Tag Archives: David Stephen

The Referendum Letters: 11/05/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

I feel I must reply to Sam Daly’s letter in this weeks Advertiser. As Sam says I have known him a long time. I served in the same regiment, support the same football team and work for the same company. However as I was responding to a public letter, in a public forum, I used the formal term when referring to him. After all, whether I know him personally was not something the Advertiser readers were aware of, nor needed to be, although they are now. It just detracts from the debate in my opinion. However if he wishes something less formal, I’m happy to do so.

As regards the principle of “if you have to say something to someone, say it to their face”, I think Sam has perhaps forgotten that he emailed his letter to me two weeks before it was published, and we debated it by phone and email at the time. I told him at the time that I would probably write in response, but wouldn’t immediately do so for two reasons. One, I was at the time writing a response to one of David Stephen’s letters. Two, I couldn’t very well write to respond to a letter which hadn’t been published yet!

Sam seems to think there is a problem with my arithmetic, however after double checking my facts it looks like he still misunderstands the tax system. The Scottish NHS is funded through the block grant, not council tax. His offer to pay more tax to fund the NHS wouldn’t affect council tax in any way.

Sam also states that my assertion that free prescriptions for all can be obtained for little more than was already being paid for a means tested system is a baseless supposition, yet provides nothing to support his claim. I do actually put in a bit of research before making any claim, unlike some of the more prominent members of the No campaign who make public statement about numbers which fail to stand up to any reasonable scrutiny. The figures I have show that free prescriptions cost Scotland around £57 million a year, but a system of means testing is estimated to cost over half of that, and depending on which source you read would be anywhere between £30 and £50 million pounds. The difference between the two systems is barely the cost of an average premiership footballer. Considering that in 2007, 800,000 people in England and Wales failed to collect all or part of their prescription because they couldn’t afford to pay for it, I’d say the difference is well worth paying.

On the subject of football, Sam mentions a conversation which took place while at a football match. I won’t refer to anything Sam has said in private conversations, as I do not believe that this is an appropriate place to do so. Having said that I would like to clarify one thing. Regarding the Bedroom Tax, I think I’ve always been pretty clear on this. I fully agree that social housing is a resource of the state, not the property of the tenant, and that some sort of system should be in place to make sure that it is used to the full. However to say to a tenant that they are being penalised for not moving into a one bedroom house when there are no such properties available is just completely wrong. Given that the editor has requested letters are kept short and I’m already failing miserably, perhaps I will return to this at a later date.

If Sam is happy with the union, fair enough. That is his entitlement. Some people have done well out of the union, such as our MPs (and their colleagues in the cash cow for elderly politicians that is the House of Lords, the Holy Grail of the gravy train). I would expect them to defend it to the last, irrespective of whether it is bad for the country as a whole. But for working class people to defend it, knowing that the cuts yet to come will be deeper and harder than before, irrespective of who gets in to Westminster simply defies reason. A no vote is a vote to set in motion a process which will emasculate Scotland and reduce us to regional status. Scotland isn’t a region. I’m not North British, I’m Scottish, and it is my view that we should be able to take our own decisions as to what goes on in this country. Just like any other country. The ever more influential Nigel Farage wants to see the Scottish Parliament scrapped. The Tories want our MPs reduced. Labour wants to scrap the Barnett formula by the back door. Both Tories and Labour are focussed on stripping the NHS to the bones, and will turn their sights on Scotland’s NHS if given half a chance. Strip away the union flag waving and the 300 years of shared history rhetoric, and that’s what is waiting. There will be a heavy price to pay if we cling to the UK comfort blanket, and it’s a price not worth paying.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy


The Refererendum Letters: 29/03/14

Dear Sir, 

Once again I am forced to write to correct David Stephen’s factual inaccuracies and related scare stories. Apparently now Scotland won’t be allowed to join NATO, because NATO is a nuclear organisation and an independent Scotland would be non nuclear. As a civilian Mr Stephen’s knowledge of NATO seems somewhat limited. NATO is a group of countries which co-operate militarily to provide mutual defence and security. NATO say on their own very informative website that membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.” 

Nothing written there about being forced to house nuclear weapons. Of the 28 member countries only three are themselves nuclear armed. A further 5 countries host nuclear weapons on behalf of other states. There used to be 8 countries hosting WMDs on behalf of others, but since 1984 three withdrew from these agreements, Greece in 2001, Canada in 1984 and the UK in 1992. Yes, that UK. The one which now says that to refuse other NATO countries from basing WMDs on your soil will see you refused entry! 

Only this week NATO appointed Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg as head of NATO, even though his country does not host WMD’s. In the last 15 years 10 former members of the Warsaw Pact have been admitted to NATO. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall these countries were sworn enemies of NATO, but are now valued members.

Mr Stephen and his unionist fear-mongers assertation that Scotland, whose soldiers have played a part in many NATO deployments, would now be refused membership is clearly nonsense on stilts. Even more nonsense is that we could be involved in a Crimean style conflict where we would be at risk of attack from a larger neighbour. We only have one! Is Mr Stephen seriously trying to suggest that if we vote Yes to being independent that England will invade Scotland? Why on earth would they do that? It’s not as if we have oil or anything. 

There is a pattern here. Every time the Scottish Government put forward any policy, particularly one which required friendly co-operation the toys are thrown out of the unionist pram. “No, you can’t“ is the now well worn refrain on everything from currency, to health to defence and more. “We won’t let you” say the unionists. Yet time and time again we see that what politicians say and what they do can sometimes be miles apart. Our local MP’s are a case in point. Pamela Nash railed against welfare cuts on her own website (read it quickly before she takes it down) yet voted for them last week in London. As did Tom Clarke. “Mair faces than the toon clock” has never been so apt. 

Come September if we vote Yes we will have the choice to apply to join NATO as an independent country in our own right. There will be no arm twisting to keep Weapons of Mass Destruction in Scotland, because the vast majority of NATO members are in exactly the same position as we are. The remaining UK will have to find an alternative home for its nuclear arsenal, and it’s not really our fault they have no Plan B. They have had sufficient notice that this was possible and have chosen to ignore it. Perhaps the USA will allow them to be based there until the remaining UK knows what it is doing. One thing is certain, they will not be based in Scotland. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy