Campbell Gunn: Member of Runrig for a brief spell in 1976. Political journalist of note for many years. Retired then appointed “Special Adviser” to Alex Salmond in 2013. Deputy Spokesperson for the First Minister and Communications Adviser. Retained by Sturgeon finally packed it in around 2018. Regular contributor to Twitter. 8 July 2013
Alex Salmond was “collegiate and would take advice from everyone”, observed Campbell Gunn, who worked for both the former and current first ministers, Sturgeon relies on a small group for advice. The close circle includes Liz Lloyd, her chief of staff, and her husband. Gunn recalls that when he was working for Salmond and monitoring press coverage over the weekend they would be in constant communication. In contrast, Sturgeon is happy to delegate. “Call me if there’s something urgent,” she’d say. “Otherwise leave me alone.”
The Alex Salmond debacle
“If, as they say, they have nothing to hide, then surely they shouldn’t hide things. Do ministers, advisers and senior civil servants have any conception of how their current position looks from the outside? When I was involved in the case as media spokesperson for Mr Salmond two years ago, during the judicial review, few, if any, of my former press colleagues actually believed any of the ‘Salmond conspiracy’ allegations. Now most of them do. And that change in attitude is entirely down to the way the Scottish Government has dealt with the parliamentary committee.”
Supporters of Mr Salmond have claimed figures within government conspired against the former first minister by creating an anti-harassment policy that was out “to get” the ex-politician. Civil servants, appearing in front of the Salmond inquiry, denied such suggestions. Gunn was also critical of Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC’s appearance in front of the Salmond inquiry last week and his response to MSPs’ questions about the legal advice. He accused Scotland’s most senior law officer of “breath-taking” obfuscation and also claimed the Scottish Government’s botched handling of the claims against Mr Salmond would have cost the taxpayer “well in excess” of £1 million. His remarks were made as MSPs on the inquiry prepared to meet in private after Deputy First Minister John Swinney blocked two Spad’s from giving evidence in public. (https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/politics/scottish-politics/1755322/campbell-gunn-says-scottish-government-just-fuelling-alex-salmond-conspiracy-theory)
So what should Nicola Sturgeon have done? By last autumn, it was obvious the game was up. If, at that stage, the First Minister had ordered the release of everything the committee wanted, probably including documents of which at that stage they were still unaware, there would undoubtedly have been a media storm. But it would have been short-lived, over in a week or so. Instead, she has had to suffer month after month of a continuous drip-drip of damaging revelations.
And that, it appears, is where loyalty has come in. Nicola Sturgeon is fiercely loyal to her staff, particularly the small group closest to her. Political expedience should have seen two or three senior people being sacrificed – in popular parlance, thrown under the bus – to save her own skin.
Top of the list should have been Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, the head of the civil service in Scotland, who defiantly proclaimed the flawed procedure ‘her’ policy. Instead, she was handed an extension to her contract. Then there’s the small matter of the First Minister’s husband, Peter Murrell, who just happens to be the SNP’s chief executive. That cosy situation should never have been allowed to exist in the first place, and he should have gone. Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd too should have been sacrificed.
Instead, all three – and others perhaps equally culpable – are still in their well-paid jobs, and we’re still not sure if everything relevant has been published. Full disclosure, a few bodies to satisfy the baying media mob, and a fulsome apology might well have seen the entire affair consigned to history. Instead, Nicola Sturgeon will continue to face questions over the issue for some time to come. (https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/is-nicola-sturgeon-s-loyalty-her-big-weakness)
Holyrood not fit for purpose
Given recent events, it may now be time for reflection on how the Act is working in practice. Holyrood was designed as a unicameral legislature, a single body, with scrutiny and amendments to legislation being undertaken by what was supposed to be a powerful committee system. Those of us who have been forced to sit through various committee sessions over the years have known for some time that this system is unfit for purpose.
The problem was brought into sharp public focus with the high-profile appearance of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon before the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints. Thanks to partisan, soft-ball questioning by the majority SNP members and frankly, some political grandstanding by opposition representatives, the committee got nowhere, and the first minister was able to emerge virtually unscathed, having skilfully avoided any awkward pitfalls by claimed lapses of memory and in some cases obfuscation.
And recent behind-closed-doors shenanigans by the SNP reserving places for members of specific groups has effectively blocked the chances of many potential list candidates ever being elected, while virtually guaranteeing seats for others. It may well be time for an overhaul of the Scotland Act. Let’s learn the lessons of the past couple of decades. Replacing the current electoral system with multi-member wards elected by alternative vote and the addition of a second chamber would be, I suggest, good starting points. (https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/opinion/columnists/2974336/right-time-for-overhaul-of-scotland-act)
National grid outrage
Nowhere is better placed for renewable energy than the north of Scotland. But development here is being constrained by outdated electricity transmission charges, imposed by the UK Government. The system was introduced almost 30 years ago to encourage the establishment of power stations near where they were most needed – close to city conurbations, and in particular the heavily populated south-east of England. It is an extremely complex charging system, but basically the idea was that transmission of electricity over a short distance was charged less per megawatt-hour than power sent from further away. The system was initially introduced only for England and Wales but was later extended to Scotland.
And that brings us to the present situation, where the expansion of renewable developments in the north of Scotland is now being seriously held back by these charges. A wind farm in the north of Scotland pays £5.50 per unit of electricity, while a wind farm in Wales is paid £2.80 per unit. Transmission charges in the north of Scotland are £7.36 per megawatt-hour, compared to £4.70 in southern Scotland. In some areas of the south of England, generators are actually paid to use the transmission network. It produces the ludicrous situation where a wind farm in the north of Scotland pays £5.50 per unit of electricity, while a wind farm in Wales is paid £2.80 per unit. The knock-on effect on the economy of the north is palpable. (https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/environment/3207658/net-zero-scotland-transmission-charges-campbell-gunn-opinion)
11 Aug 2019: Noel Dolan, born in Balham of Irish descent, sounds about as Scottish as Bob Hoskins was Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior adviser for nine years. Dolan first worked for Sturgeon in 2004 when she was depute SNP leader and was her senior special adviser until his recent retirement. 26 May 2011.
25 Mar 2020: Dolan, said Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans had to go for the “good” of the Scottish civil service. He added: “As she cost the Scottish taxpayer a large amount of money, she should have gone in 2019.” Alex Salmond was cleared of sexual assault allegations by nine women after a two week trial at the high court in Edinburgh. He had initially been accused of sexual misconduct against two civil servants and the Government reported the findings to the police.
