The doctrine of the mandate in Scotland

In September 2014, less than 3 years ago, 2m Scots  voted to stay in the UK, and just over 1.6m voted to leave. It was a convincing  result. It was  a once in a generation question, as the SNP agreed at the time.

Since then the SNP has never gathered anything like as many votes as the Independence campaign secured.  The SNP managed 1.45 million in the General Election of 2015 , and only 1.05 million in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. There is no evidence in either of those  votes of more people deciding to back the SNP because they wanted to change their minds from the Independence referendum itself. It is difficult to see why the SNP argue their subsequent polling justifies asking the public again after such a short passage of time to re run the Independence referendum. It is interesting that since the referendum the SNP have not managed to get a significant number  of their referendum supporters to back them again.

Mr Brown has decided to have another go at the argument over Independence and devolution, just as he did in 2014 and when in office. He labours under one simple misapprehension. Offering Scotland more and more devolved power he thinks will end the pressure for independence.  The opposite seems to be the  case. The more power the Scottish Parliament is given, the more the SNP demand. They were quick to dismiss his arguments yesterday when he blurted onto the airwaves. Mr Brown may believe it when he claims he saved the Union by getting Mr Cameron to offer yet more devolution. From my memory of the campaigns, it was the absence of good answers from the SNP to how the money would work out, and which currency they would be using, that helped persuade a majority to say No to the SNP offer. If every time the SNP demand more powers the Union Parliament grants them, you should expect the SNP to go on asking for more. It is also better than having to be accountable for exercising the powers they do have, as they can always try to claim that they need the extra powers to be able to achieve something.

There does not seem to be any amount of authority that leads to the SNP saying they will now get on with using the powers they have got for the betterment of Scotland.



  1. Lifelogic
    March 19, 2017

    Gordon Brown labours under very many misapprehensions indeed (he seemed to think he was a follower of Adam Smith but clear does not understand the man at all, he thinks he saved the World, that big government is the answer and that there would be “no return to Boom and Bust”).

    As you say the more power the Scottish Parliament is given, the more the SNP will demand, and demand with a more powerful hand of cards. That is the logical conclusion of the foolish devolution settlement and of the politics. Thus until eventually they succeed and gain independence.

    It seem there is a large Tory push for an early general election with just Theresa May and perhaps a few others resisting. Alas a move that has not been helped by the idiot budget and the very grudging U-turn made. It was a socialist, serial ratting, budget that introduced a secondary inheritance/probate tax, a bonkers sugar tax, continued to rat on the £1M each IHT threshold, tried to mug the self employed, left stamp duty at up to an absurd 15% and increased the dividend and other taxes.

    These people even think that the government should fix wages nationally and that the dysfunctional disaster that is the NHS just needs more money. That the EU employment so called “employee protections”, “need building on”. A budget with zero vision.

    An early election will surely be needed to get proper clean Brexit.

  2. Lifelogic
    March 19, 2017
    1. Sir Joe Soap
      March 19, 2017

      There is a consistent theme here; the same folk who are apt to appease Sturgeon are also prone to talking about the awfulness of leaving the EU.

      Brown, Blair, Cameron, Major, Mandelson. We all know their names.

      It’s clearly not enough for these people that there have been two democratic votes in the past three years, each following substantive campaigns. They are determined to break the will of the people.

      1. Edward2
        March 19, 2017

        You have made a very good post.
        Excellent analysis in my opinion.

      2. Lifelogic
        March 19, 2017

        Osborne too.

    2. Lifelogic
      March 19, 2017

      Janet Daley has it right today too in the Sunday Telegraph.

      “People clearly want work freedoms, not ‘rights’ – yet the government has catastrophically failed to move with the times”

      May, Hammond and the Courts have made a big mistake in attacking the self employed they need to move rather more than they have so far and become real Conservatives.

  3. The PrangWizard
    March 19, 2017

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised that Brown’s demands have already been given secret approval by government.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 19, 2017

      Not would I, more damaging appeasement.

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 19, 2017

      It would be mad to devolve the power to make international treaties without express prior permission and final approval of the UK authorities in each case.

      As for the powers over fishing and farming policies when they are returned from Brussels, it must be up for discussion which should be devolved and how.

      Of course this is assuming that Theresa May intends to retrieve those powers so that there will even be the option of devolving them, rather than using control of fishing as a bargaining chip with the EU as is now being rumoured.

      I suggest that if she did that, if she did not insist on regaining complete unilateral UK control over fishing in all UK waters, then that could easily enrage many Scots just as they were enraged by Heath’s surrender of that control in 1972.

      1. Sir Joe Soap
        March 19, 2017

        With respect, this is *daft as a brush*. Surely Sturgeon doesn’t want those powers, or she would be backing Brexit rather than wanting to leave the powers with the EU?

      2. Original Richard
        March 19, 2017

        “I suggest that if she did that, if she did not insist on regaining complete unilateral UK control over fishing in all UK waters, then that could easily enrage many Scots just as they were enraged by Heath’s surrender of that control in 1972.”


        I did email my MP, who is also a member of the cabinet, to ask if he could confirm that we would be regaining control of our fishing grounds and what measures he would be putting into place to manage and regulate these areas.

