Chilcot Inquiry Fraudulent Content – Severely Compromised by the Old Boy Network – Report Should Be Subject to a Judicial Review Chaired By Independent Judge

 

 

 

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The Chilcot Report – Millions of words without meaning – Philppe Sands catalogues the report’s criticisms of Blair and points to its failings:

“Yet the inquiry has chosen to hold back on what caused the multitude of errors: was it negligence, or recklessness, or something else? In so doing it has created a space for Blair and the others who stood with him to protest that they acted in good faith, without deceit or lies. To get a sense of how this space was created requires a very thorough reading of the report. But two techniques can be identified immediately.

First, the inquiry has engaged in salami-slicing, assessing cause and motive in individual moments without stepping back and examining the whole. The whole makes clear that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein and wage war in Iraq was taken early, and that intelligence and law were then fixed to facilitate the desired outcome.

On legal matters, Blair manipulated the process, forcing the attorney general to give legal advice at the last possible moment, with troops already massed and a coalition ready to roll. He would have known that Goldsmith was less likely at that stage to have said that war would be illegal. […] Second, on the basis of material I have seen but isn’t in the public domain, I believe the inquiry may have been excessively generous in its characterisation of evidence.” Philppe Sands

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n15/philippe-sands/a-grand-and-disastrous-deceit

 

 

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No Prosecution of Blair over Iraq

A prosecution of Tony Blair for a ‘crime of aggression’ over the military invasion of Iraq in March 2003 has never been on the cards. A report is still awaited from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on whether preliminary examination of new evidence (e.g. with the Chilcot Report) may result in Blair’s prosecution for complicity in crimes over the conduct of the war and occupation. The domestic common law crime of ‘misconduct in public office’ offers scope for prosecution.

For this to proceed, an indictment must be prepared by the Crown Prosecution Service. A police investigation is first necessary to produce a file or charge sheet with evidence from which an indictment can be made.

What might a charge sheet for this offence look like for Tony Blair. Areas of the decision process which initiated the military invasion for potential examples of ‘breaches of duty’, resulting in serious betrayal of public trust, from which the offence of misconduct may be applied.

http://www.iraqinquirydigest.org/

 

 

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Kofi Annan – Un Secretary General The Iraq War was illegal

All of this confirms the conclusion of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who resolutely stated about the US invasion of Iraq in 2004:

“I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”

(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/16/iraq.iraq)

 

 

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Downing Street Memos Revealed

Pressure is being applied by MP’s insisting that the Chilcot report be published in full before the end of February. It might be further delaying tactics will be put in place with the purpose of burying the report until after the GE in May. In terms of actions taken or not by a number of persons of note there is a definitive record available for study from which it is possible to apportion events and authority. Ignore the hype, check the facts. Go to:  http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/memos.html

 

 

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Top Bush Era CIA Official – Iraq War Was Based On Lies:

Twelve years after George W Bush initiated the illegal invasion of Iraq, ostensibly under the premise of pre-emptive self-defence, a stark majority — as many as 75% in 2014 — feel the so-called war was a mistake.

As evidence rapidly accumulates that Bush’s yearning to launch an aggressive attack was likelier due to a personal grudge than anything else, that number will surely swell. Indeed the former president’s intelligence briefer lent yet more plausibility to that theory in an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball, making an admission that the Bush White House misrepresented intelligence reports to the public on key issues.

Michael Morell’s stint with the CIA included deputy and acting director. During the time preceding the US invasion of Iraq, he helped prepare daily intelligence briefings for Bush. One of those briefings, from October 2002, is an infamous example in intelligence history as how not to compile a report.

The National Intelligence Estimate, titled “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction”, (https://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB129/nie.pdf ) was the ostensibly flawed intelligence cited continuously by Bush supporters as justification to pursue a war of aggression against Iraq. However, this claim is dubious at best, and serves more as a smokescreen to lend credence to a president who was otherwise hell-bent on revenge against Saddam Hussein, as evidenced in his statement a month before the report, “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”

In the Hardball interview, host Chris Matthews asked Morell about Cheney’s notorious statement in 2003:

“We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
(http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/fmr-cia-deputy-director-grilled-on-iraq-war-447888451643)

 

 

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Bush and Cheney Misled the American Public

The question most deserving an answer, and increasingly posed by the populace at large: If George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and others in the administration, deliberately misled the public on false pretences, directly contradicted intelligence information through misrepresentation, and ultimately initiated a wholly illegal invasion of Iraq that led to the deaths of well over 1 million civilian, non-combatants. WHY have they not been charged with war crimes?

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-iraq-war-was-based-on-lies-top-bush-era-cia-official/5451817)

 

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Morrel (reporting direct to President Bush confirmed:

“What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community” had found. “I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war.” Which the administration had to do, considering no such case existed.

As a matter of fact, Cheney’s statement directly conflicts with what the NIE actually stated, which is that the intelligence community only found a “[lack of] persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.” Which is in line with the International Atomic Energy Agency report that came to the same conclusion: “[W]e have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program.”

(https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/statements/status-nuclear-inspections-iraq)

 

 

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REVEALED: The very cosy friendship between Iraq inquiry chief and Tony Blair – who knighted him after private meeting in London club

Sir John Chilcot met Tony Blair in 1997 when he was leader of Opposition

Blair and Chilcot had a clandestine encounter five months before Blair became prime minister

They worked closely together on the Northern Ireland peace process

Chilcot was then knighted by a grateful Blair into the Order of the Bath

When Blair first appeared before the Iraq inquiry five years ago, the chairman Sir John Chilcot treated him with almost painful deference.

This Report Provides Damming Evidence of a Westminster Fix (Carefully Constructed and Purposely Subjected to Extensive Delays)

Chilcot, a crumpled figure whose opening remarks lasted seven minutes, never laid a glove on Blair, even though the former prime minister gave evidence for more than six hours.

What few people know is that the bumbling Chilcot, a retired career civil servant, could, in fact, have greeted Blair as an old friend. The first time they met in 1997 — when Blair was still leader of the Opposition — was in a far more sedate environment. They dined together in the venerable Travellers Club in Pall Mall, where Chilcot is a member. The meeting was so discreet it would have remained a secret but for a single sentence in a 2008 book by Blair’s former Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, called Great Hatred, Little Room, Making Peace In Northern Ireland.

At the time of the meeting, John Chilcot was the most senior civil servant at the Northern Ireland Office. He had agreed to the clandestine encounter with Blair almost five months before the Labour leader became prime minister.

Civil servants often meet Opposition politicians for briefings in the run-up to elections, but they are usually held in Whitehall departments, where minutes are taken. Yet Chilcot had agreed to meet Blair in the club, which was founded in 1819 for ‘gentlemen who travelled abroad’, thereby ensuring it was not made public.

After Blair became prime minister, he worked closely with Chilcot on the Northern Ireland peace process, until the mandarin took early retirement at the end of 1997. Chilcot was then knighted by a grateful Blair into the Order of the Bath, the fourth most senior order of British chivalry.

But even after he retired from the Civil Service, Chilcot never really left the corridors of power — he has now worked in Whitehall for 50 years — taking on a series of roles on any number of public committees, often at the behest of the Blair administration.

When Lord Butler was asked to set up an inquiry in 2004 into the role of the intelligence services in the Iraq war, Blair chose the members of the inquiry’s five-strong committee. Surprise, surprise, Chilcot was one of the first people asked to serve on it by the Labour prime minister.

When it reported, the Butler inquiry was widely derided. Though it provided devastating evidence that Downing Street, with the collusion of intelligence chiefs, ‘sexed up’ the threat to the British people from Saddam Hussein before going to war, it concluded that no one should be held responsible. In short, it let Blair off the hook.

In 2009, when Gordon Brown appointed Chilcot to lead his own wide-ranging inquiry into the war, military leaders as well as senior lawyers and politicians were furious that it was to be held behind closed doors.

Major General Julian Thompson, who was highly decorated for his command of the Royal Marines in the Falklands, warned: ‘A report from a secret inquiry will look like a whitewash.’ The Tories forced — and lost — a Commons vote on who should make up the inquiry team, complaining they were ageing patsies who were not up to the job. Political pressure did, however, mean the inquiry was not held in secret.

There was genuine scepticism that Chilcot, a former civil servant who had spent his entire working life immersed in the machinery of government, had the temperament to ask the forensic questions necessary to unravel an Establishment cover-up over the war.

Philippe Sands, QC, who works at Matrix Chambers, the human rights firm set up by Cherie Blair, was one of the first to call into question the choice of Chilcot. Now professor of international law at University College, London, Mr Sands said: ‘It is not immediately apparent that he will have the backbone to take on former government ministers. ‘What was it about his role in the Butler inquiry that caused the prime minister to conclude he was suitable? Some who have worked closely with him, including on the Butler inquiry, fear he is not the right person. ‘Someone who has seen him first-hand described his approach as one of “obvious deference to governmental authority”.

This is a view I have heard repeated several times. More troubling is evidence I have seen for myself.’ Sands was not impressed by Chilcot’s questioning at the Butler inquiry of Lord Goldsmith, who was Attorney General at the time of the Iraq war and who, under pressure, had changed his original judgement that the war was illegal. He said: ‘Sir John’s spoon-fed questions give every impression of being designed to elicit a response from the Attorney General that would demonstrate the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.’

When it came to Chilcot’s own inquiry, held in a small cramped room in a grey conference centre in Westminster, there have been similar shortcomings — quite apart from the disgracefully protracted nature of the proceedings. According to former senior BBC journalist Rod Liddle, when former Washington ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer was before the panel he became utterly bored with ‘charming, learned and polite knighted people asking the gentlest of questions’.

Then there was the moment in 2011 — two years after the inquiry had begun — when John Chilcot turned up in the audience at the premiere of a play about the build-up to the Iraq war. It was written by Sarah Helm, whose partner is Jonathan Powell, the most important official in the Downing Street ‘kitchen Cabinet’ during the war.

In one scene, the actor playing Blair had a conversation with Sir Richard Dearlove, the then head of MI6, about intelligence issues relating to the war. Despite having interrogated Blair and Dearlove, Chilcot had never unearthed the existence of this particular conversation.

After seeing the play, he demanded more files from Whitehall, which confirmed it really had taken place. In truth, the play seems to have shed more light on the reasons Britain went to war than Chilcot’s blustering. He is, it is fair to say, a rather dry old stick.

Born in 1939, he was privately educated at £31,000-a-year Brighton College and then Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied English and modern and medieval languages. An avid reader, he claims to love learning new words and once said he would take The Oxford English Dictionary in 12 volumes as his reading matter to a desert island.

He married his wife Rosemary, an artist, in 1964. They have no children. The couple used to live in a £1.3 million farm in Haslemere, Surrey, but now divide their time between a £500,000 property in Somerset and a two-bedroom flat in Westminster bought without a mortgage in 2012 as the Chilcot inquiry was beginning to drag on.

After spells in a variety of posts in the Home Office and the Cabinet Office, he ended up at the Northern Ireland Office at the start of the peace process. Even though Tory Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke had opened a confidential dialogue with the IRA and Sinn Fein, Chilcot, a key figure in the talks, authorised a statement describing allegations in the media of negotiations with the IRA as a ‘fantasy’.

When a Sunday newspaper produced detailed evidence that the talks were at an advanced stage, he telephoned the editor to try to persuade him to put a ‘gloss’ on the news. Once asked what was his proudest achievement, Chilcot said: ‘Northern Ireland. Helping the transition from war to peace.’

