Senior Civil Servant – Sir Nicholas Macpherson – Snubs The Civil Service Code And The Scottish Electorate

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1. Senior civil servant snubs the Civil Service Code

a. Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury breached the “Civil Service Code” at the time he released to the public his personal views and political advice in regard to the sharing of sterling in the event the Scottish Referendum returned a Yes vote.

b. His uninvited “advice” to the Chancellor of the Exchequer also conflicted with the stated position of the Governor of the Bank of England who had previously advised that an effective union of currencies was feasible, subject to agreement to a number of conditions.

c. When asked to clarify his actions he said “Throughout the debate on economic issues the Scottish Government has sought to cast doubt on the British Government’s position,” It has claimed we’re blustering, bluffing – in effect casting aspersions on the UK Government’s integrity. My view in this case – and it’s a very exceptional case – is that if publishing advice could strengthen the credibility of the Government’s position, then it was my duty to do it. It was important in this specific case, which goes to the heart of the currency issues, that the arguments were exposed before a referendum than after it.”

d. It was later revealed his intervention, together with senior members of the government and members of the “Better Together” campaign formed part of a carefully choreographed exercise in political destabilisation, allegedly called “the Dambusters strategy” by insiders.

e. Noteworthy is his use of the word “we’re” which indicates his actions were politically driven, which he did not deny. Quite disgraceful conduct for a senior civil servant. He should be intructed to resign his position.

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f. The Civil Service Code: Political Impartiality:

i. You must: Carry out your responsibilities in a way that is fair, just and equitable and reflects the Civil Service commitment to equality and diversity. You must not act in a way that unjustifiably favours or discriminates against particular individuals or interests.

ii. You must not: Act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or use official resources for party political purposes; or allow your personal political views to determine any advice you give or your action. http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/civil-service-code-2010.pdf

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2. Sequence of Events

a. January 29 2014; Carney: sharing sterling between iScotland and rUK could lead to Eurozone-style crises

Sharing sterling between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK could lead to eurozone-style crises unless firm foundations are put in place, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said. An effective union would also force a newly-independent Scotland to hand over some national sovereignty, he said in a speech at a business lunch in Edinburgh. He intervened on the technicalities for negotiations less than eight months before people in Scotland decide whether to leave the UK.

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b. February 13 2014; Gun for hire

After the lovebombing of Scots last week by David Cameron, his chancellor travelled North to revel in his role as bad cop. The venue for George Osborne’s declaration was a dramatic penthouse with a panorama of Edinburgh Castle in the appropriately named Bread Street. He carried a very large gun to shoot down Alex Salmond’s plan to continue sharing the pound with the rest of the UK after independence, but the bullets were crafted by the longstanding Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson.

c. February 13 2014; Treasury advice behind currency row

The Chancellor ruled out a currency union with an independent Scotland after “strong” advice from the Treasury’s leading official, which was published today. Sir Nicholas Macpherson told George Osborne that unions are “fraught with difficulty” and raised serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s commitment to making it work. Scotland’s banking sector is too big in relation to national income, the UK could end up bailing the country out and fiscal policy shows sign of diverging, he said.

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d. March 7 2014; Danny Alexander: currency union decision is final

Calls for a monetary union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK are akin to “embarking on a damaging divorce” but insisting on still sharing a credit card, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said. Mr Alexander set out his reasons for rejecting the Scottish Government’s preferred currency solution, as he insisted that the cross-party decision to rule it out was final. He used his speech in Edinburgh to the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) to dismiss suggestions that the rejection of a monetary union, which would see an independent Scotland keep the pound, was a politically-motivated and tactical move.

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e. March 19 2014; Scare tactic was bang on the money

On February 13th, in a flying visit to Edinburgh, the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, declared that Scotland would be denied use of the pound, if it voted Yes in the referendum.
What followed was a carefully choreographed exercise in political destabilisation, allegedly called “the Dambusters strategy” by Unionist insiders, which shook the Yes campaign to its foundations. It also shook the Union to its foundations.

f. March 23 2014; Osborne’s case against currency union ripped apart by top economist

The Treasury case against a post-independence currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK has been dismantled as “misleading”, “unsubstantiated” and “the reverse of the truth” by one of the world’s leading economists. Professor Leslie Young, of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, accused the UK Government of relying on a “lurid collage of fact, conjecture and fantasy” in making its argument.

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g. April 5 2014; Currency furore over mystery of missing memos – No paper trail means Treasury’s position engineered, say SNP

The Treasury was last night at the centre of a growing row over political bias, after admitting it had no record of when its most senior civil servant first advised the Chancellor against a currency union with an independent Scotland. The inability of permanent secretary Sir Nicholas Macpherson to give a precise date is fuelling claims that Westminster’s bombshell rejection of a currency union was cooked up to help the No campaign in the referendum.

h. April 9 2014; Sir Nicholas Macpherson: ‘I was not ordered to rule out sharing pound with Scotland’

i. The Treasury’s top civil servant has rejected SNP claims that he advised against sharing the pound after independence because of political pressure, saying publishing his analysis was “vital to the national interest”. Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the permanent secretary to the Treasury, said the Scottish Government had been “casting aspersions” on Westminster’s integrity and it needed to be made “absolutely crystal clear” that a monetary union was not on the table. He said that George Osborne, the chancellor, had neither told him to write a letter rebuffing SNP proposals for sharing sterling or ordered the advice to be published. The comments came during Sir Nicholas’s appearance before MPs at the Public Administration committee to discuss civil service impartiality and referendums.

ii. A letter written by Sir Nicholas to Mr Osborne warned that a post-independence currency union would be “fraught with difficulty” and became a central part of the Chancellor’s justification for ruling out sharing the pound. Mr Osborne said the “exceptional step” of publishing Sir Nicholas’ internal advice was taken to prove why a currency union wouldn’t work, but Alex Salmond accused the civil servant of being beholden to his “political masters”. Sir Nicholas told MPs that the decision to publish his advice was “not something I entered into lightly” but insisted he remained “unapologetic”.

iii. “Throughout the debate on economic issues the Scottish Government has sought to cast doubt on the British Government’s position,” Sir Nicholas said. “It has claimed we’re blustering, bluffing – in effect casting aspersions on the UK Government’s integrity. “My view in this case – and it’s a very exceptional case – is that if publishing advice could strengthen the credibility of the Government’s position, then it was my duty to do it. “It was important in this specific case, which goes to the heart of the currency issues, that the arguments were exposed before a referendum than after it.”

iv. Sir Nicholas denied that revealing his private advice showed civil service politicisation, saying it was comparable to clarifying the UK Government’s position if questioned by a fellow European Union member state. He also dismissed the suggestion that Mr Osborne strong-armed him into airing views in public. “Ultimately this was my call – the Chancellor is a traditionalist in his approach to the Civil Service,” Sir Nicholas said. “I am quite certain that if I had said that I did not want to publish this advice he would not have pressed me. I thought it was the right thing to do in exceptional circumstances.”

v. Sir Nicholas’s comments will add weight to Westminster’s claim that an unnamed UK minister who controversially said a currency union would be agreed after independence is out of the loop from current Government thinking. The SNP has consistently claimed the UK Government will backtrack on sharing the pound after a Yes vote in the Sept 18 referendum.

vi. Kenneth Gibson, an SNP MSP and convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee, said that Westminster’s “currency bluff” had “completely crumbled”. “Regardless of the Treasury’s actions we know the real position of the UK Government as an unnamed Government Minister admitted last week is that ‘there will be a currency union…everything would change in the negotiations if there were a Yes vote’,” Mr Gibson said. “Even Alistair Darling himself has said that a shared sterling area is ‘desirable’ and ‘logical’. It’s time for the No campaign to stop the foolish bluffing, put its money where its mouth is and back sharing the pound.”

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i. April 9 2014; Treasury’s top civil servant: publishing advice to UK Govt on currency union was vital to national interest

Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the permanent secretary to the Treasury, said he is “confident” he did the right thing in taking the unusual step of making public his advice to Chancellor George Osborne. All headlines were extracted from The Herald providing continuity of reporting.

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The Aftermath Of The Referendum Press Statements To Be Retained For future reference.

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The aftermath of the referendum brought with it a number of press statements which need to be retained ready to hand for future reference.

BBC biased coverage of the Scottish Independence Referendum criticised.

With no exit poll isn’t there a democratic deficit?
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/scottish-vote-no-exit-poll-democratic-deficit

I feel for all those for whom the yes campaign brought hope.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/19/scotland-lost-opportunity

This glorious failure could yet be Scotland’s finest hour. Forget Bannockburn, the Scots reinvented and re-established the idea of true democracy.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/20/irvine-welsh-scottish-independence-glorious-failure

The lifestyle of top executives like Brian have become more luxurious, while ordinary people like Brenda have found it harder and harder to make ends meet.
http://highpaycentre.org/blog/explaining-the-data-the-background-to-our-new-animation

The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. The gap between pay at the top and bottom is huge. Living standards for everyone – apart from those at the very top – remain squeezed. But we argue, it doesn’t have to be like this.

The gap between rich and poor is the widest in 30 years. Inequality is still rising. If current trends continue, we will have reached Victorian levels of inequality in 20 years.

Inequality and the top 10% getting Richer and Richer by the year will Destroy the UK Economy, Democracy and even the NHS.
http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/inequality-and-top-10-getting-richer.html

Three main Unionist party leaders signed up to a historic joint statement
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron-ed-miliband-nick-4265992

john McLean

Democracy in the Dark – the Decline of the Scottish Press.

Newspapers don’t just sell news; in fact, that has been an increasingly small part of their function in the last century. Newspapers have been cultural curators, critically evaluating artistic and literary trends, providing a showcase for good writing, informing readers on important developments in science and society. They have provided a forum for informed debate, & promoted their own vigorous opinions on affairs of state, forcing politicians to take note.

But the financial problems of the press are making it harder and harder for them to provide this essential cultural service. Scottish papers, reports the National Union of Journalists, have lost half their journalists in the last decade or so. UK papers with nominally Scottish editions now dominate the Scottish market.

This is becoming a constitutional issue because the Scottish and UK newspapers are almost exclusively unionists – often militantly so. It is right that newspapers have strong editorial views, but it is not healthy when they all have the same editorial views. Iain Macwhirter (political commentator for The Herald and Sunday Herald newspapers).

COMMENTS:

1. That single phrase, about it being right for newspapers to have strong views “but not when they all have the same views”, goes to the heart of a wider debate about the relationship between ownership and editorial content. It also touches on the fact that a large proportion of the Scottish press is Scottish in name only. With the exception of DC Thomson’s operation, the major newspapers are published by companies based in London (and, in The Herald’s case, ultimately in the USA). Now I happen to be agnostic on the Scottish independence debate or, arguably, conflicted. I understand why, even in the 21st century, there remains an insistent pressure for independence from nations that have been colonised or incorporated by other nations. Reality impinges, however. I realise distinct societies that, for one reason or another, have failed to hold on to their nation state status (or never even had one) do need to regain it or achieve it. http://www.saltiresociety.org.uk/news/2014/04/23/iain-macwhirters-democracy-in-the-dark-saltire-series-5-pamphlet-launch-event http://www.allmediascotland.com/press/63999/iain-macwhirter-xxx/

2. They must assert their nationhood as a stage on the road to the eventual dismantling of all such geopolitical boundaries. I’m glad I’m not confronted by a yes-no voting form. But I am, like Macwhirter, concerned that a fake “Scottish national press” has adopted a single view on the matter. http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/apr/25/scottish-independence-newspapers

3. From my point of view, the Scottish press is not serving its audience (the thinking people of Scotland) and that is very sad. However I must say, people have been getting up of their asses and actually doing something about. There is an online scene of bloggers and news sites that are starting to provide an opposing view to the hideously one side unionist pro-UK press. I would like to think that new models for news and opinion will grow out of this. For sure they will be needed , irrespective of the referendum result, to hold politicians accountable, when the traditional newspaper and TV fail to do so, because they become too comfortably close, and because of commercial interest. Thomas William Dunlop reader.

Scotland Within The UK Debate Westminster – The First Debate After The Referendum

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13 Oct 2014 Scotland within the UK Debate Westminster Scottish Affairs

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr Alistair Carmichael): With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement to the House about the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom.

As hon. Members will know, on 18 September the people of Scotland voted in a referendum on independence. I am pleased to report to the House that, by a margin of 10.6%, or by 55.3% to 44.7%, the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The referendum was underpinned by the Edinburgh agreement, signed between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government in October 2012. That agreement ensured that the referendum would have a clear legal base, that it would be conducted in a way that commanded the confidence of both Parliaments, Governments and people, and, most importantly, that it would deliver a fair, legal and decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland—a result that everyone would respect.

More than 2 million people made a positive choice for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. The franchise for the referendum included, for the first time ever in this country, 16 and 17-year-olds. At a time when our elections have suffered from declining participation, the turnout across Scotland was nearly 85%—something that I am sure all across the House would welcome. Politics works best when people take an active interest in supporting the things that matter to them most. It also adds emphasis to the democratic result.

The decision of the people of Scotland was clear: they voted to continue to be part of this family of nations; they voted to continue to work alongside people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and they voted for all of us to remain together as a United Kingdom. It is important that everyone now accepts that result. We should all move on from being part of the 55% or the 45% to working for 100% of the people of Scotland.

That is what we are doing. The vow made by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition during the referendum campaign is already being put into practice. The Smith commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, was up and running on 19 September. He will convene cross-party talks to reach agreement on the proposals for further devolution to Scotland. His terms of reference make it clear that the recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers, strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. But that process is not just about the parties; the referendum opened up civic engagement in Scotland across sectors, communities and organisations, and Lord Smith has made it clear that he wants to hear from all those groups to ensure that the recommendations he produces are informed by views from right across Scottish society.

By St Andrew’s day, Lord Smith will publish “Heads of Agreement”. The Government are committed to turning those recommendations into draft clauses by Burns night 2015. The timetable is demanding, but that is because the demand is there in Scotland to see change delivered, and it is a demand we shall meet. On Friday 10 October, all five main Scottish parties submitted their proposals to the commission. In the case of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the

proposals reflect the positions published by the parties prior to the referendum campaign. The Scottish National party and the Green party agreed to join the cross-party talks after the referendum, and they too submitted proposals on Friday—a development that we welcome.

Today I can confirm that the Government are meeting the first step in the further devolution process by publishing a Command Paper. The Command Paper we are presenting today provides a clear, factual summary of the proposals for further devolution in Scotland published by each of the three pro-UK parties, as we committed to do during the referendum campaign. Those plans encompass a broad, complex and often interlinked range of topics, from taxation to borrowing and from welfare to regulation. To inform and assist consideration of each of those proposals, the Command Paper also sets out factual information about the current situation in the key policy areas, as well as presenting some background information about devolution in Scotland to date. The publication is wholly without prejudice to the work of the Smith commission, which will look at proposals from all the parties and others and seek to establish the ground for consensus. This will be the first time in the development of Scotland’s constitutional future that all its main parties are participating in a process to consider further devolution. It is a truly historic moment, and one that I very much welcome.

With all five main Scottish parties working together in collaboration, I am confident that we will reach an agreement that will provide the enhanced powers to the people of Scotland and accountability for the Scottish Parliament while retaining the strength and benefits of being part of the United Kingdom. That was the message heard loud and clear during the referendum campaign, and it is one that this Government, and all Scotland’s political parties, are committed to supporting.

Margaret Curran (Glasgow East) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement.

Only three weeks ago, in unprecedented numbers, the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. It was an historic decision, and the result was emphatically clear: the Scottish people voted for pooling and sharing resources across the United Kingdom; they voted to continue with devolution; and they voted for a stronger Scottish Parliament. I wish today to pay particular tribute to my right hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh South West (Mr Darling) and for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), who put the case with so much passion throughout the campaign.

Following the referendum, we can say with confidence that devolution is the settled will of the Scottish people and that we shall have a stronger Scottish Parliament. A vital part of the campaign was the commitment made by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to have a strengthened and empowered Scottish Parliament. Led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, we guaranteed a clear and definitive timetable for further powers, and I am pleased that the Secretary of State has published the Command Paper ahead of time today. Can the Secretary of State confirm that a motion now appears on the Order Paper detailing that timetable?

The process now ongoing under the leadership of Lord Smith of Kelvin will guarantee that more powers will come to the Scottish Parliament. The Labour party will enter the talks this week in a spirit of partnership and co-operation with the other parties. We will apply a simple test to reaching a conclusion: what outcome respects the result of the referendum and will make the people of Scotland better off? The people of Scotland have voted for pooling, sharing of resources and greater prosperity, and that should guide the commission’s discussions.

The referendum attracted the highest level of participation of any national poll ever held in Scotland. It is important that, as we develop this next stage of devolution, we reflect that. The Secretary of State has mentioned how voluntary organisations can participate. Will he lay out how individual members of the public can contribute to that process too and tell the House how Lord Smith intends to engage with people across every area of Scotland?

We debated the agreement for the referendum two years ago, as the Secretary of State said. At that time, I said that we would spend the campaign vigorously defending devolution from those who would seek to bring it to an end. Over these last two years, that is exactly what the Labour party has done. Not only does this campaign conclude with the devolution settlement secured; that settlement will be strengthened. We will continue to argue that the best future for Scottish people comes from pooling and sharing resources inside the United Kingdom and from a powerhouse Parliament that can again change the lives of people across Scotland. That is what the people of Scotland want, and it is what the Labour party will fight for.

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Mr Carmichael: I thank the hon. Lady for the very constructive tone of her response. Working with people across parties has been an interesting experience, as it always is in Scotland, and it is clear that the process of cross-party working will have to continue if the will of the Scottish people expressed on 18 September is to be honoured. That will become all the more challenging, although I still believe it will be more effective as a result, for having members of the Scottish National party and Scottish Green party on board. A high price will be paid by any political party that does not enter the Smith commission and the process that follows in good faith.

I echo the hon. Lady’s comments about her right hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh South West (Mr Darling) and for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown). All Members from Scotland, and a number from beyond it, played their role in giving leadership across the referendum campaign, but her two right hon. Friends indeed played a particularly important and significant role.

The motion on the Order Paper honouring the timetable has indeed been tabled. On the approach of the Labour party and the Government, I should remind the House that under the Scotland Act 2012 any proposal should have cross-party support, should be based on evidence and should not be to the detriment of other parts of the UK. It is the Government’s view, as expressed in the Command Paper today, that that should also be the guiding principle in relation to the current process.

Dr Liam Fox (North Somerset) (Con): Does the Secretary of State accept that throughout the House many believe that further devolution to Scotland can occur only if there is a rebalancing of the entire constitutional settlement, with English votes on English issues? Does he agree that those who say that that would create two classes of MP are being disingenuous? The House has had an imbalance since devolution; many Members have been able to vote on issues such as health and education in England without having to answer to a single voter for those decisions.

Mr Carmichael: I have said many times that the completion of the job of devolution in Scotland and the process we are now undertaking would unlock the door to further constitutional change across the whole of the United Kingdom, and I believe that to be the case. Let me be clear, however, that the timetable we have set out here will be honoured. If other parts of the United Kingdom are able to take advantage and to move along in our slipstream, so to speak, that will be to their advantage, but we will not delay the implementation of the proposals in Scotland for other parts of the UK.

Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) (Lab): Scotland has decided and spoken, and it is now the accepted sovereign will of the Scottish people to work in partnership with the rest of the United Kingdom and support it through devolution. One of the lessons from the referendum campaign, though, is that although our country may not be broken, people believe that our political, social and economic model is broken and does not work for ordinary people. That is why I urge the Secretary of State and, indeed, the entire Government not to fall into the trap of thinking that we can just talk about which politician has what power in what building; more important is what politicians choose to do with the powers they have to make a genuine difference to people’s lives. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the process being talked about is separate from the process being mentioned by others—that of English votes for English laws?

Mr Carmichael: On the hon. Gentleman’s latter point, I think I have already made that clear. I very much hope that once we have done this piece of work, we will in Scotland at last be able to move on to using the powers of the Parliament rather than just talking about them.

Sir Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) (LD) rose—

Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD) rose—

Mr Speaker: Ah! Two distinguished Liberal Democrat knights in heated competition—what a delicious choice! I call Sir Menzies Campbell.

Sir Menzies Campbell: Does my right hon. Friend understand the general welcome there has been in Scotland for the fact that change in Scotland should not be held up to enable England to catch up? Having agreed that position, is it not right for the Government, and indeed for him today, to say that, although not in lockstep, there will undoubtedly be progress on constitutional change for the other nations that form the United Kingdom? Particularly with regard to any possible change in the role of Scottish MPs, does he agree that however superficially attractive it might appear, changes to the Standing Orders would be inappropriate, and that such a change to the role of Scottish MPs should undoubtedly be enshrined in primary legislation?

Mr Carmichael: My right hon. and learned Friend is entirely correct about that. This should be something that does more than just affect just the Standing Orders of this House. Indeed, even if it were to be done in that very narrow way, he would, I suspect, be one of the first to remind me that the House guards very jealously, through your office, Mr Speaker, its right to determine its Standing Orders for itself. It has never normally been the practice for Government to lead on these matters.

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Mr William Bain (Glasgow North East) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State agree that the Smith commission process will require compromise and good faith from all political parties in Scotland? Does he also agree that in the agreement that comes we must see the sharing of resources across the United Kingdom? Is not that in keeping with the spirit of the way in which the Scottish people voted on 18 September?

Mr Carmichael: I think Lord Smith has already made it clear that he is not going to deliver independence by the back door. Whatever proposals he comes up with on St Andrew’s night in relation to further devolution, they will be in the context of there continuing to be a United Kingdom, and the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom will be respected.

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that we ought to learn some lessons from this near-death experience of the United Kingdom and the fact that we did not intend the winning margin to be as narrow as 10%? Does he also agree that if we are to avoid another referendum, Westminster politics and Westminster politicians must raise the tone of debate with our Scottish counterparts in order to ensure that we develop more of a relationship of mutual respect, with less opportunity for the nationalists to make mischief?

Mr Carmichael: There are indeed many lessons to be learned from this, and their full extent will probably not be apparent for some time to come. This statement is an important part of the process, because it is very important that the Government, with the official Opposition as well, are able to demonstrate to the people of Scotland that we are making good the commitment that we made in the course of the referendum campaign. Politicians doing what they say they will do in that way is probably the most important thing we can do to restore faith in politics.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): The Secretary of State is, of course, right: the referendum was an incredible, transformational event that gripped and energised our whole nation. I am sure he will want to join me in congratulating the Scottish people on the way in which they went about that business. He is also right to say that Scotland is moving on. According to one opinion poll, two thirds of the Scottish people want devolution maximum—everything devolved, other than foreign affairs and defence. Three quarters have said that they want all taxation devolved to Scotland. This is the thing, isn’t it? There might be a Command Paper, but the people in charge of this process are the Scottish people themselves and we will be judged by their good judgment on what they want for their future.

Mr Carmichael: May I say again that I welcome the participation of the hon. Gentleman’s party in the Smith process? I very much hope—in fact, I believe—that that is being done in good faith. However, perhaps the hon. Gentleman should take heed of the 60.19% of the people in his own area who voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. If he tries to subvert the Smith process by getting independence through the back door, as others have said, he will pay a heavy price.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington) (Con): Should we not all be grateful to the Scottish National party for having called the referendum? Has it not in fact provided an opportunity for the Scottish people in the 21st century to show that they have come to the same conclusion as their ancestors in 1707 that the best interests of all the peoples of this island are to have a British citizenship in a United Kingdom?

Mr Carmichael: There are, indeed, occasions when we should be grateful to the Scottish National party; they are few and far between, but this may, in the way the right hon. and learned Gentleman describes it, be one of them. It was not, of course, the Scottish National party that called the referendum; it was an agreement between Her Majesty’s Government here and the Scottish Government in Edinburgh—the Edinburgh agreement—that gave the basis for it to happen. It would be helpful for the SNP leadership to now make it clear that we have met the terms of the Edinburgh agreement, that the decision was fair, legal and decisive, and that, accordingly, we will not revisit the process.

Gregg McClymont (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (Lab): As a Labour nominee to the Smith commission, may I welcome the Secretary of State’s constructive comments? In that spirit of constructive dialogue, as we approach the debate about further devolution will he consider bringing forward the public information campaign on the raft of tax powers that are to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament by 2016?

Mr Carmichael: I wish the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues well on the Smith commission; he has a job of work to do, but he is very well qualified to do it. I will give consideration to his question about our public information campaign on the powers already coming from the 2012 Act.

Sir Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid Kent) (Con): The Secretary of State is to be commended for introducing the Command Paper in such a timely fashion. Has any thought been given to the lessons learned from this campaign, particularly whether a simple majority of 50% plus one is sufficient for a matter of such far-reaching constitutional implications?

Mr Carmichael: I have thought of little else in the past few weeks. I know that when referendum processes are undertaken in other parts of the world a debate often takes places on the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. My view continues to be that 50% plus one should be the threshold for any referendum in a democracy.

Mr John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): It is clear that Scotland will now get what Scotland wants, and so England must get what England wants. The Secretary of State has outlined a process through which the debate about Scotland’s future reached every corner of Scottish society. Does he agree that, in determining our future, England must have that same opportunity and that to push changes through a narrow Cabinet Committee on an artificially short time scale would be absolutely unacceptable?

Mr Carmichael: In relation to the work of the Cabinet Committee, there is not of course a time scale, except that we are looking towards the next general election in May 2015. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that we are perhaps more familiar with the process in Scotland than in the rest of the United Kingdom. We have been round this course at least twice: first with the constitutional convention, and then with the Calman commission in 2008. On each occasion, we brought together political parties and the voices of business, trade unions, churches, local authorities and others to build consensus, and then we implemented it. That is the way that people are best guaranteed to get the constitutional change they want.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): The Secretary of State knows that, with the advent of devolution under the previous Labour Government, the number of seats for Scotland in this House was reduced from 72 to 59. With further devolution, will he support a reduction in the number of seats for Scotland in this House?

Mr Carmichael: No.

Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op): Further to that question, I note that the Secretary of State has made it clear that implications for other parts of the United Kingdom will follow from this process, and some of those points are set out in the Command Paper. Will he clarify that? On page 43 of the Command Paper, it states that the Liberal Democrat commission’s view is that

“the present level of Scottish representation at Westminster should be retained until a federal structure for the UK has been delivered”. Does that remain his position and that of his Front-Bench colleagues?

Mr Carmichael: That remains the position of my party.

Sir Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) (LD): May I first welcome my right hon. Friend’s Command Paper? As somebody who led our party in the constitutional convention, I welcome the fact that the Scottish Parliament will now get proper tax-raising powers. Does he agree that anything more than 50% looks a lot like home rule and a shared partnership? To those who want devolution within England, may I say, “You have our support, but it is quite difficult to support something that is unclear”? We need a constitutional convention. I suggest that devolution has in every case been accompanied by electoral reform and proportionality, and that should also be a condition in England.

Coronation of George IV, 1821, Westminster Abbey.

Mr Carmichael: It is an important point that devolution has in every case been accompanied by electoral reform, and that institutions to which power is devolved are always elected proportionately. I cannot add a great deal to my answer to the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) on the need to build consensus in whichever way people in England choose. In Scotland, we have done it in a way that has worked for us twice, and will I believe now work for us a third time. It could work for people in England, but it is for them to make up their own minds about that.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement. I welcome more the resounding result of our Scottish kith and kin choosing to stay within the Union, and I welcome the way in which the debate was fought and won. The implications go well beyond the Scottish highlands and islands or the borders: where Scotland goes with devolution, Northern Ireland invariably follows. What engagement will the Smith commission and Lord Smith have with parties in Northern Ireland to ensure that the outcome reflects the needs of all the United Kingdom in all its diversity, especially the needs of Northern Ireland?

Mr Carmichael: Lord Smith has been charged with building a consensus in relation to further powers for the Scottish Parliament. I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman has a view informed by his experience of devolution in Northern Ireland, Lord Smith will certainly be interested to hear it. Given the remit that we have given Lord Smith, however, I do not expect him to say anything in relation to changes for Northern Ireland.

Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend assure me that the business community on both sides of the border will be fully consulted on the further devolution of powers over personal taxation, because they shoulder much of the administrative burden? Much as further devolution might be desirable, it must not increase the regulatory burden on wealth and job creators on both sides of the border.

Mr Carmichael: Indeed, the voice of business is very important in this process, as it was throughout the referendum campaign. I know from my discussions with the CBI, the chambers of commerce and others that they are working on their proposals. I urge all collective organisations, individual businesses and individual citizens who have something to say to come forward and say it—this is their time.

Graeme Morrice (Livingston) (Lab): Will the Secretary of State confirm that the decisive no vote was not a vote for the status quo, but a vote for continued change, and that we in this House must deliver and be seen to deliver on our commitments to further Scottish devolution quickly, inclusively and decisively, without tying them to any decentralisation plans for south of the border?

Mr Carmichael: I am happy to give the hon. Gentleman that assurance, which I have already given on two or three occasions this afternoon. There are few things that would be worse for the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom than our not delivering on the promises that we made or not meeting the timetable. It is because I care so much about keeping the United Kingdom together that I am determined that we will meet the timetable that we have laid out.

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): Today’s Command Paper does not contain a section dedicated to the supervening question of the position of European law in relation to Scotland. That is a reserved matter under the Scotland Act 1998. Will the Secretary of State give an absolute and categorical assurance that, having saved the Union of the United Kingdom, under no circumstances will we surrender the Scottish functions to the European Union?

Mr Carmichael: I would be more than happy for the hon. Gentleman to engage directly with Lord Smith. Indeed, I will make every effort to explain to Lord Smith what he might expect.

Mr Brian H. Donohoe (Central Ayrshire) (Lab): In his statement, the Secretary of State said: “It is important that everyone now accepts this result”. The $64,000 question is how long it will be before the SNP demands another referendum.

Mr Carmichael: Demands for a further referendum would have an exceptionally damaging effect on Scottish businesses, Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy. We know that because we can see what happened in Quebec in Canada when the separatists did not accept the outcome and came back a second time. We know what happened to the financial services sector in Montreal. I do not want that to happen in Scotland. Unfortunately, I cannot dictate what the Scottish National party will do, but I say to it that if it does not make it clear that it accepts this result and if it does not engage in the Smith commission in good faith, it will suffer.

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): As my right hon. Friend congratulates the people of Scotland on the 85% turnout in the referendum, I hope that he will reflect on the 85% of people in the United Kingdom who did not get a vote on the Union: namely, the people of England. He has no mandate from me or my constituents to devolve further powers to Scotland, while expecting my constituents to bankroll it and failing to address the issue of English votes for English laws.

Mr Carmichael: I fear that my hon. Friend does not quite reflect the intricacies of the settlement in the United Kingdom. I invite him to reflect on that at some leisure. I understand completely the concerns that he expresses about the position of England within the United Kingdom. Of course that discussion needs to take place. We have had such a discussion for decades in Scotland and I wish the people of England well in having it, but I cannot emphasise too strongly that that discussion cannot and will not hold up the delivery of the powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (Lab/Co-op): A key principle during the referendum debate was the delivery of fairness in Scotland. I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State confirm that the principle of pooling and sharing resources across the United Kingdom will be fundamental. Will he say more about whether Lord Smith will have access to various resources within the Treasury and the Government so that he can produce further analysis of the various proposals that have been put forward by the different political parties, with the principle of the pooling and sharing of resources in mind?

palce_westminster

Mr Carmichael: The secretariat for Lord Smith’s commission is already supported by civil servants from the Scotland Office, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury. I met Lord Smith on the Monday following the referendum and I told him then—I am happy to repeat this commitment publicly—that any resources that he felt he needed would be given, such is the importance that we attach to the work with which he has been tasked.

Sir James Paice (South East Cambridgeshire) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the holes in the current devolution settlement, as some of us pointed out at the time, is that effectively the Scottish people have representation without taxation? We must ensure that the Scottish Government have not only the power but the obligation to raise some of their taxes, thus increasing their accountability and enhancing democracy.

Mr Carmichael: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. The completion of the job of devolution requires the Scottish Parliament to be given control of at least half its budget—preferably more in my view, although we will see what Lord Smith comes forward with on that in the fullness of time. It is important for the rebalancing of the political debate in Scotland that we have a Parliament that debates not only how to spend money, but how to raise it.

Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State agree that the high level of participation among ordinary members of the public in the referendum debate was incredibly important, and a stark contrast to the debate leading up to the Scotland Act 2012, which of course delivered substantial further powers to the Scottish Parliament on the taxation and indeed borrowing that come to it? Does he agree that we must listen to the message of that debate, which was that whether people voted yes or no, they wanted change and we have failed to deliver on social justice? Will he hold a public education campaign and ensure that the Government talk not only about the powers that need to be delivered, but about how those powers can be used by the Scottish Parliament to deliver social justice?

Mr Carmichael: Having a short process such as the one we have outlined allows early delivery of those powers, and that will allow us to get on to talking about how we use those powers, not just where they are. I share the hon. Lady’s commitment to progress and social justice, and one thing that is clear from 18 September is that people in Scotland, and elsewhere, understand that these are often complex and subtle problems that we cannot solve just by drawing a line on the map.

David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): Does the Secretary of State agree that part of this settlement needs to be a public spending agreement that is fair to all four nations of the UK? On that basis, will he be reviewing the Barnett formula to ensure that it continues to reflect relative need and will do so in the future?

Mr Carmichael: Part of the vow made by the three party leaders was that there would be no change to the Barnett formula, and that remains Government policy.

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): With the Wales Bill about to proceed to the other place, what improvements will the UK Government bring to the Bill to reflect the changing constitutional landscape following events in Scotland?

Mr Carmichael: I am afraid that the answer to that question will have to be delivered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

Mike Crockart (Edinburgh West) (LD): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement, and may I echo his call for all of Scotland, whether part of the 45%, 55%, or indeed 65% of my constituents in Edinburgh West who voted no, to now set aside our differences and party affiliations and ensure that the will of the Scottish people is delivered?

Mr Carmichael: I echo that sentiment, and having campaigned on a number of occasions with my hon. Friend in his constituency during the referendum campaign, I was not in any way surprised that his constituents voted by such a handsome margin; it was almost as good as the decision in Orkney—[Interruption.] Shetland also voted no very heavily. The best way to capitalise on that magnificent result is for us in this House to demonstrate good faith in relation to the vow.

Jim McGovern (Dundee West) (Lab): I am mindful of the previous hon. Member’s contribution. At the risk of sounding partisan, we see the separatists’ turnout here today. Are they really the party that stands up for Scotland? They cannot even turn up for Scotland.

Mr Carmichael: I am sure there are good reasons why hon. Members are here or not, and they can explain that for themselves.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): The Secretary of State is absolutely right that the vow must be made good on, but the devolution of considerable additional powers to Scotland has a particular impact on the north of England and we need a long-term solution to our constitution. One thing that could very quickly enhance the voice of the north is to deliver English votes for English laws. Can the Secretary of State confirm that there is absolutely nothing to prevent that happening in tandem with the new powers for Scotland?

never give up

Mr Carmichael: To make any change of that sort, it will be necessary for the parties to build consensus and to deliver it through this House. That is something that goes beyond my responsibility.

Mrs Anne McGuire (Stirling) (Lab): Given the enthusiasm of the Scottish electorate during the referendum campaign, how will the Secretary of State maintain the enthusiasm, engagement and transparency of the process, so that on 30 November it does not look as though we have delivered a fix, instead of something that has support among the Scottish people?

Mr Carmichael: I will be more than happy to play my role in the process that the right hon. Lady outlines. There is a duty and an opportunity for all of us, across all the parties, to play a role. The electorate has rebooted politics in Scotland. It is for us now to respond to the initiative that has been taken by the people.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I am told that on all sorts of measures Kettering is the most average borough in England. I would contend that Kettering people are the most fair-minded people in England. I am sure that my constituents would be very happy for Scotland to have lots more powers so that it can decide things for itself. However, what the fair-minded people of Kettering cannot accept—I would like the Secretary of State to try to explain it to them—is the Scottish people receiving premiums for public services, over and above what the average English taxpayer gets in England, unrelated to relative deprivation.

Mr Carmichael: The flow of money between the different parts of the United Kingdom comes and goes at different times over the years. What we have—Scotland has just said that it wishes to continue to be part of this—is a situation in which we all share and pool risks and resources. That is what the people of Scotland have voted for. I hope the hon. Gentleman will sign up to that too.

Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East) (Lab): In relation to greater devolution, one proposal that my party made was for the devolution of housing benefit. I appreciate that to some extent that cuts across one of the current Government’s pet projects, universal credit, but will the Secretary of State assure me that his colleagues on the Government Front Bench will be as flexible as possible and willing to see changes that will really help people in Scotland. Incidentally, this proposal might get his Government off one of their uncomfortable hooks—a policy that is not even going to work.

Mr Carmichael: Time will tell exactly what the change to universal credit achieves. On the devolution of housing benefit and other matters, we will wait and see what Lord Smith comes forward with. It is not appropriate at this stage for me, as a Minister, to second-guess what he might come up with, but the Government will respond in good faith when we see his heads of agreement.

Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con): The Secretary of State will be aware that very late in the campaign all three party leaders promised significant extra powers to the people of Scotland. What calculations were done on the costs of implementing any additional powers? I heard the Secretary of State say that all resources would be given in terms of making up the deal, but when will the House see any figures associated with what will happen in the name of giving extra powers to Scotland?

Mr Carmichael: May I gently correct my hon. Friend on one point? The proposals of the three parties that support the continuation of the United Kingdom were published, in some cases, 18 months ahead of the independence referendum, and all certainly were published well before the summer. What was made clear in the latter stages of the referendum campaign was the timetable that would be followed. That was the essence of the new commitment that was made. On the figures that will be available, I am afraid that my hon. Friend will, like the rest of us, have to wait until Lord Smith comes forward with his heads of agreement on 30 November, because we cannot put figures on something that we do not yet know the details of.

Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) (Lab): These powers are, of course, extremely important, but may I join colleagues on the Opposition Benches in emphasising the need for further devolution to deliver on social justice and equality? That is what the Scottish people voted for, and it is what they want to hear. We are very proud of our young people and the way they conducted themselves and engaged with the campaign, but does the Secretary of State agree that it is illogical to give them a vote for just one election?

Mr Carmichael: I certainly join the hon. Lady in congratulating 16 and 17-year-olds on the enthusiasm and vigour that they brought to the campaign, which was one of the most heartening aspects of the whole process. Although this goes beyond the next general election, I think it would be difficult for any future Government to resist such a change across the whole of the United Kingdom, and, having seen its effect in Scotland, I do not see why anybody would want to.

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): I commend the Secretary of State for being able to take the heat out of a situation better than almost anyone else in politics. He has taken some heat himself during the campaign. Will he assure me that the people who do not shout the loudest—people who do not gang up on others—will be heard by the Smith commission? I am talking about the quiet people—the 10,000 contacts I had from constituents who said they wanted this to be solved, whether they voted yes or no, and who wanted their group, whether it was a non-governmental organisation or a charity, to be heard by whoever designs the future of Scotland within the Union.

Mr Carmichael: The hon. Gentleman commends me on taking the heat out of the situation. I wonder if that is perhaps an oblique way of saying I am boring if that is what is necessary. I have certainly been accused of an awful lot worse than that during my 13 years as a Member of this House. In terms of engaging the quiet majority who spoke, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: it should not just be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Anybody who has a view on how Scotland can be better governed should be able to express that view and expect it to be given the respect it will undoubtedly deserve.

Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): The people of Scotland have made a positive choice to stay in the UK. There is clearly support for the further devolution proposed by the three parties, and that must now happen and that process must move forward. I understand that there need to be discussions about devolution to other parts of the UK, but will the Secretary of State urge calm among his colleagues? It will be ludicrous if the result of this vote is that we start to rip apart this Parliament because of their ill-thought-out and rushed proposals.

Mr Carmichael: I cannot restate too often the importance of building the broadest possible consensus. It has taken us decades to do that in Scotland, and the Smith commission is just the latest iteration. I believe that parties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland now have to enter into that process with the same good faith we are showing in Scotland. There is no alternative to building that sort of consensus. Reflecting on some of the efforts of this Government, I see no other way of achieving constitutional reform than by building that consensus.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): I wish the Secretary of State well in completing the process of devolution to Scotland, but it cannot be denied that that will leave unfinished business in the form of devolution in England to our great cities outside London such as Birmingham. In his capacity as a Cabinet member of the United Kingdom Government, is he talking to his colleagues—particularly the Minister responsible for cities—about how the greater devolution of power to cities in England can take place in tandem with the work that he is doing in Scotland?

Mr Carmichael: I reiterate that I hesitate to use terms such as “in tandem” because they might suggest a link that could cause delay for one process or the other. It is apparent to me that there is an increased appetite for discussing constitutional change, especially in England. I see that among my own family living in England. I think that it is entirely healthy, and I will encourage it in any way I can. The hon. Lady mentioned devolution to cities. I believe that this Government’s record on city deals and on giving opportunities and resources to cities represents one of our biggest successes. It has probably brought more significant change to the way in which England is governed than many people realise.

john McLean

Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab): I strongly support more powers for the Scottish Parliament, but as the Secretary of State has said, there is a growing appetite for more devolution throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, perhaps in different forms. Will he therefore support the sensible suggestion that the way forward might well be to have a constitutional convention?

Mr Carmichael: I have already made it clear that I am something of an enthusiast for that process, having been through it north of the border. I have always thought that there were applicable lessons for the rest of the United Kingdom, but I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that I do not see us resolving that issue this side of the general election.

Mr Iain McKenzie (Inverclyde) (Lab): I do not think that it is lost on the Secretary of State, or on any of the hon. Members in this House who took part in the referendum campaign, that there are now deep divisions among the Scottish people. Does he agree that, if those divisions are to be healed to allow people to come together, a good starting point would be for the leadership of the Scottish National party to acknowledge that the question of Scottish independence is now dead for decades?

Mr Carmichael: I have already made it clear that I expect the leadership of the Scottish National party—in whatever shape or form it eventually emerges—to give that commitment to the Scottish people. That was what the party signed up to in the Edinburgh agreement and that was what it was saying in the week before the referendum. I see no reason why it should not stick to that position.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I am absolutely certain that the events in Scotland will lead to further devolution in Wales and in England, but what analysis has the Secretary of State made of the proposals on English votes for English laws? Would it not be bizarre if Scottish MPs were barred from voting but Scottish peers were allowed to vote on exactly the same legislation? Such peers could include the ninth Earl of Arran, the 14th Earl of Stair, the 16th Earl of Lindsay and, for that matter, Lord Smith.

Mr Carmichael: Lord Smith is not an hereditary peer. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr Laws) has already said, where we have devolved, we have devolved to a legislature, be it a Parliament or an Assembly, that is elected proportionally. That has been an important part of the way in which we have gone about the process of devolution, and I think that the people of England should be entitled to that as well. The essential difficulty that the hon. Gentleman touches on is that it is—[Interruption.] He knows my views on an unelected House of Lords. It is very difficult to devolve within Parliament but not the Executive, and that is something that those who want changes of this sort will have to address and explain.

A Look Back at the Day Gordon Brown Saved Scotland From Itself.

A Look Back at How Gordon Brown Saved Scotland From Itself.

1. Best of Both Worlds promise

Far from enjoying, “the best of both worlds” Scotland is now burdened with, “the worst of all worlds” where a cabal of “on message” Tories and civil servants, (including the civil service in Scotland) controlled and directed by Cabinet Secretary and top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood decide upon the fate of Scotland behind the securely closed doors of No 10 Downing Street. Exit in great haste, Gordon Brown, whose lack of influence over the unfolding disaster he generated is evident, even to the least politically minded of Scots.

2. Shambolic and divided: how Better Together nearly fell apart

a. Personality clashes, poor organisation, inter-party disputes threatened to derail the no campaign – until Alistair Darling called in the cavalry. Gordon Brown was the hero of the crucial eve-of-poll hour. The crowd erupted; he was the hero of the crucial eve-of-poll hour, but Gordon Brown, sweating profusely from exertion, buffeted by the attentions of grateful supporters at the end of a speech that, perhaps more than any had helped save the union, wanted the ear of his former chancellor – and former friend. “You deserve a lot of credit for this,” Brown mumbled to Alistair Darling, as the raucous cheers finally receded in Glasgow’s Maryhill Community Central Hall.

b. The response from Darling, leader of the cross-party Better Together campaign, whose 2011 memoirs told so candidly of being a victim of Brown’s “brutal” Downing Street regime, was lost to the noise. But for old-time Labour campaigners the speech meant a great deal. “It was like finishing a jigsaw which prompted a memory explaining why you had done so many things,” said one. “We thought, ‘So that’s why we followed that man Brown, why we made those decisions’.” Typically, perhaps even endearingly, after offering his olive branch to Darling, the former prime minister – still irascible, still a brooding presence – illustrated his continued personal and political insecurities, by turning to his aides. “Did it hit the mark? Did it hit the mark?” he asked insistently.

c. Brown had hit the mark. He had beseeched Scotland not to give up on solidarity, and prophesied, during his angry and passionate performance on Wednesday evening, that “the silent majority will be silent no more”. The next day Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to stay in the union, a comfortable victory given that Alex Salmond’s campaign had nudged ahead in the polls less than two weeks earlier.

d. The result was as pollster Andrew Cooper, David Cameron’s former director of strategy, had privately predicted to Darling. Hired by Better Together in May, Cooper forecast that “the polls are going to narrow two weeks out and that you might even see a couple where you are behind”, said a source from the campaign. Cooper told Darling that the gap would then widen again, leaving the final result a couple of points off the last poll and in favour of no. The hearts of the undecideds said yes and the heads said no, Cooper reasoned. The poll movements would result from those who went with their heart deciding earlier than the people who went with their head. Cooper’s prediction was one of the few things that did go smoothly in the battle to save the union.

e. The Better Together and, to a lesser extent, the wider no campaign was shambolic, divided and, at times, plain incompetent; riven by personality clashes (not only, but largely, confined to within the Labour fold) and inter-party political disputes. It was, paradoxically, often a display of British politics at its worst. The state of the Better Together base camp, from which a reluctant Darling led the fight (he had to be persuaded by Ed Miliband and Tories alike to take on its leadership) set the tone. The air in its fourth-floor offices in Glasgow’s down-at-heel Savoy shopping centre was thick with the smell of chip fat. The building’s shutters only opened at 8.30am and closed at 5.30pm apart from on Friday and Saturday nights when “40-year-old divorcees who had poured themselves into 17-year-olds’ clothes turned up for the Savoy disco,” said one insider. “It could not have been a worse base. You can imagine the fun and games there was on a daily basis just trying to get in and out,” another added. More significantly, for months, if not years, far too little appeared to happen inside this HQ and its forerunner in the grander Blythswood Square nearby.

f. “No one really blamed Alistair,” said a source within the campaign. “But he was pulling levers and nothing was going on.” Darling’s speeches were left unwritten until the last moment; a grid wasn’t set up to organise media activity; and there seemed little appetite to hone the messages sent out to an electorate soaked with the yes campaign’s propaganda. The case for the union seemed to be reduced to a series of dire and sometimes implausible warnings. It was felt by some that the Liberal Democrats weren’t pulling their weight by getting their people on television, and even a contact database of journalists wasn’t put in place for the press office. With six weeks to go one of Better Together’s press team asked Catherine MacLeod, Darling’s long-time aide, for a mobile number for BBC Scotland’s political editor. “How could they possibly not have had that number?” said one infuriated campaigner.

g. The battle within social media only went to further highlight Better Together’s deficiencies. The yes campaign was three times more socially active, in terms of positive tweets and Facebook likes. The yes Twitter feed was engaged with one million times, for example, compared with just short of 300,000 for Better Together. And, inevitably, this lack of activity, and a lackadaisical approach to canvassing, started to eat into the polls.

h. A year before the referendum, “no” had been ahead by 20 percentage points. But by the last month, despite the main three political parties ruling out a currency union, that lead was all but gone. “This summer Darling called in help. It was an important moment,” said a source. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander was sought for his expertise as was Torsten Bell, one of Ed Miliband’s closest aides and former economic adviser to Darling. Paul Sinclair, a former media adviser to Brown, now working with Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, also provided desperately needed energy. “Torsten made things happen and Douglas worked on advertising, messaging and scripts for interviews. He devised the Love Scotland, Vote No mantra. Paul was writing speeches and getting things moving. Things started to get a bit better.”

i. Meanwhile, a parallel Labour effort to get the vote out, largely led by Brown, started in May. Brown proved throughout the campaign to be every bit the same “clunking fist” (as Tony Blair once put it) that he ever was; bullying and bulldozing his way through, intolerant of failure and incompetence. “Still mad as cheese,” admitted one Labour figure. Brown adamantly refused to have anything to do with the cross-party campaign because he feared it would provide a platform for a Tory resurgence in Scotland. But he at least offered a figure to rally around, someone who could deliver a message to the core Labour vote.

j. In matters of organisation, Gordon Banks, Labour MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, who played a key role in batting off the threat from the SNP to Glasgow city council in the 2012 local elections, became a major player. “With four months to go, we were now getting on people’s doorsteps and having a conversation,” Banks told the Observer. “We were accused of being negative but the message was, ‘If you want to keep the pound, vote no’. That’s not negative. And it was a matter of trust. The nationalists have had 80 years to think this through yet they have no answers on pensions, currency and the rest. ‘Do you trust Salmond?’ we asked.”

k. As the Labour machine hit its top speed, 20,000 homes a day were being canvassed. Not that the gears of that machine moved altogether smoothly either. Jim Murphy, the shadow international secretary, who was embarking on a 100-speech tour, has a hate-hate relationship with Douglas Alexander, who was, for all intents and purposes directing events; Darling and Brown met only a handful of times during the entire campaign (“There was a peace pact, but Gordon doesn’t really do peace,” said a source); and Labour strategists were struggling to find anyone even willing to share a platform with their combative and prickly former defence secretary John Reid.

l. But things weren’t falling apart. Labour sources admitted that they believed David Cameron had “played a blinder” in his measured interventions. The three main parties, after endless negotiations, agreed, with a couple of weeks to go, to announce a timetable to further devolution in the final full week of campaigning. It was late in the day, but if presented well it could, the organisers reasoned, look statesmanlike.

3. And then the wobble came.

a. On the evening of 6 September, the Sunday Times released details of its next day’s splash: a YouGov poll had given yes its first lead. While some of those privy to Cooper’s polling predictions were calm, others were far less so. “It was 48 hours of chaos,” admitted a senior Liberal Democrat adviser. George Osborne, appearing on Sunday morning’s Andrew Marr show, managed to give the impression that a package of powers was soon to be announced, rather than a mere timetable; Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael, speaking at lunchtime on the BBC, chuckled and looked evasive when asked what was coming down the line, “with a wire coming out of his head that gave him a Mickey Mouse ear”, said one Labour source.

b. That day, Miliband sent up more staff to take a grip of Better Together in the final stages and the next day he spoke with Cameron in his Commons office where they agreed to cancel prime minister’s questions to travel to Scotland. And then Brown struck. “He completely jumped the gun,” said a Downing Street source. Brown took it upon himself to announce on Monday that there would be home rule for Scotland. Indeed he not only promised a timetable, but sketched one out. “It looked very much like an attempt to steal the glory,” said a Downing Street aide.

c. Whether that was the former prime minister’s intention, or not, Cameron, Miliband and Nick Clegg could only endorse it, while no doubt grimacing at the emotive and potentially problematic issue of what home rule means for Scotland – and the rest of the UK. Brown had certainly “hit the mark”, as he did again in his barnstorming speech on Wednesday; he may even have saved the union at its darkest hour. But, as the dust settles on a campaign that won almost despite itself, the British public may now be moved to ask: at what cost? http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/21/how-better-together-nearly-fell-apart-alistair-darling-gordon-brown-scottish-independence

The Smith Commission- Expert Observations and Warnings to Scotland of The Trap

1. Submission To The Smith Commission – Simon Barrow Co-Director:

a. Ekklesia is a public policy think­tank, (one of the UK top 5) headquartered in Edinburgh and London, which examines the role of beliefs and values in shaping policy and politics for the furtherance of social and environmental justice. Christian in background and orientation, It works with people across and beyond the spectrum of religious and non ­religious conviction. Ekklesia is supported by a charitable trust but is fully independent of both political parties and faith bodies.