        He wrote back to say he would be asking Mr.Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, these questions on my behalf.

        I have yet to receive a reply which I find deeply worrying.

        To fail to regain complete control of our fishing grounds would be seen as a betrayal and would enrage all those who voted to leave, not just Scots (apart from the SNP it seems).

        The return of out fishing grounds is seen as a major act of regaining our sovereignty and Mr. Heath should never have given them away.

    3. matthu
      March 19, 2017

      By government, do you mean the UK Government or do you mean the self-assuming “supranational” government i.e. the Blair, Mandelson, Cameron, Hesseltine, Clarke, Osborne-types of this world?

    4. Paul Greenwood
      March 19, 2017

      You mean London has amended Scotland Act 1998 using Henry VIII Powers to include Foreign Policy and the right to negotiate and ratify treaties between Scotland and sovereign states ? You really overrate the (man ed) from Kircaldy

    5. Mark B
      March 19, 2017


    6. eeyore
      March 19, 2017

      As Mr Brown’s proposals involve giving Scotland limitless power to borrow and squander and send the bill to the English taxpayer, I doubt they would find much support at Westminster.

      Not content with having spent more money, to less effect, than any Briton who has ever lived, he now seems to regard himself as a one-man avenger of Culloden. He should be disabused.

  4. Lifelogic
    March 19, 2017

    It seem we have to suffer Tony Blair on Marr again today, wanting to revive the left of centre Blairite ground. But with May and Hammond we have this damaging socialist agenda anyway. The only difference is she seems not to want to go through with a clean Bexit, but she is very clearly indeed a big state lefty.

    Meanwhile Mr Farron is to compare T May to D Trump. Well hardly, T May wants ever more state sector, ever higher taxes, more red tape, more counter productive “employee protections”, believes in the climate alarmist religion racket, HS2, Hinkely C and the dire & unworkable NHS virtual monopoly. She is almost the compete opposite of D Trump. Trump is clearly wrong on protectionism but not that much else.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 19, 2017

      Sorry I meant:-

      The only difference is she seems “now” to want to go through with a clean Brexit

      Not “not”

    2. Anonymous
      March 19, 2017

      You can thank Blair for the rise of *populism* (spits) in Scotland.

      Sturgeon is the right sort of *populist* though. She’s Left wing, so that’s OK.

    3. Ed Mahony
      March 20, 2017

      ‘Trump is clearly wrong on protectionism but not that much else’

      – I’m sorry, Lifelogic, but if leading Conservatives listen to comments like this by a tiny minority of Conservatives (I’m presuming you’re Conservative as Mr Redwood) like you, then there is a fair chance that we could lose the election to Labour / Lib Dem.

      Trump is turning out to be a disaster for Conservatism is general. Conservatives need to take a strong stand against his approach to politics, else we’re going to see the return of the left/liberals into politics for many years to come (and we’ve seen all this before with New Labour etc .. To make the same mistake so soon would be tragic).

  5. Jerry
    March 19, 2017

    Had to laugh, or perhaps cringe, when the SNP leader suggested that any English who are unhappy with Brexit should move to Scotland and enjoy “Scexit” – why would anyone unhappy with Brexit be any happier about Scexit (which means being dumped out not only the EU come what ever, without even the possibility of a post Brexit Article 50 agreement)?!

    1. Lifelogic
      March 19, 2017

      I think most such English people might find France or Italy rather preferable, given the climate/food/culture. Scotland’s economy would certainly not fair well (even relative to these very badly run, but rather pleasant countries) under the socialist Sturgeon/SNP agenda with the Scottish Groat.

      1. Lifelogic
        March 19, 2017

        Or Euro!

      2. Richard1
        March 19, 2017

        I suspect an independent Scotland – not there is much chance people will be foolish enough to vote for it – would move radically to the right after a short period. A 10% budget deficit and a state / GDP ratio >50% concentrates the mind once you have to fund it and its consequences yourself.

    2. Denis Cooper
      March 19, 2017

      Well, I think there would still be an Article 50 agreement involving Scotland because Scotland would not simply leave the UK immediately after a referendum vote for independence, any more than the UK left the EU immediately after the Leave vote last June. Salmond previously said that it would take 18 months to achieve separation of Scotland from the rest of the UK, which some said was very optimistic, while more recently the convenor of the Scottish Greens has gone to the opposite extreme by saying that it would take 10 years. Either way, the plan is for the UK to leave the EU in the spring of 2019 and the rest of us are not going to hang around in the EU for an extra year or more so that Scotland can be separated off from the UK before the UK leaves the EU. If we had decent media they would be pointing out that Sturgeon is trying to sell a fantasy scenario of Scots voting to leave the UK in the autumn of 2018 (or even the spring of 2019), and with one bound they will be free and so dramatically escape the fate of the rest of the UK as it goes over that so-called “cliff edge” of so-called “hard Brexit”.

      1. Jerry
        March 19, 2017

        @Denis Cooper; Even if “Scexit” should happen, and after Brexit, any A50 deal will be with the UK government, not the four nations, EU matters are not devolved and thus would fall as far as Scotland is concerned upon Scexit.

