1. June 14 2014; Queen ‘will not back the Union’ ahead of independence referendum
a. The Queen will not publicly back the Union ahead of Scotland’s independence referendum, Buckingham Palace has said. A number of news outlets have been anticipating a royal seal of approval for the Better Together campaign but their hopes appear to have been dashed by the palace. A report in Private Eye magazine claimed that Her Majesty had rebuffed attempts by David Cameron to get her to encourage a No vote in September. It said: “Two attempts to insert gentle references in support of the Union in speeches over the past year have been rebuffed by the palace, which suggested that Her Majesty’s ministers in Edinburgh might offer conflicting advice.
b. “Buckingham Palace has even set up a task-force, headed by private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt, to ensure her absolute neutrality is maintained.” A spokesman for Her Majesty said the report was “not true” — but confirmed the UK’s head of state would not be attempting to influence Scots’ choice at the ballot box in three months’ time. He said: “As far as we are concerned it’s just business as usual and there is no task-force.” Asked if requests had been made by the Prime Minister for an official backing of the Union, the spokesman said: “I think No. 10 completely understand the Queen is completely neutral on this question and I don’t recognise that description. “We have been very clear from the beginning, as have they, that the Queen thinks this is a matter for the people of Scotland and is above political affray.”
c. Under Scottish Government plans, the Queen would be retained as head of state should Scotland vote Yes on September 18. The Queen did appear to come out against devolution and independence in a Silver Jubilee Speech in 1977. She said then: “Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.”
2. September 12-2014; Scottish independence: UKIP leader Nigel Farage urges Queen to back No vote
a. Ukip leader Nigel Farage has called on the Queen to intervene in the Scottish independence referendum. Buckingham Palace issued a statement earlier this week saying the monarch was “above politics”. The palace said it was “categorically wrong” to suggest she would wish to influence the vote in next week’s referendum. But speaking on LBC radio, Mr Farage said it could be argued that the Queen had a responsibility to speak. The Ukip leader, who will be holding a rally in Glasgow later, said: “I completely understand her wanting to keep out of politics and she has done it brilliantly over 60 years. “But there are times where if the United Kingdom, over which she is the monarch, is threatened itself, it might be right for her to say something.
“Let’s say we got to this Sunday and it was still 50/50 in the polls, I personally think she should say something.” Mr Farage said there was a precedent for the Queen intervening because she addressed independence in her Silver Jubilee speech in 1977.
b. Queen Elizabeth II attends a Garden Party at Balmoral Castle in 2012 “She said very clearly I am the Queen of the entire United Kingdom,” he said. “So she said it before and it might be handy if she said it again.” Sources in Better Together, which is campaigning for a No campaign, dismissed Mr Farage’s call for the Queen to intervene as “absolutely preposterous”.
c. Earlier this week Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said the Queen “will be proud” to be the monarch of an independent Scotland. The palace later insisted the referendum was “a matter for the people of Scotland”. A spokesman said: “The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign. “As such the monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure that this remains the case. “Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong.”
d. The BBC’s royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood that the comments were made in response to calls for the Queen to speak out in favour of the union and not in response to Mr Salmond’s remarks. Under the plans for independence outlined in the Scottish government’s white paper, the Queen would remain head of state. BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said sources in the Better Together campaign strongly criticised Mr Farage for suggesting the Queen should make a public statement of support for the union. They insisted it would not be appropriate for the Queen to become involved.
3. September 12 2014; Jeremy Heywood tells SNP BBC did not breach code
a. Scottish Independence. The head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood has said there was no breach of the Ministerial Code in relation to BBC reporting of RBS’s headquarters moving to England. Sir Jeremy wrote to Alex Salmond to say no rules had been broken when the BBC reported that RBS had a contingency plan to move its legal office south of the border in the event of a Yes vote.
b. The senior civil servant was replying to Mr Salmond’s call for an investigation into the BBC’s reporting of the move. The First Minister reacted to news that Scotland’s five major banks were considering moving their legal-bases out of Scotland by claiming that the Treasury had briefed the BBC with “market sensitive information” about RBS before the markets opened.
c. Sir Jeremy’s letter said the Treasury had simply been confirming the position after reports appeared elsewhere in the media and there had been no breach of the Ministerial Code.
“This was not a UK Government announcement – it was simply a confirmation of the Treasury’s understanding of RBS’ contingency planning,” he wrote. “In response to …. informed media reports about RBS, the Treasury judged that it was important to set this out – at a time when the UK financial markets were closed – given their overarching responsibility for maintaining financial stability in the UK.”
4. September 13-2014; Farage compares David Cameron to Edward II at Bannockburn
a. Mr Farage said: “From the beginning I was astonished that the Prime Minister allowed for the separatists to be given the Yes side of the referendum question. “Far better from his point of view, you would have thought, would have been to have asked the question “should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom?” “And to keep the positive on his side. “But no, on this he blundered. But more fundamentally he blundered by not offering the Scottish people, the devo max option. “I have absolutely no doubt that if that had been on the ballot paper it would have secured a large majority of the votes. “However, arrogant as Edward II was at Bannockburn, Cameron has walked straight into this long planned ambush. “Now of course, he and the others in Better Together are offering the devo max option. “They’re not giving people directly the chance to vote for it and the Labour Party led by Ed Miliband has totally failed to connect, despite the fact that electorally they have the most to lose.”
b. Earlier Mr Farage risked invoking the wrath of Buckingham Palace when he called on the Queen to make a public statement in support of the Union if the campaign was still on a knife-edge by Sunday. The palace took the unprecedented step earlier this week of warning campaigners not to politicise the monarch but the Ukip leader pointed out that the Queen backed the Union in her 1977 Silver Jubilee speech and “it might be handy if she said it again”.
5. September 14-2014; Queen hopes Scottish independence voters will ‘think carefully about future’
a. The Queen has made a rare intervention on the political stage to express the hope that voters will “think very carefully about the future” before the Scottish independence referendum on Thursday. Speaking after the Sunday morning service at Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate in Scotland, the Queen told a well-wisher: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.” The remarks were interpreted by no campaigners as being helpful to their cause. British prime minister David Cameron will on Monday use his final visit to Scotland before the referendum to say that a yes vote will lead to a split “for ever”.
b. The Queen made her remarks after a well-wisher joked that they would not mention the referendum. The Queen, who remains above the political fray as a constitutional monarch, observed the proprieties of not endorsing either side in the referendum. But her remark was seen to tally with no campaigners claims that a vote for independence would lead to an irrevocable break with the UK. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “We never comment on private exchanges or conversations. We just reiterate what the Queen has always said: she maintains her constitutional impartiality. As the Queen has always said, this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”
c. But the Queen’s remarks, which were first disclosed by the Times’s Scottish political editor Lindsay McIntosh, were warmly welcomed in private by the pro-UK side, who are keen to impress on voters that they will make an irrevocable decision if they vote for independence. The prime minister will reinforce this point on Monday when he says: “This is a decision that could break up our family of nations and rip Scotland from the rest of the UK. And we must be very clear. There’s no going back from this. No rerun. “This is a once-and-for-all decision. If Scotland votes yes, the UK will split, and we will go our separate ways for ever.”
d. The remarks by the Queen came after the palace insisted last week that the monarch, who spends every summer at her Balmoral estate and whose mother was Scottish, was remaining above the fray in the referendum. This followed reports that the Queen was horrified by the prospect that her kingdom may be broken up.
e. Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, weighed in last week when he said it “might be handy” if the Queen intervened on behalf of the pro-UK side. Some campaigners for the union have pointed out that in 1977, the year of her silver jubilee, the Queen said in a speech in Westminster Hall: “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
f. It has been stressed that the speech in 1977 was made in different circumstances when there was no devolution legislation before parliament. A proposal to establish a Scottish assembly was narrowly passed in a referendum in 1979. But it ultimately failed because the yes vote was below 40% of the overall electorate.
g. Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister, highlighted the significance of the monarchy when he moved on Sunday to reassure traditionalists when he said the “Queen and her successors” would remain as head of state in an independent Scotland. He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1: “We want to see Her Majesty the Queen as Queen of the Scots. That is a fantastic title and a fantastic prospect.”
