Time for Nicola to Pick a Fight 276


It is time for straight talking. Philip Hammond stated the plain truth when he said that Scotland could not have a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK. It is true as a simple technical truth, as I explained. If the UK leaves the EU, the only way for Scotland to remain a member is Independence. Frankly anybody who understands the first thing about the subject knows that and it is actually helpful for Hammond to explain it. I have no doubt that May gave Sturgeon the same message today. By proclaiming commitment to Unionism in the first sentence of her first speech in Number 10, and then immediately coming to Edinburgh, May could not have made her position clearer. Further there is no doubt that Hammond would have cleared his unequivocal statement with May before he made it.

If I can forsake honesty and straightforwardness, and try to channel Machiavelli, I can make out a case for Nicola Sturgeon to initiate a time-consuming – and expensive – process of entering extensive consultations to try to find a way that Scotland can effectively remain in both the EU and the UK, even though I have no doubt whatsoever that Sturgeon, who is not stupid, knows as well as I do that this is an impossibility. That Machiavellian argument goes like this – “We know it is impossible for Scotland to continue EU membership still within the UK if the UK leaves, but we must be seen to have explored all avenues so that unionists will be persuaded that independence is the only option left.”

But here are four arguments against that:

1) Pitching independence as a very bad option, only to be taken if no others are available, is not a good sales technique
2) Wasting European politicians’ time asking for an impossible “part of UK” arrangement will erode the initial surge of sympathetic support for Scotland’s democratic desire to remain in the EU, which sympathy has been strongly felt in Europe
3) Sturgeon has appointed an “expert panel” to advise her with a massive establishment and neo-liberal bias and a unionist majority, containing just a single radical thinker, Alan Mille.
4) We are witnessing the final implosion of the British Empire with the Westminster bubble detested and politics in a state of flux. There could be no more auspicious time to launch a new push for Independence. This is not the time for temporising.

The appointment of such an establishment “expert panel” really does worry me. You can guarantee that this panel is not going to recommend that Scotland leaves the UK in order to obtain a continuing or expedited membership of the EU. Three are former FCO colleagues of mine. They happen to all be people I like, but I don’t dislike people for their politics. You could not get a more solid establishment man than Lord John Kerr. He is on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, for Christ’s sake. David Frost as CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association actively campaigned against independence. Mariot Leslie is sound and pro-Indy but not radical.

Bluntly the composition of this panel worries me that Nicola Sturgeon is seeking not to push forward for independence and does not want an Indyref2. Why else would you appoint a representative of the steering committee of Bilderberg to your expert panel, together with fistfuls of other uber-establishment figures? For me, it says a lot about Sturgeon that she has chosen to advise her a group of people almost all of whom are used to six figure incomes and whose average income is well over £200,000 p.a.

Stuart Campbell hit the nail – as so often – on the head when he suggested that actually Hammond’s position should be a gift which Sturgeon accepts. It is extremely helpful that Westminster states Scotland can only be a member of the EU if it leaves the UK. It is true, and it is a choice the Scottish people must be offered to sort out the two incompatible referendum results. In a choice between the EU and Tory Westminster – a far clearer choice than Indyref1 – I am confident how the vote will go. For Heaven’s sake, Nicola, quit messing around with your entirely voluntary association with the Bilderberg Group and go for the referendum.


276 thoughts on “Time for Nicola to Pick a Fight

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  • Tony M

    Did I mis-hear or did Erdogan say (twice) the coup originates from Pennsylvania? Pennsylvania what!

  • Dennis Nicholson

    Inclined to agree with this. There will never – in the foreseeable future – be a better time or a better reason to go for it. It is also hard to imagine that, with a Yes majority in Holyrood and 56 SNP supporting MPs at Westminster, we will ever be in a stronger position than we are now. I keep hoping NS knows this and intends to act soonish, but sometimes I also worry I could be wrong…

  • Brian

    The panel should be negotiating all aspects of Scotland leaving the UK as quickly & painlessly as possible to maintain continuity with EU membership. Indyref2 should be triggered with Article 50 date announcement & be held within 12 months or less to ensure business confidence.

  • Keith Farrell

    I agree, it is impossible for us to remain in both. However.
    The Unionists need to see the SNP as doing everything possible. We also need to make sure that independance support is stronger. At the moment 59%. I cannot understand why I keep seeing so called independance voters positing anti independance scare stories. Sharing that sort of stuff only scares stupid people. So let’s not scare them and not share anti independance crap. Leave that up to the newspapers and BBC. When you see such posts. Comment with the truth. Fight the stupid. ??
    Every single scare story falls apart as soon as you put a little research into it.
    Think about it. If Scotland is such a burden to the English tax payer. Why the hell is the wicked witch trying to enforce the union. Simple!!! Without Scotland and all our wealth England is bankrupt. There is no black hole in our debt. As regards the national debt. It is not ours. According to law it remains with England. Don’t believe me? Explain and prove how much national debt Ireland took. Answer!!! NONE.
    Our independance is the best for Scotland. Our exports will then be put against our own account, not England’s.

    • fred

      “There is no black hole in our debt. As regards the national debt. It is not ours. According to law it remains with England. Don’t believe me? Explain and prove how much national debt Ireland took. Answer!!! NONE.”

      But Ireland was legally obliged to pay their share of UK public debt. Article 5 of the Anglo Irish Treaty 1921 clearly states:

      “(5) The Irish Free State shall assume liability for the service of the Public Debt of the United Kingdom as existing at the date hereof and towards the payment of war pensions as existing at that date in such proportion as may be fair and equitable, having regard to any just claims on the part of Ireland by way of set-off or counter-claim, the amount of such sums being determined in default of agreement by the arbitration of one or more independent persons being citizens of the British Empire.”

      So why didn’t they pay? Because they couldn’t, Ireland was broke, destitute. Their reasons for not paying stated here:

      “In our negotiations we went on one issue alone, and that was our ability to pay. Not a single penny of a counter-claim did we put up. We cited the condition of affairs in this country—250,000 occupiers of uneconomic holdings, the holdings of such a valuation as did not permit of a decent livelihood for the owners; 212,000 labourers, with a maximum rate of wages of 26s. a week: with our railways in a bad condition, with our Old Age Pensions on an average, I suppose, of 1s. 6d. a week less than is paid in England or in Northern Ireland, with our inability to fund the Unemployment Fund, with a tax on beer of 20s. a barrel more than they, with a heavier postage rate. That was our case.”

      Ireland was a basket case unable to pay what they legally owed.

      Is this what the Nationalists want for Scotland?

      • MBC

        It was a basket case because of centuries of English misrule. Hardly an advert for union with England, was it?

        • fred

          You can’t just keep blaming everything on Westminster.

          Northern Ireland stayed in the UK and wasn’t a basket case. Southern Ireland left the UK and immediately became a basket case. The cause of Southern Ireland becoming a basket case was their leaving the UK. It’s simple logic.

          • defo

            Of course it was the pixies who have been sneaking into Hansard, and making our policies these last few centuries.
            ffs. Now your in denial.
            I know what is simple, and that’s logic.

  • Kevin Taylor

    Good post, Craig.

    You say you can ‘guarantee’ that this panel isn’t going to recommend etc. I’m convinced. But surely someone as politically and tactically astute as the FM, and her brilliant ministers – Salmond, Wishart, Robertson, Whitford etc – are all equally convinced? I can’t imagine, Alex Salmond, for example, missing a trap as glaring as the one you describe. Either the FM knows something we all don’t or she’s simply exercising her right to keep her friends close and her enemies closer.

  • Tom

    It’s a double bind and the question is: Will May be the prime minister who broke up the Union or the one who took the UK out of the EU?
    My guess is that May puts the Union first and will be working towards some kind of associate EU membership, which keeps most people happy – major changes but without a burning of bridges. The EU would also save face as they would have kept us on board in some way.

  • john campbell gillies

    As a Scott living most of my working life in Germany ,and still there resident , one would think that travelling the world would have furthered the English view of things , its not an easy thing to explain but just why is it that most of the europeans would welcome Scotland with open arms , not just because of all the tourist stuff yes because they do see a good possibiltay of it succeeding, through hard work and a dam good first minister ,

    • Whatever (aka Alcyone): It's the Economy Stupid

      Btw, where does she find all the money to dress as she does, and different dress every day? Is she on Hillary’s payroll?

      • Dunroamin

        Newsflash, all us females in senior positions have a different outfit everyday which gets rotated, just like the FM. Be great if we could throw on a suit

  • David

    Of course timing is an issue. This panel of experts seems to be travelling at a normal UK bureaucratic speed and has already been overtaken by our Tory overlords. They are unembarrassed in their ability to flout and condense the democratic process in their selection of a new leader when there are more important Tory survivalist things to do than get embroiled in a long drawn out internal spat. I expect some of the advisors on the Nicola committee might take a long time to do their research and read the briefing papers and she needs to find a way to accelerate it.

    I don’t, however, fully agree with your assessment that the unionists and NO 2014 voters on the panel all add up to sabotage. Any intelligent assessment surely has to conclude that it is a black and white choice of Scotland in the UK or Scotland in the EU whichever option they, as individuals, then choose to support going forward.

  • Norrie Hunter

    If Sturgeon does not announce a second referendum now we will see an uprising of anti establishment feeling that will fuel attempts for UDI. As austerity hits harder it may feel for many the last thing left

  • michael norton

    When you leave the United Kingdom,
    you can keep trident ( AND PAY FOR IT)

  • michael norton

    If Nicola can’t drum up much support for staying in the hated European Empire,
    she could try playing the Trident card?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-36814879
    Anti-Trident demonstrations are taking place across Scotland ahead of Monday’s House of Commons vote on whether to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

    Thousands of people are attending 36 protests in cities and towns including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Dumfries.

    It is understood the UK government has no plans to move the missile system from Faslane on the Clyde.

    The Scottish government opposes Trident and the storing of nuclear weapons.

    Former prime minister David Cameron said Trident was an “essential deterrent” to both Britain’s security and the overall security of Nato.

    The Scottish Scrap Trident Coalition, which organised the rallies, said about 7,000 people had attended.
    What Nicola must bare in mind though is
    she could scupper many jobs ( Royal Navy & Shipbuilding) in Scotland.

    • David Smith

      That’ll be all those jobs that have made Helensburgh such a boom town, eh..?

  • George

    It’s delicate. I think NS realises she must at least give the illusion of exploring every avenue. Going headlong for indyref2 without apparently covering other bases could alienate wavering former no voters. In other words, her timing for the 2nd referendum will be crucial.

  • Nasir Ali

    I don’t understand why you are so unwilling to accept that Sturgeon is as much a neoconservative as Ben or Blair.

    • Tony M

      Because she isn’t. She’s Glasgow lass with far far more brains and courage than your average bozo.

  • A2

    “1) Pitching independence as a very bad option, only to be taken if no others are available, is not a good sales technique”

    Isthat actually pitching it as a bad option though?

    Here’s our top of the range model it’s got all the bells and whistles – £200, here’s the newest model , we have an offer on, actually a more powerful motor with the same functions you want the thing for in the first place, It just doesn’t have the useless options that you’ll never use £100. 🙂

  • Richard Gadsden

    From my perspective, as an English Remainer, I’m hoping that May is going to say that the UK wll have to stay in the EU if it is to keep Scotland in the Union, and therefore she will stay in to preserve the Union.

  • Tom Platt

    My English roots are, I think, starting to drag me back a little. I have always been for a much fairer settlement for Scotland ..since the idealistic days of the late fifties and early sixties. The then Liberals had a Home Rule policy that attracted me and kept my active support and participation through the seventies, eighties, nineties and noughties. But the Clegg take over of the LibDems created a Home Rule vacuum at a crucial time. I lost patience with them and joined YES. First Alex’s and then Nicola’s approach has been spot on for me. I suppose that when push comes to shove, I trust her judgment even more than I trust Craig Murray’s or Alex Salmond’s. AS FM she now has a much better overview of the position.

  • Donald laing

    This is a valid opinion, is it better to strike while the iron is hot. The longer this goes on the more people accept the situation. Committees are not renowned for getting things moving

  • Jim Matheson

    You talk of your radicalness ( a word spellchecker doesn’t recognise!), the FM’s choice of candidates for an expert panel and their establishment connections. Yet, you don’t suggest that the executive that controls Holyrood is as much neo-liberal as the party’s that have governed this island for almost 40 years.

  • michael norton

    If it really is time now for Ms. Nicola Sturgeon to go for broke, she ought to be careful of that she wishes for, I’ll explain.

    If Nicola goes for a second Scottish freedom from the United Kingdom Referendum
    on the grounds that it is in the better interest of the Scottish people to remain in the European Union, she might want to think on about unemployment.
    The unemployment rate in France is close to 11% and rising.
    In the U.K. it is less than 5% and dropping.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36844302

    After the last few days of horror in France they have extended the state of emergency, again, for the fourth time
    since Charlie Hebdo, it is currently going to extended till next Spring.

    So does Ms. Nicola Sturgeon go for Independence now before thing get worse on the continent or does she wait a few years to see if things improve?

    Now that is a hard one.

    The UK unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9%, the lowest since July 2005, according to official figures.

  • michael norton

    SCOTTISH offshore wind PRETTY MUCH DEAD, former minister claims
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36842758
    A former energy minister has claimed “offshore wind in Scotland is pretty much dead” after a legal challenge against four major projects.

    A judge upheld RSPB Scotland’s challenge to consent for turbines in the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay.

    Brian Wilson said the charity now “hold all the cards” over the schemes, which were to include hundreds of turbines.

    The Scottish government said it remained “committed” to renewable energy but wanted to study the ruling.

    The four projects – Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo – were approved by Scottish ministers in October 2014, and could power more than 1.4 million homes.

    RSPB Scotland lodged a legal challenge, saying the turbines could have “serious implications” for wildlife, and argued that the government had breached legal requirements when making the original decision by not giving proper consideration to this.

    Judge Lord Stewart ruled in favour of the charity, calling the consents “defective”, meaning ministers will have to reconsider the planning decisions and address the points put forward by the RSPB’s lawyers.
    ‘Serious setback’

    Former Labour MP and UK energy minister Mr Wilson, a longtime critic of the SNP’s energy policy, said the legal challenge was an “extremely serious setback”.

    He said: “On the face of it, offshore wind in Scotland is pretty much dead. The RSPB now hold all the cards.

    “They were forced into this comprehensive action because the Scottish government delayed consent and then clustered these four wind farms together, so the RSPB went to court on the basis of cumulative impact.

    “What they have to decide is if they want to kill all four schemes or prepare to take a more balanced view, but the ball is in the RSPB’s court without a doubt.”

  • michael norton

    ITALY will DESTROY the hated EUROPEAN EMPIRE
    Warning as Italian referendum to spark euro economic APOCALYPSE
    ITALY is on the brink of financial and political meltdown as the leader of the Eurozone’s third-largest economy tinkers on the edge of career suicide, plunging the already beleaguered European Union into fresh chaos.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/691326/Italy-prime-minister-Matteo-Renzi-political-financial-break-down-Eurozone-European-Union
    If his proposals are defeated, opposition parties who are determined to push forward a breakaway from Brussels, and with Brexit increasing anti-EU sentiment across the continent, they will prepare for a fight to topple the union.