        Scotland have already been told, back in 2014, that any post independence talks between Holyrood and the EU about Scottish accession to the EU would start from scratch and perhaps in some years to come, after all the current accession countries and that a iScotland would not be able to carry over UK opt-outs, hence why they were also told they would have to adopt the Euro etc.

        1. Denis Cooper
          March 21, 2017

          The point is that if you want to save yourself by jumping off the vehicle before it goes over the cliff edge then you have to do that in good time, at the dramatic latest “in the nick of time”, and the autumn of 2018 would simply be too late for Scotland to decide to jump off the UK before it went over the precipice at the end of March 2019.

          1. Jerry
            March 21, 2017

            @Denis Cooper; What you describe is a Hobson’s Choice for Scotland, stay in the vehicle and meet your fate or jump clear and meet the same fate or worse – it most certainly will not be an any better fate!

            Scexit or no Scexit Scotland is out of the EU and if they do have their Scexit before Brexit there is no chance of a soft landing via a UK wide A50 agreement.

    3. Anonymous
      March 19, 2017

      Not so fast. I have an English friend who has just had to return from Scotland because of the malevolence directed at her.

      1. Anonymous
        March 19, 2017

        House sales have stalled up there so she’s stuck renting here.

    4. Dunedin
      March 19, 2017

      Re: Miss Sturgeon rolling out the welcome mat for remainers – perhaps we will soon be welcoming Newmainia north of the border!

  6. fedupsoutherner
    March 19, 2017

    I think you are quite right when you say there is no appetite for another referendum in Scotland. We are referendumed out! Reading the Scotsman online last night and looking at the comments posted after Sturgeon’s rant I noted that around 99.5% of people were totally against what she proposed for Scotland. You are also correct to say that no matter what we give away in the way of powers and money to the Scots the nationalists will never be happy. They truly don’t know where they are well off. Free prescriptions for all, free eye tests, free dental check ups, free parking at hospitals, free tuition at university, free buss passes from the age of 60 and don’t forget the free potholes you could practically fall into all over Scotland. Everything is free while nothing is being spent on the things that matter. It’s all roses according to the SNP while really it is anything but. Great post John and we really must stop bowing down to the demands of Scotland while the rest of the UK pays.

  7. agricola
    March 19, 2017

    This one is in danger of being done to death. The SNP hold a viperous detestation of England. They will continue their banshee screeching for more devolution and independence irrespective of financial or political reality. For the sake of the people of Scotland, enough of their “Brujarian” wailing, they should be kept on a tight lead. They already have enough to hang themselves.

  8. Richard1
    March 19, 2017

    The Scottish Separtists are among the most malignant forces at work in U.K. Politics. As your numbers above show, they don’t have that much support even in Scotland and – with less than 5% national support are hugely over represented on the airwaves. Any devolution granted for Scotland must be matched exactly for devolution for England Wales and N Ireland. That means no say for Scottish MPs on devolved matters outside Scotland. As for a referendum the answer should be no unless it’s clear a majority in Scotland want another one, in which case it should be a few years after Brexit, by which the people of Scotland will be in a position to make an informed choice.

    1. enock
      March 19, 2017

      Plus if the Scots vote for independence there should be no future reunification with England, that’s it.

  9. David Price
    March 19, 2017

    How about a moratorium on new Scottish referendums, new powers and any increase in funding going to Scotland until England has it’s own equivalent parliament and powers.

    Also, if Sturgeon et al cannot keep their tongues in their teeth it would be helpful if the Beeb could provide as much air time for the alternative voices in Scotland as I suspect we are being badly misled as to the degree of real support in that part of the UK for independence and SNP mischief meddling in our affairs.

  10. ChrisS
    March 19, 2017

    I posted this yesterday at 08:55 but it never appeared, despite being submitted well before many other comments that have. I have noticed that this seems to be an increasing trend with my posts. Certain contributors efforts seem to appear immediately, others not.

    Are they, perhaps, politicians know to our host posting under a pseudonym ?

    My post of yesterday is even more relevant to this morning’s blog, I have therefore submitted it again with minor modifications :

    I believe that the SNP has now tested the patience of England to destruction.

    The intervention by Gordon Brown, a failed and discredited politician if ever there was one, is very much the last straw. His alternative to Independence is give yet more powers to Holyrood to avoid further years of conflict. ( His prediction ).

    However poor the state of the Scottish economy, it is clear that the SNP is never going to give up on Independence. Whatever concessions are offered by a UK Government of any complexion, cries for further referenda will come at every cynical opportunity that SNP leaders can conjure up.

    While Scottish voters support the SNP we will be faced with continuing harping and whingeing and relationships with England can only get worse. The massive £15bn subsidy by English taxpayers will grow and is just taken for granted : Sturgeon continually glosses over the fact and all we get in return is abuse.

    Like Brexit, English politicians are again behind the curve in their insistence that we should fight to retain the Union at almost any cost.

    I suspect a very substantial majority of English people are completely fed up with hearing that shrill little voice from North of the Border. As a result, we would like to see another referendum held but this time the UK Government needs to say :

    “No more concessions : You can stay within your biggest market, the UK, but if you do, you need to get your spending in order and your deficit needs to be reduced to no more than that of England. If you don’t like the idea, then vote for independence.”

    I believe that the Scots, if they have any sense, will look over the abyss and pull back but if they don’t, so be it.

