With independence, Scotland can improve its vital digital networks

With independence, Scotland can improve its vital digital networks

The future of business is digital. The questions for Scotland are – how can digital infrastructure be developed and how can business benefit?

These questions are especially important for an independent Scotland. A recent report by Nesta highlighted the fact that medium sized countries like Scotland can create successful structures for creating new products and services. Medium sized countries benefit from close networks, compared to larger countries. Estonia, for example, has focused on digital technology to support businesses and provide efficient services.

Community initiatives have brough broadband to Eigg

Community initiatives have brought broadband to Eigg

The transformation wrought by digital technology has been one of the landmarks of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Growth in digital technology has been exponential in capacity (the amount of data that can be stored), usage (the number of people using the internet and handheld devices) and connectivity (the speed and accessibility of internet).

There is a growth in ‘digital first’ lifestyles – whereby citizens’ first port of call for information, media, communication and shopping is an online search. Scotland’s economy – if fast-tracked into the global online marketplace – can benefit in numerous ways.

But for people living in the remoter parts of Scotland, the experience of attempting to get any kind of mobile signal, let alone 3G or 4G, can be a frustrating task, while for those living at the far end of BT’s copper wires, the prospect of modern, high-speed broadband seems remote. It is estimated that a quarter of Scotland does not even have adequate 2G coverage, while outside the Central Belt, superfast broadband is available to fewer than 30% of premises (probably far fewer in remoter areas). Scottish government research found that 84% of Highland Council’s area had no 3G coverage at all.

Fibre - the answer to high-speed broadband

Fibre – the answer to high-speed broadband

A survey commissioned by the Scottish government in 2011 found that 87% of businesses thought that reliable high speed broadband was either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important. The same report noted:

Over one third of businesses already feel constrained by the speed of their current internet connection. Even more striking is the fact that businesses who anticipate that they will grow significantly over the next 2-3 years are twice as likely to feel that they are constrained by the speed of their current internet connection. For these businesses, broadband speeds do not meet business ambitions, and indicate that, as demand for faster broadband grows, there is a real risk that Scotland’s growth could be constrained unless improvements to the infrastructure are made.

How independence will drive improvements

Although the Scottish government has been working hard on initiatives to improve Scotland’s connectivity, the key lever  – telecommunications policy and regulation – is reserved to Westminster.  This has meant that the UK government has been able to auction licenses without insisting on the kind of Universal Service Obligation that would ensure a more even distribution of services.

After independence, the Scottish government intends to set up a Rural Connectivity Commission. Outlining its aims in a report issued this July, the top ambition will be to improve digital connectivity:

In an independent Scotland we would have the power to issue future spectrum licences and could include coverage obligations that ensure maximum availability of mobile telecoms throughout Scotland as a whole, including our rural areas. This would address the digital divide that disadvantages so many of our rural communities and businesses.

Other countries have been doing things differently, with greater success. Within a single year of introducing 3G in 2003, coverage in Sweden had reached 85% (it was still only 66% in Scotland by 2010) Spain and Finland have both introduced a universal broadband service provision, whereby operators are obliged to make broadband available to all households. Finland aims to have fibre connection points no more than 2km from the nearest residence or office, and expects to achieve 99% coverage by the end of 2015

The broadband rollout:

Despite being unable to have its own regulator, the Scottish government has been actively pursuing a superfast broadband coverage target of 95% by the end of 2017, allocating £410 million in the process.

Digital Scotland – a public/private sector partnership, is seeking to expand access and education for digital technology, provide skills and support for business, encourage digital innovation and encourage inward investment in digital technologies by 2020.

A key financial package is the expansion of super fast broadband to rural communities, which is explained in this video


The tegola project to connect remote communities

The tegola project to connect remote communities

Community Initiatives

Small, remote, communities which are likely to miss out on the development of a fibre  network have the chance of engineering their own solutions through the £7.5 million allocated by the Scottish Government to the Community Broadband Scotland fund.  An interesting pilot project for the kind of solutions available was the Tegola project, to connect up around 50 households in the Loch Hourn and Knoydart areas. A long-distance wireless wi-fi network was created, taking advantage of  the existing fibre connection to the Gaelic College on Skye. Total cost – around £10,000.  The same technology has now been used to connect up the Small Isles (Eigg, Rum, Canna, Muck), creating HebnetCIC and giving householders broadband speeds of around 30Mbps


A fast and reliable broadband connection is essential for most businesses these days, not to mention householders. In Scotland’s case,  it is especially important to get fast broadband into our rural communities if we are to look forward to the day when isolated places can hope to attract small businesses to provide more jobs and bring some sustainability into our remote areas. Scotland has been ill-served by Westminster governments, which have put profit before principle in their approach to licensing and regulating telecoms providers. But initiatives such as the Tegola project show what can be done at a community level if the will is there. With independence, we will be able to introduce better, more focused regulation, which will help us to prepare properly for the next stage of the digital revolution.

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Category: Uncategorized

Original Source: BusinessForScotland

Well, that’s odd

Well, that’s odd

Yesterday a number of news outlets including the Scotsman, the Courier and STV all carried a scare story from Gordon Brown about independence ending cross-border organ transplants. Curiously, none of them had thought to check the allegation with NHS Blood & Transplant, so we did it for them, and got the unequivocal and unambiguous answer back that Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.”

You’d imagine that the publications concerned would have wanted to put their readers’ minds at rest by publishing that categorical reasssurance today, wouldn’t you?

You know how the rest goes by now, readers.

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Source: Wing Over Scotland

Dr Tom Webster, Historian: An Opportunity To Build A Better Society


I’ve always been interested in politics and I’ve always been an activist. When I was a teenager I was a non-conformist Christian and a socialist. At that stage, with the passionate conviction that sometimes grows more out of fervour than understanding, it seemed an easy step to see myself as a feminist, an LGBT activist and a republican. While I’ve learnt a lot in the past thirty years or so and grasped the complexities and conflicts in political work, those fundamental points of opposition to privilege due to birth, sexuality, gender, race and class have remained.

When I first heard of the referendum I was not especially interested. There were plenty of other campaigns to be involved in and my immediate response was that I’ve always had a distrust of nationalism, associating it with the National Front when I was growing up, with the BNP and with racism, whether in the thuggish version or the more ‘respectable’ patriotism of the Thatcher years as a means of distracting working people from the greater injustices of class. I was interested in the politics of union, more in an academic way; I am a historian of the seventeenth-century and so know a lot about the relations between the countries since the union of the crowns in 1603 down to the Act of Union in 1707 and thereafter. I placed myself on the sidelines with an appetite to point out inaccuracies, probably with a smug pedantry, rather than to contribute positively.

My perception changed once I read more, listened more and had more conversations with other activist friends. While there is, for some, a different, more inclusive civic nationalism as opposed to the ethnic nationalism I abhor, I discovered that there were also conversations and activities related to a much broader understanding of ‘independence’. This was not just independence from Westminster but seeing the referendum as part of a process, looking to ask what ‘independence’ can be, whether that is independence from corporate influence, independence from landed interests, independence from the nostalgia for empire that took us into the wars I opposed and made us willing to act as a parking lot for NATO’s nuclear weapons that I’d always seen as a moral wrong and a waste of money.

In a different way, there were discussions of whether independence meant anything unless it also involved addressing social and economic inequalities reflected in health, social mobility, life expectancy and education. This was a long way from loyalty to the SNP and much closer to my interests. It saw independence as something that included the referendum but also took it further as part of an opportunity to build a better society, something that was more attainable with the systemic change from the limitations of the first-past-the-post electoral system at Westminster along with its unelected House of Lords.

This was also marked by a presence and an absence. While not all the left were on board, many friends and acquaintances working against racism, against the ideological assault on the welfare state, on environmental issues and against the demonisation of people claiming disability benefits were also involved in discussions in the Radical Independence Campaign and Common Weal. Such interests were noticably lesser if not absent from the No campaign, with the greater emphasis being on the fear of change and the scaremongering. Appeal to the status quo ante was, to me, completely ineffective as I have never been a Tory and, like many others, felt betrayed by the Thatcherism-lite of New Labour. The growth of both absolute and relative poverty, the ever widening gap between the richest and the poorest and the criminal necessity of food banks calls for much more than passivity and works against the fear of change central to Better Together rhetoric. When the current directions of social and economic policies are bringing greater inequality, fear of change becomes translated to a desire for alternative opportunities. Without idolising Holyrood or ignoring the few voices at Westminster who offer a more radical challenge, an independent Scotland can become a much more effective forum within which to attain a broader political spectrum where the priorities of social, economic and environmental justice are much higher on the agenda, a possibility confirmed from earlier experience of campaigning.

The more time I spent reading, attending meetings and taking part in discussions on social media, the more the work for independence chimed with my own priorities. I am English and will continue to identify myself as English, despite the fifteen years or so I have lived here. But that was never an issue in any of the conversations I have been involved in. The emphasis has always been much more on the common ground of improving and caring for Scotland, its land and its residents. Of course, there has been the occasional anglophobic remark in debates online but what has stood out more has been the speed and firmness with which the vast, vast majority of contributors disagreed with such assertions and said so.

Similarly, there has been, in my experience, little made of the easy mythology (and frequent historical inaccuracy) of the attractions of Braveheart, the Declaration of Arbroath and Glencoe. The emphasis has always been much more on the possibilities of the future than grudges held from the past. As I became involved with Academics for Yes a lot of the work has been reactive, making it plain that the poor use of precedent in some of the press has been a mixture of inaccuracy and/or irrelevancy. My conviction that a Yes vote is right was enhanced by correcting the palpable inaccuracies of the unfortunate comparisons of young people working for a Yes vote with the Hitler Youth, with Yes voters being described as ‘fascists’ or the graduation address which put Scottish nationalists in the same category as the Golden Dawn in Greece.

There are, it seems to me, to be a couple of needs for clarification, partly because they are reservations that I moved through and partly because they are objections that I have had voiced against my support for a Yes vote. The first is the perception of Utopianism, at its worst the suggestion that we see the success of a Yes vote as the same as a ticket to the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Scotland has a diverse population, both socially and politically. The humour of ‘more pandas than Tory MPs’ allows us to ignore the substantial and continued presence of Tory MSPs without even addressing the UKIP voters who benefited from the low turn out in the European elections. While there are differences in allegiance geographically, winning independence from Westminster would not automatically produce a more just society. A broad political spectrum and the presence of dissent is, I would suggest, a vital ingredient of a fully functioning democracy, preferably on a level playing field. But I would also draw attention to the relative failure of the rhetoric of ‘Go Home’ vans against migrants here; consider the fact that the Scottish Defence League depends upon busloads of supporters from the north-east of England to make up the numbers for its demos compared to the greater trouble in reducing the English Defence League to its hardcore racist supporters south of the border. Similarly, the rhetoric of ‘strivers versus skivers’ has been less prevalent in Scottish politics.

While dissent and informed debate is crucial to a democracy it must remain free from scapegoating either from left or right. The achievement of such a political arena is not a given in Holyrood but the combination of an identity that has embraced the wealth of an identity of a ‘mongrel’ nation with an electoral system that ensures a more eclectic political voice makes that more attainable.

Alongside that optimistic realism goes an awareness that a victory for independence is far from the end of the story. After September it would be foolish to passively sit back and wait for the improvement to arrive. There will still be work to be done, but the goals of a more just and equitable society, of a more transparent and accountable system of governance will be more attainable with that achievement. There are many politicians on both sides of the campaign with a vocation for social justice (as well as some with whom I find less common ground) but the crucial step in maintaining the work for a better society is to create a system where politicians cannot hide, where they know that they are not immune to criticism and where they know they will have to answer for their decisions. Once we establish an independent parliament with a better electoral system, in full control of the budget, and much closer to our own doorstep than Westminster that becomes much more possible.

There is an old line among political activists that once ‘everything is sorted out’, we will be able to have a ‘normal’ social life. That will not arrive with independence, for we will have to keep working, keep letting politicians know we have an eye on them and letting them know what their priorities should be. That will be a substantially easier task once governance is taken out of the Westminster bubble and if we can maintain the appetite for political activity that has been generated by the independence debate.

The second reservation that I have heard from people with whom I share a lot of political common ground, is that a Yes vote prevents the display of solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, the oppressed and the demonised, elsewhere. Where this argument could gain some traction is showing solidarity with people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but that became less convincing when I thought about the solidarity I have shown during the work in opposition to Blair’s warmongering and the consequences of Cameron’s selective austerity. Health and education are devolved fields but that has not stopped me working against the sly privatisation of the NHS or Gove’s mission for schools in England and Wales.

The flawed or at least partial nature of the loss of solidarity became sharply clear in a discussion with a well-intentioned Better Together campaigner after the May Day march. In his spiel he suggested that independence not only prevented solidarity with the rest of the UK, but with the people of Palestine, LGBT folk in Russia and sweatshop workers in the east. That was a useful prompt to remind me that it was not necessary to be a South African citizen to work against apartheid, to be a Palestinian to assist Amnesty or a citizen of Bangladesh to campaign against the Primark sweatshops. That is not to suggest that an independent Scotland will automatically address these issues, merely that to vote Yes is not a betrayal of other people and also a greater possibility of adding a governmental voice to their opposition which Westminster has too rarely provided.

Tom Webster
National Collective

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Dr Tom Webster, Historian: An Opportunity To Build A Better Society
National Collective

Class Matters: A Provocation for Radical Campaigning Now


The following is an edited version of Harry Giles’ speech at the recent Yestival Edinburgh event ‘Class Matters’ at Summerhall.

I’m voting yes for the welfare state, for closing Dungavel and opening borders, for universal childcare, for raising minimum wages, for land reform, for nuclear disarmament. It’s been strange to find myself walking with nationalists, because I’m not a nationalist of any stripe. I have no desire to draw new lines on a map, new borders to be policed. But like many on the left, like many progressives, I’ve been convinced by the promises of Scottish independence. The promises to protect the gains made by past struggles – rights for women, for workers, for disabled folk, for migrants, for everyone. I’ve been convinced by those promises, and I’ve been convinced that an independent Scotland presents the best conditions for futher struggle, for futher victories for everyone who is marginalised and oppressed by neoliberal capitalism.

But. Oh, but. These are promises and potentials, and not yet realities. And the truth is that, whatever the outcome of the referendum, there’s a lot of struggle ahead of us.

Scotland is not special. Scotland is not unique. Scottish people are not uniquely disposed to be progressive, welcoming, wealth-redistributing citizens in solidarity. (Nor are Danes, Norwegians or Icelanders, by the way.) Every victory for workers – from minimum wage to the weekend – has been fought for, won, and defended by ongoing struggle. A struggle which has always been threatened, and always will be threatened, by bosses and politicians. We live in a part of the world with a terrifying degree of neoliberal consensus. We shouldn’t be mistaken in thinking that the current Scottish government, and any likely Scottish government in the near future, is anything but neoliberal.

(Just to de-jargon this for a moment: by “neoliberal” I mean the kind of capitalism we mostly have now, characterised by global networks of trade, free trade, debt and so-called austerity policies designed to constantly increase the income gap between rich and poor, the decline of manufacturing and the rise of uncertain or “precarious” work conditions, and basically a whole shitpile of oppressive horror.)

The current Government is at the soft and smiley end of neoliberalism, for sure, and it’s trying hard to make itself look as progressive as possible to get your votes, but things could be very different after the referendum. Now and after the referendum, the Government is a government of bosses and the wealthy. Even with their appealing promises, they are not your friends.

We should also not be mistaken in thinking that Europe is a progressive political organisation either. EU prosperity has relied on forcing brutal policies on Greece and Spain. It just takes manufacturing a government debt crisis and the same could happen to Scotland. Moreover, the open borders allowed within the EU – preserving which is a goal of many progressives voting for independence – are dependent on vicious and murderous immigration control on Europe’s borders. We may be freer inside, but we’re a fortress.