6. September 15-2014; David Cameron makes emotional plea to Scotland as independence vote looms
a. In an emotional speech on his last visit to Scotland before Thursday’s independence referendum, the prime minister warned that a yes vote would end the UK “for good, for ever” and would deprive the Scottish people of a shared currency and pooled pension arrangements. He also asked people not to mix up the temporary and the permanent, saying neither he nor the government would “be here forever”.
b. A Guardian/ICM poll shows that 63% of voters in England and Wales objected to the post-independence currency union sought by Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister. Most people in Scotland, previous polls have shown, want a deal on sterling. Cameron, whose voice was close to breaking, spelled out what he believed would be the costs of independence. “It is my duty to be clear about the likely consequences of a yes vote. Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce,” he said. He said he would be “utterly heartbroken” by a yes vote and listed the benefits of UK membership that the people of Scotland would lose, including a shared currency, armed forces built up over centuries and pension funds that would be sliced up “at some cost”. Independence would mean Scotland’s border with England – and the sea routes to Northern Ireland – would become international frontiers, Cameron said, and that more than half of Scottish mortgages would suddenly be provided by banks in a foreign country.
c. “We want you to stay,” he said. “Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay. Please don’t mix up the temporary and the permanent. Please don’t think: ‘I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back.’ “If you don’t like me – I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this government – it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever,” he said.
d. In the short term, Cameron has to decide whether to recall parliament in the event of a yes vote, as early as the weekend or next Monday, a move that would disrupt Labour’s annual conference in Manchester. Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said Cameron’s speech “was the same litany of empty threats and empty promises we have come to expect from the no campaign – and he is the prime minister who has been orchestrating the campaign of ridiculous scaremongering being directed against Scotland”. A yes vote would give Scotland its “one opportunity” to ensure it had job creation powers, Jenkins said, and end government by parties that Scottish voters did not elect, which presided over a vast increase in food banks and new nuclear weapons systems its politicians had rejected. “Instead of believing the word of a Tory prime minister on a very few more powers, the people of Scotland can get all the powers we need to build a better, fairer country by believing in ourselves and voting yes,” he said.
e. Cameron’s comments came as Ed Miliband prepared for a return visit to central Scotland on Tuesday when the Labour leader is expected to try to woo back disillusioned Labour voters who have largely driven a late surge in support for independence.
Taking the opposite tack to Cameron, his ally in the Better Together campaign, Miliband said he believed the yes campaign had delivered a clear message to UK parties that change was needed. He insisted Labour would be the best vehicle for unseating the Tories in 2015 and delivering more progressive policies. “The will of the people of Scotland for economic and political change has been heard and we will deliver,” he is expected to tell a rally. Contrasting his offer with “a future of separation and risk” offered by an irreversible yes vote, Miliband added: “I ask the people of Scotland to lead that change of our whole British constitution.”
f. That message risked being undermined by a Guardian ICM poll which showed Labour’s support has dipped by three points to 35% across the UK, bringing the Tories to within two points at 33%. The findings are likely to increase voter anxieties in Scotland that Labour could fail to beat the Tories next May. Miliband’s offers of further significant tax and welfare powers for Holyrood were challenged by one of Scotland’s leading campaigners for greater devolution. Writing for the Guardian, Ben Thomson, founder of campaign group Devo Plus, said he was close to voting yes to independence because he was so disappointed by the failure of the UK parties to make an ambitious, concrete offer for greater tax powers, beyond a promise to agree new powers next year.
g. In a further push by the no campaign, all three UK leaders – Cameron, Miliband and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader – signed a front page pledge in the Daily Record newspaper entitled “the vow”. It promised they would give the Scottish parliament a legal guarantee of its independence from Westminster and to protect the Treasury’s funding system, known as the Barnett formula. Along with a “categoric” statement that Holyrood had the final say on Scottish health service spending, both are major new commitments, pushed for by the paper after it accused the three leaders last week of making weak promises on devolution.
h. Giving Holyrood its own legal standing instead of having its power gifted to it and controlled by Westminster under Labour’s original devolution settlement in 1998 was a key demand of Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, earlier this year. The Scottish National party has repeatedly claimed that English and Welsh politicians would force Scotland to accept cuts or the loss of the Barnett formula if there was a no vote, accusing Westminster parties of being fickle.
i. Miliband is due to spend the rest of the week in Scotland, making a series of speeches in central Scotland and campaigning into polling day on Thursday, as Labour attempts to persuade its core vote to back the UK and to vote heavily in the referendum. Brown sought to bolster that offensive by insisting that his party’s plans to increase the tax powers and legal status of the Scottish parliament were “locked-in by a triple guarantee”. Brown said the three guarantees were that Holyrood would be given legal protection from meddling by Westminster, as well as extra powers; there would be a “clear statement of purpose for the UK guaranteeing fairness”; and a guarantee that Holyrood had the freedom to spend more on the NHS, using its new powers to set income tax rates.
j. On Monday the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international thinktank, warned that a yes vote was a potential risk to the global economy, the eurozone and emerging markets. Arguing that the UK was an important member of the group of rich countries, its secretary general, Angel Gurria, said: “We clearly believe that better together is perhaps the way to go.”
k. Property website Zoopla said a flood of homes being put up for sale in the event of a yes vote could lead to a repeat of a 17.5% fall in Scottish house prices, which took place during the financial crisis of 2008.
l. Albert Edwards, strategist at French bank Société Générale, questioned whether a yes vote could have wider implications across Europe. “The obvious market conclusion is for a weaker sterling – but a proper old fashioned crisis is plausible. But maybe that is too parochial a vision. The sequence of events which might flow from a yes vote may be as unpredictable and as uncontrollable as those of the late 1980s in eastern Europe, which led to the ultimate demise of the USSR,” said Edwards.
m. The White House reaffirmed on Monday its belief that it would be better for Scotland to stay in the UK. Press spokesman, Josh Earnest, repeated what President Obama said in Brussels earlier this year. “The president said that from the outside the US has a deep interest in ensuring that one of the closest allies that we’ll ever have remains strong, robust and united and an effective partner with the US. This is a decision for the people of Scotland to make; we certainly respect the right of the individual Scots to make a decision along these lines, but as the president said, we have an interest [pause] in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united,” Earnest said.
7. September 18-2014; The British state is an imperial behemoth that can only look on in panic as Scots scramble for the lifeboats
a. In Scottish city centres right now, you’re rarely out of sight of a yes badge. The vibe was summed up by an Edinburgh cabbie: “We’re being invited to run our country. It’s very exciting. Maybe we can show how things can be done differently”. It’s not just him. Polls have shown the yes vote surging. It’s worth noting how remarkable this is. The only UK party supporting independence is the Greens. Of all of the local Scottish and British papers, only the Sunday Herald backs yes. The official story has long been that it’s only a few angry men in kilts who care about this.
b. But in the internet age, officials don’t get to write the stories any more. There were always people who had little time for flags, tartanry and shortbread, but who wanted to escape a political system that has made Britain one of Europe’s most unequal counties. And it is these people – a better organised and vastly more powerful version of the Occupy movement – that the Westminster parties and their media partners failed to consider.
c. It’s this movement that has mobilised thousands to come together at meetings and online to imagine and plan out a better country; which has spurred them into activism, often for the first time in their lives; which has laughed together at the arrogance of disconnected rulers; and which has learned together as it has gone along. It’s this movement that attracted my cabbie to the first, then second, then third political meetings of his life – all in the past month.
d. These people created their own media and founded their own organisations. They are young, energetic, enthusiastic, funny. They looked the British state straight in the eye and saw through its illusions. The hierarchies of a steeply unequal country reward loyalty and elite connections while punishing independence of mind. No wonder kids from “the regions” are running rings around the “gurus” of a floundering establishment.
e. It isn’t just about activist groups. Visiting one of Edinburgh’s gurdwaras with Scots Asians for Yes, the people I met were typical. Some were undecided; some were no. Most were yes. And what distinguished the yeses was this: they were discussing how to persuade relatives and friends. They collected data-filled booklets to talk through with their families. They had become Google and Twitter aficionados, digging out and sharing information that debunks the horror stories our politicians use to frighten us away from any notion that another world is possible. With social media, Paul Mason once wrote, “truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable”.
f. It’s against this self-organised network that the British state is flagging. Research from Edinburgh University shows that the more information people have, the more likely they are to vote yes. In the face of mass peer-to-peer education, the puffed-up power of elites melts away: polls show most Scots no longer believe what Westminster MPs say. As David Cameron and George Osborne and Ed Miliband huff and puff and woo and cajole the people of Scotland, more and more simply look these politicians up and down, shrug, and say: “You have no power over us any more.”
g. It’s their own fault. Westminster’s parties have made conventional politics so bland that people barely pay attention. To win elections they have got used to flashing simplistic messages in front of our eyes – we don’t notice or care that we’re being patronised. And because they destroyed their pesky grassroots, they failed to spot that the referendum isn’t an election. People are paying attention, are thirsty for information, and don’t take kindly to their leaders treating them like idiots or trying to bully them.
h. Yet as the polls narrow, they offer a timetable to nowhere and fly from Downing Street a blue and white symbol of their utter failure to understand what’s happening. In a sense, this gets to the core of what the referendum is about. Because the vote on independence isn’t just about escaping Westminster’s supercharged neoliberalism – though it offers that chance too. There’s also a different story of the modern age here: the network v the hierarchy. Do Scots want to huddle behind the clumsy, centralised British bureaucracy, or join the network of nations? Now the age of empires is over, do we want to stay on a Titanic, which once brutally ruled the waves? Or is it time to join Europe’s flotilla of more human-sized countries, more responsive to each of our needs, but capable of huddling together in a storm?
i. The British state was built for a previous era, to run a vast and violent empire built at a time when centralisation brought power. In the roaring flames of the second world war it was softened enough to be bent a little towards justice. But that was a blip. Those days are gone.
j. The rebellion in Scotland right now is against a rapidly centralising state in an age when information is diffuse and people have the capacity to organise themselves more than ever. It’s against an elitist structure in an age of mass education. It’s against a system built to keep us out. And there’s a simple way to tell, whatever the result, that yes voters have history on their side: look at the pathetic campaign mustered by the British state to defend itself. Watch Westminster’s wide-eyed panic as a widely predicted surge in the polls emerges. And ask yourself – would a functional state have failed to see this coming?
8. September 19-2014; Scottish referendum: David Cameron and the Queen seek to ease tensions
a. David Cameron and the Queen will hope to calm tensions after the heated Scottish referendum campaign when they make conciliatory statements on Friday after the formal declaration of the result. The prime minister is planning to make an early appearance in Downing Street to outline a package of constitutional reforms, amid increasing confidence in No 10 during the early hours of Friday that the pro-UK side would prevail. Cameron is expected to use the occasion to show that the coalition is committed to delivering the pledge, outlined by the leaders of the three main UK parties in the final days of the campaign, to deepen Scotland’s devolution settlement.
b. But Michael Gove, the Scottish-born Tory chief whip, made clear early this morning that the prime minister would present a balanced package to ensure that voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not feel they have lost out. Gove even suggested that Scottish MPs may be banned from voting on English-only matters at Westminster as government sources said that the Barnett formula, which guarantees extra public spending in Scotland, would be part of the changes.
c. The Queen, who is understood to have watched the referendum debate with close interest, is planning to issue a written statement in the afternoon. It is understood that the monarch, who was praised by both sides during the campaign, believes that it is important to send a message of reconciliation after the heated debates. In a rare intervention on the political stage the Queen said last weekend that she hoped voters would think “very carefully” before voting. Her remarks, delivered outside Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire after the Sunday morning service, were interpreted by the no camp as a helpful intervention.
d. The prime minister wants to move quickly to show he will stand by his word as he confirms the timetable to devolve greater powers, over taxation and welfare, to the Scottish parliament. Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg issued a joint pledge after Gordon Brown warned the main UK party leaders that they needed to make a dramatic intervention to fight a late surge to the SNP.
e. Cameron is facing calls from Tory MPs to balance the powers for Holyrood by denying Scottish MPs the right to vote on English-only matters at Westminster and to reform the favourable funding arrangements for Scotland in the Barnett formula. Claire Perry, the rail minister, became the first Conservative frontbencher to speak out when she warned against “promises of financial party bags”.
f. Gove, who has been canvassing opinion among Tory MPs, indicated that the prime minister is heeding the concerns of Perry and scores of backbenches. The chief whip told the BBC: “If, as seems likely, there is a no vote then the prime minister will be saying more not just about the need to make sure that the interests of Scotland are protected but how we bring the whole UK together and what the means for Northern Ireland, Wales and England. The critical thing is there needs to be change in order to ensure that Westminster works better for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
g. Gove ruled out the idea of an English parliament. But he suggested that the West Lothian question, which asks why Scottish MPs are entitled to vote on education and health in England while English MPs are unable to influence such matters in Scotland. He indicated that this could involve denying Scottish MPs to ability to vote on such areas.
h. The indication from Gove that No 10 is prepared to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs may spark a coalition row after Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, ruled out the proposal on Wednesday. Labour, which holds 41 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster, will be opposed to tinkering with the Barnett formula.
i. It is understood that the prime minister will move to reassure Tory MPs who are alarmed at the favourable funding arrangements for Scotland enshrined in the Barnett formula which ensures that an extra £1,200 per head of public money is spent per head in Scotland. Many Tory MPs were alarmed when the joint guarantee by Cameron and the other UK leaders appeared to guarantee the Barnett Formula. But the commitment was carefully worded to guarantee “the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources”.