Alex Salmond funded a judicial review against the Government and a judge ruled in 2019 that the internal probe had been biased and unlawful. The botched investigation cost the taxpayer over £700,000 in legal and associated fees. Evans, who earns around £175,000 a year, did not carry out the probe herself, but as the most senior civil servant in the Government she had responsibility. Although she was criticised for the fiasco, she remained in post and even had her contract extended.
Dolan hit out at the way the initial probe was carried out saying: “For the good of the Scottish civil service, she should go.” During a procedural hearing of the criminal trial, Alex Salmond’s defence team claimed the Government and those working there turned to the criminal process to try to “discredit” him after he won the civil case.
Judge Lady Dorrian rejected an application for the evidence to be led at the trial, saying the judicial review was “wholly irrelevant”. In a text message read out at a hearing ahead of the criminal trial, Alex Salmond’s QC Gordon Jackson said Evans had texted a civil servant, saying: “We may have lost the battle – but we will win the war.” Dolan said: “A general may survive a battle, but if she loses a war, she should go.” (the Record)
17 Jan 2017: Sturgeons recruits Ex MSP Stewart Maxwell to her “Special Adviser” team
There is the belated announcement of the appointment of yet another new Special Adviser. Stewart Maxwell, formerly Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee, lost his seat in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. But on 13 January 2017 he announced on Twitter that he had just completed his first week as a “Special Adviser”. It appears Maxwell is now responsible for “Business, the Economy, Skills & Fair Work”, duties formerly the responsibility of Jeanette Campbell, who retains “Communities, Social Security, and Equalities”.
7 Aug 2020: Maxwell off to CalMac Ferries
Sturgeon’s former “Special Adviser” Stewart Maxwell left the Scottish Government to become the Policy and Public Affairs Manager at CalMac Ferries – which is also owned by the Scottish Government through a labyrinth of holding companies. Why take a demotion from government to do PR for a ferry operator?
CalMac is at the centre of a row with Clyde-based shipbuilder Ferguson Marine over the latter’s contract to supply the ferry company with two new hi-tech vessels powered by liquid gas. Ferguson won the £97m contract back in 2015. Unfortunately, construction fell behind schedule while the final bill for the ferries rocketed to an absurd £200m. As a result, Ferguson collapsed last year, with debts of £49m to the Scottish Government, and was taken into public ownership itself. What went wrong?
It soon emerged that CalMac, the publicly owned ferry operator, had had very little to do with the contract, which had been placed by CMAL, another of the chain of front companies that leads to the Scottish Government. CMAL is the actual legal owner of the vessels that CalMac Ferries operates. It seems that the boys at CMAL didn’t talk to the guys at CalMac and that CalMac did not even want the complicated new boats that Ferguson were building. Meantime, CMAL kept changing the specs for the new ships, driving the Ferguson engineers bonkers, and driving up the price. The inference in all this being that somebody inside the Scottish Government was pushing the agenda for a new gas-powered ship technology and was using CalMac as the guinea pig.
Which may explain the arrival of Stewart Maxwell. His updated Linkedin entry actually has him working for David MacBrayne Ltd which is the overall holding company for CMAL and CalMac Ferries. Which suggests he has been recruited to give the whole kit and caboodle a public relations makeover. I wish him luck. Stewart, of course, was a veteran SNP MSP from 2003 to 2016, when he lost his seat. At which point – in the revolving door between public office, special advisors and external PR work – he was rescued to become a paid “Special Adviser”.
The interesting thing about Stewart Maxwell’s career is that it exemplifies the “influence” conveyor belt between the SNP leadership and the business community via a legion of former party special advisors, elected members and staffers who have gone on to work in the public relations business. Of course, working for private PR and “communications” agencies is an interchangeable career move for the modern political class everywhere. However, for a tiny political party which does not even command office in a nation state, the SNP has been able to create organic links to the UK and global PR industry of an extraordinary nature.
Party insiders have always defended this development as being useful in offsetting media attacks through insider activity with the business community. It is noteworthy that the former SNP cadre who go into public relations and communications still retain their support for the SNP and maintain close links with the party. Also, many switch back and forth between the SNP and private work. Probably no other UK party apart from the Tories maintains such close links with the PR industry as the SNP. It is the party’s secret weapon. (https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2020/08/07/the-snp-and-the-lobbying-business
has concluded that on key areas of life expectancy, education, and income a newly independent Scotland would be ranked higher than the rest of the United Kingdom.
According to the report’s authors, an independent Scotland would be ranked four places higher than the rUK.
The report said:
Scotland would rank 23rd if we include a geographical allocation to Scotland’s GNI [Gross National Income] related to the North Sea oil output, versus the current 27th place for the UK and the hypothetical 30th for rUK.
Note: Even excluding any allocation of oil output, Scotland would still rank ahead of the UK.”
Comparing the success of small countries with that of larger nations the report said:
Small countries are more homogeneous and homogeneity plays an important role in determining the success of a country. Cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity creates a ceiling to the potential size of a country. Small countries are more open to international trade and have embraced globalization to a higher extent than larger countries. Small countries are successful and in general much better off than bigger countries.
Public services in smaller countries benefit more from ‘pooling resources’ and the ‘economies of scale’ than larger countries.
Research shows that large countries tend to have higher tax rates for individuals (by 5%). So the cost of funding public services for the individual is higher in larger countries than in small countries. The Credit Suisse Research Institute also explained that small countries are one of the “leading geopolitical trends of the last fifty years“.
A spokesman for Alex Salmond’s government issued a statement saying:
“These comments are very welcome. Using academic data, the report sets out Scotland’s potential and how our development rating would outperform the UK- even without oil- following a Yes vote.
The report also found that an independent Scotland would be better able to ‘effectively’ and ‘cheaply’ deliver public services.
The report also confirmed what Alex Salmond has been saying for many years, that Scotland as an independent nation would flourish since it would be able to concentrate on our talents, grow our economy and build a better and fairer society.
Four Lessons to be learned from the 2014 Scottish Referendum
Government authorities in the UK declared that the “Yes” campaign for secession had failed by a margin of approximately 55 per cent to 45 per cent.
Yet, even without a majority vote for secession, Scotland’s campaign for separation from the United Kingdom provided numerous insights into the future of the secession movement and those who defended the status quo.
Lesson 1: Global elites greatly fear secession and decentralization
Global elite institutions and individuals including Goldman Sachs, Alan Greenspan, David Cameron and several major banks pulled out all the stops to sow fear about Scottish independence. Global bankers recruited to the cause by UK diplomats and civil service treasury staff vowed to punish Scotland, declaring they would move out of Scotland if independence were declared.
A Deutsche Bank report compared independence to the decision to return to the gold standard in the 1920s and said it might spark a rerun of the Great Depression, at least north of the border.
When it comes to predictions of economic doom, it doesn’t get much more hysterical than that. Except that it does. David Cameron nearly burst into tears begging the Scots not to vote for independence.
The elite onslaught against secession employed at least two strategies. The first involved threats and “for your own good” lectures. Things will “not work out well” for Scotland in case of secession, intoned Robert Zoellick of the World Bank.
The late Senator John McCain implied that Scottish independence would be good for terrorists. The second strategy involved pleading and begging, which, of course, betrayed how truly fearful the West’s ruling class is of secession.
In addition to Cameron’s histrionics based on nostalgia and maudlin appeals to not break “this family apart,” Cameron bribed Scots with numerous promises of more money, more autonomy, and more power within the UK.
The threats that focused on the future of the Scottish monetary system are particularly telling. The very last thing that governments in London, Brussels, or Washington, DC want to see is an established Western country secede from a monetary system and join another in an orderly fashion.
Lesson 2: Secession movements will demand a vote
While the Westminster elite was desperate to see the Scotland referendum fail, few argued that the Scots had no right to vote on the matter. Some argued that all of the UK should vote on it, but most observers appeared to simply accept that the Scots were entitled to vote by themselves or through their politically elected officials on Scotland’s status in the UK.
Lesson 3: Secession is a good way to bargain
Centralizers fear secession to the point where they’re willing to throw a lot of perks at the secessionists. In Scotland’s case, the promises involved a lot of additional government welfare.
Threatening secession can be a useful tactic to obtain additional autonomy. Moreover, it will often force a central government to submit to a referendum on its legitimacy.
Ultimately, however, what really matters to Westminster is the ability to inflate the money supply and control the financial system.
Politicians from the Westminster government may be willing to part with many powers, but the power to inflate and control the banks will never be given up lightly.
Lesson 4: Centralization is unnecessary for economic success
As predicted by a host of observers of trends in state legitimacy, the state’s status as the central fact in the political order of the world continues to decline with smaller national groups and economic regions breaking up the old order in favour of both local autonomy and international alliances.
Scotland’s secession effort is one example and the short-term defeat in the referendum will do little to alter the trend.
In addition, the economic realities of the modern world with constantly moving capital and labour will continue to undermine the Westminster political system which was built on the idea of economic nationalism coupled with the myth that economic self-sufficiency can only be retained within the UK.
The proliferation of trade among nations with huge national markets, labour forces, and a willingness to trade internationally has destroyed the UK government claims that only the nation-state can provide the markets, coercive power, and international clout necessary for economic growth.
Scots see access to international markets as something that is quite attainable without the added baggage of the UK central state to which they are presently beholden. Scotland does not need England to facilitate its trade with countries worldwide.
Small nations do very well when it comes to economic performance, and smallness is hardly a liability. The assertion that bigger is better was always easily disprovable but remained popular for centuries.
The success of the Scottish secessionist claims that Scotland could indeed compete internationally has shown that the continued dominance of the old myth is failing.
The drive for Scottish independence will continue to grow as the UK economy stagnates, and the promises of Westminster Unionist politicians will fall on very deaf ears.
Summarised from an article written by Ryan McMaken, Editor and Economist at the Mises Institute.
The Irish Free State, comprised of 32 counties, came into being in 1916 and seceded from the United Kingdom under the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922. 6 counties under the control of Unionists, opted to remain with the United Kingdom.
The Irish Government introduced a republican constitution in 1937, which included a territorial claim to the 6 counties of Northern Ireland). The Oath of Allegiance to the British monarchy was abandoned and an elected President, Head of State, appointed.
In January 1939, the IRA Army Council declared war against Britain, and began a “Sabotage Campaign” a few days later. The plan involved IRA operatives based in Britain bombing British infrastructure, with a view to weakening their war effort.
But the British and Irish Governments cracked down hard on the dissidents and the campaign petered out. At the war end the severely depleted IRA membership faded into obscurity for a short period but recovered and formed a Dublin Unit which called for a ceasefire with the United Kingdom.
In 1947 a rebuilt and growing IRA held its first Army Convention since World War II and a new leadership was elected. It believed that a political organisation would be necessary to assist the progress of increasing its influence and members were instructed to join Sinn Féin. By 1950 the IRA had established complete control of the Party.
In 1949 the 26 counties formally became a republic under the terms of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, and terminated its membership of the British Commonwealth.
At the start of the 1950s the IRA started planning for a renewed armed campaign in the North and in the 6 counties, and in 1956 “Operation Harvest” was launched.
The border campaign, as it became known, involved various military units, “flying Columns” carrying out a range of military operations, from direct attacks on security installations to disruptive actions against infrastructure.
The Irish and United Kingdom Governments eventually curtailed IRA operations by breaking its morale through the introduction of internment without trial, first in Northern Ireland and then in the Republic of Ireland. The campaign faded and ended in February 1962.
The failure of the border campaign brought about a review of tactics between the leaders of the two distinct groups in the movement. A faction consisting of older IRA men who had served prison sentences together in the Curragh favoured traditionalism and now controlled Sinn Féin and a faction of younger, left-wing IRA members who now commanded the IRA Army Council.
It was made clear by the Army Council that Sinn Féin answered to the IRA, not the other way around. A hard-line stance that alienated the Curragh faction many of whom resigned from Sinn Féin in protest.
Sinn Fein/IRA adopted class-based political policies and rejected any action that could be seen as sectarian, including the use of IRA arms to defend one side, (the beleaguered Catholic communities of Northern Ireland) against the other.
In the period 1962-1969 the conduct and failure of international politics throughout the World brought with it an increasing incidence of USSR confrontational challenges to the Western nations of NATO coupled with sponsored proxy wars in Africa and South America and the Middle East. The Vietnam War resulted in the deaths and major injuries of many thousands of American and Australian service personnel.