2. The Proper Discharge Of the Commission’s Terms Of Reference:

a. The Smith Commission is charged with securing recommendations to deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers to strengthen the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom based on wide consultation with political parties, civic society, businesses and individuals across Scotland. It is recognized that this is an extremely challenging and complex task. Our submission will therefore focus on two areas. The need for civic participation and the principles which we believe should rest at

b. The Commission has advised against a mere ‘shopping list of powers’, and we concur with that. The issues involved in achieving a radically improved devolved settlement for Scotland require a more wholistic approach. We are not convinced that the top-down nature of the Commission’s structure, with two representatives each from the political parties who currently sit in Holyrood, but no solid framework for civic participation, is adequate to this challenge, and we will therefore suggest an addition and amplification.

3. Adequate Time and Scope For Popular Participation:

a. The scale and complexity of the Commission’s remit relate directly to chronology. While we recognize the pressure to produce Heads of Agreement by 30 November 2014 on the path to a legislative process by January 2015, we are concerned that this timetable does not allow realistic time for adequate consultation with the people of Scotland. Lord Smith has responded to this concern by arguing that, effectively, consultation expands to fill the time available for it, and that discipline is no bad thing in this respect. While recognizing the weight of this observation we would argue that there is a balance between efficiency, quality, reach and coherent outcome to be achieved which cannot automatically be resolved on the side of brevity.

b. The 18 September referendum on Scottish independence and the two years of debate that preceded it were an unprecedented ‘democratic moment’in the history of this country and the islands of which it is part. What was particularly significant was the revival of ‘town hall politics’, the extraordinary level of local engagement, and the growth of political and constitutional literacy at a grassroots level in Scotland.

c. The energy for change and development came not from top-down institutions but from ordinary people and communities. To be consistent with this reality, the form of delivery of the Commission and the framing of its proposals needs to make time for genuine and extensive public discussion of the Heads of Agreement, so that it is the people of Scotland and not simply the representatives of political parties or other vested interests who are consulted and involved in the process of agreeing the instruments for devolving power within and across the nation.

4. Key Practical Principles and Yardsticks To Be Observed:

a. Ekklesia is committed to social justice, equality, conflict transformation and non-violence, the localization of power, environmental sustainability and public dialogue as procedures (not just theories) capable of bringing people together from different belief backgrounds and experiences in the creation of common purpose. We would urge attention to the following principles in determining the outcomes of the Commission.

i. Subsidiarity:

Derived from Christian (especially Catholic) social teaching, but applicable to the kind of mixed belief society that Scotland and the British isles are now becoming, the principle of subsidiarity is that central authority should have a subsidiary (that is, a supporting, rather than subordinate)function in political and constitutional organization, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate regional or local level. In the case of the Smith Commission, therefore, we would wish for outcomes that demonstrably allow and encourage the possibility of further sharing of power from the Scottish Parliament to regions and communities.

ii. Recognition of Nationhood:

We would wish that the Commission recognize Scotland to be a nation (that is, a geographical unit capable of enabling a large group of people to be united in their diversity of language, culture, environment and economic life ) rather than simply a region of a larger state. We make that point not in any ‘essentialist’ way, since Ekklesia is and has been critical of overly determinist notions of nationhood or statehood, but because of the strong desire for self-determination expressed both by those who voted for independence in September 2014, and by many who voted to remain part of the United Kingdom while responding positively to the promises of “substantial powers” and “what would amount to home rule” or (so-­called) “devo-max” made by representatives of the largest Westminster parties during the run-up to the referendum. In other words, recognition that Scotland as a national entity provides, on practical grounds and in terms of scale, the genuine possibility of ensuring the kind of political,social, economic and ecological accountability that can make life better for people within its embrace especially those who are currently suffering from levels of poverty and deprivation which is wholly inconsistent with the
natural and manufactured resources available to those who live in Scotland, whatever their background or nationality.

iii. A ‘Family Of Nations’:

Both during and after the referendum, Britain has been spoken of as a ‘family of nations’. This complements the point we made in 4.b, above. Our own view is that there are genuine practical, economic, political and legal difficulties to achieving straightforward federalism in a country marked by enormous differences of size (with England housing 85% of the population of the British isles) and financial power (with the City of London, in particular, operating as a virtual city state and therefore strongly shaping, intentionally and otherwise, the political disposition of the largest Westminster political parties). We therefore hope that the proposals emerging from the Smith Commission, while taking a generally federal shape, will remain open to other possibilities in the future, notably that of confederalism an association of states in which each member state retains substantial independent control over internal and external affairs, with sovereignty pooled and shared by agreement. This enables the combining of a high level of autonomy and self-determination with interdependence and conviviality pointed towards a post ­national way of thinking and acting in a globalized world.

iv. The Embedding Of Devolved Power:

As Canon Kenyon Wright (widely regarded as the father of the Constitutional Convention and the present devolution settlement in Scotland) has observed, devolution has two in­ principle limitations. First, it is incomplete. The recent debate about the impact of a UK-wide decision which could potentially see the withdrawal of Scotland from the European Union against the will of the majority of its people is illustrative of this. Second, and especially important for the work of the Smith Commission, it is conditional. In other words, devolution is power on loan; power ultimately retained rather than given. It can be withdrawn, as has been seen recently in Scotland’s case in relation to the 2013 Energy Act. This is crucial. For Westminster to retain the permanent power to grant, alter, or rescind powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament would leave Scotland insecure and the United Kingdom as a whole fundamentally unreformed. A core principle for the Commission should therefore be to ensure that devolved powers granted to Scotland are underwritten by a legal framework that ensures their durability and stability.

v. The Capacity To Disavow the Threat Of Mass Destruction:

While we recognize that it is not within the remit of the Commission to recommend substantial devolution of powers in the area of foreign affairs and defence (security) policy, we regard it as axiomatic that the people of Scotland should not have to have weapons of mass destruction, namely the Trident nuclear submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde, imposed on their territory without, as a minimum, democratic consent of a kind not provided within the current United Kingdom settlement. This should be addressed. Ekklesia will, of its own volition, continue to argue that nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are not only immoral but illegal in international law.

vi. An Equilibrium Between Powers Granted and the Capacity and Resources To Utilize Them For Public Benefit:

It is extremely important that political and constitutional powers granted to the Scottish Parliament and Government under a devolution settlement are matched by the tax-raising, financial and economic powers required to enable them to deliver measurable benefits to people and communities.

vii. The Right Of Civic Engagement, Consultation and Assembly:

We see the institutions of governance and policy invested in the capacity of people and communities to determine their own lives, rather than the other way round. This notion has been developed as a ‘claim of right’, an assertion given moral and theological weight from within our Christian tradition (in association with others in a plural environment) by the Rev Dr Ian Fraser, among others, in recent Scottish history. The principle of establishing processes that are open to shaping by citizen’s assemblies and popular participation is an important one for us, rooted in the notion of ‘radical democracy’ moving beyond merely liberative democracy to the capacity to embrace difference and antagonism in public life/policy in ways that enable dominant power relations to be challenged by those otherwise marginalized by lack of resources, education or status in society. We recognize that this principle is more relevant in terms of the outcomes of the deployment of specific powers (judging them morally and practically in terms of their impact on the poorest and weakest, recasting them to give such people a real stake in determining better outcomes, along lines suggested by Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission). Nevertheless, it is important to bear it in mind in formulating the settlement of powers within national institutions.

5. Specific Proposals For Devolved Powers and Their Grounding. The Following Would Be A Good Basis For Establishing the Kind Of Principles Enumerated Above:

* Power over all franchise and electoral law residing in Scotland: This would would allow 16-18 year‐olds to vote in the 2016 Holyrood election, allow Scotland to develop and deploy a fairer electoral system, and create conditions for a proper power of public recall.

* Comprehensive economic powers: This would need to include borrowing as well as taxation. The aim would be the capacity to deliver social, environmental and financial security and measures of redistribution.

* Full control over employment law and employment rights, including industrial relations and health and safety legislation.

* The welfare system: This would enable Scotland to create a fabric of social security and comprehensive welfare suitable for a modern society, and appropriate to the needs of disabled and sick people and the most vulnerable.

* Energy powers: This would involve control over industrial emissions standards, the generation of community renewables, energy efficiency and the proper assertion of public purpose over power companies.

* Transport policy: To enable the creation of a community owned and oriented integrated and environmentally sustainable public transport system in Scotland.

* Full powers over human rights and equalities law: This would enable Scotland to retain the Human Rights Act if it was scrapped by the United Kingdom Parliament, and also full consonance with European and international instruments.

* The right to refuse participation in illegally and morally flawed international wars and conflicts, and to refuse the stationing of weapons of mass destruction on Scottish soil.

* The right, as part of family of nations, to retain membership of the European Union if the majority of those voting in a referendum on the topic in Scotland so determine.

6. Constitutional Consultation:

a. In view of the complexity of these issues and the need for public and civic participation, we would favour thoughtful proposals for a proper constitutional convention for Scotland, and for the other nations of the United Kingdom. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/submission_to_the_smith_commission_0.pdf

November 2014; Simon Barrow’s blog › The Smith Commission: what We Said and What Has Happened

There has been, and will be, much debate about Smith following its publication late last month, including further analysis on Ekklesia. It is probably the case that as much as the Westminster parties were ever going to be prepared to concede is in its proposals. But the idea that this amounts to ‘Home Rule’ or ‘devo max’ (everything other than foreign affairs and defence) is far from true; as is the assertion that this is the maximum that can be achieved. It is but one package, developed out of conversation – constructive but inevitably compromised – by five of the six parties that played a large part in the September independence referendum campaign.