    Will Scotland leaving the UK be damaging to England ? I think not.

    Reply Write shorter posts please

    1. majorfrustration
      March 19, 2017

      Agree – surely it makes sense to grant the SNP another Referendum before they run Scotland into the ground leaving the UK to pick up the tab.

    2. Monty
      March 19, 2017

      If Scottish independance was dependant not upon a referendum, but upon a majority for independance in Holyrood, or among the Scottish MPs in the Commons, then the Scots would have to start worrying about who they vote into office. On the basis of “Be careful what you pretend to wish for lest you get it.”

      For far too long, Scottish voters have been in a position to elect representatives who seek to damage the UK , whilst retaining a stranglehold on their own security of UK membership. What would it take to put them in peril of their own choices?

    3. ChrisS
      March 20, 2017

      On every occasion since your last request for brevity I have voluntarily limited my posts to a maximum one contribution per subject of no more than tw0 hundred words. The length of this one was an exception because of the subject.

      I notice that some other regular contributors have made no effort to heed your request at all, yet their posts appear almost straight away.

      In this particular topic there are multiple contributions from others ( one contributor has posted four (! ) and three of those are a a lot longer than 200 words.

      In the interest of fairness, surely everyone should be treated equally ?

  11. JoolsB
    March 19, 2017

    No doubt the ‘Conservative and Unionist’ party will cave in to Brown’s demands – anything to preserve this rotting corpse of a union they insist on seeing through rose tinted glasses, no matter the rotten deal England gets out of it.
    It’s sickening to watch Brown talking of giving more power to ‘the nations and the regions’, Scotland, Wales & NI of course being the nations and England being the regions. Labour won’t stop until England is just a collection of regions and this Tory Government, are shamefully going along with it with their localism agenda. Scotland will get it’s referendum, yet another one whilst England has never had one. We’re still waiting to be asked if we would like the same as Scotland already enjoys. Our self serving UK Politicians are afraid to ask us if we would like our own parliament because they are afraid of the answer. Even our host who purports to speak for England doesn’t support an English Parliament do you John?
    Well I for one hope the Scots get their referendum and I hope they vote yes.
    Alternatively no more powers until our self serving UK politicians are dragged kicking and screaming into giving England what the rest of this dis-UK already enjoys, i.e. it’s own Parliament and equal funding.

    1. John
      March 19, 2017

      Well said JoolsB. Sick to death of hearing about these tiny provinces that are sucking England dry, aided and abetted by the British government. They are going to chop England into little pieces just so they can keep their salary and perks in Westminster. I am an old soldier but I have just talked my grandson out of joining the British army; I pointed out to him that the British treat England with contempt so we should not support them.

  12. Michael
    March 19, 2017

    The primary objective of the SNP is independence for Scotland. They will not rest until that is achieved, all else is secondary. Creating a sense of grievance about anything and everything associated with Westminster keeps them relevant.

    The bigger question which is often neglected is what is the attitude of the electorate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to Scottish independence? It would not be difficult to foresee a situation soon where the SNP makes itself so objectionable that the rest of the UK says enough is enough. We invite you to go.

  13. alan jutson
    March 19, 2017

    Afraid the SNP are isolating many in the UK who live outside of Scotland, against Scotland, with their constant demands for more and more.

    Perhaps that is their Plan.

    The Uk Government response should be a very simple “no more”

    Devolution has been a disaster for the UK as it has meant more government, at more expense, with seemingly no accountability, as the financial safety net is still in place.

    The unfairness of the Barnett formula is now an unnecessary complication, and should be revised or better still scrapped.

  14. William Long
    March 19, 2017

    Mr Brown seems to have been taking lessons from Ethelred the Unready; the further concessions granted at Brown’s behest advice by a panicking coalition for the last Referendum did not provide an end to the matter and neither will these.
    I suspect Ms Sturgeon is just desperate to get a Referendum in before she next has to face an election which ther is an ever growing chance she will lose.

  15. Evan Owen
    March 19, 2017

    Is the answer to repeal the devolution acts? It might have been a remotely good idea when money was growing on trees but the cost of running it has risen while the money is drying up.

  16. Mike Stallard
    March 19, 2017

    If Mrs May ever gets round to applying Article 50, then we are in for a shock. The negotiations have not been planned properly and there is going to be a disaster. Then Mrs Sturgeon’s warnings will all come true and she will be proved right. We must not leave the EEA. EU yes. EEA different.
    Even unpleasant people can be right and the most presentable people (Mrs May) be utterly wrong.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 19, 2017

      Which “unpleasant people” do you mean? The one who has recently revealed to you and other followers something which for them was apparently new and startling and well worth repeating to the unenlightened at every opportunity, namely that when we have left the EU we will be categorised as a “third country”?

    2. Anonymous
      March 19, 2017

      MS – London is our strength.

      All those talented people who migrated to London and bought houses there ? They are stranded.

      Only a very few will be able to sell up and escape without causing a house price collapse. So they have a vested interest in making London work. Plus they are addicted to their London houses and to London itself.

      Whatever Brexit means Londoners will have to make London work and – best of all – have the talent to do so. Ditto anyone in the Sth East who is obsessive about their property.