After he left Belfast, Chilcot moved seamlessly into a series of government-appointed posts, chairing inquiries into the voting system and royal security, as well as into an IRA raid. Last week, it was reported he has been known to spend only seven or eight hours a week in his Westminster office on the Iraq inquiry. If true, it’s little wonder.

A fully paid-up member of the Establishment, he also finds time to chair the Advisory Committee of the Centre for Contemporary British History, he is a member of the Institute of Historical Research Advisory Council and is President of the Police Foundation, an independent think-tank. He’s chairman of the Building and Civil Engineering Group and a member of the National Archives Council. One Tory MP said: ‘He is serving on endless well-meaning committees and public bodies. So when does he have the time to do the Iraq work?’

With the costs of the inquiry soaring to £10 million plus, and Chilcot and his three fellow panel members earning a reputed £1.5 million from it, this lifelong mandarin has acquired a new nickname among civil servants. The codename for the initial British and American bombing raids on Iraq back in 2003 was ‘Shock And Awe’; they have dubbed Chilcot ‘block and bore’.

To be fair, Sir Christopher Meyer says Sir John Chilcot is a victim of the limited power of the inquiry’s terms of reference. ‘When Downing Street set up the inquiry into phone-hacking at newspapers it was a judicial inquiry led by a judge, Lord Justice Leveson,’ he said. ‘The Leveson inquiry had powers to compel witnesses to appear and to answer all questions put to them. Chilcot does not have that power. A judge should be running this inquiry, not a retired civil servant.’

Few of Chilcot’s former colleagues in Whitehall expect him to rock the boat when the report eventually comes out. ‘He is a safe pair of hands who is close to some of the key players in the inquiry. It’s why he got the job,’ says another diplomat. ‘He’s also 76 — not exactly a spring chicken — and is clearly slowing down.’

Chilcot, a private figure who eschews publicity, gave a rare interview in 2011 to The Old Brightonians, the magazine of his former school. Asked the most challenging parts of the job, he replied: ‘Keeping steady judgement when sailing through troubled waters.’ He was also pressed on what was the best advice he had ever been given. He replied: ‘Try your best at things you’re not good at.’ Hardly reassuring words for the families still waiting to hear why their loved ones died in the catastrophe that was the Iraq war. Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3198799/The-cosy-friendship-inquiry-chief-Tony-Blair.html#ixzz4WYpxe8WC

 

 

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Westminster legacy to Many of Scotland’s Soldiers and Veterans – After Nearly 20 Years of War is a Lifetime on Alcohol – Drugs – Homeless – Depression and Abuse – But Scots Look After Their Own

 

 

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The Armed Forces Covenant

An Enduring Covenant Between The People of the United Kingdom Her Majesty’s Government – and – All those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces of the Crown And their Families

The first duty of Government is the defence of the realm. Our Armed Forces fulfil that responsibility on behalf of the Government, sacrificing some civilian freedoms, facing danger and, sometimes, suffering serious injury or death as a result of their duty.

Families also play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of our Armed Forces. In return, the whole nation has a moral obligation to the members of the Naval Service, the Army and the Royal Air Force, together with their families. They deserve our respect and support, and fair treatment.

Those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether Regular or Reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.

This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the Armed Forces. Recognising those who have performed military duty unites the country and demonstrates the value of their contribution. This has no greater expression than in upholding this Covenant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Armed Forces of Scotland

This blog is a follow up to information I posted around 18 months ago. The purpose of my writing is to give readers a reminder of the “Forces Covenant” between government and the Armed Forces passed into statute by Westminster.

The legislation requires that high priority should be given to providing first class welfare, housing, medical, and psychiatric care to our young men and women, casualties of wars (in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres of conflict) to which they were deployed and their families that suffered so much at the hands of Labour and Tory politicians in the last 25 years. In one year only (2015) did our Armed Forces report a nil fatality at the hands of enemy forces.

My observations of newsworthy events relating to the care of ex-service personnel (veterans), casualties left with horrendous disabilities and families disadvantaged  by poor housing, long periods of unnecessary separation (in the 18 months since I last wrote to the subject) is that the government is not honouring the “Forces Covenant.”

Many serving soldiers, veterans and casualties are disillusioned and stressed by combat and separation from their families and need help but in the macho environment of the forces the weak are shunned. So bravado rules and many turn first to alcohol, progressing to recreational then hard drugs attempting to erase debilitating memories and weariness. And, if/when identified as drug takers (albeit weekender users only) they are castigated and discharged from the forces with the stigma of shame attached to their service record.

Dumped onto the scrapheap their future is hardly full of promise and correctional care systems need to be put in place so that highly trained young men can be rehabilitated and returned to duty. Hells teeth!!!! the military commanders created the problems and are honour bound to care for service personnel.

The other matter needing addressed is the number of forces personnel required to fulfil their duties of protecting their country. The last formal review of requirements in Scotland (by a cross party group) Indicated the Army in Scotland should comprise 8 regular battalions of 650 pers = 5200.

The numbers of front-line soldiers have been reduced by successive governments (attempting to save money.) Such policies cannot be justified given the number of senior military and civil service staff serving out their time in highly paid jobs in Whitehall. Establishment numbers in Whitehall were established in the reign of Queen Victoria!!!!  A cull in that place would release many millions of pounds to the Ministry of Defence and allow an expansion of  the infantry in Scotland.

At the time of writing  the Royal Regiment of Scotland (RRS) comprises 4 battalions of around 550 = 2200. Recruitment and retention is poor with result that rotation to operational duty is well beyond that which is acceptable (see General Dannatt’s memo). So nothing changes. The infantry is still being flogged.

https://caltonjock.com/2015/03/01/heros-or-cannon-fodder-valued-or-abused-easy-living-or-overstretched-reduce-or-increase-political-playthings-or-saviours-of-the-nation/

 

 

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The Royal Regiment of Scotland

The Regiment was formed in 2006, as part of a reduction in Army strength following a strategic review of armed forces commitments by the Labour Government.

Scottish soldiers on active service in Afghanistan were issued with their redundancy notices and were advised of changes in Regimental configurations. A body blow to the Regimental system nurtured by Scotland for 300 years and more. New Regiments were formed each with a reduced establishment size reflecting the new, much smaller British Army. At a time when the workload of the army was intolerable. Gordon Brown even reduced the post of Defence Secretary to part -time. The new Regiments and their operational deployment comprise:

1 Scots (Royal Scots and Kings Own Scottish Borderers): Operational Deployment Iraq 2006 and Afghanistan 2012. One Company (140 pers) deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan 2015. In a four month tour of duty, they will provide protection to NATO advisers mentoring several Afghan Security institutions critical to Afghanistan’s future.

2 Scots (Royal Highland Fusiliers): Completed two operational tours Iraq (2005) and twice to Afghanistan (2008 2015) In Kabul, Deployed to Afghanistan in 2015 supporting the training of the Afghan National Army, and protection of Kabul Security Forces and UK and NATO personnel in the city.

3 Scots (Black Watch): Completed two operational tours in Iraq (2003 2004) and two tours in Afghanistan.

4 Scots. (Queens Own Highlanders and Gordon Highlanders): Deployed twice to Iraq (2005 and 2008) and three times to Afghanistan (2008 with one company, 2011 and 2014). The regiment was the last Scottish Battalion to deploy on combat operations to Afghanistan, protecting the Battle-group Headquarters and training the Afghan National Army.

5 Scots (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders): Completed operational tour of Balkans 2005 and Afghanistan 2008. Currently deployed with 2 SCOTS In Kabul, Afghanistan supporting the training of the Afghan National Army, and protection of Kabul Security Forces and UK and NATO personnel in the city.

 

 

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Recruitment and Retention
The Regiment should have five battalions of 500 to 600 men, (3000 personnel) but recruitment went into sharp decline around 2006 resulting in a significant shortfall from which the regiment has not recovered.

 

 

Image result for 2 scots afghanistan and iraqGeneral Dannatt

 
This is a summary of General Dannatt’s (Chief of the General Staff) Warning to Gordon Brown That Reinforcements For Operations in Iraq or Afghanistan Were ‘Now Almost Non-Existent’

The head of the Army has issued a dire warning that Britain has almost run out of troops to defend the country or fight abroad, a secret document has revealed.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt has told senior commanders that reinforcements for emergencies or for operations in Iraq or Afghanistan are “now almost non-existent”.

In the memorandum to fellow defence leaders, the Chief of the General Staff (CGS) confessed that “we now have almost no capability to react to the unexpected”.

The “undermanned” Army now has all its units committed to either training for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, on leave or on operations. There is just one battalion of 500 troops, called the Spearhead Lead Element, available to be used in an emergency, such as a major domestic terrorist attack or a rapid deployment overseas.

Gen Dannatt’s comments will come as the first serious test of Gordon Brown’s policy on defence. The new Prime Minister has already faced anger over the decision to give Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, the additional part-time role of Scottish Secretary with Tories labelling the move “an insult to our Armed Forces.”

Military leaders have privately suggested that a defence review is essential to examine if more money, equipment and troops are needed. With Britain’s military reserve locker virtually empty, further pressure will mount on President George W Bush to review US troop levels in Iraq after fellow Republicans suggesting significant withdrawals. It also comes at a time when more forces are needed to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said the lack of reserves was “an appalling situation and damning indictment” of the way the Government handled the Services. “They are being asked to carry out tasks for which they are neither funded or equipped for. There is an urgent need to review our strategic approach because we cannot continue over-stretching our Forces.”

The document said that Britain’s second back-up unit, called the Airborne Task Force formed around the Parachute Regiment, was unavailable. It was unable to fully deploy “due to shortages in manpower, equipment and stocks”.

Most of the Paras’ vehicles and weapons have stayed in Afghanistan with other units using them in intense battles against the Taliban. Parachute Regiment officers are deeply concerned that with nearly all their equipment abroad they are unable to train properly for future operations.

The Paras also no longer have the ability to parachute as a 600-strong battalion because no RAF planes were available to drop then en-masse, the document said. The situation was unlikely to be resolved until late August.

With the Army significantly under-strength by 3,500 troops – many disillusioned with being constantly on dangerous operations and away from their families – it is now struggling to plug the gaps on the front-line. “The enduring nature and scale of current operations continues to stretch people,” Gen Dannatt wrote.

The Army now needed to “augment” 2,500 troops from other units onto operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring up the total force to 13,000 required. This remained “far higher than we ever assumed,” the CGS said. “When this is combined with the effects of under-manning (principally in the infantry and Royal Artillery) and the pace of training support needed to prepare units for operations, the tempo of life in the Field Army is intense.”

The Army has also been forced to call up almost 1,000 Territorial Army soldiers for overseas operations. The general’s concerns came after three RAF personnel were killed in a mortar or rocket attack on the main British headquarters five miles outside Basra bringing the total dead in Iraq to 162.

With the main force pulling out of Basra city to the air station in the coming months there is concern of increased attacks on the large base where some troops are forced to live in tented accommodation.

A lack of vehicles meant that “training is significantly constrained”. Gen Dannatt was also “concerned” that some equipment, particularly Scimitar light tanks that are vital to fighting in Afghanistan but are 40 years old, “may be at the edge of their sustainability”.

More needed to be done on housing and pay in order to retained troops because “people are more likely to stay if we look after them properly”.

The pressure on numbers was partially being alleviated by bringing in civilian firms to train soldiers and guard bases and by “adopting a pragmatic approach to risk where possible”. While the current situation was “manageable” Gen Dannatt was “very concerned about the longer term implications of the impact of this level of operations on our people, equipment and future operational capability”.

