Tag Archives: independent Scotland

Cap In Hand

Letter To The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 11/10/15

Airdrie and coatbridge Advertiser, 07/10/15

Airdrie and coatbridge Advertiser, 07/10/15

Dear Sir, 

If I say something which is patently false over and over does that make it true? This seems to be Anti-Scottish Labours latest tactic, and seems to be working as well as the previous ones, and by that I mean it can easily be disproved by any reasonably intelligent adult within a few minutes.

Ursula Craigs letter in last weeks Advertiser made the claim that because the current Scottish Government had a £350 Million budgetary underspend in the last financial year they are somehow withholding money from areas where it is needed to exaggerate the effects of austerity so that Westminster can be blamed. One of the problems in trying to run a country which voted not to stand on its own two feet in the world is that finances are “pooled and shared” and without real tax raising powers there’s little that can be done to change things. Our wealth goes south to Westminster and we get a bit of it (not all of it mind) back to spend as we see fit. 

Imagine if you will that the Scottish Government managed to budget right down to the last penny. What reserves would it have to deal with emergencies? Where would the money come from if there is an exceptionally severe winter and the country grinds to a halt because the grit has run out and there is no cash to procure more? Where would the cash come from if there was a medical emergency which required the purchase of a huge amount of vaccine? Where would the money come from if Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems teamed up to force through a major construction project in our capital city, only to mismanage it to such an extent it needed someone to bail it out? Would people be happy if the Scottish Government had to go cap in hand to Westminster saying “We’ve spent our allowance, please Sir, can we have some more?” Because that is exactly what would happen if every last penny was spent. The Scottish Government, no matter which party controls it, cannot borrow money as other countries do. It cannot create or raise taxes as other countries do. It can simply cut and reallocate its pocket money. 

In it’s time in power Labour managed to create a peak budgetary underspend of around £718 million pounds; that’s over twice the amount of cash that the SNP have in reserve. In fact a smaller underspend indicates that the SNP Scottish Government are squeezing more out of the budget and making sure that more money makes its way to where it is needed than the previous Labour dominated administrations did. Which is why it’s a bit rich to see so called political heavyweights like Jackie Baillie talking mince on this subject to any media outlet which will carry her words. This is the same Jackie Baillie who complained that the Scottish Government would have no money for emergencies “in case Orkney sank”. Only last year was she herself reported to have claimed a whole fifth of the total annual expenses of all other MSPs COMBINED for food and drink for hosting meetings. It would perhaps be more fitting if Ms Baillie stopped talking Scotland down and at the same time reined in her own out of control spending. She campaigned for a pocket money parliament, it’s time she started pulling her weight to make it work. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

 

07/04/15 The Scotch Are Coming!

The i 

Dear Sir, 

I am not a regular reader of your, or for that matter any other national print newspaper, so I am unsure if the views expressed on Monday by the likes of Messrs Terry Jowle and Rod Williams are run of the mill viewpoints or not. To me they epitomised some of the swivel-eyed anti-Scottish hatred I have been hearing on television and radio and I would be horrified if these were widely held views. I found Mr Williams comments particularly disturbing. The Scottish electorate, having come through a two year referendum on independence, is far more factually aware than many people south of the border would give credit for, and it would appear far more aware politically than much of the English electorate as well. We know fine well that with the vast majority of the electorate in England vote Conservative, Britain will have a Conservative government. Likewise if the vast majority of England votes Labour we will have a Labour government. The Scottish vote has seldom changed the balance (once in the last 69 years if I recall correctly) and in the past when Scotland has continually voted Labour many Scots felt they had made a difference when Labour had won, when in reality their vote made no real difference. They were simply in step with the English electorate. This year is no different. We will still get the government England votes for. That some people seem to believe that a handful of Scottish constituencies will bring England to its knees and drag it off to the left is fanciful in the extreme, and indeed in Mr Williams case verges on the panic inducing. All that was missing from his letter was the references to rivers of blood. As a Scot, I find it highly ironic that some English voters are now up in arms at the thought of MP s from another country possibly holding sway over theirs. That has been the situation here in Scotland for over 300 years. Not nice, is it?

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 26/07/14 (To Pamela Nash MP)

To: Pamela Nash MP

Dear Ms Nash, 

I am contacting you to seek clarification of a number of issues which have been raised at various points over the course of the referendum debate. As a constituent of yours I have many, many concerns to do with Scotland’s future. Some of these I have raised before on your website, however none of these had any response and I now see that your website is closed to all comment, so I will raise them here by email. You have campaigned regularly for the Better Together campaign, so I am sure that you will be able to fully answer my concerns. 

1. Does Scotland – including its oil revenues, of course – contribute a larger share of the UK’s income than the share of UK spending it gets? (And I mean the SHARE, not the AMOUNT – debt which has to be paid back doesn’t count as “spending”.) 