      It is the people who make London great – attracted from all over the world – and most of them are staying put because they can’t move without making a terrific loss.


      If the EU wants anything out of us then they had better help us be successful. We are no good to them broke.

      If the world was worried about Greece or Italy tanking then it will be terrified of Britain going belly up.

  17. Dave Andrews
    March 19, 2017

    The SNP total opposition to the UK government leaves the people of Scotland with virtually no representation in the EU exit negotiations.
    In insisting they want the best for Scotland, their belligerence serves only to damage their country’s prospects.
    The reluctance of political parties to accept the June 2016 outcome and pull together for the good of the UK as a whole serves to undermine our prospects in negotiations.

  18. Paul Greenwood
    March 19, 2017

    I don’t see how Sturgeon could win an Independence vote unless she allows the English to vote ! The economic situation in worse than Greece and since Cameron took funding from Northern England and transferred it to Scotland before the last referendum, most Northerners in England would vote for Scotland to exit and invite Trump to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall.

    On a separate note. Why is there no mention of DCFTA with EU ? If Turkey can have a Sectoral-based Deep & Comprehensive FTA why can’t the UK ?

  19. Graham
    March 19, 2017

    It’s about time the real actual cost to the English of supporting Scotland was clearly laid out for all to see. Then the SNP could be asked to explain how they will meet this subsidy if independent.

    About time they were put one the back foot for a change instead of their usual stance of opportunistic politics.

  20. Dominic Johnson
    March 19, 2017

    Like it or not brexit is a major change and should be voted on.

    The better question would be should Scotland be all in, with no special status, or all out.

    1. Anonymous
      March 20, 2017

      The SNP position looks like cheating to me.

      Scotland voted to be British. Then Britain voted to leave the EU.

  21. Pat
    March 19, 2017

    There are about 800,000 Scots living in England. Should we have another referendum (I hope not, and certainly not soon) they should have a say.

  22. Denis Cooper
    March 19, 2017

    It’s not clear that a majority of Scots actually want what the SNP are insisting they must have, a second referendum on independence before the UK leaves the EU.

    There’s a ComRes poll published yesterday:

    suggesting that 48% do want that while 44% do not want it, but the GB-wide sample size of 2026 is reduced down to just 185 for Scotland so that was 84 persons in favour and 78 persons opposed, plus there are all the usual vagaries of polls, and other recent polls summarised here:

    have tended in the opposite direction.

    However I’ve been watching the progress of two petitions, which may give a better indication of the strength of feeling, and the one opposing a second referendum:

    now has over 188,000 supporters, still rising steadily, while the longer-running petition demanding a second referendum:

    now has only 34,000 supporters and is running out of steam.

    In both cases almost all of the signatures are from Scotland and scaled up to the UK as a whole the first would now be over 2 million, bigger than for example the petition against Trump’s state visit which attracted so much media attention.

  23. Ex-expat Colin
    March 19, 2017

    Watching the Daily Politics on Sunday (Parl Ch) never would influence me to move to Scotland…and half my family live there. Too cold and wet for my liking. If they have not enabled good jobs there (not burgers and coffee making) then how could anyone useful go really?

    Its certainly a Stupid National Party.

    1. APL
      March 20, 2017

      Ex-expat Colin: ” Too cold and wet for my liking.”

      Well, I’ll put up a defence for Edinburgh, one of the nicest cities in the UK to live, possibly behind Bath or Bristol. Despite the best efforts of the Socialists.

      But given your Nome de plume, Colin. I imagine everywhere in the UK is too cole and wet for you.

  24. Denis Cooper
    March 19, 2017

    On the subject of petitions there is a very reasonable newer petition here:

    which I feel entitled to sign even though I am not Scottish nor living in Scotland.

    “Control and Determine the Terms and Timing of any Second Independence Referendum”

    “Should the Scottish Parliament vote to hold another Independence Referendum, the UK Government should honour it, but control the terms and timings of IndyRef2. Specifically, it should take place well after Brexit, rather than before or during, so voters can first assess its effects to Scotland.

    The Scottish Government stated the 2014 Referendum was a “Once in a Generation” vote; their own White Paper stated a UK-wide EU referendum was a possibility if Scots voted “No”. Despite a policy pledge to pursue another referendum if the UK voted to leave the EU and Scotland voted to remain, the SNP did not win an overall majority in the May Holyrood Elections. The Green Party made no similar policy stipulation. Therefore, it is contended no mandate exists for the terms and timings of IndyRef2.”

    I would not only say that the referendum timing should be “during 2024”, if the Scottish Parliament still wanted one then, “well after Brexit … so voters can first assess its effects to Scotland”, but the question should not be in the “Yes/No” form that the SNP were allowed to choose last time but instead in the “Remain/Stay” form used in the EU referendum, and also the electorate should be that used for UK general elections in Scotland.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 19, 2017


    2. eeyore
      March 19, 2017

      An excellent petition. All who wish Scotland, England and the UK well should sign it and, so far as they can, publicise it further.

  25. Bert Young
    March 19, 2017

    Enough of all this wailing . Scotland has to face reality – not idolatry . Sturgeon is a misguided woman who believes she can take gratuity in both hands ; it is time we stopped this ; she must now be challenged and put in her place . Well done Heffer .