The carnage went on for years but eventually people called time on the excesses of politicians and demanded that their voices be heard and their wishes acceded to.
The Civil Rights movement was born and millions marched for “equal rights” between 1967-1969.
In the six counties John Hume and other civil rights campaigners, appealed to the Unionist Government to ease its grip on the public, claiming they had a “right to march” and argued that other groups should be afforded the same right. But their pleas fell on deaf ears. Unionist politicians were not inclined to permit any civil rights protests or marches.
But, adding insult to injury, on 12 August 1969 an Apprentice Boys march was given the go-ahead in Derry and proved to be the spark that lit the flame that became the Battle of the Bogside.
Nationalist protestors threw stones and bottles at the loyalist parade as it passed close to a Catholic area and Protestant supporters responded in kind.
Royal Ulster Constabulary officers (RUC) moved in and became involved in pitched battles with the nationalist in support of the Protestant rioters.
The rioting in Derry continued until 14 August 1969, attracting worldwide media attention. Within a few days, the trouble spread to Belfast ad the British army was deployed to Northern Ireland in August 1969.
From that time the population became totally polarised, sectarianism prevailed and barricades went up to keep protestants and Catholics safe within their ghettos.
But the citizens of the six counties wanted only to be afforded the same basic democratic rights enjoyed by other people of the United Kingdom and their wishes could have been conceded without any detrimental effect to the political arrangements in place at that time.
Luddite Unionist politicians in the six counties and London, with their stranglehold over the electorate, ignored growing tensions within the community, brought about by civil rights marchers and campaigners who encouraged civil disobedience and this led to a rapid escalation of violent clashes involving nationalists, unionists and the police. Unionist were bereft of vision and their stupidity brought the six counties to its knees.
The Provisional IRA wing of Sinn Fein took on responsibility for the defence of the minority Catholic population a policy change that morphed into a thirty-year armed struggle against the British presence in Northern Ireland.
Operation Demetrius, (Internment Without Trial) was introduced in Northern Ireland, by the Stormont Unionist Government, in the early morning of 9 August 1971 in response to warnings of a Protestant backlash if it did not act against the IRA.
Approximately 340 people from Catholic and nationalist backgrounds were arrested and locked up. The intelligence used in making the arrests was seriously faulty and scores of people ended up detained who had no connections with the IRA. Of those arrested more than 100 were released within 48 hours.
Internees were taken to the new built Long Kesh camp near Lisburn, (later known as the Maze Prison), Magilligan British army camp in Co Derry and the “Maidstone” ship in Belfast Harbour.
The operation prompted serious violence within the Catholic communities. 23 Catholic protestors were killed between 9 and 10 August, including 10 who died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in West Belfast.
The extreme measures alienated Catholics and Nationalists and provided a recruitment boon for the IRA, just as Bloody Sunday would do six months later in Derry.
Internment also added impetus to the unrest and it is estimated that nearly 150 Catholics were killed and many more severely injured by the end of 1971.
Many Catholic families fled to the Republic to escape the violence and were housed in special camps.
Internment, in which over 2000 people were locked up without trial, ended in December 1975. Of that total just over 100 were loyalists. The first loyalist being interned early in 1973.
The first years of the war were intense and ferocious. In 1972 alone the IRA killed 100 British soldiers, wounded another 500 and carried out 1,300 early warning bombings. In that same year 90 IRA activists were killed, a heavy toll.
But the tactic appeared to be vindicated when, in July 1972, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, secretly met their leadership in London.
The talks came to nothing because IRA demands were too high and a fragile truce broke down in contentious circumstances. But the process convinced the Republican Movement that Sinn Fein/IRA possessed the motivation and the means to force Britain’s departure from Ireland.
In 1974 the political wing of Sinn Fein/IRA addressed its less than harmonious relationship with the 26-County Irish Republic with the issue of a new mission statement:
“Sinn Féin will lead the Irish people away from British 6-County and 26-County parliaments and reassemble the thirty-two County Dail which will legislate for and rule all of Ireland”.
The content of the statement was the subject of widespread discussion over many months since its acceptance would bring about an adoption of new political thinking while ensuring that the military campaign remained paramount but closely harmonised with the advancement of a political dialogue.
But the new pragmatic Northern Ireland leadership of Gerry Adams was determined to get Sinn Fein to occupy the political vacuum South and North of the border with the purpose of getting the opposition to the negotiating table and this meant participation in elections and required the abandonment of the Sinn Féin/IRA constitutional ban on taking seats in Dáil Eireann, the issue which split Sinn Féin/IRA in 1969-70 and led to killing feuds between the two factions for a number of years after.
Adams won the argument and with his enlightened pragmatists on board they worked hard to ensure there would be no new splits in Sinn Fein or the IRA.
Political progress over the next 10 years was hindered, stalled and often reversed due to sustained Unionist military activism against the minority population, the intransigence of ruling political establishment figures and armed para-militant organisations in the 6-Counties.
The military campaigns of both sides intensified and casualties soared amongst the innocents of the population of the 6-Counties and in England. (There were at least 10,000 bomb attacks and 3,635 killings up to 1998, including 257 children.)
Yet the impact of the setbacks also proved positive for Sinn Fein/IRA who developed sophisticated strategies and gained political support in the USA and military assistance of Libya who supplied large amounts of weaponry and explosives, (purchased using £3m, the spoils of bank robberies and kidnappings.)
In 1979 the Tory Party, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, took control of Westminster and adopted a hard-line policy against Sinn Fein/IRA .
In May 1980 on the day she was due to meet with Charles Haughey, to discuss the future of Northern Ireland, Thatcher announced in Parliament that “the future of the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, this government, this parliament, and no-one else”. Thus setting the tone for the discussions which achieved nothing.
Thatcher’s mettle was tested again in 1981, when on 1 March a number of Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison went on hunger strike to regain the status of political prisoners, which had been revoked five years earlier under the Labour government.
On 5 March 1981, the nationalist MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Frank Maguire, died creating the need for a by-election and on 9 April 1981, after 40 days on hunger strike, Bobby Sands ran for the vacant Westminster seat from his cell and won gaining Sinn Fein worldwide support and significant financial contributions.
Thatcher continued to refuse a return to political status for republican prisoners, declaring “Crime is crime is crime; it is not political” and Bobby Sands died of starvation few weeks later. Still she would not relent and nine more men died.
Rights were finally restored to paramilitary prisoners, but recognition of their political status was not granted. She later asserted: “The outcome was a significant defeat for the IRA.” In all, ten men died.
Thatcher’s determination to face-down the hunger strikers, against strident international opinion, sent a message to Gerry Adam’s that the British intended to remain in Ireland.
Sinn Féin, boosted by the election of the hunger strikers entered into politics in the North in 1981 and contested seats for the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1982 on an abstentionist ticket.
Results were encouraging. The Party polled around 65,000 votes making deep inroads taking votes away from the long established SDLP.
In the June 1983 Westminster election, Gerry Adams’s stood as the candidate for Sinn Fein and won West Belfast. In his acceptance speech he said that Sinn Féin’s longer-term objectives (beyond 1985) was to “become the majority nationalist party in the North” and to make considerable political inroads in the 26 counties of the Republic.
The Republican Movement had finally demonstrated that it could fight an armed struggle and win elections at the same time. Most importantly they proved beyond doubt that they had a mandate acceptable to the electorate.
The gap between Sinn Fein and the SDLP also closed significantly. Sinn Féin got 102,601 votes and the SDLP, 137,012.
The cumulative results shocked politicians and provided impetus to the UK and Irish Governments to conclude the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Gerry Adams Statement to the Speaker of the House of Commons:
“My party holds a policy of abstentionism when it comes to the House of Commons. We believe the interests of the Irish people can only be served by democratic institutions in Ireland, not in Westminster. I will not swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. In adhering to this statement we are fulfilling the wishes of the electorate that sent us here.”
The Speaker’s reply:
“I understand your position. You will not be permitted to attend the House of Commons or participate in debates until you have complied with all requirements of this house. In recognition of your electorate’s wishes you will be afforded office space, an allowance for living accommodation and unrestricted use of the full facilities of Westminster, including allowances for the costs of staff, offices, and travel.”
Unfortunately on 17 December 1983, just as a dialogue with Unionist politicians was being established the IRA (acting out with the authority of Sinn Fein) placed a bomb in Harrods of London. There was confusion over the content and length of warning of the bomb and it exploded in the midst of Christmas shoppers, killing 8 people and injuring 80. The bombing was condemned by public opinion in the UK and Republic of Ireland and resulted in the cancellation of a political dialogue
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were furious and convened an urgent meeting with the IRA Army Council at which, with the support of the “Falls Road Think Tank”: Danny Morrison, Richard McCauley, Joe Austin, Tom Hartley, Alex Maskey, Paddy Doherty and Vincent Conlon, they re-established control by retiring a number of high ranking officers and local commanders.
There remained unfinished business with Thatcher and the Tory Party who would be made to pay for the deaths of the hunger strikers. In the early morning of 12 October 1984, the day before her 59th birthday, Thatcher escaped injury in the Brighton hotel bombing during the Conservative Party Conference. Five people were killed and many injured.
The attack was the prelude to another IRA bombing campaign, but with a major change of tactics. Attacks on Military and political targets would continue but the main thrust would be to damage the British economy and cause severe disruption through the destruction of infrastructure and commercial targets in England. This would put pressure on the British government to negotiate a withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
In February 1991 the IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street, the official residence and office of the British Prime Minister, as John Major, then Prime Minister, was holding a Cabinet meeting. The mortars narrowly missed the building and there were no casualties.
In April 1992, the IRA detonated a powerful truck bomb in the Baltic Exchange bombing in the City of London, the UK’s main financial district. The blast killed three people and caused £800m worth of damage, more than the total damage caused by all IRA bombings before it.
In November 1992, the IRA planted a large van bomb at Canary Wharf, London’s second financial district. Security guards discovered it and immediately alerted the police and the bomb was defused.
In April 1993, the IRA detonated another powerful truck bomb in the City of London killing one person and causing £500m worth of damage.
In December 1993 the British and Irish governments issued the Downing Street Declaration accepting the right of Sinn Fein to contribute to peace negotiations, provided the IRA committed to a ceasefire, which it did in August 1994.
By 1996, the Tory Government lost its majority and had become dependant on Ulster unionist votes to stay in power. Irish nationalists accused it of pro-unionist bias as a result.
The government began insisting that the IRA must fully disarm before Sinn Féin would be allowed to take part in fully-fledged peace talks. Arguing that the IRA could use violence, or the threat of violence, to influence negotiations.
On 23 January 1996, the international commission for disarmament in Northern Ireland recommended that Britain drop its demand, suggesting that disarmament begin during talks rather than before. The British government refused to drop its demand. Responding to the commission, Major said in parliament that, for there to be talks, either the IRA would have to disarm or there would have to be an election in Northern Ireland. Irish republicans and nationalists wanted talks to begin swiftly, but noted that it would take months to organize and hold an election.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams argued that the British government and unionists were erecting “one obstacle after another to frustrate every attempt to sit down around the negotiating table” and warned American diplomats that the British government’s actions were “threatening the ceasefire”.
Th intransigence of the British Government infuriated the IRA Army Council who said this was one concession too much and a betrayal of the terms of the negotiations that had been previously agreed. Discussions foundered.
In an attempt to break the impasse, the British and Irish governments created an international decommissioning body, chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell. This was part of a ‘twin-track’ approach, with decommissioning to accompany political talks rather than precede them. Mitchell delivered his report in January 1996, setting out six principles that should be endorsed by all parties to the talks. This included a commitment to exclusively peaceful means. Mitchell recommended that all parties should sign up to these principles and that some decommissioning could take place during the talks. However, this was not enough to prevent the slide back to violence.
On 9 February 1996, the IRA released a statement announcing the end of its ceasefire. Two hours later a flatbed truck bomb detonated in the London Docklands, killing two and injuring nearly 100 people. Damage to buildings was widespread and estimated repair costs were put at £150m.
On Saturday 15 June 1996 the IRA followed up the attack when a truck packed with 1500kg of Semtex and combustible ammonium nitrate fertiliser, (the largest bomb of the campaign) was exploded in Manchester. The IRA gave a one hour warning allowing the area to be cleared of shoppers. There were no deaths but 212 people suffered injury. The explosion caused around £1bn of damage and destroyed the commercial heart of Manchester.