It is not the first time Gen Dannatt has raised concerns on Britain’s fighting ability. A few weeks into his job last year, Sir Richard said the military was “running hot” and urged for a national debate on defence. The plain-speaking officer later suggested that the British presence in Iraq was “exacerbating the security problems” and warned that the Army would “break” if it was kept there too long.

Gen Dannatt, who said manning was “critical” in the Army, called for extra infantry units earlier this month following the devastating cuts inflicted by his predecessor Gen Sir Mike Jackson which saw four battalions axed.

“General Dannatt’s appraisal means that we are unable to intervene if there is an emergency in Britain or elsewhere, that’s self-evident,” a senior officer said. “But this is a direct result of the decision to go into Afghanistan on the assumption that Iraq would diminish simultaneously. We are now reaping the reward of that assumption.”

 

 

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8 February 2016: UK Labour Government Gambled With Armed Forces Mental Health Over Iraq & Afghanistan – Chilcot Report Reveals

Multiple wars fought at the same time saw the British government risking soldiers mental health by ignoring their own guidelines on repeated, back-to-back deployments. The report found that so-called ‘harmony guidelines’ were ignored or broken due to the heightened operational tempo of fighting two parallel wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report found that: “The government’s decision to contribute a military force to a US-led invasion of Iraq inevitably increased the risk that more service personnel would be put in breach of the harmony guidelines. The issue of the potential pressure on service personnel was not a consideration in the decision.”

The 2006 deployment to Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan merely compounded the impact on troops, it was found, with further breaches of the guidelines taking place. Figures now show that thousands of troops were placed at breaking point in the course of the wars.

In 2004 alone the rules were broken for as much as 18 percent of the 28,000 army troops fighting in Iraq. That is the health and well-being of an estimated 5,000 troops being violated by their political masters (the Labour government.) and the guidelines continued to be ignored throughout the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. RAF personnel were also abused by the UK government who broke the rules for between 2 and 10 percent of the 7,000 airmen it deployed between 2002 and 2009.

The rules had previously been put in place by statute to protect service personnel from the excesses of politicians who were warned by expert witnesses that evidence indicated that compliance ensured service personnel did not suffer but breaching them would endanger the health of service personnel incurring a 20 -50 percent chance that they will suffer in terms of PTSD.

In the last 5 years there has been an epidemic of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In March 2016 it was reported that desperate calls to a helpline used by serving and former military personnel had surged by 85 percent.

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) advised that many callers have problems with mental health, work, housing and relationships. The charity said the rise reflected the stress military personnel and their families are under.

A February report by MoD Statistics claimed more than 10,000 physical wounds were sustained by British military personnel during the Afghan war and that psychological injury remains rife among UK veterans who have returned home. 

 ” https://www.rt.com/uk/350167-troops-mental-health-risked/”

 

 

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Killed and Wounded – British Casualties – Iraq (2003-2009)

Fatalities: 179

Very-Seriously Injured: 73

Seriously Injured:149

Field-Hospital Admissions: 3,598

Aero-medical evacuations: 1,971

Totals: 5,970

http://www.casualty-monitor.org/p/iraq.html”

 

 

Image result for scottish soldiers casualties images179 Fatalities of the Iraq War
Killed or Wounded – Afghanistan (2002-2015)

Fatalities: As at 24 July 2015 there were 454 fatalities of British Forces personnel including Ministry of Defence (MoD) civilians.

The vast majority of fatalities occurred in consequence of the deployment of British forces to the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province.The Army incurred the heaviest losses, with 362 fatalities as of 1 May 2013. Typically those killed were aged between 20 and 29.

 

 

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Casualties: In the period 1 January 2006 to 31 March 2013 centrally available records show that:

2,116 UK military and civilian personnel were admitted to UK Field Hospitals and categorised as Wounded in Action, including as a result of hostile action.

4,529 UK military and civilian personnel were admitted to UK Field Hospitals for disease or non-battle injuries.

293 UK personnel were categorised as Very Seriously Injured from all causes excluding disease.

298 UK personnel were categorised as Seriously Injured from all causes excluding disease.

6,663 UK personnel were aeromedically evacuated from Afghanistan on medical grounds.
http://www.casualty-monitor.org/p/british-casualties-in-afghanistan.html”

 

 

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Soldiers of 3 SCOTS (The Black Watch) and 1 PWRR prepare a fellow soldier for an inbound MEDEVAC helicopter. Private Stephen Bainbridge, aged 25, from Kirkcaldy who was gravely wounded after an IED explosion traumatically amputated his right leg and damaged his left so badly that it too later had to be amputated. His life was saved by the swift actions of Cpl John Goodie (21) a medic with 1 PWRR (The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment) who applied tourniquets and first field dressings to get the bleeding under control. Private Chis Watson (21) also assisted in the treatment whilst reassuring the casualty and keeping him alert and responsive. Once safely on board the helicopter he was rushed to surgery at Bastion Field Hospital. Loya Manda, Nad e Ali, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on the 11th of November 2011.
Drug Abuse in the British Armed Forces: 2016
It has been revealed that nearly 1,000 members of the UK Armed Forces were busted for using illegal drugs in 2016, a year-on-year leap of almost a third.

In all, the figures, obtained via freedom of information laws, equate to roughly three service people testing positive for illicit substances such as illegal steroids, cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy on a daily basis:

The Navy: Offenders increased from 30 to 50.

The Royal Air Force: Offenders increased from 40 to 80.

The Army: Offenders increased from 570 to 730. (more individuals than make up an entire infantry regiment.

The Royal Regiment of Scotland had 90 failures.

The Royal Engineers had 110 failures.

The Foot Guards, Based in London (completing ceremonial duties at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle) were among the worst with 80 offenders.

In September 2016, mobile phone footage emerged of a major and a captain from the Coldstream Guards snorting cocaine off a ceremonial sword. The men were identified as Major James Coleby, a decorated Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran who had previously escorted French President Francois Hollande on a troop inspection, and Captain Alex Ritchie.

The UK armed forces claims to have a zero-tolerance policy in respect of illegal drug use, with any personnel caught taking drugs subject to immediate discharge,

But 2015’s figures indicate a shortfall in the number of dishonourable discharges versus the amount of drug offences detected. It’s unclear whether disciplinary hearings in the other cases are yet to begin, are ongoing, or whether mitigating circumstances prevented offenders from being sacked.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson is reported to have said that compulsory drug tests were regularly conducted, and only around 0.3 percent of the UK Armed Forces failed them.

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201701171049681336-uk-army-drug-use/”

 

 

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There is Growing Concern Over the Ever Increasing Numbers of Serving Personnel and Veterans Presenting with PTSD and Other Health Issues and  Assistance Should be Provided to Young Scottish Men and Women of Our Armed Forces Presenting With Problems

 

Alcohol Abuse in the Armed Forces

Alcohol abuse is an inescapable reality for many who serve in the armed forces. The prevalence of alcohol in the military, with its associated rituals and camaraderie, is well known. Overall alcohol is used and abused more frequently and in higher doses than in civilian life and this amplifies its negative effects both for men and women. These include drunkenness, fighting and abuse, poisoning, injury, hangovers, dependency and addiction. A service member who has a drinking problem is a major cause of concern in the military. The armed forces loses good and well-trained troops to the effects of alcohol abuse.

 

Drug Abuse in the Armed Forces

The use of illegal drugs is a very serious offence for anyone serving in the armed forces – as there is often a zero tolerance approach, but illegal drug abuse still accounts for a high number of discharges from the military . The growing use of legal highs and the illegal use of prescription drugs is of increasing concern to military health chiefs.

 

Prescription drugs

There have been huge increases in prescription drug use and abuse within the military in recent years. Anti-depressants, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety are all routinely prescribed, and in some cases troops have to be trusted to self-regulate their intake for months at a time. Prescription drug abuse almost tripled between 2005 and 2008 . Suicide rates in the military and amongst veterans is a growing .

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Military

The nature of military life is closely linked to traumatic episodes. These traumatic episodes need to be processed and dealt with internally by individuals. However, the nature of combat duty, or the routine and duties of a military lifestyle, can often lead to these issues being avoided. This in turn can lead to problems of isolation, depression and severe anxiety, which overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope. These symptoms will often develop over time, and if they persist then a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is likely. Spontaneous recovery from PTSD is possible, but for a significant proportion, the disorder becomes chronic and needs specialist treatment.

 

Addiction & P.T.S.D.

The link between alcohol or drug abuse and trauma is very close. Before attempting to treat a patient with PTSD, their drinking habits should be known by their clinician, as trauma cannot be processed by individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It is also true that when assessing a serviceman or woman for addictive disease, their clinician will often need to assess them for trauma too.

 

Veterans

A veteran soldier returning to civilian life with a drinking problem is a major concern for the family, community and society. Statistics are lacking in the UK because of the poor tracking of veterans. but it is calculated from other data that approximately 60% of armed forces veterans will be discharged with a substance abuse problem. The higher proportion of substance abuse among veterans can be understood in terms of the nature of addictive disease and PTSD which can take years to develop. Also the difficulties associated with moving back into civilian life can compound these problems – in particular a sense of isolation. http://www.castlecraig.co.uk/resources/addiction/addiction-military-army-veterans

 

Mental health disorders

The number of cases in the British armed forces has increased by almost 80 percent since 2007. Women serving in the UK armed forces have been diagnosed with mental health disorders twice as often as men in 2015-2016. The report also revealed that neurotic disorders were the most common mental disorders among UK military personnel. “https://sputniknews.com/europe/201606171041516217-uk-mental-disorder-army/”

 

 

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Potentially More Oil Than Saudi Arabia – Scottish Continental Shelf Gives Up Its Secrets – Westminster Frittered Away the Revenue Last Time – Independence Is The Answer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil Finds In the Scottish Continental Shelf –  Billions of Barrels to be Recovered From Fields Off the Shetlands

Only with independence will Scotland benefit from the abundance of oil yet to be recovered from the Scottish Continental Shelf. Delays will only benefit the UK Treasury to the detriment of Scotland as was the case with the North Sea oil. It is important the the Scottish electorate does not believe the negative hype of the Westminster based and directed media outlets.Potentially more oil in these few fields than there is left in Saudi Arabia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Energy

Hurricane is an oil and gas company focused on hydrocarbon resources in naturally fractured basement reservoirs. The Company’s focus is to discover, appraise and develop oil reserves in basement rock.

Hurricane has already successfully discovered substantial volumes of oil on the UKCS. The Company has 444-470 mmboe of 2C Contingent Resources and 432-442 mmboe of P50 Prospective Resources on acreage it controls 100%.

The company was founded in 2005 by Dr Robert Trice with the help and encouragement of a private investor, in the belief that fractured basement reservoirs represent a significant untapped resource. Beginning with just a few highly expert staff, Hurricane gradually established a team of specialists with the skills, experience and determination to locate and develop this resource potential.

Through successful participation in a series of UK licensing rounds it has built a portfolio which includes third party verified Contingent Resources, ready to drill prospects and exploration leads.

In a short time Hurricane energy has achieved a great deal. During 2009 and 2010, the average size of oil discovery within the UK Continental Shelf was 20-23 million barrels.

In the same period, Hurricane discovered around 200 million barrels, twice ( figures extracted from an independently produced Competent Person’s Report (CPR). Since inception, Hurricane energy company has identified basement prospects, discovered oil and, most importantly, validated its model for basement exploration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Halifax Field
Seismic interpretation indicates the presence of a well-defined fault network within the fractured basement of the Halifax Prospect, analogous to that seen in Lancaster. Encouragingly, a previous well drilled on the Halifax structure encountered oil and gas shows in sandstones immediately above the basement. In addition, Hurricane’s analysis of basement cuttings indicates the presence of oil thus mitigating the oil charge risk to the Halifax Prospect.

The recently drilled Lancaster Pilot indicated that the Lancaster oil accumulation is likely to extend beyond the Lancaster licence boundary. The Company believes that if mobile oil can be demonstrated outside of local structural closure at Halifax, then the Lancaster Field could extend further North East along the Rona Ridge.

Recognising this, Hurricane has identified a well location on Halifax and acquired a site survey over the prospective well location in preparation for the drilling of an exploration well. On the basis that permits can be obtained in time, Hurricane intends to drill the Halifax Well immediately following the Lincoln Well.

Below is a 3D depth surface of the Halifax prospect indicating its position on the Rona Ridge in relationship to the Lancaster field and the Westray Transfer Zone. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/HalifaxBasementProspect/

 

 

Halifax Field

 

 

 

 

 
The Lincoln Field
The Lincoln basement prospect is geologically similar to the nearby Lancaster structure. Seismic interpretation indicates the likely presence of fracturing within the basement and, encouragingly, a previous well drilled on the down-dip flank of the Lincoln structure found oil in sandstones immediately above the basement, thus mitigating the oil charge risk to the prospect. Traces of oil were also noted in the short interval of basement that was drilled below the oil bearing sandstones.

Given its proximity to Lancaster (approximately 7kms) and its resource potential (150 mmbo) Lincoln is an attractive prospect that could deliver significant incremental value via tie-back to a Lancaster development hub. Recognising this, we have already identified a well location on Lincoln and acquired a site survey over the site in preparation for drilling an exploration well, the timing of which will be influenced by the results of the Lancaster appraisal drilling programme. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/LincolnBasementProspect/

 

 

Lincoln Field

 

 

 

 

 
The Lancaster Field
Located in relatively shallow water depths of 160 metres, Lancaster was the first basement prospect drilled by Hurricane and proved to be a significant discovery. The results of the drilling also indicated that significant upside potential could exist within Lancaster as oil shows were encountered at depth within the basement.

The Competent Person’s Report (CPR) assigns 207 MMboe of 2C Contingent Resources to Lancaster and concludes that individual well flow rates up to 8000 bopd are achievable from the basement. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/LancasterBasementDiscovery/

 

 

                               

                                                                                                                                                          The red line represents the depth from which the 1C Contingent Resource is based

                                                                                                                                                          The second line in orange represents the 2C case for Lancaster at 207 million barrels.

                                                                                                                                                          The third line in green represents the 3C case, some 456 million barrels.

   Lancaster Field                          

 

 

 

 
The Whirlwind Field

Whirlwind is mapped as a large (approximately 33 km2) basement structure that is approximately 2000 metres deeper than Lancaster, although it is likely to be charged from the same source. Whirlwind was drilled during 2010 . The well flowed light oil/gas-condensate from an open hole test conducted over Lower Cretaceous limestone. The CPR has assigned 2C Contingent Resources of 205 MMboe (oil case) or 179 MMboe (gas –condensate case) to Whirlwind. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/WhirlwindBasementDiscovery/

 

 

 

Whirlwind Field

 

 

 

The Strathmore Field

Strathmore is an undeveloped oil field first discovered in 1990. Strathmore is a sandstone reservoir, not a fractured basement. The field contains oil in Triassic-aged sandstones. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/StrathmoreSandstoneDiscovery/

 

 

Cored interval of oil-stained Triassic-aged fluvial sandstones from Strathmore discovery well 205/26a-3 

Strathmore Field

 

 

 

 
The Typhoon Field

Typhoon is primarily a basement prospect but also offers potential in overlying Jurassic sandstones. Previous drilling during the 1980s on Typhoon resulted in heavy oil being discovered in both the basement and the Jurassic sandstones. A subsequent well deep on the flank of the structure encountered oil in the basement indicative of a light oil charge. These previously drilled wells lead Hurricane to believe that significant volumes of lighter oil could be present deeper within the prospect, as a flank accumulation. The 2011 CPR has assigned unrisked P50 Prospective Resources of 149 MMboe to Typhoon and 1,266 MMboe for the P10 volume acknowledging the material. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/TyphoonBasementProspect/

 

 

 

Typhoon Field

 

 

 

 
The Warwick Field
The Warwick basement prospect is geologically similar to the nearby Lancaster and Lincoln structures. Seismic interpretation indicates the presence of faulting within the basement and, by inference from Lancaster, an associated fracture network is expected to be present. Given its proximity to Lancaster, Warwick is an attractive prospect that could deliver significant incremental value via tie-back to a Lancaster development hub.

Recognising this, Hurricane intends to undertake further fault mapping and volumetric assessment, with the objective of locating a Warwick drill location. Drilling of Warwick is expected to be aligned with progress on the Lancaster Early Production System. https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/WarwickBasementProspect/

 

 

Warwick Field

 

 
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Operations/HurricaneAssets/LincolnBasementProspect/
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Communications/RegulatoryNewsService/”
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Company/Ourstory/”
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Communications/Glossary/”
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/Communications/Presentations/”
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/assets/Documents/CorporatePresentation1Q2017.pdf?1483986577”
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/assets/Documents/ConceptualisingnewInfrastructureHubWoSPDF2.pdf?1445336331”
https://www.hurricaneenergy.com/assets/Documents/PGC30Sep15PDFnospeakernotes.pdf?1445335372”

 

 

 

Hurricane Energy Potential Oil Recovery Scottish Continental Shield

 

 

 

 

Obama and the Democrats Beat their Chests In Anguish Claiming- Without Supporting Evidence that Putin Fixed the Election in Favour of Trump – But Obama Fixed the Scottish Referendum in Favour of the No Campaign – Just Reward

 

 

 

 

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Donald Trump Under Fire From the Democratic Party, Actors and Other Bleeding Hearts 

Congressman John Lewis, a Democrat, said on Friday he would not attend the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America on the grounds that he did not see the Republican as a legitimate president. He said: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of (Democrat) Hillary Clinton.”

Donald Trump responded in tweets on Saturday: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (crime and unemployment rates are higher than national average) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad.

Politicians, entertainers and others opted to attack Donald Trump in defence of the US civil rights campaigner! But Lewis had attacked Donald Trump (seeking to have him impeached for an unspecified and unproven offence) in his position a Democratic Party Senator and his US civil rights activities (which had no relevance to the election of Mr Trump) occurred nearly 50 years ago.

The foregoing events should also be set against the conduct of Sir Jeremy Heywood and his cohort of Civil Servants, President Obama and his re-election team, David Cameron and the Tory party, the Labour party, the Liberal Democrat Party, the Better Together Campaign team, the Queen, Heads of State worldwide and many others roped into many unsavoury, despicable and downright dishonest plots against Scottish Independence.

The content of this blog should be retained for reference in any future Scottish Independence Campaign. No-politician of any note came to the defence of Scotland at its time of need.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38623881”

 

 

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Scottish Independence Referendum – The Unsettled Will Of The Scot’s – The Inside Story Of The Unionist’s Campaign Of Fear

Early 2014, the “No” camp lead narrowed and pro-union politicians prepared what they hoped would be a fatal blow to Salmond’s plans. In a conference room in Edinburgh on February 13 Chancellor Osborne ruled out a post-independence currency union thinking that he had exposed the biggest weakness in the SNP’s economic case – its claim Scotland would continue to use the pound. Osborne was backed by the leaders of all three main UK parties – and given unprecedented (illegal) public support by Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the Treasury’s top civil servant.

The assault, delivered by a Conservative chancellor deeply unpopular in Scotland, had mixed results. The SNP dismissed it as bullying and bluff – and polls showed many voters in Scotland agreed. But Osborne insisted he was right and that a “No” vote would vindicate his strategy of highlighting the risks of independence. “It’s a No campaign, so of course it’s going to be negative,” the Chancellor said.

Meanwhile the Yes campaign was developing into a grass-roots movement far more energetic and organic than “Better Together” could muster. SNP strategists were building on the databases and tactics that had delivered the 2011 landslide. Their strategy aimed to first persuade voters that Scotland could be independent, next that it should be, and finally that it must be.

Still, Westminster was untroubled. Some months before, Cameron had dinner with a senior business figure. Of all the things in his prime ministerial in-tray, the business figure recalls Cameron saying, Scotland was “the least of his worries”. So Cameron and Osborne departed for their summer holidays in August 2014 in a confident mood. Osborne was heard to remark breezily to colleagues that he would “take 60-40” as a final result.

Polling advice also suggested the “No” lead was solid and backed up his bold conviction that the “Better Together” focus on the drawbacks of independence rather than the benefits of union was working to stop wavering voters following their emotions and voting Yes.

But public opinion was turning toward “Yes.” Some credited Salmond’s strong performance, in a second televised debate against Alistair Darling, former UK chancellor and Better Together leader. There he warded off challenges on currency and scathingly portrayed Darling as being “in bed with the Tories”, and the National Health Service as under threat from continued union.

By the weekend of September 6-7 there was panic inside Number 10, while Cameron was obliged to leave London with a knot in his stomach to stay with the Queen at Balmoral.

Douglas Alexander and Danny Alexander – the Treasury minister overseeing the Lib Dem campaign – reported that the momentum to “Yes” might become unstoppable and indeed a YouGov poll put the “Yes” side ahead. “We knew a poll was coming which would give the “Yes” side a lead – it turned out to be YouGov in the Sunday Times. We were at a point where we had to reframe the campaign,” Douglas Alexander said later.

Frantic discussions took place over that weekend between “the two Alexanders” and Andrew Dunlop, who by now were the principal players in the fight to save the union. Dunlop hit the phones to try to corral a business onslaught, joined by Danny Alexander and Alistair Darling. By Wednesday a trickle of companies led by Shell and BP were speaking out; by Thursday there was a torrent.

Cameron himself turned up the heat on business leaders to intervene in the debate, hosting a reception on September 8 in Downing St. “He left us in no doubt we should speak out,” said one chief executive who attended. The prime minister was also hitting the phones. “Those phone calls can be very persuasive,” said one business figure familiar with the operation. The result was a wave of business opposition to independence, with companies such as Aviva and Prudential coming out to bat on the prime minister’s behalf, although a few – including J Sainsbury, National Grid and Tesco – could not be persuaded.

On the Thursday before the Referendum five Scottish-based banks were pressurised to say they would move their registered headquarters south if there was a “Yes” vote. But the orchestrated campaign also risked fuelling Scottish resentment of Westminster. Salmond loudly protested against Downing St “scaremongering” and blamed a hostile BBC for playing along.

Even the Queen joined the fray, her media advisers orchestrating a “chance remark” to a churchgoer near Balmoral that Scottish voters should “think very carefully about the future”. Buckingham Palace said she was strictly neutral but royal watchers had little doubt about the Queen’s concerns about the breakdown of the union, despite Salmond saying he looked forward to her becoming Queen of Scots.

The fightback also had a new public face: Gordon Brown. The former Labour prime minister had been on the fringes of the “No” campaign for months, but his refusal to work with the Tories and tense relations with Alistair Darling, meant that he often operated alone. Now he was brought centre stage, making the “positive case” for a “No” vote: promising a swift transfer of new powers to the Scottish parliament to demonstrate to wavering Labour voters that a No vote did not mean “no change”. The combination of economic scare stories and promises of future power seemed to work, while it proved harder than independence campaigners had hoped to mobilise the disaffected urban population.