For reasons like this, there is a small but significant group on the socialist left in Scotland – and a larger group on the socialist left in England – arguing against Scottish independence on the grounds that it will get in the way of class struggle. These people argue that the new border divides workers against each other, splits resources and organisational capacity, and diverts our campaigning into a contest of nationalisms. They also argue that Scotland alone in Europe risks the worst of Europe’s neoliberal violence. I think these arguments are worth listening to. But I also think that that socialist contingent are failing to offer class struggle in Scotland any realistic alternative. Some of them are even that strange and lonely group, Labour-voting Communists, who still believe that the Labour party can be a revolutionary force despite all historical evidence to the contrary.

Worse, I think these socialists are ignoring the arguments of those workers facing a double oppression under the current government. There is a reason that disability rights campaign group Black Triangle has come out for Yes. There is a reason that Women for Independence is so strong while Women Together is a barely-clicked webpage. There is a reason that the majority of migrants are voting Yes. And why Scottish CND is voting Yes.

(Another aside: nuclear disarmament is also a class issue. Military spending diverts vital resources from the welfare state, making employment dependent on military installation makes workers incredibly vulnerable, and local funding is diverted to buildings for military families while other local schools and community centres struggle.)

Socialists arguing for No are asking everyone made most vulnerable by capitalism – workers also facing oppression for gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity – to lay aside the short-term gains independence can win for them in favour of phantasms of class struggle. The workers’ movement in the UK is not strong enough at present to win those victories for us, and voting No will not make it stronger. So I would ask socialists voting No what, concretely, they can offer us instead.

Meanwhile many on the anarchist left aren’t voting at all – a position for which I have much more time. The argument here is that all of this energy around the referendum campaign is diverting much-needed attention from radical campaigns here and now. That progressives are putting all their time into a ballot which by itself guarantees nothing, instead of into radical struggle which can win more.

I actually more or less agree with this. But the vote itself won’t take much of my time, and I don’t mind getting a bit morally grubby by grudgingly consenting to the ballot system with a wee X. What I’ve decided to do, then, is to use every platform I can within the independence campaign to argue for radical struggle. Struggle now, struggle before the referendum, struggle during the referendum, and struggle after the referendum.

Only ongoing campaigning can win us the victories we’ve been promised. Only radical struggle will secure rights for workers, for women, for migrants, for the disabled, for folk who are marginalised by gender, sexuality, race and every other oppression. A vote guarantees nothing. Fighting together can guarantee everything.

Get involved in radical campaigns around Scotland now. They need you. They also need to be convinced that an independent Scotland truly has something to offer them. Why should a woman vote for independence, unless Yes-voters are fighting for her now? Why should a worker vote for independence, unless Yes-voters are struggling for workers’ rights now? Why should a migrant vote for independence, unless Yes-voters are stopping detentions and deportations now?

Remember the people facing oppression not just as workers, but by sexism, racism, homophobia. There are systems of power and exploitation that are all tangled up with capitalism – supported by and supporting capitalism. They all come down together, or not at all. The people most marginalised and oppressed by neoliberalism and the UK Government need to know there will be people fighting with them after the vote, whatever its result. Don’t go to them asking for their vote. Go to them asking what you can do: now.

Harry Giles
National Collective

Image from Documenting Yestival

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Class Matters: A Provocation for Radical Campaigning Now
National Collective

Oh, wait, you won’t die

Oh, wait, you won’t die

We got our reply (emphasis added):

“Good afternoon,

Thank you for your recent telephone call to the NHSBT Donor Line.

I can confirm that Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.

I hope this answers your query, please let me know if you require any further information and I will be happy to help.

Kind regards,

Tom Kempster
ODR Assistant

NHS Blood and Transplant
Organ Donation and Transplantation Directorate
Fox Den Road
Stoke Gifford
BS34 8RR”

Tom didn’t actually say the words “Gordon Brown is lying through his teeth to terrify Scottish people into voting No”, but we think it’s pretty much implied.

