Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Calman Reports

The Calman Report has been published to predictable yowls of negativity from the Scottish Nationalist Party. Like all previous constitutional investigations, the Nats refused to get involved, hissy fits being their predetermined and fearful reaction to anything that might make them think too deeply about their shibolethic single "policy" of independence or independence in Europe or Scotland free in '93, or whatever disguise it has at this precise moment.

"Constitution"* Minister Mike Russell was on telly all night complaining that Calman didn't grant him independence by default, but constructive? Aye right...... look somewhere else for that m'lad.

I have read the Summary and it seems like there are a number of serious recommendations with serious implications, and it might be wise to take a bit of time to ruminate on the issues and the evidence before commenting definitively.

First impressions: Calman has tried to meet his remit of strengthening Scotland and the Union, and that's no bad thing. The variation of 10p in Income Tax looks difficult to achieve, but it certainly poses the question to the political parties of what they will do if Labour at Westminster puts up tax or the Tories cut it..... that is a real political choice..and who can object to that...?

* what's the point of having a Minister for the Constitution when he refuses to indulge in any serious discussions about the constitution?


  1. Gosh, how hissy were the unionist's under TheWendy, when they refused to consider taking part in the National Conversation, until they finally hit on the wheeze of this Kilbrandon lite document?

    It is a great pity you've wasted your political life fighting Independence, when it is becoming increasingly inevitable. You must feel disenchanted that a lifetime of collusion between Unionist parties, the establishment and the power of the Media have, after all, had a diminished effect on the will of a people.

  2. Welcome Montague. Nice name. Suits you sir....

    What National Conversation would that be then?

    At least Calman actually spoke to some people.
    And his discussions have had an outcome, and some recommendations.

    The "Nationalist" Conversation consists, as far as I can see, of a website where the first year's comments had to be deleted because they were an embarrassment to reason (and even nationalists).

    You're right, it is a pity we squabble. I know a number of good people who have wasted their lives pursuing "independence", when they could be in the Labour Party building schools and hospitals, things they and their children really need.

    It's the old Tory tactic of divide and rule. If you and I are squabbling about "independence", they can get on with cutting inheritance tax for millionaires. As for new schools for ordinary kids.. who cares..."independence" will magic them up... aye right.

    BTW the only thing that is increasingly inevitable is that we will not have a referendum on independence. Do you agree?

  3. "What National Conversation would that be then?"

    Having attended both the National Conversation at the Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries, last August, circa 200 people in attendance) and the Calman Commission visit to the Cairndale Hotel, back in January, circa 40 people other than Commission members and civil servants. I can hand on heart tell you that the NC was far more democratic. Questions were taken from all parts of the floor, people from all walks of life asked questions, particularly the Elderly Forum who volubly took Salmond to task over a number of issues. Salmond stayed on and sat down and spoke to everyone in the room who wanted to talk to him, his civil servants were going spare, because he threw their entire timetable out by an hour and a half.

    The CC by comparison, sat people at six tables, each table had either a Unionist MP, MSP or councillor and a member of the CC. The so called members of the public, ranged from local civil servants to members of the Chamber of Commerce, they were there united in their hatred of devolution and fear of Independence. I hasten to add, and please take this solely in the manner of information that at my table, only myself, Russell Brown MP and the Sir Professor Hugh Edwards were actually Scottish. The remainder of the table comprised of an NI policeman, an English voluntary worker opposed to devolution, an English council worker, an English Chamber of Commerce chappy and a Welsh forestry commission feller. Oh and an English civil servant/scribe.

    "BTW the only thing that is increasingly inevitable is that we will not have a referendum on independence. Do you agree?"

    Nope, I think you'll find that to deny the voters a referendum will adversely affect the Unionist parties at the ballot box. I predict your Lib Dem partners will be the first to crumble.

    "cutting inheritance tax for millionaires."

    Err wasn't that one of Gordon Brown's wheezes he ripped off from Cameron and co?

  4. Montague,
    I'm sure that Alex Salmond can handle a meeting of 200 people in a local hall: after all that's his job....

    And I'm sure that some people said some things: but that doesn't amount to a "national conversation". If only one party POV is represented on the platform, and if that party itself represents a tiny minority of voters, then it is not a national conversation but (in this case) a Nationalist Conversation. If Lbour was doing it would be a Conversation with labour or te Tories a Tory Talk. There's nothing wrong with that. Parties should take their message to the people. But claiming that they are having "national conversation" is hubris - (or baloney if you prefer straighter talking).

    BTW there are 2 million voters in Scotland. So if an average of 200 turn up to hear the oracle speak, you would need 10,000 meetings to have a conversation with them all.

    Calman represented, as you say, all the other parties and many different organisations and institutions. Nobody claims that it was a "national conversation", but it was a thorough review of important constitutional matters, and the SNP (as usual) stayed away. If they were really interested in a "national conversation", don't you think they would have taken part?

    As I said, Nationalists are afraid of engaging in serious debate. It makes them think and, who knows, if they think they might just be persuaded to change their position. That's why there is ony one party in the "Nationalist Conversation". And that's why it is not a "national conversation" at all but, like so much this administration engages in, a publicity stunt and an advertising campaign

    BTW, what is it costing? And who pays? Is it an SNP campaign at the taxpayers' expense?

  5. "A thorough review of important constitutional matters."

    Yet, unwilling to engage with the notion of Independence, which after all a fair number of Scots are interested in.

    I think you'll find the Wendy Commission was set up, when the Unionist parties refused the invitation to participate in the National Conversation.

    Care to put a price on the Calman Commission?

    As pleasant as our conversation is, you seem to be incapable of showing any positivity towards the Scottish Government, is this your own personal view or are you simply swallowing the Labour negativity line?

    Personally, I don't think the Labour party are completely morally corrupt. I do feel that they are let down by the poor quality of their representatives. I mean, Duncan McNeill, Johanna Lamont, Karen Whitfield, Jackie Bailley, Margaret Curran and Iain Gray. Surely there are better people out there that believe in some of the values that old Labour espoused?

  6. "unwilling to engage with the notion of independence, which after all a fair number of Scots are interested in"

    A fair number of Scots are interested in a fair number of things. That doesn't mean that they require resources spent on pursuing them. The majority of Scots are not interested in independence, the majority of Scots support (as far as they are the least bit interested in constitutional matters) devolution. So the majority position and the remit of Calman, to improve devolution, is the more democratic course.

    As for showing positivity towards the Scottish Executive, I think devolution is a good thing. It should enable us to, e.g. build the schools we need. The irony is that the SNP, having promised to match the school building programme of the previous executive "brick for brick" seems incapable of doing so....

    For the life of me, I don't understand why you seem to support them in that failure...

    Could you please explain why not building schools is a good thing?

  7. "Could you please explain why not building schools is a good thing?"

    Only if you tell me when you stopped beating your wife?

    I take it you're not reading the other thread on Schools?

  8. Absolutely right Montague. Glad you agree with me.

    You wouldn't defend the SNP if they beat their wives. So why defend them when they fail to build schools?