By the last days of the campaign, pro-union leaders were increasingly confident they could hold the line. On Friday morning they were shown to be right. The victory when it came was clear. But by voting for independence, 1.6m Scots graphically demonstrated the depth of popular discontent with Westminster rule. For pro-union politicians the two-year campaign race ended not in a triumphant last lap but a panicky late sprint over the winning line. This was far from the emphatic reaffirmation of union they had expected.

Culled from Financial Times http://www.punchng.com/politics/scotland-how-britain-nearly-lost-a-united-kingdom/

 

 

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October 24 2014: Revealed: Treasury’s RBS email leak came from Westminster ‘referendum dirty tricks’ department

The UK Treasury stands accused of running a, “political dirty tricks department” spinning against Scottish independence, after it emerged sensitive information about Royal Bank of Scotland plans to leave the country in the event of a “Yes” vote was leaked by a civil servant in charge of, “referendum communications” within the department. The email, sent to journalists the week before the referendum, stated RBS had plans to move its base to London in the event of independence, triggering headlines viewed as a blow to the “Yes” campaign.

But the memo had been circulated whilst the matter was still being discussed by the RBS board at a closed meeting, and many hours before the bank had made a statement to the financial markets A severe breach of stock market trading rules.

First Minister Alex Salmond demanded a criminal investigation into the matter, while Edinburgh financier and Independent Midlothian councillor Peter de Vink, an RBS shareholder, also asked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and police to investigate. The Sunday Herald obtained a copy of the email, which showed it was sent by a civil servant the head of Scottish Referendum Communications at the Treasury. City of London Police were tasked to investigate the complaint by de Vink and were in the process of contacting, “relevant individuals and organizations”.

SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie MP said the fact the email had been sent by the head of Scottish Referendum Communications was an, “extraordinary revelation”. He added “The previous claims by the Cabinet Secretary (Sir Jeremy Heywood) that the Treasury was, “promoting financial stability” in revealing RBS plans has been totally blown apart by the revelation that it was actually a pro-active email from an official in a so-called, “Scottish Referendum unit” and released while the RBS board was still in session. The London Treasury employed and deployed civil servants in a political dirty tricks department which operated throughout the referendum campaign.

The Treasury email was sent to journalists at 10.16pm on September 10, around 25 minutes before the RBS board meeting on the issue had finished. It contained a response to a statement issued by Lloyds Banking Group which stated it had contingency plans to establish “new legal entities” in England in the event of a “Yes” vote. But it also contained a quote from a “Treasury source” which said: “As you would expect, RBS have also been in touch with us and have similar plans to base themselves in London.” The following day, RBS issued a statement to the markets which confirmed its intention to, “re-domicile” in the event of a Yes vote, but added it would intend to retain a, “significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland”.

RBS chief Ross McEwan also issued a letter to staff in the morning saying the business was based in Scotland because of the, “skills and knowledge of our people, and the sound business environment”. It added, “So far, I see no reason why this would change should we implement our contingency plans … I know many of you will have already heard about this first in the media. My apologies for that, on this occasion this was unavoidable.”

Heywood, head of the civil service, subsequently rejected demands by Salmond that the matter be investigated. He stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source as stating that the bank would follow Lloyds in its plans to move its registered HQ out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.

In a response to Salmond, he claimed it was, “simply a confirmation of the Treasury’s understanding of RBS’ contingency planning”. He added, “The Treasury judged that it was important to set this out – at a time when the UK financial markets were closed – given their overarching responsibility for maintaining financial stability in the UK.”

Salmond subsequently wrote to the head of the FCA, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and the Commissioner of Police for the City of London urging action over the alleged leaking of market-sensitive information. He stated the grounds for his belief a criminal offence may have been committed, including that decisions of such a substantial nature should be a matter for the bank to report “openly and transparently” to markets; and that there had been improper disclosure of market-sensitive information, which is “tantamount to insider dealing”. He also raised concerns the action by the Treasury would have potentially created uncertainty if its information had differed from the position taken by the RBS board when its meeting had concluded.

De Vink, who filed complaints on the potential leaking of market sensitive information two days after the Treasury email was sent, said he has now been contacted by City of London Police and invited to attend an interview next month. He said: “They have asked would you come in and talk to us, which is what I am going to do in November. “I told them while it is a political issue, that doesn’t take away that what happened was absolutely unacceptable.” De Vink also criticised the FCA for a lack of response, describing its attitude as “lackadaisical”. “I find it incredible that these things are allowed to happen,” he added, “If anyone else would have done that they would have had the book thrown at them and quite understandably.”

The Sunday Herald asked the FCA if the complaints were being investigated. A spokeswoman said it was unable to comment on individual complaints. A spokesman for City of London Police confirmed it had received the letter from de Vink and added: “We are now speaking to the relevant individuals and organisations.” The Treasury claimed the person who sent the email was a “junior civil servant”, despite his position as head of Scottish Referendum Communications.

In a previous role he was press officer to former financial secretary to the Treasury, Greg Clark. The Treasury also refused to give any details of who approved the email being sent out. Last night, a spokesman for the Treasury said: “As is a matter of public record, the Cabinet Secretary has written to the former [sic] First Minister on this matter, and rejected any suggestion of improper actions by civil servants.”

Jim McKay commented. Heywood stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source. He must have reference for that report? Newspaper, date and edition. And what RBS source? Smoke and mirrors. He’s lying.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/revealed-treasurys-rbs-email-leak-came-from-westminster-referendum-dirty-tricks-depar.25688878

 

 

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December 16-2014; Westminster Civil Service, “Devolved Countries Unit”, (Dirty Tricks) campaign team wins “special” Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award

The award, in recognition of the team’s outstanding achievement in making a difference on an issue of national significance, (the Referendum) was presented by the ”Cabinet Secretary and civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood.”  The proud team commented afterwards;
Paul Doyle; “This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda. The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”
William MacFarlane, Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy); “As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”
Shannon Cochrane; “we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.
Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Public Policy); “In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall. We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in. After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/hm-treasury-team-wins-special-civil-service-award”

Comment; Any mention of the team members in the New Year honours list would be the ultimate kick in the teeth. Civil Servants are supposed to be strictly apolitical and deployment to duties such as described is illegal. But Sir Jeremy Heywood simply ignores the rules and does as he wishes without challenge.

 

 

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President Obama and New Labour Media Campaigns Contractors “Blue State Digital” Awarded Exclusive Media Strategy Contract by “Better Together.

” Blue State Digital is a USA media strategy and technology company specializing in online fundraising, social networking and constituency development. The Company provided digital strategy and technology services for the Barack Obama presidential and a number of Blair campaigns. The company is directed by co-founders, Joe Rospars and Jascha Franklin-Hodge. The mission statement of the Company is;

“A full-service new media agency, Blue State Digital develops and executes multi-platform digital marketing and online engagement campaigns for non-profit and advocacy organizations, political candidates, causes, brands and businesses. Our work inspires and mobilizes people, increases revenue, and cements lasting support and loyalty.” A Company insider quote; “Future elections will be won not because the candidate was anointed by a powerful party, but because he or she was best at using a Web and new-media strategy to rally the masses.” Just who are these guys?

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/articles/2009/01/08/the_geeks_behind_obamas_web_strategy/”

What about the New Labour link?

http://www.brandrepublic.com/news/994174/Blue-State-Digital-creates-TonyBlair4Labour-site/”

 

 

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Israeli Missile Attack on Syria – Another Twist in the On-Going Battles Reshaping the Middle East – And Russia Confirms Plans to Establish and expand a permanent presence in Syria.

 

 

 

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Monday 16th January, 2017: Russia to Upgrade Its naval Air bases in Syria

Russia plans to improve and expand its naval and air bases in Syria, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, citing an unnamed source, as Moscow cements its presence in the Middle Eastern country, its only overseas military deployment.The source said that Russia will start repairing a second runway at Hmeimin air base near Latakia, while the Tartus naval base will be upgraded in order to handle bigger ships such as cruisers.

President Vladimir Putin recently announced a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, where they have been helping forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. But Moscow wants to retain a permanent presence both in Hmeimin and Tartus.

The source also said that Russia will still deploy S-300 surface-to-air defence systems and Bastion coastal missile launchers in Tartus.

http://www.scotlandnews.net/news/250942551/interfax-russia-to-upgrade-its-naval-air-bases-in-syria”

 

 

 

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Religious Demography of Syria
Shiites worldwide are mainly supported and funded, where needed by Iran.Sunni Islam is the largest sect of Islam in the world, and is supported through Saudi Arabian efforts.

The Shiites (about 14% of the population) are viewed as heretics by many Sunni Islamists, and this guarantee’s Assad the support of Shias in Syria who fear, (with justification) a genocide should Sunni’s (about 68% of the population) ever gain power. It is no surprise therefore that Syrian Sunni’s provide unqualified support to the rebel forces reflecting the hostility directed at Assad’s minority Shia Muslim government.

The Kurds are spread along the northern border of Syria and Iraq. They comprise about 10% of the Syrian population. Within Syria and Iraq they have largely been afforded a large measure of autonomy within the government’s of both countries. Whilst the “civil war” has presented opportunities for the Kurds to join forces and create a new Kurdistan they have avoided the pitfalls of embarking on a dearly loved path of self governance in preference to attacking ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq. Kurdish independence aspirations can only be deferred and at some future time in the near future the UN will need to give precedence to the Kurds and their passionate wish to become an independent nation. Assad is very likely to give support to the creation of a Kurdish state along the border with Turkey since this would establish a border/buffer. Assad has no love for Turkey which in turn would be vehemently against the creation of an independent Kurdistan since there is a very large Kurdish population in Turkey which has been brutally suppressed for many years.

The Druze, (who make up about 3% of the population) are regarded by all sides as a bit weird and friendless. They live in close, often isolated communities and are treated badly by Muslims, of all sects.

The Assyrians, descendants of one of the oldest civilisations in the world (make up around 4% of the population) Assyrians are Christians and as such have been attacked by the varying Islamist sects in the course of the war. Their loyalties are split between Assad and the Kurds.

The Syrian Turkmen (make up about 1% of the population). The occupy an enclave in the North of Syria. They speak Turkish and enjoy full Turkish support. Effectively the area is Turkish but perhaps recognising their position is tenuous they are extremely militant in the protection of their identity. They are anti Assad and just about any other group/sect.

 

 

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October 2015: Golan Heights oil discovery. Reports of a huge Golan Heights oil discovery played down by Israeli press. It is confirmed however that a robust oil-bearing strata has been identified but more tests will need to be completed to establish if hydrocarbons are extractable and usable. ‘

 

 

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May 2016: Reinforcing Israel’s off stated claim to a part of Syria. Netanyahu stated “Israel will never give up the Golan Heights. Damascus had the region for 19 years, but we’ve had it for 49.” The response from Syria’s Foreign Minister was swift and direct. He said “We’re ready to retake the area by force. Syria is prepared to use military means to recapture the Golan Heights.”

 

 

A UN peacekeeper near the Israel-Syria border (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90

 

 

 

 

 

October 2016: The Syrian army has been greatly strengthened by the addition of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It is now a formidable fighting force and is well placed to win the war against rebel groups. What comes next? Russia and Iran have proved to be unshakable in their support of Syria and this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Recovery of any part of Syria not under the control of President Assad and the Syrian government will be given top priority. The Golan Heights, illegally occupied for many years by Israel is very likely to be targeted by Assad, supported by his allies and this is a potentially catastrophic event since any involvement of Russian forces against the Israelis in support of Syria would bring about a confrontation with the USA.

