Throughout the Scottish Referendum campaign the government in Westminster deployed the Civil Service against the Scottish electorate in direct contravention of the Civil Service Code – Facts supporting the many allegations of misconduct surfaced following many hours of investigation – even when confronted with evidence of State Subversion those responsible either denied the facts or shifted blame. – distribution through the internet of lies disguised as facts was commonplace – directed through the Scotland Office it proved to be a powerful but entirely inappropriate use of on-line media.
The Civil Service will be forever tainted in the minds of the Scottish electorate.
Posted 4:36 a.m. – 30 Apr 2014: Scotland. The UK. 10 Myths. 10 Facts.
Posted 9:31 a.m. 30 Apr 2014: Tweet by Ramsay Jones, UK Government Special Advisor Scotland. Tweets “my own views. Hopefully someone else’s later.” Tweet linked to Buzz-feed article.
Buzz-feed article traced back to the Scotland Office. https://mohkohn.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/the-curious-case-of-youdecide2014-tories-in-neutral-clothing/
posted 9:56 a.m. 30 Apr 2014: http://www.buzzfeed.com/youdecide2014/scotland-the-uk-10-myths-10-facts.
Posted 14:00 p.m. 30 Apr 2014: 10 Downing Street Facebook account. https://www.facebook.com/10downingstreet/posts/10152455544653453?stream_ref=10
The information was then shared or re-tweeted by a variety of Conservative Party SpAd’s, gaining maximum exposure of fantasy portrayed as fact, possibly concocted by Ramsay Jones (SpAd) at the Scotland Office.
You can’t get a verified Twitter account except by arrangement with Twitter. Therefore, @YouDecide2014 must be an official account of the Scotland Office. That certainly explains why Tory special advisors were tweeting the Buzz-feed article.
So it’s official: the UK government has attacked the Scottish government on Buzz-feed. Is this a first in international (albeit intrastate) relations? Will it set a precedent? Will the next Ukraine crisis negotiations be carried out in the medium of ironic animated GIFs or viral video?
The absence of any clear statements of the UK government’s involvement looks like an attempt to mislead the public. But there are even more serious issues.
Presumably, someone at the Scotland Office wrote the article, as it’s been released through official Government channels. They couldn’t be an ordinary civil servant, who would be bound to impartiality – and if there’s one thing that’s had Unionist politicians and media in a froth of outrage throughout the independence campaign it’s the thought of civil servants being made to act in an improperly political manner.
So this kind of work would have to be carried out by a special adviser. Could it have been one of the special advisers who tweeted the article? (Ramsay Jones) Surely not, as that would breach their code of conduct:
“Special advisers should conduct themselves with integrity and honesty. They should not deceive or knowingly mislead Parliament or the public.
“Special advisers should not use official resources for party political activity.”
“They are employed to serve the objectives of the Government and the Department in which they work. It is this which justifies their being paid from public funds and being able to use public resources, and explains why their participation in party politics is carefully limited.”
“They should avoid anything which might reasonably lead to the criticism that people paid from public funds are being used for party political purposes.”
30 April 2014: Scotland. The UK. 10 Myths. 10 Facts.
What would happen to Scotland if it became independent? From global relationships to oil revenues, this blog looks at the myths, and realities, of the Scottish independence debate. Note: The sources quoted contain figures produced by the author in support of their own assertions? Nice try.
1. Myth: Our global relationships won’t change
Fact: Scotland would be a new country. We wouldn’t inherit all the international deals the UK has struck over many years, decades, and even centuries (everything from extradition and trade treaties to the International Declaration Prohibiting the Discharge of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons). So we’d have to start from scratch, negotiating to join everything from the UN to Nato. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-devolution-and-the-implications-of-scottish-independence
Contrary Fact: I want our global relationships to change. The UK currently resides in America’s back pocket. Over half a million people have been killed in Iraq alone because of this ‘special relationship’. The inherent implication here is that Scotland will find it hard to make friends and strike trade deals. What complete nonsense! Scotland will be welcomed to the family of nations without the political baggage of Westminster.