2. Regardless of whether YOU think it would be a good idea or not, is it true to say that an independent Scotland could continue to use Sterling as its currency if it chose, no matter what happened? 

3. Your campaign keeps saying that independence would make our family and friends in the rest of the UK “foreigners”. Even if we accept that’s true, what’s wrong with foreigners?  

4. In your view, would the rUK really build and patrol a 100-mile long physical barrier of some sort across the border if an independent Scotland had a different immigration policy? (Because obviously road checkpoints alone couldn’t stop illegal immigrants, who’d simply cross on foot.) And if so, what would you estimate as the construction, manning and maintenance costs of such a barrier? 

5. The McCrone Report was kept from the Scottish public by successive Labour and Conservative governments for 30 years to prevent them knowing how rich Scotland would be if it were independent. Are you aware of any similar documents relevant to the independence debate which are currently designated secret? 

6. If I vote No in September, can you guarantee that in five years’ time Scotland will still be in the EU? 

7. If I vote No, can you guarantee that in 10 years’ time Scotland will still have a fully publicly-funded NHS? 

8. If I vote No, can you guarantee that the “Barnett Formula” used to calculate the Scottish Government block grant will still be in force by 2020 and set at the same proportions? 

9. What will be the approximate set-up/annual costs of the tax-collecting bureaucracy your party plans to implement in the event of a No vote? 

10. In the event of a Yes vote, will the UK government have an obligation to pay the pensions of everyone in Scotland who has ALREADY qualified for the UK state pension, as would be the case if current pensioners emigrated to (say) Spain or France or Australia? I’m not interested in the Scottish Government’s position on the matter, I want to know what the UK government’s responsibilities are. 

11. In your opinion, is Scotland a country or a region? If it is a country, why should it not have the rights and responsibilities of any other sovereign country? 

I look forward to your replies, 

Regards, 

James Cassidy

 

No response was ever received…

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 Referendum Letters: 23/04/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

This week Gordon Brown came out of retirement to lecture us all on the pensions timebomb that awaits us in an independent Scotland. According to the media one of Britains worst ever Prime Ministers, if not the worst ever is now “a well respected political heavyweight”. Gordon Brown is to pensions what David Moyes is to managing Manchester United, so it was no surprise that he dished out a few facts and ran off before they could be questioned, much as George Osborne did a few months back. Never mind the quality, feel the gravitas…

Mr Brown’s decision to talk at us, rather than with us leaves us to interpret things ourselves, or rely on other political heavyweights such as Ian Gray to interpret things for us. Mr Gray, like Tom Clarke a few weeks back on tax, manages to muddy the waters rather than clarify them. In a television interview he said that bigger nations are in a better position to manage pensions, yet the UK pension was reported in the English editions of some newspapers as being the 4th worst in the developed world and when you actually look at the figures, they show that some of the largest countries have some of the worst pension systems.

Which makes you ask, where did Mr Brown obtain his statistics? Apparently, from a leaked government document. Why is there no inquiry into the leaking of this? Is it because it wasn’t leaked in the traditional sense, it was simply supplied to Mr Brown by his Tory chums so that he could do their dirty work for them?

In any case Mr Brown should have paid more attention to the facts and figures in the secret report which we cannot see, as it would appear the figures don’t add up. That is to be expected, as he has previous for that, having raided pension funds and sold off the UK’s gold reserves to balance the books in the past. According to Mr Brown 259,000 pensioners in Scotland receive on average of £20 a week disability support, at a cost to the taxpayer of £1 billion a year. Yet 259,000 multiplied by £20 a week is only £269 million pounds, nowhere near a billion. Similarly he claimed that £700 million is paid in credits to 248,000 Scots per year at an average of £25 a week. 248,000 multiplied by £25 a week is £322 million! With arithmetic like that it’s no wonder he left the economy in tatters. It seems that his tactic is to take the actual figures and then double or treble them, before shouting it out and running away before anyone gets a chance to question it.

And here was me thinking Better Together were going to be more positive in their outlook. Two weeks ago George Roberston was warning that the “forces of darkness” lay in wait for an independent scotland. At the end of last week it was Philip Hammond claiming an independent Scotland was at risk from an attack from space, this week they are trying to frighten us with killer pensions. 

The affordability of pensions comes not from the size of the country, but how wealthy that country is. Scotland has the chance to takes it’s wealth and make it work for it, and provide a decent pension system which will pay something more than what is forecast in the United Kingdom, a less than minimum wage pittance topped up with food banks and charity.

When Mr Brown, and Mr Clarke and Ms Nash and their ilk warn that jobs and pensions are at risk, they are correct. What they fail to tell you is that the jobs and pensions they are referring to are their own. An independent Scotland means the wheels come off their taxpayer funded gravy train forever. Is it any wonder that they will try any scare story in the book to keep their gravy train on track? 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy