Archive for Scottish Independence

Dave is throwing himself to the Lion!

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by Tom Leatherbarrow

The Prime Minister just got slapped down on the BBC.

It’s something I suspect we are going to have to get used to over the coming years.

Gordon Brown made a lot of mistakes, but he also got a lot right, bailing out the banks in October 2008 and not allowing Blair to join the Euro immediately spring to mind, but there is also another trap which he had the wiles never to fall into. He never, ever went up to Scotland and publicly took on Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, toe to toe!

The current Prime Minister is a confident man and the Number 10 Press Office has obviously felt able to trail his speech in Edinburgh today on the future of the United Kingdom and the Scottish Referendum on Independence with plenty of leaked soundbites.

He will say we are “stronger and richer together”. He will go on: “I think we have a fairer country, a better country, a richer country with all of us together. But I wouldn’t ever threaten people in Scotland or say they can’t do what they want to do. I’ll just be appealing as someone who loves the United Kingdom, who loves our shared home.”

All very nice, but then he makes a huge mistake that Salmond has already leapt on. “We’re stronger, because together we count for more in the world, with a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, real clout in NATO and Europe and unique influence with allies all over the world.”

Oh dear, oh dear. This is Salmond’s response, the words of a consumate politician who understands his electorate and their concerns. Read on or watch it HERE. I warn you from abourt 46 seconds in it is men against boys stuff!

“I was arguing about progressive policies, to bring jobs to the people and prosperity, he’s talking about being on the Security Council of the United Nations. Now no doubt that is important but believe me that doesn’t mean much to someone with disability or someone fearing the loss of benefits; a young person looking for a job in Scotland. I think the Prime Minister had better understand that Scottish politics is about a positive vision for the future; it’s about people not prestige.”

One nil to Salmond. At this rate it will all be over by half time.

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The big story from the local elections

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on May 6, 2011 by Tom Leatherbarrow

Today’s Big news is not the LibDems getting kicked in the local elections or what it means for the future of the coalition or what it means for Nick Clegg’s future as Deputy Prime Minister. Neither is it the large numbers of new Labour councillors that have been elected in what appears like a half decent night for Ed Milliband.

The big story today is in Scotland and what it may mean for the future of the United Kingdom. For Alex Salmond to pull off a second term at Holyrood despite the electoral system up there being stacked against him (they use a form of AV, oh the irony!) is an achievement. For him to be in sight of an overall majority which could allow him to have a referendum on independence is earth-shattering.

If you consider that a mere two years ago Salmond was on the rocks having hung his hat on creating a banking “Arc of Prosperity” along with Iceland – only for Royal Bank of Scotland to pull the entire UK almost singlehandedly into penury – his comeback is astonishing. During the General Election campaign last year I met James Cook of the BBC and asked him whether Salmond was still in ‘Father of the Nation’ mode North of the Border. James was succinct in his answer. “Don’t underestimate him,” he told me “of all the party leaders he is the most skilled.” How right James was and you can bet your hat that Salmond is confident now that he can hold a referendum on his long-cherished dream of independence.

There will be many English today who take the view “let them see if they can survive without us”. It would certainly be interesting with the majority of the Scottish population employed in public sector and not wealth creating jobs. What’s more we must ask the question whether the Scots would want to go it on their own without the benefit of the Barnett Formula which currently allocates more than £1,500 of public money per person more for Scotland than England.

But, there are issues for the English as well. What would happen to our place on the United Nations Security Council? Would there still be a British Army, bearing in mind that a large proportion of our manpower is taken from North of the Border? What would happen to our renewable energy policy, bearing in mind that some of our biggest wind farms are situated off the coast of Scotland and tidal power is almost completely based up there?

I don’t have answers to these questions, but if anyone thinks that Salmond’s gains are purely a matter for the Scots then think again.