2. Myth: We’ll still play the National Lottery and share much-loved national institutions with the UK
Fact: It’s called the National Lottery – not the International Lottery. You can’t buy a ticket in France, so why would it run in an independent Scotland? The same goes for everything from the Met Office to the benefits system. We’d have to spend millions setting up new institutions. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-devolution-and-the-implications-of-scottish-independence
Contrary Fact: The National Lottery, seriously? Why not ask residents of Northern Ireland if they’re able to get their hands on Lotto tickets for the Republic of Ireland and vice-versa. I’ll think you’ll find that where there’s a market, there’s always someone ready to meet demand. We’ll have our own lottery anyway in an independent Scotland, with 100% of the good cause money going to Scottish projects.
3. Myth: We’ll be an EU member (and inherit the same terms and conditions that the UK currently enjoys)
Fact: We’d have to apply as a new state and negotiate entry – it’s hard to imagine it would be an easy process (look at how long it took Croatia to join – almost eight years), and even harder to imagine that we’d be given advantageous terms (like the UK rebate or opt-outs, including from the Euro). Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-devolution-and-the-implications-of-scottish-independence
Contrary Facts: Suggest reading this impartial piece published today on New Europe. The residents of Scotland are already EU citizens, we conform with all EU regulations and laws, our fishing grounds are depended upon by 12 EU member states, we’ve got 60% of the EU’s oil reserves, 10% of its renewable energy potential, have ambitious green energy plans, would be one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Need I got on? We’ll be readily welcomed into the EU with open arms, and it’s safe to say it’s within everyone’s best interests (particularly the rest of the UK’s) for our transition to fully-fledged independent member state to go as smoothly as possible. It’ll be easier to fast track us than to create legislation to remove us!
4. Myth: We’ll keep the UK pound
Fact: Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have all made clear if we leave the UK we’ll also leave the UK pound. A currency union would not work for Scotland or the rest of the UK – it will not happen. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-eu-and-international-issues
Contrary Facts: The pound is an internationally traded currency and we cannot be stopped from using it. Many countries have, and continue to informally use sterling. If you’re so confident that there’ll be no currency union I’d suggest placing a bet with Ladbrokes. Last I heard they were offering odds of 100/1 that there would be no currency union.
5. Myth: We wouldn’t have to bailout our banks – international investors bailed them out before
Fact: During the last crisis the UK taxpayer shelled out £66 billion to bail out the banks – more than £1,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK. Including guarantees, UK taxpayers gave more than £320 billion of support to Royal Bank of Scotland alone. Could we really afford these sorts of sums on our own? Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-analysis-financial-services-and-banking
Contrary Facts: The UK government wasn’t able to bail out Barclays to the tune of over half a trillion pounds (about ten times the RBS bail out). The US federal reserve and the Qatar royal family bailed out Barclays.
6. Myth: The answers are in the independence white paper and it all adds up
Fact: The white paper does not answer the key questions. Many of the independence plans, for example on currency and EU membership, are in the hands of foreign governments who would be acting in the interests of their own citizens ahead of Scotland’s. And the white paper does not add up – the plans to cut taxes and extend childcare need £1.6 billion of additional funding. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/unfunded-commitments-in-scotlands-future
Contrary Facts: The white paper is a discussion document. It is impossible to have all bases covered with absolute certainty. Interestingly you raise currency and EU membership. These are two issues that the UK government could help resolve now but refuse to do so in order to create fear and panic, suiting their agenda nicely.
7. Myth: There would be tax cuts and more spending in an independent Scotland
Fact: Scotland spent £12 billion more than it raised in taxes last year (that’s from the Scottish Government’s own figures, including North Sea revenues). So it’s hard to see how we’d be able cut corporation tax and air passenger duty on one hand but still spend more on benefits and create an oil fund on the other.
Contrary Facts: The Scottish Government has very little control over what is spent. Westminster controls the vast majority of the budget and so if there was a large deficit last year, they should shoulder the largest portion of the blame. Scotland is currently spending money on things it doesn’t want or need. Are you aware that we are paying roughly £32 million a year on nuclear weapons research & development (not to mention the grotesque amount also being spent on Trident)? That £32 million could be paying the wages of an extra 1,400 staff nurses every year alone. That only scratches the surface of the amount of money being squandered too.
8. Myth: Westminster won’t devolve more powers
Fact: More powers were devolved in the Scotland Act 2012 (the largest devolution of tax powers in the UK’s history). As a result we now set even more of our own laws, from motorway speed limits to regulating air weapons. Plus, all three main UK parties have promised more powers will be devolved in future. Source: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/11/contents/enacted
Contrary Facts: The extra powers from the Scotland Act 2012 are minimal and don’t present much opportunity. All three main UK parties have promised more powers in future? Yeah, well the Lib Dems promised not to raise tuition fees before the last election. How’d that work out? If any of the three parties were committed to more powers they wouldn’t have fought a ‘devo-max’ option on the ballot and would produce a document with concrete promises instead of dangling an imaginary carrot.
9. Myth: You can’t trust unionists, they’re just negative
Fact: The union has been a huge success story (from joint sporting glory to the amazing scientific collaborations that created Dolly the Sheep!) for more than 300 years – that’s why the rest of the UK doesn’t want us to leave.
Contrary Facts: The union has been a mixed success story. Whilst we have enjoyed certain achievements and advancements we also face a reality in which millions are living in poverty today, many reliant on food-banks.
The limited autonomy we have has shielded us from the privatisation of the NHS, as has happened in England & Wales.
We had to sit back and watch our Royal Mail get sold for a fraction of its worth to George Osborne’s hedge fund mates. We need to take control before the successes of the union are totally robbed from us.
10. Myth: Remaining North Sea oil and gas is worth £1.5 trillion – and at least £6.8 billion in Scottish tax revenues in first year of independence
Fact: The Scottish Government assumes that oil and gas can be produced at zero costs (so rigs and pipelines can be built and run for free, and oil workers don’t need to be paid), despite the remaining oil being further off-shore and deeper under the ocean, so it costs more to extract.
Over the last two years, taxes from the North Sea have been £3 billion below the Scottish Government’s most pessimistic forecast – that’s the same as our entire education budget.
Contrary Facts: Even the smallest piece of research into North Sea oil & gas shows this is nonsense.
There has been significant investment in the North Sea in the last few years, and combined with Osborne’s tax raid of the oil industry this has engineered an artificial dip in revenues generated for the state.
Think the UK government wouldn’t lie about how much oil there is?
Do a search for the McCrone report – they suppressed the truth in the 1970s and hid the report for 30 years to make sure the people of Scotland didn’t find out. Lets not fall for the same trick twice!
10 November 2014: Civil Servants deployed to work for the Scotland Office brag about their role in the referendum campaign
Speaking for the 20+ strong Civil Service Team, Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury said:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
10 June 2015: Scottish Affairs Committee Meeting – 2015 – Scottish Office – Financial matters – Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office – Response to chairman in regard to duties and staffing deployment af civil servants based in the Scotland office
Chair: It would be helpful if you write to the Committee to explain properly what that £3.3 million did account for. What we are hearing is that this might have been the figure that was used for the referendum campaign, for the “No” campaign, and used by UK Ministers to take part in the referendum. Would that be roughly a correct characterisation of that spending?
Francesca Osowska: In answer to your question, Mr Chairman in relation to “was this a way of the Government funding the ‘No’ campaign?” No!
The finance was used to fund the activities of UK Government civil servants, in line with the civil service code.
All activities undertaken by civil servants in my Department would meet a propriety test, yet I think you would agree that in the run-up to a referendum, obviously when Ministers want to be more visible, when we need to ensure that there is a good flow of public information for example, via the Scotland analysis papers that increases our activity and that is why there was an increase between the 2013-14 out turn and 2014-15 out turn.
But this is not true. Refer to the above: November 2014: Civil Servants deployed to work for the Scotland Office brag about their role in the referendum campaign
Sir Jeremy Heywood
Damn, Damn and Double Damn – What a con – The civil service and their Janus-faced illegal political behaviour
Francesca Osowska in a number of her evasive statements to the Scottish Affairs Committee represented them misleadingly glossing over the expensive and extensive work of a large group of (supposedly politically neutral) Civil Servants who actively supported the objectives of the “Better Together” campaign.
A gross misuse of public finances and Civil Servants presumably authorised by David Cameron and Sir Jeremy Heywood.
The matter of the Scotland Office staffing establishment drew comment but did not address the previously advised 50+ excess staffing of the Scottish Office over the Welsh Office.
So the Scotland Office has retained 50+ unjustified posts the costs of which are charged to Scotland’s block grant at a cost of around 2.5million each year.
The annual slush fund is a never reducing financial nest egg ( it is skimmed off Scotland’s block financial grant) and used, abused by the Scottish Office for purposes such as the UK government anti-devolution leaflet production, printing and distribution.
Hiring of Special Advisors (SpAds), usually sons, daughters, other relations, friends of ministers or other MPs. Temporary secondment of Civil Servants from other Government Departments.