English Tory Interference 171

If it were true that Scottish voters need London’s legal permission to vote on their own future, that would in itself be a strong argument for independence.

As it is, Cameron’s despicable effort to try to use legal pretexts to interfere in the timing and question of Scotland’s independence referendum, is almost certain to backfire. Cameron both with unionist lickspittle Marr yesterday and with Adam Boulton today, kept saying the government will “clarify the legal position” on a referendum.

Cameron’s constitutional knowledge seems worryingly shakey. The government cannot clarify legal positions; that is the role of judges. The government can make legal claims, it can even publish its own legal advice (something it hates doing); but the law is decided by judges. English judges interfering in Scotland’s referendum would of course be no more popular than English Tories.

We will see later today, but I cannot see any possible legal argument that Cameron can use to back his desire to bring the referendum forward to 2012 or 2013 instread of 2014. Why one date can be legally more justified than another is beyond me. Politically, the SNP campaigned very clearly on the basis of a referendum “in the second half” of this Scottish parliament. Salmond is trying to do what he said he would do when he won the election – a rare and praiseworthy thing for a politician.

I also cannot see the legal argument why there should not be a three choice question. Personally I would prefer a two choice question, and my two choices would be more devolution or independence, on the grounds electoral support for “status quo” parties was insignificant. Cameron of course wants two choices, status quo or independence. But plainly Cameron is acting purely politically, to try to boost the chances in both question and timing of status quo winning. Again his claims to be acting on “legal” grounds appear simple tripe.

Has he consulted Scotland’s Lord Advocate? Is this like the infamous decision of Lord Goldsmith to change his mind and argue that the war in Iraq was legal? Goldsmith flew to Washington to consult George Bush’s law officers, but did not ask the view of Scotland’s law officers.

I strongly suspect Cameron’s “legal” pretext is concocted by English lawyers – lineal descendants in office of those who tried Wallace for treason to a man who was never his King.

Most shameful of all is the position of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and their continued slide into unreconstructed unionism. I have explained before how the Liberal party’s very political identity was forged in opposition to unionism, how Gladstone fought a massive battle for Irish Home Rule, how Rosebery helped invent modern Scottish nationalism and Lloyd George fought huge battles for at least partial Irish freedom. Being the antithesis of the “Conservative and Unionist Party” is a vital part of the raison d’etre of liberalism as an independent political force in this country, and why for years organised liberalism survived largely in the Celtic fringes.

The political institutions descended from the old Liberal Party have now been taken over by political careerists with no ideological connection to, or interest in, the beliefs of their predecessors. Their only interest is personal power and income.

When I announced I was leaving the Lib Dems for the SNP, a very senior Lib Dem and friend of long standing tried to persuade me otherwise. I explained the party’s enthusiastic unionism as something completely antithetical to its traditions, something which this individual did indeed understand. He said the party remained strongly federalist. I asked whether that meant it would campaign stongly for the “Devolution max” option in a referendum. He replied that certainly, it would.

Yet we now see the Lib Dems are party to a coalition attempt to use legal pretexts to keep the devolution max option off the ballot paper, let alone campaign for it. The Lib Dems have become, as a party, lying, deceitful, untrustworthy bastards completely alienated from their ideological heritage. The good people remaining captive within the institution should leave now.

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171 thoughts on “English Tory Interference

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  • Dale Martin

    Mary,,,,, I have strong opinions regarding the role of the education system, which I see as little more than mind shaping for the masses, but having no children myself I rarely look into where the education system is going, so Gove was an enigma to me until roughly ten minutes ago. Having read a little on this I like the thought of privatised academies developing within the education system even less than I like the present system, it all has a very Orwellian feel to it, students falling neatly from the conveyor belt into pre-determined packing cases lol

  • Guest

    Anyway, lets get back on thread!. I see no reason why the original act of union cannot be challanged in a court of law, the scottish people never got to vote for it in the first place!!!, the original Act of Union is therefore illegal.

  • Guest

    Come to think about it the english people never got to vote for the original Act of Union!!!.

  • Dale Martin

    Jon,,,,,,, I am not so much countering Scottish nationalism, more countering all nationalism because I think its an issue we all need to get beyond and very much need to address the source of our problems rather dance around the peripheries. London is indeed a problem for Scotland, but in all sincerity I live in Yorkshire and I find London to be a problem for us also. We have got to a point now in this country where the whole system is corrupt, politicians are in the main bought by the large corporations, banks and wealthy self interested parties and for me that is the real issue we should and need to be addressing. We need to take back control of our politicians in this country, we need to insist that a politicians role is rewritten and defined in strong terms to be that of a representative of the people, no more lucrative corporate consultancies, no more corporate political donations and no more all expenses trips and junkets that lets be frank are buying totally imbalanced and undue preferential treatment for those who are paying for them. We don`t have anything resembling a government of the people, by the people, for the people, we have a government firmly of the banks and corporations, by the banks and corporations and for the banks and corporations and until we address that I don`t see any other alterations being made that will change things. Divide the UK into 50 autonomous regions tomorrow and under the present accepted way that politicians are doing business, would the controlling political groups of any of those 50 change and do things any other way? Would the bought and paid for political favours system just go away? Though I understand quite well how many Scottish people would see many advantages in breaking that London stranglehold, in truth I see the true resolution to everyone`s problems arriving through our dropping the nationalism, joining together and taking back our political system itself rather than anyone breaking away from it. We have all in this society stood back and put up with amazing things, they openly admit they don`t actually tell us the truth, they spin it and hire expensive advisors to do so, dear god they openly told us this and we sat there and accepted it. Many of them take on several lucrative consultancies whilst at the same time they are paid for by us to look after out interests, there is no such thing as a company that pays money and does not expect something in return so what on earth do we think is happening when they pay our politicians? But we sit back and watch that happening. Its right at that basic fundamental point in the system that everything goes wrong and that is exactly where it needs to be started to be put right first.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Dale – i take your point. I’m not a fan of nationalism in general either, but the leadership of the SNP’s Scottish nationalism is a far more tolerant version than the version of British nationalism that the leaders of the UK Labour and Conservative party have promoted.

    Independence for Scotland may also show voters in England that the Conservative and Labour party leaderships have been conning them by focusing on the unemployed as if they were the problem rather than on billionaires and big firms and de-regulation as the real ones.

    It could also stop Labour being seen as a ‘Scottish’ party (the Conservatives spent the last 10 years claiming a ‘Scottish mafia’ was running the Labour party and the government, despite the majority of the cabinet being English and most of the Scots in it right rather than left wingers).

    Salmond and the SNP aren’t perfect – i have concerns about Salmond’s view that Scots weren’t opposed to Thatcher’s economic policies only her social ones (i was opposed to both) and about his caving in to Donald Trump on the SSSI. However their policies so far have been far less right wing than the Conservatives or New Labour and they count anyone who chooses to live in Scotland as Scottish.

  • Guest

    “most of the Scots in it right rather than left wingers”
    Hmmm, could you tell me just one that was “left”.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    To the Conservatives and the Daily Mail, Brown was a left-winger because of the minimum wage and tax credits. I agree though that there was no-one who was really from the left of the Labour party in the cabinet under Blair or Brown.

  • OldMark

    ‘after all, we have the assets, they have the liabilities’.

    Vronsky- by ‘assets’ do you mean hydrocarbons ? Well, 75% of North Sea oil & gas reserves have already been extracted, so they’re not exactly a ‘long term’ asset. And you won’t get to keep all the fields north of Berwick in any case. Any division of the North Sea between England & Scotland will follow the line of the border, so the ‘English’ fields will extend (by the time we get to Norwegian waters) up to around 57 degrees North ie at least up to the Fulmar field.Oh, and the pipeline for Norwegian gas goes to Easington, not St Fergus, so your access to that hydrocarbon source will also be subject to negotiation with an English government- unless Edinburgh can persuade Statoil to lay a new pipeline to serve the small, domestic Scotch market.Long odds on that I’d say!

    As for your other ‘assets’, sadly you can expect a few of your famed distilleries to close, once the favourable tax treatment of spirits vis a vis beer & wine (one of Brown’s hidden subsidies to his kin north of the border) is ended by an independent English exchequer.

    As for ‘liabilities’ – care to take on RBoS & HBOS ?

  • Arsene Wenger

    No insult was intended, and I’m not at all sure how you found one (if indeed you did). I was making the point that your attitude (it’s for Westminster to decide if there’s to be devolution) was rather, shall we say, pre-war. You seem to have avoided that, by feigning offence. Perhaps Brus is right about you.

  • Quelcrime

    James Matthews
    The proposal that sixteen year olds should be allowed to take part in the referendum is perfectly reasonable. It’s much more important than electing some politicians for another four or five years. This people are voting on their own nationality. As many people as possible should be allowed their views, especially young people, most of whose lifetimes will be affected.
    If you’re mature enough to join the army or marry or pay taxes, you’re mature enough to vote.
    You may disagree, but the proposal certainly does not deserve contempt.

  • Mary

    According to Tacitus, Calgacus (sometimes Calgacos or Galgacus) was a chieftain of the Caledonian Confederacy who fought the Roman army of Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland in AD 83 or 84. His name can be as interpreted as Celtic *calg-ac-os, “possessing a blade”.
    The only historical source that features him is Tacitus’ Agricola, which describes him as “the most distinguished for birth and valour among the chieftains”. Tacitus wrote a speech which he attributed to Calgacus, saying that Calgacus gave it in advance of the Battle of Mons Graupius. The speech describes the exploitation of Britain by Rome and rouses his troops to fight.
    The following excerpt is from the speech attributed to Calgacus by the historian Tacitus in the Agricola:
    “Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery.
    To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.”
    Wikipedia Calgacus

  • ingo

    ed Milliped yesterday’ any Government coming to power after 2014 will have to cut down and save, they will not have the revenue avaialble today’.

    Well Ed you could start hummin’ and hawin’ about the Lords reform, about a House of Commons of the 400, not 685. How about enticing us with some civil service reforms, not only local Government, but an overblown centrally controlled bureaucracy.

    Dale Martin re: education. A centrally controlled and administered curricullum is not needed, we can easily copy the mistakes made cent6rally, locally, but if its set up in an accountable manner, at least we would be able to rectify the situation. national education targets, performance lists that paly schools off against each other when they should be together, all this can be avoided by giving local schools control over their budget and curricullum. When we look at the state of education then we see what has happened under consequetive Governments that used education as a moralising tool, lever and/or crowbar, the latter Gove’s favourite tool to introduce academies.

    Lest dispense with centralised education policies and require that it is funded, policy making and direction of education is best done by those involved in it,imho. , take the seasonally adjusted interferences out of the lives of heads, teachers and parents. Politicians should refrain talkinjg about education as if its their personal traditional background, of the same morals.
    The interference caused by all these direct national policy changes, notes, directions, guidelines,etc.etc. has interupted schools and universities, it has led to the current state of affairs and has damaged education!
    I could see nothing wrong to introduce a graduate tax to all students, levelled at their ability to pay, but retrospectively to 1970, all that have been educated by the taxpayer should pay a contribution back, including those MP’s who dremt up charging students, this levy should be available for universities, directly, no need to burden the treasury and a way to enpower universities.
    Please forgive my typo’s.

  • TH

    The legality of any referendum is a complete red herring.

    The UK and Scottish Parliaments are based upon a representative system of Government. Unlike the Scandinavian systems, referenda are not legally recognised and no Government is bound by them.

    In recent years Governments have called a referendum when they think they’ll get the result they want. It gives them “the people have spoken” authority to a policy they already want. If it goes against them, they ignore it as they ignored the NE England vote against regionalism (it happened anyway.

    Salmond wants a yes vote and he thinks his best chance is to hold it in a few years time. Cameron wants a no vote and he thinks this is more likely if it held sooner rather than later.

    Legally speaking, nothing has changed and nothing will be legally binding, whatever the outcome.

    These legal arguments are nothing more than good old fashioned politicking, but politically speaking, it’s dynamite.

  • tigger1

    “Any division of the North Sea between England & Scotland will follow the line of the border, so the ‘English’ fields will extend (by the time we get to Norwegian waters) up to around 57 degrees North”

    generally the borders of continental shelf run at right angle to the shore. the border is not the straigth line so which part of the line could be used? final part of Tweed or straight line from Metal Bridge to Berwick. if latter then quite likely on the other side (Irish Sea) it would extend south of IOM

  • Angus

    I can see why the SNP dont want the UK electoral commision to be involved, are there not suspicious circumstances surrounding the Glenrothes by-election, when questions were asked the ballots went walking from the courthouse basement?

    How can we publicise the north sea border shift when it seems all the media in Scotland works for the British state, against Scotlands interests?

  • Mary

    Confusion reigns
    The beginning of the year saw the rolling out of the new housing benefit reforms to existing claimants who were unaffected back in April of last year. More than two years after the details were announced in the commons and debated by the media – and despite a nine-month grace period for those affected to make new arrangements – confusion still reigns.
    There’s anecdotal evidence that letters sent by councils to affected tenants are being disregarded or simply misunderstood. And – despite such a long period of debate – there’s little agreement between pressure groups and the government about the likely effects of one of the most radical welfare reforms in decades.
    The new rules will see entire communities kicked to the curb, or banished to seaside ghettoes with little more than wet sand and melted ice-cream for comfort, pressure groups say. According to the government, exploitative landlords will be the first to suffer, and the net effect will be to make renting more affordable.
    Claimants to feel the pinch
    What’s certain is the vast scale of the reforms. The government’s stated objective is to shave, or rather slash, £18 billion off the welfare bill for the next four years. Half the budget is spent on pensioners, but spending on the elderly is more or less ring-fenced. Any suggestion that the welfare claimants who are left will – individually – notice pressure rather than pain is absurd.
    Under the new rules, the local housing allowance (a weighting system) will be calculated from the 30th percentile of a neighbourhood’s spread of rents rather than the median. To discourage the private rental market from responding with aggressive inflation, the reforms will cap housing benefit at different levels for different sizes of property, from £250 a week for a one-bedroom flat to £400 for a four-bedroom house.
    New research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (for the Guardian newspaper) suggests that more than 800,000 properties will become ‘unaffordable’ under the new rules, a quarter of a million properties in London and the south east. Where will people live? In hopeless, crime-ridden housing benefit ghettos along the seedy Kent coast, they say.
    Threat of homelessness looms


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