In praise of Kevin Hague … and a note on cybernats

Scottish nationalism has spawned the ‘cybernat.’ Cybernats don’t argue a case robustly, they abuse their opponents online. If in doubt, search this blog for ‘cybernat.’ You’ll find ten references, some passing examples, one or two more extended analyses of the phenomenon.

Yesterday business (and unionist) blogger Kevin Hague appeared on a BBC Radio Scotland talk programme with Stuart Campbell, owner of the nationalist Wings over Scotland web site. If you want to get a flavour of what the two men are like without leaving this blog search again, this time for ‘Hague’ and then ‘Wings.’

As it happens I didn’t hear the discussion at the time although it is available online. I don’t believe the content matters too much for this post, although it does for other reasons. I want to discuss what happened after.

Following the broadcast, Mr Hague got what could properly be called dog’s abuse online. As I heard it at second-hand this started when Campbell asked his followers what they thought of his own performance. His question unleashed a combined torrent of support for Campbell and abuse of Hague. I’m sure Hague is pretty used to this sort of abuse (of which more anon). At some time during the evening he tweeted that, unusually, his wife had seen some of it and was upset. What decent person wouldn’t be? I won’t give examples here except the comment that Stuart Campbell made on Twitter shortly after midnight:

wings on kevin hague 260116

I should perhaps pause for a word of explanation in case you’re not aware of the characters involved. Kevin Hague is a decent man, an entrepreneur who blogs as chokkablog on matters primarily to do with the economics of independence/separation. If anything, his blog could be accused of being a little dry. He specialises in meticulous analysis of economic data and invariably includes a note in his posts to the effect that ‘if you spot a mistake in this let me know and I’ll correct it.’ If challenged on facts he will debate and if proven wrong, concede the point and amend his posts. It doesn’t happen often because it doesn’t need to. Campbell’s characterisation of him above is grotesque and plain wrong, although not untypical of his general approach to debate.

Never mind. What invariably happens when Stuart Campbell makes his view known on something is that his online followers pile in and support him. This indeed, I am sure, is at least half the reason he says what he does – to try and get up a deafening roar of disapproval to drown any opposing point of view.

So if, heaven forfend, you’ve thought of taking up cybernattery yourself here are a few pointers to success culled from this latest blitzkrieg.

  • Be anonymous. It’s so easy. You can say what you like and no-one will know who you are. Some folk will call you a coward, but then maybe you are.
  • Remember ‘It’s my side right or wrong.’ Even if it is wrong, concede nothing. This is something that stands above truth. This is destiny.
  • Present an unwarranted assertion as fact, preferably by writing ‘#FACT’ after it, and when asked to provide evidence change the subject.
  • If you do change the subject, as you will, consider the technique of ‘Whataboutery.’ I had an example in the discussion of all this yesterday. Someone declined to answer my straight question as to whether they thought what Hague had been subjected to was abuse, asking me in return ‘What about Wings or Salmond?’ I chuckled at the idea of Campbell’s innocence in the matter of abuse. As for Alex Salmond, he is a past master himself in the art of whataboutery.
  • Don’t ever go on to a blog or web site to make a more extended comment, and if you do don’t make it a reasoned one. You’re probably not capable of understanding a reasoned technical argument and anyhow don’t want to.
  • In the over-used sporting analogy, play the man not the ball. The abuse from Stuart Campbell above is a not untypical example (it only continued his tone on BBC Radio Scotland when he characterised Hague as a ‘dog food salesman,’ a snide aside based on one of Hague’s businesses: anyhow, it was too clever by half and would only have bemused most listeners).
  • Like cowards and bullies everywhere, hunt in packs.
  • When you say something demonstrably unfunny, which will be most of the time, add ‘LOL’ to your tweet.
  • If in doubt, try to provoke by sheer unmitigated rudeness, as a cybernat (anonymous of course and with a grand total of nine followers) did yesterday when he called me – wait for it – a ‘sycophantic turd-gobbler.’
  • When challenged on your abuse, respond ‘If you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen. This is what it’s like.’ No, it’s not. It’s what you make it like.
  • At some stage in your exchange, do be sure to call the other person ‘pal,’ ‘mate’ or by a familiar and unwarranted abbreviation of their first name, in Hague’s case ‘Kev’ (short cut if you’re going to tweet me – it’s ‘Rog’). You can typically do this with a final insult as you depart the scene.

All of this and more was evident in the online abuse yesterday of Kevin Hague. I do hope the idiots don’t put him off his continued excellent work. New GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures are due out soon and GERS is one of his special subjects. I look forward to his analysis of them and to the subsequent ritual denunciation of it by nationalists.

I should say more on his protagonist of yesterday, shouldn’t I? TBH, as the kids say, I CBA. He has plenty of misguided friends anyhow from his exile in the genteel city of Bath in England. Amongst them he numbers SNP councillors, MSPs and MPs. As I’ve said on a number of occasions before when cybernattery has been particularly obnoxious, it would be nice to have unambiguous condemnation of and action on this sort of stuff from our first minister. But then a lot of other things would be nice that I don’t expect to see in a month of Sundays.

PS 27/1/2016 – someone has pointed out to me that Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter both follows and seems to enjoy friendly Twitter exchanges with Stuart Campbell. She is also first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s election agent.

Footnote. You’ll find Kevin Hague’s own (measured) analysis of his BBC radio exchange with Campbell on chokkablog, linked above – dated  26/1/2016.

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77 Responses to In praise of Kevin Hague … and a note on cybernats

  1. Well said Roger. The fine old Scottish tradition of flyting was a face to face (or rather screed to screed) matter. Scataoogical Insults were expected, but this is all another level, that debases our culture.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is a deeply disingenuous and tendentious piece Roger. It exhibits rather well the problem with most unionist analysis of the debate about independence generally, and the “quality” of debate on both sides of the argument. It is totally par for the course that what passes for your analysis damns the other side for its faults (both imagined and real) while either ignoring any fault on your own side, or insisting that your protagonist in this debate is a lily white, blameless individual of impeccable character being traduced by the opposition.

    Those of us who are labelled cybernats are of course used to the unreasoning hatred shown by many of those opposed to independence. Of course, pointing out that there are extremists on both sides doesn’t get us very far. No doubt it will be labelled as “whataboutery”, but it is interesting that many of those to the fore defending Kevin Hague and attacking anyone who retweets or interacts with, let alone supports, Wings Over Scotland as vile cybernats and apologists for abuse etc., are quite happy to interact with some fairly odious characters on their own side.

    Note, that I am in no way defending abuse (although, yes I do think that people who get upset about the odd swear word probably need to get a grip); what I am pointing out is that a huge double standard exists in the treatment of this issue amongst unionist commentators and media. The sad thing is that so little good will now exists in either camp toward the other side. One rapidly becomes tired of trying to interact civilly with people whose arguments invariably descend in short order to variations of well worn unionist memes (“it’s a one party state”, “the SNP is failing”, “there’s an economic black hole”, “Scotland will end up like Zimbabwe”, “Alex Salmond is fat, isn’t he?”, “you lost, get over it”). How open to debate or reason are people who insist I’m a member of a cult?

    We are to a large extent now talking past one another, as can be seen from responses to the interview. Virtually all pro-independence commentators I’ve heard thought Stu Campbell wiped the floor with Kevin Hague, and were irritated by the latter’s inane Mutley-like chuckling in the background, and remain unconvinced that he is the economic messiah proclaimed by unionists. Conversely, virtually every anti-independence commentator I’ve seen is convinced that Kevin Hague triumphed yet again, and that his searing economic insights were a slam dunk victory. So divergent are these points of view, one might almost wonder if people were listening to the same broadcast?

    In summary, I guess what I’m trying to say is please stop the tone policing and victim-claiming. It does neither side of the debate any good. Extremists and neds exist on both sides, so please spare us the faux indignation or the tendentious claims that it is uniquely the reserve of “cybernats”. Characterising any disagreement, however civil, or any use of a four letter word under any circumstances as “vile abuse” is a gross caricature, and lets those responsible for really threatening behaviour off the hook.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Roger White says:

      Andy: I’m sure we’ll not agree on many things but since you’ve done a long, reasoned response I’ll give you the courtesy of the same in return although it won’t be for a day or two (other commitments).

      Like

      • I’m sure we won’t; any sort of reasoned response would however make a pleasant change. My experience thus far has been a total failure to engage on the part of most unionists whether on twitter or blogs.

        Like

      • John Henderson says:

        Andy you state ” My experience thus far has been a total failure to engage on the part of most unionists whether on twitter or blogs.” Which I think precisely proves the points being made here. Rather than encourage robust debate and critical analysis the cybernat modus operandi outlined shuts it down. Any criticism of the ‘Yes’ case however well grounded and logical is met with the reaction you might expect from a religious zealot.

        Like zealots they bridle at inquiry as it strikes at the heart of their credo. ‘Talking Scotland down, traitors and quislings’ – these terms ring a bell? I for one can’t be bothered discussing anything which such people. The reason I respect Hague is his continuing determination to analyse the claims made by the Yes side in the light of the abuse outlined. Like Mr Campbell I am a Scot who lives in England. If his way of securing your aim of an independent Scotland proves successful, I’ll be content to stay this side of the border. Victory achieved employing these tactics would not augur well for the type of society resulting from them.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Martinio says:

      Andy:

      “Virtually all pro-independence commentators I’ve heard thought Stu Campbell wiped the floor with Kevin Hague”

      Did they prefer the part where Stu didn’t have oil revenue figures, or the part where he ‘zoned out’ whilst facts were being discussed on a fact-check programme?

      Maybe they were just there for the ‘Dog Food Salesman’ comment.

      A little truth belies in many pro-independence commentators: They LOVE to see an opposing view quietened. This is what the likes of WoS thrive on. He’s an army of people at his disposal who are happier to berate those willing to discuss facts because they have nothing further to offer.

      So, instead of taking on board data presented and arguing it sensibly, the ‘whataboutery’ and squirrel-statements start and promptly followed by abuse later. It’s why so many of us remain anonymous, as most have had at least one instance of being threatened (“you live in xxxx don’t you? How about I come round for a ‘chat’?”) or at least singled out for having a differing opinion.

      The point I’m making is this: Those at the top of the pro-indy tree need to start behaving like adults. Discuss the issue. Play the ball, not the man. The behaviour of WoS just encourages others to do likewise. He has NOTHING else to add or he would do so.

      It’s really that plain and simple.

      There are however cases where people DO want to discuss rationally and it’s a shame because the above prevents this from happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You singularly fail to address the issue, and rather prove my point. all the things you mention could equally be applied to “your” side of the argument. I could simply reverse Roger’s little list of pointers above and insist they were applicable to “all” unionists, but I wouldn’t do that because I think it’s stupid to other a whole movement for the actions of a few extremists.

        Trust me, as someone who isn’t anonymous I know all about people trying to cause problems for people they can identify for no other reason than an online disagreement, or daring to put forward an alternative view. Of course you WANT it to be plain and simple; it’s so much easier to claim the moral high ground if you insist the fault is all on the other side, and that your side is blameless, or at least much “less” guilty.

        I’m sure there are some who are more interested in playing the ball than the man, I’ve just seen very little evidence of it either here, or elsewhere online.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Paul Hudson says:

      As you correctly identify, there are nasty and incoherently partisan people on both sides of this now deep and vicious divide in Scotland. You also correctly identify that polarisation has hardened into an impenetrable impasse and discourse is futile. Biases are eternally fixed and the protagonists are implacable.

      Now here’s the deal… (I don’t mean to be arrogant, but why pussyfoot over what are clear facts in the matter.)

      The “grassroots” nature in the Nationalist side means that the more extremist activism in both camps is highly asymmetrical. We knew this throughout indyref and we simply continue to experience that legacy. Of course I would not expect you to accept this *QED* and please consider this carefully if you’ve a care to respond.

      So? That this asymmetric blunt instrument is used across social medias to lambast, ridicule and bury astute, considered and ultimately robust (read: difficult) analysis (the like of Mr Hague’s), is as telling as it is unfortunate. After all, it’s only the quality of wider informed debate & general public understanding that’s at stake. Any weary cynic might conclude that this is the desired aim of your average burgeoning cybernat. To use overwhelming numbers to press home an activist “grassroots” advantage in dictating the entire terms of public “debate” throughout all social media. No! In fact, rubbish! Scrub that! You really don’t have to be a weary cynic to conclude this.

      So where now? It’s anyone’s guess. The impasse is set and it cures ever harder as time passes.

      In my summary, however, I’ll refer to yours…

      “In summary, you guess what you’re trying to say is please stop the tone policing and victim-claiming.”

      Aside from doing “neither side of the debate any good” (with which I agree), you say this from the side who a) perpetrates magnitudes of such behaviour in vastly unequal measure to the side it is set upon (mostly simply in order to shut down difficult and unflattering debate) and b) are now simply reaping the whirlwind of unflinchingly Nationalistic tendencies and the divisive, deleterious discourse and politics that inevitably follows. Sow the wind… etc. etc.

      Nationalism is as Nationalism does.

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      • “(with which I agree), you say this from the side who”

        Best paradox of the day that one.

        “Nationalism is as Nationalism does”

        I have some deeply disturbing news for you. This debate is largely a battle between two kinds of nationalism. Scottish and British. For sure, there are many on both sides, including myself, who argue for reasons other than the purely nationalistic. You will find the core supporters of each are either flag-waving Brits, seeking to impose a supranational system over us all, or flag-waving Scots seeking to separate the rest of us from the country we love.

        Perhaps you are deluded enough not to see the inherent confirmation bias in your thinking that one side is more abusive and oppressive than the other. Thats quite common. You probably are deluded enough into thinking you are not a British nationalist and thus more ‘outward looking’. You are sadly, sadly wrong.

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    • You’re right, I don’t accept your “QED” because it is no such thing, it’s just your assertion stated as a FACT which is, funnily enough, one of the things on Roger’s little list above. awkward for you…?

      As for your last paragraph, much the same applies I’m afraid. a) is your opinion, again dressed up as unassailable fact. I believe the exact opposite to be the case. Go figure. b) the divisive nature of the campaign can’t be attributed to one side, one group of people or one issue. It is at least arguable however (and even accepted by some more open-minded unionists) that the self-named Project Fear campaign was negative. British nationalists always attack civic nationalism &/or Scottish nationalism whilst maintaining that “their” nationalism is uniquely positive.

      Your “analysis” of nationalism is a trite and one dimensional and your assertions dressed as FACT aren’t really helping move us forward.

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      • “This is a deeply disingenuous and tendentious piece Roger.”

        “My experience thus far has been a total failure to engage on the part of most unionists whether on twitter or blogs.”

        “You singularly fail to address the issue.”

        “You’re right, I don’t accept your “QED” because it is no such thing.”

        “Your argument is without merit.”

        “We disagree that any fair minded comparison would find what you say.”

        “You clothe yourself in the garments or reasonableness and righteousness.”

        “You appear to be very much part of the problem, not part of the solution; it’s quite a stunning lack of self awareness to be honest.”

        “I don’t “need” to do anything.”

        “Sadly, you fall down somewhat with the intellectually lazy assertion that…”

        “I’m no expert (and frankly I’m just not that interested; the debate won’t be won or lost on the strength of it)”

        “I’m afraid I’m not ready to simply give Kevin a get out of jail free card quite that quickly.”

        “Given what I’ve seen here and elsewhere, I won’t be holding my breath.”

        “I don’t think inflammatory language helps to be honest.”

        “…disinterested observers would in general think that Stu came off better, and that Kevin came across as he rightly said, as a bit of dick.”

        “To be honest, I’m not sure Roger’s little diatribe merited a calm and reasoned critique…”

        “…just more of the same old same “aren’t ALL cybernats just awful, and isn’t our side just so wonderful” tendentious britnattery.”

        “Unsurprisingly, you seem to be a very angry person as is so often the case with unionists…”

        “Your “analysis” of nationalism is a trite and one dimensional and your assertions dressed as FACT aren’t really helping move us forward.”

        “It’s possible for either side to “prove” almost anything which supports their case if they try hard enough.”

        “I’m all for having reasonable debate with unionists; I just find very few out there willing to engage without it descending in fairly short order to othering anyone holding pro-independence views as a zealot, cultist and apologist for every bad thing said by any cybernat at any time.”

        …and the pièce de résistance…

        “What few, if any supporters of Kevin and Roger’s hagiography of him seem prepared to address (still less admit) is the glaring double standard exhibited. That above all is why I see little hope of progress or reconciliation with the core of unionist support; they have a Manichean view of things as the (overwhelmingly anonymous) posters on here demonstrate.”

        Just whoa there!!! … having just caught up with the latest here, Andy, it’s clearer now that if you persist with the writing style of a precocious 8 year old and reasoning skills to match, you will not attract the attention and quality discourse craved. Sorry, I’m out.

        Like

  3. Wylie Coyote says:

    Andy, have you read WoS twitter feed and contrasted it with Hague’s? What about a comparison between WoS’s blog & comments on the radio piece and the Chokkablog blog & comments on the same? Do you see no distinction in the tone, attitude and approach between the two?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, I don’t. As others have pointed out elsewhere, Hague isn’t above throwing swear words at people he doesn’t like either (it’s not hard to find using twitter search). I’m a lot more concerned about more serious issues than the use of expletives or calling people names; if that is the worst that happens on twitter, relations between the two sides might not be quite as poisonous as they are. What I find hypocritical and unacceptable is the attempt by the anti-independence camp (because it is inavariably from that side) to paint abuse and unacceptable behaviour as a phenomenon unique to the pro-independence side. This is usually twinned with demands for the SNP/SG to act to stop it, as though they were directly responsible for it.

      For all the outrage expressed about Wings Over Scotland in particular and cybernats in general, there seems to be remarkably little coverage of outrageous comments from some pretty high profile unionist bloggers. Why is that do you think? Perhaps it’s just me but I find Jill Stephenson calling Mhairi Black MP a “foul mouthed slut” much more abhorrent than Stu Campbell swearing at Kevin Hague. Similarly, I think calling pro-independence immigrants in Scotland traitors, as prominent (anonymous) unionist blogger Effie Deans did, much more sinister than some random nutter on twitter using the “f” word or giving Mr Hague a hard time on twitter. Strangely however, a double standard seems to exist in the mind of many unionists on-line and (sadly) in the main stream media. Many prominent individuals on the unionist side are quite happy to re-tweet and interact with people like Jill, Effie, Ian Smart, Gordon Mccaskill & others just as odious, whilst loudly decrying their opponents for interacting with “cybernats” they don’t like.

      Perhaps on reflection you’ll understand why I find unionist attempts to “other” a whole campaign not only hyperbolic, but hypocritical.

      Liked by 1 person

      • handofkwll says:

        Andy, I take your points that both sides in this cyberwar tend to fight from entrenched positions and hurl insults at each other with abandon. Anyone who sticks their head above the parapet can expect to be sworn at, in my view this is regrettable but people must know what to expect.

        Kevin Hague does swear on Twitter and makes his dislike of Wings very clear. However, in his blog he does try to argue about the issues and invites people to find fault with what he has said. In my opinion that pattern was followed in the radio discussion, Kevin attacked what Sturgeon had said and then criticised what Stu had to say in reply. Stu couldn’t back up his arguments with figures and stuck stubbornly to his view that oil price is as good an indicator of oil tax revenues as the revenues themselves. Desperate stuff. In this case Kevin addressed the issues but Stu just talked past him, at one point he admitted just ‘tuning out’.

        Wings and his followers seem unable to cope with a proper argument – with facts and logic. He resorted instead to saying Kevin shows ‘total arrogance, brittle fragility, mental illness and absolutely catastrophic stupidity’. That’s a lot worse than simply being sworn at. After that the followers piled in with as many shitty comments as they could manage, just like I remember seeing in the primary school playground when the bullies had got together and the victim been identified. It’s shameful, whichever side does it.

        Then, to increase the pressure, Wings attacked the health of Kevin’s business, and tried to get some traction on the idea that Kevin threatened his employees with the sack if they voted Yes in the referendum. It’s a sustained mud-slinging campaign that is pure deflection, it has nothing to with the matters that were discussed on the radio show.

        As for the radio show itself, I thought Kevin won the first round about oil revenues and the second round was drawn – if you believe that a few years means 10 and you believe that rUK would stagnate while iScotland thrived. His chuckling didn’t add to his argument, in a Twitter reply later that day he himself admitted that it made him sound like a dick.

