Thursday, 25 October 2012

Yes Scotland Update

Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of Yes Scotland, recently laid out the key arguments for an independent Scotland.

In a major speech, he said the 2014 referendum presented Scots with a unique opportunity to build a better Scotland. One that was inclusive, fairer and more equal. And that was why he was convinced 2014 would be the “Year of Yes”.

But Yes Scotland needs your help to make that happen and we are pleased to unveil two new ways for you to help our campaign.

First of all, it is now possible to set up regular, monthly donations to Yes Scotland (This will take you to a completely secure URL.) We are a grassroots campaign and regular donations, of any size, from our supporters will help us plan our campaign and create the resources necessary to win the argument.

Set up a regular donation here

We are also pleased to announce to launch of our online store, where you can buy Yes merchandise such as:

  • T-shirts
  • mugs
  • badges
  • bags
  • pens
Buying items from the store will help fund our campaign and spread our positive message.

Visit our store here

The highlights of Blair’s speech at the prestigious Donaldson Lecture at the SNP conference were:
  • 'We know that under successive Labour and Conservative governments, the UK has become one of the most unfair and unequal societies in the Western world. That didn’t happen as an act of God. It was an act of policy.”
  •  “The vision of an independent Scotland that many of us have is of a country where all of us look out for one another, and where our sense of duty and responsibility to other people doesn’t begin and end at our own front door.” 
  • “Most of us value the notion of a society that is inclusive, where communities and individuals are not left behind and are not marginalised; a country where access to Higher education does not depend upon the wealth of your parents; a country where your health and your lifespan does not depend upon where you were born or where you live; a country where we value investment in people and investment in society. And where old age is not a time of loneliness and fear.'
  • “As far as Yes Scotland is concerned, all we ask is that you support the core principle - the core democratic principle - that the best people to make decisions about the future of Scotland and what is right for Scotland are the people of Scotland themselves, the people who live here, the people who work here.”
You can watch the full video at

He also asked the question: “If Scotland was an independent country today, who would vote to join the Union?” You can watch a short video of that here.

Thank you very much for your help. It is only with your support that we will win in 2014.