 

 

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Friday 12 January 2017: Israel launches unprovoked attack on Syria. Rockets struck at Mezzeh Military airport south of Damascus in the early hours of Friday morning. The airport is a major strategic asset used by Hezbollah, the Syrian elite, military officials and troops for munitions storage, resupply and as a transit complex. The death toll from the attacks has yet to be determined but the air-strikes “may have taken out some Syrian commanders. Syrian state TV said that the missile attack was launched, just after midnight from a site near Lake Tiberias in Northern Israel . The Israeli military declined comment, but the Syrian Army spokesman warned that Israel would face repercussions.
The attack by Israel adds confirmation that the forces of President Assad and Hezbollah are being deployed from Aleppo to the border area south of Damascus, to take action against anti government Sunni Muslims (based around the town of Dawa) that have enjoyed control of the Syrian-Israeli border, (along the Golan Heights) from the start of the unrest in Syria.
An Israeli – Syrian Sunni Muslim alliance (which Israel claims is entirely humanitarian) has been in place throughout the period of unrest and Israel has attacked Hezbollah forces (in support of the anti-Assad Sunni Muslims) deployed along the northern part of the Golan Heights on a number of occasions. Logistics support arrangements (weapons, food, munitions, medical supplies etc) are also in place.
Syrian Sunni Muslim casualties of war are collected at the border each night, (by arrangement) by Israeli medical units and transferred to Israel for treatment, hospitalisation and rehabilitation before being returned to Syria. The lives of over 2000 Sunni Muslim Syrian fighters have been saved by Israel to date.
Speculation is that the Israel – Sunni Muslim alliance was brokered by the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Jordan weakening the impact of the influence of Hezbollah and Iran, by result hindering their deployment against Syrian Sunnis communities bordering Israel. The expected payback is a permanent truce and mutual development of oil fields located to the West and in the vicinity of the Golan heights.

 

 

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Scotland Denied Independence in 2014 by the Gaslighters – Now Donald Trump Is Under Attack by the Same Group of Con-Dems – They Need to be Stopped

 

Stare at the black dot in the centre and in a few moments the grey area surrounding the dot will disappear.

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“Gaslighting” is an evil form of trickery introduced to the world of espionage by the CIA just after the end of WW2. It gained its name and notoriety from the 1944 film Gaslight in which an evil character played by Charles Boyer very nearly convinced Ingrid Bergman that she was insane and had never witnessed the murder of her aunt (which she did).

 

In the devious, corrupt and degenerate entity that is US and Westminster politics “gaslighting” is the force that drives success. Any honest politician or interested party that dares to “rock the boat” seeking the truth of any matter is “gaslighted” to distraction and compliance, being attacked and character assassinated for being paranoid, bigoted and/or in need of counselling.

 

Independence in 2014, was denied Scotland by a Luddite establishment of “gaslighters” determined (regardless of right or cost) to maintain order in a World being moulded to an agenda decided by US and UK politicians (past and present) which did not include freedom for Scots to decide their own future.

 

Donald Trump was ruthlessly attacked by the same faceless group of “gaslighters” throughout the recent US presidential campaign with result that his election remained uncertain up to and beyond the deadline date and events since provide evidence that the full range of weapons of misinformation and other full frontal attack measures in their armoury are being deployed with the purpose of manipulating the minds of the US and UK public against the President Elect.

 

 

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The Scottish electorate is routinely “Gaslighted” by Westminster governments and politicians of all persuasions, supported by Westminster controlled televised media and newspapers delivering an agenda of misinformation and propaganda leaving many confused and increasingly angry over the heavily promoted state of financial crisis in the country requiring their acceptance of ever increasing burdens of increasing taxation, austerity, reduced incomes and welfare cuts.

 

The propaganda leaves many unable to distinguish fact from fiction, in part in spite of austerity a massive increase in defence budgets, to be used for a “hire purchase” of hugely costly but useless nuclear weapons and delivery systems and building of aircraft carriers incapable of operational use due to the fact that a purchase of suitable aircraft will not be achieved until 5 years after their launch.

 

There is an additional, as yet unpublished problem that the carriers have (as yet) no effective escort and support vessels and without a carrier fleet in support they will remain in dock unused for many years. There is talk of converting the carriers into huge hospital ships but the financial loss to the Scottish economy will be enormous.

 

It is frustrating that Scotland sends politicians to Westminster tasked with an impossible mission to hold to account governments promising fair rule , reduced government financial excesses, low inflation and a growing economy, effective law and order policies with a reducing crime rate.

 

But nothing changes. Campaign promises are not kept and each successive government (Tory or labour) maintains policies broadly similar to that of the former administration regardless of any previous attacks on said policies whilst in opposition. The reason? The BAP!!!!

 

 

 

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The British American Project (BAP)

 

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) once said “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
The British-American Project is a fellowship of over 1,000 leaders and opinion formers from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political viewpoints, drawn in equal numbers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The Project was created to renew and continue the close relationship among leaders of the two countries that was established by an earlier generation during the Second World War; for that reason, it was originally known as the British-American Project for the Successor Generation.
The Project meets annually for a four-day conference on topics of current concern to both countries: ideas and experiences are exchanged, and friendships developed and strengthened. Each year, 24 new participants are selected from either side of the Atlantic, on the basis of service to their communities and professional achievement, and sponsored to attend the conference as Delegates. At the end of each conference, Delegates are elected Fellows of the Project. Fellows from past years attend the annual conferences at their own expense, with many returning in successive years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British-American_Project”

 

 

 

Follow the movement of the rotating pink dot with your eyes and the dots will remain only one colour, pink. But if you stare at the black + in the centre, the moving dot will turn green. (by Jeremy L. Hinton)

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An eminent professor at the Liberal Establishment’s academic Mecca of Princeton said of the BAP

 

“Yet and again over the last 60 years, the same BAP individuals appear at the centre of political disasters and the conclusion is that there “is an organization of pyromaniacs at work in the world.”

 

“The purpose of the BAP is nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This power mad clique wants to control and rule the world. Even more frightening, they want total control over all individual actions. Individual freedom and choice will be controlled within very narrow alternatives by the fact that individuals will be numbered from birth and followed, as a number, through their educational training, public service, tax contributions, health and medical requirements, and final retirement and death benefits. It wants control over all natural resources, business, banking and transportation by controlling the governments of the world. In order to accomplish these aims the conspirators have had no qualms about fermenting wars, depressions and hatred. They want a monopoly which would eliminate all competitors and destroy the free’ enterprise system.”

 

A close study of the BAP and the careers of its members reveals that the incredible exists and exercises a heavy influence over our lives. Information is sufficient to convince Scots of the existence of a conspiratorial clique of neo-con liberal activists who manipulate the Westminster government policy at all levels.The truth really is stranger than fiction and the activities of the BAP are worthy of study and public exposure.

 

But exposing the conspiracies is not an easy matter since the the BAP controls the media and anyone intent on exposing “gaslighters” will be subjected to a sustained battery of poisoned invective from television, radio and newspapers and, faced with the destruction of their social acceptability many withdraw from the fray. Sadly, In politics social position is more important to some that the survival of a free and independent Scotland.

 

 

 

A nice visual illusion using perfect squares.

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The Gaslighters

Psychological brainwashing induces a pre-conceived view of any evidence concerning “gaslighters.” People are very comfortable with the “status quo” . (Witnessed at the time Columbus returned to Spain from America and said the world was round only to be ridiculed and abused verbally and physically by flat earth believers “gaslighters”) who had a vested interest in maintaining the universe as it was.)

 

It is also difficult at times, to be comfortable exposing the abusive behaviour of “gaslighters” who are often members of the “ruling class.” They are invariably very wealthy, highly educated, well connected and sophisticated and a significant number enjoy enhanced reputations for philanthropy complicating further any accusation by “whistle blowers” of conspiracy to curtail the freedoms of their countrymen, but facts are not for setting aside.

 

Many business and professional people are particularly vulnerable to the “don’t jeopardize your future” argument advanced by those who do not wish their conspiracy exposed. The “gaslighters” , (well assured that businessmen and members of the professions will not take a stand to save private enterprise) will be able to further process their socialism agenda through which they intend to control the world.

 

Two of the most effective weapons used by “gaslighters” against accusations of conspiracy are ridicule and satire. They are very potent and used cleverly avoid a need for any honest attempt at refuting the facts. Nobody likes to be made look a fool and rather than face ridicule most people will remain silent.

 

Another potent tactic used by the “gaslighters” is to greatly enhance the conspiracy so that it becomes absurd, e.g. A BBC news presenter will off-handedly announce that the corporation is not “Conspiracy Headquarters” and as such cannot be expected to respond to unsubstantiated claims of conspiracies.

 

Another proven attack profile used by “gaslighters” is the assembly and release of tit-bits of legitimate evidence incorrectly presented as fact allowing conclusions to be drawn supporting their particular prejudice. Most abused are the Jewish, Catholic, Racist and Masonic groups since “gaslighters” thrive on manipulating the minds of the public to believe that anyone exposing conspiracies must be “certifiable nutcases”.

 

I live in hope that the the outcome of another independence referendum will prove that the BAP “gaslighters” underestimated the patriotism of Scots of which a majority ignored the spoiling tactics of the establishment controlled media preferring to identify the facts, reaching their own conclusions and putting country before person.

 

 

 

Both green lines have the same length. This Ponzo illusion uses the fact that human brain interprets the image with perspective, however, it’s just a simple 2D image.

https://i1.wp.com/brainden.com/images/ponzo-big.jpg
The under noted blogs provide information including names of BAP members fully supporting the foregoing. Reading highly recommended.

https://caltonjock.com/2015/04/11/truth-and-respect-words-anathema-to-the-bbc-the-british-american-project-decides-the-agenda/
https://caltonjock.com/2015/09/30/the-bbc-scottish-press-and-other-media-exist-to-further-the-policies-of-the-westminster-elite/
https://caltonjock.com/2015/04/12/the-new-world-order-part-three-americas-man-selected-indoctrinated-placed-at-the-heart-of-british-politics-gordon-brown/
https://caltonjock.com/2015/05/18/ultra-right-wing-liam-fox-returned-to-power-with-his-neo-con-colleagues-attached-is-a-comprehensive-expose-of-misdeeds-in-public-office-ill-wills-of-change-are-being-foisted-on-scotland-with/
https://caltonjock.com/2015/04/12/the-new-world-order-part-four-britain-now-a-client-state-of-the-usa-labour-politician-speaks-out/
https://caltonjock.com/2015/04/12/the-new-world-order-part-five-the-influence-of-the-cia-on-the-labour-party-1984-2015/
https://caltonjock.com/2015/04/10/the-cia-call-the-tune-and-the-labour-party-dances-to-it-scotland-sold-for-american-gold-but-to-the-deep-pockets-of-the-party-not-the-public/
https://caltonjock.com/2014/11/16/the-british-american-project-bap-the-bbc-and-new-trust-chairman-rona-fairhead/
https://caltonjock.com/2014/11/13/the-british-american-project-the-corrupting-secret-alliance-hidden-from-the-public/

 

 

 

Which soldier is taller? This is a variation of Ponzo illusion which suggests that the human mind judges an object’s size based on its background.

https://i2.wp.com/brainden.com/images/firemen-big.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serverin Carrell of the Guardian – Attacks the Scottish Government with a catalogue of Innuendo and distorted Information- An Accredited NUJ Reporter Provides the Truth

 

 

 

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Scotland’s Debt Mountain: Holyrood’s Borrowing Could Hit £50bn by 2020

The article is complex covering almost the entire spectrum of government activity in Scotland with the emphasis remaining fixated on unfounded allegations of financial mismanagement by the Scottish government. The author is a vastly experienced journalist and production by himself of a article full of innuendo and distorted truths is very sad. The article is reproduced in full so that readers will be able to read Serverin Carrell’s account then compare this with my submission

Severin Carrell is Scotland editor for the Guardian. He was previously the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent. He has worked as a home affairs, environment and politics correspondent for the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, and as a senior reporter with the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

Guardian investigation finds public sector borrowing for schools, roads, rail and education is set to dwarf Scottish parliament’s annual £30bn budget, prompting auditor general and opposition parties to call for greater transparency

Public sector debt in Scotland has mushroomed to record levels after an SNP government spending spree funded by billions of pounds’ worth of borrowing from pension funds, international banks and the Treasury. An investigation by the Guardian has found that total borrowing to build schools, roads, railway stations, colleges and hospitals under the devolved government could reach £50bn by the end of the decade, putting a heavy strain on the public finances. The scale of the debt, which dwarfs Holyrood’s annual budget of £30bn, has never been set out by ministers or investigated by the Scottish parliament.

It has led to calls by Scotland’s auditor general, Caroline Gardner, and opposition parties for greater openness over public finances. Gardner said the need for full transparency was even more urgent given that Holyrood is due to get far greater tax-raising powers and is under significant pressure on public spending. John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary, is expected to reveal new spending cuts in his budget on Wednesday after a 1.3% cut in Scotland’s block grant from the Treasury in London.

Calling for Swinney to publish whole government accounts that would set out in a single document the full details of all Scotland’s devolved public spending, borrowing and assets, Gardner said: “It is critically important that the Scottish parliament and the people of Scotland have got a very clear picture of what both those assets and those long-term liabilities look like.”

She added it was a “basic matter of accountability” and necessary “to enable the Scottish parliament to make some of the difficult decisions that it will need to make in future, particularly as it takes on its new tax-raising powers.”

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s finance spokeswoman, said she would be urging Holyrood’s finance committee to investigate. “Future generations are facing a debt mountain and we’re putting more and more on the nation’s credit card. What the Scottish government is doing to add to public sector debt is like PFI on steroids. It is essential with the new powers coming to the Scottish parliament on tax, spending and borrowing that we have complete transparency on the nation’s finances.”

Scottish public authorities and ministers are committed to spending at least £9bn on dozens of privately financed projects overseen by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) – the arm’s-length body overseeing infrastructure investment. That is in addition to £22bn-worth of historic private finance initiative (PFI) debts still to be paid off.

There are currently £6bn-worth of privately financed and managed projects under way through the SFT. Including historic PFI repayments, servicing the existing debt already costs £1bn a year. That cost will be at its highest between 2018 and 2028 when Scotland’s public sector will be spending more than £1.2bn a year to repay private finance deals. It will reach more than £1.3bn in 2025.

In addition, Scotland’s 32 councils owe nearly £15bn to banks, public debt agencies and pension funds, and are planning to spend nearly £500m more on new capital projects, in addition to sharing billions of pounds’ worth of private financing through the SFT. Those debts need to be repaid more quickly than before, official data from the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy has shown.

The latest data from the industry body shows that nearly 50% of the borrowing must be paid back within 20 years. But councils are expected to face deep funding cuts of up to 5% in their £10bn annual funding in Wednesday’s budget.

Scottish ministers have also been cleared to borrow up to £4.9bn on upgrading the rail network by 2019 – more than double the borrowing attributed to Scotland in 2009 – using debt funded by Network Rail at UK level.

Scottish ministers are also floating proposals for expensive high-speed rail lines from Scotland, which are not yet funded. Scottish investment in rail funded with record borrowing

Figures given to the Guardian by the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, show that Scottish ministers would be due to pay up to £868m on financing and interest costs between now and 2019 to service that borrowing.

Meanwhile, households and taxpayers are forecast to come under additional financial pressure with Scottish graduates and students set to owe £6bn by the end of the next Scottish parliament in 2021, according to an analysis by the higher education funding expert Lucy Hunter Blackburn.

That debt would be three times their borrowing when the Scottish National party (SNP) first won power in 2007 on a promise to abolish student debts. The debt is funded by the Treasury in London and is not directly repaid by taxpayers. But Scottish ministers write off an average of 30% of that debt every year to cover students who do not earn enough to repay it, defaulted loans and subsidised interest payments.

https://archive.is/iopfR

 

 

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Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – An understanding

At the beginning of 1997 the Tory Party Government, led by John Major had re-established stability in the UK economy weathering the financial disaster of membership and withdrawal from the European Community, Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The long recovery process was hard on the UK electorate who suffered the brunt of strictly observed control measures designed to reduce government spending and debt bringing stability to the economy.

With the improving revenue boosting to their fortunes and re-election a distinct possibility the party pressed the self destruct button, when in-fighting broke out within the parliamentary group over the future direction of the party in regard to membership of the EC. The tactics of feuding individuals included releasing damaging information providing opportunity for the media and press to accuse the government of being embroiled in scandal, sleaze and corruption. The party was by result perceived by the electorate to be financially capable but also corrupt tired, leaderless and without vision and at the General Election in May 1997 it was removed from office.

The Labour Party, in opposition had been through 10 years of processes similar to the Tory party, as the old guard fought to retain policies which had been repeatedly rejected by the electorate. But as 1996 drew to a close leadership of the party was decided upon a compromise. The old guard would be allowed to monitor policy discussions but any proposed contribution would be made in private to the party leadership. Tony Blair, as leader would provide the charisma whilst the dour mannered Gordon Brown would have charge of the Economy. The old guard monitor appointee role was given to ex shop steward John (two Jags) Prescott.

Allaying the fears of the electorate (who were concerned about Labour’s previous excessive spending record whilst in power) the 1997 Labour Party manifesto for government undertook, (in government) to retain and manage the economy following the financial policies of the Tory Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, (whose tenure at HM Treasury had brought with it a reduction in income tax from 25% to 23% and a marked improvement in the budget deficit, (due to reduced government spending), from £51 billion in 1993 to £16 billion in 1997.) Interest rates, inflation and unemployment were also reduced significantly. The pledge to the public was duly honoured and the UK economy returned to balance in 1998. The successful policies were maintained in the lifetime of the parliament and the economy recorded an ever increasing budget surplus.

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was a mechanism established by Tory Chancellor Norman Lamont so that a few large infrastructure projects could be commissioned and completed using private sector finance, transferring all liability for construction and maintenance (off the books) of government. Recurring financial liabilities to contractors (for periods between 30 to 150 years) would be charged to revenue expenditure. The schemes offered a means of attracting private finance into a public sector that had been starved of funds for many years. But the consensus, in financial circles was (if used sparingly) PFI had benefits, but any widespread use would be counter-productive since the cost to revenue budgets would greatly exceed the initial projected (on the books ) capital cost including interest charges. The Shadow Chancellor, Gordon Brown attacked the Tory government’s use of PFI as “a cynical distortion of public finance.”

But in government Brown was unable to curb his inbuilt urge to spend, regardless of risk He became enamoured of PFI identifying it as a convenient way of concealing public debt. It was the mother and father of the discredited “never never” hire purchase schemes so prevalent in the UK consumables markets of 1950-70. Simplicity indeed. The government would agree to contracts committing their various agencies to make fixed payments to the private sector for a fixed period, typically 30 plus years (the useful life of the asset). And the entire spectrum of business would be conducted outwith the control or inspection of any lending authority. A hospital built by the South London Healthcare Trust under the PFI cost £118 million to build, but had a hidden payback over the life of the PFI contract of £1.2 billion. Cloak and dagger expenditure on a grand scale.

Norman Lamont, (having stepped back from front-line politics but never one to hide his views) alerted the media and press about the Labour Government’s abuse of PFI and whilst accepting responsibility for creating it he insisted it had only intended to be used for projects such as new bridges or roads. There were strict rules in place forbidding use of PFI on normal capital spending but Gordon Brown removed the constraints so that PFI could be used extensively to complete basic structure upgrading projects (the UK treasury building, the Docklands Light Railway in London) and the purchase of hospital equipment and procurement of military hardware and vehicles. A scandalous abuse of financial authority by the New labour government.

The European Commission also became concerned and after a long drawn out process of discussion (lasting many years) the UK Treasury was forced to conform to EU accounting standards. from 2010. Details of the new methodology are to be found in IFRIC12 and ESA95.

Accurate financial figures are impossible to identify but in the period 1996-2014 a PFI contract value of £150 billion with a recurring 30 year commitment of £255 billion would not be that far out. These figures equate to a UK debt commitment not far short of 50% of the UK gross domestic product GDP. So much for Gordon Brown’s sustainable investment rule.

The new rules will transfer the bulk of the £255 billion back “on book” which will further reduce finance available. The only solution open to government for new capital expenditure is to borrow money further increasing the national debt which is nearing £2 trillion. What a disaster.

 

 

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The 2007- 08 world financial crash proved disastrous for PFI deals. Many participating companies found it difficult to attract new finance and the added burdens of existing debt repayments meant there was a reduced amount of finance available to support existing contracts with result that many establishments had to function understaffed and routine maintenance was often abandoned. Many prospective deals were either abandoned or severely cutback and there was concern the entire PFI system would fail. The crash also exposed, to the public (for the first time) the massive level of previously undisclosed PFI debt repayments being met from revenue allocations, revealed just as the new Tory/LibDem coalition government introduced measures reducing available finance in the public sector forming part of their declared austerity programmes.

But the PFI debt remains within the system and will be a significant burden on the UK’s revenue availability for the next 30 plus years. New Labour (Blair and Brown stand accused of passing a debt of mega proportions on to our children and grandchildren. There are strict rules which prohibit government from concealing debt from taxpayers. It is called “malfeasance in public Office.” and “New Labour” should be asked to answer the charge in a court of Law.

 

 

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Scotland and PFI under the SNP government

In Scotland in 2007 the minority SNP government accused Gordon Brown of selling out the Scottish taxpayer, (for allowing private profiteering backdoor entry to the public sector) and refused to embrace the PFI option believing it to be a wasteful process which allowed private contractors to make massive unwarranted profits from the nations public services. Indeed publication of information pertaining to recently PFI financed new builds at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and James Watt College proved that the projects could have been completed for half the cost using traditional methods.

In their manifesto for the 2007 election, the Scottish National Party (SNP) proposed the establishment of “The Scottish Futures Trust” as an alternative to PPP/PFI, encouraging greater use of public bonds, to access to lower-cost borrowing. It was a solution conceived to allow the devolved administration to gain some leverage around private sector investment.

With the approval of the Scottish audit office, the SNP government established, in September 2008 “The Scottish Futures Trust” (SFT). A public corporation of the Scottish Government, operating at arm’s length from the Government the Trust’s remit is to work closely with the public and private sectors to deliver value-for-money on all public sector infrastructure investment across the country. The trust has the aim of saving £100–£150 million each year through a wide range of activities. improving public infrastructure investment.

The SFT team is comprised of around 50 professionals, who have the responsibility of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure investment in Scotland. It is run by a board of seven members appointed by Scottish ministers, headed by a non-executive chairman.

Programmes of work given over to the SFT include the building of affordable homes and homes for rental throughout Scotland. Healthcare projects, including the Aberdeen Community Health and Care Village (opened 2013) and the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Clinical Neurosciences in Edinburgh due to open in 2017). Other major projects include a £1.5 Billion schools upgrade programme, dualling of the Inverness – Perth road, completion of the Aberdeen bypass. Relocation, new build for the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service Headquarters and a number of smaller but no less important projects. Note: All projects are subject to Scottish Office Auditor approval before implementation

Financial savings achieved by the SFT are significant. In 2009−10 the Scottish taxpayer benefited from £111 million savings increasing to £129 million in 2010–11: £131 million in 2011-2012: £132 million in 2012-13: £140 million in 2013-14: £135 in 2014-15 and £146 million in 2015/16; Note: calculations verified and validated by Grant Thornton LLP and independent academics from the London School of Economics. Cumulative savings over 7 years £924 million plus.

 

 

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Infrastructure Investment – SNP government Policy

MP for Gordon, Alex Salmond, visited the Inveramsay new bridges site which includes 1.5km of new road, and a new bridge enabling the A96 trunk road to be realigned over the Aberdeen to Inverness railway. An underpass has also been incorporated into the upgrade to allow for more efficient farm access. A notorious bottleneck, the route has was popularly known as being one of the worst areas for delays in the North East of Scotland. The infrastructure upgrade will dramatically improve the reliability of journey times. Commenting, Mr Salmond said:

“This is a great step forward for infrastructure in the North East of Scotland. I inspected the new route today and contractors and workers should be congratulated for bringing this project forward on time and within budget. In the 50 years since the discovery of North Sea Oil the Tories ran Scottish roads for 22 years and Labour for twenty, eight of these hand in glove with the Liberals. In that entire time they did not build a single centimetre of the AWPR while bottlenecks like the Inveramsay Bridge were an embarrassment to the North East. Indeed, the Liberals represented this area for over 30 years with no action whatsoever on Inveramsay. Now after nine years of SNP Government we can see the AWPR take shape before our eyes in one of the greatest road investments in Scottish history. The new Inveramsay Bridge is nearing completion and the route to Ellon has been prioritised in the building of the AWPR. These investments are transformational for transport in our corner. That is a legacy of achievement of which the SNP can be proud just as our opponents should be ashamed of their years of negligence. However, the SNP have shown yet again, that a proactive approach is the only way to solve issues like those which have plagued motorists at the Inveramsie Bridge. I am fully confident that road-users will immediately feel the benefits of the upgrades, and they are but part of the SNP’s wider transport plans for the North-East.”

 

 

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Transport Minister Derek Mackay MSP commenting on the progress of the works said:

“For years drivers and local communities who use this section of the A96 have endured delays to their journeys with this bottleneck earning notoriety as one of the worst in the country. The old rail bridge was simply not fit for purpose and is why the Scottish Government committed to tackling a unique set of engineering challenges to help bring the A96 at this location up to 21st century standards. We wanted to ensure drivers and local communities who have waited patiently for the upgrade feel the benefits at the earliest opportunity, so I’m delighted that in just a few hours time, they will get the green light to drive on the new road. Inversamsay, which is on time and on budget, is emblematic of our wider commitment to delivering transport improvements right across the region.” He went on to say that:

“The 58km £745 million Aberdeen bypass is on schedule to open to traffic in winter 2017, preparatory work is ongoing which will allow us to start construction of an upgraded Haudagain roundabout on completion of the new bypass, and early design and assessment work to dual the full length of the A96 from Aberdeen to Inverness is making good headway. We are also investing £170 million to strengthen rail infrastructure between both cities to help make journeys shorter, more frequent and more comfortable, and have committed £200m through the City Deal to upgrade the rail line between Aberdeen and the central belt. We have also invested in more trains which will mean from 2018 more local rail services across the north east rail network, and faster, more frequent links from Aberdeen to the central belt.”

He concluded:

“We are determined to transform transport infrastructure right across the region and this much needed improvement here at Inveramsay Bridge underlines that the Scottish Government is getting on and doing just that.”

 

 

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The Office of National Statistics ONS

ESA10 (European System of Accounts 2010) is a set of Eurostat rules, introduced in September 2014, that determine how the UK government reports its overall levels of debt in the national accounts prepared by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The rules have set out a particular approach to classifying infrastructure projects developed across Europe under various forms of public-private partnership. How the new rules and associated guidance are being interpreted is an evolving picture across Europe as national statistical agencies and Eurostat apply the rules to projects and conclude classification decisions.

In Scotland, projects delivered through the NPD programme as well as all hub Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) projects fall under the scope of the revised rules and guidance. All projects of this nature see a delivery partner raise debt to pay for construction, and take responsibility for both construction and maintaining the asset in a good condition.

The asset is ultimately paid for by a public authority over time as it is used. A privately classified project sees the debt classified to the private sector whereas a project classified to the public sector counts towards the national debt.

 

 

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In December 2014, the ONS decided (as part of its work programme) to review the classification of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) NPD project.

In February 2015, Scottish Government stated that in light of this review a number of steps would be put in place to refine the NPD programme, and that some changes would be required to hub DBFM projects impacting on the timescales of an anticipated eight projects at that time.

In July 2015, ONS decided that the AWPR should be classified to the public sector under ESA10. This was based on its interpretation of the degree of public sector control over the special purpose vehicle established to deliver the project, and the balance of risk and reward between the public and private sector partners. The Scottish Government stated that as a result of that decision further changes may be required to the hub DBFM structure and that there was likely to be some further impact on the delivery timetable.

hub update (26 November 2015): ONS has now considered proposals for revised hub DBFM arrangements developed and submitted by SFT. The revised arrangements would see hub DBFM projects maintain the current balance of public good, with projects taken forward by special purpose DBFM companies owned 60% by the existing hub private partners, 20% by a Hub Community Foundation charity, 10% by SFT and 10% by the procuring Authority.

On 26 November Parliament was advised that, on the basis of an ONS review of these new proposals developed by SFT, projects could now proceed. Since then a significant number of projects have reached financial close allowing construction to start.

NPD/SFT continues to review options for the potential amendment of the AWPR project and potentially other NPD projects in the light of the ONS’s decision on the revised hub model. All contracted NPD projects continue to be built on site as planned and the classification does not affect this progress.

http://www.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk/our-work/funding-and-finance/non-profit-distributing/esa10-update1/

 

 

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Transferring Projects  to “on book” status

November 2016: Scottish Ministers took the decision to reclassify the funding of a new children’s hospital in Edinburgh, an acute hospital in Dumfries and a new Blood Transfusion Service Headquarters as public projects (on book) taking guidance from events and project management changes pertaining to the Aberdeen Bypass construction, which when implemented satisfied the requirements of the new (ESA10 2014) legislation. Ministers were not confident contract arrangements could be amended in similar fashion in respect of the three projects in question hence the decision to transfer the works on book. Then to appeal the measure. There is the option of transferring all aspects of contracting and financial responsibilities to the SFT which would require the creation of a Scottish National Trust Charitable Foundation. A way forward will be identified in 2017 and put in place before the next round of capital projects

 

 

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Scotland’s Historical Local Council Debt to be retained on the books of the UK Treasury:

Before devolution local councils were able to borrow money from the Treasury in London, for completion of new housing. Loans were arranged for a fixed term, usually 30 years at a repayment interest rate of 8%. The outstanding loan figure at the time of devolution was £2.45 billion and it is the responsibility of local councils to continue making loan repayments until the loan closure date. In the 17 years since devolution, Scottish Local Councils have paid a minimum of £3.3 billion (interest charges only) to HM Treasury. Projection are that a further £1.95 billion interest payments will be made providing a total interest only charge of £5.25 billion and the prime loan sum will also need to be paid off at the end of the loan period.

Local government is Scotland is committed (over the next decade), to spending 44p of every £1 of Council Tax collected from Scottish residents on servicing debt liabilities. 10p can be attributed to outstanding pre-devolution liabilities.. The government in Westminster confirmed the loans and any financial matters arising will be retained by the UK treasury for accounting purposes.

 

 

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8 Jun 2014: EU farm payments deadline extended to October

The deadline for paying European subsidies to farmers has been extended from 30 June to 15 October, a senior EU official has confirmed. Problems with a new Scottish government computer system have caused delays to many Scottish farmers due the money. The Scottish government had been facing fines of between £40m and £125m if it did not meet the June deadline. But the EU’s commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, announced the new date.

The move followed a meeting between the commissioner and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh last month. Mr Hogan stressed that this was “an exceptional measure” which reflected the difficulties some member states and devolved regions had experienced with the first year of payments under the new CAP. He emphasised that the move should not be used as an “excuse” to slow down the rate of payments.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-36482045

 

 

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30 September 2016: Auditor General reports on Scottish Government accounts

The Auditor General has welcomed steps taken by the Scottish Government to strengthen transparency of public finances, but says there’s more work to do as new financial powers are introduced at a time of uncertainty created by the EU referendum result.

The Scottish Budget for 2015/16 reflected new tax and borrowing powers for the first time. With further powers flowing from the Scotland Act 2016, it’s increasingly important that the Scottish Parliament and the public have comprehensive, transparent and timely information on how public money is used and what has been achieved.

In her report on the Scottish Government’s consolidated accounts, the Auditor General notes that progress has been made to improve reporting of the Scottish Government’s budget and spending decisions. Her independent audit opinion on the 2015/16 accounts is unqualified.

She has identified a number of areas for further improvement to support the Parliament’s scrutiny of the draft budget and new powers. These include making it clearer what spending aims to achieve and how this contributes to the Scottish Government’s overall purpose and outcomes.

The report highlights risks to the management and control of European funding which, for the foreseeable future, will continue to be an important income stream for the Scottish Government.

Other significant matters from the 2015/16 audit include:

The continuing risks in the delivery of the Common Agricultural Policy Futures Programme, established to implement reforms and deliver financial support to farmers and rural businesses.

The need to ensure that management of European Structural Funds, which provide financial assistance in areas such as transport links and business growth, comply fully with European Commission requirements. During 2015/16, three of the four programmes managed by the Scottish Government were suspended by the Commission. While the Scottish Government has taken action to have the suspensions lifted, the accounts show that it may not be able to recover an estimated £14 million in grant funding.

The Office for National Statistics’ decision to classify the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route as a public sector project and the Scottish Government’s decision to adopt a similar treatment for three further projects reduced its capital spending power in 2015/16, though this was successfully managed within overall budget limits.

Caroline Gardner (the Auditor) concluded:

“The construction and management of the Scottish budget is becoming increasingly complex and the Scottish Government has established a strong base to address the substantial changes and uncertainty affecting public finances. While recent developments show the Scottish Government is heading in the right direction, there’s much still to do to ensure that the Scottish Parliament, and the public, have the information they need to fully understand and scrutinise the implementation of the new powers, especially the new tax and spending choices.”

http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/news/auditor-general-reports-on-scottish-government-accounts

 

 

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Other useful sites:

https://caltonjock.com/2016/03/20/ruth-the-golden-child-davidson-farming-subsidies-liars-and-figures/
https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/3294/why-ons-ruling-set-kick-start-new-debate-about-scottish-governments-investment
https://www.ons.gov.uk/
http://www.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk/our-work/funding-and-finance/non-profit-distributing/esa10-update1/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Futures_Trust

 

 

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