        So I agree that both sides have some loose cannons. However, in the Twitter battle between chokkablog and Wings I would say that the latter is much the dirtier fighter.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Truffles says:

    ‘paint abuse and unacceptable behaviour as a phenomenon unique to the pro-independence side.
    Perhaps it’s just me but I find Jill Stephenson calling Mhairi Black MP a “foul mouthed slut” much more abhorrent than Stu Campbell swearing at Kevin Hague’

    Andy Ellis:

    Yes you are right about this BUT and it is a huge but… Campbell represents the most ‘popular’ and most read person from the Nationalist side with a huge influence that dwarfs any other. So comparing what Campbell does with a knuckle dragging Rangers fan is just a a whole heap of straws. How can you possibly compare someone like Jill Stephenson with a following of 2500 with Campbell who has 46000 and a blog that is read by 100000’s. Campbell also makes a very good living from this so, like politicians or journalists, is more open to scrutiny and criticism than a normal member of the public… surely you can see this? I have no time for whataboutery arguments that do not take this fundamental difference into consideration,

    For me at least, Campbell represents everything that is wrong with Scottish politics and it is depressing that his influence is growing with more moderate voices like Bella (which I enjoy reading) being traduced. The problem, for both sides, is that if you put a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ sticker on anyone they will get support no matter what they are like as a human being but I would like to think that some of us can see past that. Campbell has a distinct inability to debate on any reasonable level with ‘opponents’ and that trickles down to his followers… his published block list also shows that he does not want his followers to see the counter arguments… what does that tell you about the man? Campbell represents someone that has an arrogant, weasel, sneering attitude with a puffed out bellicose attitude that belies his abilities and then add to that a toxic mix of his attendant acolytes that unfortunately remind me of school days where the school bully has his little gang of sniveling sycophantic hyenas that approve his every move no matter what.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your argument is without merit. Just because WoS is more successful doesn’t make the abuse doled out by extremists like Jill Stephenson OK; it’s not a game of readership top trumps, it’s a matter of principle, and the fact that a double standard remains and is being reinforced by people like you. One of the main reasons WoS and other pro-indy sites like Bella, the late lamented National Collective etc were so successful was the lack of suitable outlets in the mainstream media, and it’s almost total domination by anti-independence voices.

      You decry whataboutery, and then gaily indulge in it yourself. Very much par for the course I’m afraid. I disagree with your assessment of Stu Campbell, WoS and the vast majority of those who follow or support him and his work. He’s hardly alone in blocking people. For what it’s worth, having heard Mr Hague in action, and interacted with him on twitter in the past, I found him sneering, unpleasant and intolerant of opposition too. The caricature of “snivelling sycophantic hyenas” may make you feel better, but it doesn’t suggest somebody who is actually open to reasonable debate either. Mote and eye spring to mind Truffles?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wylie Coyote says:

    I was speaking specifically of WoS & chokkablog, I think any fair minded comparison of the two articles & the comments that follow is a pretty stark highlighting of the different approach. If you honestly, sincerely maintain there is no difference between the two then I’m not sure how productive this conversation can really be.

    One further question, and it is a genuine one: can you point me to a blogger/website that represents the Pro-independence case in a similar, data-driven fashion as chokkablog? I sincerely would be interested to read it and understand their analysis of the fact. In the past folks have pointed me to WoS, but the vitriol in his posts and his inability to handle criticism maturely turns me off completely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We disagree that any fair minded comparison would find what you say. I didn’t say there were no differences, I’m just saying that many people’s responses to either individual will be coloured by their existing bias. I don’t follow Kevin’s blog, although I have visited it at times. I’m put off by his snide attitude and condescension; these things tend to work both ways.

      As you say, I’m not sure how productive this conversation can be given our widely different views. I know the unionist side are determined to show that chokkablog is the fount of all economic wisdom, but on the face of it anyone with some economic knowledge (which I certainly wouldn’t claim for myself) can take raw date, interpret it to suit their own case and present it as unassaible #FACT (to use one of Roger’s guides to cybernatttery above). Kevin’s analysis seems stuck in a 2014 timewarp to me; he is absolutely convinced of his case. Good for him. The only thing surer than death and taxes is that if you have 2 economists, you’ll get 3 opinions.

      Like

      • Wylie Coyote says:

        Actually I am not saying Hague is the fount of all economic wisdom, I specifically asked you for a pro-indy blogger who was doing a similar economic work for the opposite argument so I can see an alternative analysis. You imply doing what Hague does is a simple process, so surely you can point me to someone doing it for the pro-indy position?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. @ John Henderson 13:14

    “Which I think precisely proves the points being made here. Rather than encourage robust debate and critical analysis the cybernat modus operandi outlined shuts it down. Any criticism of the ‘Yes’ case however well grounded and logical is met with the reaction you might expect from a religious zealot.”

    And the “yoon” modus operandi is (naturally) never to shut down argument, and ALWAYS encourages robust debate and critical analysis? Out of your own mouth you have spectacularly MISSED the point surely? You clothe yourself in the garments or reasonableness and righteousness, whilst damning the oppositions as cybernat zealots. You appear to be very much part of the problem, not part of the solution; it’s quite a stunning lack of self awareness to be honest.

    Of course talk of traitors and quislings is distasteful and wrong, but it’s hardly confined to one side. I understand that many people bridle at Wings & its style, but do you honestly believe he doesn’t get abuse? I’m a Scot who lives in England too, and am all too used to being attacked (just as Stu Campbell often is) for having the temerity not to live in Scotland. If you would base your ultimate decision of where to live on the basis of random people on twitter, I’m not sure what to say to you really. I doubt someone with such a strangely skewed view of what an independent Scotland would be like, or who thinks it would be a dystopian nightmare due to the influence of Wings Over Scotland, would be greatly missed.

    The independence movement isn’t WoS, any more than chokkablog is unionism; twitter isn’t “real life”; I think your perspective is a tad faulty.

    Like

  7. @WylieCoyote 15:45

    I don’t really know if there is an equivalent of chokkablog; not really my area. I’m sure there are other analyses out there from a pro-independence viewpoint if you look though. Obsessing about the oil price/revenue issue and asserting that there would be an economic black hole however doesn’t make it true. In the end, the reason why people like Kevin Hague and his m8 Neil Ward Lovat put many people off (apart from their own snide and rather unpleasant online personas) is that they come out with lots of data, interpret it to suit themselves, and insist that everyone MUST accept that only their interpretation is the right one, and that only their interpretation / guess / prediction can possibly have any validity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wylie Coyote says:

      I have looked and not found anything comparable, that’s why I was asking you.

      Hague has put out his case, and shown us the basis for his argument. Rather than “insist that everyone MUST accept that only their interpretation is the right one”, I’ve seen Hague actively solicit correction and challenge, and he has made corrections accordingly. However I’ve found the lack of serious, detailed, data driven engagement with his work from the pro-independence side really disappointing.

      You can’t just tell us “he’s wrong” – you need to show us where with evidence backing up your assertions.

      Like

      • I don’t “need” to do anything. If you are so keen to find alternative arguments, go do! I’m not the oracle of pro-indy bloggers, particularly not with respect to the dismal science. I believe that in general he, and his proponents are wrong that independence would be an economic disaster. Of course there are risks, but there are also risks in the status quo.

        Trying to predict what will happen post indy, when we don’t know the timescale is a mugs game. Constructing detailed cases based on what is happening now can’t tell us that much. Wailing about the huge black hole they see ahead, when they don’t know how a future Scottish government will tax, spend, or prioritise is a fool’s errand. The economics of independence may be important, but they’re not the only issue at stake, or the only factor which will sway people’s vote.

        Like

  8. @handofkwll 14:30

    I’m glad that you agree that both sides contain extremists who are responsible for the bad atmosphere. From my point of view, Stu came out of the debate considerable better than Kevin, but that’s a matter of subjective interpretation and I doubt either of us would change our respective view. Sadly, you fall down somewhat with the intellectually lazy assertion that WoS and his followers (at least you didn’t use acolytes or cultists, so we have to be thankful for small mercies I suppose?) are unable to cope with a proper argument with facts and logic?

    Really?

    That’s your honest opinion? Neither Stu nor ANY of his followers are capable of this, ever, in relation to any issue? Do you realise how that makes you sound? Perhaps the exchanges are playground stuff, but I honestly think you’re making a bit too much of them. As to the discussion of Kevin’s business, its lack of success, and his public discussion relating to trying to influence his workforce prior to the indyref, I’m not sure why you think they are somehow off limits. I’m not the only one who would regard his comments to his staff as at worst an implied threat, and at best a deeply unwise and unpleasant attempt to influence their votes.

    Kevin, from what I’ve heard, is not a professionally trained economist, or an expert in the field; he’s just an amateur putting across his interpretation. He’s neither impartial, nor infallible. Chuckling his way through the broadcast muttering “price, price, price” in the background as though it was some protective mantra that somehow proved his point and provided a slam-dunk win did indeed make him sound like a dick. Of course we don’t know what oil prices or revenues will be next week, never mind by the time independence might occur. Similarly, we don’t know what an independent Scottish government would decide to do with respect to taxes or spending, where it could make savings and what the terms of any split of liabilities and assets would be.

    We al “get” that Kevin and his supporters think independence will be an economic disaster, but we are no more obliged to accept their airy assertions as fact, than they are obliged to agree that things could and should be better post independence. As for who is the “dirtiest fighter”, really, I don’t much care. The odd swear word, calling someone a loonie, or a bunch of people voicing their support really is just the way it is. The unionist camp in particular needs to grow up, stop tone-policing, and get out of the habit of equating all disagreement with vile abuse, and othering everyone in the opposite camp whilst claiming they are largely blameless.

    Like

    • handofkwll says:

      Andy,
      OK, I was guilty of generalising when I said that Stu was unable ‘to cope with a proper argument – with facts and logic’. I should have said that Stu can’t cope with this argument – with facts and logic.

      As I understand it Wings fired the first shot with a section in his Wee Blue Book that claimed that on average over the past few years Scotland had been paying more in tax to Westminster than it had been getting back. This claim was based on the GERS figures compiled by the Scottish Government.

      Kevin had a look at the GERS figures and found that Stu’s conclusion was correct for one of the years covered in his ‘average’ but not for the other 3 or 4. For those years Scotland paid less to Westminster than it received back. So Kevin had checked the facts and found an apparent flaw in Stu’s logic. It’s a simple mistake, not rocket science.

      Stu, has been wriggling on this hook ever since but has not managed to come up with a convincing rebuttal. Instead it has been suggested (perhaps not by him, admittedly, I’m not sure) that the GERS figures are themselves untrustworthy. He has also generated a lot of abuse about Kevin’s alleged neediness, obsession and mental illness, all of which just adds poison to the debate.

      In summary:

      Stu started using the GERS figures to support the economic case for iScotland, not Kevin, so he can’t now say that it’s not important and that only an obsessive would care about it.

      Secondly, Kevin does not claim to be an economist, in this particular point he is just working out the implications of the GERS figures as Stu had claimed – and found a mistake in his working.

      Thirdly, no one is denying that oil prices and revenues do not fluctuate in a way that’s difficult to predict – the argument on the radio show was whether the figure claimed in the White Paper was in line with other predictions, or not. In my view Kevin has shown that it was not.

      I agree that Kevin chuckling during the radio show didn’t help his case – but the ‘price, price’, price’ part was reminding Stu that the important thing about the oil forecasts was not the price but the revenue to the government. Stu was building his argument on sand.

      Like

      • Firstly, I think the minutiae of the argument ref. GERS, OBR, other forecasts is neither here nor there in the end. I’m no expert (and frankly I’m just not that interested; the debate won’t be won or lost on the strength of it) but it does seem that Kevin seems fairly mono maniacal about one particular thing. Of course Kevin and his supporters are quite entitled to their views, just not to claim that they are the sole guardians of the truth.

        Secondly; so he found a mistake in some quoted GERS figure. Big whoop. It doesn’t demolish the case for independence any more than it provides absolute proof that Kevin’s view is gospel.

        Thirdly, it’s been pretty well demonstrated that everyone got their predictions wrong; Kevin and his mates are simply dancing on the head of a pin to score cheap political points. Stun us with another. Stu’s argument was sound as far as I could see; obviously the revenue depends on the price, but may also be affected by other things like the tax regime, potential windfall taxes and any number of other factors. I have a feeling if you played that broadcast to a selection of disinterested observers, they would in general think that Stu came off better, and that Kevin came across as he rightly said, as a bit of dick.

        Like

  9. stukinnear says:

    Care to comment?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nazi abuse on Holocaust day…thats the sort of person we need to defend….aye

    Liked by 3 people

  11. mrdissent says:

    Kevin has apologised for his Nazi jibe unreservedly and that is good. To this end, I feel that pro-Indy supporters should accept he made an error of judgement and stop bringing it up (as I did before deleting based on the fact he has apologised.) Both sides have people who are incapable of debating an issue with respect and that is sad. We also have those on both sides who can – but they are not ‘news.’ My own view, prejudiced as it is, is that much of this was begat in response to the patronising closing down of the debate that has gone on for decades. The insistence of senior politicians in conflating the independence side with narrow separatism and frequent hints at Nazism helped poison the debate. Social media has allowed a voice for just about anyone and hence we get the full spectrum of ability and (lack of) emotional intelligence. One need only click on the pages of many newspapers comments section to see that this is not restricted to the Cybernats although I cringe when I read accusations of traitor etc.

    Can the debate move towards respectful discussion? Well I am trying…but please don’t search my thousands of contributions to find the few failures….as I have been classed as myopic, blind, deluded and a cancer on the country by others.

    Peace, light and love.

    Like

    • I applaud your sentiment, but I’m afraid I’m not ready to simply give Kevin a get out of jail free card quite that quickly. Given the furore caused by the broadcast and subsequent events, and indeed the very subject of this blog, it seems a spectacular misjudgement on Kevin Hague’s part, and speaks directly to the kind of person he is. It’s good he has apologised; perhaps he will take time to reflect that this is exactly the kind of interaction which has, as you say above, poisoned the well of debate in our country.

      Like you, I hold the leading lights of unionism whether party officials or apparatchiks, and their useful idiots in the mainstream media, responsible for a large part of this. Their lack of self awareness is truly incredible, and we see the results now in the current state of the Labour party in Scotland in particular. If unionism is dying in Scotland, which I think it is, much of the blame for that will be attributable to the lack of control its supporters have evinced over the past decade or so; Kevin is only the latest and most obvious example.

      Perhaps the debate can move on, but I have my doubts. Roger refuses to even allow Stu Campbell to post a response on here. Virtually all of the unionist responders below the line here are anonymous, which is ironic given Roger’s distaste for anonymous cybernats isn’t it? Given what I’ve seen here and elsewhere, I won’t be holding my breath.

      Like

      • Truffles says:

        My goodness me Andy, so you will not give Kevin a ‘get out of jail card’ despite him deleting the tweet and apologising within minutes and YET you have just spent the last few hours defending an odious creep that has never apologised once… no doubt you will be tweeting Stu immediately to get him to apologise to Kevin for dragging his name and business through the mud?

        There is a very good reason why many of us are anon and that is due to the modus oparandi of people like Campbell who instead of debating like an adult will seek to defame, traduce and undermine the individual rather than the argument… quite frankly I have enough issues with keeping a roof above my head than to get my business or character trashed just because I hold a different political opinion from someone else… isn’t it sad that political debate in Scotland has come to that? No doubt you will believe that Campbell has had no part to play in creating that type of atmosphere. I honestly weep for Scotland as I see no end to the infantile nonsense that I see from both sides.

        Maybe it is you that should be doing some reflection as to the type of person that you seem so eager to defend but hey at least you can go back onto twitter and crow to all your followers as to how you stuck it to the ‘yoons’ whilst encouraging them to come here and give you the thumbs up (yes I did have a quick look at your twitter)…no doubt you will get the confirmation bias, that you obviously crave, back in return.

        Like

      • handofkwll says:

        Andy, this isn’t a reply to what you wrote just above but to your reply to me at 18.46 yesterday.

        First I should say that I was sorry to see Kevin come out with his Nazi emblem ‘joke’, and glad that he quickly withdrew it and apologised. I immediately lose interest in any message that uses words like Natzi, quizling or traitor as it’s a sure sign that the author is frothing at the mouth as they write.

        You say that Kevin is mono-maniacal about the oil revenues. As I said before, Stu started this by saying in the WBB that the GERS figures for recent years suggest that ‘on average’ Scotland pays more to Westminster than it receives back. This is presented as proof of 2 things: that Scotland is being treated unfairly (in economic terms) by the Union, and that all would be fine and dandy (economically) after independence. It’s a factoid that keeps coming up in the debate and, if it was true, would be an important plank of the independence case.

        Kevin shows that it’s not true. In most of the last several years Scotland has been a net recipient of money from the Union, according to GERS. Thus Scotland is not being treated unfairly (economically) by the Union, and times would be initially tough after independence.

        It’s an important point to try and get straight, and that’s why I think Kevin keeps on about it and why Stu is resisting. Regarding the validity of each side’s ‘truth’, I would just say that this particular point is fairly straightforward – the SG provides the underlying figures, Stu analyses them, makes a mistake, and comes to one conclusion – Kevin redoes the analysis more thoroughly and comes to the opposite position.

        Regarding predictions, you’re right everyone got them wrong. What I’m talking about above is the analysis of past performance – only Stu got that wrong.

        I accept that there is more to the case for and against independence than economics. However, economics is an important consideration, particularly for those who are not ideologically staunch unionists or Nats. That’s why, I think, Kevin objected to Nicola Sturgeon claiming that the White Paper’s oil revenue numbers were not out of line – that was a spin too far.

        Like

  12. colr62 says:

    It’s obvious to me that Stuart Campbell or is it the Reverend Stuart Campbell? Has a poor grasp of fact & figures. He provided no figures for his statements. He went on to verbally attack Kevin Hague’s points, one occasion suggesting that any oil forecast was inline with other projections,(including the Scottish Government), but when Kevin Hague chose one of these projections, i.e the OBR, Stuart Campbell suggested that Kevin Hague was obsessing with OBR figures. The Wings over Scotland group don’t seem to collect facts to boost Independence but choose to attack others who oppose Independence. Stuart Campbell then went onto slate the BBC & then choose an article from said BBC that supported declining oil figures would benefit Scotland, (benefit!) & that the Scottish economy would grow more than the oil price decline! Again no figures, only saying that Brian Ashcroft said so. It’s the same as Alex Salmond saying that oil is a bonus, just because Alex Salmond says the oil is a bonus.

    Like

  13. Truffles says:

    Yes let us hear Stuart’s reply… no doubt it will be a calm reasoned critique of Roger’s essay… oh no wait it won’t be will it… no doubt the reply was something along the line of Roger being the stupidest man that ever lived, possibly has mental illness or he might have got a bit more angry and wished death by chemical fire or used needles… I will await his Oscar Wilde like prose with baited breath.

    As an aside I made a couple of replies yesterday, to your comment at 15.23 that have not appeared.

    Like

    • Well, we may never know depending on what Roger decides. As Kevin has demonstrated so appositely lots of people probably say things they probably regret. Refusing to publish the response however kinda proves my point. I don’t think inflammatory language helps to be honest, but as I’ve already stated I think people get a bit too precious about the use of the odd swear word.

      To be honest, I’m not sure Roger’s little diatribe merited a calm and reasoned critique, because my reading of it is that it doesn’t present a calm and reasoned argument, just more of the same old same “aren’t ALL cybernats just awful, and isn’t our side just so wonderful” tendentious britnattery. What few, if any supporters of Kevin and Roger’s hagiography of him seem prepared to address (still less admit) is the glaring double standard exhibited. That above all is why I see little hope of progress or reconciliation with the core of unionist support; they have a Manichean view of things as the (overwhelmingly anonymous) posters on here demonstrate.

      Like

    • Roger White says:

      Truffles – hope all your comments have appeared now. Let me know if not. I was away for a day and a bit and didn’t pay attention to the developing discussion. Thanks for your contributions by the way.

      Like

  14. loulou says:

    I find all of this very sad. There are problem people on both sides; I have read both Kevin’s blog and the Rev’s. This is destroying Scotland’s people. We had a referendum and we voted to stay with rest of the UK. I have spent may years abroad and Great Britain is admired by the world, in particular Scotland. I was desperate to return to Scotland for the great education system, the climate and most of all the people. Now being back for nearly 10 years I want to leave, the constant blaming others for Scotland’s problems and the Indy 2 threats. No country is without their problems but what I see is that we have had a Scottish Government responsible in making Scotland better for all its people but we have a bridge which broke, roads potholed, an education system and health service in crisis but we do have a council tax freeze, free prescriptions and free higher education. We have to have a society where we are allowed to have an opinion without being abused. My grandfather always said that if you shout you have lost the argument, if you start calling the other person names you have also lost. Maybe these people should think about that. Another one of his sayings was that you should treat others, as you want to be treated. Just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t give you the right to be abusive.

    Like

  15. @Truffles 00:31

    As I’ve already said, it says much about the man that he made the initial post. Of course he deserves credit for deleting it and apologising, but the fact he did it at all calls his judgement and character into question. In the dealings I had with him online in the past I found him unpleasant, sneering and condescending; that kind of behaviour is evident in his exchanges on twitter.

    I certainly won’t be calling for any apology relating to what you call “dragging his name and business through the mud”; he appears to have done that all by himself by his behaviour and actions. You’re quite entitled to remain anonymous; I and others are also entitled to draw our own conclusions from that. I’m instinctively cautious about anonymous accounts, because by and large it denotes someone without the courage to stand by what they say, and actually encourages the kind of behaviour you purport to detest. Unsurprisingly, you seem to be a very angry person as is so often the case with unionists who rail against the vile cybernats from behind an anonymous persona. So lacking in self awareness are so many of them that they simply can’t and won’t admit that the poisoning of the well of debate is not the work solely of one side or one small group.

    Stu Campbell, Wings Over Scotland and other pro independence sites aren’t responsible for the atmosphere in my view; they are a response to what is dished out. Of course I’m going to encourage people who think like me and support my views to participate; isn’t that what we’re all “supposed” to be doing? You don’t appear to understand how twitter or blogging really works?I’ve tried my hardest to present calm, reasoned, rational responses to some of the issues raised in Roger’s original piece, and issues raised BTL. All too often however, we’re still faced with the tired old memes of ALL cybernats being cultish followers, a refusal to accept that there is a double standard used in the treatment of abuse, and often a fairly hysterical misnaming of any disagreement as vile abuse.

    I’m all for having reasonable debate with unionists; I just find very few out there willing to engage without it descending in fairly short order to othering anyone holding pro-independence views as a zealot, cultist and apologist for every bad thing said by any cybernat at any time.

    Like

    • Truffles says:

      Andy… I have made it plain what I see as the difference between Campbell and, for arguments sake, Kevin . WOS is at the top of the Nationalist food chain and what he does and says influences the debate and therefore more accountable for his actions, just as politicians and journalists are. The way a narrative and argument is framed is usually due to those that hold the most influence and so should be held more accountable, particularly when they make their LIVING from it… when you make money from your views then to some extent you have to take some of the heat. If you do not agree then fine and you can indulge in your whataboutary arguments for eternity.

      Kevin made an ill judged tweet and then deleted with an apology… what more do you want? I have to say it is a lot more than I would ever have done after what Campbell has said about Kevin. Would it not be nice if Campbell could reciprocate in kind to some of the people that he has insulted in the past… but he wont will he as he does not see opponents as real people as for him they are like some evil characters in a computer game that need to be defeated no matter what the collateral damage. That sociopathic disregard for peoples lives for a political ideology marks him out as a particularly ‘vile’ character and as I have said previously, the fact that he makes a living from this puts him as fair game for the criticism that comes his way.

      I am more than happy to engage in reasonable debate and as I said I read Bella and have even contributed money towards it’s upkeep as I think it is important to have alternative points of view. Sorry Andy if you found the ‘hyenas’ analogy offensive but I am afraid that is exactly what came into my mind when Stuart published the accounts of Kevin’s business on twitter… seeing his acolytes poor over them was exactly like a tawdry pack of snarling hyenas and Andy you come here decrying people for being hypocritical and wanting a rational argument but then you are on Twitter with your little tete-tete with Stuart calling people ‘yoons’… seriously you think that adds to adult debate… I tend to switch off from anyone that uses ‘yoon’ or conversely ‘natz’ from the Unionist side.

      Like

      • More tone policing…yes, that’s JUST what we need. Yoon is simply twitter shorthand for unionist; given the character limit in twitter it’s useful. There is nothing intrinsically negative about it as an epithet, anymore than there is in britnat, cybernat. If you choose to leap to judgement and be offended by it, I’m afraid it simply demonstrates your a tad too sensitive. I seem to recall the extreme (and anonymous) unionist blogger Effie Deans takes huge exception to the term britnat and blocks any who use it; again, it says more about her than about those using the term; it’s just another example of peoples inability and/or unwillingness to engage positively.

        I’ve already given credit to Kevin for a prompt apology; he did the right thing, good for him. This is really getting to playground level now; if YOU were Kevin, you wouldn’t have apologised for the Nazi analogy on Holocaust Memorial Day of all days, because you’d have hidden behind the fact Stu Campbell had called you names? Honestly? Stu Campbell can speak for himself, and is responsible for his own words and actions, just as Kevin is. Trying to hold one party to a higher standard on the basis he makes a living from blogging doesn’t really work, but good luck with that if you feel it holds together somehow.

        Kevin is a public figure, with a publicly quoted company. If he’s held up as being a successful businessman and therefore more qualified to talk about economics than somehow who isn’t, it’s unsurprising people will examine his record. Much the same happened with Lady Mone of Mayfair I seem to recall.

        I find your double standards and refusal to acknowledge them troubling, but entirely unsurprising.

        Like

  16. @handofkwll 10:18

    It’s possible for either side to “prove” almost anything which supports their case if they try hard enough. I don’t think it’s anything LIKE as simple as you assert to decide whether Scotland pays more in, or gets more out, let alone to decide that Kevin is “right” about it. Whether he wrong footed Stu or anyone else about one measurement or the figures for one year may exercise the wonks, but it doesn’t really get us much further forward.

    I’ve never heard any sane person say that everything would be milk and honey post independence. Plenty of people would still opt for it even if it meant being worse off; the point is that post independence priorities for spending, taxation and priorities would be ours to make. Few impartial onlookers, and even most “reasonable” unionists accept that Scotland would be able to cope pretty well as an independent state.

    To an extent people are debating about unknowables, as in the debate about the supposed black hole, or the unmanageable deficit which so many insist is just a “FACT”, when they patenetly can’t say that as they have no idea what economic conditions will be when independence arrives, or what the SG would do to address any deficit (which of course all comparable countries have anyway). In the end, I’m not sure it will make that much difference to the vast majority of Scots in the medium to long term; the fact is to many of us, the risks of independence are preferable to the risks of staying in the union.

    Neither side has the monopoly on righteousness, anymore than either side has all the answers about economic issues and whether we’d be better off in the future, or have contributed more or taken more out in the past.

    Like

    • Truffles says:

      @Andy 15.52

      What you call people is important and yoon is an obvious play on loon just as natz alludes to Nazi… I dislike both. Yep I would not have apologised which DOES mark me down and I accept that I am no where near the man that Kevin obviously is although having said that I would not have been stupid enough in the first place to do a tweet like that.

      You think that anyone attacking Campbell must be some kind of ‘BritNat Yoon’ whist knowing nothing about them. That assumption runs like a river of self delusion throughout your posts and I have no doubt forms part of your identity. That is what Nationalism does to people, creating a mind set of black and white where everything becomes a battle that must be won at all cost. If that means traducing opponents with smears and ad hominem attacks then so be it as after all it is for a just and noble cause.

      Now I have never said in any of my posts that this is something that is unique to the ‘Yes’ side and I have never said that I dislike Campbell for his political views, I dislike him for being a despicable specimen of humanity… just as I am antitheist I am also antistuist and for very similar reasons. I make no apology for liking Kevin as I think he is a genuinely good guy just as I think Andrew Tickell and Mike Small are decent human beings and incidentally I have defended Mike Small in the past as well.

      Maybe actually have a read of Kevin’s non economic blogs as it might give you a more nuanced view of the man. Anyway I am done here as I think we will just go round in circles forever. It has been nice debating and hope you have a nice evening.

      Like

  17. ianrlowe says:

    I’d like to add my support to what Andy has said here – and I agree with the overall sentiment; this is not a balanced piece Roger. We have had exchanges on Twitter – for the most part good natured, but this is against a backdrop of howling abuse being pushed by certain factions on each side.

    I have had an exchange or two with Kevin, and found him rather unwilling to discuss anything which doesn’t fit the narrative he is trying to pursue. A major part of my professional life is the construction of cost models to understand cost of ownership, and predict future expenditure and budgets.

    The examples put forward by WoS are not proper models. They are simplistic tools to explain the broad gist of the subject to a non-professional – and presented as such. The wee blue book was an election tool, trying to answer questions for lay people; and in that context, it was spot on. But here’s the catch – so are Kevin’s blog posts, in precisely the same way. He’s not interested in truth, he’s interested in defeating the SNP, and uses facts and figures to that end alone… but he won’t acknowledge that. In the few interactions I have had with him, he defends these things as absolute truth.

    A point worth making – you highlight in your post that one of the things needed to be a “cybernat” as anonymity;

    “Be anonymous. It’s so easy. You can say what you like and no-one will know who you are. Some folk will call you a coward, but then maybe you are.”

    Who is discussing this on your blog comments? “Andy Elliss”, now me, “Ian Lowe” – A “John Henderson” and… “Truffles”, “handofkwll” “hecticeclectic” “Wylie Coyote” and so on.

    Who is hiding behind anonymity here?

    Liked by 1 person

    • wearealltory says:

      Ian,
      If you model costs you can follow Gers and will appreciate the financial position Scotland would have been had it voted Yes in 2014.

      Regional subsidy would be gone (worth £9 billion) per annum and oil, rather than being a benefit, would have simply pushed Scotland further underwater.

      In an economy with tax revenue of £50billion and expenditure of £66 billion a £9 billion shortfall matters.

      Like

      • ndls61 says:

        Just a quick point, as this £9billion is trotted out all the time; surely we don’t know what it will be by likely independence date, which is hardly likely before 2020 at the earliest. Also, does this figure take account of savings to be made in e.g.. defence? That’s easily £1.5 to £2billion per annum, and it’s just not credible that there aren’t other savings unaccounted for which the £9billion ignores.

        Like

      • ianrlowe says:

        well, yes, but as is very often the case, “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

        The GERS figures are a series of estimates; intelligent guesstimates, yes, but estimates all the same. The SG don’t have access to the core datasets held by HMRC and the Treasury (and because we live in the archaic old UK empire, neither do we, unlike the citizens of a modern democracy).

        During the golden period of MIke Bracken’s GDS efforts and the OpenGov initiative, it looked like HMRC might start sharing the actual data needed to do this modelling with more fidelity… but now we have the Tories back in full force, and any pretence of openness or FOI has gone out of the window.

        For the period we had HMRC’s disaggregated stats, it was pretty clear that the error bars in GERS are anywhere up to 20%… so dealing with tax revenues of £50 Billion (the numbers coming from an SG estimate, rather than HMRC Core data), the range is actually 50 +- £10B – the true position could be anywhere from £40B – £60B.

        Not that it matters – when you consider the degree of uncertainty in most of the published figures, we are clearly into a world where the arguments about any deficit fall inside the error bars.

        Which brings me back to my point. The “graphs” produced by WoS and KH are of equal value for serious analysis – that is, none. A graph that doesn’t show error bars or degrees of confidence in the data is a propaganda tool.

        Where KH runs into problems is that he is not honest about the intent of his output. WoS is unashamedly publishing material to persuade voters. End of. It’s not an academic study in economics or national budgeting. It’s an electioneering tool.

        Kevin continues to pretend that his output is not, but is somehow more “truthful”… which is, frankly, bollocks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • wearealltory says:

        Ian,

        There seems to be no facility to respond to your last post.

        It seems highly unlikely that the ONS or GERS do not have access to HMRC data. Also a margin of error of +/- 20% within GERS numbers seems improbable also.

        Can you link to a source for these assertions?

        Like

    • Can I add my own name to the proud and non-anonymous pro-independents. It was out of lazyness not desire for anonymity that I failed to attribute this wordpress account. I am @goodropebadknot by the way.

      Like

  18. grahamski says:

    Andy Ellis

    You talk of ‘supposed’ black hole. There is nothing supposed about it. The difference between the SNP’s oil revenue projections and the actual revenue is the black hole. That’s it. The disappointing thing is the SNP’s failure to accept that the prospectus for separation they put before the Scottish people was deeply flawed and had we accepted it they would be preparing for some very difficult decisions indeed.

    You are indeed correct to say plenty of people in Scotland see the cutting of public spending and raising of taxes as a price worth paying for separation. I just wish the SNP had been honest enough to admit the costs of separation during the referendum campaign. If they had of course the 45 would have been nearer the 25…

    Liked by 1 person

    • wearealltory says:

      Yes, be straight and make the case for independence without pretending that the loss of Barnett is irrelevant and “oil is just a bonus” from a fiscal point of view.

      Like

    • ndls61 says:

      Why is an independent Scotland having a deficit problematic? Virtually all countries run a deficit. Don’t you think the Scottish (and British) people are already facing very difficult decisions indeed? We have a government imposing austerity (which they and their supporters insist is the only way to act) whilst settling for a 3% tax take from Google.

      An independent Scottish government would be free to set its own priorities; to raise taxes if it wants to, to identify savings (let’s start by discussing how much of the £3.5 billion pa we contribute to the UKs bloated defence budget we can save, eh? £1 billion? £1.5? £2.0 billion).

      Of course there are cost attendant on independence, just as there are in staying in the union. You’re simply delusional if you honestly believe that the No camp (which managed to lose 20% of its support in the year before the indyref) would have done better if it had ramped up Project Fear and scared the public some more with predictions we’d end up worse than Zimbabwe.

      I’ve interacted with you on twitter too Grahamski; you’re no more convincing here than you are there. The reason you’re continuing to lose support is the lack of a positive case for the union, not that you weren’t negative enough.

      Like

      • wearealltory says:

        Of course many countries run deficits, but they are within parameters.

        Without Barnett Scotland would have a deficit of £16 billion per annum against on shore taxable revenue of £50.4 Billion – Gers 2013/14. Therefore (absent either the £9 Billion from Barrnet or oil revenue) it’s National Debt would increase by 32% every year. Having begun with a proportionate share of the UK’s national debt – it would immediately have one of the worst balance sheets of any country developed or third world.

        This could only be addressed by huge cuts in public services.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. wearealltory says:

    Andy,

    You make a very realistic point re. opposing sides now being almost incommunicado. For that reason I will be brief.

    No qualifications are needed to understand the GERS figures. They are straightforward enough. They show that Barnett, in effect, contributes about £9 billion per annum to Scotland. To put that in context the entire per annum health budget in Scotland is C £12 billion and education c £7.5 billion.

    The question posed by Hague is not whether this shortfall exists (Gers, rather than Hague, says it does) but how does an independent Scotland go about making it up.

    Oil permanently at $120 a barrel, if one assume Scotland getting the SNP’s preferred share of fields would do the job more or less, but at $30 a barrel that is option is now no longer available.

    One hears nothing from the SNP on the specifics of this? What cuts would be made, what taxes would be raised to make up such a shortfall.

    Incidentally, I agree that for some Scotland being worse off is a fair price to pay for what they imagine it to meant to be independent.

    Like

    • ndls61 says:

      Superficial. What about savings available in other areas: Defence, not contributing to HS2, There are lots of areas that can be changed. The idea that only Kevin Hague’s view of the fiscal deficit is the right one is too laughable for words. For very many, things could hardly be worse than they are now. If taxes have to go up, so be it; same goes for borrowing and the deficit. The very idea that Scotland would somehow turn into a failed state, so beloved of too many unionist Cassandras, needs to be nailed and disowned. If the UK was so great, half of Scots wouldn’t be supporting the SNP and independence.

      Like

      • Cranberry says:

        ‘If taxes have to go up, so be it; same goes for borrowing and the deficit.’ Speak for yourself! That’s tantamount to an ‘independence at all costs’ position which, as you would hopefully concede, wouldn’t be the preference or the position of a majority of the Scottish electorate. Very few pro-Union bloggers that I’ve followed suggest Scotland would be a failed state. Of course it wouldn’t be; ‘failed states’ don’t really function properly (which Scotland surely would) and are difficult to govern effectively (which I’m sure Scotland wouldn’t apply to Scotland) and they don’t fail purely on account of economic reasons either. But, when figures provided by the Scottish Government show our current and recurring fiscal shortfall, coupled with doubts and uncertainties over an iScotland’s currency position, isn’t it perhaps a bit too hopeful for those on the pro independence side to expect those undecideds/those not entirely convinced by the case for independence/those happy enough with the status quo/those inclined to favour continuation of the Union but open to persuasion to cast aside all doubts on the notion that we would be better off outside the UK? Analysis of GERS is no more ‘superficial’ than saying ‘what about savings available in other areas?’. Yes but what about additional costs associated with independence? What about the health service, education etc? Say we are struggling to maintain previous levels of spending – what then? More borrowing, higher taxes?! How fantastic, what an ‘opportunity’!! What about the unknowns and the things that, far from being guaranteed, we consider unlikely, no matter what the White Paper, Alex Salmond or anyone or anything else maintains (eg a currency union, easy accession to EU membership, continued Royal Navy shipbuilding contracts in Scotland, the viability of setting up an oil fund in a difficult macroeconomic climate and when faced with other inevitable public spending commitments, possible disruption to cross-border trade etc etc.). It’s not all about the economy but for those of us more at ease with Scotland’s position in the UK than you, the economy is a pretty damn important consideration and we don’t generally welcome higher taxes, higher borrowing and a higher deficit without good reason. Anyway, less than half of Scots support independence. And simplistic comments like ‘ If the UK was so great, half of Scots wouldn’t be supporting the SNP and independence’ don’t really amount to a particularly strong argument. If you argued the converse of that, you could say ‘if the case for an independent Scotland was so strong, (over) half of Scots would have voted YES in 2014, and not NO.’ All countries have their problems and all have their virtues. The UK is like any other. No one is in denial of this. But, based on the evidence we have, a majority of us have decided that Scotland is better off in the UK than out of it and that, as individuals, we would prefer to be UK citizens than not be. We’re not idiots, we’re not traitors, we’re not gullible, we’re not myopic or unquestioning or incapable of analysis or contemplation, and we’re not ‘fearties’. As much as the YES side have, we have seen the evidence and the arguments for and against independence, and we’ve decided to vote against the proposition. Will you be good enough to accept that, even if you don’t like it? This ‘our side is not as rude as your side’ debate is a bit of a sideshow from my point of view but some parts of the article above, and some of the comments (from BOTH sides, I might add) make good points, and if the debate on the constitutional question must continue, I feel it should be done in a spirit of mutual goodwill and courtesy, even if it is robust and heartfelt.

        Like

      • wearealltory says:

        You are waffling.

        How does one make up for the loss of Barnett (£9 Billion per annum) upon which Scotland is reliant?

        Defence budget is less than £2 Billion pa so even if you halved that you’re not close.

        As Scotland is a net beneficiary from the rest of the UK – and more specifically the SE – it it contributes nothing to HS2.

        Like

  20. James boxer says:

    For those not inclinded to trawl through some boring sanctimonious word walls, I can summarise andys contribution as…..whatabout…whatabout….false equivelancy….they started it.

    Like

    • ndls61 says:

      So you don’t actually have any positive input James, just thought you’d add your “funny”? Uh huh. So to summarise your response, anything from a cybernat is “whataboutery”, but everything from the unionists is jus “FACT”? Isn’t that exactly what “Rog” was warning us about in his piece originally?

      It’s obviously too much to expect the vast majority of unionists to engage positively, as virtually all their comments on here amply demonstrate. It’s not as if I haven’t tried, but it’s just a waste of effort obviously.

      Like

  21. ndls61 says:

    I didn’t notice Roger’s poisonous little postscript until this morning; he adds at the end of his piece:

    “PS 27/1/2016 – someone has pointed out to me that Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter both follows and seems to enjoy friendly Twitter exchanges with Stuart Campbell. She is also first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s election agent.”

    Given the extended discussion about Kevin Hague’s ill-judged nazi comments, his fondness for the odious Brian Spanner on twitter, and the spat last night between Natalie McGarry MP and JK Rowling about JK\s seemingly cosy relationship with the vile Brian Spanner, one might think this was an area unionists would tread warily over. Apparently not. Of course, no doubt the usual useful idiots will complain it’s “whataboutery”, and deflecting from the issue, but the fact is what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. We all know however that the MSM (particularly the morally moribund Scots outposts) will give wall to wall coverage of any perceived abuse on one side and ignore the other.

    Presumably Kevin Hague and JK Rowling are to be condemned for their apparently friendly relationship with Brian Spanner too Rog?

    Like

  22. wearealltory says:

    Spanner can be quite funny. Also, SNP are now the establishment so surely they stand to have their noses tweaked.

    Like

    • ndls61 says:

      Ah right…so Spanner can be quite funny, so we should just put up with his light hearted witticisms, but cybernats doing the same are irredeemably vile and must be cast out into the utter darkness, and anyone who associates with them must be bothered? How does that work? JK Rowling hasn’t had a lot of success with that argument given her association with Spanner.

      Like

      • wearealltory says:

        i’m sure there are wrong doers on both side – if we assume that offending someone is wrong doing.

        Personally, I don’t really care about that sort of thing. However, one might suspect that an element of the SNP grassroots might tend to alienate the so called silent majority.

