Biagi tries to spin a yarn (John Tulloch)

Thank you for your report in today’s Shetland Times on Our Islands Our Future (OIOF)’s sub-glacial progress on devolution.

Let’s hope the SNP wins the election, otherwise all bets are off. And let’s hope there’s another independence referendum, otherwise all bets will still be off and this unique opportunity in Shetland’s history will have been squandered.

Three years and 12 meetings on and OIOF will now see a third electoral contest without a single tangible gain – a Holyrood master class in “kicking the can ever further down the road”.

And what’s all this about new ferries? I thought the SIC was talking to the Scottish government about fixed road links (tunnels)? Never mind, as long as the council can “just about afford the revenue costs of ferries” who needs tunnels?

How Gary Robinson can come out singing the praises of this “excellent opportunity to put the islands’ case to ministers over a number of years”, of which he “supposes we are reaching a point where he would like to see some of this feeding into the islands bill and into manifestos for the May election”, after 12 meetings and this year’s five per cent SIC funding cut is beyond me.
OIOF has failed. Shetland needs a new strategy.

As for SNP local government minister Marco Biagi trying to spin a yarn about that miserly funding cut:

“South of the border, over three years, they cut 27 per cent off of local government budgets,” Biagi said, “and as a result of the Barnett formula, every time the UK government cuts funding in England there’s a corresponding cut in funding to Scotland.”

I’m sorry, previous years figures are irrelevant; he was asked about THIS YEAR!

And “this year”, in flat cash terms, the Scottish government received a small increase (from £30,141 million to £30.286 million). Yet Scottish councils’ funding allocation has been cut by over one per cent overall and Shetland’s, by 5.1 per cent (or 4.4 per cent, if you prefer Mr Biagi’s version).

He continued: “We’ve been able to protect local authorities in Scotland … and they’re in a challenging but, I would say, fair settlement position at this point that is just a one per cent reduction in overall gross expenditure.”

Really? By Mr Biagi’s own admission, the SIC has this year suffered “a 4.4 per cent reduction in overall gross expenditure” while the Scottish government has enjoyed a small increase. If that’s “protecting” them I wouldn’t like to witness an attack.

At the end of the day, in Mr Biagi’s own words, Shetland has suffered a “4.4 per cent reduction in overall gross expenditure” while the Scottish government has enjoyed a £145 million increase and there is no way he or Derek Mackay can spin their way out of that.

That’s the “Tartan Tories” for you – “Cut, cut, cut!”

John Tulloch
Chairman, Wir Shetland


Add Your Comment
  • Robert Duncan

    • March 3rd, 2016 11:31

    I suspect backlash to recent local government funding arrangements would have been a factor in the Scottish Government’s recent announcements on Council Tax. A weak-willed sticky plaster measure that goes back on what was one of the SNP’s more admirable policies – rejection of the regressive, out dated Council Tax. Instead we see tiny changes (that could have been implemented over a decade ago), with over half of Scottish properties still in the wrong tax band, and values still totally disproportional at the expense of the poorest off.

    Worst of all it does nothing to address the issue as the potential additional funding is miniscule.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 3rd, 2016 17:40

      I would agree with almost all of that, Robert. The SNP have realised they’ve shot themselves through the foot in election year and are trying desperately to recover from it.

      Can you explain why you think council tax is “regressive”? As it stands, cheaper houses are lower rated.

      Surely, if the banding was updated, unless you increase the number of bands, then the same houses would end up in the same bands which would just become broader to encompass the widened range of prices that has occurred due to housing market inflation?

      Or are you thinking of a completely different tax e.g. a local VAT-style transaction tax, taking a set percentage of all transactions?

      • Robert Duncan

        • March 3rd, 2016 19:23

        “Can you explain why you think council tax is “regressive”? As it stands, cheaper houses are lower rated.”

        Bands are based on 1991 valuations. Since then house prices at the top end of the market have increased dramatically, while those in the poorest areas have seen far more modest increases. Add in that the difference between the bottom band and top band is only around 3:1 (changing to around 3.6:1 in these new proposals), and it’s clear that any revaluation would benefit the poorest off a lot more than the wealthy. That’s not necessarily to say that the poorest off would be paying less, but that the system would be raising more money through the better off paying their fair share.

        I just about know the difference between VAT and Council Tax, thanks.

      • Robert Duncan

        • March 3rd, 2016 19:26

        And in reference to the comment I’d overlook, yes I’d be supportive of an increase to the number of bands. I’d be more in favour of a complete overhaul of the system though.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 4th, 2016 22:54

        Aye, Robert D., I take your point about the banding, although, houses e.g. my own, were set in a band in the 1990s and still have the same rating, irrespective of price inflation. If the banding were changed equitably, the rating should remain the same? That said I can see potential for anomalies of the kind you describe.

        I’ll venture again that it can’t be considered “regressive” because if you have a small house, you pay less for, ostensibly, the same level of services – granted, consumption-related services will differ in usage.

        The lowest payment is a third of the highest and while it’s debatable whether that’s the right ratio, it isn’t actually regressive and let’s not forget, if you buy a £1 million house in Scotland, you’ll pay £120,000 in stamp duty. So if you buy one you’d better hope any resident ghosts are friendly 🙂

        I can understand why all recent governments have welched on tackling local taxation, it’s a political minefield and while I think there’s a place for property tax in local taxation, I’d be interested in suggestions for its (whole or partial?) replacement.

      • Robert Duncan

        • March 7th, 2016 11:49

        John, here is a report describing council tax not only as regressive but as the only tax that is “regressive by design”.

        As an economist and employee of the IFS the author can word it better than me, but I would say you are mistaking “not regressive” for “not linearly regressive”.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 7th, 2016 16:18

        Thanks, Robert D. for the interesting link.

  • Robin Stevenson

    • March 4th, 2016 14:20

    John, with all due respect, you’re sounding exactly like every other political opposition party, with this constant whinging of how ‘Bad’ the SNP Scottish Government are supposed to be?
    Surely, at some point, you must ask yourself, “How did that go for Labour/Lib Dems and Tories in Scotland? We’re now down to 1 MP from each of these parties, do you ever wonder why?
    The Lib/Dems have represented S&O for the last 72 years, with them being in power – both in Westminster and Holyrood – surely at some point they’d have ensured the best possible deal for their constituents before the SNP came along and [in your mind] ruined everything?

    I’m afraid – much like our 3 amigos – using the same tactic may not be in the best interests of your brand new WIR Shetland group? Another ‘SNP BaaaD’ party, is probably the last thing people need?

    • Robert Sim

      • March 5th, 2016 3:44

      You’ve got it wrong, Robin – you are only painting half the picture. If you read the article carefully, Mr Tulloch thinks it’s also the fault of the SIC councillors, in the shape of Gary Robinson. But hang on – those are the same councillors whom he thinks are poor, put-upon souls, victimised and controlled by cynical SIC officials. So are the officials manipulating OIOF? It surely can’t be that councillors are thinking for themselves? Maybe they think that negotiating with the Scottish Government through OIOF now is the sensible, practical way to go and most likely to bring about results for their constituents.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 5th, 2016 8:20

      Robie, “SNP Baaa-aad”, you ask? OK. Let’s examine their record in office:

      1. Since 2008, Shetland education has been underfunded by £10Mpa, totalling £80 million or £8,000 per Shetland household – on education, alone!!

      2. In the last 3 years, Shetland and Orkney have fared worse than the Western Isles on ferry funding with a 14 percent cut versus a 41 percent boost for Clyde/Hebridean services (£17 million, ‘pro rata’).

      3. This year (2016/17) SIC has suffered a £9.3 million (c.10 percent) ‘real terms’ cut in annual government funding, the WORST deal of any council in Scotland.

      I make no other comment, readers may judge for themselves who is or is not good or “baaa-aad” for Shetland.

  • iantinkler

    • March 5th, 2016 10:12

    ‘SNP BaaaD’ party, is probably the last thing people need? So true Robin Stevenson. It would help a lot to prevent the “SNP BaaaD” bit if the SNP actually did something to help Shetland. Never mind, let’s see if Dannus comes up with something original, as yet all he has managed is a moan about the Tory privatisation of the NHS South of the border. Wow that will make such a difference to Shetland!!! lol!! Incidentally for the initiation of the ignorant the WIR Shetland group is not a political party.

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 7th, 2016 11:57

      “It would help a lot to prevent the “SNP BaaaD” bit if the SNP actually did something to help Shetland.”

      Are you not in favour of this move Ian? I may be conflating your views with those of Gordon Harmar, who I know was a strong proponent of lifting the council tax cap. The strange thing about this decision is that is one that has mainly been argued for by opponents of the SNP. Perhaps the first example in many years of the opposition parties actually influencing a major policy…

  • iantinkler

    • March 7th, 2016 12:32

    Are you not in favour of this move Ian? .Robert you have me at a disadvantage here. What move are you talking about? The underfunding of Shetland education, the plan to industrialise Shetland as one massive Wind Farm and Electrical hub for all Europe, (1000 miles offshore floating turbines), the disproportionate ferry costs, or the £9.3 million (c.10 percent) ‘real terms’ cut in annual government funding, the WORST deal of any council in Scotland. Maybe you mean the centralising of the police so we can leave people to die in crashed cars. Enlighten me Robert Duncan, what has the SNP done for Shetland, apart from divide the population and give us Buster, the Yes Shetland, testicularly challenged Tom Cat (facebook), at least he is cut and appears to say a bit more about nationalist policy than Dannus ever has.

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 7th, 2016 14:49

      My apologies, I thought this post was in the chain of comments between John Tulloch and me, and was referring to the SNP’s decision to lift the Council Tax freeze.

  • iantinkler

    • March 7th, 2016 15:16

    Buster cut, I meant to say cute, I suppose he is both!! Surry Buster I assume you are a Tom?

  • Haydn Gear

    • March 8th, 2016 10:04

    Yet again, I see that Ian is demonstrating that he has a light hearted nature by putting everything into a Funtime perspective !! He would be a huge success on the telly in Live at the Apollo. Come on Ian, lighten up, brighten us all up and keep churning out all that should be done to create Utopia on Earth. LOL

  • John Tulloch

    • March 13th, 2016 23:57

    Here’s the real reason for the SIC’s £9.3 billion cut in Scottish government funding – the SNP have a £15billion budget deficit so they have to impose austerity to get it down because if it continues it will explode the case for independence.

    No independence campaign, no problem!

    SIC leaders should watch and listen to the linked interview because, among other things, Nicola Sturgeon waxes categorically about how much more it costs to fund services in islands and other remote communities!

    She’s obviously well aware of the additional costs faced by the SIC, yet John Swinney allows COSLA to continue evasion of “needs-based” criteria for allocating councils’ funding and the SIC has just been awarded the WORST deal of any council in Scotland.

    • Robert Sim

      • March 14th, 2016 12:22

      That’s fascinating, John. So who should Shetland voters plump for in the coming election? I take it you would continue to have Shetland politically isolated within Scotland? What use is that? We get your desire to see Shetland independent and I can only surmise that to you a non- SNP feels like it’s halfway there – whereas for constituents it serves no purpose to have an MSP who stands isolated outside government.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 14th, 2016 14:30

        On the contrary.

        Rejecting the SNP candidate on May 6th will send a very clear message that Shetland is distinct and very different from other parts of Scotland and that the treatment being meted out to us by Holyrood is unacceptable.

        Outside some common history with Orkney, Shetland is historically, culturally and economically unique and the SNP Scottish government is in denial about that.

        Given the SNP track record in government, WIr Shetland will be unable to support Danus Skene this time and we shall issue a full statement on our election intentions when we are ready.

        Finally, your suggestion that Shetlanders should reward financial coercion by voting SNP is absurd.

        Electing an SNP MSP would create a false – disastrous – impression that Shetlanders are content to be treated worse than anyone else and think the SNP is doing a wonderful job for them when they are not – anything but!

      • Brian Smith

        • March 14th, 2016 18:25

        Wir Shetland is becoming more and more astonishing. They have one policy: ‘Rejecting the SNP candidate on May 6th’.

        The reason for this policy is the alleged ‘financial coercion’ of Shetland by the Scottish government, and a proposal that Shetland Islands Council has been ‘treated worse than anyone else’.

        ‘Shetland’, Mr Tulloch says, ‘is historically, culturally and economically unique’. But every county in Scotland is unique; and someone in Glasgow, where the Council is planning to lay off 1500 staff, is not likely to believe that Shetland is being singled out for specially cruel treatment.

        Dealing with different communities, each with their own unique circumstances, is what a government has to do.

      • Robert Sim

        • March 14th, 2016 18:50

        That’s great, John, and certainly not absurd in the least. I could follow your logic if there was going to be any chance of the opposition outvoting the government at Holyrood over the next term. But there isn’t. The national polls are clear. In such a situation, being realistic, it doesn’t benefit a constituency to return an MSP who can exert no effective influence at all. Unless of course those constituents just want to make a gesture, as you would like.

        And before anyone starts going on about “one-party states” the answer is: we don’t have one. We have a democracy. The SNP doesn’t control the way people vote.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 14th, 2016 21:23

        In that case John, please answer my question? What in the last 72 years have the Lib/Dems done for Shetland?

        I get the fact that you’re a bit frightened of being overshadowed by Danus and the SNP, I understand that by choosing a weak and ineffectual party like the Lib/Dems, it’ll allow you and ‘WIR Shetland’ to shine, but seriously, you really must think of what is in ‘Shetlands’ best interests? not just your own agenda?

        Here’s the bit of history you’ll hate John:

        “In 1470, William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness ceded his title to James III and the following year the Northern Isles were directly ‘annexed’ to the Crown of Scotland, a process confirmed by Parliament in 1472”.

        ‘Annexed’…Ouch!!.. 😉

      • John Tulloch

        • March 15th, 2016 10:29

        Well, Robert, I guess “you would say that.”

      • John Tulloch

        • March 15th, 2016 10:38

        @Robin Stevenson,

        You’d need to consult the pawning document to determine the legality or otherwise of that little manoeuvre however Wir Shetland is adopting a political route to increased local powers so, if you don’t mind, I’ll leave the historic legal arguments to you and Stuart Hill.

        It does sound however as if you’re telling us that Shetlanders have been shafted by Edinburgh from Day 1 and judging by this year’s annual funding for SIC – the WORST DEAL of any Scottish council – nothing much has changed since then.

      • Robert Sim

        • March 15th, 2016 13:52

        Gosh, John, now you’re bringing Mandy Rice-Davies into it!?

      • Robert Sim

        • March 16th, 2016 2:01

        I’ll just have one more go, John, because I am genuinely fascinated by your thinking here. You tell Robin that “…Wir Shetland is adopting a political route to increased local powers…” Let’s follow the logic through. When WS was launched – if I recall correctly – the local SNP candidate welcomed the new organisation. You made a point of highlighting that at the time. He is the only candidate who, if elected, would both be sympathetic to your position – at least in part – and have an earthly of putting your case to the Scottish Government and being heard. But you want local voters to reject him? In that case, “…a political route to increased local powers…” is the last thing WS is following.

      • Duncan Simpson

        • March 16th, 2016 7:24

        I am sorry Robert but are you really saying that Shetlanders should vote SNP simply because that is what the majority of other areas have voted for?

        I would rather vote for a candidate and party I believe is the most suitable rather than the “can’t beat em join em” attitude you seem to be suggesting.

        If everyone always went with the majority vote then there would never be effective opposition to anything and we truly would live in a one party state!

      • Robert Sim

        • March 16th, 2016 15:01

        Thanks, Duncan. Certainly everyone will vote the way they want. I was simply highlighting one factor which is in everyone’s mind when they vote – i.e. how much influence will this candidate’s party have? – and which at the moment in Scotland is much more significant than in UK elections, where the balance is much more even. It’s tactical voting, I guess. In my last post, I was pointing out the tactical advantage to WS of voting SNP. But each to his and her own, ultimately.

        I am interested in your emphasis on the individual making up their own mind. I could be mischievous and ask if that means that you think that WS should take that approach and not support one party or another at this election?

      • Ali Inkster

        • March 24th, 2016 15:07

        Robert you wrote “being realistic, it doesn’t benefit a constituency to return an MSP who can exert no effective influence at all. Unless of course those constituents just want to make a gesture, as you would like.” So by that logic the 54 snp mps at westminster are a waste of time.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 25th, 2016 9:49

        Indeed, Ali.

        Robert seems to be conceding that we’ve been discriminated against because we don’t vote SNP.

        It’s vital Shetland voters send a polling day message that we want no truck with the SNP’s ‘one party state’ and their plundering of Shetland’s assets.

        The only way out of it is to win control of our own affairs.

    • Robert Sim

      • March 14th, 2016 12:26

      Sorry – typo in my post above: I meant to say “non-SNP Shetland”.

    • Bill Adams

      • March 15th, 2016 13:36

      I think you need a lesson in maths from your chum Ian Tinkler, John.
      A £9.3 BILLION cut in Scottish Govt. funding to the SIC – really ??
      I know that you hate the SNP, but that really is overstating your case !!

      • John Tulloch

        • March 15th, 2016 15:27

        Ab, Bill, good to hear from you – and you make a reasonable point which deserves an answer.

        I started off quoting the flat rate cut of 5.1 percent but your colleague Derick Tulloch, disliking the fact the SG had received a flat rate raise from Westminster, insisted that I should use the inflation-adjusted figures and due to cost inflation, the result is that SIC must make £9.3 million of cuts. That is the “real terms” version of events – more like a 10 percent cut!

        I’m more than happy to go back to the flat rate figures, if you prefer, but Derick may become very cross with you.

  • Ali Inkster

    • March 14th, 2016 10:57
    • Robin Stevenson

      • March 14th, 2016 20:58

      Very interesting indeed Ali.

      Did you manage to count the number of people who were ‘actually’ from Dundee? Did you notice the two Labour candidates who – amazingly – managed to get their questions in despite neither being from anywhere close to Dundee? Braden Davy, [who stood against Alex Salmond in Gordon, where he saw the Labour vote share plummet from 20.1% to just 5.9%] and Katy Aliberti [the labour candidate who was forced to quit having compared pro-independence kids to the hitler youth]
      On top of that we had 3 pro-union [4 including Dimbleby] panelists and 2 pro-indy…Seems fair?

      The entire programme was a disgrace, Dundee was one of highest Yes voting regions in the Scottish referendum, and yet the audience were selected outwith Dundee. This is the reason why the BBC are regarded as the ‘Westminster mouthpiece’ and the reason why we need a ‘Scottish’ run media.

      • Ali Inkster

        • March 15th, 2016 11:21

        Oh dear they weren’t Scottish enough for your exacting ethnic criteria. You’ll be wanting to remove their right to vote as well as express an opinion next. But none of that gets away from the fact that your favoured panelists had no answers.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 15th, 2016 12:08

        So to make it fair (in a nationalists eyes) there should have been four SNP/Green panelists and one each from four unionist parties. Very fair Robin, as usual if the argument, number of panelists, questions, audience makeup and host are not loaded in your favour you cry bias. When applause came from the audience if was half and half in favour both sides of any argument. This is typical of the nationalists when they don’t win something they strut around like they did win and still blame someone else, If Westminster are not handy then the BBC will do. The BBC, a notorious left wing organisation and once again Mr Stevenson the font of all political knowledge claims they are the Tories mouthpiece. Robin please tell me why you are on here arguing with us mortals and not doing Sturgeons job, because you have more answers than she does.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 15th, 2016 15:46

        No Ali, it was nothing whatsoever to do with ‘they weren’t Scottish enough’, but it was everything to do with, they weren’t even from Dundee? I watch QT regularly, on EVERY episode the vast majority of audience [if not all] -and particularly questioners – are from the very city where the programme is being hosted. In Dundee there were Labour candidates from elsewhere that had been deliberately parachuted in and then given the opportunity to pose their questions. Coincidence?…. I think not.

        Gordon, ‘to make it fair’, we should have had the panelists split 50/50 not 70/30, we should have had the audience ‘actually’ from Dundee. we should have a host that remains impartial, while controlling his panelists [Ruth Davidson] from deliberately interrupting almost every point made by John Swinney. The entire programme was a set up and a sad reminder of those who control our daily dose of propaganda.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • March 15th, 2016 15:58

        O Robin Stevenson, it is so unfair, nasty questions from the wicked people of Dundee and the BBC. Strange how the SNP squirm, moan and wince when asked questions that test their competence and honesty. Great to hear the audience laugh at some of Swinney’s more ludicrous statements. A great comedian at work. No doubt the Nats will call it BBC Nazi propaganda again! lol About time the Nats grew up!! If a politician can not take the heat he should get out of the kitchen or learn to talk sense!!!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 15th, 2016 16:30

        Robin the odd Labour politician is not going to give any side an advantage especially the caliber of those who were in the audience. John Swinney is a good man but an awful politician and Ruth played on that and that is what politicians do. John hates lying and giving the SNP bluff and bluster that is forthcoming more and more and it shows I feel embarrassed for him when he is cornered because I feel he would just as soon tell it as it is rather than paint everything SNP yellow. As I said look back at the program and listen to the applause it was even, so even that there was no more applause for one side of any argument than the other. It makes a change to hear that compared to the blatant bias of STV who do pick audiences of 70 / 30 bias in favour of Nationalists.

      • Robert Duncan

        • March 15th, 2016 16:34

        I don’t support the claims about lack of Scottish accents and whatever else, but it is a little troubling that not one but two recent Labour election candidates were invited to speak – in one case putting forward the main question – without declaring their affiliation.

      • Ali Inkster

        • March 15th, 2016 17:22

        As for Dundee being the highest voting yes region, I wonder how much higher it would of been if somebody had not thought to leave the police in the counting hall the second and third times the fire alarm went off? And in the other yes voting region Glasgow there were folk turning up to vote only to find out they had already voted, Strange eh.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 15th, 2016 20:34

        Well Gordon, I agree with you in regards to John Swinney being a good man, and I accept the fact he may not be a political slugger [unlike Ruthy] it’s just that the entire programme came across as more of a SNP ambush than a constructive political debate? To me it simply showed Scotland and its politicians as narrow minded and parochial, squabbling over non-issues such as’ he said she said?’…Whatever happened to the other parties policies? Where were the questions to Ruth about HER government?

        If truth be told then I guess – as a Scot – I was embarrassed by these squabbling clowns who were not having a civilized political debate, but rather spent their time complaining and nitpicking while making their country [and mine] look ridiculous in front of TV sets right across Britain.

      • Mark Ryan Smith

        • March 16th, 2016 9:24

        According to Gordon Harmer, the BBC is a ‘notorious left wing organisation’. He’s right, of course. BBC stands for Bring Back Communism, and is run by dangerous revolutionaries like David Attenborough and Sue Barker. And as for Last of the Summer Wine! Where do you start? Not many people know this, but it was actually written by Che Guevara. Fidel Castro appears in an early episode, sliding down a hill in a bath.

      • iantinkler

        • March 16th, 2016 15:59

        Mr Smith, you rather silly sarcasm and daft comments rather are a good sequel to your previous comments about the press. I remind you of your pr referendum comments, “It’s easy to forget, in the hurricane of fear brewed up by the press. (17/09/2014 Mark Ryan Smith). Why do you NATs, Mark, always remind me of fools in glass houses and pots kettles and black. Just remember, Mr. Smith, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 16th, 2016 17:25

        For once Robin I totally agree with you and like you I love my country and that is where the problem lies. We like many more love Scotland and want the best for her and us but we see different solutions to reach this goal and this is where the kind of squabbling debate is coming from. We will inevitably go on squabbling on air on line and on and on.
        @ Mark Ryan Smith, you Sir are very good with words, keep it up but please stay away from politics because you make Donald Trump look like a genius.

      • Brian Smith

        • March 16th, 2016 18:10

        It’s all fantasy, Ali.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 16th, 2016 19:39

        There is also this view Robin, that to an outside observer this might have seemed like the normal political scrap that is the programme’s stock in trade.
        The line up, which Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie, Jenny Marra, Patrick Harvie and the Daily Telegraph’s Timothy Stanley, represented all the main parties, a minor one and a wild card, in this case a journalist.
        The subject matter was topical, the panelists pugilistic and the debate lively. If it had been, say, George Osborne rather than Swinney waxing lyrical about the state of the nation’s finances he too would have come in for some flak. Such is the nature of political debate.
        But this is Scotland and currently we live in a climate so dominated by the SNP and their apologists that any criticism, however valid, is greeted with outrage.
        The fact that the city of Dundee was very much in the Yes camp during the independence referendum and that its Holyrood and Westminster seats are currently held by SNP politicians, makes it, in the minds of separatists, a one-party enclave.
        But while 57% of the city voted Yes back in 2014, some 43% were Unionists and the Yessers made up just 45% of Dundee’s electorate.
        That would suggest there remain many Dundonians, possibly even a majority, though I know that’s a heresy who do not support the SNP.
        At the very least, there is a sizable minority who are committed No voters and hold strong views, no doubt, about how the SNP is handling the public purse.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 17th, 2016 22:26


        I take your point: ‘Such is the nature of political debate’. But we DO have to bear in mind, that although the SNP is in Government [Scotland] we have to remember that the Scottish government is limited to the constraints imposed upon it by the UK Tory government? … So yes, let us question, and hold to account the Scottish Government, but let us ALSO question those who represent and speak on behalf of the Government holding OUR governments strings?

        Is it not strange that for decades in Scotland we voted Labour [From 1964- 2010] but did we EVER hear the term ‘One party state?’ In the 1997 and 2001 we sent 56 Labour MPs to Westminster [same number as the SNP] were we a ‘One party state’ then too?

        Your number crunching in Dundee is indeed ‘hearsay’ and frankly irrelevant.
        The ‘public purse’ you talk of, goes back to my point of who’s holding the strings?


        Over 100,000 Yes voting Scots signed a petition demanding a revote, there were numerous cases of fraud, least of all Ruth Davidson’s knowledge of the postal vote outcome before they were even counted? ….How many No voters demanded a revote?

      • Robert Sim

        • March 18th, 2016 13:07

        Robin, you say to Gordon “I take your point: ‘Such is the nature of political debate’.” But it isn’t Gordon’s point. His whole post is lifted word-for-word from the Courier.

      • iantinkler

        • March 18th, 2016 21:15

        Over 100,000 Yes voting Scots signed a petition demanding a revote, there were numerous cases of fraud, least of all Ruth Davidson’s knowledge of the postal vote outcome before they were even counted? ….How many No voters demanded a revote? O Dear, Dear Me. Robin Stevenson, You lost, you lost big time, by a million or so votes. Now get over it, you grow tiresome and frankly a bit embarrassing to Scotland and free thinking Scots. The 45%, “Yes Vote”, is now 40%. Tick Tock splat.

      • Brian Smith

        • March 19th, 2016 8:35

        It was very funny to see Mr Harmer refer to ‘[t]he BBC, a notorious left wing organisation’! The corporation’s attitude to politics can best be judged by their position on Mr Duncan Smith’s benefit ‘reforms’. During the past ten months or so they have hardly ever referred to them. The suicides, the deprivation, have been ignored. And now when they suddenly have to refer to Mr Duncan Smith, this morning, they are portraying him as a virtual saint, who didn’t want to do these things in the first place!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 19th, 2016 14:32

        Robert Sim as usual a mile behind everyone else, of course it was taken from the Courier it said at the beginning “There is this view Robin” emphasizing it was not mine. Robin I believe was referring to my previous comment, if you insist on a critical view Robert you would do better to know what you are talking about before charging in and making no sense.
        @ Brian, Your view Brian, but everyone knows the BBC is left wing and always has been, you cannot change history even in your position, John Tulloch has proved that a few times.

      • iantinkler

        • March 19th, 2016 16:04

        “The suicides, the deprivation, have been ignored.” How very typical of Brian Smith, Shetlands answer to Citizen Smith of the “Tooting Popular Front”. Brian as an eminent historian you really should check your facts and forget the left wing propaganda. Suicide rates were actually higher when your Trade Union pal, John Prescott, was deputy PM. Are you actually beginning to believe the anti-Tory spin being bandied about by the Nationalist, Corbyn lackeys and assorted socialists propagandists?

      • Brian Smith

        • March 19th, 2016 16:26

        Mr Harmer means, ‘everybody [who reads the Mail] knows …]

        Here on the other hand is an intelligent article on the subject:

      • Robert Sim

        • March 19th, 2016 17:28

        Gordon – “…of course it was taken from the Courier it said at the beginning “There is this view Robin” emphasizing it was not mine.” Bit subtle for Robin, too, then, Gordon, as he clearly thought it was your point. Maybe you should be a bit clearer in future when lifting articles from the Courier or For Argyll.

        “Robin I believe was referring to my previous comment…”. No he wasn’t. Re-read what he says.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 20th, 2016 12:55

        Yes he was Robert, you really need to learn English, you had this trouble before when you accused Ian and I of having our own language. If you cannot keep up and understand small hints which indicate where a comment came from then take a step back because the only person you are making a fool of is yourself. I had already expressed my view to Robin which kind of agreed with some of what he said and then because we are only allowed so many words per comment a I added what I copied in the next comment with the caveat “There is also this view Robin”, not I also have this view Robin, as clear as the sun in the sky. But hey if this is the road you wish to take because you have no well thought out argument appertaining to the subject matter of the thread please carry on in your inimitable and pedantic style as it says so much about you to the folk who may read your comments.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 20th, 2016 21:14


        Do you seriously think that by posting the wrong figures time and time again, is going to make them true? Now I’m not too sure if you’re just useless at reading them? Or it could be you’re just making them up? But either way, a weekly/monthly ‘snapshot’ quite pointless, equally as pointless as the Sunday post’s poll [which is kinda funny considering it’s a unionist rag] which has Yes at 91% out of 6401 votes.

        Robert, I DID think that it was Gordon’s statement, you’re right, far too subtle for me, I have to confess. 🙁 …. No inverted commas….Bah!…I should have known? Thanks for the heads up.

      • Robert Sim

        • March 21st, 2016 11:57

        Gordon, as regards which comment of yours Robin was referring to, have a wee read below and stop hiding behind personal abuse. (Oh and it was Robert DUNCAN that accused you and Ian of denying what you had said – and here you are at it again.)

        “Gordon Harmer
        March 16th, 2016 19:39
        …Such is the nature of political debate.”

        “Robin Stevenson
        March 17th, 2016 22:26
        I take your point: ‘Such is the nature of political debate’. ”

        I.e. he was referring to the post I said he was referring to.

      • iantinkler

        • March 21st, 2016 14:50

        Robin Stevenson, are you in some kind of denial? These may be the wrong figures for the NATs, , they are however, not my figures. they are the latest polls and previous to 2014. The YES vote is at its lowest since the referendum. The figures are in the public domain for all to see.
        (Opinion Polls | What Scotland
        These are fun as well. No doubt just a right wing anti NAT plot.
        Tick Tock splat lol!!!

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 21st, 2016 17:26

        Sorry Ian, but it looks as though you’re just ‘Never’ going to get this are you? Your linked page [what Scotland thinks] is also my source, I’ve already tried to explain how to read their figures, but you’re ‘STILL’ amazingly managing to get them wrong?

        As far as your other link is concerned ‘The Express’, they’ve already furiously backtracked for getting it spectacularly wrong too…Hmm…The question is: Are you taking lessons from them, or are they taking lessons from you? 🙂

      • iantinkler

        • March 21st, 2016 21:29

        Lets keep it really simple Robin Stevenson. There is no issue here, Sturgeon is and has not put a new indy Ref in the forthcoming SNP manifesto. Does that not say it all? Now just get over it, that is a simple matter of fact. Tick, tick, tick. lol

      • iantinkler

        • March 19th, 2016 16:10

        Come on Gordon, that is the wicked anti Nationalism, Nazi biased media you are referencing. Anything not written by “Buster the rampant Cat” or in “The National” has to be made up!! (maybe Socialist worker or the odd old copy of Militant may pass muster)

      • iantinkler

        • March 23rd, 2016 8:58

        ” Lol, yes, John, I forced Gordon to write what he did and to keep the conversation going with long defensive posts!” What is your point Robert Sim, have you actually got an intelligent point here or are you putting the Nasty into SNP with a banal attempt at humour at others expense? I would stick to your day job if I were you. Go sit on a committee or whatever it is you do..

    • Gordon Harmer

      • March 20th, 2016 13:11

      Oh and just so you Know Robert I have to full permission to lift anything I wish from “For Argyll” from Lynda Henderson herself. If I find something she has said which puts my point better than I can, I will lift and plagiarize it, and to be honest I care not what you think about it. Some of us who lack a full education through circumstances beyond our own control will use methods of communicating our thoughts and beliefs which may be frowned on by those who look upon them selves as the educated elite. This does not make what we have communicated any less valuable or make us a lesser person even if some aloof wordsmith who tries to belittle what we say would like to make this so.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • March 21st, 2016 16:48

        Do not worry Gordon, arrogance and self opinion have never strengthened any argument. I take pride in my dyslexia, I speak “spell check” with the best of them. I once formally dressed “The Midland Naval Officers Association”, in “Black Tie Soft dress Shit” for a formal dinner! It amuses me when the pompous take time to critique my spelling and patronizingly correct it for me. Just imagine who those people were.

      • Brian Smith

        • March 21st, 2016 18:55

        Gordon Harmer is absolutely correct and justified on both points here.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • March 21st, 2016 17:04

      Sorry Robert, wrong again and you cannot have it both ways, you are now saying Robin is taking “MY” point when the article that was in is from the Courier. It is quite obviously not my point as you pointed out once before. Just what is the point of your thread here anyway is there a point too it or is it as pointless as it seems. You seem obsessed by pointing out pointless points and I have to ask myself is there any point in this.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 21st, 2016 23:49

        The point of it is to distract readers from learning of the damaging policies and actions of the SNP in Shetland.

        It’s a purely cynical act of creating a diversion from damaging truths which, sadly, along with obfuscation, we see an awful lot of from SNP supporters on here.

        Mind you, in their position, what else can they do?

      • Robert Sim

        • March 22nd, 2016 15:05

        JohnT says: “The point of it is to distract readers from learning of the damaging policies and actions of the SNP in Shetland.” Lol, yes, John, I forced Gordon to write what he did and to keep the conversation going with long defensive posts!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 24th, 2016 6:23

        Here is a non defensive post just for Robert and Co, Happy not Independence day Robert, Robin, James and every other separatist in this great Union.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 24th, 2016 14:22

        Thank you Gordon

        But I’m afraid there’s nothing ‘happy’ about it for me, or indeed Scotland, instead we’re stuck with the [unelected in Scotland] bumbling Tories?

        Ah well, never mind though, according to reports yesterday in the Herald, support for Scottish independence is at a 15 year high …. So it’s not all doom and gloom. 🙂

      • Ian Tinkler

        • March 24th, 2016 16:32

        Scotland Herald claims,Support for independence has reached a 15-year high in Scotland, with just under two fifths backing a breakaway from the UK, new research has revealed. While 39% favour independence,
        Wow, Robin Stevenson, 39% in favour of ” Yes”, forgive me but was the Referendum vote 45% may take a bit of time to reach Nicola’s 60%. At this rate never!!! Spin, spin spin, TickTock splat

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 24th, 2016 16:49

        Oh what a great day, Not Independence day and Alistair Carmichael has been given £35000 to go with the £15000 crowd funding to help with his legal fees. It just gets better and better, there is justice after all.

      • Bill Adams

        • March 24th, 2016 19:01

        Can I just point out to Ian Tinkler RNR (rtd.) that an opinion poll in today’s “Daily Record”, an anti-SNP pro- Labour blatt shows (on the Scottish Independence question) 52% No and 48% Yes.
        Given the usual statistical margin-of-error health warnings, all this proves is that public opinion in Scotland remains pretty much split down the middle on Independence.
        The actual figures may (and do) fluctuate from poll to poll and from month to month.
        All we can say with confidence is that there is no consensus of opinion on the matter.

      • Robert Sim

        • March 25th, 2016 11:31

        Bill, I would back up your comments by saying that this was the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey – not a normal opinion poll. The SSAS asks about constitutional preference: Independence, devolution or no Scottish parliament. It does not ask a YES/NO question on independence and never has since 1999. The support for Independence out of all the options this year is therefore indeed at an all-time high.

        In 2014, when the referendum figs were 45% Yes and 55% No, SSAS gave 33% support for pro-dev/indy options. That 6% rise now in the SSAS would translate to Yes 51% and No 49%.

      • iantinkler

        • March 25th, 2016 20:59

        Good points, Bill and Robert, your logic is truly astounding. Just enlighten us why is Snippy, sorry Nicola Sturgeon not going for a new referendum pledge in the SNP manifesto? maybe she lacks moral courage or just does not want to do a Fat Alex, sorry failed FM Alexander Salmond.

  • iantinkler

    • March 15th, 2016 18:29

    “but it is a little troubling that not one but two recent Labour election candidates were invited to speak – in one case putting forward the main question – without declaring their affiliation.” devastating news!! An SNP politician asked questions on TV by a former Labour candidate. These BBC boys are all worse than Nazi propagandists. Get a grip, Robert Duncan, you are nearly as funny as Swinney. My affiliation before, you complain, private citizen.

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 16th, 2016 15:02

      I haven’t compared to Nazis or said anything so extreme, you really are a very immature man at times.

      • iantinkler

        • March 17th, 2016 15:45

        Now now Robert Duncan, calm down, if just for once you would make a positive point of your own, instead of and endless moans and banal criticisms about other people’s views, opinions or comments, you may, one day, say something constructive. I ask you just what was , “a little troubling that not one but two recent Labour election candidates were invited to speak? Surely in a political discussion, asking politicians to talk is hardly a troubling matter. The reference to the “BBC boys are all worse than Nazi propagandists” came from a SNP delegate no less, it has also been referenced on “Yes Shetland” Facebook.. I realise as a frequent apologist for the SNP, you take yourself very seriously, but please do not take my comments and yourself quite so seriously. Just lighten up a bit. I never claimed you had compared the BBC to Nazis. That was a pure SNP claim at conference and is a matter of public record.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • March 18th, 2016 11:56

    Robert Duncan, No one has accused you of comparing the BBC to the the Nazis . It was delegates at SNP conference that did that. I do however find it strange you recognized two former Labour candidates on “question time” and are troubled they asked questions. After all that is the reason they were there and is what most people would expect them to do on such a program!. It is also very odd you should expect them to declare former affiliations. Would you expect Dannus Skene to do just that when he speaks in public? Lets see, former Labour candidate, former Scottish Labour Candidate, Former Liberal Candidate now SNP Candidate, ex Etonian etc, somehow I think your and the SNP outrage at the BBC is a little artificial, or maybe I am being childish.

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 18th, 2016 12:08

      Question Time audience participants are required to fill out a form requesting various pieces of information, including any political affiliations and activity in any campaign groups. Braden Davy was picked to speak from the crowd, so it’s at least understandable in his case, but Kathy Wiles provided one of the opening questions and Dimbebly – unless she had lied on her form – would have known her to have been a former party candidate. I think it would have been reasonable for him to have pointed that out, just as if they came up to Shetland later this year I would expect him to point out that Danus Skene had been a candidate were he chosen for a main question.

      Any comparison by SNP supporters of the BBC to Nazis is equally childish, Ian, although your attempted logic even more so. You might as well be on the playground crying, “Miss, miss, he did it first!”

      • iantinkler

        • March 19th, 2016 14:03

        Robert Duncan, are you losing the ability to read. BBC accused of telling ‘more half truths and lies than the Nazis’ at SNP conference. Is that too much for you to understand. Not my comparison, nor one I have made of you, just typical SNP prattle. You claim,” it is a little troubling that not one but two recent Labour election candidates were invited to speak – in one case putting forward the main question”. Funny that troubles you, not the SNP delegates idiotic accusations. Not much doubt where your prejudices lie.

      • iantinkler

        • March 19th, 2016 16:25

        “I would expect him to point out that Danus Skene had been a candidate were he chosen for a main question.” Yes well, Robert Duncan, he would have a choice there, Dannus, “former Labour candidate, former Scottish Labour Candidate, Former Liberal Candidate now SNP Candidate, ex Etonian etc,” however that would all be irrelevant, the only thing that matters is the question, not who asks it. The funny bit was the daft answer Swinney made. That is what seems to have got the Nats and your knickers in a twist. I am sure if Swinney had made an intelligent and eloquent response the Nats would have loved the show, as it was he and now they all look silly. If you want a good eye opener, read Yes Shetland, the rampant cat says it all. lol

      • Robert Duncan

        • March 20th, 2016 13:22

        Not content with childishness, you seem now to have moved to needless belligerence, so I see little discussing with you further.

    • iantinkler

      • March 21st, 2016 10:27

      “belligerence!!?” Hardly Robert Duncan. Just taking the P?>?<, you make that very easy with such a pious and patronising attitude. It is a pity your arguments do not justify such haughtiness. lol.

      • Robert Duncan

        • March 22nd, 2016 21:39

        I’m not sure where it is I’ve shown ‘piousness’, but you are certainly belligerent and needlessly hostile. It’s nice that you can hide behind pleas of, ‘it’s all a joke’ when called out on it (as you have done before), but somehow I doubt that would pass going the other way. Remarkable that you can call others divisive when constantly pedalling such nonsense. Nothing I’ve said here has anything to do with the SNP, and yet here we are, on the only topic you seem ever to discuss, with you thinking I could care even remotely about Danus Skene’s political CV.

  • iantinkler

    • March 18th, 2016 19:37

    “Yes Shetland” Here we go again. those BBC Nazi type propagandists..
    BUSTER – Shetland’s Cat Rampant!!!
    “On one side of the river Scotland’s future politics were being formed in Glasgow last weekend, on the other an increasingly irrelevant state broadcaster attempting to keep a nation in the dark.”
    Last comment; Facebook from, ” Yes Shetland”. BUSTER – Shetland’s Cat Rampant!!! Am I the immature one, Robert Duncan, I do so hope so. I would so hate to be an adult BUSTER follower.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 20th, 2016 10:29

    A new poll commissioned by the Scottish government shows Ian is so right about Scottish independence, the people are waking up and smelling the coffee.

    • James Watt

      • March 21st, 2016 7:59

      It’s just a shame that the Express didn’t wake up and smell the coffee before they misrepresented the figures to give people like yourself a comfort blanket to cling to. There are several flaws in the conclusion reached by the express I’m afraid Gordon, this link will explain it far better than I could.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 21st, 2016 17:09

        James you have to be joking, “scotgoespop” a pro independence blog, your having a giraffe mate. It strikes me the only coffee you are smelling is a cheap supermarkets own brand full of chicory.

      • James Watt

        • March 22nd, 2016 7:02

        Gordon, if you can find one inaccuracie in link I posted above I will quite happily retract my comment and admit you and the Express were right. I can be fairly confident that I won’t need to though because I already knew that the Scottish social attitudes survey ,which the Express story is based on actually shows a rise in support for independence and a drop in support of the Union when compared to previous Scottish social attitude surveys.

        I would also like to add that I assume from now on you won’t be posting anything from a pro Union site ever again?

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 22nd, 2016 13:17

        James your posts origin makes it inaccurate in my eyes and you do not know me very well if you think for one minute I will not post links from pro union sites again. Every poll I have seen over the past six months reveals a drop in support for independence as Mr Tinkler has shown on several occasions.

      • James Watt

        • March 22nd, 2016 19:01

        “James your posts origin makes it inaccurate in my eyes”

        Well their’s no point in me trying to beat a well constructed argument like that, you are a true master debater.
        If you and Mr Tinkler are happy comparing apples with pears as long as it confirms what you think to be true, then good luck to you, I’ll continue to read links and treat the information impartially until I can process its contents then form an opinion on its accuracy.

      • James Watt

        • March 22nd, 2016 22:24

        Just thought I’d put this out there Gordon. The Scotsmans analysis of the Scottish social attitude survey.

        “Support for independence has also reached a 15-year high, the survey said”

        Strange that they come to the same conclusion as Scot goes pop. And had you bothered to read my link you’d understand why the Scottish social attitudes survey isn’t a suitable for comparing with a YouGov poll when looking support for independence.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • March 25th, 2016 19:50

        James are you for real? Support for independence has also reached a 15-year high, the survey said, although at 39 per cent it is still six points lower than the Yes vote in the 2014 referendum.
        Just what is your point, how is 39% an increase in support for independence?
        Links that come from blogs of independence supporters in my view are biased and not worth the paper they are written on. You will be telling me next that I should gather all my information from Wings over Scotland. James when you start doing this “I’ll continue to read links and treat the information impartially until I can process its contents then form an opinion on its accuracy”, please let me know, because what you have produced in your last post on support for independence proves you have a problem with spin.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • March 26th, 2016 12:37

        So, let’s get this straight Gordon, it’s [somehow] all right to present our pro-unionist main stream media newspaper propaganda, and hold them up as unbiased and factual? But it’s NOT all right if someone else uses any pro-independence websites because they’re…er….Biased. and therefore not credible?

        Well that seems fair, no wonder you have such a good all round political perspective?…*cough*

      • James Watt

        • March 26th, 2016 14:33

        “Just what is your point, how is 39% an increase in support for independence”

        My point Gordon, is that you are comparing apples with pears. The Express article that you linked to ( this is where he 39% support for independence figure comes from) is based on the Scottish social attitudes survey.

        This poll is not based on a simple yes or no question like all other independence surveys are, it is a 3 way question where the preference is between devolution, independence or Westminster with full control, only previous Scottish social attitudes survey are comparable with this survey.

        This has nothing to do with which site a get my information from Gordon, this is basic maths and simple logic. The SSAS is not a poll, it is not conducted under the same circumstances as other political polls are, so can’t be compared with other polls.

        Now have a look at previous years SSAS results and tell me exactly how I have a problem with spin, otherwise I’ll have to conclude you have a problem with maths and basic common sense.

      • iantinkler

        • March 27th, 2016 11:20

        Let’s keep this really, really simple. Snippy has not put and nor is putting a new neverendunm Indy re run in her SNP manifesto. The reason is clear, the “Yes” side would not win, however much the paint your face blue tribe spin and spin, there is no 50% plus mandate. Snipps will not go with less than 60%, she saw the fat one come a croppy and is runing shy from doing the same. Simples

  • iantinkler

    • March 22nd, 2016 12:46

    James Watt, The YES vote is at its lowest since before the referendum. The figures are in the public domain for all to see. 40% Yes (Remove ‘Don’t Know’ and ‘Refused’ responses 46% Yes and 54% No) If Sturgeon thinks otherwise , why is she not putting the neverendum in her SNP manifesto for May? Game over for this generation!
    (Opinion Polls | What Scotland

    • iantinkler

      • March 22nd, 2016 14:23

      Also just a minor point of interest, James Watt. If you really want a good laugh, “Scot goes Pop”, was hardly an accurate forecaster of the referendum result. In fact its results were so sqewed to a high Yes result, it predicted on many occasions a Yes win. Maybe that is how Fat Alex and Wee Snippy got it so wrong in September 2014.!! all a bit irrelevant as no rerun is on the cards for a generation. Alex got burnt Nippy is fighting shy, wants a clear 60%. O dear Me, Yes struggling at 40%, down from the referendum!!!


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