Richard Murphy of Tax Research (http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/11/27/scotlands-tax-solution-is-…) is among those who have made a powerful case that the tax solution proposed by Smith is the worst possible for everyone involved, and essentially part of a two-pronged trap set by the UK government. The other involves EVEL (English votes for English laws). The whole settlement can also be questioned in terms of the lack of balance between new powers and resources to deliver with or from them – something we specifically warned about. Of course there are positives, too. Those have to be built on. But people in Scotland and elsewhere on these islands will be necessarily sanguine about the adequacy of what is on the table.

The Smith Commission process, set in motion by the deliberately vague and highly politicised ‘Vow’ by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders, was from the outset constrained by a timetable which ensures minimum public involvement and consultation. One of the major planks in Ekklesia’s submission was about this failing. It can be somewhat mitigated as Heads of Agreement are considered, but at present we can have no confidence that it will be.

Nevertheless, as the energy for change continues in Scotland, there remains, throughout all these flawed processes, the hope that the case for more substantial constitutional and political change can be pushed for across these islands – for the benefit of people in Wales and the English regions, too.That will of necessity involve tackling ‘the London question’ – the impact of the quarter mile City State which now shapes Westminster politics and much else on the British and Irish isles. It will also involve much more thought and response on the implications of Smith. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21100

November 2014; Scotland’s Tax Solution Is The Worst Possible For Everyone

Richard Murphy is a chartered accountant and economist. He has written widely, and blogs frequently. He has appeared in many radio and television documentaries on taxation issues. He has also presented written and oral evidence to select committee committees of the House of Commons and House of Lords. Richard has been a visiting fellow at Portsmouth University Business School, the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex and at the Tax Research Institute, University of Nottingham.

There appears to be broad consensus this morning that Scotland will get devolved powers over all income tax on earnings but not savings in the review of its authority to be announced today. Some other taxing rights, which are much less contentious, will also be devolved.

I have to say I am very worried about this compromise solution for Scotland. In saying so I stress I was in favour of independence and felt Scotland should have embraced its own currency: little else made sense in September. Two months on a worst possible outcome for everyone now seems to be the option.

The settlement reached appears to be based on the premise that tax’s sole purpose is revenue raising and that Scotland must have taxing powers if it spends. At the core of my concern is my belief that this is wrong. Tax has not less than six purposes:

1) It reclaims the money that a government has spent into an economy

2) It reprices goods and services that the market misprices

3) It redistributes income and wealth

4) It raises representation in democracies as people are motivated to vote by tax

5) It reorganises an economy

6) It regulates money by giving it value in exchange by requiring that tax be paid using the state currency.

You will note that none of these refers to raising revenue and that’s appropriate. We know governments can and do spend money they do not have and we know governments can also spend without ever borrowing: QE has proved that. This is why I refer to tax collection as the reclamation of money the government has already spent into the economy using the power a state has to create money at will.

The trouble is Scotland does not have that power to create money. That will, as the whole referendum debate focussed upon, stay with London. So Scotland ends up with revenue collection rights but no control over money: that’s half a power at best. And it has even been denied the right to reprice necessary parts of the economy to achieve the goal of redistribution which many think absolutely vital to economic recovery because tax rates on savings and rents are going to be taken out of its control meaning it can only redistribute earned income – which is precisely what is probably not needed in Scotland.

What’s the outcome? A mess, is the best answer. The West Lothian question remains on the table and is too uncomfortable to answer. UK fiscal control is reduced, and Scotland has powers too limited to really effect change. Macro economic policy will be hard to deliver. The practicalities of administering two, related, domestic tax systems will be enormously difficult (who will be resident in Scotland, and how will they know?). And Scotland will remain frustrated that some real reforms will remain beyond it for time to come.

If ever we wanted to know that the No vote in September was a very big mistake this is the proof. We will now live as two nations with two tax systems and no macro economic control on some key issues living under one umbrella state with one currency that no-one can be sure they control. That’s the definition of a macro-economic mess in the making. I am, I think, appropriately worried. There could have been worse outcomes – and they may still come – but this is a potential nightmare in the making. http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/11/27/scotlands-tax-solution-is-the-worst-possible-for-everyone/

Scottish Jews have spilled Their Blood for Scotland and it is Time For Their Voices to be Heard – The SNP Should Actively Encourage Jews to Get Involved in the Politics of Scotland. It is Their Home After all.

 

 

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Jewish Schoolchildren in Glasgow celebrating something

 

 

 

1 November 2016: SNP Deputy says Scotland can play a constructive role in Middle East as he leads official Israel visit

The SNP is to launch its first official trip to Israel as part of ambitious plans for Scotland to play a role in helping achieve peace in the Middle East. Angus Robertson will lead an official delegation to the region after saying he had been “encouraged to explore whether there is any way Scotland can offer help and assistance.” He added that both the Israeli Ambassador and the Palestinian envoy to the UK have welcomed his interest and added that small nations had already shown they could play a positive role, citing the example of the Oslo accords.

The SNP government is adopting an enlightened view of politics in the middle east which deserves praise. Scottish Jews should be encouraged to fully participate in the struggle for independence and  when achieved the development of an  independent Scotland free of any racist policies or activities.  Scotland has a proud record of welcoming immigrants of all nationalities. It is the only country in Europe that has never forced Jews to leave. The photograph below pictures soldiers at war in defence of their country (Scotland). Many never made it home and are buried in the fields of Flanders. There is one distinguishing factor linking these brave young men. They are all Jews.

 

 

 

 

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Scottish Jews: France 1917

 

 

 

 

Why Were the Voices of the Jews Not Heard In Scotland at the Time of the Referendum

The dearth of any Jewish contribution to the recent debate and subsequent referendum, over the future of Scotland gives cause for concern. Whilst not huge in number in Scotland the Jewish community is, (and has been for many centuries) an integral and important part of Scottish society and it is crucial they get involved in mainstream Scottish politics so that their voices can be heard in any debate. It might be a, “Friends of Israel” group could be set up within the SNP so that voices of moderation could be heard ensuring other sides of any adverse comment about the state of Israel could be made public.

The people of Scotland fully support the State of Israel and it’s right to exist, in peace with it’s neighbours. But Scotland also support the Palestinians and their right also to exist as a country, at peace with it’s neighbours. The problem for the Scottish public, (and I include Scottish Jews here) is the right wing government of Israel and it’s pursuit of policies directed against the Palestinians.

“Might is not right”. England imposed brutality on Scotland for many centuries before realizing that they needed to embrace the Scots not throttle them. Hence the unbroken 300 year old peace in the Island. Scotland will one day assert it’s right to be a free nation and will separate, but live in peace with England. There might be lessons for Israel and Palestine to learn from our experiences.

I identified the, Jewish Chronicle, (http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/117792/why-i-want-scottish-independence) as a likely source of Scottish comment and extracted a few relevant articles in support of my assertions. We need a debate now so that we will be able to make progress very soon. Time is never on the side of the righteous.

 

 

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Scottish Jews march with Palestine supporters for a just peace

 

 

 

 

Why I want Scottish Independence By Frank Angell

I am a Scottish Jew — and I am wholeheartedly voting Yes on September 18, and so are others of my acquaintance. Scotland’s strength is the diversity of the many cultures and faiths that thrive in our communities. Each culture brings with it values, ideas and innovations that enrich our arts, our language and our lives.

It is fewer than 200 years since Jews first came to Scotland in significant numbers. Since then, Jewish workers and entrepreneurs have helped to grow Scotland’s economy, while Jewish writers, artists and performers have contributed to our culture. Our community may be a relatively small one, but we have been shown every courtesy and respect by First Minister Alex Salmond and his team of ministers since they came to office in 2007.

Indeed, one of Mr Salmond’s early acts as First Minister was to visit Scotland’s only Jewish school at the start of Chanucah, and to meet representatives from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. In 2009, the Jewish community was, rightly, included in the first meeting to take place between the Scottish government cabinet and faith group leaders in Scotland. And I was proud when the SNP government became the first administration in Scotland to directly fund visits by school children to Auschwitz-Birkenau, under the Lessons from Auschwitz project run by the Holocaust Educational Trust — with an additional £500,000 funding announced just last year to secure the future of this vital project.

These are just some examples of the interaction that takes place between Jewish representatives and the Scottish government, with positive outcomes on virtually every occasion. I would hazard that it is a rather closer relationship with the leading ministers in Scotland than our fellow Jews south of the border enjoy with Westminster — and one which is replicated by other communities and interest groups in Scotland, whether that be other faiths, business organisations, trade unions, and so on.

I do not claim that Scotland is perfect, with no problems of intolerance or prejudice.But our history is at least unstained by anti-Jewish discrimination, rare among European nations, and our 14th century independence Declaration of Arbroath contains the statement: “There is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman.”  These are ancient words, but they still seem a fine sentiment to usher in a new Scotland in the 21st century.

As we look forward to the referendum, there is a wave of optimism, and people across Scotland are realising that we now have a chance to make our country better for all who live here, and reshape the way we are regarded by the rest of the world. I want independence, and I also want the common ground across all the strands that make up our Scottish tartan to be the foundation for the new Scotland. I want Scotland to embrace the future as an independent country — and I believe that we will do so with conviction and tolerance.

 

 

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Scots head for a yes vote despite fear over Israel By Adam Henderson and Daniel Easterman, September 11, 2014

Many in the Scottish Jewish community will put aside concerns over a future Scottish government’s Middle East policy when the vote in next Thursday’s referendum. Scottish Jews are concerned that independence could lead to a rise in anti-Zionism but, for many, it will not stop them voting yes. Scotland’s 6,000-strong community has faced a summer of rising anti-Israel protest amid the Gaza conflict, with Glasgow and Edinburgh town halls flying the Palestinian flag and protesters boycotting stores stocking Israeli goods.

With the latest polling putting the yes and no camps at level pegging in the run-up to the vote on September 18, Jews are having to consider what effect independence could have on issues such as circumcision and kosher slaughter, and whether a new government would pursue a harder line on Israel. But Paul Morron, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, believes that whatever happens next Thursday, there will no reason for the community to panic. “We need to retain a sense of proportion in this. We mustn’t talk ourselves into a more serious position than we’re already in,” he warned.

“An independent Scottish government will have control over foreign policy and that may take a more anti-Israel view. This could increase pressure on the community. We have seen how quickly anti-Israel feeling can turn into anti-Semitism. “In the last 60 years Glasgow has not suffered this level of anti-Semitism so of course there is a major shock wave going through the community. But this did not happen in an independent Scotland – it happened within the union.”

