black hole of £10bn plus, the currency issue, the deficit and other structural problems are brushed aside as if they do not exist.
      And the electorate should not be concerned by such trivia.
      Fortunately the majority of the electorate see the problems for what they really are and reject Indy.
      The desperation contrary to what has been suggested on here is all on the Indy side as they see the SNP paralysed with the only response being declared incompetent but supposedly declared legal by the totally politicised Lord Advocate.
      This will probably result in years of legal argument and ultimately by tested in the Supreme Court by which time Brexit will have taken place.
      Now we are also seeing splits emerging in her party and the effect of these could lead to a demand for a change st the top.
      If her husband has to go will she follow?

    2. John Stuart Wilson says:

      “Then Scotland can declare independence by withdrawing all of its MPs from WM.”
      We had a legally binding referendum on independence in 2014, which Nicola Sturgeon said would settle the matter for a generation. 3.6 million Scots took part. Inconvenient, I know, but that’s the way it is.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Poor old John, still stuck in 2014, while Brexit unfolds like a slow-motion train wreck.

      2. MBC says:

        Not like you to get your facts wrong John. I recollect it was Alex Salmond who mentioned the once in a generation comment. And he offered it as his opinion that the chance would not come again for a long time. It was not a policy position but an opinion on the likelihood of as good a chance ever coming again.

        1. Jamsie says:


          Facts are sometimes re-factualised eh?

        2. Jamsie says:


          Or should we just not believe a word?

        3. John Stuart Wilson says:

          “it was Alex Salmond who mentioned the once in a generation comment. And he offered it as his opinion that the chance would not come again for a long time. It was not a policy position but an opinion on the likelihood of as good a chance ever coming again.”

          “Once in a generation” appears on the very first page of the independence white paper. And Salmond and Sturgeon repeated it on multiple occasions. There is no doubt that people understood that they were settling the matter for their lifetimes when they voted.

          1. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            It may be the case that Mr Salmond (and the SNP) thought it was a “once in a generation” opportunity. Fortunately I couldn’t care less what he or the Party thought: in politics nobody is in a position to make the claim, with any prospect that it is guaranteed. This is not specific to the referendum. It applies generally. It is not a guarantee that can be given; by anyone, on virtually anything in politics. It is no more than a forecast; and a bad one. They were presumably trying to encourage their supporters to vote; it was as foolish for the opponents to believe it (if they did), as their supporters: it is an mere rationalisation to inflate it, ex-post in the hope that opponents can beat the SNP with a little feeble and fake outrage.

            Reality does not work like that. Nothing in politics that is decided now can speak to the next thirty years; or represent the future. The future is contingent. Whatever is decided may, or may not last thirty years; nobody knows, and that is all that can be said. You only have to state the proposition to realise it is absurd and falls within nobody’s patronage. You, and whomsoever you think you speak for are being disingenuous to continue peddling this false proposition. I am sure you will not give it up, but that is your problem. Reality, however is indifferent – and that has nothing to do with the SNP, Nationalism, Unionism, or motherhood and apple pie.

          2. John Stuart Wilson says:

            And in turn I don’t care what you think.

            The question is: did the voters cast their votes with the understanding that they were settling the matter for a generation? Undoubtedly yes.

            Is there any evidence that they regret the outcome?
            Undoubtedly no.

          3. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            No they didn’t, unless they chose to be obtuse. An assertion is just an assertion; I think you are conflating it with “evidence”. I seem to recall you made one about the permanence of a poll result! A poll result! Incredible. You are promoting a fairly lazy ideological mind-set with some lame, finger-pointing ‘what-a-bouttery’ against politics you clearly don’t like; to which the real response is – so what?. Surely Unionism can do better than this guff for an argument? maybe I should start arguing the case; it badly need some help given this low-level stuff.

          4. John Stuart Wilson says:

            *the independence white paper said it was once in a generation
            *Alex Salmond said it was once in a generation
            *Nicola Sturgeon said it was once in a generation
            *The SNP plastered the country with posters saying there was “ONE opportunity”

            But we were stupid for thinking that we were voting to settle the matter for a generation.

          5. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            I am not here to defend the SNP. They were wrong, but they were quite obviously wrong because nobody can give such a guarantee. Only a fool cannot see it; it is plain as a pikestaff. No Parliament in Westminster can tie the hands of a future Parliament. It is called “sovereignty”, and it invokes absolute power. But it might be over tomorrow, and gone forever. Who knows. In politics the future is like that. The only people who do not understand this are the gullible, or the whataboutteries looking for a stick to beat the opposition. Pathetic. To be angry about it is either fake, or worse, ridiculous.

          6. John Stuart Wilson says:

            We voted in 2014 with the understanding that we were settling the matter for a generation. That you regret this state of affairs does not change anything.

          7. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            You are becoming obtuse. If you want to believe that anyone could provide you with a guarantee of a generation independence-free in 2014; you were deluded. Self-deluded in my opinion. Blame the SNP if you like. It is irrelevant. Nobody in the UK, from the Queen down (if that is endearing to you) can give you such a guarantee. It doesn’t exist. THE DUP keep the Conservatives in power; who is to say something does not happen in anunspecified, unforecastable concatenation of events that keeps a Westmisnter Government in power at the expense of an independent Scotland. It does not matter how improbable you think that scenario is; it is just an illustration. The future is unknown and unknowable. The delusion is yours. Whether the next thirty years is independence-free is not known, or knowable, by anyone. I cannot believe you can be so obtuse. Get over it!

          8. geacher says:

            “who is to say something does not happen in anunspecified, unforecastable concatenation of events that keeps a Westmisnter Government in power at the expense of an independent Scotland.”
            Ooh go on fella, gimme a scenario how this could ever happen…betcha can’t.
            (opens second bag of popcorn)

          9. John S Warren says:

            The troll falls in to his bag of popcorn.
            1) Brexit is abandoned
            2) Brexit goes through but fails badly in the UK
            3)Brexit is a catastrophe in Scotland
            4) The Northern Ireland issue cannot be resolved and leads to a British constitutional crisis
            5) People change their mind about independence, sooner or later
            6) Events yet unknown intervene, sooner or later (“events dear boy, events” – Macmillan)

            I could go on all night; I used a far-fetched example to give an indication of the confusions that take place – notably in Westminster (it was meant half-ironically – probably above your head). I should have realised how confused you are, and how likely to miss the obvious. Try to keep up. Take your time, though; I know your are slow and I wouldn’t want you to choke on your popcorn. It is all you have.

          10. geacher says:

            “You are becoming obtuse. If you want to believe that anyone could provide you with a guarantee of a generation independence-free in 2014; you were deluded. Self-deluded in my opinion. Blame the SNP if you like. It is irrelevant. Nobody in the UK, from the Queen down (if that is endearing to you) can give you such a guarantee. It doesn’t exist.”
            Oh yes it does. The Westminster Government has the final word on Section 30.
            They have the final say.
            Keep digging (munchitty crunchitty)

          11. JohnS Warren says:

            The troll that misuses quotations is truly a chump.

            “The Westminster Government has the final word on Section 30.
            They have the final say.”

            But the Government will not last thirty years; or perhaps 30 months; or maybe 30 weeks; or even…… you can work out the rest (oh, its you -maybe you can’t). You are cluelessness personified. Everything you believe in is going to last forever. I can see where you find your ideas – in fairy stories; where forever and ever is – well, forever. Your truly fatuous capacity not to understand anything that is real, is truly amazing.

            Oh, yes and on the misuse of quotations – EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

  12. Graeme Purves says:

    This is spot on Simon! A marvelous piece!

    This is us. This is where we are. This is what we face. Right now!

  13. Willie says:

    An excellent piece that for me summarises how we will post Brexit continue our remorseless slide into an impoverished repressive state.

    Like the blacks in Africa ripped from their homelands to be transported and sold as slaves, or like the 1930s German Jews who left it to late to leave, I fear we too will leave it too late.

  14. Willie says:

    Taking on board the concept of leaving it too late to leave, as many poor souls did in 1930s Germany, I couldn’t but think that the train track picture to this article evoked a vision of the trains that headed to Auschwitz.

    This is the very clear danger we face in failing to change the course we are on.