The 1 May 1997 election landslide of the Labour Government proved to be the catalyst for change since it provided Blair with the opportunity to deal with the Northern Ireland problem without the constraints of the Unionist politicians of Northern Ireland.
The IRA renewed its ceasefire on 20 July 1997, opening the way for Sinn Féin to be included in the inter-party talks that had begun under Mitchell’s chairmanship. The question of decommissioning remained though, and the British and Irish governments sought to fudge the issue rather than allow it to derail the process again.
This led to Ian Paisley’s hard-line Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) walking out of the talks, never to return. The DUP rejected the notion of making any concessions on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland or negotiating with Sinn Féin, whom they considered terrorists.
While deeply unhappy, the more moderate UUP remained in the talks. Given the DUP’s declared desire to break the talks, Mitchell wrote later in his memoirs that their decision to walk out actually helped the process of reaching an agreement. However, it was to have a lasting impact on the politics of Northern Ireland, as the DUP’s opposition to the Good Friday Agreement severely hindered its implementation.
Sinn Féin entered the all-party talks on 15 September 1997, having signed-up to the Mitchell Principles and after marathon negotiations, agreement was finally reached on 10 April 1998.
The Good Friday Agreement was a complex balancing act, reflecting the three strands approach. Within Northern Ireland, it created a new devolved assembly for Northern Ireland, with a requirement that executive power had to be shared by parties representing the two communities. In addition, a new North-South Ministerial Council was to be established, institutionalising the link between the two parts of Ireland.
The Irish government also committed to amending Articles 2 and 3 of the Republic’s Constitution, which laid claim to Northern Ireland, to instead reflect an aspiration to Irish unity, through purely democratic means, while recognising the diversity of identities and traditions in Ireland.
Finally, a Council of the Isles was to be created, recognising the ‘totality of relationships’ within the British Isles, including representatives of the two governments, and the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Referendums were held in both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland 71 per cent of voters backed the Agreement, with 29 per cent voting against. While this was a significant endorsement, an exit poll for the Sunday Times found that 96 per cent of nationalists in Northern Ireland backed the Agreement, compared to just 55 per cent of unionists.
On 15 August 1998, 29 people were killed when dissident republicans exploded a car bomb in Omagh. This represented the largest loss of life in any incident in Northern Ireland since the start of the Troubles.
While the Omagh bombing was committed by republicans opposed to the Agreement, it returned the spotlight to the question of decommissioning paramilitary weapons, which the Good Friday Agreement had stated should happen within two years. Unionist anger at the refusal of the IRA to give up its weapons was combined with frustration at the refusal of Sinn Féin to accept the reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Power-sharing proved impossible to sustain and voters in each community started to turn away from the moderate parties giving their support to Sinn Féin and the DUP, displacing the SDLP and UUP.
For a significant part of the decade following the Good Friday Agreement, devolution was suspended because of the inability of the largest parties from each community to reach agreement on power-sharing.
Progress was made on decommissioning, which was confirmed to have been carried out in September 2005, but political agreement remained elusive.
Eventually, the British and Irish governments hosted crunch talks at St Andrews in October 2006. There, Sinn Féin finally agreed to accept the PSNI, while the DUP agreed to share power with Sinn Féin.
In May 2007, an Executive comprised of the DUP, Sinn Féin, UUP and SDLP was finally able to take office. This time, the institutions created under the Good Friday Agreement remained in place until the current political crisis led to the collapse of the Executive in January 2017.
Despite the fragility of the institutions created and the continuing bitterness between politicians representing the two communities, the Good Friday Agreement remains an important landmark in Northern Ireland’s history.
The Good Friday Agreement was able to bring to an end 30 years of violence allowing Northern Ireland’s two communities to pursue their contrasting aspirations by purely political means.
At 2015 Northern Ireland elected 8 Sinn Fein MP’s to Westminster all committed to the abstentionism policy which prevents participation in any of the activities in the House of Commons.
But the power and influence of Sinn Fein is progressing well in Northern Ireland and in the Republic and the heady ambition of reuniting all of the people of the island of Ireland under one parliament is very much on the horizon. The Abstentionism policy has been vindicated.
Content largely extracted and paraphrased from The LONG WAR: The IRA & SINN FÉIN’ authored by Brendan O’Brien (1999)
I chose to keep the article free from smut and omitted a deal of nonsense and obfuscation.
I was tempted to add in the relationship between Paisley and McGuinness but decided to concentrate on the contribution of Gerry Adams who did so much to keep the dream of freedom alive.
There are more hoops to jump through but the direction is firmly towards reunification.
The Gerry Adams statement could be amended for Scottish MP’s to include the “Oath of Allegiance” since the matter of a Scottish monarch is one to be resolved after independence.
This would provide for Scottish MP’s to retain their Westminster salaries and all other allowances and accommodations presently in existence.
A move to Abstentionism would cost the SNP nothing but cause great inconvenience to the Westminster system of Government and add strength to Scotland’s right to freedom from England.
The change would also add recognition that the presence of Scottish MP’s is not conducive to good government since they contribute nothing of any substance to the English political agenda.
The SNP have narrowly taken control of the city council in Dundee, affectionately awarded the title the “Yes” city after it voted to leave the UK in the 2014 Independence referendum together with Glasgow.
But Sturgeons claims that the results in Dundee vindicate her governments approach to independence are fanciful in the extreme.
A review of the voting pattern of those that voted contradicts her euphoric razzmatazz. Her plans for a referendum will founder badly. With luck she might then resign.
A significant number of the Alba Party founder members are former stalwarts of the SNP who became disillusioned with the Stalinist doctrinal centralisation of decision making on the Party leader to the exclusion of wiser council from the NEC and wider membership and decided to take the message of independence to Scots through the medium of a new party dedicated to taking Scotland forward to independence with this aim being the overriding purpose of the party.
Many Scots still have little knowledge of Alba which has only been in existence for a year, despite the sterling efforts of its members and candidates pounding the streets of their constituencies day and night throughout the month of April and early May 2022. The foregoing is coupled with a blanket media ban encouraged by the SNP leadership cabal who call the shots through the provision of significant financial support to newspapers and other media outlets preventing the reporting of ALBA party policies and candidates across all unionist and nationalist outlets.