        I do seriously wonder whether the SNP cause has peaked. The cause didn’t bite in 2014 with oil in a 15 year sweet spot – so what chance now, with oil likely locked into some sort of new price paradigm and the fields depleting.

        Incidentally, if I thought Scotland would be better off financially independent from the Union I’d vote for independence all day long.

        Like

  23. ndls61 says:

    @wearealltory 11.48

    The UK defence budget is around £33.5 billion per annum. So Scots pay roughly £3 billion towards it; it’s unlikely an independent Scotland would need to spend more than £1.5 billion pa. Whether Scotland is a beneficiary or a contributor is by no means clear, and rather depends on the period you are measuring surely? Defence is only 1 area where savings are available, there will be others quite apart from the ability to set our own economic priorities rather than work with those imposed upon us by Westminster. If your understanding of economic policy generally is as accurate as your grasp of defence spending, I think we know how seriously to take you.

    Like

    • wearealltory says:

      Sure, we could perhaps save a bit on defence but the amounts don’t come close to bridging the gap.

      I have a question: If iScotland were to be long term financially worse off would you vote for independence anyway?

      Like

      • ndls61 says:

        We don’t KNOW what the gap will be. I’ve just magicked away £2billion of your shortfall without even thinking about it too hard. ALL countries, including the UK have deficits. I remain unconvinced that Scotland independent would be significantly worse off than it is as part of the UK, and potentially a fair bit better off.

        I’d still support independence unless I was convinced it would cause huge economic problems, but that’s not the case, as even most reasonable unionists would probably admit. I have come across lots of faith based unionists however who wouldn’t accept independence under ANY circumstances.

        Like

  24. Paul Ryan says:

    I’ve already said I get frustrated with blogs which try to suggest one or other side in what was and often still seems to be Scotlands independence debate is any worse than the other. Any of us who have friends on both sides of this debate simply know it not to be true.

    On twitter I could almost be persuaded there are more anonymous trolling accounts on the Yes side but nothing like the margin many unionist commentators have convinced themselves exists.

    On Kevin Hague blog I have found it very interesting valuable contribution to the debate. On Kevin Hague himself I’ve found him abrasive and aggressive and when you don’t react in a similar manner he seems to get more annoyed. I go out of my way to be polite on twitter and not make anything personal. He really did block me for not agreeing with his assertion that the White Paper “made up” oil forecasts. Despite agreeing the SNP should have included more pessimistic forecasts this still wasn’t enough. He was a little unpleasant on twitter but hey ho we all get carried away in heat of debate.

    It does however annoy me when people like Kevin themselves make a play of antagonistic comments they receive. I think the same of the JK Rowling “twittergate”. Some of the abuse she has recited is clearly too far. But you’re either against it or you aren’t you can’t have it both ways and so I was dissapointed to see her so friendly with someone who has made some pretty outrageous statements.

    Yet again it’s too easy to get drawn in. Despite also getting called an arsehole once for being “Mr Reasonable” its by far the better place to be.

    People didn’t vote Yes or No for any other reason tHan it is what felt right for them. Trying to therefore understand them, connect and above all “be nice” seems a far more vauable use of social media.

    Look after yourselves. And each other!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. ndls61 says:

    @cranberry 11:35

    For the love of God learn to use paragraph breaks! Much of your post just re-hashes Project Fear. As such, the fears and predictions of disaster as every bit as much a “faith based” position as the alternative positions you attack. We were assured during the indyref that a whole host of things which were simply opinion, guesses or doom laden predictions were just FACTS. I’m bored with it; whether it relates to the EU, currency, naval shipbuilding etc., etc. Much of it is just supposition. Of course there are risks, but given what’s been happening since the last GE, the choice made looks increasingly like a bad deal.

    Nobody is denying people right to decide the way they did, just as nobody should deny those who disagree their rights to campaign to change that decision. Evidence now shows that more people support independence now than in Sept. 2014. Polling evidence shows it more like 50/50 now, and only the over 55 age cadre are majority against, with every other age group in favour.

    The spirit of mutual goodwill and courtesy is of course what we should be aiming for. It’s a pity so many on both sides don’t live up to it.

    Like

    • Cranberry says:

      For the love of God, don’t be so patronising . . . I have ‘learned’ to use paragraph breaks, thanks very much. I was having trouble getting my post on here for some reason so had to copy and paste and had expected my paragraph breaks to be reflected. They were not. But that’s by the by . . .

      I will number my points so as to make this post more legible for you:
      1) If you’re bored with the risks I highlighted, I’m bored with people dismissing them as ‘Project Fear re-hashings’. What we each find boring is our own prerogative; they are risks, I didn’t say facts. I’m also bored with people making out that I stated things as facts when I clearly didn’t.

      If you look again at how I introduced that list of potential risks, I said ‘What about the unknowns and the things that, far from being guaranteed, we consider unlikely’ – that’s not me arguing that the NO side had the definitive final answer, that was me saying some quite significant risks were highlighted during the campaign and some assertions made by the YES campaign that, because the YES side equally couldn’t say definitively what would happen on issues of currency, EU membership, shipbuilding etc, we had to weigh up their likelihood. Yes, almost everything either side said was a supposition, save statistics such as historic GDP figures and public spending figures, as so much of what might happen post hypothetical independence would be up for negotiation. Some things might go in Scotland’s favour; equally many things might not. We had to base our assessment on the opinion of experts, what politicians were saying, what the media were saying and also simply make judgements based on common sense and gut instinct.

      The YES side was the side proposing the change in Scotland’s constitutional status and, when risks were highlighted that we felt we needed robust, sensible, comforting answers on, the YES campaign was found wanting and made assertions that they struggled to back up with reliable evidence or argument. Take the EU membership question, for example – Alex Salmond claimed he had taken legal advice on what would happen to an independent Scotland with regard to its future membership status. He had not. Some had argued that EU membership would be a formality, some had argued the opposite. Matter closed and problem solved? Hardly. Outside the UK and potentially outside the EU too, with no clear answers on a timescale to EU membership and on what terms. What position would that leave us in terms of external trade? Well we just don’t know and the Yes campaign could only make assertions. At least by staying in the UK, we would have continued membership until any referendum on the matter took place. And be able to vote and campaign on this matter when the referendum came about.

      With regards to currency, the YES campaign said that there WOULD be a currency union and that refusal of this by the UK Govt and the main UK political parties was just politicking. Then the YES campaign said that Scotland would, as a consequence of being refused a currency union, just refuse to take on a share of the UK’s national debt – please consider that this would not be without its problems! Do you think that’s a good answer to that particular question? Really?! Alex Salmond said he would go into negotiations with a ‘sovereign mandate’ from the Scottish people to bring about a currency union. So what? The representatives of the rest of the UK would have a sovereign mandate to do whatever was in their best interests and the negotiations would unfold with no way of knowing the outcome but with a previously strongly held position from those representing the rest of the UK that they would refuse. Problem solved for an independent Scotland? No! Nothing guaranteed, in the event of independence, on something of fundamental importance.

      Shipbuilding – the UK government’s position is and has always been (that is, I’m sorry to say, a fact) that they do not sanction the main elements of construction of complex warships outside the UK. Scotland, in the event of independence, would be outside the UK. That is, once more, a fact. The YES campaign stressed that the expertise and facilities located in Scotland would compel any rUK govt to make an exception to that rule. That is a major ‘supposition’ from the YES campaign!

      The belief that these risks hadn’t been satisfactorily addressed is hardly faith-based. If nothing is certain, and no one can make guarantees, you have to judge who has the most convincing argument. Very little of what the White Paper stressed would happen in post-independence negotiations was in the nationalists’ gift to guarantee. If you were assured things by the NO campaign that you think were just guesses or opinions, you sure as hell got that from the YES side. At least with the NO side, you knew what the status quo was like and didn’t have to risk giving up things which were more or less guaranteed.

      2) You clearly have a much worse view of what’s happening and what has happened since the GE than I do. The choice made looks like a great deal and a relief to me. Particularly with the crash in the oil price. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

      3) I didn’t deny you a right to continue to campaign. I only invited you not to, and to accept the result and move on for the common good. You see, there’s little need to champion the Union’s cause right now if all are agreed that the matter is settled for a generation. You are, of course, perfectly entitled to refuse the invitation. I don’t think perpetual constitutional wrangling is in Scotland’s best interests (perhaps you do?) and I think we should wait a while, use the powers Holyrood has and the additional powers which, all things going to the original plan, are soon to come, make things better. And I think we, as Scots, should play a constructive and enthusiastic role in the continuing success of the UK as a whole.

      I would happily not debate over constitutional arrangements if both sides ceased firing verbal shots about it and moved on. Every time I see a comment from pro independence campaigners that I find I fundamentally disagree with, I feel compelled to challenge it. I don’t actually go looking for these articles; they pop up in my emails and my Facebook feed as a result of past referendum campaigning and my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me.

      I don’t think the SNP are doing a good job in government as things stand and it’s not because of a lack of powers. I hope they improve and place more emphasis on policymaking than independence campaigning in the years to come. I’m sure we’d ALL benefit from that.

      4) Polling evidence, taken as an average, does not actually show 50/50 support. It’s close but the average of polls since Sept 2014 shows the Union side has a slight majority, all things being equal and undecideds taken out. This will no doubt fluctuate a bit in the months and years to come. The average of polling shows a closing of the gap when compared to the result of the referendum. Not really enough for the SNP to push for another referendum. People over 55 are often depicted as those most opposed to change. So whilst some of the oldest No voters may not be around to vote in a hypothetical second referendum, others who have aged since the last one may of course have become equally resistant to change in their advancing years – just a ‘supposition’, of course!

      I would argue that there should be considerably more than a tiny majority in favour of independence to sanction such enormous constitutional change and am in favour of a supermajority requirement. I have every confidence you will disagree with me profoundly.

      Like

      • wearealltory says:

        Cranberry,

        An independent Scotland would be significantly poorer than presently. It follows that a second ref would almost certainly fail.

        If it happened to succeed it would be reversed within a very short period of time as all but die hard nationalist look to be delivered from the comparative poverty they have brought on themselves.

        For independence to succeed, Scotland needs to change in the here and now. It needs to become harder working and more entrepreneurial. It needs to stop winghing/blaming others for its own manifest limitations.

        Like

      • Cranberry says:

        I am broadly in agreement with you. I think Scotland would be significantly worse off outside the UK. And if some people in Scotland aren’t achieving their potential, it’s not because of Scotland’s constitutional status!! Holyrood has the levers of education, transport, policing, health, amongst many others, with which to improve standards in Scotland – and they are well-funded! But, on the whole, under this SNP administration we’re not seeing improvements. They clearly don’t know what to do with political power but still ask for more of it!