  15. geacher says:

    @John S Warren. It’s very hard work, it really is. I was answering the point made by the OP, namely that we need to be independent because of brexit. I asked “if brexit is as bad to Scottish economy as Ms Sturgeon predicts, how stupid is it to scream “independence now” and immediately lose the £10b fiscal transfer and our currency? It is voodoo economics” A valid and pertinent question to ask.
    OK so far?
    You then say: “I would be interested to know what hard facts, evidence or precise data you have that demonstrates Brexit is not bad for the Scottish economy? ”
    You were asking me to validate a point that I was not making. I KNOW that brexit is not good, I was asking why would we try to offset the damage caused by leaving one union by leaving another union, a point you have not even remotely addressed. Instead you resort to petty insults, which is as always the separatist tactic when faced with facts.
    Oh I loved this: “indulge your contemptuous, sneering, dismissive (and ludicrously improbable) arrogance……..” followed by “….. treat them with respect.” Oh the irony. Did you see what you did there???? (oops I did it again….me bad)
    One last chance to respond to my response to the OP….time to shit or get off the pot, and try to keep it relevant.

    1. John S Warren says:

      No, not OK. The fact is your argument implied that Brexit was not bad for the Scottish economy. If you thought Brexit was bad for the Scottish economy you have a very inopportune way of presenting the case. In effect you are trying to have your cake and eat it. You know that Brexit is bad, but you will use it anyway just to have a pop at the SNP about independence. If you are so obtuse you cannot recognise the muddle and confusion you create, I cannot help you. And frankly I am more inclined to think you are indulging an ex-post rationalisation of a bad argument. anything but admit your position is badly argued and inarticulate.

      As for “Did you see what you did there????”; it has taken you a long, long time to figure out what I am doing. You are very slow. I explained what I was doing from the beginning; treating you as you treat commenters.

      “One last chance to respond”; or what? You will form a coherent argument that isn’t an excuse? Or stop posting rubbish? Please, make my day.

      1. geacher says:

        “No, not OK. The fact is your argument implied that Brexit was not bad for the Scottish economy.”
        No it didn’t… not at all.
        And you STILL won’t address the original Q in my first post. Looks like you you are off the pot, fella.

        1. John S Warren says:

          No, afraid not. You do not choose the agenda; you do not have the talent. I grant that you can dish it out, but you just can’t take it. If you don’t like the heat, by all means get out of the kitchen. Be my guest; an anonymous troll running from an argument – precisely what I thought. I see you have laready started sneering at another commenter.

          1. geacher says:

            And what argument have I run from? The one that only exists in your head?
            Soooo if you ARE on the pot, answer my question…you must know it by heart by now?

        2. John S Warren says:

          Oh good, “fella”. The idea that this is a debate has long gone. There never was a debate. You are exposed so transparently as a troll (and not a very good one), which is precisely what I wanted to reveal. You just can’t resist running around, attacking all and sundry with gratuitous sneers, proving my point so well. Do please keep going, grist to my mill. You serve my purpose, and I hope readers may find this useful.

  16. geacher says:

    @Simon Brooke: “I don’t recognise that fictional 10Bn. Scotland contributes more to the exchequer than the exchequer contributes to Scotland, and always has.”
    Ah, a GERS denier. Ask yourself why our SNP would spread such lies about our fiscal position. Surely if there was not fiscal transfer, and Scotland was indeed sending more to WM than we received, the SNP would tell us that, be shouting it from the rooftops? But they aren’t…why is that do you think?

    1. Dougie Blackwood says:

      And what of the GERS figures; how accurate are they; what basic factual data are they made up from. They are mostly guestimations based on a proportion of UK figures. Scotland’s “deficit” is mostly as a proportion of Westminster’ debt repayments. Many of the UK credits are made up from Scotland’s GDP.

      What proportion of, for example, Tesco’s profit it attributed to Scotland; it is declared in Cheshunt and tax is paid there. Many other large companies, Spirits makers, in particular create their profits in Scotland but are registered and pay tax in London. My pension, and the pay and pensions of many other civil servants, were until recently, taxed in Cardiff; only when Scotland’s income tax arrangement’s were changed this year was any effort made to identify all of the income tax receipts attributable to Scotland.

      In similar circumstances Norway makes many billions in oil taxes every year; in 2016 UK made a loss on the oil industry because we were giving the oil companies tax refunds while setting the Petroleum Revenue Tax at Zero%. Westminster wails about the National Debt but does not make any effort to milk this golden goose. Oil is running out I hear you cry; nonsense Scotland is floating on oil; the North sea is now less productive but not still very active; west of Shetland, in the shallow waters there and all down the west coast there are lots of oilfields being explored and very quietly being exploited. The news on oil is managed well by the government and the unionist media to create the mistaken impression of a well running dry.

      Independence for Scotland will be a catastrophe for rest of the UK as what they see as their most productive assets are lost. Why do you think so much effort was put into keeping Scotland in the union in 2014. Brotherly love? It was only greedy self interest; if Scotland was a drain on the union we would have been waved off years ago.

      1. geacher says:

        Oh dear.
        “Many of the UK credits are made up from Scotland’s GDP.”
        Explain this means Dougie? Betcha can’t.

        1. DougieBlackwood says:

          Put it the other way.

          Tell me how the profits from items I describe and many others that are created, are produced or services that are provided in Scotland, by companies based and reporting in England (London), are identified and included in the GERS figures for Scotland’s GDP. Now, I’ll bet you cannot do it as they are not separated out in any company’s report. International companies may register overseas earnings and profits but they are not broken down by countries within the UK.

          Much of Scotland’s produce is exported via Mossend and Felixtowe or via London airports freight terminals or via the Channel Tunnel and ferries. These are recorded and counted at the ports of export. How is that documented as originating in Scotland for the purposes of GERS.

        2. John S Warren says:

          Well “fella”, you didn’t think it was that easy to escape, did you? Mr Blackwood and Mr Brooke, I wouldn’t waste time on this: “Betcha can’t” tells you all you need to know. Have a good look at the long trail of low-grade wreckage he has left on this thread. I decided to spend a little time on (spring) cleaning and fumigating, which is the only reason I am wasting my time; I consider it a public service.

          1. geacher says:

            So you STILL won’t answer my question?
            You lose!

          2. John S Warren says:

            Well, well “fella”. Still living in a solipsistic world where you are in control. I’m afraid not. Your remark falls into the sad “you would say that, wouldn’t you” category, immortalised by Mandy Rice-Davies. But you are just an anonymous troll. I would rather you stayed, because you serve my purpose as an illustration of crass trolling for the readers information, so well; with every word you write. But do go; you are, in truth, no loss to civilised debate. Your choice; it is the only one you have.

          3. Graeme Purves says:

            The sneering denial of Scottish agency is now the essence of modern Unionism. What a pitiful and hopeless creature it has become.

  17. Wul says:

    Inspiring piece Simon. I agree with this approach entirely.

    No one ever handed over power to the less powerful without it happening on the terms and timing of the disruptors. No one gets rewarded for being patient and well mannered when the UK state is involved. It’s time to get a move on. The reason there was “energy” around the Yes movement in 2014 was because there was something to play for. It was real.

    All the nay-sayers on here are in denial of the almost unlimited power that is released when people begin working for their own benefit.

    The magical awe inspiring “£10bn” that’s wheeled out every time we discuss self-rule isn’t even a real thing. It doesn’t exist. It doesnae even seem like a lot of money to me. FFS there’s individual people in the world who have that much money, so how hard can it be for a whole country of educated, happy, hard working folk to get it together?

    “Hard work’s easy” as my old grandad used to say. Bring it on.

    1. geacher says:

      “The magical awe inspiring “£10bn” that’s wheeled out every time we discuss self-rule isn’t even a real thing. It doesn’t exist.”
      How so? The SNP run Scottish Government’s own figures show it exists…. are Sturgeon & Co lying to us?

      1. John S Warren says:

        No over-familiar, smarmy “Wul” for your new target, troll? It is typical of your method that you should dangle the word “lying”; because for you somebody, somewhere must be either stupid or lying. It is grotesque.

        I have no need or inclination to argue about GERS quantum (I have no dog in this fight), but I think it is incumbent on critics to understand GERS. The best source is GERS itself, and also informed critics like Jim Cuthbert (a distinguished Chief Statistician at the Scottish Office when GERS was being developed), who understands its history and development, and has been a lucid, but balanced critic of it. This is not black and white. It is as well to remember that GERS is constantly changing elements of the measurements, and therefore the results (changes that are acknowledged); but it is not possible (for the outside observer) to trace precisely how much impact these changes have.

        In addition it is important to understand the methodology GERS uses, and this requires the individual to read the detailed GERS methodology notes in order to understand what is actually carried out. There are fair criticisms to be made of aspects of the methodology; particularly where this applies to the use of some aspects of the accrual principle over cash data, or worse, survey material, rather than ‘hard’ transaction data. Anyone who has had responsibility in a public company for the critical financial quantum in a P&L account, or a balance sheet, would be uncomfortable with the use of survey data as a substitute for real transactions (it wouldn’t happen). I believe there is a fundamental problem here in economics towards the measurement of national income data, but that is another question

        1. Jamsie says:

          So what about the fundamental problem with the accounts or economics of the EU?
          Or should this simply be overlooked as unimportant?
          Utter bollocks as usual from a self proclaimed person of superiority who cannot accept that his views are not shared by the majority of the electorate.
          How fortunate!

          1. John S Warren says:

            I shall leave your reply to speak for itself. I am grateful that you make it so easy to ignore your “contributions”. I think we can all see a pattern of discourse emerging from our notably undistinguished “critics”!

          2. geacher says:

            “I forgot to mention that 2014 did indeed use GERS as gospel………………… I do not agree with the “gospel” treatment…………. What that gospel needed……”
            Gospel/ not gospel/ gospel…. and round and round and round he goes…
            Hey Fella, how about answering my question I asked you last night?
            Betcha don’t.

        2. John Stuart Wilson says:

          The Cuthberts had many complaints about GERS in the previous decade. But in 2007 the GERS methodology was updated, addressing all his issues. See their chapter in “Scotland’s Economic Future” by Donald MacKay, 2011. If you don’t have a copy: they did a commentary on the 2016 GERS release for Common Weal, they didn’t say anything at all about the methodology. They complained quite a bit about the opacity of the SG accounts and the amount of things that the SG were doing that are off the books. They used the phrase “poverty of accurate information” – but entirely in the context of Holyrood, not Westminster, doing the withholding. https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/9162/margaret-cuthbert-what-gers-and-brexit-reports-tell-us-about-scotlands-economy

          As for the rest of your post: it is just more of the same, trying to claim that it isn’t based on “real” data. Which is a nonsense objection. The FoAI wrote a long blog post explaining why it is foolish.

          And, of course, there is the fact that the 2014 Yes campaign treated GERS as gospel.

          1. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            I appreciate the scrupulous care you have taken to provide your sources. Thank you. In fact I am aware of the matters you raise, pretty well across the board; and I know Jim Cuthbert’s views. I am sceptical of the Fraser of Alllander view; and I do not have the same level of confidence in current economics, or economists; certainly not sufficient to give them ‘carte blanche’ on data collection, on which they appear to spend little time. I might add that the economics profession also is one of the most criticised in its technical use of statistics: you may wish to look at the economists Ziliak and McCloskey, The Cult of Statistical Significance (2008). There is too much theory, and insufficient applied or experimental economics. There are methodological issues for GERS (I think Richard Murphy has raised some reasonable issues), and while I know he disagrees, I have raised the criticisms with Jim Cuthbert.

            I beg to differ with your complacency. I should close by saying I do not claim the quantum of the current GERS is necessarily wrong; my issue is with methodology of the data.

          2. John S Warren says:

            Mr Wilson,

            I forgot to mention that 2014 did indeed use GERS as gospel; and while I understand its use – by everybody (it is waht we have) – I do not agree with the “gospel” treatment. What that gospel needed, was the forensic deconstruction (from left-field if necessary) of a modern Spinoza.

            I am not an ideologist, but a philosophical pragmatist. I have no axes grinding.

  18. John S Warren says:

    Mr Burrow,

    The troll’s sudden, smarmy, over-familiar attempt to appear helpfully apologetic, is a great deal less helpful than it seems. It is typical of his airy, vague use of facts that he does not crystallise his sources; the year of the data; whether he includes or excludes North Sea Oil; whether it is the Net Fiscal Balance; or the Current Budget Balance. He is just a low-grade, ideologically driven propagandist and time-waster (I should know!).

  19. Jamsie says:

    Seems like denial is the only thing Indy supporters have to offer.
    There is no deficit – except we know there is!
    We don’t spend more than we earn with the balance looked after by the UK!
    There is no majority in favour of remsining part of the UK!
    It does not matter if the electorate don’t want another referendum!
    The continuity bill is competent even though the Lord Advocate’s advice is that it is framed in the same manner as the UK Brexit Bill which the Indy movement claim is incompetent and the presiding officer says it is not!
    If all this were true you would think our wee political Pygmy and her unpopular spouse would have shouted from the roof of Holyrood but no such holler has been heard.
    Why not?
    Why has she not called a referendum to try demonstrate support for her party’s cause.
    There must be a reason!
    Is it because she knows that it would be fallacious and worse probably her assertions would be rejected by the electorate?
    The reality will probably never dawn on the indyiots on here until the next referendum results in rejection by the people of Scotland but surely they must see that the SNP under the current leadership will not call another referendum.
    They might continue to agitate for one but will never call it because they know a.) that they could not win it and b.) that it would kill any notion for much more than a generation!

    1. Wul says:

      By your own logic, Jamsie , you hold all the winning cards.

      Your viewpoint must prevail because you have all the facts on your side and the “indyiots” hopes are doomed to failure.

      So….why exactly are you here?

      Why spend your time trying to undermine a cause that is, to your certain, superior knowledge, a waste of time?

      What are you for?

  20. Jamie Noble says:

    I find it mildly amusing Unionists are still defending the integrity of this Union of “equals” in the face of all that has happened since the Brexit vote; on top of all that was said to both woo and scare Scots about independence in 2014. I swallowed the 2014 PR but since Brexit have realised the only way Scotland can decide what happens to this country is to separate and nullify the constant democratic deficit we have within the Union, as the writer points out, by being leaned on by a progressively right wing nationalism that England is exhibiting. The Union is finished. It won’t survive the economic, social and political impacts of Brexit and of an right wing England intent on suppressing the devolution settlement and ignoring the GFA. The Unionists on here just trot out 2014 arguments which are now becoming less relevant (the UK has slipped in the economic rankings, the pound is in the toilet and a poor or no deal will just make it worse). Scotland has less and less to loose by the day. The Unionists have no new arguments that are relevant to the situation we find ourselves in. Their grip is slipping and you can sense the desperation in organisations like SiU. Only 10% need to get off the fence to achieve independence. With Brexit that it imminently doable. Unionist panic is only going to increase.

  21. John Stuart Wilson says:

    Skeptical of the the Fraser of Allander’s competence but accepting of Richard Murphy?

    Confirmation bias at its worst.

    1. John S Warren says:

      Mr Wilson,

      No, I look at evidence; in candour it is not a partuclarly strong point of post-war economics. Remember – evidence? That phenomena you keep telling me you are steeped in.

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        You astonish me. What “evidence” has Richard Murphy presented that you found compelling?

        1. John S Warren says:

          I did not, in fact use the word evidence (with or without inverted commas) about Richard Murphy. I said he raised some reasonable issues. He did; no more, no less. He gave “evidence” (the standard description, but not mine) to Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee, I think in April, 2017. I also think he was invited to another committee session at Holyrood to discuss GERS, but I am not currently certain about the date. He has also written about GERS, I think extensively, on his websiteTax Research UK.

          I have made my fair and balanced criticism of GERS on the basis of what can be observed and issues that have been raised (in fact it is not easy for any outsider to drill into the detail), and consider there should be a thorough review of the Whole GERS method, purpose, and data collection; nothing more – or less. I have said I do not have confidence in post-war economics. The problem is that economics has been too self-reverential, too complacent, too given to theoretical confirmation bias and intellectual complacency. I gave you the names of two critics who are statistically competent critics. I could add Steve Keen, Billy Mitchell, Richard Werner, Ann Pettifor, Simon Wren-Lewis……. etc., etc., etc.; I could now be here all night. Indeed almost all the economists who actually foreacst the crash (including at least two here) are serious critics of the conventional wisdom. I should add Hyman Minsky, who predicted the crash; and he died I think it was in 1994.

          The track record of current economics wisdom in forecasting, in statistics and in data collection is concerning. It is supposed to be a science. Economics is over-theoretical; and the conventional wisdom has been under serious and convincing attack since the Crash – with good reason – and before. Henry Dunning Macleod wrote brilliantly with a version, effectively of modern monetary economics in 1856. It still stands up better than just about everything post-war.

          It is time that perhaps you did a little reflection, rather than be spoon-fed here.

          1. geacher says:

            Ah Johnny Boy… you expect “evidence” from JSW, but don’t provide any yourself?
            FYI, Mr Murphy was questioned in Holyrood about his take on the GERS methodology on Sept 19th last year. In attendance also were economics Professors Margaret Cuthbert & Catia Montanga, economic experts John McLaren & Richard Marsh. All Indy supporters. The Chair, after reading out some of Murphy’s statements on GERS, asked the assembled whether anyone agreed with statements. Not one. Not a solitary one. Should you wish I will post up a link so that you can watch the whole shebang…it was a car crash.
            Murphy was asked how many countries used his prototype economic theories?
            “I’m struggling to think of one”
            And how much research had he done on GERS?
            “Not the deep research necessary”
            Oh there was more, and oddly Murphy has bee quiet on the subject of GERS since then.
            But John finishes with “It is time that perhaps you did a little reflection, rather than be spoon-fed here.”
            Believe me fella, the only person that is remotely close to being spoon fed is you.

          2. geacher says:

            And this:
            From JSW: “Skeptical of the the Fraser of Allander’s competence but accepting of Richard Murphy?”
            Mr Warren: “…. I look at evidence…”
            JSW: “What “evidence” has Richard Murphy presented that you found compelling?”
            Mr Warren (aka Johnny lad): “I did not, in fact use the word evidence”
            Marvellous marvellous stuff …. keep digging fella!

          3. JohnS Warren says:

            Ah, the troll misuses quotations. You really are a prize chump. You will say anything for a cheap line. Really low-level rubbish.

            Here is the full quote: “I look at evidence; in candour it is not a partuclarly strong point of post-war economics. ” Richard Murphy is an accountant. I was clearly speaking of evidence about the discipline of economics, not Murphy.

            In tha matter of Richard Murphy I said “Richard Murphy has raised some reasonable issues”. He did.

            That is all. You really do scrape every barrel. What a crew. I am delighted you are being exposed to readers; because your little cartel is desperate to prove some fatal flaw about pathetic whatabouttery points that anyone with their head not sunk in the mire would not wish to aspire. You really do need to look at yourselves; desperate to pick the thinnest hole and turn it into an abyss; and failing dismally. I have put up with two days of this tripe from intellectual nonetities with a political grudge, and pedalling thin air and snake-oil. You are truly pathetic.

          4. John S Warren says:

            “keep digging fella”, I am sure there are depths you can conjure that nobody could even dream of. Just make it up as you go along, with that ‘Lord of the Rings’ glee when you think you have a cheap vistory (just before disaster strikes). You take the term ‘miserable’ to new levels. What an attitude; what a revolting (failed) schadenfreude gol-medal attitude. Really, your tawdry ideology means that much to you? I am so glad you keep trolling. You provide a case study in truly depressing politics. You lost it, fella.

          5. John S Warren says:

            Troll, your manipulation of a quotation “…. I look at evidence…” to suppress that to which it refers is absolutely appalling. Are you capable of understanding that; or, is that you really do not care what is said so that you can somehow gleefully revel in a fake point-scoring episode? Is that really what your ideological fixation has brought you to? It is grotesque. What on earth gives you the sensibility that it is acceptable behaviour? What standards do you claim? Any at all?

            There are several questions for you to chew your popcorn on; and it overdue that you answer for yourself.

          6. John S Warren says:

            Answer, anonymous troll. Why did you suppress the important part of the quotation? It all comes tumbling down; only there was nothing there to begin with. Explain yourself. No hiding behind popcorn and you popcorn ideas. Explain yourself.

            What a crew of hopeless ideologists armed with pea-shooters, and grubby tactics, I have had to put up with here. Is this the stuff of Unionism? Is this it? Heaven help us all.


  22. John Burrows says:

    Reading this thread has been interesting. It has a real Robert Louis Stevenson feel to it.

    It is quintessentially Scottish to worry about your purse, while the house is burning down 🙂

    Thank you

  23. John S Warren says:

    I have at last a question for you, troll. Let me remind you of your contemptible misuse and misrepresentation of a quotation. It is surprising only that you would attempt something so easy to reveal. But I suppose you are distracted by the popcorn.

    What I wrote: “I look at evidence; in candour it is not a partuclarly strong point of post-war economics. ” It is quite clear I am specifically writing about evidence in the economics discipline, following the remark about economists. Richard Murphy is an accountant.

    What I wrote about Richard Murphy was: “Richard Murphy has raised some reasonable issues”. He did.

    Tell me, is there anything whatsoever you would not do to massage a quotation to serve your desperate desire to score a point, even when fictitious?

  24. David Allan says:

    The day and night operatives and infiltrators were kept busy on this article, Cheltenham HQ will delighted at their activity levels, always slinging muck, never a word to defend or promote their precious Union.

    Project fear 2018!

    There is panic in the Union Ranks.

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