j. It is understood that this means that devolving greater tax raising powers to the Scottish parliament will lead to a claw back in the Scottish block grant which is underpinned by the Barnett Formula.
k. A command paper setting out the reforms will be published within the next few months. This will be followed by draft clauses on a proposed bill in the new year that will be formally introduced to parliament after the UK general election next May. Conservative backbenchers lined up to demand separate powers for English MPs shortly after the polls closed, underlining the pressure on Cameron to act. Many are angry at what they see as their leader’s complacency that forced him to offer “bribes” to the Scots to stay in the last day of the campaign. Led by former cabinet minister John Redwood, up to 100 MPs could be prepared to veto the Scottish devolution package if England is not given what they consider to be an equal deal.
l. Their core demands are that Cameron must address the West Lothian question – why Scottish MPs are allowed to vote on English-only issues – and the Barnett formula – the Treasury mechanism that divides up funding between the four nations of the union. They are unlikely to be placated if the prime minister simply says he will implement the McKay Commission, which recommended a greater say for English MPs on English issues without banning Scottish MPs from voting on any legislation.
m. One of the new voices to pile pressure on Cameron was Boris Johnson, the London mayor and candidate for Uxbridge, who said Scottish MPs should no longer have a say on legislation that just affects England. He told Sky News: “Let’s not give any more sauce to the goose until we’ve given some sauce to the gander.”
n. Liam Fox, a former Tory defence minister, also said the West Lothian question and the funding settlement between all UK nations would become “unavoidable” . Others to raise concerns included transport minister Claire Perry, Conor Burns, Andrew Percy, and Michael Fabricant. From Labour, Diane Abbott, a former shadow minister, and John Denham, a close adviser to Miliband, said it would have to be considered.
o. Others senior figures in Labour, including Jim Murphy, the shadow development secretary, expressed reluctance to ban Scottish MPs from voting on English issues. Allowing this to happen would put any Labour prime minister dependent on Scottish MPs for a majority in a very difficult position. For example, Scottish MPs would potentially not be able to vote for a budget, after tax powers have been devolved.
9. September 19-2014; Scotland votes no: the union has survived, but the questions for the left are profound
a. Like the battle of Waterloo, the battle for Scotland was a damn close-run thing. The effects of Thursday’s no vote are enormous – though not as massive as the consequences of a yes would have been. The vote against independence means, above all, that the 307-year Union survives. It therefore means that the UK remains a G7 economic power and a member of the UN security council. It means Scotland will get more devolution. It means David Cameron will not be forced out. It means any Ed Miliband-led government elected next May has the chance to serve a full term, not find itself without a majority in 2016, when the Scots would have left. It means the pollsters got it right, Madrid will sleep a little more easily, and it means the banks will open on Friday morning as usual.
b. But the battlefield is still full of resonant lessons. The win, though close, was decisive. It looks like a 54%-46% or thereabouts. That’s not as good as it looked like being a couple of months ago. But it’s a lot more decisive than the recent polls had hinted. Second, it was women who saved the union. In the polls, men were decisively in favour of yes. The yes campaign was in some sense a guy thing. Men wanted to make a break with the Scotland they inhabit. Women didn’t. Third, this was to a significant degree a class vote too. Richer Scotland stuck with the union — so no did very well in a lot of traditonal SNP areas. Poorer Scotland, Labour Scotland, slipped towards yes, handing Glasgow, Dundee and North Lanarkshire to the independence camp. Gordon Brown stopped the slippage from becoming a rout, perhaps, but the questions for Labour — and for left politics more broadly — are profound.
c. For Scots, the no vote means relief for some, despair for others, both on the grand scale. For those who dreamed that a yes vote would take Scots on a journey to a land of milk, oil and honey, the mood this morning will be grim. Something that thousands of Scots wanted to be wonderful or merely just to witness has disappeared. The anticlimax will be cruel and crushing. For others, the majority, there will be thankfulness above all but uneasiness too. Thursday’s vote exposed a Scotland divided down the middle and against itself. Healing that hurt will not be easy or quick. It’s time to put away all flags.
d. The immediate political question now suddenly moves to London. Gordon Brown promised last week that work will start on Friday on drawing up the terms of a new devolution settlement. That may be a promise too far after the red-eyed adrenalin-pumping exhaustion of the past few days. But the deal needs to be on the table by the end of next month. It will not be easy to reconcile all the interests – Scots, English, Welsh, Northern Irish and local. But it is an epochal opportunity. The plan, like the banks, is too big to fail.
e. Alex Salmond and the SNP are not going anywhere. They will still govern Scotland until 2016. There will be speculation about Salmond’s position, and the SNP will need to decide whether to run in 2016 on a second referendum pledge. More immediately, the SNP will have to decide whether to go all-out win to more Westminster seats in the 2015 general election, in order to hold the next government’s feet to the fire over the promised devo-max settlement. Independence campaigners will feel gutted this morning. But they came within a whisker of ending the United Kingdom on Thursday. One day, perhaps soon, they will surely be back. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/19/scottish-independence-union-survived-put-away-flags
10. September 25-2014; Cameron to Apologise to Queen for gaffe
a. David Cameron is to make an unprecedented apology in person to the Queen, after being caught privately describing her as “purring” in pleasure at the result of the Scottish referendum result. A chastened Prime Minister admitted he was “very embarrassed” and “extremely sorry” over the gaffe, which came as he chatted with billionaire media tycoon Michael Bloomberg in New York. Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer the PM’s apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets Her Majesty for one of his regular audiences.
b. The Prime Minister came under fire after being picked up by a TV microphone on Tuesday telling former New York mayor Bloomberg of the relief he felt at not having to inform the Queen that Scotland had left the United Kingdom. As the pair arrived for a press photo-opportunity, the PM smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell her it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp. “The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” he said. “That was something. She purred down the line.”
c. The comments were condemned as “crass and incompetent” by SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, though Buckingham Palace declined to comment. Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Cameron was asked whether he regretted the comment and whether he would apologise. He replied: “Yes and yes.” And he added: “Look, I’m very embarrassed by this. I’m extremely sorry about it. “It was a private conversation, but clearly a private conversation that I shouldn’t have had and won’t have again. “My office has already been in touch with the Palace to make that clear and I will do so as well.”
11. September 28-2014; Cameron red-faced over Purrgate
a. David Cameron today vowed “never again” to discuss his conversations with the Queen after being challenged whether he was ashamed to have been overheard saying she had “purred” when told the result of the Scottish independence referendum. The Prime Minister told the BBC One Andrew Marr programme he regretted the exchange between himself and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, which was overheard by TV cameras at the United Nations this week. Mr Cameron said: “(It is) one of those moments when you look back and kick yourself very hard. “It was not a conversation I should have had, I am extremely sorry and very embarrassed about it. “I have made my apologies and I think I’ll probably be making some more.” Asked if he felt ashamed, the Prime Minister added: ” I’m very sorry about it… I’m not going to ever discuss my conversations with the Palace ever again.”
b. Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer the Prime Minister’s apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets Her Majesty for one of his regular audiences. As the Prime Minister and Mr Bloomberg arrived for a press photo-opportunity, Mr Cameron smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell the Queen it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp. “The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” Mr Cameron said. “That was something. She purred down the line.”
12. September 30-2014; PM ‘reveals fresh talk with Queen’
a. David Cameron has reportedly breached royal protocol once again by sharing another private conversation he had with the Queen on a visit to Chequers. It has been claimed he told Tory MPs gathered at his country retreat last week to discuss English devolution about a time the monarch had to be corrected by his curator. She apparently said the original of the Anthony van Dyck painting they were viewing – described as A Family Group – was in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The awkward moment – when she was informed her version was a copy – was said to have unfolded during a tour of the stately home with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in February, their first visit in almost two decades.
b. The faux-pas, revealed in the Evening Standard, could see Mr Cameron forced to make a second apology in a week after he was recorded saying the Queen had “purred” down the phone to him when he called with the Scottish independence result. And to add to his embarrassment, an art historian has since claimed the Queen was in fact right. Bendor Grosvenor, who writes the blog Art History News, says he has consulted the index of a catalogue of van Dyck works which indicates the Prime Minister’s residence only has copies of the group pictures that match the description of the piece apparently discussed.
c. He went on: “The Queen – who knows her art – was absolutely right. The two group portraits by van Dyck that would match the description given here of A Family Group are the so-called ‘Great Piece’ of Charles I and Henrietta Maria with Charles II and Princess Mary, and The Five Eldest Children of Charles I. “Both are in the Royal Collection. Chequers has a copy of part of the former – with just Henrietta Maria and Princess Mary – and a full-scale copy of the latter. “These are both listed in the 2004 Van Dyck catalogue raisonne as copies.
d. “If the curator at Chequers really did not know that van Dyck’s original was indeed in the Royal Collection, they should be sent to the Tower. Equally, if the PM was making the story up as a good yarn, he should be sent to the Tower too. “There are two genuine van Dycks at Chequers, small head and shoulders portraits of Charles I and Henrietta Maria.” Asked what advice he had for Mr Cameron, Mr Grosvenor quipped: “Perhaps he needs a new curator.”
e. Ukip leader Nigel Farage told the newspaper: “I’m pleased the Tower of London moat is being filled with ceramic poppies at the moment to commemorate First World War soldiers. “But if the prime minister makes any more comments like this we should start to think about using the inside of the Tower as well.” On Sunday, the Prime Minister told The Andrew Marr Show that he regretted being recorded telling former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the Queen had “purred” down the line to him. He has indicated he will say sorry in person when he next meets the Queen for one of his regular audiences. Downing Street refused to comment on the latest matter, saying it was a “private conversation”.
f. Mr Cameron made the first gaffe during a private conversation with US media tycoon Michael Bloomberg during a visit to New York last week, which was overheard by television cameras. Asked whether he had given his apologies to the Queen about that incident yet, Mr Cameron told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “My office has already registered that very strongly with the Palace and I will do so in person when we next have our audience. “But I think I have probably said enough about those audiences, so I won’t say any more.” In an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Cameron was asked whether his description of the Queen “purring” was demeaning to women in general and the monarch in particular. He replied: “I deeply regret that entire conversation. It was a private conversation but nonetheless it’s a conversation I shouldn’t have had. “I’ve said what I’m going to say about that. I regret it, I’m sorry about it, it won’t happen again.”
13. October 24 2014: Revealed: Treasury’s RBS email leak came from Westminster ‘referendum dirty tricks’ department
a. The UK Treasury has been accused of running a, “political dirty tricks department” spinning against Scottish independence after it emerged sensitive information about Royal Bank of Scotland plans to leave the country in the event of a Yes vote was leaked by a civil servant in charge of, “referendum communications” within the department. The email, sent to journalists the week before the referendum, stated RBS had plans to move its base to London in the event of independence, triggering headlines viewed as a blow to the Yes campaign.
b. It was issued while the RBS board was meeting to discuss the matter, and before the bank had made a statement to the financial markets – a breach of trading rules. First Minister Alex Salmond demanded a criminal investigation into the matter, while Edinburgh financier and Independent Midlothian councillor Peter de Vink, an RBS shareholder, also asked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and police to investigate.
c. The Sunday Herald has now obtained a copy of the email, which shows it was sent by a civil servant who is head of Scottish Referendum Communications at the Treasury. City of London Police are also now probing the complaint by de Vink and are in the process of contacting, “relevant individuals and organizations”. SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie MP yesterday said the fact the email had been sent by the head of Scottish Referendum Communications was an, “extraordinary revelation”. He said: “The previous claims by the Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] that the Treasury was, “promoting financial stability” in revealing RBS plans has been totally blown apart by the revelation that it was actually a pro-active email from an official in a so-called, “Scottish referendum unit” and released while the RBS board was actually in session.
d. “It seems that the London Treasury had a political dirty tricks department operating throughout the referendum campaign. However, the huge problem they now face is the increasing likelihood that this particular trick was not just dirty but illegal.” Hosie added: “I will now table a series of Parliamentary questions on this issue to add to the proper and comprehensive investigations which must now take place.”
e. The Treasury email was sent to journalists at 10.16pm on September 10, around 25 minutes before the RBS board meeting on the issue had finished. It contained a response to a statement issued by Lloyds Banking Group which stated it had contingency plans to establish “new legal entities” in England in the event of a Yes vote. But it also gave a quote from a “Treasury source” which said: “As you would expect, RBS have also been in touch with us and have similar plans to base themselves in London.” The following day, RBS issued a statement to the markets which confirmed its intention to, “redomicile” in the event of a Yes vote, but added it would intend to retain a, “significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland”.
f. RBS chief Ross McEwan also issued a letter to staff in the morning saying the business was based in Scotland because of the, “skills and knowledge of our people, and the sound business environment”. It added, “So far, I see no reason why this would change should we implement our contingency plans … I know many of you will have already heard about this first in the media. My apologies for that, on this occasion this was unavoidable.”
g. Heywood, head of the civil service, subsequently rejected demands by Salmond that the matter be investigated. He stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source as stating that the bank would follow Lloyds in its plans to move its registered HQ out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.
i. In a response to Salmond, he claimed it was, “simply a confirmation of the Treasury’s understanding of RBS’ contingency planning”. He added, “The Treasury judged that it was important to set this out – at a time when the UK financial markets were closed – given their overarching responsibility for maintaining financial stability in the UK.”
j. Salmond subsequently wrote to the head of the FCA, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and the Commissioner of Police for the City of London urging action over the alleged leaking of market-sensitive information. He stated the grounds for his belief a criminal offence may have been committed, including: that decisions of such a substantial nature should be a matter for the bank to report “openly and transparently” to markets; and that there had been improper disclosure of market-sensitive information, which is “tantamount to insider dealing”. He also raised concerns the action by the Treasury would have potentially created uncertainty if its information had differed from the position taken by the RBS board when its meeting had concluded.
k. De Vink, who filed complaints on the potential leaking of market sensitive information two days after the Treasury email was sent, said he has now been contacted by City of London Police and invited to attend an interview next month. He said: “They have asked would you come in and talk to us, which is what I am going to do in November. “I told them while it is a political issue, that doesn’t take away that what happened was absolutely unacceptable.” De Vink also criticised the FCA for a lack of response, describing its attitude as “lackadaisical”. “I find it incredible that these things are allowed to happen,” he added, “If anyone else would have done that they would have had the book thrown at them and quite understandably.”
l. The Sunday Herald asked the FCA if the complaints were being investigated. A spokeswoman said it was unable to comment on individual complaints. A spokesman for City of London Police confirmed it had received the letter from de Vink and added: “We are now speaking to the relevant individuals and organisations.” The Treasury claimed the person who sent the email was a “junior civil servant”, despite his position as head of Scottish Referendum Communications.
m. In a previous role he was press officer to former financial secretary to the Treasury, Greg Clark. The Treasury also refused to give any details of who approved the email being sent out. Last night, a spokesman for the Treasury said: “As is a matter of public record, the Cabinet Secretary has written to the former [sic] First Minister on this matter, and rejected any suggestion of improper actions by civil servants.”
n. Jim McKay commented. Heywood stated the Treasury email had been issued following a newspaper report, which quoted an RBS source. He must have reference for that report? Newspaper, date and edition. And what RBS source? Smoke and mirrors. He’s lying.
14. December 16-2014; Westminster Civil Service, “Devolved Countries Unit”, (Dirty Tricks) campaign team wins “special” Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award
a. The award, in recognition of the team’s outstanding achievement in making a difference on an issue of national significance, (the Referendum) was presented by the ”Cabinet Secretary and civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood. The proud team commented afterwards;
i. Paul Doyle; “This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda. The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”
ii. William MacFarlane, Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy); “As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”
iii. Shannon Cochrane; “we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.
iv. Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Public Policy); “In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall. We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in. After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”
b. Comment; Any mention of the team members in the New Year honours list would be the ultimate kick in the teeth. It was always my understanding that Civil Servants were strictly apolitical and deployment to duties such as described is forbidden. But Sir Jeremy Heywood simply ignores the rules as he sees fit.
15. Scottish independence: Queen was asked to intervene amid yes vote fears. Amid No 10 meltdown, cabinet secretary and monarch’s private secretary crafted words that voters should ‘think very carefully’
a. Senior figures in Whitehall and Downing Street became so fearful that the Scottish independence referendum could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom that the Queen was asked to make a rare public intervention in the final days of the campaign.
b. Britain’s most senior civil servant and the Queen’s private secretary crafted a carefully worded intervention by the monarch, as No 10 experienced what one senior official described as “meltdown” in the closing stages of the campaign after polls showed growing support for a yes vote.
c. The discussions between Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, and Sir Christopher Geidt for the palace, led the Queen to issue an appeal to the people of Scotland four days before the referendum in September to “think very carefully” before casting their vote.
d. The delicate negotiations in the run-up to the intervention by the Queen, which were described by one senior Whitehall source as a warning to voters that they were facing “a decision filled with foreboding”, are revealed by the Guardian on the final day of a two-part series about the Scottish referendum campaign.
e. The Queen, who has been scrupulous during her 62-year reign in observing the impartiality expected of a constitutional monarch, intervened publicly on 14 September. Speaking after Sunday service outside Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire, the Queen told a wellwisher: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”
f. She spoke out after senior Whitehall figures, who were apprised of David Cameron’s concerns that the yes camp was developing an ominous momentum in the final period of the campaign, suggested to the palace that an intervention by the Queen would be helpful.
g. The suggestion was made during the last few weeks of the referendum after a You Gov/Times poll on Tuesday 2 September reported a six-point fall in support for the pro-UK side in a month. Key figures in Downing Street and Whitehall, led by the prime minister and the cabinet secretary, assessed all the options they could deploy to halt what appeared to be the yes side’s momentum.
h. Cameron discussed the referendum with the Queen a week before her public intervention when he travelled to Balmoral with his wife, Samantha, for their annual visit. On that trip, there was a particular focus on the referendum when the campaign was electrified by the publication of another poll, a Sunday Times/You Gov survey on 7 September, the final day of the prime minister’s Balmoral visit, which gave the yes side its first lead – by 51% to 49%.
i. The Whitehall source added that the referendum was discussed during Cameron’s Balmoral stay. “I don’t think it was frosty. I think there might have been the odd humorous comment over the porridge about supposing he had some work to do next week.”
j. The prime minister is said to have talked about the Queen’s humour on the occasion to friends. There was also a suggestion that the atmosphere had, at times, been frosty. You could imagine the chilly atmosphere at the breakfast table, the prime minister is said to have remarked to friends afterwards.
k. Discussions about interventions by the monarch are by convention a matter for the cabinet secretary and palace officials. This explains why the contacts in the run-up to the Queen’s public comments took place between Heywood and Geidt, described by the Whitehall source as the two key figures at the heart of Britain’s “deep state”.
l. The two men are understood to have initially discussed the wisdom of a public intervention by the monarch, who is scrupulously impartial. Once it became clear that the Queen was minded to speak out, Geidt and Heywood then needed to fashion language which, while broadly neutral, would leave nobody in any doubt about her support for the union.
m. There was a determination to ensure she did not cross a line, as some said she did when she spoke of the benefits of the UK in her silver jubilee address to a joint session of parliament in 1977. In remarks which were seen as an attempt by the Labour government of Jim Callaghan to warn of the dangers posed by the Scottish National party after it had won 11 seats in the October 1974 general election, she said: “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Perhaps this jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.”
n. The Whitehall source said the Queen’s intervention was carefully calibrated. “She knew exactly what she was doing, which is, there are two possible responses on the referendum. [They are] either: one, you buy into this is a fantastic festival of democracy, or two, you suggest this is a decision filled with foreboding. So by saying I hope people will think carefully you imply the second. So if they’d said: ‘What do you think of the referendum ma’am?’ and she’d said: ‘Oh it’s lovely’, that would be very different. Without her taking a side, it cast just the right element of doubt over the nature of the decision.”
o. The final day of the Guardian’s Scotland referendum series also highlights Gordon Brown’s pivotal role in helping to save the UK in the final period of campaigning. Cameron and George Osborne were so nervous about a yes vote, which would have thrown his premiership into a potentially fatal crisis, that camp beds were laid on for senior officials in Downing Street on the night of the referendum count.
p. The dominance of the referendum explains why a relieved Cameron told the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, in an overheard conversation days after the referendum, that the Queen had “purred down the line” when he told her the result.
q. Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the discussions between Geidt and Heywood. A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on discussions between the Queen’s private secretary and civil servants.” A Downing Street spokesman said: “No comment.”
r. A palace spokesman said of the prime minister’s discussions with the Queen at Balmoral: “As is the convention, we do not comment on conversations between the prime minister and the Queen.” A Downing Street spokesman said: “We do not discuss the prime minister’s conversations with Her Majesty the Queen.”
16. Comments submitted by the public
16 December 2014; So she’s not neutral then. She willingly took part in a PR campaign to influence a democratic vote. I would have some respect if she had just come out and said it, but the way it was stage-managed, to make it look as if she just happened to say it as she was meeting a member of the public, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
16 December 2014; The Queen’s neutrality is a bit of a con, really. She gets time with the PM every week to provide ‘guidance’ – in effect, she’s the only lobbyist with a codified constitutional position.
16 December 2014; I find it depressing we’ll end up seeing more monarchical interventions.
16 December 2014; So she’s not neutral then. Only fools ever thought she was. Ever heard of a monarch in favour of breaking up their kingdom? The ‘No’s’ were shafted, fooled by their ‘betters’ and conned by the lying Unionist politicians. We warned you. but you fell for it anyway.
17 December 2014; You can tell by her expression in that photo what a lowlife cretin she thinks Dave is. She probably envies her predecessor, of the same christian name, who could (and very probably would) have ordered him taken to the tower to be beheaded.
16 December 2014; Iain Glasgow blatant fraud
16 December 2014; If I were a Scot I’d want another ballot. Pronto!
16 December 2014; A Constitutional Monarch? Lying bastards.
16 December 2014; Next time we include an independent Republic on the manifesto – ditch the anachronism and make a modern state for the 21st century.
16 December 2014; I agree. Constitutionally this is a game-changer. The Queen intervened in politics at the behest of the ruling party. Republic of Scotland, anyone?
16 December 2014; As the queen represents Wales, leeks are obligatory.
16 December 2014; So the sniveling toerag Cameron got the Queen, Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling to save his ungrateful butt – Then he repaid them by revealing private conversations with the Queen and immediately screwing over Brown and Darling in order to advance his feeble position. The bloke is devoid of a moral compass.
16 December 2014; I look at Cameron and I see a walking void, not just sans morality, but sans vision, sans hope, sans thought. He’s a grasping, hungry nothing clad in a suit. There’s not even a will to power there, he lacks the blood-lust of a true Tory that at least marks them out as living creatures.
16 December 2014; The final execrable product of the machine-production of politicans for the media age. A hologram reading lines scripted by committee. A golem running on tabloid instructions. A focus-grouped ghost.
16 December 2014; I thought it was a moral compass and then the fog cleared and there was just a middle digit pointing north.
16 December 2014; One of the (many) advantages of an independent Scotland is we could choose to ditch the Windsor benefit fraudsters and forge ahead as a new republic. That would be a grown-up country for the 21st century.
16 December 2014; errmmm – Salmond wanted to keep this anachronism.
16 December 2014; Only because he feared ditching them would be unpopular, for sentimental reasons. I would have gone for Yes with ditching the royals. I would have left NATO too, and established a Scottish currency or joined the euro. But then I wasn’t in charge of the campaign, Alex Salmond was. Maybe next time we will get it right. 2016?
16 December 2014; Y’mean he was bein’ dishonest ! Next you’ll be telling me his plans for Scotland’s economy was based on Scotch mist ! A Scottish currency – good idea if Scotland wanted true independence. Who’d have backed it though ? Join the Euro ? thought you wanted independence ?
16 December 2014; I wonder what the result would be of a referendum now
16 December 2014; I think there has been a moral victory for the yes, nationalists. The establishment is holding this country back
16 December 2014; I wonder what the result would be of a referendum now
16 December 2014; At least now the truth is coming out, kudos to the guardian for that, what little difference it makes now.
16 December 2014; Now repeat after me – “Oil revenue was always seen as a bonus….”
16 December 2014; Wow, who would have thought it? You mean a ‘well-wisher’ did not just happen to ask the queen that question and it wasn’t just coincidentally overheard by a reporter and it didn’t get reported on national news by accident? Well I never. What a great day for democracy.
16 December 2014; Buckingham Palace issued a statement which read: “The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign. “As such, the monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure this remains the case. “Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong. Her Majesty is simply of the view this is a matter for the people of Scotland.” So …. the Palace lied……………….. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29200359
16 December 2014; I was definitely on the side of no, but the fact the Queen’s neutrality was publicly breached was one of those moments where I genuinely questioned what the fuck this country is even about. It just goes to show what a fustercluck this government is. I see that Cameron’s been trying to position his party as competent and Labour as inviting chaos. What an absolute killer of a joke after the past five years of car-crashes, train-wrecks, blatant mismanagement and unforced errors. The irony of it is so thick and multilayered it’s like a gateaux of whipped double-fat bullshit and thick, moist slices of naked hypocrisy. Christ. It’s getting to the point where I look at our unelected, octogenarian hereditary monarch and go “could she really do a worse job than the clown-show we’ve got running things at the moment?”
16 December 2014; They are there to preserve their rule, as they are ‘superior’ to us oiks who actually make this country work.
16 December 2014; It’s obvious that the Queen & the rest of her family are right wing Tories, this article is wrong, she has not been “Scrupulous” about getting involved in political issues, in 1977 she spoke out against Scottish independence as well. Funny how she never spoke up for the miners, unemployed or homeless in the Eighties, only when it affects her selfish family. (Independence affects them, due to the vast amount of land they own in Scotland).
16 December 2014; Charles wanted to join the Labour party when he was at college, but was told he couldn’t.
16 December 2014; Yeah, too patronising…
16 December 2014; It’s not difficult to imagine which side of the referendum the Queen was on, really.
16 December 2014; Well it’d be a bit embarrassing to be the monarch who presided over the break up of one’s own country.
16 December 2014; She’s compromised now. The lid has been lifted on our so-called ‘benign’ monarchy. They still rule this country. This isn’t a democracy.
16 December 2014; All those ballot boxes are just a sham then?
16 December 2014; Most of them were – mainly the tampered ones..
16 December 2014; No actually. The crooked leeches in the City of London bought our Political Class. The Self Proclaimed Talent. The biggest spongers of all. Royal Family is sideshow nowadays. Rather boring one in my book.
16 December 2014; You should think very carefully before lending credence to information provided by unattributable whitehall sources.
16 December 2014; Quite right, that’s Malcolm Rifkind’s job.
16 December 2014; There should be no ‘Queen’ in a modern democracy – anywhere, including those lauded elsewhere in Europe, imho.
16 December 2014; Your statement might be correct but for one point. There is NO modern democracy in the UK. So until there is, I’d prefer Elizabeth remain where she is.
16 December 2014; errmmm… if push came to shove how far do you think she would go to preserve any sort of democracy ? Not very – she must keep ‘the firm’ in business. I can see why, though.
16 December 2014; Another vow broken then. As if we didn’t know what side she was on. Protecting her real estate methinks!
16 December 2014; Amazing. Idiots ruin the country then ask the one person who is expected to shut up and not air her own opinion, to intervene. I bet she’s well impressed with her current prime minister.
16 December 2014; I admire the Queen but I am very disappointed if she allowed herself to be used in this way, There needs to be another vote in Scotland. Polling already shows Yes ahead, if there was to be a rerun now.
16 December 2014; I’m a yes voter and Scotland does not deserve another referendum. The Scots must now face the full onslaught of the austerity agenda that is coming their way maybe then in 10 years they’ll finally making the right choice. I’m am deeply ashamed of Scotland. I live here and I really wish didn’t at the moment.
17 December 2014; Are you being too harsh on yourself and others? Remember the propaganda and fear that Scotland was bombed with. To say ‘does not deserve’ fulfills that awful old saying that ‘the Scots are half in love with failure’. But only half were in love with that. And their regrets are coming out now. It won’t be 10 years.