In voting for the SNP many Scots are sticking with what they believe is a sustained and determined effort by the SNP leadership to gain independence for Scotland even when provided with facts and figures that completely refute this. Why? Fear is the motivating factor!! Many are aware the SNP membership are simply not interested in gaining independence since success would bring an end to the £31-£40 million annual financial gravy train presently transferred from the coffers of the nation to a select group of 800+ SNP politicians many of have been in the employ of the SNP their entire working life and their political careers are riddled with examples of incompetence so gross it is beyond any justification for them to remain in the public employ
I will wind up this article by addressing Sturgeon’s irresponsible claims about the outcome of the local elections which she is purporting to be the launch pad for an independence referendum in 2023. No it bloody isn’t !!!
I had a closer look at the Aberdeen results, see below. A count of first preference votes only is revealing. The outcome of a referendum in 2023 would bring a result unchanged from 2014.
That is the progress Sturgeon has made in respect of independence. Nowt.
Abdul Rauf convicted fraudster and resident of Govan
In 1993, Wheeler and dealer Abdul Rauf signed a 25-year-lease on the Brougham Street, Tollcross Post Office, Edinburgh owned by Post Office Counters Ltd. The annual rent was £9,200.
He was jailed in 1996 for four years for forging signatures on and cashing in 779 Department of Social Security payment orders to a value of £58,264 between June 1993 and July 1994. He did so by forging signatures on the payment orders and cashing them.
Rauf used cash gathered from his fraudulent activities to purchase a flat in Dalkeith Road, for £28,100 in 1996 , value £200,000 at 2010, which provided him with rental income of £10,000 per annuum.
He also purchased a large house in Glasgow’s Springkell Avenue, near Maxwell Park, Glasgow, for £93,000. The luxury home in Glasgow’s southside is valued at around £850,000 in 2022.
He went on to purchase a second flat at Lochrin Place, Tollcross, Edinburgh, near to his post office business for £14,000 in November 1994, which he sold on to his wife Irfana. Mrs Rauf sold the Lochrin Place flat in 1998, for £43,000. It is not known if she had rented out the flat or lived in it herself.
Lord Sutherland jailed Rauf for 4 years and told him: “This case discloses a very serious breach of trust which appears to have been carried on quite deliberately for a period of over a year and involved a very substantial amount of money.”
He was convicted in 2008 on fraud charges for a second time for claiming £80,000 income support from the Department of Work and Pensions while receiving up to £10,000 annual rent from the property in Edinburgh’s Dalkeith Road which he failed to declare. In his defence he told Social Security investigators that the ownership of the flat had “slipped his mind”.
11 Feb 2010: Nicola Sturgeon MSP for Govan
Aware that a custodial sentence for benefit fraud would be the outcome of his trial, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister wrote a letter of support for Abdul Rauf, one of her constituents in which she asked the court to consider “alternatives to a custodial sentence”. Defence advocate Donald Findlay produced the letter of support from Nicola Sturgeon.
In it she wrote: “Mr Rauf has accepted his wrong doing and has experienced the consequences of it through the effect on his health, the distress caused to his family and the impact on his standing in his community. He has already paid £27,000 of the outstanding balance to the DWP and will settle the remainder by selling property. He and his wife are anxious that a custodial sentence may be imposed by the court and of the effect this will have on Mr Rauf’s health and the impact on family life. I would appeal to the court to take the points raised here into account and consider alternatives to a custodial sentence.”
Sheriff Alan MacKenzie told Rauf that a jail term was “at the forefront” of his mind but said he would defer sentence for three months and released him on bail. He added: “I will take into account all that has been said on your behalf, including a letter from a member of the Scottish Parliament.”
11 Feb 2010: Holyrood MSP’s castigate Sturgeon
Sturgeon faced calls to resign after writing a letter in support of a man who could be jailed for benefit fraud. She responded saying she was “duty-bound” as a constituency MSP to make “reasonable representations” on behalf of 60-year-old Abdul Rauf who defrauded more than £80,000 from the Department for Work and Pensions.
But ever loyal First Minister Alex Salmond defended her decision to ask a court to consider alternatives to custody in the case, saying: “This is not a matter connected with her role as Deputy First Minister but, let me be absolutely clear, I absolutely back her.”
Bill Aitken, Conservative justice spokesman, said: “It is extraordinary to describe a second conviction for fraud as a ‘mistake’. Either she didn’t care about his previous fraud conviction or she didn’t check. Either would be unbelievable and a grave lapse of judgement. Ms Sturgeon trained as a solicitor, is an MSP and the deputy first minister of Scotland. Her judgement in this matter is completely flawed and she has serious questions to answer.”
Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: “If the facts of the case are as they appear and Nicola Sturgeon made such an appalling error of judgement she must resign. Last week she was selling access to raise funds for the SNP. Now she is prepared to give a character reference for a convicted fraudster.”
12 Feb 2010: Glasgow’s Asians deny knowing Abdul Rauf
Rauf, the man at the heart of the benefits fraud scandal, was described by Nicola Sturgeon in her letter of support as being “heavily involved” in his community but Glasgow’s prominent Asians, said yesterday they had never heard of him.
Hanzala Malik, a senior councillor with responsibility for developing overseas links, said he did not know of Rauf or any work that he had carried out. Bashir Maan, a community leader, also said he had no knowledge of Rauf. A spokesman for the Central Mosque, the biggest in Scotland, said he did not worship there and had not been to their Islamic Centre, and he was not known at three mosques close to his home in the Pollokshields area.
16 Feb 2010: Extraordinary developments
It was disclosed that Sturgeon’s plea to the sheriff on behalf of Abdul Rauf was dated the day after businessman Khalid Javid paid £2,000 for a meal in the MSPs’ restaurant at Holyrood with the Deputy First minister. The February 2 auction raised money for Osama Saeed, the SNP Westminster candidate in Glasgow Central.
Labour’s business manager Paul Martin last night said: “this latest revelation adds to the suspicion that there was more to the story. Nicola Sturgeon has failed to answer the question as to why she took up this man’s case in the way she did. She has also failed to tell us who introduced her to Mr Rauf.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted she had acted “reasonably” and admitted she knew about Rauf’s previous conviction. She denied knowing Rauf socially, but conceded she “may have attended the same social events in the constituency”.
In her letter, the MSP stated she was aware of the case in July 2008 when her constituent came to her, saying: “Mr Rauf has accepted his wrongdoing and has experienced the consequences of it through the effect on his health, the distress caused to his family and the impact on his standing in his community. He has already paid £27,000 of the outstanding balance to the DWP and will settle the remainder by selling property. He and his wife are anxious that a custodial sentence may be imposed by the court and of the effect this will have on Mr Rauf’s health and the impact on family life. I would appeal to the court to consider alternatives to a custodial sentence.”
Rauf said in a statement to the press later that he did not know Sturgeon and he had not asked her to intervene on his behalf with a letter to the court.
Sturgeon – a statement of contrition
In a statement to MSPs a few weeks later, Sturgeon said: “I do believe in certain respects the letter could, and should, have been written differently. I regret the use of the word ‘mistake’ to describe Mr Rauf’s offence. On reflection, I should not have asked the court to consider alternatives to custody. Having drawn the court’s attention to Mr Rauf’s personal circumstances, I should have left it there. I should not have gone on to ask the court to specifically consider alternatives to custody. On reflection, that was a request more suited to my former occupation as a solicitor than to my current job as an MSP. In short, I assisted a constituent in good faith and for what I considered to be the right reasons, but in doing so I did get some things wrong and for that I am sorry.”
12 May 2010: Jailed
Abdul Rauf, 60 the convicted fraudster who found himself at the centre of a political storm involving Scotland’s deputy first minister has been jailed for two years.
May 2010: Health Secretary Sturgeon issues a “zero tolerance” warning to fraudsters
Only four months after she pleaded with a Sherriff not to send convicted benefits conman Abdul Rauf to prison she said this:
“Anyone contemplating fraud against the NHS should be aware that they will be caught, and if they are caught, they will have to face the consequences of their fraudulent actions. Fraudsters in any walk of life are opportunistic, tend to be fairly entrepreneurial, and will take the opportunity to exploit any weakness in the organisation they target. Let me be clear today about what is a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and to fraudsters. Fraud perpetrated against the NHS is, in my view, a fraud perpetrated against each and every one of us and that is why it is so important to combat it. So it does make sense for all of us, in our own ways and in our own roles, to act as counter-fraud champions.”
19 Feb 2012: Scottish independence: US debates UK break-up
Alex Salmond’s plans to remove Trident submarines from Scotland are to be raised in the US, in a fresh sign of the global ramifications of Scotland’s independence referendum. The issues will be discussed next month in Washington at a Friends of Scotland caucus, which includes 66 congressmen and senators. Organizers say senior US politicians are only just beginning to examine the implications for America if Scotland was to become independent and the UK to break up.
Senior defense figures have now questioned whether the UK could continue to have nuclear weapons, currently based at Faslane, if an independent Scotland insisted they be removed, because of the cost of finding and maintaining a new base.
On the economy, caucus organizers suggest that the break-up of the UK could shake markets across the world.
The event, entitled Political and Economic Implications for the United States should Scotland leave the United Kingdom to become an Independent Nation, will set out the key US interests.
“The geopolitical ramifications on US foreign and economic policy, and the impact on our national security strategy of an independent Scotland have not been well aired in the USA,” an advance notice states. “Before coming to power, the Scottish National Party long called for Scotland, to include the removal of nuclear submarines from their base at Faslane, in western Scotland. What would be the impact for the US if these things were to happen?”
The notice also says that the impact on global markets of a break-up of the UK could be “quite destabilizing, with ripple effects on the American economy. Few Scottish-Americans have publicly focused on these aspects”.
The event which started on 28 March 2012 with a video address from Alex Salmond was organised by the US National Capital Tartan Day Committee.
It’s chairman Robert Murdoch, a noted Pittsburgh lawyer said “This symposium will be useful for an exchange of ideas on the issues surrounding independence. Will there be a Scottish pound and an English pound, for example. My gut feeling is that independence will not happen. But if Scotland were to vote for independence, it could ultimately strengthen the ties with the US.”
The first signs of US concern over independence came in a report written by a veteran US Congressional defense analyst, Robert L Goldich, which suggested that Scottish independence “might not be too good” for American defense and foreign investment.
Goldich raised questions over how much Scotland would cooperate with Nato; the armed forces, intelligence and anti-terrorism services of “a truncated United Kingdom”; as well as those in other western democracies, including the US.
The SNP spokesman for External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our international friends are watching the debate on Scotland’s future keenly, and those in the US can be sure that an independent Scotland will continue the strong and longstanding bonds of friendship and cooperation between our nations.” (The Scotsman)
11 Sep 2014: Congress split over Scottish Independence
The heads of the Friends of Scotland Caucus and the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus are split over whether Scottish voters should declare their independence and break away from Great Britain in a referendum on Thursday.
While the Friends of Scotland Caucus is officially neutral, Co-Chairman John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) broke from many lawmakers and from the Obama administration, which have indicated support for Scotland remaining part of the U.K. when he said: “I think it would be a good thing for Scotland to be independent, because when it comes to government, smaller is better, and closer to the people is better, If they follow free-market, small-government policies, they could become very, very prosperous.”
Duncan’s co-chairman, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), is in a unique position because he also leads the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
Duncan and McIntyre introduced a resolution stating that the referendum is a decision that can only be made by the Scottish people and that they believe “a strong and prosperous Scotland is important for United States national priorities.”
Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), a co-chairman of the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus, said: “I personally believe that it will be much better for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland if the United Kingdom stay united. If Scotland were to separate, this will only be a further negative disruption to global stability and the world economy. I hope the people of Scotland vote ‘no,’ but I do not get a vote.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said: “We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision about, along these lines,” Earnest said. “But, you know, as the president himself said we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) introduced a separate resolution advocating for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom stating: “It’s clear from this side of the Atlantic that a United Kingdom, including Scotland, would be the strongest possible American ally.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, co-sponsored Sherman’s resolution.
Right winger, the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who claims Scots-Irish heritage, said: “To break up what is left of Great Britain, I think, would not be good for their economy, but I’m not going to tell them how they ought to vote,” McCain said. (The Hill)
Comment: The 2012 event contained a number of negative references to the SNP policy of a independent Scotland leaving NATO which is no longer the case. We stay!!! What is of concern is the credence given to a caucus which had only one member in favour of Scottish independence and he has since retired from politics.
What is required of US politicians is a caucus that fully supports the aims and aspirations of Scots, and its name should reflect this. The Friends of Scotland Caucus still functions but numbers are reduced to 18 from a high of 68. (https://www.billtrack50.com/committee/8784)