Fly in the yes/SNP ointment (Magnie Stewart)

I am totally amazed that the Yes Campaign/SNP is managing to close the gap in the opinion polls with nothing more than emotive propaganda.

Their propaganda labels anyone who dares to question YC/SNP doctrine as unpatriotic, or negative, or a scaremongering bully threatening the Scottish people, or a bluffing, blustering, public school educated, Tory posh boy, who has absolutely no democratic right to be governing north of the border.

When anyone against the breaking up of the United Kingdom is asked a straightforward question on currency union, the EU, defence, membership of NATO, or indeed anything, and he/she gives a straightforward and honest opinion, if the YC/SNP doesn’t like the answer, then he/she is immediately accused of – well, take your pick from any of the labels mentioned in first paragraph.

In April the defence secretary Philip Hammond, on a visit to Glasgow, told workers at Thales, a firm which supplies periscopes for the Royal Navy, the simple truth that if Scotland voted for independence, their jobs could be at risk.

Mr Hammond was immediately accused of threatening Scottish workers. No he wasn’t, he was simply giving a truthful and honest answer. Why would the government of the United Kingdom of Northern Ireland, Wales and England dish out defence contracts to a foreign country when the work can be done within their own borders?

Or take the insurance company Standard Life, which employs 5,000 people in Scotland, but has 90 per cent of its customer base south of the border. It has made it plain that in the event of a “yes” vote it will be considering relocating to London, citing uncertainty over currency and membership of the EU among other concerns.

According to SNP finance minister John Swinney, Standard Life has come to this decision due to “irresponsible threats over currency union” from the UK government. No it hasn’t. Standard Life has taken this decision because it cannot see the taxpayers of Northern Ireland, Wales and England being prepared to underwrite the spending plans of a foreign country.

So surely, instead of launching into hysterical accusations and trying to make emotive propaganda capital out of workers fears, the YC/SNP should be reassuring these workers that plenty of work will be found for them in an independent Scotland and telling them how these jobs will be created.

At the SNP spring conference Alec Salmond went into Mel Gibson mode and, to wild applause, started going on about Scotland achieving “freedom”.

Freedom is a very emotive word when used by the likes of Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, great men who sought to lead their people from under the yoke of oppression. So does Alex Salmond see himself as a King or a Mandela and if so could the YC/SNP tell us who, or what, exactly, are we seeking “freedom” from?

Who are these people/countries oppressing us Scots? As far as I know we enjoy the ability to come and go as we please, we go to the ballot box and cast our vote, completely free from any pressure, so why do the YC/SNP feel oppressed and their “freedom” curtailed? Let’s have some answers.

We are told by the YC/SNP that Scotland suffers from a democratic deficit, ie the Tories have no right to govern north of Hadrian’s Wall. Do we?

To put things in some sense of perspective, at the last General Election the Scottish people, on a turnout of 63.8 per cent, cast 77.6 per cent of their votes for the parties in favour of the Union – Labour, Lib/Dems and Conservatives – while 19.9 per cent voted for the SNP.

This can hardly be construed as an oppressed people crying out for “freedom”. (Just for the record, 16.7 per cent voted for the public-school educated, Tory posh boys.)
At the 2011 Scottish elections, out of the 3,950,751 people eligible to vote, their was a turnout of 50.6 per cent. In the constituency vote, 45.4 per cent voted SNP while 48.1 per cent voted for the Unionist parties.

Again, which ever way you dress it up, this can hardly be construed as the screams of an oppressed people crying out for “freedom”, when half of them didn’t even turn out to vote and half of those who did, voted for the Unionist parties.

As to the cost of things in an independent Scotland, who knows – including the YC/SNP – what anything will cost, if we do not have a currency? For example, Mr Salmond tells us that the Scottish defence budget will be 250 billion … which prompts the question: 250 billion what? 250 billion dubloons? 250 billion pieces of eight? 250 billion Scottish pounds? How does he know what the cost will be?

It is obvious that Mr Salmond’s budget for an independent Scotland is costed under the United Kingdom monetary system – the pound sterling. However, if the people of Scotland vote “yes” we will be outside the UK and will not have a pound, underwritten by the Bank of England and the taxpayers of Northern Ireland, Wales and England, as there will be no currency union.

Yes, we can keep the pound, but it will be a Scottish pound and, as an independent country with an independent currency, the Scottish pound will have to find its level on the International Currency Markets.

Who knows, it may find a better value and exchange rate than the pound sterling, but then again it may drop like a stone, so until we know the value of our independent currency, the YC/SNP can’t cost any policies.

It would seem, however, that the YC/SNP have not considered this scenario and have gambled everything on a currency union. So what is plan B for an independent Scottish currency?

Finally, the YC/SNP are doing cartwheels of pure undiluted joy when a recent opinion poll found that more Scots would be inclined to vote for independence if they thought that the UK would return a majority Tory government to Westminster.

For pure, barefaced hypocrisy this takes some beating. Think about it. If Scotland votes for independence then Labour would immediately lose 41 Scottish MPs from Westminster. This would mean that the United Kingdom of Northern Ireland, Wales and England would almost certainly have a majority Tory government.

And who are the YC/SNP wanting an independent Scotland to have a currency union with? They want – and have staked everything – on a currency union with the rest of UK, where the Bank of England will set Scotland’s interest rates and oversee, as the lender of last resort, Scotland’s public spending.

This brings us to the mega fly in the YC/SNP ointment, a fly which their carefully crafted emotive propaganda, strangely, does not mention; that being – which parliament will the Bank of England be answerable to? It will be answerable to the Westminster Parliament dominated by none other than the public-school educated, rich, posh Tory boys from the south-east of England.

Now I may have got all this a little bit wrong, but it seems strange to me that the “freedom” loving YC/SNP want to jump into a currency union bed with a party which has absolutely no democratic right to be governing north of the border.

Magnie Stewart




Add Your Comment
  • Chris Thomson

    • May 23rd, 2014 12:52

    It’s the option between the chance to build a better future, or not.

    I’ll be voting YES. It’s a decision full of risk, as is any decision that may lead to something worthwhile, like buying a house or starting a business, but in the long run it will be worth it, because we will have no other option than to make it work.

  • Dr. Robert Leslie

    • May 23rd, 2014 14:27

    There are a number of inaccuracies and misconceptions in Magnie Stewart’s contribution.

    “Scaremongering” is a pretty apt term when someone seeks to inspire fear by being more than a little economical with the truth.

    To take the example of Philip Hammond: the Westminster Parliament, of which he is a member, has presided over an enormous reduction in Defence expenditure that hardly inspires confidence in their bona fides. Due to Westminster policy, there are very few defence assets left in Scotland. Numbers of troops have been cut to an all time low. There are only 5 MoD helicopters in the whole of Scotland and only 1 conventional naval vessel on the East coast. Between 2000 and 2010 Ministry of Defence personnel in Scotland were cut by 27.9%. This is much higher than the equivalent UK cut of 11.6%.

    The navy does not have one major surface vessel based in Scottish waters. The last time it was necessary for a foreign warship to be “escorted” out of Scottish waters, it took 36 hours to get a destroyer up from Portsmouth. We could have been invaded and overrun in that time!

    Between 2007-08 and 2011-12 Scotland received £1.9 billion less than its population share of defence contracts. From 2002-2008 there was a £5.622 billion under spend on defence forces in Scotland. Scottish taxpayers put in much more than is spent in Scotland. For Philip Hammond to suggest that Scottish Defence jobs are secure, or even valued, within the Union is therefore risible at best.

    On 6th November 2013, Philip Hammond categorically and very deliberately refused to say, when interviewed by Channel 4 News, that Portsmouth would have its shipbuilding capabilities restored if Scotland voted Yes. Portsmouth is currently winding up its affairs and closing. The Type 26 frigates will be built in Scotland as there is NOWHERE else on the mainland of Britain with the capacity to do so.

    For those who claim that British warships are never built on non-UK soil, even Hammond has admitted (same interview) that that only applies in wartime, and from the defence white paper “Defence Industrial Strategy”, published in 2005 by the Labour government of Tony Blair we have the following policy statement (which has never been amended or withdrawn) (“Onshore” in this context means “in the UK”).

    “Shipbuilding and integration: there is no absolute requirement to build all warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels onshore, but a minimum ability to build and integrate complex ships in the UK must be retained … There is no requirement for fabrication of basic structures in the UK per se”

    The proposed Defence model model for an Independent Scotland includes a Scottish navy of between 20 and 25 vessels, the building of which Scottish shipyards could compete for in the same way they do for UK contracts. Currently there are 11 vessels in Scotland. Such a model can also include aircraft and helicopters for use in North Sea operations and the Arctic. Angus Robertson’s proposal include an increase in the military footprint for the army in Scotland from around 11,000 troops to 15,000. By scrapping Trident, Scotland will save £200 million a year which can be ploughed into creating new jobs and re-tooling our shipyards to enable them to compete for civilian shipping contracts – a diversification which has been urged upon BAE for decades but which they have blithely ignored while Defence jobs have withered on the vine.

    Why should “the taxpayers of Northern Ireland, Wales and England” fear a currency union when the likelihood is that the only debts they would be called upon to underwrite would be their own? I’m actually dubious about a currency union because if anyone is going to be underwriting the debts of another country, it is ourselves! However, I can understand that, say, a 5-10 year formal union would help guarantee the stability of our nearest market (with £1.6 trillion in debt and rising, THEY are the ones in trouble, not an Independent Scotland). And that view has heavyweight backing: the Financial Times, 2nd February 2014 states “Even excluding the North Sea’s hydrocarbon bounty, [Scotland’s] per capita GDP is higher than that of Italy. Oil, whisky and a broad range of manufactured goods mean an independent Scotland would be one of the world’s top 35 exporters. An independent Scotland could also expect to start with healthier state finances than the rest of the UK. ” And international credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s said, 27th February 2014, “Even excluding North Sea output and calculating per capita GDP only by looking at onshore income, Scotland would qualify for our highest economic assessment. Higher GDP per capita, in our view, gives a country a broader potential tax and funding base to draw from, which supports creditworthiness.”

    In the unlikely event of a currency union NOT being agreed (“Well”, says PM Osborne, “I was simply communicating my predecessor’s view. The currency union issue was out of my hands!” I can just hear it!), then Plan B (the White Paper has several alternative plans, despite what the media may tell you) is to use the Pound anyway (as it is an internationally tradable currency) so the Scottish Budget WILL be based on the £ as it is valued in the remaining UK. The question of a “Bank of last resort” is probably moot anyway given our stronger financial position, but one could be set up within Scotland by a simple withdrawal of the billions presently lodged in the B of E to guarantee Scottish banknotes – of course that would further weaken the rUK economy. How Osborne would explain that to his voters, I can’t even begin to guess.

    With regard to Scots, in the last General Election, voting for Unionist parties, a comparison with the Holyrood Election reveals a pretty clear picture of tactical voting to attempt to keep the “greater evil” – the Tories – out. When the Tories did NOT represent an electoral threat – as at Holyrood – people felt free to vote FOR rather than AGAINST something.

    As for the inadequately-researched but much-trumpeted claim that an Independent Scotland would sentence the rUK to eternal Tory governments, I groaned out loud when I read that old lie. The figures since the War reveal that the only times Scotland made any substantive difference were the short-lived Wilson small majority and minority governments where they would have converted the first to Labour minority governments or coalitions and the latter to a Conservative minority or coalition. Those governments only lasted a few months.

    Given that the number of Scottish MPs was thereafter reduced from 71 to 59 and is currently under review with a probability of further reduction, coupled with the realisation by all Unionist parties that, to gain power, they must court the more conservative vote in the densely populated Home Counties, it becomes obvious that Scottish view will go unreflected in policy decisions and that our numbers, in any case, are increasingly irrelevant to the results of UK General Elections.

    1945 Labour govt (Attlee)
    Labour majority: 146 Without Scottish MPs: 143

    1950 Labour govt (Attlee)
    Labour majority: 5. Without Scottish MPs: 2

    1951 Conservative govt (Churchill/Eden)
    Conservative majority: 17. Without Scottish MPs: 16

    1955 Conservative govt (Eden/Macmillan)
    Conservative majority: 60. Without Scottish MPs: 61

    1959 Conservative govt (Macmillan/Douglas-Home)
    Conservative majority: 100. Without Scottish MPs: 109

    1964 Labour govt (Wilson)
    Labour majority: 4. Without Scottish MPs: -9

    1966 Labour govt (Wilson)
    Labour majority: 98. Without Scottish MPs: 77

    1970 Conservative govt (Heath)
    Conservative majority: 30. Without Scottish MPs: 55

    1974 Minority Labour govt (Wilson)
    Labour majority: -33. Without Scottish MPs: -50

    1974b Labour govt (Wilson/Callaghan)
    Labour majority: 3
    Without Scottish MPs: -8

    1979 Conservative govt (Thatcher)
    Conservative majority: 43. Without Scottish MPs: 70

    1983 Conservative govt (Thatcher)
    Conservative majority: 144. Without Scottish MPs: 174

    1987 Conservative govt (Thatcher/Major)
    Conservative majority: 102. Without Scottish MPs: 154

    1992 Conservative govt (Major)
    Conservative majority: 2. Without Scottish MPs: 71

    1997 Labour govt (Blair)
    Labour majority: 179. Without Scottish MPs: 139

    2001 Labour govt (Blair)
    Labour majority: 167. Without Scottish MPs: 129

    2005 Labour govt (Blair/Brown)
    Labour majority: 66. Without Scottish MPs: 43

    2010 Coalition govt (Cameron)
    Conservative majority: -38. Without Scottish MPs: 19
    CHANGE: CON-LIB COALITION TO CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY – Given the near complete sell-out of the LibDems, this would have made very little difference, if any.


  • Alan Farquhar

    • May 23rd, 2014 15:27

    Quite a lot to chew on there… How many periscopes do the Royal Navy buy from Thales? The MOD is just one customer and losing one customer doesn’t mean the company couldn’t survive. Hammond made it sound like the entire company would go bust. It wouldn’t, it would pursue other contracts like it does all the time.

    The MOD are having a ship built in South Korea, that could incidentally be done within our own borders, surely? Jobs here rather than jobs elsewhere.

    I can tell you who I want freedom from. Freedom from a rotten, corrupt and only partially elected Westminster Parliament. I want freedom form that to ensure Scottish soldiers do not die in vain fighting illegal wars. I want freedom from having weapons of mass destruction in my own country. I want freedom from a government that has made Scotland one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. I want freedom so we can treat our disabled and unemployed with a decent level of respect instead of alienating them for being who they are. I want the freedom so my OWN parliament can make sensible economic decisions that do not lead us into economic meltdown and burdens this and future generations with masses of debt.

    Magnie, you make it sound like the Better Together crowd don’t try to scare folk from voting YES. We all know they do at every opportunity. That’s why they called themselves Project Fear, internally at least.

  • Michael Mair

    • May 23rd, 2014 16:09

    Poor Magnie,,Must be feeling a bit frozen out by the relentless climbing in the pols of the Yes campaign, Nothing new here, you’ll find no warmth raking over these old coals. weak arguments that were debunked weeks ago. I will take Standard & Poor’s assessment of an Independent Scotland’s financial capabilities over the ever unchanging Bitter Together diatribe any day .

  • john n oakes

    • May 23rd, 2014 17:18

    Lets hope the Scots and Shetland people vote the right way. As an outsider living in England watching a few debates here and there, I do wish for the Union to stay but reality take hold. Since devolution or the triggering gun for independence curtesy of New Labour. Scotland has now furrowed their own field for sometime away from England and the English people. The more the press print Alex the Salmond rants and rave the greater we in England wish you Scots and Shetland people a merry journey soon.

  • Peter Long

    • May 23rd, 2014 20:29

    Viewed from the outside, the prospect of an independent Scotland seems amazing. As a resident of Norfolk, the idea of an independant “East Anglia” sounds like something between barmy and terrifying, yet East Anglia is bigger than Scotland from almost every point of view, with miles better access to its’ markets. While I admire the pluck of the Yes Scots, I’m thankful that we’re not facing the same upheaval down here.

  • Ian tinkler

    • May 23rd, 2014 21:56

    Chris Thomson: I’ll be voting YES. It’s a decision full of risk, as is any decision that may lead to something worthwhile” That is the only articulate argument I have ever heard for a YES vote. Now how about a Crown Dependency for Shetland? that may lead to something worthwhile. Now lets just fight for that people.

  • ian tinkler

    • May 23rd, 2014 22:49

    Michael Mair, “the relentless climbing in the pols of the Yes campaign” whoops. The lowest recording in the polls for Yes for 8 months. O dear, Salmond shines again!!!

  • Scott Graham

    • May 23rd, 2014 23:59

    @ Farquhar what a silly post do you not read the news the economy is growing at a world leading rate due to the economic policies of the current government. All the false promises of the SNP are trying to bribe the electorate. You can’t believe the slimy salmon and his silly sidekicks cos they are trying to sell you a line for their own benefit. Vile SNP nationalists!

  • Sandy McMillan

    • May 24th, 2014 0:01

    Joost wan thing to say Magnie Stewart, looks as if he is going through the change o life.

  • David Smith

    • May 24th, 2014 1:41

    We’ll be safer in the UK. That’s the truth and we should say it as loud as possible, not worrying what stupid names we get called.

    Bank accounts are protected to the tune of £85000 in the UK.
    In an independent Scotland, they wouldn’t be.

    If you want to help force Alex Salmond admit that fact, please sign this official petition at the Scottish Parliament:

  • ian tinkler

    • May 24th, 2014 7:11

    Michael Mair, have you actually read the report? “An independent Scotland would struggle to match the UK’s AAA credit rating with Standard& Poor, if it failed to negotiate a currency union with London or the eurozone, the credit rating agency warned on Thursday,” 27/ 2014.(
    Do you read the news, “Scottish independence: Yes vote at 8-month low” 24th May 2014. (
    “Poor Magnie,,Must be feeling a bit frozen.!” Perhaps Magnie actually has an honest point to make.

    • Ali Inkster

      • May 24th, 2014 19:45

      The last paragraph in you first link should ring alarm bells across Scotland, a GDP (including north sea oil) slightly below that of New Zealand. Anybody that has been to NZ will know that they are not the wealthiest of countries by a long shot, in fact they are going ahead with fracking in an attempt to balance the books. If it wasn’t for their climate you could be pretty sure a lot more kiwis would be working in the thule.

  • Stella Winks

    • May 24th, 2014 7:43

    Well said Magnie!

  • Wayne Johnston

    • May 24th, 2014 9:18

    Well said Magnie. Absolutely spot on.

  • Daniel hughson

    • May 24th, 2014 9:33

    Vote Yes.

  • alma isbister

    • May 24th, 2014 12:46

    i totally agree wi whit Magnie says.If “wee eck” un his puppet get whit dey want it will be a disaster!!

  • Joe Johnson

    • May 24th, 2014 14:33

    Well said Magnie,

    It’s true, all the SNP do Is resort to childish name calling like “scaremonger, project fear, fear factor” etc. voters need to know if there is a yes vote, how is it going to affect them. I’m voting no. After hearing both sides of the debate I’m not convinced the SNP has thought this through and Alex Salmond gives me the creeps

  • Mrs M. McRobb, Glasgow

    • May 24th, 2014 17:55

    Magnie’s views is one of the most sensible I have read for a long time.
    There are so many unanswered questions that should have answers well before
    the vote in September so that people know the facts. It would appear Salmond
    and his cronies have no intention of enlightening the general public. His visions
    seem to me to be all “pie-in-the-sky”.

  • Douglas Young

    • May 24th, 2014 22:42

    So many points long debunked but most not the main issue.

    Yes is not about the SNP it is about democracy for a nation.

    Then we can choose any party.

    The UK is in a very serious position at present and it’s economy on the edge of failure.

    Debt interest is nearing £1bn per week on the £1.6 trn debt mountain.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • May 25th, 2014 0:03

    The only way forward in September is with a yes vote, nothing other will do, we cannot live the way we are living, we all must get rid of the Westminster stangle hold, Westminster is not going to be happy until they have left our Country Scotland with nothing .

  • Fiona Johnson

    • May 25th, 2014 11:28

    Scots jobs might be lost if the MOD decided not to use Thales for buying periscopes. Hmmm. Thales is a French company.

    I also read that there could be passport control points on the England Scotland border. Don’t think that’s likely either – there are no passport control points anywhere inside the EU.

    And for all the threats of Scotland not being allowed to join the EU/NATO – I think pragmatism would outweigh tantrum on that one…….

    • Gordon Harmer

      • May 25th, 2014 19:43

      Thales may well be French but they employ hundreds of people in Glasgow, plus Scottish firms earn £1.8 billion from UK defence contracts. Try and imagine how many jobs will be lost when these contracts are lost because of a yes vote. This being the very tip of a massive consequential iceberg due to a yes vote.

      Thales Optronics conducts its business from three sites in the UK. The main site and headquarters is in Glasgow with secondary sites in Staines and Bury St Edmunds. These companies have around 800 employees with a combined annual turnover of around £120 million. Thales designs and manufactures electro-optic systems, modules, and components, mainly for the defence market. As part of Thales Defence, Thales Optronics is at the centre of a multi-disciplined group of UK based companies with annual revenues of over £1.2 billion and a workforce of approximately 12,500 people. Thales Defence is in turn part of the global Thales Group with annual revenues of over £10 billion.

      Danish Foreign Minister, Martin Lidegaard, has today 25/05/14, confirmed that a separate Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU, contrary to what the Nationalists have previously claimed.
      Martin Lidegaard stated, during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World this Weekend’, that there are “strict rules” for joining the EU. He also said that a separate Scotland would have to meet the Copenhagen criteria.
      More recently Alex Salmond was interviewed on Sky and asserted that a separate Scotland would be able to join the European Union within 18 months of leaving the UK. To support this claim the First Minister cited Article 48 of the European Treaty.
      The reality, however, is that European leaders have made clear that a separate Scotland would need to apply under Article 49. That means entry negotiations would not be able to start until Scotland had completely separated from the UK.
      Additionally, the most recent country to join the EU, Croatia, applied for membership in 2003 but did not formally join until 2013.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 25th, 2014 13:27

    Well said Magnie, this is the best letter I have read in this debate, truthful, positive, factual and to the point.

  • Joe Johnson

    • May 25th, 2014 16:19

    Vote no

  • Bob SInclair

    • June 2nd, 2014 21:25

    Absolutely best contribution to the entire debate from a supporter of any side. Such sensible input needs to be heard at a much higher level nationally. Well said Magnie.

  • Peter Smith

    • June 3rd, 2014 9:18


    Where do you get the idea there there are no passport control points inside the EU? I was on holiday in Portugal in March and on arrival at Faro airport was required to produce my passport, likewise on return to Glasgow.

    You may be thinking of the Schengen agreement, which allows free movement, but the UK opted out of that part of it. I dont know if an independent Scotland joining the EU would have to sign up to the full Schengen agreement, but a ‘border’ between England and Scotland could be a distinct possibility.


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