Yes Scotland

Monday, 15 October 2012

Scottish reshuffle: Salmond appoints Sturgeon referendum supremo

Deputy first minister to oversee economic policy and direct preparations for 2014 referendum on independence
Local council elections
'I look forward to winning': deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon takes on responsibility for government strategy and the constitution. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
Alex Salmond has again attempted to bolster the independence campaign by asking his highly-regarded deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon to direct the Scottish government's referendum strategy.
Charged too with overseeing economic policy, Sturgeon will spearhead the Scottish government's preparations for the 2014 referendum, starting on Thursday with a meeting with the UK government Scotland minister David Mundell.
Sturgeon's appointment came after the first minister held a snap reshuffle.
Forced on Salmond partly by the decision of his senior constitutional affairs minister Bruce Crawford to retire, Sturgeon's new posting is the most significant in a series of recent personnel changes within his government and the Scottish National party as the political pace around the referendum sharply accelerated.
Sturgeon, the longest serving Scottish health secretary since devolution and widely tipped as the SNP's most likely successor to Salmond, has successfully piloted through two of the SNP government's most contentious measures, with legislation on alcohol minimum pricing and cabinet approval for a gay marriage bill.
A firm proponent of a single "yes or no" referendum question on independence, she has been critical of Salmond's behind-the-scenes efforts to find a coalition of civil and business leaders to fight for a second question on increased devolution. That option is now thought to be dead: Salmond is understood to be committed to a single question vote in 2014.
Salmond's most influential and experienced special adviser, Kevin Pringle, moved last month from his government post to become the SNP's head of strategic communications; on Sunday, the official Yes Scotland independence campaign unveiled its executive team.
Salmond said on Wednesday that a date had been pencilled in within the next few weeks for his meeting with David Cameron to agree the terms of the 2014 referendum and the legislation needed to enact it; Downing Street said dates were under discussion, but none had yet been confirmed. The first minister said he believed a deal would be struck when he meets the prime minister.
Crawford had been leading the talks with Mundell on the precise detail of the referendum, which is now widely tipped to see votes for 16- and 17-year-olds; supervision by the Electoral Commission; legal approval by the Westminster government; and a single "yes or no" question on independence.
Salmond said both he and Cameron were keen for that deal to be struck. "My understanding [is] he's anxious to have the meeting and I'm anxious to have it," he said. "I think progress has been made. I have never regarded these things as presenting insuperable obstacles and nor have they."
The reshuffle means that seeing the same sex marriage bill into law despite vigorous opposition from the Catholic church and defending the minimum pricing act against court action by Scotch Whisky Association now fall to new health secretary Alex Neil, the former infrastructure minister who was previously one of Salmond's fiercest internal critics and a former party leadership contender.
Aware of the risk that Sturgeon's move would provoke allegations that the NHS was being downgraded by his government, Salmond said Neil was one of his most formidable ministers. "Alex Neil is a very, very serious political figure and a figure of great substance," the first minister said.
No other senior cabinet posts have changed, but three other junior ministers have been sacked and replaced by backbench MSPs.
Brian Adam is replaced as minister for parliamentary business by Joe Fitzpatrick, MSP for Dundee City West. Stewart Stevenson is replaced as minister for environment and climate change by Paul Wheelhouse, MSP for South Scotland, and one of the party's brightest media performers, Humza Yousaf, the MSP for Glasgow, becomes the new minister for external affairs and international development. Margaret Burgess, MSP for Cunninghame South, is a new minister for housing and welfare.
Having formally taken on the role of cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities, with "lead responsibility for government strategy and the constitution", Sturgeon told Holyrood on Wednesday that she was "extremely excited" by her new post.
"I look forward to making that positive, that honest, that upbeat case over the next two years and I look forward to winning the independence referendum in 2014," she said.

Scotland countdown to secession poll

SCOTLAND has formally begun a two-year to a referendum on breaking up the UK, with independence campaigners banking on a surge of Scottish nationalism during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
British Prime Minister David Cameron last night signed off on the holding of a referendum in the weeks after the Glasgow Games, where local athletes will compete under a Scottish flag, unlike at the London Olympics where they were part of "Great Britain" or "Team GB".
The agreement between the Mr Cameron and Alec Salmond, the pro-independence First Minister of Scotland, is a historic move, as the 5.25 million people living in Scotland will have the chance to undo the 1707 Treaty of Union that merged the kingdoms of England and Scotland.
Lengthy bartering between the two governments over the past eight months saw Mr Salmond win the right to control the timing of the ballot and he promptly rejected Mr Cameron's call for the referendum to be held as soon as possible.

He plans a series of events to mark the 700th anniversary on June 24, 2014, of the Scottish victory over England at the Battle of Bannockburn, and from July 23 to August 3, the Commonwealth Games will have Scots barracking for their team against England and the other "home nations" Wales and Northern Ireland as well as Australia and other members of the Commonwealth.
With opinion polls showing as few as 28 per cent of people now support independence, Mr Salmond wants as much time as possible to change public opinion, and the second half of 2014 offers some unique opportunities to heighten Scottish nationalism.
Despite Mr Salmond's victory on the timing of the ballot, Mr Cameron's negotiating team came out on top over the single most important issue, the matter of how many questions will appear on the ballot paper.
Knowing most Scots are currently likely to vote no to the question of full independence, Mr Salmond's Scottish National Party had hoped to put a fall-back option on the ballot paper by including a second question asking whether they wanted to see the devolution of more government powers from Britain to Scotland if it remained within the UK.
Mr Cameron refused to budge on that issue, forcing the SNP to accept that the ballot paper would include a single "in or out" question about Scotland's future in the UK.
Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, who is leading the anti-independence Better Together campaign, said he was pleased the deal had been reached. "The key thing at stake in these negotiations was to get the single question," he said.
Mr Salmond had two smaller victories in the referendum negotiations, winning the right to extend the referendum vote to 16 and 17 year olds, and ensuring that the devolved Scottish parliament would oversee the phrasing of the referendum question.
The SNP has a clear majority in the parliament but the final choice of question will have to be cleared as fair by the UK Electoral Commission.
Last night's signing in Edinburgh of the referendum deal means the two sides can now concentrate on debating issues such as whether Scotland, which has only 8.3 per cent of the British population, would be more prosperous if it controlled its own taxes and foreign relations.
Mr Salmond proposes retaining the Queen as the head of state of an independent Scotland, keeping the pound sterling and staying within the EU and NATO.
Opponents say Scotland would need to apply for EU membership, a process that could see it forced to adopt the euro as its currency.
Mr Cameron said he wanted the debate to be vigorous and honest. "Scotland's two governments have come together to deliver a referendum which will be legal, fair and decisive," he said.
"This marks the beginning of an important chapter in Scotland's story and allows the real debate to begin. It paves the way so that the biggest question of all can be settled: a separate Scotland or a united kingdom?
"It is now up to the people of Scotland to make that historic decision."

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ed Miliband's ONE NATION is ..... ENGLAND!

Independence referendum: SNP and Westminster avoid all-out war

Thursday, 4 October 2012 1:45 PM

The talks have been going on all year. Now, after ten months of negotiations, agreement on the rules of a Scottish independence referendum is thought to be near. Officials are putting together a draft package to be rubber-stamped by the two sides. But what's in it? Here's an update on what we know about the state of play.
The biggest issues being discussed are the timing of the referendum and the question to be asked. The British government had kicked over a fuss on the SNP's preferred autumn 2014 date (Alex Salmond's party having originally pledged in its 2011 election manifesto not to hold a referendum until the second half of the current Holyrood parliament). But it is thought to have conceded that date fairly early on in the negotiation process. Apart from anything else, it will take another 12 months or so for the primary legislation required in both Holyrood and Westminster to work their way through both parliaments. These things take time, so London is likely to accept that its initial optimistic 18-month guess - for a referendum by mid-2013 - has long ago become unrealistic.
The other big sticking point is over the nature of the question to be eventually put to Scottish voters. Both sides are thought to be prepared to accept giving the Electoral Commission the job of vetting this. It looks like London will get its way over the number of options presented: 'yes' and 'no' will be all there is on offer. The third 'devo-max' term, which polling suggests would do the best of all, won't even appear on the ballot.
All this serves to place some SNP distancing from the devo-max idea in context. One of the party's MPs I've spoken to recently was keen to point out that, as the SNP's policy position was independence or bust, it was up to 'civil Scotland' to try to coalesce around a third devo-max option. Nothing to do with the SNP, you understand - so the failure to come up with a cohesive set of ideas is the fault of 'civil Scotland' and not the nationalists. The MP pointed out that the unionists south of the border are also split on the terms of any future devolution - conveniently demonstrating the difficulties of coming to any kind of agreement on where to go next after Scotland votes 'no'.
That result is not guaranteed, of course, but if the polls remain the same that will be the outcome. This explains why the Scottish government is so keen to extend the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds. It might seem like a blatant manipulation of the process, but the SNP will take any votes they can get. The UK government, keen to secure agreement on a binding set of terms, is likely to make a concession here - confident that the bigger picture looks good (and that young voters are notoriously poor at actually bothering to vote).
It's taken a ridiculously long time to get this far. But the two governments do appear to have adopted a pragmatic line rather than going down the route of all-out war via the courts. The constitutional crisis we feared in January has been replaced by some plain, straightforward horse-trading. Now we just need to find out what the exact terms are - and then work out who's won the battle for the rules of the game.