16 December 2014; Here’s how it was reported at the time: A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “We never comment on private exchanges or conversations. We just reiterate what the Queen has always said: she maintains her constitutional impartiality. As the Queen has always said, this is a matter for the people of Scotland.” Except, of course, she did not. In fact she plotted with the government, PM and civil servants to do exactly the opposite and hoodwink the Scottish electorate into favouring a particular choice. All with the connivance and complicity of the media. Failing to remain constitutionally impartial surely forfeits the position of the monarchy as head of state. Republic now! If I were a Scot I’d want a second vote – they’ve been duped.
16 December 2014; It also shows the BBC complicit in the charade.
16 December 2014; Don’t worry Liz we are definitely listening carefully now, just check the polls….
16 December 2014; As a druid, I can’t see why asking voters to “think very carefully” is controversial. Her Madge was basically asking them not to vote frivolously – a trait well-known in the happy-go-lucky Scottish psyche.
16 December 2014; I reckon The Queen would still quite enjoy being the Queen of the two existing kingdoms of Great Britain, even if Scotland were an independent/separate place (delete independent/separate according to one´s preferred thoughts on Scotland´s constitutional debate). On 24 June 1953, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey, the crown was carried before Queen Elizabeth II in a procession from the Palace of Holyrood-house to the High Kirk of St Giles, Edinburgh, where the Honours of Scotland, including the crown, were presented to The Queen during a National Service of Thanksgiving. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_of_Scotland This Pathé News reel footage of the St Giles ceremony is quite remarkable as the Honours of Scotland are handed over and the Scottish Crown is offered to the Queen: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/scotland-welcomes-the-queen-1. Certainly reminds people the United Kingdom isn´t quite a “United Kingdom” as it sometimes seemed before the recent debate. And I´m sure the Queen knows this more than most since the crown has been present and represented at the Official Opening ceremonies of sessions of the Scottish Parliament since 1999.
16 December 2014; The Pathé reel is also interesting because the Queen, at the advice of the then government, wasn’t dressed for a coronation — lest it inflame nationalist sentiment.
16 December 2014; Now you mention him – should we tell him that Princess Margarita of Romania is 93rd in line to the throne? He’d do his nut.
16 December 2014; I am somehow bemused by the moral high ground the Guardian takes now. The Guardian made very clear that it opposes the separation. The Guardian threw down the gauntlet. It should have known that others did as well. So why the outrage that they did? The Guardian is equally responsible for the fact that the Scots were taken for a ride.
16 December 2014; As a Londoner, I no longer have any belief in the United Kingdom anymore. I’m for a united island but the political paradigm that currently holds it together is inherently right wing and malignant. This latest stunt by the Conservative Party is utter cowardice, as they refrained from such a bellicose vernacular over English sovereignty in the period running up to the referendum, because they knew it would serve to confirm the hatred that the Scots quite rightly have for the Tories. What Cameron wants to preserve England as a matriarchal state that would effectively negate and weaken any form of Left Wing Coalition that decided to form a government. It’s good ol fashioned gerrymandering , the same they used in Northern Ireland.
16 December 2014; Well said and entirely correct.It’s just a pity that they are being allowed to get away with this betrayal of Labour after saving Camerons political hide by campaigning to keep the Union intact. It just shows the Tories do not deserve any support by fair minded people.English votes for English people, a ruse to keep the Tories in, that’s what it’s all about. By announcing it against all advice to the contrary Cameron has fueled nationalism even more and guaranteed another referendum in the future just to get his rotten stinking Government another flip of the coin.
16 December 2014; Once a dictator, always a dictator. I always thought the Monarchy would save us from Presidents and Dictators who could do what they want, but unfortunately this current Coalition has changed my mind. Bring on the revolution.
16 December 2014; Given the Guardian’s pursuit of the publication of Prince Charles’ letters, I look forward to your editorial condemning the monarch’s intervention in party politics. We deserve an apology, not “no comment”.
16 December 2014; Reading the article, I think the Queen has intervened in Tory party political matters more than she should.
16 December 2014; “This is purely a matter for the Scots” said Cameron. …………And the Queen and the Treasury and the BBC and the MSM and every World Leader that Westminster could rope-in and some of their Lordships who stated that Independence would lead to the “forces of darkness” taking over the World and causing more children to die in the Third World/Africa and even Saint Bob Geldof giving his tuppence-worth. Yep……a matter “purely for the Scots”, right enough!
16 December 2014; I think the one that annoyed me the most, well aside from the prat who sprouted that Scottish Independence would mean the terrorists will win, was that fud Obama. Bet that particular fud couldn’t even find Scotland on a map, if we didn’t have the Nuke Boats here.
16 December 2014; The Queen didn’t need to voice her opinion on the referendum – she has the entire establishment in Britain, powerful allies and friends abroad and a not inconsiderable band of obsequious, subservient subjects at her disposal. Nonetheless, independence I feel will come in the next 10 years – I think we needed a kind of dress rehearsal to build up our confidence – but that is growing and consolidating gradually. And in time getting rid of the monarchy and all the inequality and elitism that it represents would please me a great deal.
16 December 2014; the ‘think carefully’ remark was carefully planned and thought about and not just an off the cuff remark.
16 December 2014; So the monarch did the one thing they are expressly forbidden to do. Become politically active.
16 December 2014; Wow, so the queen was part of a thing, a conspi.., no, a thing where powerful people agreed to try to stop Scots voting for the right to self-determination? It’s incredible. Next, someone will say that the media consp.., no, agreed to help spread fear and stifle the debate.
16 December 2014; Just relieved that Severin Carrell is there to keep us informed, the intrepid, investigative sort that he is! I have a queasy feeling that this is all heading to a Tory/UKIP coalition to coincide with the coronation of King Charles.
16 December 2014; The hoo-haw is around the fact that it only needed to swing the minds of 1% of the voters in the Scottish referendum, because the vote was that close. And although it is being officially admitted today, “the intervention” was effectively declared on Radio 4 on the day after the election. I remember one particular interviewee, I can’t remember his office, but in a very Toff accent, he was overjoyed at the Scottish Referendum “No” vote, and he was boasting about how wonderfully tactful had been the Queen’s finely delivered plea at that Sunday Church service. There was no question that this man was a monarchist and a unionist and that he thought the world had been saved from a fate worse than nuclear Armageddon. The manner of his boasting was so suggestive that political intervention had been manipulated! Well, the Queen doesn’t care. She’s practically retired anyway, and just more interested in collecting her pension. But if I had been part of the Scottish “Yes” campaign, I would be pissed at her Government.
16 December 2014; The Scots were cheated and I wish the Queen hadn’t been stained by this crap.
16 December 2014; The Scots were conned into voting ‘No’ by the British establishment, (including the monarchy), with the connivance of the Labour Party. They should be given another chance to decide their own destiny without interference, and be offered another referendum.
16 December 2014; We will have another referendum and this time we start with a support base of 45%+ not the 25% we did last time. I have spoken to dozens of No voters that regret their choice. Plus we know where our political classes went wrong last time and won’t make the same mistakes.
16 December 2014; The Queen should have absolutely no influence over politics – constitutional or otherwise, full stop. That sleazy politicians were prepared to grovel for help just further illustrates their depravity.
16 December 2014; Cameron and George Osborne were so nervous about a yes vote, which would have thrown his premiership into a potentially fatal crisis’ thus says it all Britain. … they don’t give a toss about Scotland or the union just their own brass necks.