Saturday, 23 April 2011

A Toxic Union

Gerry Hassan’s article in the ‘Open Democracy – our kingdom blog’ clearly poured not just salt but vinegar on the wounds of a number of English bloggers whose grasp of the history of the Union is clearly sketchy at best.  So let us deal with the myths that inform this asymmetric assessment by the English side of English largess.

Myth number one – Scotland was bankrupt in 1707.

Well , no, it was not.

The Burghs were cash rich and the Scottish economy in the decade prior to 1707 was growing at 2.5% per annum according to research by the historian Michael Lynch. So who was bankrupt? Well that was the Scottish land owners who had mortgaged their lands to fund the Darien Scheme and if they had not been bailed out by Westminster, the Burgh middle classes would have taken control of Scotland – something the English Government could not allow. The ‘Whig’ English Government had also been buying off the Jacobite Lords in Scotland to ensure the Hanoverian succession at the cost of a £1 million a year ( £1 billion in today’s money). Further the Jacobite Lords were playing the ‘we could ask the French for help’ card which meant  ‘Horse Guards’ had to keep English Regiments on the Scottish Border that were needed by Marlborough in continental Europe to prop up England’s war against France.

What actually happened was the incoming Tory Government of the day decided they were not gaining anything as Defoe quickly reported that most of the ‘Jacobite Lords’ were unlikely to support James’ VIIth claim on the thrones of Scotland and England so shifted the bribes from the ‘Jacobite Lords’ to the Tory inclined Scottish Lowland Lords who were in trouble with their Darien mortgage repayments coming due and being in danger of defaulting – the ‘parcel o rogues’ of Burns poem. The English Parliament needed the Union to secure their Northern border once and for all and created pressure to persuade the Scots that ‘Union’ was a good idea – one of which was siding with the Spanish to ensure Darien failed and another passing laws to exclude Scottish traders from all England’s colonies by imposing excessive duties.

Myth Number two – The English Parliament absorbed the Scottish Parliament

Well, no, it did not. The Treaty of Union makes clear that both parliaments were suspended and a new UK parliament formed with a new seal. The Treaty of Union does preserve a number of important issues with respect to each nation’s sovereignty, laws, freedoms and liberties. The importance of this is that in Scotland sovereignty lies with the people and not the crown or Parliament and is what modern political theory would call a representative democracy. The sovereignty of the Scottish people was established by law in 1328 when the Declaration of Arbroath was entrenched in Scots Law. The 1698 Claim of Right (Scotland) reaffirmed this important difference as it was made clear that James VIIth was actually kicked off the throne of Scotland by the sovereign Scottish people – he did not abdicate – and restated the Scottish people as being sovereign. Unlike the English Claim of Right which declared the English Parliament sovereign.

The Treaty of Union preserves the sovereignty of the people of Scotland for all time. In a judgement on a case in 1953 the then Lord President of the Court of Session made clear that where the Treaty of Union says ‘for all time’ that is exactly what it means. During the restructuring of Scottish Councils in the early 70’s the people of the ‘Kingdom of Fife’ appealed to the crown that to split Fife between Tayside and Lothian was a breach of their longstanding sovereignty, liberties, rights and freedoms. The result was that the Crown ensured that the ‘Kingdom of Fife’ remained intact.

Myth number three – The union of the crowns.

There never was any union of the crowns. The current Queen swore a separate oath to the sovereign people of Scotland the night before her English coronation and uses the ‘Honours of Scotland’ when north of the border - as required by the 1689 Scottish Claim of Right.

Myth number four – England Subsidises Scotland

The Treasury’s own figures show that Scotland has returned a tax surplus every year in the last 30. Last year it was £1.6 billion - not including any tax take from the North Sea - an estimated £32 billion a year from the Scottish sector. It is difficult to be precise as the actual figures for oil and gas income are hidden in the Treasury’s extra-territorial account. If you crunch the numbers you find that for every £100 that is ‘spent’ on Scotland by the UK Government, £170 is ‘spent’ in the Greater London area for the same population.
You can add the money that should have come to Scotland as part of our pocket money which the Treasury is sitting on for one pretence or another  - some £500 million a year at the last counting – which still shows on the Treasury Accounts as ‘going to Scotland’.

