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[ Issue 742 - 22nd August 2014 ]

Compiled by
Jim Lynch


As anticipated, SNP activists are very busy working for the Yes Campaign so a few slips here and there.

Brickbats – nae bouquets

Sitting writing this at 5 o’clock on Thursday 21 Aug, while the rain batters down – mistyped that word – became betters! Freudian slip or just carelessness?

This has not been a good week for the Better Together lot. They keep howling about privatisation of the NHS in Scotland being a monstrous lie. I think that Kirsty Wark also took that view when interviewing Alex Salmond. I suspect that what is wrong with them is that they do not understand the significance of the Barnett formula; they are correct to say that the NHS in Scotland is run by the Scottish Government, who are dead against privatisation, so how could it be privatised?

Enter truth, masquerading as common sense; the Scottish allocation of cash from Westminster is governed by the Barnett Formula; we get a proportional share of the total Westminster budget, to be cut next year by £25 billion. The Scottish Government has ring fenced the NHS in Scotland, so as the money is allocated by John Swinney the NHS money will be cut. There are no plans as far as I can see for the Tories to increase public spending, rather the opposite. And as for the term “Barnett consequential” they may think it is a ring road somewhere and they are lost!

And then we have the results of the Future of England survey conducted by Edinburgh and Cardiff universities into the Scottish Referendum. The survey was carried out among 3695 people in England. A majority of 3 to 1 were opposed to independence and said there should not be a currency union if Scotland voted Yes. If a majority voted No then there should be no further powers, Scottish MPs should not be allowed to vote on English matters, and the money to Scotland should be slashed!

For some strange reason this was not raised by the Opposition at First Minister’s Questions, and the issue seems to have been ignored by the Scotsman. I always look at the electronic Scotsman but now they have a block on that – you get headlines but every attempt to get more info results in the screen being blacked out.

Let’s just put the matter straight – no spin required: if we vote Yes they will make life as difficult for us as they can, even if it costs them money (!). If we vote No then we will be kicked from here to Kingdom Come. Fair choice, but needs a bit more thought - by the English. We have obviously offended their amour propre.


Academic comment

Professor Richard Wyn Jones of Cardiff University said

Given the consistent No lead in all recent opinion polls, there has been surprisingly little scrutiny of what the pro-union parties are promising after a No victory.

Scotland has been promised that it can maintain its current advantageous position in terms of per capita public spending, and that there will be no change in the status of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

But English voters clearly do not support this.

There is strong English support for reducing levels of public spending in Scotland to the UK average – a development that would lead to savage cuts in public services north of the border. There is also overwhelming English support for limiting the role of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

The question for Scottish voters is whether they can rely on pledges about the consequences of a No vote, when such pledges do not seem to be supported in the largest and most politically important part of the union? The truth of the matter is that the English appear in no mood to be particularly accommodating however the Scots choose to vote in their independence referendum.


Liberal moves

Very welcome news, Michael Foxley, Liberal former leader of Highland Council has now joined the Yes Campaign. In the same week, John Barrett, former Liberal MP for Edinburgh West has also come out for Yes. The move is on, and will only accelerate – four weeks and the momentum for Yes is building.

Come to think of it, that answers the Future of England conundrum.

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Thursday 21st August 2014

Writing today in the Edinburgh Evening News former MP for Edinburgh West John Barrett has announced he will be voting Yes in the referendum on Scottish Independence on September the 18th.

Colin Keir MSPMSP for Edinburgh Western Colin Keir said: “I warmly welcome John Barrett’s decision to vote Yes on September 18th. John has seen that Westminster cannot bring about the changes Scotland requires to deliver a socially just and prosperous society.

Given John’s senior position in the Scottish Liberal Democrats it must have been a tough decision to oppose his party leadership. It’s been obvious for some time that there are many in his party who are disillusioned and have made the journey to Yes. His personal journey follows in the footsteps of other prominent Edinburgh Liberal Democrats such as Andy Myles the former LibDem Chief Executive and Former Councillor and Planning Convener Jim Lowrie.

Yes Scotland isn’t just the SNP; it’s a grass roots campaign with people from many political parties and none. As a fellow campaigner in the Yes movement I look forward to campaigning with John as we seek a better future for our country.”

Thursday 21 Aug 14

Dave Thompson SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch has welcomed the news that The Glen Gloy section of the A82 is set to receive more than a million pounds to carry out essential major repairs, after severe damage was caused by a landslip, resulting in temporary traffic lights being in operation since 2011.

The project will involve the realignment of a 300 metre stretch of the road through land uphill from the gorge and will improve driving conditions by taking away two of the bends through this narrow section of the A82.

Dave Thompson MSPIn welcoming the news, Mr Thompson said:

“This is excellent news. The land required to move the road away from the unstable river gorge has been purchased and the ground investigation works have been completed”.

Dave went on:

“This section on the A82 is a well known uphill zigzag of bends. This work will not only resolve the landslip issue but will also straighten, widen and generally improve this section of the road.

“I look forward to the contractor being announced by Transport Scotland and it is great news that the work will be completed within 8-9 months”.


Transport Scotland

More than a million pounds is to be invested to carry out major repairs and improve the A82 at Glen Gloy where a landslip caused severe damage to the riverbank supporting the road.
The A82 has been operating under temporary traffic lights since the slip in 2011. This has prevented further damage to the road and ensured it was safe for all road users
Since that time, Transport Scotland has been working to find a way of repairing the A82 without having to close it completely. Substantial progress has been made during that period. Ground investigation works have been completed, the land needed to allow the road to be realigned has been purchased and the detailed design for the new stretch of road is being finalised.
Formal notices advising of the proposed new construction will be published on 21st August on the Transport Scotland website, local press and Edinburgh Gazette. Subject to no objections this will be one further statutory process completed.

Head of Network Maintenance for Transport Scotland, Graham Edmond said:

“We are now in the welcome position of starting the process to appoint a contractor to carry-out the work required to fully re-open the A82 at Glen Gloy.

“This is a complicated project which will involve the realignment of a 300 metre stretch of the road through land uphill from the gorge. It will also improve driving conditions by taking away two of the bends through this narrow section of the A82.

“We aim to have a contractor in place to start the work by the beginning of next year. The exact timescales will be finalised following the appointment of a contractor and completion of the designs.’’

“A huge thanks goes to the communities in the area for their patience while our investigation work has been on-going. During this time, we considered a number of solutions, but some of these would have needed the complete closure of A82 for several months. The construction method for the project will allow the goods and services to continue using A82 during the works, keeping the North West Highlands and the islands open for business.

“It is important that the community are kept informed of this work as it moves forward and further information will be provided when the contractor has been appointed.”

Chairman of Spean Bridge, Roybridge and Achnacarry Community Council, John Fotheringham said:

“The news that a contractor could soon be appointed for this major repair will be very welcome in the community. We look forward to completion of the works in Spring 2015, which will return two way traffic and remove some of the bends through the glen. This will make that length of road safer for all drivers.”


During the high winds and heavy rain experienced on the morning of Saturday 26th November 2011, a landslip occurred below the A82 in Glen Gloy. This resulted in the failure and collapse of the southbound verge, the wall and section of slope directly adjacent to the road. As a result, southbound lane was immediately closed to prevent vehicle loading directly above the edge of the slip. Temporary traffic signals were installed to permit single-lane traffic flow.

A number of permanent solutions were considered, some of which would have needed the complete closure of A82 for several months for construction. Transport Scotland decided therefore that the best solution would be one which did not require full closure of A82 for its construction. An offline, 300 m long carriageway realignment further away from the river gorge was therefore selected, which would eliminate two of the bends through this narrow section of the A82.

Transport Scotland is the Scottish Government’s national transport agency responsible for; aviation, bus, freight and taxi policy; coordinating the National Transport Strategy for Scotland; ferries, ports and harbours; impartial travel services; liaising with regional transport partnerships, including monitoring of funding; local roads policy; major public transport projects; national concessionary travel schemes; rail and trunk road networks; sustainable transport, road safety and accessibility; the Blue Badge Scheme. Transport Scotland is an Executive agency accountable to Scottish Ministers.

Thursday 21st August 2014

Scotland’s vast wealth gives us the opportunity to tackle inequality and make the country a fairer place, an SNP MSP has said today – echoing comments made yesterday by Professor Joseph Stiglitz.

The First Minister has today pointed out that Scotland will be the wealthiest nation ever to declare independence – following on from an intervention by Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz who said that Scotland would have more success in tackling inequality than the rest of the UK – highlighting that Scotland takes a “different view from say the Cameron Conservative policies...”.

The UK is currently one of the most unequal countries in the developed world – and Westminster’s welfare cuts could see up to 100,000 more children in Scotland pushed into poverty by 2020 and 100,000 disabled people lose their disability benefits.

Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:

Jamie Hepburn MSP“Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world – richer per head than France, Japan and the UK as a whole – and yet thousands more people will find themselves pushed into poverty as a result of Westminster’s austerity agenda.

“Westminster’s welfare cuts could push 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty – and are penalising some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“But as Professor Joseph Stiglitz said yesterday, Scotland has a different outlook from the Westminster establishment – and has the political will to truly tackle inequality and make our country a fairer place.

“A Yes vote next month is our one opportunity to rid ourselves of the Westminster establishment and its obsession with austerity – creating a welfare state that is a springboard to a better life, creating new and better jobs here in Scotland and to protect our NHS from the Tories’ privatisation and cuts agenda.”

Salmond: iScotland would be wealthiest country in world to become independent:

More information on Professor Stiglitz’ intervention can be found here:

Details of the 100,000 disabled people in Scotland who could lose access to benefits as a result of the introduction of Personal Independence Payments can be found here:

Wednesday 20 August 2014

A report by the Economic and Social Research Council making clear that an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU “is not in any serious doubt” has been welcomed today.

The report make clear the need to differentiate between scaremongering made as part of the referendum campaign and the reality that would occur after a Yes vote, point out that “accentuating uncertainty over Scotland’s EU position is a key strategy of the Better Together campaign”

Clare Adamson MSPThe report also states that the UK will work to ensure Scotland’s place in the EU because “of widespread agreement that it would be in the interests of the people of the UK to see an independent Scotland admitted to the European Union, it is likely that both governments will, in the event of a Yes vote, work to facilitate Scotland’s membership of the European Union.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Clare Adamson said:

“Reports like today’s findings from the Economic and Social Research Council pose real problems for the No campaign as once again ill-judged scare stories are found to be utterly hollow.

“Indeed, as this academic report points out, talking up uncertainty is a ‘key strategy’ of the anti-independence campaign.

“No matter how much the No campaign tries to manufacture fears and uncertainty, they are fooling absolutely nobody.

“The conclusion of these academic experts that Scotland’s place in the EU is ‘not in any serious doubt’ is welcome backing for our common sense position on why an independent Scotland will clearly be a part of the EU.

“Indeed the real threat to Scotland’s place in Europe comes from Westminster’s moves towards an in-out referendum that threatens to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will – something that only a Yes vote is guaranteed to prevent.”

The Scottish Government’s common-sense position on continued EU membership is supported by a number of experts
• The UK’s own legal adviser, Professor James Crawford: “Well, the Scottish estimate is about 18 months, and that seems realistic.” [Radio 4 - Today Programme - 11 Feb 13]
• Sir David Edward, British Judge of the European Court of Justice 1992-2004: “The simple fact is that there will be a gap between a vote for independence and the moment of separation. My point is that, during that period, there will be an obligation to negotiate a solution that does not lead to the absurd result that is being suggested.” - Oral evidence given to EERC, 23 January 2014
• Sir David Edward again: “All the recent discussion presupposes that nothing happens until the moment of separation. My simple argument is that is absurd. There is in EU law an obligation on the UK and all other EU member states and institutions to negotiate the terms of the relationship between Scotland, the rest of the UK and the EU after Scottish independence,” – Financial Times, 2 Dec 13
• Professor Keating Professor of Politics, University of Aberdeen & Director, ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change: “The objection that for a while Scotland would be outside the European Union before negotiating to go in, I think is unrealistic…I think it’s in nobody’s interests to create a hole in the single market and disrupt all relationships between Scotland and the EU simply to put these back in place again” - Evidence to the European and External Relations Committee, 5 Dec 13
• Bernard Savage, a senior diplomat in the EU’s External Action Service:“We believe in democracy and that the Scottish people have the right to decide for themselves if they wish to remain in Britain or become independent.”
• Mr Savage was also highly critical of President Barosso’s claims and added: “Spain will not vote to remove our fishing grounds from the EU's biggest and best fleet”
• Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Professor of European Law and Human Rights at Oxford University said, "despite assertions to the contrary from UK lawyers, EU lawyers and EU officials, any future independent Scotland's EU membership should be assured, and its transition from EU membership (as a) part of the UK, to EU membership (as an) independent Scotland relatively smooth and straightforward."-Research paper, 7 July
• Professor Stephen Tierney, Professor of Constitutional Theory, University of Edinburgh and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law: “Scotland’s situation is also different from those states which joined from outside the European Union with no history of membership and no pre-existing compliance with EU obligations…the lengthy and involved process associated with Article 49 might well be considered unsuitable for Scotland’s accession since Scotland is already part of a member state, meet the Copenhagen criteria and is fully compliant with the acquis communautaire.” – Written evidence to the EERC Committee, 16 Jan 2014
• Yves Gounin, formerly chief of staff to the French minister for European Affairs, and currently a Conseiller d’État, a member of the legal body providing official legal advice to the French Government supports negotiating EU membership from within - “The legal argument put forward by the European Commission is not compelling. Even if texts do not expressly provide for this scenario, a realistic and effective solution needs to be found in practice to the possibility of a territory of a member state gaining independence…The most reasonable solution would be to negotiate independence and European Union membership simultaneously.” - Article in Politique Étrangère, 6 Jan 14
• Laura Cram, professor of European politics at Edinburgh University, told the European External Relations Committee that "A general preference for continuity within the EU machine is what we have seen historically when there are transitions.” Press Association, 16 Jan 14
• Professor Cram went on to say that "While we are talking about a lengthy, lengthy period of time, potentially, until all of the ends are tied up and a final membership package agreed, the notion that Scotland would somehow be out in the cold and floating in that interim period, even if it were to come entirely as an applicant state, would be considered unusual in the EU context.” PA, 16 Jan 14


Wednesday 20th August 2014

The largest study of poverty ever conducted in the UK has shown Westminster’s record of failure on poverty and inequality – highlighting the need to take the opportunity to make Scotland a fairer country with a Yes vote next month.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom project has shown that around one in three people in Scotland cannot afford to heat their homes properly in winter – meaning that 350,000 children live in cold homes during the winter months.

The study also shows that 30,000 children in Scotland live in families who cannot afford to feed them properly – and that a quarter of adults surveyed have cut back on food to allow other others in the household to eat properly.

After a Yes vote the Scottish Government has set out plans for a fairer welfare system – including a guarantee that benefits would rise in line with inflation and that the Work Capability Assessment and the current sanctions regime should be scrapped.

Linda Fabiani MSPThe Scottish Government has also published plans to reindustrialise Scotland – creating new and better jobs in communities which have long been abandoned by Westminster.

Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:

“This new report is a damning indictment of the Westminster establishment’s disgraceful record on poverty and inequality – and with the Tories’ punitive cuts agenda continuing to bite the situation is only going to get worse.

“That so many people in a country as wealthy as Scotland are unable to afford the basics like enough food to eat is an absolute disgrace - and for 30,000 children in Scotland to be living in families who can’t afford to feed them properly is simply heartbreaking.

“People in Scotland are waking up to the consequences of a No vote – meaning more welfare cuts for some of our most vulnerable people and risks to our NHS budget from Westminster’s privatisation and cuts agenda.

“Next month’s referendum is our one opportunity to make our country a fairer, more prosperous place – where Scotland’s vast wealth is used to benefit everyone who lives and works here – and where vulnerable people are supported rather than punished by an out of touch Westminster establishment.”

Further information can be found here:

The Scottish Government’s plans for a fairer welfare system can be found here:

The Scottish Government’s reindustrialisation plans can be found here:



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