        In any case, I sense that you and I may find common ground on the notion that economic success and overall wellbeing is less of a matter for government control and intervention, and more a matter for individual graft and enterprise?

        Arguing that all would be well in a society if it weren’t for the presence and influence of the ‘other’ is the basis of all nationalism. ‘Westminster’ is now Scotland’s chosen ‘other’ in the view of the nationalists. A part of London where the main institutions of the UK government are based that supposedly stymie Scotland’s otherwise inevitable rapid progress and exploit Scotland’s people and its resources as each new day dawns!

        It may be a benign enough, civic rather than ethnic nationalism gathering pace in Scotland for the most part nowadays but, nevertheless, it could easily lead to wholesale national self delusion if we’re not careful.

        Like

      • Unsurprisingly I do disagree with you profoundly; such is life.

        1) I was making a more general point (pace the original piece) that in general the unionist response to virtually any issue is to claim that their interpretation is simply a FACT, and that any agreement is the product of an unbalanced mind. In general I will admit that your approach is somewhat more nuanced, but then you aren’t above uncritical parroting of supposed FACTS such as the EU legal advice, shipbuilding etc. So I’m not sure how much progress we’re really making. The Scottish Government refused to divulge whether legal advice existed, following tried and approved methods used by all former administrations in both Holyrood and Westminster. It was then pilloried for this by the supine MSM and the usual yoon suspects for failing to admit that there was some smoking gun which “proved” their case, and for wasting money fighting the case. As you say, there is no certainty about EU membership, but that didn’t stop the yoon establishment treating the personal opinion of Barroso and Junker as gospel truth. Strangely, the later dressing down of both individulas by the EU ombudsman (in response to a quert from Catalan MEPs) went entirely unremarked in the britnat media. why was that I wonder?

        I happen to agree the currency issue was a weakness, although hardly an insurmountable problem given goodwill from both sides. Of course, no goodwill was present from the unionist side, they preferred to run a uniformly negative campaign, and in the end it worked. Of course, the campaign added 20% to the Yes side, and arguably doomed the union in the process, but short term it worked. Refusing to take a share of the UK debt if no equitable solution was reached is perfectly understandable. I for one would be perfectly content to forego any claim on joint assets in return for a clean slate at indy, but it would be much more sensible for both sides to agree a mutual compromise.

        The MoD has already placed contracts for ships abroad in the past, and is actively investigating co-operating on future projects with various foreign powers. The position you state is a perfectly defensible one; it would be insanely expensive, time-consuming and strategically nonsensical for them to try and replicate the expertise and facilities in Glasgow south of the border; not impossible, but hardly sensible. Again, this was just another yoon attempt at blackmail; vote No, or you’ll lose your jobs & industrial infrastructure.

        2) Yes our views diverge. Nothing much we can do about that. If you’re happy with the result, and can’t see that there was an alternative which might just have been better both for the country’s economic performance as a whole, and for its people generally (particularly those at the bottom of the heap) then we’re unlikely to agree on much.

        3) Nobody except a few fringe loonies refused to accept the result. what you’re actually asking is for the Yes camp to “give up” and get back in our boxes, and accept it’s all over for a generation because the yoons say so, and are tired of the debate. Sorry, that’s just not going to happen, as you’ve probably noticed. The matter isn’t settled for generation; the only ones who say when and how often we have a future referendum are Scottish voter; not individual parties still less individuals, however personally popular they may be. I think debate is invigorating and that the potential benefits of independence outweigh the negative aspects you see of wrangling about the constitutional issues.

        If the unionist side had any coherent devo-max or Home Rule alternative you might have a better argument. as it is, you don’t and probably never will. Devo is dead, largely due to unionist intransigence and stupidity, so “most” people who would previously have settled for devo-max have had to chose either indy or the status quo/devo-min. Evidence shows the majority have opted for indy. You may disagree that the SNP are doing a good job, but the majority of our countrymen disagree with you; they’re not perfect by any means, but within the constraints they have, they are seen as doing a good job, and certainly much better than any of the possible alternatives. The fact is whilst many in Scotland may not be huge fans of the SNP, even many sceptics about indy would prefer them in office to the lamentably poor alternatives available.

        4) Polling evidence does show a steady increase in support for independence since Sept. 2014. Given the standard 3% margin of error, it’s now likely the split is around 50/50. The SNP are on record as saying they are only likely to call indyref2 when they have confidence they will win, so even given a change of circumstance like a differential brexit outcome, we’re looking at another few years minimum.

        I think the figures show you’re wrong about the over 55s & prospects for change. the other age “cadres” are so different that in the long term, and barring some other huge change, indy is inevitable on that basis alone. Obviously both sides would prefer a decisive result, but democracy is democracy. If the No side loses in future, I’d expect them to abide by the result, just as Yes did in Sept. 2014. There is virtually no precedent for a “super majority” requirement internationally or historically.

        Like

  26. @wearealltory 22:58

    “An independent Scotland would be significantly poorer than presently. It follows that a second ref would almost certainly fail.”

    Assertion dressed up as fact. An independent Scotland might be, but it might also be significantly better off. If it were possible to demonstrate with certainty that you were correct, it might increase the chances of a second referendum failing, but it hardly makes it “almost certain”. The support for a Yes vote increased 20% over the course of the last campaign, in spite of all the uncertainties and (as unionists see them) shortcomings of the case for independence.

    “If it happened to succeed it would be reversed within a very short period of time as all but die hard nationalist look to be delivered from the comparative poverty they have brought on themselves.”

    More assertion dressed up as fact. No newly independent state in history has ever reversed it’s decision, even assuming the rest of the UK were minded to “re-establish” the union, which is presumably by no means certain if this situation arose? The chances are that life in an independent Scotland won’t be that much different than it is now; taxes will still be paid, we won’t turn into Zimbabwe, nor will we turn into Norway, overnight. What “might” be different is that we can decide what our own priorities are, rather than having them imposed from the outside.

    “For independence to succeed, Scotland needs to change in the here and now. It needs to become harder working and more entrepreneurial. It needs to stop winghing/blaming others for its own manifest limitations.”

    I agree up to a point. Where we probably disagree (and given what I can see of your politics the vast majority of Scots also disagree with you) is how to promote greater entrepreneurship, ensure work is available and also support for those who have none or aren’t able to work. what’s missing from your analysis is how to promote greater equality of opportunity and decrease the levels of poverty and failure to attain better results across the board whether in education, health or any other area of policy.

    Some of out shortcomings are no doubt self-imposed, but it is simply short sighted to say that all of our problems are attributable to blaming others and not helping ourselves, with no analysis of external factors. Even if I wasn’t a convert to independence, I’d be nonplussed as a unionist why devo-max/full Home Rule wasn’t already being developed by the britnat establishment; surely that’s the answer to all the potential problems? Control of everything apart from defence and foreign affairs for which we pay an agreed annual amount. Abolish Barnett and allow the SG government control of all tax raising and tax spending. Simple really. It will never happen of course; unionists have neither the courage nor the vision, and too many entrenched, regressive interests like the current system just as it is. In the end, that’s why you’ll fail.

    Like

  27. Cranberry says:

    Andy, I’ll respond this weekend on each of the other points you made but for now, on the last point re supermajorities, I wasn’t suggesting precedents were there; I was arguing that there should be such a requirement regardless of precedents elsewhere. Precedents have to start somewhere, after all! See this for some arguments in favour:

    http://www.handsacrosspond.com/handsacrosspond/supermajority-rules-and-future-referendums/21/1/2016

    Obviously it’s a Unionist blog but at least it’s not ‘MSM’ as some of you nationalists like to label such things!

    Like

    • As you like, though it’s doubtful I’ll see it as I’m unlikely to check. If you’re really interested in actual debate (unlike Roger obviously given his responses here and on twitter) you’d have to interact elsewhere.

      I’m aware of the arguments with respect to super-majorities, just unconvinced they are a good idea. In the end it just seems inequitable to me to insist on a random hurdle which as to be crossed. The vast majority of referendums historically have been settled on the basis of a simple majority. I’m not persuaded there are good reasons for introducing such a requirement in votes involving the entire electorate of millions, even if there is a case to be made in smaller “forums” like a legislature to change a constitution, or eg the proposed Red Card provision in Cameron’s EU re-negotiation package.

      If anything, there is a more convincing case in my view to set a minimum % of the entire electorate having to vote in referendums to establish a suitable “quorum” rather than impose a super-majority requirement.

      Like

      • Roger White says:

        Hmm – I let you post 29 sometimes hostile and rude comments here in just over a week and I’m not interested in debate? If you’re expecting a detailed response to everything you write, unlucky. I do have other things to do as well. It’s even less likely now you’ve chosen to characterise me on Twitter as a ‘deluded yoon hypocrite.’ You need to look to yourself and your own standards if you want real debate. If you just want to lob personal insults this is the wrong place.

        Like

    • Sorry; TLDR and even if it weren’t it’s by Wesley Hutchins who is in my experience an unreasoning (and rather odd) American unionist who has form from the indyref campaign for being a bit of a troll. I scanned his over long piece. It reads as just another way to place obstacles in the path of independence, which he wouldn’t accept the other way round.

      There is virtually no precedent internationally or historically for having supermajorities for referendums; it simply isn’t done nor is there a pressing rationale for changing this. Asserting that referendums are somehow “different” because they are more important than ordinary elections, or that they are somehow “similar” to constitutional amendments is unconvincing. Super majorities make some sense in cases of small electorates like a parliament, or amongst e.g. EU members to decide on red card provisions, but not so much for multi-million electorates.

      As I said, on the face of it there is much more to be said for imposing a rule that a plurality of the total electorate needs to vote rather than requiring a super majority of those who vote.

      Like

  28. ndls61 says:

    @Roger 13.48

    Just as expected. Whilst you purport to be interested in debate, the fact is you just aren’t. All you interactions and your twitter responses simply prove the point; all the pointers on your original post are demonstrated in spades in the BTL comments here, and in your own behaviour. You lack even the basic self awareness to see the hypocrisy in your odd little “PS” about Mhairi Hunter. I was largely interacting with others in your blog; I’d have thought that was rather the point? I expect very little of you Roger. I’m never disappointed.

    You and your yoon friends can go back to sitting on the sidelines throwing rocks at people who are trying to promote debate and sharing jokes with charming individuals like Brian Spanner.

    Like

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