    The autumn vote is about major constitutional change to Rome’s notoriously slow and costly system of government.

    • michael norton

      So Scotland wants to become free of the United Kingdom so it can become part of the collapsing E.U.
      Greece is in trouble, Ireland is in trouble, Spain is in trouble, France is in trouble, Portugal is in trouble, Cyprus is in trouble & Belgium is in trouble.

      It does seem a bizarre strategy Nicola, jumping from a known Union of 300 plus years with an unemployment 5% into a maelstrom of uncertainty.

  • michael norton

    “swift and thorough”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-36826048
    Perhaps Ms. Nicola Sturgeon should pick a fight will Alex Salmond?

    The cost of the inquiry into the Edinburgh trams fiasco has exceeded £3.7m, BBC Scotland has learned.

    The probe is investigating what went wrong with the £776m project which went massively over-budget and was completed five years later than planned.

    It was established in June 2014 by Alex Salmond, then first minister, who said it would be “swift and thorough”.

    A spokesman for the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry said it was making “good progress”.

    However they were unable to say when Lord Hardie, who is leading the inquiry, was due to report its findings.

    The spokesman said: “The Scottish ministers have been clear from the start that the inquiry should be timely and cost effective.

    • michael norton

      What a way to run a railway,
      they wouldn’t have been allowed to get away with it under Mussolini

      • michael norton

        Former teachers guilty of abusing boys at Fife residential school
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/scotland
        The headmaster and teacher of a former Fife school have been convicted of physical and sexual abuse against six pupils more than 30 years ago.

        John Farrell, 73, of Motherwell, was found guilty of four charges and Paul Kelly, 64, of Plymouth, was convicted of seven charges.

        They abused boys aged between 11 and 15 at St Ninian’s in Falkland, a school for children from troubled backgrounds.

    • Tony M

      The trams are excellent, a real asset to Edinburgh, they should have been, might still be extended (more cheaply) out to Leith, possibly also in the other direction, beyond the airport, out to the industrial zones of West Lothian, Livingston possibly which no no railway serves.

      Their mismanagement and incompetence by the then Labour-run (red Tory) Edinburgh Council is of epic proportions, the contract a legal means for the private contractors to extort ever more money for the project, as it progressed. A less substantial installation as was first envisaged, with much less depth of foundation along the track-bed, got talked up and grew inexorably, without consideration of the multi-agency crisis that would result from the disruption and relocation of underground services, water mains, telecommunications, electricity, gas, and sewerage pipe passage, some of which down there for centuries and in parts sparsely documented.

      It really does take some cheek when huge capital projects all over England and particularly within (and on the M25) were paid for by expropriation of, by outright theft of Scotland’s national resources.

      The piffling costs of the enquiry set alongside the actual costs of the tram installation and cars, is insignificant, and if the inquiry can result in improvement throughout Scotland in all aspects of how such projects are carried out, from giving firm but not entirely inflexible specifications, in robust contract drafting that protects public interests, in inter-agency co-operation and in professional execution of public works sensitively, whether taking place in the wilds of the countryside, on the coast, or through the heart of vast city such as Edinburgh.

      Are you really a Brit-nat Michael? Or a you just a hater, fixated on putting down Scotland and the Scots for no discernible reason? It’s the losing side you know, these bitter patronising, downright fucking insulting and purely malicious comments, whatever cause they serve, you serve your masters wittingly or not, a complete sap, you’re a fake and a phoney, your comments they’re completely counter-productive and serve only to hasten independence. I advise you to carry on in the same vein, making a fool of yourself in the process.

  • michael norton

    Something for Ms.Nicola Sturgeon to think about
    Oil now at lowest price since beginning of May
    under 46$/barrel

  • michael norton

    Ms Nicola Sturgeon
    suggested a “reverse-Greenland” solution could be found over Brexit to appease Scotland,
    Wales and Northern Ireland, with each part of the UK having a different relationship with the EU.

    After Greenland won home rule from Denmark in 1979, the Arctic territory later withdrew from the European Economic Community – the EU’s predecessor – while Denmark itself remained a member of the bloc.

    Greenland continues to retain some ties with the EU via its links with Denmark.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/692268/Nicola-Sturgeon-Brexit-Article-50-veto-Holyrood-parliament-vote-British-Irish-Council
    That’s seems bonkers Nicola.

    • michael norton

      Note to Ms. Nicola Sturgeon,

      Oil has dropped another 2 1/4% just today.

      Now below 45$/barrel

      this will make many Scottish wells unviable?

      • Tony M

        It’s a blow for the Chancer of the Exchequer (whoever that is, I simply don’t care for English politics) as all revenues from oil taxation, have always went to London to be pissed up against a wall in the unregulated casino-culture that prevails there.

        It is a finite resource, with inexhaustible demand, this glut of sulphur and contaminant riddled Saudi oil now their much-expanded new water-cut/separation facilities are operational as even the giant fields are washed out of the dregs, fracking is a busted-flush, means the medium term price is heading inexorably for $250-$300 dollar-a-barrel area. Scotland would be best served by shutting down oil production, by any means, for a time, till that point is reached, giving wells time to recover from the effects of over-rapid extraction, and denying Westminster the revenues which have trickled down glutinously, to the pockets of the oligarchs, with enough going to the to the braying middle-classes of south-east England to keep them in 14th C thatched cottages, holiday homes abroad in France, Portugal etc. (also including Scotland, giving them a vote and a second-home (or nth-home) council-tax rebate), Aga ranges, paid-help, classic-car ‘investments’, Chelsea tractors, and a sense of staggering sense of entitlement and self-worth out of all proportion to their virtues or abilities.

        • michael norton

          IMF “overly optimistic” about success of EUROPEAN EMPIRE bailouts
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36909107
          The International Monetary Fund was “overly optimistic” about economic growth in Eurozone countries that received bailouts.

          That is one of the criticisms in a report from the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO).

          It says the handling of the crisis raises issues of transparency and accountability.

          The IEO acknowledged, however, that the crisis posed “extraordinary challenges” to policy makers.

          The report, which looked at the bailouts for Greece, Portugal and Ireland, examines the IMF’s role in a crisis it was quickly drawn into.

          The first bailout was agreed for Greece in 2010. Although it was funded mainly by the rest of the Eurozone there was a contribution from the IMF as well.

          Financial packages for Ireland and Portugal followed.

          The IEO report focuses on these three programmes. Later the IMF also got involved in a second package for Greece and one for Cyprus. In the case of Spain and a third bailout for Greece the IMF has contributed advice but not finance – or at least not yet for the third Greek package.
          Unrealistic projections

          The programmes were controversial. Critics said the austerity – intended to get government borrowing needs down – was excessive and did immense economic and social damage.

          The IEO report says that in the case of Greece and Portugal, the IMF’s economic growth projections were too optimistic. A more realistic assessment would have allowed countries to prepare better and might have persuaded the Eurozone countries to provide more generous financial aid.

          There is also criticism of the process by which Greece came to get what’s called “exceptional access” finance – assistance above the limits that normally apply to member countries seeking help.

          Such access was limited to cases where the country’s debt could be regarded as sustainable “with a high probability”. Greece did not pass that test, so financial assistance would have required the private creditors to take losses on what they were owed first.

          But there was great reluctance in the Eurozone to allow that, so a new exemption was introduced to the IMF approach policy for cases where there was a high risk of international financial contagion.

          • michael norton

            OIL now down another one and a quarter percent today- now below $43/barrel

            Still on for it Nicola?

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