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Source: Wing Over Scotland

Remember, YOU WILL DIE

We telephoned Organ Donation Scotland on Friday for their reaction to the despicable scare stories being put around by a teenage Labour activist from Liverpool bussed up to Scotland last week by the No campaign.


We’re still waiting for them to get back to us with a quote. But in the meantime, it’s been predictable – but no less disgraceful to see senior Labour figures repeating the lie. It all seems to be part of a major Unionist offensive on health, doubtless sparked by fears that privatisation of the English NHS will lead to a significant reduction in the Scottish block grant and corresponding damage to the Scottish health service.

The No camp, unsurprisingly, has chosen to fight fear with fear.

It should go without saying that the organ-donation story is utterly baseless scaremongering. The four health services covering the UK are already independent but co-operate closely on transplants, as they do on everything else. The transplant service already operates across the entire UK by virtue of reciprocal agreements which would be completely unaffected by any political change.

(Scots are more generous organ donors than most of the UK. As with public spending, we give proportionately more than we get back.)

But Labour weren’t done with trying to frighten Scots yet. Kezia Dugdale MSP’s column in today’s Daily Record fumes with pretend outrage at an alleged claim by an unnamed Yes campaigner that charges for visiting your GP might be introduced after a No vote. Dugdale’s fake fury seethes from the page:

“That’s a scandalous, sick lie. There’s more chance of me beating Usain Bolt at Hampden than there is of anyone introducing a fee to see the doctor.

The reality is that no-one, not a single political party is advocating charging folk to see their GP.”

Of course, in the 2010 election nobody was advocating privatising the Royal Mail, but it still happened. The Tories stood on a promise to end “top-down reorganisations” of the NHS – going so far as to include that pledge in the coalition agreement – and then immediately embarked on what the BBC described as “the biggest reorganisation [of the English NHS] since its creation”.


And political parties may not (yet, officially) be advocating GP charges, but plenty of influential bodies are, and a majority of English GPs support the plans. That doesn’t mean it’ll definitely happen, but it’s certainly a very plausible prospect, and one we’d put an awful lot more money on than on Kezia Dugdale ever outsprinting Usain Bolt.

But the Labour MSP wasn’t finished fibbing.

“The one place you do have to pay is just across the water. It’s 50 euros a visit in Ireland – that low-tax Celtic Tiger that Alex Salmond is so fond of.”

There are at least two lies in that claim. Ireland isn’t even remotely “the one place you have to pay” for a GP visit – in fact around two-thirds of EU countries charge for GP visits. And the charge in Ireland isn’t “50 euros a visit” either. The truth is that there are no set fees, that around a third of people are eligible for exemptions, and most parties in the country have plans to extend exemption to everyone.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see what Kezia Dugdale is trying to do by brazenly misinforming Scots about healthcare in Ireland. The implication is that an independent Scotland would have to follow suit, whereas in fact the Irish direction of travel is the opposite of that in England – AWAY from charges, not towards them. (And of course, Scotland is economically a far stronger country than Ireland anyway.)

But there’s no room for niceties like truth when you’re the No campaign, the polls are a little tighter than you’d like and more and more Labour grandees and voters alike are moving towards Yes. Dignity and integrity go out of the window, and the scare stories get ramped up to 11. Kezia Dugdale’s combination of complacency, arrogance and bare-faced mendacity is sadly the norm for modern Labour, not the exception.

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Source: Wing Over Scotland

Return of the living dead

For independence supporters of a certain age, the 1979 devolution referendum is one of the most infamous moments in Scottish history. While a wafer-thin majority of Scots voted Yes to devolution, an electoral fiddle conceived by a Labour MP meant that it didn’t happen, and part of the reason was that in effect, dead people were counted as No votes.

(We won’t go into all the details here, but basically an impossible threshold was set for turnout, and people who’d died but hadn’t yet been removed from the electoral roll were counted towards the calculation of that threshold.)

We were put in mind of it by an odd development this evening.

Earlier today we were a bit startled when the New Stateman’s George Eaton tweeted:


(Alert readers who click the image will note our series of sarcastic joke replies.)

But then this evening the story popped up on the Herald website under the title “Tony Benn would have opposed independence, says brother”, having also appeared in the Independent under the even more bizarre “Tony Benn opposed Scottish independence but died before he could say so in public”.

Which left us wondering if perhaps we’d been living in some sort of freaky dream world for the last couple of years, because Tony Benn having been opposed to Scottish independence is news on a par with discovering that Tom Jones is from Wales, and he spent half his life expressing that opposition clearly and unambiguously in public.

We’ve been writing about it on this site since October 2012, and again in January 2013, and then again in May 2013, and then on his death in March 2014. It’s perhaps the least well-kept secret since Elton John turned out to be gay. So what on Earth is it doing being reported as news when the poor man’s been cold in his grave for months?

We can only assume that the press is desperate to report something bad about independence, on a weekend where Jean-Claude Juncker has said an independent Scotland would get preferential treatment over EU membership, a former chief medical officer has said independence would be good for Scotland’s health, and a former Scottish Senior Citizens’ Unity Party MSP said that “a Yes vote offers our older people the best prospect of a better and fairer pensions system”.

All the same, it’s a bit of an odd one. Which newly-laid corpse will the No campaign exhume next, so desperately short are they of living volunteers that they’re bussing gullible teenagers up from Liverpool and Derby to do their lying for them?


Our money’s on Margaret Thatcher. Literally nothing would surprise us any more.

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Source: Wing Over Scotland

Austerity Damages Business – the case for social investment from a business perspective

Austerity Damages Business – the case for social investment from a business perspective

Austerity is damaging to business and Scotland desperately needs social investment rather than further cuts.  Our society has suffered badly from the austerity cuts of the UK Government and our business prospects have suffered from them as well. We need a change in direction, we need to see social investment, and there is no sign whatsoever that any of the UK parties want to make that change.  From Alistair Darling’s promise to cut deeper that Thatcher through George Osborne’s glee at cutting public spending to Ed Balls’ promise to keep Osborne’s cuts going, there’s a dismal chorus of despair in Westminster. Scotland needs better and it seems the only way to get that is independence.

We’ve looked at how austerity affects us, how it damages Scottish businesses, and we want it to end. We’ve got the academic research of economists and the experience of our members to draw on to make the case for social investment.  In our commentary Frances Barron points out that austerity cuts remove money from local economies and that has knock-on effects right up the chain; Jil Murphy writes about how we need the NHS to keep our employees and customers healthy; Donald Maclean tells why we need free education; Kat Heathcote runs through the need for infrastructure spending; Anne Rendall talks about the need for defence security; Les Meikle points to the need for an effective Justice system; and David Cairns writes about how important dignity is for business.

We all live, work and do business in this society. The humanity of it is important for us because we live here but society is just as important for our businesses, no business can survive without it.  Scotland’s businesses need an end to austerity and a rebirth of social investment. We need dignity restored to our society and no-one in government in London is going to do that. We need independence and the chance to build a better country.

Tony Banks

Chair, Business for Scotland


Read the Business for Scotland commentary on austerity here – The Business Argument for Social Investment

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Original Source: BusinessForScotland

The fine art of selection

The fine art of selection

Alert readers may have spotted that today’s Sunday Herald features Professor Adam Tomkins and myself for its weekly “In The Hot Seat” interviews with opposing figures in the independence debate. The paper’s Investigations Editor Paul Hutcheon flew down from Glasgow on Wednesday to do the piece, and we had an interesting and enjoyable two-and-a-half-hour chat on the subject of the referendum and politics in general.


Obviously it’s not easy to edit that down to a short 1,000-word article. But just for fun, I thought it might be enlightening to compare the content of the two columns.

(One-word or two-word responses excluded)

Tomkins: 459
Me: 229


Tomkins: 415 (90%)
Me: 0 (0%)


Tomkins: 0 (0%)
Me: 157 (69%)

Glean from the bare facts whatever you will, readers.

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Source: Wing Over Scotland