    Brown’s proposal to grant extra powers to Scotland is equally ludicrous ; he – like Blair , are individuals simply seeking attention . They have no God given right to be noticed or , in any way , admired ; they are two individuals who – one way or another , caused more dilemma in my life than anyone else .

    The media is responsible for providing the space for irresponsible topics ; whenever there is a shortage of real news , they are always keen to dig out dirt . Devolved Government was never a good idea ; it has always pushed the news into smaller pockets of interest and detracted from the case of country unity .

  26. Mark
    March 19, 2017

    Is there anything to stop the UK government calling a referendum on ending the devolution experiment at an opportune moment when the SNP have demonstrated their incompetence in running Scotland too far?

  27. Oggy
    March 19, 2017

    Mrs May needs to ignore the SNP and send the A50 letter ASAP.
    I and others do not understand why she is delaying/dithering again – have the SNP got her running scared ? – Just get on with it Theresa !

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 19, 2017

      Apparently she has to mention our financial liabilities, or otherwise the EU will get cross and question whether we will act in good faith:

      “Theresa May faces being publicly criticised by the EU if her letter triggering article 50 fails to refer to Britain’s obligation to settle its divorce bill and make an “orderly withdrawal” from the bloc.”

      There’s nothing in the EU treaties about that, any more than there is anything in the EU treaties about a “divorce bill”.

  28. formula57
    March 19, 2017

    Exactly right – no concession will ever be enough for the SNP short of seeing Scotland exit the Union. EU-like, it will just demand repeat votes until the electorate chooses what the SNP desires.

    Given in the SNP we have a body willing to allow the rest of us to relinquish all responsibility for Scotland for ever, why not accept its offer? What the rest of the Union has to lose is surely well worth surrendering.

  29. English Pensioner
    March 19, 2017

    Scotland is rapidly becoming a failing country in spite of the extra per capita expenditure over England. Schools, which were once the best in the Union are declining, public services in many areas are worse than in the UK, whilst money is being wasted on a plan for every child to have a state guardian to ensure the parents are bring up their child correctly.

    Normally, when a dictator’s country is failing or broke, the practice is to declare war on another country thus distracting its citizens from reality. Fortunately for us, Scotland doesn’t have the resources or capability to do this, so Sturgeon, along with some allies, have declared verbal war on England and Theresa May. I’m sure it’s a war that she won’t win.

  30. Antisthenes
    March 19, 2017

    Perhaps the question should be asked are the Scots a benefit or a burden to the rest of the UK. I suspect a calculation of the pros and cons would lead to the latter especially as North sea oil is rapidly running out. I also suspect that us South of the border if asked would overwhelmingly say we would be glad to to see the back of them. As we perceive rightly or wrongly they are disproportionally recipients of government largess. Of course it is not the ordinary Scots we have an issue with. Most of us probably carry Scots blood/genes. No it is those that they vote in to govern them.

    Is more devolved powers the answer as that far from competent ex PM Gordon Brown now advocates? It I believe has merit as it steers the union to a more federal system or even better something the UK wants with the EU. A cooperative arrangement where a sovereign state can pick and choose that cooperation that most meets it’s needs. Without the baggage of having to accept all the burdens and obligations that union or membership confers. The EU and globalisation could work under such an arrangement. Despite the belief that centralisation, the loss of national identity, the subversion sovereignty and self determination is the only way. Over time national identities will fade but never will centralisation or dilution of self determination ever be a viable option. Not to enterprising and freedom loving people it wont.

  31. Tad Davison
    March 19, 2017

    Of the huge deficit, Nichola Sturgeon said on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme (and I went back over it to check) that the £26 billion block grant is money that Scotland gave to Westminster in the first place, and they are just getting their own money back. So may we take it then, that Scottish finances are doing really well, and they would be doing just fine if it wasn’t for those nasty politicians down south?

    Tad Davison


    1. Denis Cooper
      March 19, 2017

      I doubt she will convince even Scots of that when they read headlines like this:

      “UK subsidy to Scotland soars after oil price slump”

      “Spending was £1200 more per head in Scotland than in the rest of the UK in 2015-16, while taxes raised per head were £400 lower, a gap of £1600.

      Five years ago, Scots were net contributors to the exchequer, at £200 per head, however the oil price halving reversed that, and the gap is now the widest since devolution began.”

  32. Budgie
    March 19, 2017

    We have been a united (?) Kingdom since 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England. That was at a time when the monarch was the government. Ethnically, culturally and economically Scotland and England are almost identical, much though the Scots may protest otherwise.

    It seems strange to me that Nicola Sturgeon wants Scotland to stay in the EU, but leave the UK. We have been one country 10 times longer than we have been in the EU. Then the economic ties would be horrendous to disentangle, in comparison to leaving the EU. Politically the UK enjoys a properly democratic form of government, where the EU is largely run by a self appointed oligarchy.

    Really, I would prefer the UK to continue with Scotland as part of it. But I am reluctantly beginning to view many Scots as fair-weather friends (and in the SNP’s case not friends at all). I suspect that the rUK would have more actual power over an “independent” Scotland, than now. In the meantime there are more important things going on in the world than SNP propaganda.

  33. Mark B
    March 19, 2017

    Good afternoon.

    The thing that angers me most about Gordon Brown’s unwelcome intervention is that he referred to my country, England, as a ‘Region’. England is not, nor should it ever be, considered or made a ‘Region’.

    If the Political Class in this country continue with this, it is in very serious danger of fuelling real English Nationalism.

    Giving the Scots more power is not the answer. What is the answer is national parliaments and a single Federal parliament replacing the useless HoL.

    1. Martyn G
      March 19, 2017

      Quite right. I like this:
      “Against the envy of less happier lands,–
      This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”.
      I conclude that England the most unused and perhaps despised word of almost all politicians because they fear the English actually getting together and demanding our own government…..

  34. Pragmatist
    March 19, 2017

    Watch out for SNP politicians seeking and accepting jobs outside of the world of politics. Paid in Pounds Sterling from south of the border.

    Bad news for Labour and LibDem MP job seekers!

    1. enock
      March 19, 2017

      They may find that the English and Scots in England are not keen to employ them.

  35. Ian Wragg
    March 19, 2017

    For a few years we haven’t been subject to Gordon Brown’s musings and it’s been heaven.
    Now we have him back trying to extract ever more money from England whilst funding the Scottish deficit.
    Can we please have a further period of silence.


  36. Andy
    March 19, 2017

    I thought Brown’s speech and the underlying attitude was arrogant and deeply offensive. Why is it that people like him want to deny the people of England THEIR rights and liberties ? Why does he want to dismember England ? I noticed he didn’t suggest dismembering Scotland which has just as many geographic devisions if not far more than England. It is perfectly clear that EVEL is nowhere near good enough: we must have an English Parliament.

  37. richard verney
    March 19, 2017

    In a democracy where Scotland forms part of the Union, I do not understand why there are not 2 referendums on Scotish independence, ie., a Scotish referendum wherein only the Scots vote to decide whether they wish independence, and a Union wide referendum in which everyone in the Union votes on the terms on which Scotland departs the Union (should the Scots themselfs decide to be independent).

    Unlike the recent Eu referendum, the UK Government could, prior to any referendum, outline the main terms on which Scotland departs the Union should Scotland vote to quit the Union, and on which terms everyone within the Union will get a vote, eg Scotland can’t use the pound sterling, Scotland has to repay all the excees sums paid over the years under the Barnet formula, Scotland has to reimburse all sums involved in the bail out of the Scotish banks/financial sector etc, the quitting of nuclear base, and withdrawal of shipbuilding contracrts, buying surplus Scotish wind power at the cheapest base rate for coal, selling to Scotland at times of need, UK energy from coal at the highest rate Scotland pays its windfarms etc. etc. As security for sums due from Scotland to the remaining mebbers of the Union, the licences in the oil fields will only be transferred to Scotland once all sums due from Scotland have been fully paid to what remains of the Union and untill all sums due have been paid, sums due will be debited from oil revenues before any income from oil will be passed onto Scotland.

    I see no reason why England, Wales and NI should be prejudiced by the breakup of the Union, nor why they should in any way assist or continue to prop up an independent Scotland.

  38. Bluto
    March 19, 2017

    No-one has asked the British people to agree to devolution let alone independence. Indeed,the only vote we had on Northern Powerhouses was a NO vote by one area of the UK alone. The UK PM May has no mandate except in her technical ability, to negotiate with this person she calls First Minister any more than she has a mandate to negotiate with Popeye

  39. Denis Cooper
    March 19, 2017

    I saw Sturgeon on TV telling the SNP faithful that

    “The will of our parliament will and must prevail.”

    Quite so; according to the same UK law which created the public office she now holds, the Scotland Act 1998, the will of our parliament, the UK Parliament, must prevail.

    In fact if she wants it to get messy, and if the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament refuses to carry out his duty under that law –

    “The Presiding Officer shall, on or before the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament, decide whether or not in his view the provisions of the Bill would be within the legislative competence of the Parliament and state his decision.”

    – and if the courts up to and including the UK Supreme Court refuse to intervene, then there is the reserve provision in Section 28 on “Acts of the Scottish Parliament”:

    “This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Scotland.”

  40. Original Richard
    March 19, 2017

    There should be no further devolution without the introduction of a full and fair federal system with reciprocal arrangements so that England is not further disadvantaged.

  41. Ed Mahony
    March 19, 2017

    Also, don’t forget (good article):

    ‘Scottish separatism? I blame that dreadful Braveheart film – Telegraph.

    Sad but true. They’ve had their referendum. Surely its time for Mrs May to really toughen up now on this?

  42. Old Albion
    March 19, 2017

    Constant referendums for Scotland along with Wales and N.Ireland. When will England get an Independence referendum?

  43. acorn
    March 19, 2017

    If the Scots want to go off and do their own thing, why not let them do it? Just like with the EU, the Administrators will sort the assets and liabilities; and decide who gets what, if anything. Once that is settled, future relationships can be engineered; simples!

    If it all goes tits-up, we can do what we did back in the 1700’s, and buy up Scotland again for pennies in the Pound. It would be really good if the Irish Republic made an offer for Northern Island (NI), as NI voted to remain in the EU. A united Ireland would be like Hong Kong plus Singapore on amphetamines.

  44. Dunedin
    March 19, 2017

    Turnout in Scotland for the EU referendum was much lower at 67.2% than the 2014 independence referendum at 84.5%.

    In the EU referendum, 1.6 million (41.7% of electorate) voted to remain, just over 1 million (25.5%) voted to leave, while 1.3 million (32.8%) did not vote.

    More questions for the SNP to ponder are:

    1. Does the one third of the electorate who did not express any opinion on the EU feel aggrieved that they are being “dragged out of the UK”?
    2. Would these 1.3 million people who didn’t take part in the EU vote be willing to leave the UK in order to remain in the EU?

    It is by no means certain that the “overwhelming” remain vote, 64% (of those who voted), will lead to a vote for independence. I hope Mrs May will continue to resist the SNP demands for a second referendum. Miss Sturgeon is now leading a minority government at Holyrood, – this is not a “democratic mandate” for another referendum.

    I agree with your comments re Gordon Brown – please don’t keep offering more powers.

  45. BCL
    March 20, 2017

    As an Englishman I think Scotland would be very much worse off without the rest of us. It follows probably that the rest of us would be better off. I would be sorry if Scotland left the UK, but only for reasons of sentiment. My head would vote for their independence but my heart would vote to keep the UK as it is.

    If there is another referendum then unless the powers that be want to boot Scotland out, it would be better not to give the English a vote! I think most of us are fed up with them.

  46. Patrick Mallen
    March 20, 2017

    Off topic …

    In today’s Guardian, Larry Elliott’s analyzes a recent talk given by Pascal Lamy raising some interesting points as we head into the Brexit negotiations, one of which is state aid.

    In its most basic form and most important with regards to Brexit, the sovereign right of a future UK Socialist government to state fund heavy industry must be preserved on democratic grounds. This is the principle on which Brexit was won: democracy, and fought for by great Parliamentarians like Tony Benn.

    The negotiation cannot be about ceding that principle. Instead they must reach an understanding as to how the the EU might be disadvantaged be by such a move and creatie domestic UK legislation to even things out.

    Regarding UK exports to the EU, the EU retain the sovereign right to tax that % of UK exports declared as state aided (the UK could do the same to EU imports) so long as both sides agreed to transparency with regards to state funding.

    However, in the UK domestic market it might be that EU products were disadvantaged though cheaper state aided material costs, causing an unfair imbalance.

    One way the UK could tackle this is by having companies declare state aid as a % of the final product and having that % deducted from the tax rate of the competing EU product in the UK market. On the sacrosanct principle of the Contingency of Law (no Parliament being bound by a previous Parliament) a future UK government could repeal this law. It would then be for the EU to establish what retaliatory action it wishes to take.

    In practice, this law shouldn’t even trouble a Socialist government, who see state aid in heavy industry as a job creation/protection exercise, and would pay to see people kept in work even if it they over-produced for the market.

    Are state aid rules ultimately determined at a higher ‘global’ level than the EU? If so, it is irrelevant to the Brexit talks.

    Does globalization therefore similarly take democratic choice out of the hands of the national parliaments? Perhaps. Could not the UK champion a ‘commercial disadvantage clause’ in global trade agreements, which rebalances the democratic right for nations to state aid, with the commercial necessity of lower tax rates for importers so they aren’t disadvantaged?

  47. Patrick Mallen
    March 20, 2017

    If my previous post sounds arcane, it is not. The Scottish debate can most realistically be won on the grounds of ‘Sovereign Independence (or what Sturgeon calls ‘hard Brexit’) by showing that both full EU membership (Sturgeons “preferred option”) and membership of the Single Market, compromise would be Scottish independence in areas vital to their political character. It is by attacking from the left, state funding, renationalization, that the democratic principle can be be most effectively heard, and it can be shown that SNP’s idea of ‘independence’ denies the Scottish people significant democratic choices.

    And if Sturgeon and the SNP haven’t thoughts through the meaning of actual ‘independence’, what else is it that they haven’t they thought through?

  48. Lindsay McDougall
    March 20, 2017

    But the SNP doesn’t want independence. It wants a parasitic form of DevoMax:
    – A shared monarchy
    – A shared currency
    – The Barnett formula and more
    – Powers to raise taxes that it has no expectations of using

    What is their ultimate motive? It may be to reinstate the Stuart kings and re-establish the supremacy of the Church of Rome.

  49. JamesG
    March 23, 2017

    So many errors. Deliberate or not? Only Salmond said it was ‘once in a generation’ and he stressed it was only his opinion. In fact it was once in 300 years. The majority of ‘Scots’ in fact voted for independence but the vote was swayed by the English residents. Far from convincing it was a result marred by the 1st project fear with misleading and plain wrong scare stories emanating every day from Westminster. How many pensioners were scared into voting no? How many believed the ultimately phoney Cameron-Brown pledge for a Devo-max if they voted no? How many believed the nonsense that a no vote was the best chance of staying in Europe? How many were swayed by the cannot-use-the-pound scare that was later admitted as 100% false even by Osborne himself? The answer to those questions probably lie in the SNP surge in the following general election leading to 53 out of 56 MPs being nationalist. Surely even by itself a mandate for a new referendum!

    For Pete’s sake educate yourself or leave it alone!

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