Tales From the Backside – Lies Spies and Naked Thighs – News and Current Affairs Through the Medium That is the Most Corrupt Corporation in the World – The BBC






20 Sep 2017: BBC News and Current Affairs Scotland Staff and Presenters Are Guilty of Presenting Information Biased Against Scotland

Eleven years after exposure to the public that blatant bias is doctored into news bulletins and documentary reports the BBC News & Current Affairs Division of the corporation still actively embraces the policy despite a barrage of criticism from Scottish viewers / listeners, before, during and after the 2014 Independence referendum.

Balanced reporting and impartial presentation, (a requirement of the BBC charter) was abandoned and the Corporation silently decided upon implementing a programme of unqualified support for the “Better Together” Campaign.

Additional finance (£5m) was allocated, to the Scottish BBC News and Current Affairs team, in Glasgow many months before the referendum so that a restructuring programme could be put in place.






“The presenters, including BBC Scotland’s political editor Brian Taylor, are shown attacking the fairness of the SNP’s proposed referendum question and claiming that Alex Salmond is ‘not impregnable’.

He also said Alex Salmon wished to include a devo-max option on the ballot paper in order to give him a ‘parachute’ should Scots fail to back independence.

In the presentation, Scotland is described as being in financial deficit and requiring subsidy.

Claims are also made that the SNP are ‘changing policy in order not to frighten the horses’.

Brian Taylor is shown claiming that Alex Salmond wants to delay the referendum in order to ‘sow dissent’ amongst Unionist parties, and saying “He [Salmond] wants a contest as close as possible to the next UK general election because he believes that by then his Unionist opponents will be fighting each other rather than fighting independence and Alex Salmond.

He wants to sow dissent among them”.

Taylor also claimed that the Scottish government’s proposed referendum question was not straightforward and simple.

The BBC Scotland man suggested it was designed to elicit a positive response.

On the proposed question: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

Taylor said “Straight forward, simple – except it’s not.

The word ‘agree’ according to psephologists is a welcoming word, it draws people in.
People like to agree, they don’t like to disagree so the word there is good.

He added “Why does Alex Salmond favour a second question, devo max, and devo plus, why not just go for independence, which is the one he has the mandate for?

He wants a fall-back, he wants a parachute should independence fail to win”.

Also featured on the videos is BBC TV political commentator, Andrew Neil, a former editor of The Scotsman and the Sunday Times, BBC TV’s UK political editor, Nick Robinson. and BBC TV’s economics editor, Stephanie Flanders.







21 Oct 2006: A Look Back – We are biased, admit the stars of BBC News

It was the day that a host of BBC executives and star presenters admitted what critics have been telling them for years.

The BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.

At a secret meeting in London, hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

A leaked account of an ‘impartiality summit’ called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.

A veteran BBC executive said, “There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness.

Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC’s culture, that it is very hard to change it.”

In one of a series of discussions, executives were asked to rule on how they would react if the controversial comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, (known for his offensive characters Ali G and Borat) was a guest on the programme Room 101.

On the show, celebrities are invited to throw their pet hates into a dustbin and it was imagined that Baron Cohen chose some kosher food, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Bible and the Koran.

Nearly everyone at the summit, including the show’s actual producer and the BBC’s head of drama, Alan Yentob, agreed they could all be thrown into the bin, except the Koran for fear of offending Muslims.

Debating whether the BBC should interview Osama Bin Laden if he approached them, it was decided the Al Qaeda leader would be given a platform to explain his views.

Senior BBC figures queued up to lambaste the corporation for allowing TV newsreader Fiona Bruce, to wear, on air, a necklace with a cross.

The BBC’s ‘diversity tsar’, Mary Fitzpatrick, said Muslim women newsreaders should be able to wear whatever they wanted while on TV, including veils.

Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall said he complained to a ‘very senior news executive’, about the BBC’s pro-multicultural stance but was given the reply: “The BBC is not neutral in multiculturalism: it believes in it and it promotes it.”

Randall also told how he once wore Union Jack cufflinks to work but was rebuked with: ‘You can’t do that, that’s like the National Front!

Quoting a George Orwell observation, Randall said that the BBC was full of intellectuals who: “would rather steal from a poor box than stand to attention during God Save The King”.

Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to “correct”, it in his reports.

Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it “no moral weight”.

A lot of heat was generated when the debate addressed whether the BBC was too sensitive about criticising black families for failing to take responsibility for their children.

Head of news, Helen Boaden (1) disclosed that a Radio 4 programme blaming black youths at a young offenders’, institution for bullying white inmates faced the axe until she stepped in.

But Ms Fitzpatrick, who has said that the BBC should not use white reporters in non-white countries, argued it had a duty to ‘contextualise’ why black youngsters behaved in such a way.


(1) Helen Boaden was the BBC director of news who was the subject of heavy criticism for her poor handling of the Jimmy Saville debacle, and offered the job of running radio, with no loss of pay, instead.






14 Jun 2014; BBC Scotland in breach of its editorial and commercial guidelines for allowing “Better Together” to use its headquarters, crews and other facilities to produce promotional cinema advertising

The BBC has denied there was any breach of its guidelines and said that political parties can use facilities on a commercial basis, but concerns have been raised by former BBC broadcaster Derek Batemen that the BBC is operating in a “grey zone”.

Better Together commissioned creative agency BD Network to make the ad, The Scotsman newspaper reported.

The agency sub-contracted work to production firm Early, a company co-founded by former executive producer at BBC Entertainment, Martyn Smith.

The advert was shown in cinemas last month, but cinema chains including Odeon, Cineworld and Vue later decided to ban all referendum advertising from outlets.

BBC guidelines state: “Any activity involving a third party that could potentially undermine the BBC’s editorial integrity must be referred, in advance to the editorial policy department.

Examples of such organisations include: political parties, government departments and foreign government; lobbying organisations.”

Guidelines also state that the: “value and reputation of the BBC brand may be damaged if any part of the BBC is seen to be associated with inappropriate third parties”.

The revelations will fuel speculation over the state broadcaster’s impartiality in Scotland ahead of the independence referendum.






11 Sep 2014: Nick Robinson hijacks conference to berate Alec Salmond

Nick Robinson BBC reporter was provided with fully comprehensive answers to a number of rambling questions by an always patient Alex Salmond.

Robinson acknowledged answers by nodding his head in agreement at the end. Video length 6 mins 52 seconds.






11 Sep 2014; Same conference different approach by “Better Together supporting media” – Alex Salmond goes to war with BBC over RBS ‘leak’

Daily Telegraph article together with a heavily edited video, (2 min 02 secs).

An irate Alex Salmond today declared war on the BBC after the Corporation disclosed Royal Bank of Scotland’s decision to move its headquarters to England if there is a Yes vote.

The First Minster accused Nick Robinson of heckling him and demanded the Corporation cooperate with a leaks inquiry over RBS’s announcement.






11 Sep 2014; Same conference Robinson’s take on events – BBC bias and propaganda at it’s finest

Nick Robinson caught Lying about Alex Salmond not answering a question.






12 Sep 2014; Balance failure in BBC Scottish independence referendum coverage ‘wrong and unacceptable’ says Channel 4’s Stuart Cosgrove

Stuart Cosgrove, has slammed the lack of journalistic scrutiny of Scottish independence referendum ‘scare headlines’ and called for a re-think at the BBC on the nature of balance and due impartiality.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Cosgrove said misreporting over claims the Royal Bank of Scotland would move jobs to England in the event of a Yes vote had been shown to be lacking substance and scrutiny after RBS issued a clarification to the media confirming any move would be relevant to “operations, not people”.

He told BBC presenter John Beattie:

“I think elsewhere in the media and elsewhere within this organisation, the last 24 hours have allowed people to assume that this is about job losses in Scotland and the loss of great, significant investment.

It’s clearly now is not, and yet another story when investigated the day after is proved to not have anything like the substance [it seemed].

The lack of scrutiny of this and the idea that people just wanted scare headlines I think is an outrage, particularly at this stage in the referendum when there’s so much to talk about and where journalism should be coming alive.

Let’s just take the BP example; we are being told that BP are moving to London.

Really?  What exactly are they going to do given the £200m they’ve recently invested in offshore drilling technology – where are they going to be drilling? Hemel Hempstead? Of course they’re not.”

He added that following the referendum there should be an examination of how the BBC measured balance and impartiality in its coverage, saying that applying election coverage models to the referendum when the main parties are unionist could limit time given to voices from the Yes side.

“One of the things I’d like to challenge, and I think it’s something we’ll need to talk about once the referendum’s over – and I think it has a significant impact on this institution, the BBC – is the nature of balance and due impartiality,” he said.

“Yesterday, I was watching the rolling BBC News very closely and it was clear that notions of balance were being predicated on a party political basis.

The camera panned from Cameron to Miliband to Clegg and back.throughout the programme.

“If you look at it as a different premise – it’s a yes/no question – then Patrick Harvie of the Greens, who is not the leader but is a significant political person within the Yes campaign, should have had exactly the same coverage as Ed Miliband.

Do you think for a second he got that? Of course he didn’t.

I think there’s been a failure of the understanding of the nature of balance and due impartiality. It’s simply wrong and not acceptable.”





14 September 2014: BBC insists independence campaign coverage was ‘rigorously impartial’ as campaigners protest outside Pacific Quay offices

As a crowd demonstrated outside of the headquarters of BBC Scotland on the afternoon of Sunday 13 September, with a banner being used to call for the sacking of the corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, the BBC released a statement to deny the accusations that its coverage was biased.

A BBC spokesperson told The Drum: “We believe our coverage of the referendum has been rigorously impartial and in line with our guidelines on fairness and impartiality.”

The Yes campaign reacted following a clash between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Robinson earlier in the week during a press conference where Salmond demanded an inquiry into who leaked the decision by the Royal Bank of Scotland to relocate its headquarters to England in the event of Scottish independence.

Robinson had attempted to push Salmond for a response on the economic significance of such a decision by the bank, which led to Salmond accusing him of ‘heckling’.

Speaking afterwards to BBC Radio Scotland, Salmond said of the leak: “What concerned me is not the impact on jobs because there will be none…what really concerns me is how this information was released to the BBC.”

BBC reporters have also faced further accusations of bias in their reporting directly through social media.








People of Influence – Richard Leonard – The Likely Lad From Yorkshire Thinks his Boats Come In Confirming his Destiny is to lead the Labour party in Scotland




Richard Leonard




Family Background – Richard Leonard – Labour Party (List) Member of Scottish Parliament

Richard’s 3rd Great-grandfather, (Roman Catholic), Francis Leonard, his wife Jane and 4 children left Co Tyrone around 1850 and took up residence in Whitfield, Yorkshire.

Francis was a stone cutter to trade.

His two girls Ellen B1833 and Mary B1837 gained employment in cotton weaving.

Richard’s 2nd Great-grandfather, Peter, b1839 in Ireland was employed in an Iron foundry.

Living in Leeds in 1863, he married Yorkshire born widow, Frances b1835.

They had seven children (5 boys and 2 girls).

Richard’s Great-grandfather, (Church of England), Arthur, b1874 in Leeds was employed by Leeds Corporation as a sewage worker.

In Leeds in 1896 he married Yorkshire lass Esther b1879.

They had six children (3 girls and 3 boys)

Richard’s Grandfather, John William, b1908 in Leeds was employed as an engineer.

In 1930 in Bramely, W Yorks. he married Lily b1912.

Richard’s father Yorkshire born, Derek (1932-1999) married Janet in Leeds in 1939.

They had three children (2 girls and Richard b1962)

Richard was born in Buckrose, Yorkshire, England.

An intelligent boy he was fortunate in receiving a local authority scholarship which allowed his education from 1973-80 at Pocklington School, an independent school in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.

After School he studied for a degree in politics and economics at the University of Stirling.

Information available provides no record of his gaining a degree from his time at University.

He married Kathryn in 1989 and had one son b1995 in Paisley.

They divorced in 2000.

He married divorcee, Karen in 2011.

The couple reside in Paisley together with his son and Karen’s daughter from her previous marriage.

Karen is a senior office holder with the GMB ensuring Richard is able to keep his finger on the pulse of Union politics




Political Career

Leonard worked as a research assistant to Alex Falconer MEP from 1985 for six years, before moving on to become Assistant Secretary of the STUC where he was responsible for economic affairs in a post he held for five years.

In 1996 Richard left the STUC to take up the role of an Organiser for the GMB union representing workers in manufacturing, commercial and public services across Scotland.

The GMB’s Political Officer in Scotland, he served as Chairperson of the Scottish Labour Party between 2002 and 2003.

First elected to the Labour Party Scottish Executive Committee in 1997 he is its longest serving member.

For many years Richard has been a regular writer and campaigner on the economy; contributing to various publications.

He has served on the Board of the Govan Initiative in Glasgow and then the Glasgow South West Regeneration Agency since 2000.

He was a Friends of the Earth (Scotland) Board member from 2005 to 2008.

He stood as the Labour candidate for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, coming second.

Then, in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election he gained a seat in Holyrood as a List MSP.



The Keir Hardy Association

Inspired politically by Labour’s first leader Keir Hardie Richard co-founded, together with Joe Culliane, (Leader of North Ayrshire Council) the Keir Hardie Society in 2010.

He is the Secretary of the Society and Vice Chairperson of the Scottish Labour History Society.

Other significant Scottish Labour party followers of the Keir Hardie doctrine include Ex Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Scottish labour party Deputy leader, MSP Alex Rowley and former Leadership front runner MSP Neil Lindsay.

Historical biography of keir Hardie here: (https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/keir-hardie-a-message-for-today-from-labours-past/)


Comment: I doubt Keir Hardie would have been a member of the present day Labour Party since the bulk of its policies conflict with his attitude to social justice.

That being the case it is clear that the Labour party abandoned the values of Keir Hardie many years ago in search of the Yankee dollar.

In a number of public addresses extolling his virtues, Richard Leonard exercised selective amnesia claiming the Labour Party had been founded by Hardie, which is not the case.

The facts are that at a meeting in Glasgow, in August 1888 the entirely autonomous “Scottish Labour Party” was formed by kindred spirits, Keir Hardy,(Party Secretary) and Robert Cunninghame-Graham, (President).

Cunninghame-Graham went on to found the “National Party of Scotland”, later the “Scottish National Party” (SNP).




The Early Years in Politics

Leonard was at the peak of his powers in the Labour Party in Scotland, in the period 1996-2004.

His inner circle of like minded colleagues included Jack McConnnell, Alex Rowley, Neil Lindsay and Gordon Brown.

Events have gone full circle and it appears his time has come again.

A number of noteworthy incidences occurring between 1996-2002 provide example of the simmering conflict between Blair and Leonard.




2 Sep 1996: At the Beck and Call of Cardinal Puff; the Humbling of Scottish Labour over Devolution Underlines Tony Blair’s authority over His Party

When I was young, we used to play a pub game called Cardinal Puff.

The person elected as Cardinal Puff commanded the company to perform a series of rather ridiculous actions.

For instance, it might be: `Cardinal Puff says: `Place your beer-mug on your head.”

The first person who failed to follow instructions or broke sequence bought the next round. Cardinal Puff himself never paid.

The Labour Party has been playing Cardinal Puff ever since it elected Tony Blair as leader, and this weekend it has been the turn of the national executive of the Scottish wing of the party to jump obediently through the hoops at Cardinal’s Puff’s behest

Naturally they have done so like obedient poodles.

Some may have jumped with gritted teeth, but they have jumped nevertheless, submitting their will to his.


Richard Leonard and wife Karen



8 Feb 1997: Blair’s wild bunch. The Scottish Labour Party

In most of Britain, politicians are obsessed by the general election, now no more than 12 weeks away.

Many Scottish Labour politicians, however, have their minds on another election at least two years away: the election to the Scottish parliament which Labour has promised if it wins power at Westminster.

Some senior Labour figures are seriously worried by the power struggle already under way in the party north of the border.

Unchecked, it might imperil devolution, and rekindle the movement for full Scottish independence.

Turmoil in the Scottish Labour Party may come to a head at its conference on March 8th.

For it is here that annual elections to Labour’s Scottish executive take place, and the committee elected this year will draw up the rules for choosing candidates for a Scottish parliament.

These rules will largely determine which Labour politicians obtain a seat in Edinburgh.

In Scottish politics, New Labour does not yet rule.




4 Jul 1998: Dewar’s distress: Scottish Labour Party and its secretary, Donald Dewar, face challenge from Scottish National Party

In Tony Blair’s impending cabinet reshuffle, one unexpected problem is suddenly looming large: what to do about Donald Dewar, the Scottish secretary.

Unexpected, because a few months ago, no minister’s stock was higher.

Mr Dewar had delivered an emphatic Yes in the referendum on the Scottish parliament and has been skilfully steering through Westminster the highly complicated bill to set it up.

But back in Scotland, everything seems to be falling apart.

Disgruntled Labour Party members who failed to be selected as potential Labour candidates for the Scottish elections demonstrated outside the party’s offices in Glasgow on June 29th.




10 Feb 2002: As Blair battles with Labour’s oldest allies, Jack McConnell faces a harsh choice in Scotland: follow the UK way or nail his colours to the traditional mast.

The case for Scottish home rule was based on the idea that the nation was different.

Yet, less than two years after devolution, it is England that is turning into the foreign land.

With the Prime Minister leading the charge for reformers against wreckers, the dominant part of the UK is changing fast while Scotland is becoming a bastion of stability – or stagnation.

The past week found Tony Blair doing what he does best: taking on the movement he nominally leads.

Hostilities were meant to be opened with the speech he was supposed to make to the TUC on September 11, a date that could have gone down as a watershed in British politics but ended up taking on far greater symbolism.

Instead, February 3 will be seen as the day that defined Blair’s second term.




30 Sep 2002: Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour Party Chairman Signals Split With Blair Policies

The chairman of Scottish Labour has called for socialism to become the party’s rallying-call during next year’s Holyrood elections – signalling a deep and damaging split with both Tony Blair and the party in England.

Richard Leonard, an ally of Jack McConnell, has said the party needs to go to the polls being “less apologetic and less defensive about our socialism” and needs to “rediscover its soul”.

His comments will infuriate Mr Blair, who vowed yesterday to press ahead with controversial public sector reforms – despite damning criticism from union leaders.

The Prime Minister faces embarrassment today at the party conference in Blackpool over the issue, but both he and Alan Milburn, the health secretary, signalled their determination yesterday to continue with changes including extension of Private Finance Initiatives.




22 Apr 2014: Leonard Supports Labours Campaign Against Independence – But Loses the Argument

Nation-wide branch Skills Development Scotland held a Yes/No debate at their 2014 AGM.

Richard Leonard, GMB’s political officer represented the “No” campaign, United for Labour, and went head-to-head with Richie Venton of Trade Unionists for Independence.

Yes emerged the popular choice of the night.

Skills Development Scotland branch secretary, Derek Cheyne, said: “It was a really good debate – I think a lot of people really engaged and we had a great turn out as well.

I’ve got to say, I think that most of the questions from the floor were very pro-yes.

We’ve not canvassed on whether our members are yes or no, but I got the feeling tonight Yes was dominant.

I hope it has energised our members, that they become more involved whether it’s yes or no – that’s entirely up to them, because my union has taken a more neutral stance, adding, But as I said – tonight seemed to be quite positively on the Yes side.”

Richie Venton said: “It was an excellent debate – there were some forceful arguments, but very respectful.

For me, probably the most significant factor is that trade unionists spelt out that the struggle for “Yes” is driving towards the conclusion that we need radical change in society.

And that will build the basis for a future shaping of Scotland in an entirely different direction – to favour the working class.”




Trident – Scottish Labour Party Decide the Policy

Conference debated Trident.

In an active debate discussion centred on trade union concerns about the threat to jobs that non-renewal would create.

The carefully worded composite saying that “prior to any decision to cancel Trident firm commitments should be made to retaining defence workers jobs”, was sufficient to attract UNITE’s support.

The GMB remained implacably opposed, saying that diversification would never deliver well paid secure jobs and that it was “pie in the sky”.

In his summing up speech a delegate from Glasgow South-side CLP remarked he would rather have pie in the sky than a mushroom cloud.

In the end, Conference voted 70% to 30% in favour of “not seeking a replacement for Trident and abandoning plans to spend billions on a new generation of nuclear weapons.”

Note: The Labour Party’s current policy is to support Trident, backed by its party conference.

Corbyn has said that the policy would be reviewed by any future Labour government.

Leonard supports the GMB position which is to retain Trident




Leonard’s Bid for the Leadership of the Scottish Labour Party

His bid for a starring role in Scottish politics so late in the day raises the question. Why now?

His answer might well be, why not?

Everyone else has had a go at it and failed!!

An added incentive included the early withdrawal from the race of Leonard admirers, Alex Rowley and Neil Lindsay who publicly pledged their support.

The Party in Scotland is bogged down at a crossroads and going nowhere.

A wrong turn now might well bring about its final demise and it is important that the new leader should be able to motivate party members closely empathising with the politics of the Labour party in England.

Leonard fits the pattern.

He is highly intelligent and greatly experienced politically through his long service with Labour stalwarts from the past and many years working in the industrial sector with the GMB union.

The very fact that party members respond, Richard who? to mention of his candidacy is a gift to his campaign since it confirms he is carrying no negative political baggage.

As was Keir Hardie, Leonard is a federalist,(stopping just short of independence) a belief that has wide support within the party.

In this respect he will insist the party in Scotland maintains autonomy whilst retaining full membership of the Labour movement within the British isles.

Press releases have Jeremy Corbyn supporting home rule within the UK and this bodes well for the party in Scotland.

He has a firm grasp of economics, through his many years as the economics policy advisor for the GMB and will propose radical solutions to economic, financial and social areas of concern.

But, as is the case with Corbyn and McDonald.

The devil is in the detail and how do we pay for it? will be the question asked many times but rarely answered.

By result stretching credibility beyond an acceptable level.

Alex Rowley’s daughter, Danielle Rowley, MP for Midlothian is to lead Leonard’s campaign.




Hows the Campaign Going so Far?

Pundits have Leonard pulling ahead in the race as Corbynites grab control of Scottish Labour.

Rival Anas Sarwar’s support is evaporating fast as his colleagues come under pressure from the, “Campaign for Socialism” group which has members in just about every control level of the party.

De-selection beckons for any councillor, MSP or MP not onside as left wingers within constituencies assert their authority.

A Sarwar supporter said: “It’s a coup. They know they will face reselection and a Corbynite candidate could easily be moved up the list at the next election.

They want to save their jobs and that means we’re looking at an Englishman nobody outside the union movement has heard of leading Scottish Labour.

The divisions within the party emerged as Labour MSPs met for an “away day” excursion at the Holyrood MacDonald hotel, in the shadow of the parliament.

The event had been arranged before Dugdale quit but the battle to succeed her dominated discussions.

A source said: “it’s now clear elected politicians are moving behind Central list MSP Leonard.

I am resigned to seeing trade union votes move solidly behind Englishman Leonard, thanks to his 20 years’ service as a GMB official.




17 Sep 2017: Leadership Candidate Leonard Vows Party Will Rediscover Socialism

Leonard believes in a wider labour movement beyond Scotland.

He is an internationalist believing the labour movement to be built on the principles of solidarity and collectivism.

His goal in life is to actively participate in the construction of a society based on the, human, social and economic values of democratic socialism.

Vowing Labour would not form a pact with the SNP or back a second independence referendum under his leadership he admitted his political views have gone in and out of fashion over time but drew parallels with Corbyn – a success story he hopes to emulate.

If elected First Minister, he vowed to pursue policies redistributing power, including an industrial strategy for full employment, tough rent controls, a workers’ right to buy their companies and to nationalise failing public services such as Scot Rail and Royal Mail.

He also backs the UK Labour leadership’s view on Brexit, for a long-term transition period with Britain in the single market.

Launching his leadership bid, he promised that Labour would “rediscover our ethical socialist roots”. (highbeam)



As a member of the Labour party Leonard has to take and abide by the instructions of his his party whip.

This means that he can never support or devise policies that are not agreed by the UK Labour party.

Therefore, if successful in his leadership campaign he can only aspire to be a branch manager for Labour in Scotland.

Economic policies that primarily benefit voters in England are the only policies that he or any other candidate for the leadership of the Scottish labour party will be allowed to promote.

Economic policies designed to meet Scottish needs and circumstances can only be committed to by a party answerable to Scottish voters and he isn’t a member of such a party.




14 Sep 2017: Aspiring Labour Leader Richard Leonard Fears Scottish Parliament Hasn’t Lived Up to its Potential

Richard Leonard helped set up the Scottish Parliament – but 20 years after the referendum he fears it hasn’t lived up to its potential.

In an interview, he claimed an air of complacency has replaced the early optimism of Holyrood.

Now the Jeremy Corbyn ally is determined to become Scottish Labour’s next leader and bring about “radical change”.

Leonard might lack a big public profile – he was first elected just last year – but his party credentials stretch back decades.

In the 90s, Leonard’s role at the Trades Union Congress gave him a steering hand in the creation of the parliament in which he now represents Central Scotland.

“The whole point about that whole campaign was we wanted a parliament to do things differently, bring about some radical change,” he said.

“The document we worked on at the time was called ‘power for change’ so it was a vision of a very different Scotland, based in the context of Thatcherism, John Major, and ideologically driven Tory government and how we could do something here to act as a bulwark.”

Almost 20 years to the day since the Yes-Yes vote for a parliament with tax-raising powers, is he pleased with what he sees?

“Yes and no,” Leonard said. “It’s done some great things like legislation on land reform and Legislation on homelessness was world-leading.

The creation of a co-operative development agency was an important step forward.

We’ve got a resilient labour market and our NHS waiting times are better than in England but is that really the limit of our ambitions?

A lot of the potential has not been realised.

If I look at areas where there have been powers from the creation of the parliament, whether it’s housing, education and training policy, industrial and manufacturing policy.

In those areas we haven’t realised the potential. “The reasons that drove me to stand was, frankly, a sense of frustration that the hopes and aspirations which led us to campaign for the Scottish Parliament haven’t been realised.” (Daily Record)




Leonard Intends to Do a Corbyn on Scotland

Leonard campaigned to remain in the EU but says he respects the UK-wide referendum decision.

He raised eyebrows, however, by ignoring the party whip in a symbolic Holyrood vote against Theresa May’s decision to trigger EU exit negotiations.

“For the SNP this was all about a second independence referendum so that was a reason why I voted against it,” he said.

Predictable questions have also been raised by anonymous party figures about an Englishman leading Scottish Labour.

But Leonard believes Scottish politics needs to shake itself out of an obsession with geography. He said:

“All my experience of all these years in Scotland is people are tolerant and welcoming, it shouldn’t be an issue, It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going to.

Politics should be about political principles, not geography.

And one of the problems about politics in recent years is that people have been far too mesmerised with geography and not concentrated enough on political principle, and that’s something I’d aim to change, adding, I see great opportunities for transforming Scotland.

The best way to do that is leading the Scottish Labour Party. And on the platform of that, to be the next Labour first minister.”


Leonard, a member of CND he supports retention of Trident



6 Sep 2017: Neil Lindsay (MSP) Answers Questions. Who is Richard Leonard?

Q. Neil, many thanks for making time for us. Tell us about Richard Leonard.

A. Richard may not be famous to people outside the party yet, but he’s very well known within Scottish Labour.

He studied here, worked for the Scottish TUC and then for Alec Falconer when he was an MEP.

Alec was well-known, a former dockyard worker and a huge character.

Between them, they ran every left organisation and campaign for years and they were formidable – ‘a pair and a half’.

They both used to share an office with Gordon Brown – they always got along well but from time to time there were good-natured differences!

For the last 20 years Richard was a trade union official, latterly political officer with GMB Scotland [union].

He’s intelligent, thoughtful and consistent in his politics.

He’s never aligned himself publicly with any group or faction in Scotland but he’s always been supportive and worked closely with the left.

He’s also savvy – he didn’t get involved in the Better Together campaign, recognising what a disaster that would be for Labour in Scotland and he was proved absolutely right.

He’s a thinker. He’s written extensively about public and employee ownership and recently developed Scottish Labour’s industrial strategy; he’s a real Labour historian and founding member of the Keir Hardie Society.

But he’s got real-world, practical intelligence – as a union man he’s negotiated with angry employers and knows how to handle people.

Q. And he’s a Corbyn supporter?

A. Look, Richard is his own man – but he has the courage of his convictions.

He signed a letter with me, Alex Rowley and others last year supporting Corbyn’s leadership when that was very unfashionable in Scotland.

Whilst he hasn’t been a member of the CFS [Scottish, ‘Campaign for Socialism’] he most certainly has never been a member of Progress either. I regard him as politically a very close friend.

Q. Unfashionable?

A. During the leadership contest last year, more full Labour members backed Owen Smith than Jeremy.

However, when you included registered supporters, Scottish Labour backed Corbyn.

It’s a different electorate now even compared to last year and it’s been changing for a good while.

When I stood against Jim Murphy, there were only about 15,000 members and the party was on its arse – but even then I got 35% when I was fighting the entire party Establishment and a well-resourced candidate. Sarah [Boyack] took 9% and Jim 55%.

That meant that even in 2014 45% of Scottish Labour members supported left candidates. Now we have around 22,000 members and 9,000 registered supporters.

Q. So registered supporters will participate in this contest too – will they have to pay again to register?

A. Yes, they’ll have a vote – there’s a meeting on Saturday to agree the rules.

Q. How do you see the contest unfolding?

A. I think it’s wide open and all to play for.

We’re planning a campaign based on policy not personality and I hope that will be the same for both candidates.

Neither Richard nor Anas are the kind of people to do personal attacks.

The key issue is going to be resources. Anas’ campaign will be extremely well resourced with no shortage of funds

Q. Now, I have to ask: what about accents? Is it going to matter that Richard’s originally from England?

A. I think the accent issue is hugely overplayed.

There’ll be a flurry of interest and then it’s over. Richard’s one of us and he’s been here over thirty years since he was at uni, but we’re going to be concentrating on policy and vision. That’s what sets him apart.

Q. Are you playing a formal role in his campaign?

A. No, I’ll be helping in whatever way is needed.

The head of his campaign has just been appointed and there’ll be news about that shortly but people will be very pleased with the person who’s going to be running things for Richard There’ll be an announcement shortly.

Q. How would you like to round off the interview?

A. Policies and vision are the key. If people want a Scottish Labour leader who won’t just help restore the party’s fortunes in Scotland but will bring a genuine vision for the whole country, they’ll vote for Richard.

Conclusion: The SKWAWKBOX has already endorsed Richard Leonard for the Scottish Labour leadership, but our conversation with the highly-regarded Neil Findlay has only reinforced the conviction that, while his opponent Anas Sarwar represents a step back to the bad old days for Labour in Scotland, Leonard can be the leader who takes the party forward – and is good for the country.




21 Sep 2017: More unions want Leonard for leader

The left-wing candidate in the Scottish Labour leadership contest received the support of two more trade unions yesterday.

Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard was backed by train drivers’ union Aslef and Unite Scotland in his bid to defeat “moderate” candidate Anas Sarwar.

Mr Leonard, who was a GMB union organiser for 20 years, received support from rail union TSSA last Friday and is expected to gain further labour movement endorsements over the coming weeks.

Since entering the contest Leonard, an unwavering supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has put forward a manifesto that includes rent controls and an industrial strategy involving public ownership of rail and mail.

Unite Scotland chair Scot Walker said: “We want Labour to take the radical socialist road in Scotland.

We support Richard Leonard because we believe he would take us on that journey.

We urge Unite members to follow our lead and vote for Richard in the coming election.”

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We’re proud to support his campaign. He’s a committed trade unionist and recognises that the people of Scotland are hungry for change.

I know that under Richard’s leadership, train drivers will have a robust voice in Scotland.”

Aslef’s Scotland organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “I’ve known Richard for many years. He wants to ensure Scotland’s railways are run for the people, not to subsidise the fares of our European neighbours or to be given away as dividends to line the pockets of private company shareholders.

He’ll represent the vast majority of Scottish people who are fed up with the status quo.”





Westminster Confirms Scottish Agricultural Policy Will be Decided in London and Imposed on Scotland Post Brexit – Tory Supporting National Farmers Union of Scotland Delighted – Wonder Why?






28/11/13: Scotland’s Farming and rural Constitution and democracy

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, outlined some of the benefits of independence for Scottish farming including the EU rule that by 2019 no member state would receive farm payments of less than €196 per hectare – approximately £175, an extra €1 billion of funding – Scotland’s billion euro boost. He said:

“The money would have benefited our farmers and the Scottish economy as a whole – including our rural communities and the whole farming supply chain.

Agriculture is comparatively around a third more important to the Scottish economy than to the UK’s as a whole, and it is distinctive.

Indeed with every £1 of output from the agricultural sector generating an additional 80 pence in other parts of the Scottish economy, the whole country loses out.

We would also have had the opportunity to join 16 other EU countries in negotiating hundreds of millions of euros more in rural development funding – funding that we could invest in rural tourism, environmental protection, broadband, renewables, and start-up assistance for young farmers.

Instead, the UK Government negotiated a worse deal for Scotland – taking Scotland to the very bottom of the European funding league tables.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the UK qualified for a €223 million uplift because of Scotland’s low payments – but instead of that funding coming to Scottish farmers, in line with the wishes of the European Union and Scottish Parliament, it was divvied up across the whole of the UK.

Only with the powers of independence, and direct representation in Europe, we can empower our rural communities to secure and grow rural Scotland’s place in our society and economy.”





A Successful Farmer Speaks Out

Jim Brown, of Gaindykehead Farm near Airdrie, one of Scotland’s most successful beef farmers, said:

“The UK Government’s actions over the recent debacle of CAP convergence funding shows they do not have Scottish farming’s interests at heart, and indeed are taking decisions which remove vital funding from Scotland.

These actions destroy any remaining faith farmers such as myself may have had in the ability of the UK to do what is best for Scottish farming.

I want Scotland to be independent so our farmers are represented in Europe by a Government that always prioritises the Scottish interest, and which has a track record of delivering for farming.

After decades of being represented by the UK in Europe, Scotland is now bottom of the league tables of CAP funding.

With independence we can’t possibly do worse, and I believe we can do much, much better.”





2 Jul 2017: It’s Hall over now

Not long after the referendum on continued European membership became known the Scottish Government and the National Farmers Union agreed to work together towards the development of post-Brexit devolved agriculture policies in Scotland.

Given the history of the intransigence of the NFUS towards the SNP government it was an unexpected and in some ways groundbreaking relationship.

But the brief union between NFU Scotland’s policy guru Jonnie Hall and ScotGov’s agri-policy unit ended without bearing fruit.

Hall’s secondment to ScotGov was formally brought to a close, the official reason offered was that, in the absence of even the barest outline of the Westminster government approach to farm policy after Brexit to chew on, neither he nor his ScotGov counterparts had a starting point to work from.

Commenting, NFUS chief executive Scott Walker said:

“Jonnie Hall’s secondment to the Scottish Government was a new approach for both sides to help formulate the right agricultural policy for Scotland in a post-Brexit future.

Given the eventual Brexit negotiation timetable that has emerged since December 2016, both sides were ahead of the curve, with discussions still firmly focussed on Brexit options rather than the detail of Scottish agricultural policy.

As Jonnie’s skills and knowledge were not being fully utilised, both parties felt it was appropriate to bring the secondment to an end after six months, rather than taking up the option to extend it beyond that time.”

He went on. “Scottish Government now has a number of specialist groups to look at future agricultural policy and we look forward to engaging with them in the months ahead.

This summer, NFUS will roll out its discussion document ‘Change – A New Agricultural Policy for Scotland Post-Brexit’, with office holders attending more than 30 agricultural shows.”

Adding: “We will also be meeting with Defra on a monthly basis, attending the Conservative party conference in the autumn and focussing on future policy at NFU Scotland’s Autumn conference in October.”
(The Scottish Farmer)


Comment: The National Farmers Union of Scotland, in consequence of their withdrawal from the partnership approach to designing future agricultural policies together with the Scottish Government abandoned any pretence of a constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government and through it the people of Scotland.

A “divide and rule” tactic the outcome of which, they are confident, will be the full support of the Westminster Government, taking forward the agricultural policies of Scotland. History proves otherwise.





21 Jul 2017: Agricultual policy within the UK will be decided by Westminster Post Brexit .

The Westminster Government

Michael Gove announced he wanted a green Brexit and farmers will no longer be “handed out” farm subsidies. These will have to be “earned”.

He stated that whilst a payments regime will remain place until 2022, the current Common Agricultural Policy’s Basic Payment Scheme will be scrapped.

In this period government advisors and farmers’ leaders will decide the future distribution of finance, including the environment, infrastructure, and promotion of British food.

Mr Gove added: “There are very good reasons why we should provide support for agriculture. “Seventy per cent of our land is farmed – beautiful landscape has not happened by accident but has been actively managed.

Agriculture is an industry more susceptible to outside shocks and unpredictable events – whether it’s the weather or disease.

So financial assistance and mechanisms which can smooth out the vicissitudes farmers face make sense.”

He also added that he wished to help farmers in Britain’s highlands, as farming there without subsidies is “impossible”.




The National Farmers Union of Scotland

The National Farmers Union Scotland responded to Mr Gove’s statement, and claimed that it was in line with its discussion document, titled Change – A New Agricultural Policy for Scotland Post-Brexit. A spokesman said:

“The union’s vision for the next decade is a managed transition from 2017 to 2027 to an action-based support system. “It wants to capitalise on new market opportunities, coupled with a new domestic agricultural policy, that will move our farmers and crofters to a position where market returns are the primary driver of profitability.”

Director of policy at NFUS, Jonnie Hall, added that while there was much reference to green Brexit, there was a “significant amount” of agricultural content within Mr Gove’s speech, which was complementary of NFUS’ wishes for Scottish agriculture. He said:

“The Secretary of State’s statement that support must be earned chimes with our thoughts. “We would want to see a properly-funded policy, supported by science-led decision making, that builds on our animal health and welfare record and is focused on productivity and profitability gains. “That means, in the future, there is a justifiable case for Scottish agriculture to receive the same levels of funding it currently receives, ring-fenced and spent in new and more effective ways to improve productivity, efficiency and resilience. “That is a central plank of the discussions we will be having with Westminster politicians and their officials in the weeks and months ahead.”

He further commented: “Mr Gove also recognised in his speech the importance of support to those living and working in our hills and uplands. “That is an issue we were able to raise with the minister when we met at the Highland Show, and we have extended an invite to the minister and his team to visit Scotland soon and view the unique and diverse agricultural systems found north of the border.”





The Scottish Government

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, commented that Brexit is the “biggest” threat to rural Scotland, and that is why the Scottish Government wanted to remain within the EU, as it believed doing so was the best option for the future of Scotland.

Adding that decisions about agriculture should be left in the hands of the Scottish government, he explained:

“We have repeatedly made clear that Brexit should not be used as cover for a power grab, and that powers in areas such as agriculture, fisheries and environmental protection should return to Scotland – not Westminster.

“No one is suggesting we cut ourselves off from collaboration, but this must be done on the basis of respect for the devolved administrations.

We are prepared to agree any UK-wide approach that is necessary on withdrawal from the EU, but this must be negotiated between the governments, not imposed by the UK Government.”

He went on to say that it is “concerning” that the UK government is looking to change financial support within agriculture, without consulting the devolved governments, particularly Scotland, and added: “Scottish farming is more reliant on CAP funds than the rest of the UK due to issues of remoteness and land abandonment, and any attempt to cut support will be strongly opposed by the Scottish Government.”

He agreed that the current system does not always work well, but this period should be used as a time to improve it, concluding: “The current CAP is not perfect, but the EU is already looking at CAP reform, so we have an opportunity to improve  it.

That is why we have already insisted that the UK should not disengage from the CAP reform process – but they did it regardless of right.” (The Scottish Farmer)








Twins of Distrust – The Tory Party and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Leadership – Their Self Imposed Selective Amnesia – Selling Out Those They Purport to Support





22 Sep 2017: Fishermen of Shetland Press Lord Duncan for answers on Brexit plans and get the usual waffle

Shetland fishermen reiterated their desire to see the UK take control of its waters post-Brexit after meeting with Scotland Office minister Lord Duncan.

The Association chairman said Brexit presented an opportunity for significant growth in Shetland’s single most important industry but there were concerns that fishing may be used is a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations as the UK looks ahead to leaving the EU. He went on:

“Right back to the days when I was regularly at sea, fishermen have felt left behind by a system that allowed overseas boats to fish often very close to our shores at times when we were unable to. That can now be rectified, and we hope and expect ministers in the Brexit negotiations to stand up for our industry, restore control and let us negotiate any access as a fishing nation in the annual coastal states talks like Norway does.”

Lord Duncan said it would be a “disgrace” to see fisheries access traded away in EU negotiations and added that the UK government would be happy to liaise with the Scottish Government on the allocation of fishing quotas. He added:

“Fishermen up and down the land are hopeful that there will be more quota. That makes perfect sense – the bulk of the fish is caught in our waters. The question then comes – how shall that quota be allocated? If you were to allocate it, as the previous quota was allocated, based on a track record which had been historically determined, then a large amount of that would go to England, if you devolved it right down to that level. At the moment, they probably couldn’t catch it, and don’t have the vessels to catch it. So if you devolve the quota right down to that level you’re going to create a problem potentially for a quota that remains uncaught, and for Scottish vessels not getting as they would argue entitlement to which they legitimately expect.  So should there be a common British quota approach, or not? We’ve suggested to the Scottish Government to talk about that, and they’re suggesting that’s a power grab.”  Full article here:


Shetland fishermen should cast their thoughts to the track record of the Tory Party. See below.




SECRET papers, reveal how the Scottish fishing fleet was betrayed by the Tory government 30 years ago to enable Britain to sign up to the controversial Common Fisheries Policy.

Prime Minister Edward Heath’s officials estimated that up to half the fishermen in Scottish waters – then 4,000 men – could lose their jobs, but the decision was taken to go ahead with plans to sign up because it was believed that the benefits to English and Welsh fishermen would outweigh the disadvantages in Scotland.

Three decades on, with the same policy now threatening the very survival of the Scottish whitefish fleet, the new revelations are certain to fan the flames of deepening unrest in Scotland’s coastal communities.

In a memo dated 11 December 1970, on the negotiations to sign up to the CFP, the department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland conceded that the policy would lead to a “weaker and less efficient national fleet”.

A DAFS briefing note warned: “In short, at present it is much easier to see the drawbacks for our fishermen likely to be involved in the Common Fisheries Policy than to be at all positive that there will be benefits to offset, let alone outweigh them.”

Another DAFS paper in July 1970 warned that the small boat section of the Scottish industry would be damaged and the benefits might not outweigh the disadvantages.

It said the small boats were more likely to be affected because they were “less enterprising and less mobile”.

Alex Smith, the president of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said that the release of the secret papers had only served to confirm what Scottish fishermen had always suspected – the Scottish fleet was expendable.

He said: “I have never doubted that that was what happened. No-one seemed to care about the Scottish fishing industry and at one time there wasn’t even going to be even a three mile limit for Scottish boats.

“I was a skipper in Arbroath at the time we joined the Common Market. There was no such thing as a fishermen’s federation in those days and it was fishermen in Arbroath who began opposing the plan.

“I was on our committee and we organised a big meeting, attended by 200 fishermen from the north and west and all over. And it was out of that we managed to negotiate the ten year 12-mile limit.”   (The.Scotsman)


The Unionist Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Leadership Are Spreading the Mists of Uncertainty Over Fishery Policies Post Brexit – This Should Clear the Air a Bit








The Laws of the Sea Convention

The Convention allows countries to establish an exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.

When UK leaves the EU it will have control of all fish within this zone.

But, there are “riders”, the laws place a commitment on countries to ensure fish stocks are conserved and allowable catches are specified and where applicable shared with other countries.

Norway which is not a member of the EU, maintains a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, but it has agreements in place with a number of countries, both outwith and within EU allowing fishing in its waters.





The EU Common Fisheries Policy – How it Works

All member countries of the EU, with a fishing industry are allocated an annual fishing quota, being a share of the “total allowable catch” (TAC) within EU waters, for each type of fish, set by the European Council of ministers.

Quota’s are necessary to ensure fishing is sustainable and EU waters are not overfished.

In the case of non EU countries where fishing resources are shared E.G. Norway, similar quotas are put in place.

The quota system evolved through discussion over many years is now relatively stable and fair and is unlikely to change in the near future.

The UK was disadvantaged at the time it joined the EU since quota’s were allocated against the fishing patterns of member countries and the UK fishing fleet mainly operated in Icelandic waters, until 1976 and the introduction of the 200 mile exclusion zone which required the UK to give up fishing in Icelandic waters.

The quota system does not give licence to EU countries to fish anywhere within UK waters.

It is for each member state to permit or deny fishing rights and quotas up to 100 miles, for fleets that have traditionally operated in the area.

The laws applicable to this quirk time out in 2022 and it is doubtful they would be renewed after Brexit.





UK Fishing Catch 2004-2015

The UK catch has increased year on year between 2004 and 2014.

Total fish landed in 2004 was approximately 650,000 tonnes.

Annual increases in quota’s have increased the catch to the present day 775,000 tonnes.

The largest catch of any country in the EU.

The UK (TAC) is estimated to be just over 30% of catchable fish in EU waters.

Discussions are on-going and it is expected the UK quota will be increased further in respect of cod stocks of which are increasing.





4 Dec 2015: Fish quota boost after Norway and EU talks

Significant increases in fishing quotas for Scottish fishermen have been agreed for key stocks in 2016.

The deal followed talks between the EU and Norway.

It was agreed that the total allowable catch (TAC) for cod could increase by 15% and North Sea herring by 16%.

Haddock catches were given a 30% boost with an extra 17% for vessels affected by the discard ban, taking the total increase to 47%.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “These significant increases for both haddock and cod, in line with scientific advice, are good news for the fishing industry.

Following a year which saw landings up by nearly a fifth and revenues worth over £500m these increases in quota mean fishermen can further boost catch and profits and could be worth over £15m.

This will also help the fleet manage the discard ban, which will stop dead haddock being thrown back into the sea, which will in turn improve the stocks of fish.”

Conservative MEP for Scotland Ian Duncan said decisions for every species have yet to be taken, but he voiced his delight with the outcome reached on Friday.

He said: “Let me be clear, on the whole this is a fantastic result for the Scottish fishing industry and I pay tribute to them and all the hard work and pain they have endured over the last decade or so to be in a position today that sees cod TAC increase by 15% to 27,930 tonnes in EU waters.

Considering where we were not that long ago, this in itself would be incredible.

But the news for haddock; an increase of almost 50% and north sea herring; an increase of 16% on top of the cod figures leaves the industry in very good heart this evening.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This agreement reflects the healthy nature of our stocks and will bring some welcome relief to our hard-working fishermen who are committed to a sustainable future.

Challenges remain, and while the quota uplift for haddock and other stocks to cope with the discard ban will be welcomed, only time and a great deal of effort from fisheries managers, the Scottish fleet and the supply chain as whole will help ensure the discard ban scheme works when it is phased in from 1 January 2016.




16 August 2016: The Repeal Bill – Regaining Control of Scottish waters – Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Statement

Brexit provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore normality and give our industry a real chance to prosper once again.

But what do I mean by restoring normality? Well, leaving the EU returns us to a position enjoyed by coastal states around the world in giving us control of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around our coast.

Control of our fishing was traded away when we joined the European Economic Community in 1973. Our waters became “common grazing”.

Just look to Norway to see how its seafood industry has prospered outside the EU whilst ours suffered from being within.

The central point is that on Brexit the UK will be in charge of its own EEZ.

We will have the critical mass to control the bulk of fishing on the northern continental shelf, with some of the best fishing grounds in the world.

Nobody will suggest that we should overfish, ignore the science, immediately refuse access to other countries or suddenly abandon cooperation, but we will at last be a normal coastal state under international law, forging regulation, access and opportunity to fit our newly recovered rights.

In other words, we will be the managing partner of our EEZ and will be able to lead the way in developing fit-for-purpose management that will enable fishing to sustainably develop.

It has the potential to deliver a fishing management structure in our EEZ that supports communities, jobs, sustainable fishing and proper environmental protection.

It also gives us the chance to deliver fairer shares of catching opportunities in UK waters; our fish, our rights. That surely is a prize worth pursuing.

The kindest thing we can be say about the Common Fisheries Policy, given 28 Member States, the existence of the European Parliament of 751 MEPs and the decision-making processes of the European Union, is that if a least-worse option is achieved on any issue affecting the Scottish fleet, then it’s a matter for celebration.

Over the past 40 years the management of our fisheries through the (CFP) has been lamentable with this distant, centralised and monumentally inefficient management regime producing an endless stream of largely dysfunctional rules and regulations.

There is no doubt that the Brexit negotiations will be a difficult process, and the transition process will prove challenging.

Indeed, we have real fears that during the complex negotiations that a ‘conciliatory’ settlement will be made on fisheries with the aim of securing concessions elsewhere.

Such form of double jeopardy would be unacceptable – having been seriously damaged in the cause of EU entry, the fishing industry must not be damaged at EU exit, especially when there is so much potential to deliver economic benefit to the UK.

But make no mistake, the size of the prize is enormous, and if the right deal is reached on Brexit, it will turn us back into a world-class seafood harvesting and exporting country. (SFF)





18 Apr 2017: EU to contest UK efforts to ‘take back control’ of fisheries

The British government’s plan to “take back control” of its waters after leaving the EU is to be challenged by a claim from eight fishing states that their fishermen have a historical right to access to the seas around Britain dating back to the 1400s.

They are insisting that any Brexit deal recognises the right of their fleets to continue to exploit many shared stocks of species including cod, herring, mackerel, plaice and sand eel.

The development suggests that leaving the EU will not reap all of the dividends to Britain promised by prominent leave campaigners.

EU Officials said that 40% of their fishermen’s annual take is from waters within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around Britain and in consequence their coastal fishing communities are almost entirely economically dependent on access to UK waters.

They estimate that a loss of access to British waters would lead to a reduction of about 50% in European fleets’ net profit and the loss of 6,000 full-time jobs.

The strength of the EU “claim of right” is supported by the UN convention on the, “law of the sea”, to which the UK and EU countries are signatories, which instructs states to respect the “traditional fishing rights” of adjacent countries within sovereign waters.

The quota system currently in place within the EU is evidence of a historical right of access since they are firmly based on fishing patterns in place well before the existence of the EU.

A senior EU fishing policy negotiator said: “We have a common sea basin where we can fish. We have always had that.

The British claim of getting back their waters is a nonsense, because they never had them in the first place.

The waters might well be British but fish are transient and belong to no-one. (The Guardian)





10 May 2017: Tory duplicity on Fishing policy post brexit

The Tory policy on fishing, post Brexit is becoming clear.

In a letter to British fishermen’s leaders the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom suggested Tories were: “committed to ongoing cooperation with other countries over the management of shared stocks “.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The cat is now out of the bag – while Ruth Davidson was recently in the North-east maintaining the pretence that the Tories were the Scottish fishermen’s friends, her Westminster bosses were plotting a gigantic sell-out.” (The Express)





“Fishing for Freedom: Lessons for Britain from Iceland’s fisheries experience”,

the analysis of an Icelandic expert based on his country’s experiences right back to the Cod Wars of the 1970s indicates that the UK should follow the example of its northern neighbours Iceland and Norway when it comes to managing fisheries – because they have been far more successful than the EU at conserving stocks and sustaining coastal communities.

Extracted comments from the analysis:

“The experience of Iceland and Norway emphasises the importance of having full authority over the fishing sector, the importance of sustainable and responsible management and of keeping the domestic fishing grounds, as a general rule for local fishermen for the benefit of the whole country”.

“Britain, post Brexit, as a sovereign country, will have an absolute and undisputed right to a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or the median line under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”.

“Traditional fishing rights, real or purported, of other countries cannot override the Convention, otherwise no country would ever risk allowing fishing vessels from other countries to fish its waters.”

“Consequently, the EU and its member states have no legal arguments for demands to continue fishing in British waters as before. And they are very well aware of that”.

The British people both have strong conservation arguments on their side, like Iceland during the Cod Wars in the latter half of the 20th century, due to the failures of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) but also the sovereign right to a 200-mile EEZ which is today guaranteed by international law”.

“Leaving the EU offers the British government a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fundamentally rethink the way British fisheries are managed, with a long-term view of how the sector may prosper in the future, taking note of the best practices of other countries and ensuring sustainability and the creation of valuable British jobs.”

A Scottish Fishermen’s Federation spokesman said: “These are exactly the arguments we have been making to our governments, and what better validation of them than the experience of those fisheries nations outside the EU and its disastrous CFP. Iceland and Norway have different but successful fisheries management regimes and a much better record for sustainability – that is what we must insist upon for our indigenous industry.” (SFF)





2 Jul 2017: UK to ‘take back control’ of waters after exiting fishing convention

Michael Gove announced withdrawal from the 1964 “London Fisheries Convention” which allows vessels from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands to fish within six nautical miles of each other’s coastlines. Interviewed by Andrew Barr he said:

“When we leave the European Union we will become an independent political state and that means that we can then extend control of our waters up to 200 miles or the median line between Britain and France, and Britain and Ireland.

One critical thing about the common fisheries policy is that it has been an environmental disaster.

And one of the reasons we want to change it is that we want to ensure that we can have sustainable fish stocks for the future … I think it’s important that we recognise that leaving the European Union is going to help the environment.” (SFF)





2 Jul 2017: The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace Offer a View

The head of campaigns at WWF, said:

“Achieving sustainable fishing is about much more than which country fishes where. It is about ensuring that fishermen use the right fishing gear, that fishing takes place at levels that maintain sustainable stocks and that we pioneer ways to monitor what is happening at sea in order to understand the impacts of fishing.

Leaving the EU means we could get these things right, but we will still need to cooperate with our neighbours, as fish do not recognise lines on a map.” (SFF)

Greenpeace UK’s head of oceans, said:

“For years, successive UK governments have blamed Brussels for their own failure to support the small-scale, sustainable fishers who are the backbone of our fishing fleet.

If Brexit is to herald a better future for our fishers, the Conservative party manifesto must honour the commitment to rebalance fishing quotas in favour of ‘small-scale, specific locally-based fishing communities’.”

A consultant at the environmental law firm ClientEarth, describing the move as a negotiating tactic, said:

“As a country outside the EU, we need to consider how we can best cooperate with our neighbours rather than unilaterally withdrawing from all agreements in the hope that standing alone will make us better.

Many fish stocks in UK waters are shared with our neighbours and so need cooperation and shared management.” (SFF)





3 Aug 2017: EU fishing boats can still operate in UK waters after Brexit

Gove, who was made environment secretary after June’s election, told the Danish fishing industry that Britain does not have the capacity to catch and process all the fish in British waters and thus boats from EU nations would be allowed continued access post-Brexit.

His comments prompted complaints from the Lib Dems and SNP that the government’s stance on the issue was confused.

Gove had previously said Britain was “taking back control” of its fisheries by departing from the EU common fisheries policy, which lets member states fish between 12 and 200 nautical miles off the UK’s coastline.

He also announced Britain’s withdrawal from the London fisheries convention, signed before the Britain joined the EU, which lets vessels from Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands fish within between six and 12 nautical miles of each other’s coasts.

A Defra spokeswoman said the issue was that the UK would be able to control which foreign ships fished within its territory. “Leaving the EU means we will take back control of our territorial waters,” she said. “As we have always said, other countries will be able to access our waters – but for the first time in 50 years it will be on our terms and under our control. “We will allocate quotas on the basis of what is scientifically sustainable, making sure we have a healthy marine environment and profitable fishing industry in the UK.”





Friday 15 September 2017: Overfishing in the North Sea to be curtailed by EU

The European parliament has voted on a series of measures reducing overfishing in the North Sea. The vote imposes limits to fishing quotas so that they cannot exceed levels regarded as sustainable by scientists. The North Sea is one of Europe’s biggest fishing grounds, especially for key commercial species such as cod and haddock.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Britain welcomes the vote on the North Sea Multi-Annual Plan which aims to secure the long-term sustainability of North Sea fish stocks and provide stability for fishermen in the region.

As we leave the European Union, we will continue to work closely with our neighbours to champion sustainable fishing.

Once we have taken back control of our waters, we will be able to ensure our fish stocks are managed more sustainably while also helping the UK fishing industry to thrive.

The multi-annual plan has the potential to end overfishing in the North Sea and provide healthy stocks and productive fisheries.

It is now the responsibility of EU fisheries ministers to make urgent progress in delivering it.





15 September 2017: The Multi-Annual Fishery Plan

The plan, recently approved by the EU, at last curtails damaging political interference, introducing from 2018, scientific management of EU fishing stocks.

At present, more than 40% of fish stocks in the North Sea – the most productive sea in Europe – are overfished.

Scientists estimate that if managed sustainably, stocks could produce an additional 1.45m tonnes of fish a year within the next 10 years.

Key species could fare well under a stock protection programme, meaning catches of cod and haddock could be increased fourfold within a decade.

Britain leaving the (CFP) could bring with it increased pressure on fish stocks as sustainability targets agreed by the EU would no longer be binding on Britain, and EU fisheries ministers would come under pressure from their domestic fishing fleets to allow greater catches in order to compete with the UK.

Environmental groups fear that the steady progress towards recovering fisheries stocks, hard won over the last two decades, could be wiped out in such a scenario. (The Guardian)







If wise council prevails Britain will retain full membership of the EU common fisheries policy (CFP).

Seas are sub-divided simply by drawing a line on a map but fish belong to no-one.

Reflecting on personal experience a while back, in the North Sea we identified a potential catch near to the Scottish-Norwegian sea boundary.

Unwilling to give up the chase the skipper pursued and caught up with the target.

We returned home happy and well paid for our time away.

The primary catch was completed 20 miles inside Norwegian waters, which was legal. The EU has an agreement in place with Norway. A tangible benefit of the (CFP)

The Scottish fishermen’s leadership is comprised of very rich individuals whose political allegiance is tied to the Tory party regardless of any adverse effects which could be visited upon 5000 Scottish fishermen and their dependents should Britain divorce itself completely from the (CFP)

An uncertain future, without or with at best, a much restricted access to the EU market would bring great hardship to the Scottish Fishery, without any guarantee of new markets in the long term.

All of the foregoing coupled with the added disadvantage that control of their destiny is still dependent on Westminster governments whose support of Scottish Fisheries has been so appalling for so long.

If Scottish Fishermen really wish to establish control of their own destiny they should abandon any policy which ties their future to Westminster whose first commitment is always to protect the English fishing market.

Scottish independence is the way forward for Scottish Fisheries. Independence will ensure decisions about fishing policy will always be arrived at with the full support    of and in the interests of Scottish fishermen.






The Once Proud and Powerful Scottish Liberal Democratic Party Membership Should Exercise Its Right and Get Shot of Willie Rennie as leader if It Is to Survive



The remorseless decline of the Liberal-Democratic Party in Scotland


In the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, the party won one fewer seat than in the two previous Scottish elections.

The experience led to criticism of the party’s election strategy.

Although it was arithmetically possible to form a majority coalition with the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party, the party refused to participate in coalition negotiations because of a disagreement over the SNP’s policy of a referendum on Scottish independence, and sat as an opposition party in the Parliament.

The Tories, stepped forward and agreed to support the SNP minority subject to agreement to implement a number of measures, in the Tory manifesto.


On 2 July 2008, Party Leader, Nicol Stephen was dumped.

The former deputy leader Michael Moore MP served as acting leader of the party until Tavish Scott MSP was elected party leader on 26 August 2008.


At the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, the party lost all its mainland constituencies, retaining only the two constituencies of Orkney and Shetland.

It also secured three List MSPs.

This was by far the party’s worst electoral performance since the re-establishment of a Scottish parliament in 1999.

Tavish Scott was dumped. Willie Rennie stepped forward and was elected leader unopposed.


At the 2014 European Parliament elections, under the leadership of Willie Rennie, the party lost its only MEP.


At the 2015 general election, under the leadership of Willie Rennie, the party lost 10 of its 11 MPs with only Alistair Carmichael narrowly retaining Orkney and Shetland with a 3.6% majority.


At the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, again under Willie Rennie’s leadership, the Party had 5 MSPs elected but was pushed into last place in Holyrood by the Scottish Greens.

While it gained the 2 constituency seats of Edinburgh Western and North East Fife from the SNP, its vote share was reduced further.



The Decline appears to be Terminal


1999: Share of seats: 13%

2003: Share of seats: 13%

2007: Share of seats: 13%  Nicol Stephen dumped following disastrous performance. Tavish Scott took over.

2011: Share of seats: 4% Tavish Scott dumped following disastrous performance. Willie Rennie took over.

2016: Share of seats:  4% Wee Willie produced another disastrous performance but hangs on, no-one interested.




The European Referendum outcome – The Scottish Lib-Dem Party public statement

In the early hours of the morning of June 24th, everything we understood about the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe changed.

The European Union and our belief in its goals of peace and economic prosperity is an enormous part of what it is to be a Liberal Democrat.

We are internationalist, co-operative, tolerant. And as that reality sank in we realised there was another consequence: What did this mean for our relationship with the rest of the UK?

And that is why Liberal Scotland in Europe has put forward a motion to this autumn’s Scottish Conference which aims to keep the party’s, and Scotland’s, options open.

Other parties may only be about unionism or nationalism, but the Liberal Democrats are about more than that. Our policies are decided by the membership, and as a membership we need to live up to our radical traditions and take on the challenge of finding a creative way forward for Scotland.

We want to encourage our leadership to explore all possibilities, with all parties, to pursue the best possible outcome for Scotland.

This period of political history may prove to be the most significant for our constitution in 300 of years.

It is for the Scottish Liberal Democrats membership to decide what role the party will play and what route we will choose.

But if we are to secure the best future for Scotland and the strongest relationship with both the UK and EU, we will need to leave no possibility unexplored.




Willie Rennie – a disastrous party leader and tediously boring speaker in Holyrood needs to give up the reins of leadership to a better qualified person

Witness his cynical manipulation of the Scottish Lib-Dem conference, (poorly attended by approximately 120 Delegates)

The afore-stated motion, proposed by Party members was not put to the wider party membership for discussion and likely implementation in the Party manifesto and was not excluded from discussion at the conference agenda.

The under-noted substitute proposal was included, with the full support of Willie Rennie

This substitute motion was placed before the conference by MSP for Edinburgh Western, Alex Cole-Hamilton encouraging the party to:

* seek to win support for a public vote across the whole UK on the final EU deal;

* persuade the rest of the EU to be pragmatic in response to such demands;

* work with colleagues across the UK to be the UK-wide rallying point for all those who are pro-EU;

* and campaign for re-entry in the event of EU withdrawal.

The motion was carried by conference and included in the Lib-Dem party manifesto – but conference votes are not binding on the Party membership.





Westminster Debate Israel-Palestine – Tory MP for Aberdeen South – Ross Thomson – seizes his chance to donate his own weird and wonderful interpretation of recent historical events






Westminster Debate Israel-Palestine – Tory MP for Aberdeen South – Ross Thomson – seizes his chance to donate his own weird and wonderful interpretation of historical events

In yesterday’s General Debate on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks, Conservative MP Ross Thomson said that his visit to Israel and the West Bank last year with CFI provided him with “the greatest insight possible into the issues” after “being able to speak to people on the ground, on both sides of the conflict”.

He described Israel as “a country that celebrates diversity”, where “you will find churches, mosques and synagogues standing almost side by side, and see Jews, Muslims and Christians living alongside each other in peaceful coexistence”.

He added that Israel is “truly is a beacon of democracy and hope in a troubled region”.

The MP for Aberdeen South expressed his deep concern over Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protests in his constituency, where anti-Israel activists have tried to drive an Israeli cosmetics company out of business, displaying “poisonous and divisive banners stating: ‘Anti-Semitism is a crime, Anti-Zionism is a duty'”.

He joined Conservative parliamentarians in calling for the Home Secretary to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety, stating that “Hezbollah cannot be forgiven for its criminal, terrorist, or militant pursuits simply because it engages in political or humanitarian ones”.

The Conservative MP outlined the main obstacles to the advancement of peace, which include “Hamas’s rearmament drive in Gaza and internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah”, but underlined that as we “proudly mark the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration, we are presented with a unique opportunity to renew the Middle East Peace Process”.




But, “he walks on water” Ross rarely gives voice in public, except to advance his own agenda, in this case protests by Aberdonian’s about trade links with Israel. His contribution to the debate distorts facts, to his benefit and his colleagues, pertaining to the Tory Party delegation working holiday to Israel. And I have added a correcting record of events below.





Tory MSP’s enjoy an all expenses paid trip to Israel

The Electoral Commission released figures detailing expenses totalling £12,000 paid to six Conservative MSPs by the lobby group, Conservatives for Israel (CFI).

Data confirmed that the MSPs were each given £2,000 by the group, financed through Jewish sources, who support the maintaining of business, social and security connections between the UK and Israel in the political arena.

The financial gift fully funded the working holiday to Israel by the MSPs.

The group included:

The director of the Scottish Conservatives, Mark McInnes

The Scottish Conservative chief whip, John Lamont.

The shadow justice secretary, Douglas Ross.

The shadow economy, jobs and fair work cabinet secretary, Dean Lockhart.

The shadow environment secretary, Maurice Golden.

The tourism and small businesses spokeswoman, Rachel Hamilton>

The community safety spokesman, Oliver Mundell.

The digital economy spokesman, Jamie Greene.

The further education, higher education and science spokesman, Ross Thompson

The welfare, reform and equalities spokeswoman, Annie Wells.




November 2016: High-Level, Scottish Tory Party pro-Israel lobby group visit to Golan Heights

The UN, in 1981, issued a resolution saying that Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights was illegal.

The strategic ridge was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and formally annexed in 1981.

Since then, every year the UN passes a General Assembly resolution titled “The Occupied Syrian Golan” which reaffirms the illegality of the Israeli occupation and annexation.

A high-powered group of ten Scottish Tories visited an Israeli settlement in the occupied Golan Heights.

Called ‘Building Bridges with Israel’, the group was recently set up in a bid by the Tory Party to oppose anti-Semitism and offer an ‘alternative viewpoint’ to what it says is a pro-Palestinian stance that has been dominant since the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999.

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, (formally given the support of the Holyrood parliament) strongly opposed the Scottish Tory Party pro-Israel lobby group’s message.

Their spokesman said: “Israel doesn’t build any bridges, it demolishes homes, farms and is demolishing Palestine.”

Al-Marsad, the only human rights organisation operating in the Golan Heights, is at loggerheads with the group after raising concern about the visit to the Golan Heights winery in Katzrin.

They say the delegation did not contact Al-Marsad or other representatives of the Syrian community in the “occupied Syrian Golan” to get a “balanced view”.

And they say they have repeatedly failed to get an explanation for the visit to the territory or any condemnation of the illegal settlement.

Al-Marsad, described as an independent, not-for-profit international human rights organisation, said it was “highly concerned” that the visit sends the message that Scotland endorses the illegal activities of such settlements.





Response by Al-Marsad, the Arab Human Rights Centre in The Golan Heights

Al-Marsad, which has previously voiced concern over what it deems Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Syrian Arab population in the Golan, say they have written two letters to Ms Davidson asking in particular about the visit of the Scottish parliamentary pro-Israel lobby group to “occupied Syrian Golan” but without response.

Dr Nizar Ayoub director, said “Given this lack of clarification, I am highly concerned that the Scottish pro-Israel lobby group (Scottish Conservative party) appears to condone the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements – illegal under international law – in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

He went on to say: “it is “highly concerning” if human rights issues, in particular, in the occupied territories should not be “not considered or trumped by business interests”.

Dr Nizar Ayoub told Ms Davidson in his letters: “As I imagine that you are aware, such settlements are illegal according to international law, and their construction and expansion at the expense of the native Syrian inhabitants have been repeatedly condemned by the international community.

I am highly concerned that the delegation has visited a winery in an illegal Israeli settlement without providing any explanation of the purpose of the visit.

In effect, this sends a message that the Scottish parliamentary pro-Israel lobby group (Scottish Conservative party) endorses the illegal activities of this settlement – built on land illegally appropriated from its original Syrian owners.

Even more worrying is the fact that the Scottish pro-Israel lobby group (Scottish Conservative party) has refused to answer questions about whether the delegation raised the broader issue of the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan during its visit.”

He was further concerned that, describing the visit, Mr Lamont said “on Israel’s northern border with Syria we witnessed first-hand the devastating civil war raging metres away from Israel”

Dr Ayoub reminded Ms Davidson that: “The only part of Syria that Israel borders is the occupied Syrian Golan. The fighting in Syria is not taking place metres away from Israel, it is taking place metres away from the occupied Syrian Golan.

From Mr Lamont’s comments, it appears that he considers that the occupied Syrian Golan is part of Israel, which it is not.”

He added: “I am highly disappointed that the delegation did not contact Al-Marsad or other representatives of the Syrian community in the occupied Syrian Golan in order to discuss the daily challenges faced by the remaining native Syrian population in the Syrian Golan due to Israel’s illegal occupation.

This would have ensured that the delegation obtained a more balanced view of the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan.”  (http://golan-marsad.org/)