Mr Morron said he was sure Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, who is leading the yes campaign, had the best interests of the Jewish community at heart. “He is the only political leader in Scotland at the moment who has been outspoken against anti-Semitism,” Mr Morron said. He called on the community to take a more proactive approach in tackling anti-Israel activity regardless of the result of the referendum. “I believe the Jewish community should not fear independence. This is our Scotland as much as it is anyone else’s Scotland and we need to have the confidence that we – along with out friends – can influence the agenda and bring our positive case for Israel to the wider community.”

 

 

 

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The Glasgow Jewish Lads Brigade

 

 

 

JM:  charity worker from Edinburgh.

Undecided on which way to vote when interviewed a year ago. With less than a week to go, she has decided to tick the yes box. She said: “I do prefer the devo-max option and I believe it’s quite interesting that Westminster and the media have offered us that at the last minute but I’ll won’t change my vote now. I think the Westminster politicians didn’t take the needs of the Scottish people seriously and they are panicking.” Ms Mundy said she was unsure a government in Edinburgh would follow a more anti-Israel policy, but pointed out that Scottish Jews “would have a closer connection to the politicians and that we could do something about it”. She acknowledged that many in the community were going to vote no. “The whole of the Edinburgh community is quite split on it,” she said.

Frank Angell: Is in favour of independence

Frank, a former Scottish National Party council nominee, said: “Scotland is not a racist country and I don’t see it becoming a racist country. Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy First Minister, confirmed in a letter to my MSP, Stewart Maxwell, that there will be no change in law on shechita and circumcision. “The anti-Israel feeling in Scotland does worry me but not as far as independence is concerned. It hasn’t been any better in England and although the Scottish Parliament is currently not pro-Israel, policies change. We need strong convictions in taking the case for Israel to the wider community and I’m not currently seeing that.”

 

 

 

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A Scottish Jewess speaks out against Israeli policies against Palestine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Bedfellows Indeed – How the Torys, Labour and Israel Denied Scotland Independence

Strange Bedfellows Indeed – How the Torys, Labour and Israel Denied Scotland Independence

Scottish Referendum – Independence: Good or bad for Jews & Israel?

An independent Scotland would be no friend of Israel. While so many issues remain coloured in grey, heading into the referendum on Scottish independence, this one should be viewed as black-and-white. Over the past decade, Scotland’s First Minister – and the architect of Thursday’s historic referendum vote – Alex Salmond, has consistently presented an anti-Israel agenda to the people of Scotland.

In 2002, it was an attack on then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for the supply of parts used in fighter planes that Mr Salmond believed attacked “Palestinians in the illegally-occupied territories”.

Five years on and he trumpeted the difference between UK and Scottish foreign policy on Israel. He stated that he was “appalled by the British approach that runs contrary to our Scottish view of the world”. And over the course of the most recent conflict in Gaza, the de-facto Scottish Foreign Minister Humza Yousaf was unequivocal in what he saw as a “heavily disproportionate” response by Israel to Hamas rocket bombardment and terrorism. “With mounting evidence of possible violations of international law the UK must ensure that it is not complicit in the killing of innocent civilians through its supply of arms,” Mr Yousaf said last month. “There must be an immediate embargo on arms sales to Israel and an investigation into whether or not UK arms supplies might have been used in violations of international law.” “We stand ready to play our part as a good global citizen.”

The last line is particularly important. Because while it is obvious that Scotland alone, a would-be-nation of just over five-million people, cannot dictate or influence Israeli policy, its voice would carry a greater weight than ever before. It would join the legions of ‘global citizens’ – inactive in so many other conflicts – in condemning Israel’s right to defend itself.

An independent Scotland would be one extra vote in the United Nations and, probably, one extra voice in the European Union where every vote, voice and opinion of smaller nations counts more than ever and multi – million – euro trade contracts with the Jewish state hang in the balance. Presently, Holyrood has no say in British foreign policy. And although Mr Salmond retains a right to his views, both publicly and privately, they appear to be unwanted when it comes to Israel.
UNDER INDEPENDENCE, SCOTTISH JEWS WOULD LOSE THE PROTECTION AFFORDED BY THE ROBUST POLICIES OF PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

Earlier this year, the former Palaun ambassador to the United Nations explained to me that no voice was insignificant in the UN and most countries formed,  “cohesive voting blocks, with each vote becoming noticed and vied for”. Scotland, like its Celtic neighbour the Republic of Ireland, is a historically left-wing nation never likely to favour Israel in its battle over what the Celts see as an oppressed people, like themselves.

Ireland is a prescient example of what a yes vote may bring and is home to one of the most vocal anti-Israel atmospheres in Europe. The Israeli embassy in Dublin is routinely barricaded and ‘sieged’. The Irish Foreign Minister is routinely asked to expel the ambassador, while members of the Oireachtas (parliament) Friends of Israel are lambasted on social media for their membership of the group and boycotts are spreading.

The President of Ireland, Michael Higgins, is considered one of the most anti-Israel heads of state in Europe and a quick glance at some of the comments directed to @IsraelInIreland Twitter would be eye-opening reading.This is all before taking into account the impact of being ruled by a nationalist party – the Scottish National Party – which Mr Salmond leads. How do we know that, in the years to come, the question of “just how Scottish are you” won’t be asked of Scottish Jews?

In May, the former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, himself a Scottish Jew, told me that “nations don’t just break up” and said he would “bet everything against a vote for Scottish independence”. Let’s hope he is right.

http://www.jewishtelegraph.com/

Labour Party Members Actively Supporting Israel

1. The National Union of Students has supplied many of the Labour Partys senior members over the years. Lot’s of them also joined:

a. Labour Friends of Israel

b. Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre BICOM, a powerful lobbying group always pushing the case for support of Israel in all things in Westminster.

2. This note addresses in brief a group of student friends and their links to each other and the foregoing activities:

3. Jim Murphy was Chair (2001-2002) and still is a member of Labour Friends of Israel and has close links with members of BICOM.

a. WikiLeaks: In 2011, The Daily Telegraph published documents, compiled by a senior US official at the US Embassy in London and published by WikiLeaks, it was revealed that throughout 2009, Jim Murphy was in charge of organising a coalition of Unionist parties whose aim was to, “block an independence referendum” in Scotland. The documents state: Throughout 2009, UK Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy played a leadership role in organizing the opposition parties, hoping to move Scotland toward implementation of the Calman recommendations as an alternative to an independence referendum, according to Murphy’s advisors, Labour party insiders, and opposition party leaders. First Minister Salmond’s response to independence critics (such as Murphy) was to accelerate the implementation of the Calman recommendations as soon as possible – “to call the bluff.”

b. East Renfrewshire has the biggest Jewish community outside London and Murphy is noted for working hard for them. but the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a lot more extreme than the English one. It is a very hostile political environment for a beleaguered Jewish community of 5,000, which needs to change.

c. Avoiding national service with the South African Army; “I saw for myself the legalization of grotesque theories of racial supremacy” he returned to Scotland, and took up studies at a University in Glasgow before dropping out to become president of the NUS. Then on to become an MP.

e. Murphy is a prominent member of the ultra right wing think tank, “The Henry Jackson Society Advisory Council”. The policies of the group conflict, at times with official Labour Party policy which causes conflict.
http://www.fifetoday.co.uk/news/general-election-2010-murphy-s-law-to-survive-political-jungle-be-yourself-1-1366299

http://www.bicom.org.uk/about/team/

4. Lorna Fitzsimons: Grew up in Rochdale where she still lives with her family and runs her two businesses, Lorna Fitzsimons Consulting and MK-LF Partnership.

a. She is currently the Director of The Alliance Project and the Textile Growth Program. The Alliance project was established by industry, Lord Alliance, (David Alliance, Baron Alliance, GBE is a British businessman and Liberal Democrat politician of Jewish origin from Iran). and the Combined Authority’s of Greater Manchester to work with Government on the growth potential in British textile manufacturing.

b. She has completed the biggest study of supply and demand in British textile manufacturing in the last twenty years and presented the findings and recommendations to Government. She is now working with Government, industry and GMCA implementing the recommendations. She directs a £12.8million textile growth fund investing in British textile manufacturing.

c. Lorna has also set up MK-LF Partnership with her business partners. The company runs The Pipeline, a program working with FTSE 100 company’s to develop executive female talent.

d. Lorna served as president of the National Union of Students from 1992 to 1994. She was a NED of Endsleigh Insurance and chair of the European Students Forum. From there she became an associate director at a Saatchi subsidiary. Lorna became the first ever winner of the IPPR’s Young Communicator of the Year award.

e. In 1997, Lorna was elected to Parliament as MP for Rochdale (29). She was PPS to Robin Cook. Lorna was a member of the Hansard Society Board and chair of the Historic Parliamentary Labour Party Women’s Committee, comprised of 101 female MPs.

f. On leaving Parliament in 2005, Lorna set up her own consultancy and became a senior visiting fellow at the Defence Academy.

g. Lorna became the CEO at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in October 2006. She left BICOM after five and a half years in 2012 to set up her own company’s.

5. Dermot Kehoe has been Chief Executive of BICOM, Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre since 2012.

a. Dermot has over 20 years’ experience in public affairs, communications and journalism. A career in broadcasting that spans the BBC, ITV, GMTV and Channel 4 and in communications at the Home Office, Social Market Foundation and the Fabian Society.

b. His Credits include The Sunday Programme with Alistair Stewart, GMTV Election ’97, The Street Weapons Commission (C4) and The Iraq Commission (C4).

c. His partner John David Cairns MP died  from acute pancreatitis 9 May 2011

6. John David Cairns (7 August 1966 – 9 May 2011) was a Scottish Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 2001 until his death.

a. He represented the constituency of Inverclyde.

b. He was the Minister of State at the Scotland Office until he resigned on 16 September 2008.

c. He died from complications of acute pancreatitis on 9 May 2011, aged 44.

d. He was a catholic priest but gave up his vocation to become a politician. Openly gay his long time partner was Dermot Kehoe.

e. He was a member of Labour Friends of Israel.

7. Michael Dugher was elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for the Barnsley East constituency at the 2010 General Election.

a. He is the Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, having been appointed as a full member of the Shadow Cabinet in October 2013.

b. He had previously attended the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister without Portfolio since October 2013 and was also Vice-Chair of the Labour Party.

c. Prior to that, Michael was: Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband; Shadow Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology; and briefly a member of the Public Administration Select Committee.

d. Jim Murphy and Michael compiled a document whilst in office setting out the benefits of defence purchasing from Israel

e. He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.
8. Stephen Twigg is the Labour Co-operative MP for Liverpool West Derby and shadow Secretary of State for Education.

a. Openly gay he championed the removal of clause 28 from Schools.

b. He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.