Myth Number Five – Its Scotland’s fault when England gets a Labour Government

No that’s all England’s doing as Scotland returns, at present, 65 MPs (Cameron is looking to cut that to 59) of whom currently 40 are Labour MPs out of some 650 MP’s in total. The political volatility is all England’s.

Myth Number Six – the bank rescue.

The UK banks are regulated by the UK Government so their failing is the responsibility of the UK Government.

If the two nations were separate then the losses incurred by those parts of RBOS, HBOS, Lloyds TSB and the rest are the responsibility of the country in which they operate. The RBOS Merchant Bank loss makers with the CDO toxic loan bundles were all registered as English companies trading in the ‘City of London’. The profitable parts of RBOS, such as traditional banking, were Scottish registered and, in the year after the ‘City of London’ crash, a part of a Scottish finance and insurance sector which grew by 7% according to CBI Scotland.  NatWest and its subsidiaries remained an English registered company. As for HBOS – again it was the high level of toxic CDO exposure in the ‘Halifax Bank’ section that brought about its downfall. This was made worse by Brown and Darling’s clumsy attempt to shore HBOS up with Labour’s great Lloyds TSB take over which turned a solvent Lloyds Bank into another fiscal basket case.

Currently the only difference between Westminster and Dublin is the mortgaging of North Sea Oil and Gas income by the Treasury to shore up foreign exchange deals. Meanwhile the Tory austerity package is killing the UK economy as reflected in the rising unemployment figures in England. Yet in Scotland the reverse is happening, unemployment is falling, how can that be?

The difference is that Scotland still has a mixed economy far beyond the Westminster peddled myth of Scotland’s dependence on the public sector. In the last six months the SNP Government has encouraged nearly £120 million in inward investment to build and install the first generation of tidal power stations and develop the next generation. The financial and services sector in Scotland only represents 21% of our productive economy.

What is not a myth is that Scotland spends the pocket money it gets back from Westminster in a way that best reflects the sovereign people of Scotland’s needs and expectations. The SNP Government has, for the last four years, in spite of the actual pocket money being cut by 3.5% in real terms year on year, balanced its books – something the UK Parliament has conspicuously failed to do.

In poll after poll when the question has been asked of the Scots whether Scotland should be fiscally autonomous, 56% of Scots have said ‘yes’. Now for the first time support for full independence has risen above the 40% tipping point while those wishing the Union to be preserved has dropped below 45% for the first time.

So where does this leave the political union that is known as the United Kingdom?

There is a massive imbalance in UK political and financial accountability across the constituent nations and English regions, an imbalance which has been ignored by every UK government since 1999 and devolution began. The Westminster politicians and their associated chattering classes pretend that it is not happening and turn ever inwards  on themselves like modern day ‘ostriches’,  certain that there is only wilderness beyond the M25.  Westminster appears to hope that by sacrificing a few of the worst expense fiddling politicians and throwing them to the masses we will allow the incipient inertia of Westminster politics and their self serving media circus, to carry on as before.

The best way to achieve this end is for Westminster to spin the worst excesses of the Scots, Welsh or Irish and present them as ungrateful spongers to the English something the tame Westminster media is only too happy to do.

My view is simple. The political union, as represented by Westminster, is now a suppurating ulcer, gnawing away at the souls of all who live on this island. It is making us all sick, angry and frustrated because it is no longer fit for purpose as we enter the 22nd Century.

Westminster has no intention of reforming itself, so must be broken up. It is time to return Westminster to its core purpose as the Parliament of England. Devolution is not going to be reversed and any attempt to, such as Cameron’s current Scotland Act Amendments Bill, are doomed to merely increase the tension, anger and the potential for violent action on all sides. Senior Scottish Thatcherites have already called Cameron’s Amendment Bill, ‘the midwife of Scottish Independence’.  I do not know about you but I would rather have a reasoned separation in mutual understanding and peace than the messy, angry divorce Westminster is heading us all for.

Do you believe in Fairies?

Its is Saturday morning 16th April in just under 19 days until Scotland goes to the polls in an election that could see the end of the Union within five years. That being the case you would expect some comment on this potentially Westminster breaking vote in the big four national papers.
Sadly you will look in vain.

In today’s Times you will get a free ‘Kings and Queens of England’ wall chart to help you understand the forth coming royal nuptials. In the Independent they are running a story about the growing support for the Yes2AV campaign. The Gruaniad has a leading article on a ‘kiss in’ outside a homosexual club in London while the Telegraph is all concerned about George Michael’s song for the ‘Royal Wedding’.

How about the politics sections?

Independent – nothing: the same in all the other ‘national papers’. The main stream media are so encapsulated by the Westminster bubble that clearly they do not see the potential trouble ahead if the SNP gain another term. I presume it is because the ‘off the record briefings’ have told them that Cameron’s amendment bill will kill the SNP off, for certain, this time.

There is a clear picture that the Westminster machine and its hangers on are so wrapped up in their belief in the supremacy of ‘London’ that this ‘pretendy election’ to Holyrood does not really matter on the big ‘British’ stage. The media is still peddling the idea that Labour are in a bit of trouble in Scotland but there is no worry because they will be returned as the biggest party come May 5th. Even when the classic establishment ploy of putting Alex Salmond in a BBC Question time program in England to ‘humble him’ back fires there remains this mind boggling complacency. There is a subliminal message from the ‘establishment’ that the Scots may toy with the idea of an SNP vote but they will see sense in the end. There is only one word to describe what is going on at present in the Westminster bubble and that is ‘complacency’.

It struck me strange that today’s Herald ran a piece by Rab McNeil which referred to the ‘always voted Labour, man and boy’ vote as the ‘stupid vote’ and highlighted Fudd’s cowardice in the face of protest at Glasgow Labour’s cuts to disabled services and Fudd’s whining because Wee Eck agreed to meet them so he ‘wis nae ambushed’ like brave Sir Iain.

Yet still there is no one in the main stream media who is starting to say the unthinkable, the serious ‘What if?’: a second term for the SNP will mean the end of the Union.

The impact on England and the rump Westminster Parliament of a Scottish exit are not being discussed by the pundits in any shape or form. It is almost as if they are frightened to because in doing so they will let the very genie out of the bottle they are steadfastly trying to ignore. It is almost as they now have bought their own too wee, too stupid, too poor propaganda as the truth and repeat it, not because there is any truth in the conjecture but because it makes them feel safe.

Ultimately the only way they can sustain their own propaganda is to peddle stories that support their view of the truth or wheel out ‘experts’ like the Scottish CBI stooge, McMillian, to tell the good people of Toryshire; “Salmond is lying and that Scotland needs to build nuclear plants or it will have to import power from England.” while completely ignoring the reality that Scotland’s nuclear plants are needed to keep the lights on in the North of England and Northern Ireland or that reopening Hunterston and Cockenzie coal plants would easily replace the closure of nuclear Hunterston and Torness at little real cost – except to the North of England and Northern Ireland that would have to source their additional needs elsewhere.

So why are the UK’s national pundits choosing to ignore the giant elephant sitting in the room on England’s northern border?

It is almost as if they think if they do not believe in the SNP and Scottish autonomy - it will die, just like the fairies in a pantomime production of ‘Peter Pan’. In doing so they miss J M Barrie’s point completely - if enough people believe in fairies, desires and a wish for independence; the idea will never die.

They see Salmond as Captain Hook and Cameron’s amendment bill as the crocodile. Yet for those of us who believe in ‘independence fairies’ the story takes a different view point that Cameron is Captain Hook, Nick Clegg is ‘Smee’ but the crocodile that will do for them is the same beast and they all live in a ‘Never-never Land’ called Westminster.

After May the 5th we will discover which story is the correct one – I hope the crocodile’s clock is ticking for Cameron.

BBC Scotland - Labour's propaganda arm

To The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
in Council.

THE HUMBLE PETITION OF:  person’s who are from Sovereign People of Scotland

SHEWETH as follows:-

1.    We are exercising our right to petition your majesty as stated in the Claim of Right 1698: “That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King and that all Imprisonments and prosecutiones for such petitioning are Contrary to law” 
2.     The reason for this petition is that we believe the rights, freedoms, liberties and laws of the sovereign people of Scotland are now under direct threat by the failure of the British Broadcasting Corporation to uphold their royal charter requirement to be a balanced source in its reporting of political matters within the ‘United Kingdom’.
3.     That the corporation, through the acts of its agents in Scotland, are subverting freedom of speech and by seeking to hold undue influence over the outcome of the Holyrood Election due in May 2011 by favouring one political position over others are attacking and abusing those rights, freedoms, liberties and privileges that the sovereign people of Scotland hold dear.
4.    That the BBC in Scotland is further in breech of its Royal Charter as during an election period the BBC is not allowed to commission voting intention polls.  However the BBC released a voting intention poll on the 10th April was commissioned from pollsters ICM within the election period.
5.    That on numerous other occasions in the last year the BBC in Scotland have exceeded the Charter requirements to prevent views that do not support their particular political position from appearing in programs and other media under their control
6.    The BBC in Scotland abused their position as a public broadcaster to hound a Minster of the Scottish Government from Office for the political gain of other parties

YOUR PETITIONERS therefore most humbly pray that Your Majesty will seek advice and take action to stop this grievous assault on the sovereign people of Scotland’s rights, freedoms, laws and privileges by calling in your Royal Charter to the British Broadcasting Corporation until such times as it restores a proper balance in its organisation in Scotland or such other terms as may to Your Majesty seem proper.

AND YOUR PETITIONERS will ever pray etc.

THE SIGNATURES OF THE sovereign people of Scotland were
made hereunto this… day of… Two Thousand and Eleven.

Legal Postal or Proxy Voting .... the rules!

I picked up Labour’s potential involvement in a postal voting scam in a post on the Iain Gray’s latest calumny thread today on Newsnet – at first I laughed to myself at the ludicrous lengths it appears Labour are going to, to save their necks, Then the process developer and assurance auditor in me started wondering just what is the process for a postal or proxy vote.

Here is a potted prĂ©cis of what the Representation of the People Act (s) and Scottish Statute has to say on the matter – I have used the Scottish Local Government version but it merely reflects the requirements of the 1983 Act it refers to:

15 - Offences relating to applications for postal and proxy votes
Before section 63 of the 1983 Act (breach of official duty) insert—
“62BScottish local government elections: offences relating to applications for postal and proxy votes
(1)This section applies in relation to a local government election in Scotland.
(2)A person commits an offence if he—
(a)engages in any of the acts specified in subsection (3) below at the election; and
(b)intends, by doing so, to deprive another of an opportunity to vote or to make for himself or another a gain of a vote to which he or the other is not otherwise entitled or a gain of money or property.
(3)The acts referred to in subsection (2)(a) above are—
(a)applying for a postal or proxy vote as some other person (whether that other person is living or dead or is a fictitious person);
(b)otherwise making a false statement in, or in connection with, an application for a postal or proxy vote;
(c)inducing the registration officer or returning officer to send a postal ballot paper or any communication relating to a postal or proxy vote to an address which has not been agreed to by the person entitled to the vote;
(d)causing a communication relating to a postal or proxy vote or containing a postal ballot paper not to be delivered to the intended recipient.
Now let’s see how that compares with what the poster said:

“Off Topic,

Just received our postal vote application forms through the post, courtesy of .......LABOUR.

Funny thing is though I have NO recollection of EVER asking for a postal vote application form. I guess it must be Labour out to do some their dirty tricks in Dumfries and Galloway!

Nice to know though that they care enough to help us get a postal vote. I see the return address for the postal vote application is to Labour in ....... GLASGOW. Now I am not usually one to be suspicious however.........”

So immediately I would assess that the postal vote system is being abused as the receipt by this poster of a postal vote application form is an offence under 3 section ‘c’; as this is clearly an inducement to the returning officer by a candidate or their supporters to send such an application to an address which has not requested it.

The regulation carries on and says:

“(4)In subsection (2)(b) above, property includes any description of property.
(5)In subsection (3) above a reference to a postal vote or a postal ballot paper includes a reference to a proxy postal vote or a proxy postal ballot paper (as the case may be).
(6)A person who commits an offence under subsection (2) above or who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of such an offence is guilty of a corrupt practice.”

So application of the law in this case must immediately call into question all the Labour candidates right to stand in the South of Scotland List and the candidate in Dumfries and Galloway related to this poster’s specific constituency.

Now we know what happens when candidates are found in law to be in breech of the Representation of the People Act in word, deed or practice they are disqualified from ever standing again - which the recent precedent down South so ably determined and as Phil Woollas found out to his chagrin in Oldham East.
If you check the Electoral Commission web site you discover that postal and proxy voting forms must be returned to your local returning officer at a specified address. In Dumfries and Galloway that address is:

Dumfries and Galloway Council
27 Moffat Road

And not Glasgow as the poster stated.

“13CAScottish local government elections: false information in connection with applications for absent voting
(1)A person who provides false information in connection with an application mentioned in subsection (2) below commits an offence.
 (3)In relation to a signature, “false information” for the purposes of subsection (1) above means a signature which—
(a)is not the usual signature of; or
(b)was written by a person other than,
the person whose signature it purports to be.
(4)A person does not commit an offence under subsection (1) above if the person did not know, and had no reason to suspect, that the information was false.
(5)Where sufficient evidence is adduced to raise an issue with respect to the defence under subsection (4) above, the court must assume that the defence is satisfied unless the prosecutor proves beyond reasonable doubt that it is not.
(6)A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above is liable on summary conviction to (either or both)—
(a)imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months;
(b)a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.”.

So again, any proxy or postal voting form opened and altered in any way by those at the address in Glasgow leaves them and their candidates open to criminal action as described at section 6 - not forgetting that according to the Electoral Commission those votes should go no where else than direct to the returning officer.

The recent cases relating to Postal vote fraud have found that:

...  where Ballot papers have been collected from voters with the promise they will be delivered to the Electoral Returning Officer. The true vote is then tippexed out and a new cross entered against another candidate before delivery of the vote. The Electoral Returning Officer has, by law, to accept this vote even though he may suspect it is doctored.”

In a recent judgement of Postal Voting Fraud a justice said:

".... official Government statement about postal voting which I hope I quote correctly, 'There are no proposals to change the rules governing election procedures for the next election, including those for postal voting. The systems already in place to deal with the allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working.' "

"Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this statement surprising."
"To assert that 'the systems already in place to deal with the allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working' indicates a state not simply of complacency but of denial."

"The systems to deal with fraud are not working well. They are not working badly. The fact is that there are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated."

I now wait to hear what the Returning Officer for Dumfries and Galloway has to say on this matter with great interest and I hope that the Officer comes down with a heavy hand on this attempt or any attempt to gerrymander votes for what ever party.

Inherent Corruption

On the spur of the moment my wife and I sped our way from the South West to the Metropolis of Glasgow to meet with relatives who were waiting for a flight back to Bristol and had an afternoon to kill. We were sitting down stairs in the excellent basement restaurant at the Kelvingrove  Museum watching the showers come and go, when discussion turned to what we were all up to.

My brother in law is a high powered corporate turn around expert and currently he is giving a hand to the listed building restoration Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) my sister in law works for as a project manager. Having been in business consultancy myself conversation came round to business cultures and since both of us are ex-services the inevitable comparison between civilian and military work ethic came into play.

The point that brought this up was my brother in law describing how much money was expended a month in replacing ‘lost’ or damaged tools some £30k a year in a SME turning over £800K a year at present. He then explained how workers were inflating their hours so that a job that had been assessed to take two days routinely took five again a cost to the SME and another nail in its fiscal coffin. It was clear to me, as it was to my brother in law, from the more detailed discussion there is something very sick at the heart of this SME so I asked him: what and how was he going to turn it around?

It appears that the SME was in difficulty because the owner used its cash flow in the same way as we may have used credit cards or a petty cash box. Some months they would suddenly draw down £5k and other months £2k. The impact on the work force was that this random raiding would occasionally leave them unpaid for a week or so until a client paid up. There was also a culture where the owner would do friends ‘favours’ by taking on sons to give them some work even though they had none of the high skills required for listed building renovation, work they carried out would always need redone at further cost to the company and increasing resentment from the skilled work force. All these insidious gripes amongst the skilled work force presented in a work culture where, it was OK to fiddle the boss by extending working hours and permanently ‘borrowing’ equipment as the boss was ‘at it’ as well - even though they know, inevitably it will mean the company going bust and them out of a job.

In the Royal Navy equipment does not go adrift as any piece of equipment you use goes on your personal ‘slop chit’ and if it is lost or misused you have to pay for it. Encompassing this is a sense of corporate responsibility where the actions of one person are the responsibility of all. There is a clear understanding that everyone is dependent on every one else, often failure to carry this through may mean serious consequences for all and not just the individual. There is a high level of self policing amongst all in an effect regiment, squadron or ship and a rejection of the idea that it is OK to permanently borrow stuff (especially from your own unit) or misuse shared resources on the quiet.

This morning I looked again at the Newsnet headline on further evidence of Glasgow’s Labour run council’s misuse of resources for their own gain, reconsidered what is wrong in that organisation and just how it is just like the failing SME my brother in law is looking to turn around.

Take any one of the Glasgow ALEOs. The SLARC report makes clear that there are too many councillors and council officials sitting on Glasgow’s ALEO boards while being paid too much money for carrying out ‘oversight’ they should be doing as councillors or officials, in any case. You have councillors on these ALEO boards who have been caught using their ALEO budgets to fund Labour Party activities contrary to Council Rules, Statute and Standing Orders all in breech of the Representation of the People Act. Is it any surprise then that officials do ‘favours’ for their pals when it comes to contract issues or that organised crime can operate seamlessly within the Glasgow Labour Council to the gain of millions of pounds per annum for their front companies?

Then when an objectively evidenced complaint on misuse of Glasgow council funds arrives on the Standard Commissioners desk what do we find?  Yes, it is against the Representation of the People Act, Council Standing Orders and the rest but they have been doing it like that for years and no one has complained before, so that makes it ‘OK’. The Standard Commissioners turn the ultimate ‘Nelsonian’ blind eye. The folk who are supposed to represent our best interests and ensure a level political playing field settle instead from the lowest common denominator - ‘Its aye been’!

Just what sort of message does that send out to the Glasgow Council workforce except it is ok to falsify work dockets and take what you want from the depot or office?

It can not be much of a surprise to find that Strathclyde Police leaks information like a sieve when one of their past Police Authority Labour members acknowledged how well she knew Louise Rodden, the McGovern Syndicate’s ‘security’ expert, who turned up at a Murphy Fund Raiser.  While Strathclyde Police acknowledge the successful attempts of the gangs to put place men and women in their organisation and have taken steps to plug the holes  I worry about the Glasgow Fiscal’s Office especially when you note that Rodden had his sentence for trying to acquire a security contract in South Ayrshire with a samurai sword or its like halved with no opposition from the fiscal’s office. This has to raise concerns about the Fiscal Office’s passivity into the investigation of Purcell and the ALEO contracts given to his pals and their continuing failure to support Strathclyde Police’s warrant applications in this matter.

The thrawn Glasgow public will look at their feet and say – Whit can we dae, its aye been the same and anywa’ thon politicians, thir aw the same, better the deil ye naw, I’ll be voting Labour, nae matter.
In Tammany Hall, at the end of George Street, the brown envelopes will continue to circulate and the thrawn Glasgow public will continue to shake their heads, hoping it will all just go away while criminal elements; political, official and legitimate will stow their pouches to overflowing with tax payer’s money and laugh all the way to the Costa del Crime.

Its enough to mak ye scunnert an’ seek tae yer belly, sa it is.