Domestic Extremist

_71837249_expressBy Mike Small

Welcome to Powellite Britain (2015), where old men write of rivers of blood and BBC presenters talk of niggers and slopes, where people can’t make up their minds whether immigrants are here to steal jobs or loll around on benefits.

The world has tipped upside down when racists like Jeremy Clarkson are considered some kind of punk-rock subcultural hero (along with his friend Nigel), and where Spiked is a journal of the left. As Suzanne Moore wrote the last time he came under mild scrutiny:

“Clarkson is not stupid. Nor is he a maverick or outlier. He is a central part of the establishment. He parties with Cameron. Just as Ukip is not a maverick party, but made up of disgruntled Tories; just as Boris Johnson is not a maverick but a born-to-rule chancer; just as bloggers such as Guido Fawkes pretend to be anti-politics mavericks but are hard-rightwingers – this section of the right deludes itself that it is somehow “outside” the establishment rather than its pumping heart.”

The dictum that ‘money rules’ is crystal clear. So BBC apologists spent most of the day tip-toeing around the issue with terms like ‘fracas’ and ‘dust-up’ being employed as quaint euphemisms to describe punching a member of staff employed in a publicly funded organisation.

Tellingly, only MPs and professional boxers can get away with assault as part of their day-to-day work.

Moore again: “This is the rich and powerful deriding the powerless while pretending to be heroic victims. It is a revolting, sweaty lie.”

Politics and Imagery

Having possibly reached the bottom of the barrel with yesterdays Wrecking Ball hoot, the Unionist chatterati were positively slavering over the keyboards today over the GERS figures, of which more in a moment.


There’s a delicious irony with the ‘Sun Wot Won It’ paper playing such a bad hand and fuelling the downfall of the Union, daily. Their wrecking ball visuals managed a magnificent combination of misogyny, inaccurate reporting and hilarious cultural ignorance.

The week that kicked off with David Hamilton’s ‘wee lassie’ put-down is followed up by the Sun’s most crass sexist imagery. What they have in common is they have no politics to put forward, no arguments to make their case. They feel threatened, and so they should. Philippa Whitford and Nicola Sturgeon are formidable and will be hard to intimidate.

The attempt is to smear everyone. This is the politics of hate. It’s the bread and butter daily fare of tabloid Britain.

Sturgeon is of course a target – first of all simply for being a woman in public life, but secondly for  challenging the economic orthodoxy on austerity. This would be bad enough but also “The SNP is unashamedly pro-immigration” they write  and finally “soft on benefits.”

This is a full house in tabloid bingo.

Pete Wishart is worse still. His crimes? “In 2008 he told the Commons he’d ‘never felt British in his life’.” If there was ever a better sign of the gulf that has opened up between SunLand and Scotland it is here. I don’t know anyone under 50 who feels British.

They couldn’t be bothered to get an actual photo of Tasmina Sheikh, National Women’s & Equalities Officer and  Candidate for Ochil and South Perthshire. Someone that looked a bit similar would do.

Welcome to Powellite Britain.

Although this is great knockabout fun, those of them with enough sense know that its desperate stuff.

Mad Men

More fertile ground was the Annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) report released today. The most detailed information available on the state of Scotland’s public finances has revealed a higher budget deficit in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.

The Gers report for 2013-14 identified Scotland’s deficit as £12.4bn in 2013-14 or 8.1 per cent of GDP compared to the UK deficit of 5.6 per cent of GDP. Scotland continues to record higher levels of tax revenue and higher levels of spending than the UK average. Tax take was £400 higher per person than the UK average, which has now been higher for 34 years in a row. Spending per person in Scotland was also higher than the UK average, at £12,500 per person.

John McDermott writes in the Financial Times: “If this year’s release shows the deterioration of Scotland’s relative fiscal position, then the effects of the oil price fall have yet to emerge in the official numbers. These will show up next year, when one can assume things look even worse for Scotland.” Well indeed, and presumably for the broad shoulders of the Exchequer too?

Most of the day was filled with gleeful renditions by columnists everywhere. David Maddox started gloating the day before.

Former Yes campaigner Ivan McKee noted:

“The bad numbers are due to bad UK management. If Osborne was a company finance director he’d get fired. Business is fundamentally sound but under performing compared to neighbouring Scandinavian economies. Looking at Scotland like a business, it needs corporate restructuring, a management buyout and a new management team,” said McKee.

But the argument that an under-performing Scottish economy is an indictment of a future Scottish democracy is an odd one. The other argument that a fossil-fuel based world is not only essential but the only possible model open to us is a form of delusional behaviour in the face of overwhelming and now pressing ecological reality.

Many, indeed probably most nationalists have based much of their thinking on ‘oil’. But this is changing. As Pat Kane wrote a few weeks ago:

One of the few benefits of a No vote, for Yessers like me, is that it gives us some thinking time to refashion the prospectus for independence. I’d like to suggest that one of the most interesting thought experiments we could conduct would be: imagine the viability of an independent Scotland without oil, gas or coal resources.

In the face of our botched energy inheritance, and in the teeth of a politics seemingly unable to think beyond a sort of 50’s Mad Men economics of growth, debt and mass inequality, re-thinking is about all we can do.

As the economist Hazel Henderson famously said: “The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise … economics is a form of brain damage.”

Breathing Life into a Moribund Patriotism

But as England glories in a new hero, there are voices of sense. Mary Riddell writes in the Telegraph (‘Our politicians must stop rubbishing the Scots Nats, and start copying them‘):

Scotland is not Mr Miliband’s biggest problem. His real difficulty is England, and the trouble is so acute that devising a Labour prospectus for the English is no longer a desirable extra but an existential necessity. Without a recognition of English identity, the Union may be doomed. Simply to tell Scottish voters that their votes do not count and their MPs are an irrelevance would defy democracy, kill off all Scottish fealty to a united nation and sound the death warrant on our (already shaky) winner-takes-all electoral arrangements.

She’s probably right.

But what effect would that have? Having created fertile ground for an English nationalism that celebrates Farage and deifies Clarkson, what would happen if there was now a united front of parties circling around an English nationalism? What would that nationalism look and feel like? Given the events of the last few days I’d hate to think.

Clarkson is clown and a patsy. He’s the real domestic extremist, not the old woman who has been in CND for 60 years or the young people fighting for a sane energy policy.

He may be a well paid thug but his real role is as poster boy for a set of values still cherished by an element of British society. We’re reaping the harvest of thirty years tabloid propaganda.

Welcome to Powellite Britain.



Comments (45)

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  1. cdrfuzz says:

    In the paragraph about Nicola Sturgeon, you go from “second” to “(4)” without passing three. FYI.

  2. Monty says:

    The SNP do and perhaps with reason alarm parts of the English electorate. The Tory party and their supporters in the tabloid press sense that they might just now have a chance to be the biggest party and form a new government in May. Fear of a Labour/SNP government is likely to bolster the Tory vote in England and might just get them past the winning post. It is cynical and somewhat unsightly but a party until recently seemingly hobbled by UKIP now see something similar happening to

  3. Monty says:

    The SNP do and perhaps with reason alarm parts of the English electorate. The Tory party and their supporters in the tabloid press sense that they might just now have a chance to be the biggest party and form a new government in May. Fear of a Labour/SNP government is likely to bolster the Tory vote in England and might just get them past the winning post. It is cynical and somewhat unsightly but a party until recently seemingly hobbled by UKIP now see something similar happening to Labour and feels the wind in their sails. So it is triples all round and the hopes of squeaking a victory this time followed by a majority next time as Dave is dumped for Boris or May.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      Another Conservative / Lib Dem / possibly others coalition looking increasingly possible now. Looked like no chance just a few weeks ago. Milibean and Labour crumbling, not just in Scotland.

      1. MBC says:

        The latest polls put them on 272:272. That’s more than Labour got in 2010. Cons had 305 (including lone ScotsTory plonker Mundell) and Lab had 217+41 Scots Labour = 258.

        If Labour are estimated to get 272 (without Scots Lab MPs) then they’ve boosted their support in England, even if they’ve had to sell their souls to do so.

  4. Duncan McCormack says:

    I worry about the daily drip, drip of this bile on Scots.

    Three things need to happen, Nicola must request a meeting with bbc to demand parity of coverage without bias during the next two months.

    The rest of us in the yes camp need to reapply ourselves to highlighting not only did labour gleefully join the tories during the referendum –

    – but –

    – labour in Scotland –

    stated time and time again, that if Scots voted yes we would be kicked out of the union like dogs in the night and in would be our own faults! No pound, perhaps border posts, no sharing of embassies and no reciprocal agreements for transplants, etc.

    labour’s leadership is rotten to the core, but there are decent folk in labour, we all know this. We know too that they were it not for loyalties outside of politics, they have joined the SNP, Greens or Socialists by now. We need to make this journey easier for them!

    Duncan McCormack

  5. Big Jock says:

    You know its a bit like being in a job you don’t like for 20 years. You ask the boss for a better deal. He ignores you until you threaten to leave. He begs you to stay. You crumble, as he promises a pay rise and better hours, and conditions.

    You turn down another job and stay, as you take him at his word. Turns out there is no pay rise and, conditions get so bad he starts bullying and threatening you. You can no longer stay ,and put up with the lack of respect and bullying.

    You have to find a way out for your own sanity. The boss hates you but needs your skills. He makes it hard for you to leave by putting obstacles in your way and eating away your self respect and confidence.

    Eventually you say fuck it and leave anyway.

    That’s Scotland.

  6. MoJo says:

    Excellent piece – and I think Cameron will already be regretting backing his idiot pal Jeremy so publicly as it has showed his true colours to the already confused English electorate and even fewer of them will turn out to vote……

  7. MBC says:

    The deification of multmillionaire Clarkson and his overpaid grin is the last straw for me. Nothing demonstrates to me more clearly that England is another planet than 120,000 signatures of a petition got up in a matter of hours to reinstate Clarkson. The sooner we leave this stinking ship the better.

  8. Connor Mcewen says:

    Oh dear Scotland is such drain on U.K. lets get rid of it.
    No,wait a minute only the money input but not the power input

  9. Connor Mcewen says:

    Or is it vice versa

  10. maxi kerr says:

    As i have said before,Clarkson is one of the Chipping norton set???

  11. The UK establishment should be ashamed of itself, and fear for its reputation. The Queen might perhaps think of stepping down so that a new dawn may arise, washing away a horrific era of corruption and sleaze.

  12. Donald McGregor says:

    A grand summary and useful slice of information on the current tabloid approach to life, that will surely be only warming up yet?
    I think the tax/ spending figures from the gers issue is actually 400/1200 – but the ease with which those numbers can be memorized and trotted out tells a tale of what yet needs doing in terms of both thinking and informing us ahead of the election:

    We need an easy shorthand way to summarise the alternative that ‘could’ happen. John Swinney tends towards an understandable ‘well I wouldn’t start from here’ type of long hand response, and Pat Kane has his finger on the fears of many of us, as an oil based economy is, broadly, the only widely held understanding of how things could be.

  13. I’m not sure that it’s true that “many, indeed probably most nationalists have based much of their thinking on ‘oil’.” Some certainly still do, but I doubt that it’s a majority.

  14. All boxes. Tick. Tick. Tick.

    Couldn’t agree more.

  15. Fay Kennedy. says:

    They need to take a good lie down. That should be easy, for lying is their natural state of being. What a shower of shysters.

  16. Johnny come lately says:

    Excellent article. Of course the headlines in the English press, the demeaning photo shopped images, the derogatory and outrageous cartoons strips as well as the childish sniping instead of political commentary is not aimed at a Scottish audience. It is (without disguise) a desperate attempt to get Cameron elected with an overall majority. This is a desperate, almost painful attempt at imposing project fear on the English electorate. The question is how many will fall for it in England.

    The similarities of the both campaigns (referendum and GE) are striking. Smearing, disinformation, scaremongering, personal attacks and abuse have replaced policies, manifestos, political discussion and debate. Some have pointed out that this behavior could prove counterproductive. The question is, will it prove counterproductive in the long term or the short term.

    Imo the damage in the long term will be irreparable. Desperate stuff from desperate people!

  17. emilytom67 says:

    Very good article,my take on the yes argument is that we in Scotland are beset by the fact that around 35/40% are “dyed in the wool”unionists who regardless of the obvious vilification of Scots/Scotland are still prepared to be subservient.In any discussion/dialogue they fall behind the we are “better to-gether” it really masks the fact that they are for whatever reason just plain unionists,it gets them out of a hole in the respect that they do not have to explain their lack of pride/confidence in their own country.

  18. andygm1 says:

    Good, thoughtful article Mike. Suzanne Moore’s piece in the Guardian is also worthy of a read.

    By the way, it’s ‘effect’ not ‘affect’.

    1. bellacaledonia says:


  19. John Page says:

    Thanks, Mike. As always a lot to think about.
    The dominant narrative is depressing and redolent of inevitable decline with only the 1% thriving.
    Could there be a progressive narrative (UK wide or in Scotland at least) rejecting the replacement of Trident and pledging the funds saved equally between preventative health measures and investment in renewables. Surely someone could make a persuasive vision out of a healthy population reducing the pressures on the NHS, having energy security and actively
    tackling climate change. This must be better than a xenophobic, fearful (Murphy explained to Brian Taylor last Saturday that we should be scared of Iran, North Korea and things that we don’t yet know about), underclass bating state without a plan for infrastructure investment in a fossil free future.

  20. Corporatist Hell says:

    “racists like Jeremy Clarkson are considered some kind of punk-rock subcultural hero (along with his friend Nigel)”.

    “I’m massively pro-European so it becomes rather difficult to support a party that wants primarily to get you out of Europe. Anyway there doesn’t seem to be a party for UKIP there’s just one man in a Barbour with a pint and a fag.” – Jeremy Clarkson, December 2014.

    So, your suggestion that Nigel Farage is Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘friend’ is based on a an observation by Farage you’ve sourced from a tabloid newspaper (of which you yourself are not shy of belittling)

    Whereas looking at his own comments Clarkson himself on face value at least doesn’t seem to support UKIP or Farage, rather he sees UKIP as pointless (I’d make the reasonable assumption that Clarkson is a Tory).

    No doubt you’ll denounce the Clarkson quote itself because its from the evil biased BBC.

    In fairness you then point to how Clarkson ‘parties with Cameron’ but it’s possible that see (or want to promote the idea) that everything and everyone associated with the Conservatives and conservatism, and everything and everyone associated with UKIP as the same (they’re not)

    Just sayin’, though.

    I’m no fan or support of Jeremy Clarkson, and in no way am I trying to defend any of his behaviour over time, by the way. Just pointing out that the assumption / accusation / insinuation that Nigel Farage is Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘friend’ and that Clarkson is a UKIP supporter is baseless.

    Your observations, and the debate around Englishness, English nationalism etc, what they are, what they could be and maybe what they should be are interesting. As someone living in the north of England, which is different (but also the same in some ways) to other parts of England, this is of concern and interest to me.

    Suffice to say that I can assure you that Nigel Farage is not ‘celebrated’ universally, nor even by a substantail proportion of the population, and Jeremy Clarkson is not ‘deified’. Notwithstanding whether people like his TV show, a quick straw poll discussing yesterdays events in my office concludes that he’s a wanker.

    There’s also the point that the situation we may be looking at in May is a UK / constituent parts that are ‘ungovernable’ and will remain so without constitutional and electoral reform.

    I might comment on this at lunchtime or later on.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Wasn’t suggesting that Farage and Clarkson supports UKIP but they have the same value base (sic). The UKIP / Tory crossover is witnessed by regular defection and policy similarity. His deification is clear from the 670,000 (at time of writing) pleading for him.

      1. Corporatist Hell says:

        You did state though that Nigel Farage is Jeremy Clarkson’s “friend” (a statement which is without any insinuation of his support for UKIP whatsoever, of course, you wouldn’t try to do anything like that, would you?)

        A statement for which you have no foundation, and indeed comments made by Clarkson very recently suggest the opposite.

        Do you at least have the integrity to admit that, or are you going to carry on with the bluster about ‘the same value base’ (sic) where you are attempting to use a strawman to attempt to deflect attention from the point i’ve made.

        Will you admit that your assertion that Nigel Farage is Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘friend’ (which you are using to insinuate a connection between Jeremy Clarkson and UKIP) is without foundation?

        “The UKIP / Tory crossover is witnessed by regular defection”.

        Two MPs and a few councillors here and there? ‘Regular defection-?’ Really?

        “Policy similarity”

        Examples? I mean, I’m sure there are some. I’m sure you could draw some policy similarities across the Scottish Socialist Party, Scottish Green Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and even elements of SNP policy. That doesn’t necessarily or automatically translate into a fully shared value base.

        “His deification is clear from the 670,000 (at time of writing) pleading for him”.

        670,000 – across Britain presumably, not just England. Or, about 1.3% of the adult population. Yeah, real god-worship there. I am not at all surprised there are at least as many other wankers distributed across Britain who thinks its all right for media figures in positions of power to punch people in the face. Are you really surprised by this? What point are you trying to make?

        And it would be interesting to understand whether they are pleading for ‘him’ – or whether they are pleading for the show.

        If it was one of the other two who’d punched someone in the face, I bet they could be replaced. I’d take a punt that the expectation is that Clarkson isn’t / wouldn’t be ‘replaceable’ and that would be the end of the show.

        The guy is a multi-millionaire – I doubt there is any special pleading from 670,000 people because they’re worried about how Clarkson might pay his electricity bills. They just want the show to carry on.

        (Which has gone downhill and got a bit tired, and is actually getting past its sell by date anyway, in my opinion)

  21. ELAINE FRASER says:

    Labour are the Red Tories but we can’t assume that by explaining what they are really about their traditional voters will change their vote . Judging by conversations Ive had (way before the referendum) many traditional Labour voters now espouse essentially Tory/right wing values re:prescription charges,benefits, immigration.. We have been immersed in right-way ideology for so long it has seeped into every aspect of our lives and the idea that there is no alternative is very deep rooted so we can’t be surprised that many traditional Labour voters are actually Tories inn their beliefs now ,they just don’t realise it.

  22. macart763 says:

    Good dissection Mike.

    Its amazing the difference a few months make. We’ve gone from ‘stay, we love you’ and ‘a stronger voice within…’, to the ‘Thames foaming with much blood’, ‘What a McMess’, ‘Tartan Barmy’ and ‘the terrifying prospect of Scots ruling England’.

    Who knew?

    As for GERS? In what way does a bad year operating within the strictures of a failed UK economic and constitutional model mean that Scotland would fail as an independent nation? Working from a pre determined budget, with zero controls of the levers of our own economy and yet this somehow translates to ‘we’re awe doomed’ as an independent nation. The last I heard was you’re only bust if you do not have either the resources, the ability or the future prospects to repay any accrued debt. Absolutely none of which criteria could be levelled at an independent Scotland.

    Since we’re stuck within this union for the foreseeable future, the answer is mindbendingly simple. Give us Full Fiscal Autonomy. Allow us 100% of the levers to control our own economy and full access to all of our natural and manufactured resource streams. In return we’ll pay our share of foreign affairs and defence, remove all of our representation from Westminster and scrap Barnett for them.

    Sounds like ‘home rule’, ‘a powerhouse parliament’, ‘devo max’ and ‘near federalism’ t’me and would remove all of those bothersome arguments from the table that get the press and the metrocentric politicians so excited.

  23. Jacqueline Gallacher says:

    I like to believe that the English media are about as representative of the English people as the Scottish media is of us.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      You’ve put that more eloquently than I could manage.

      The English tabloid media are representative of a portion – or section – of English people / society, unfortunately.

      Pretty much the same in Scotland, am I right?

  24. bringiton says:

    Despite the hysteria from the unionists and their press pack,we are not voting on a single issue ticket in May but who is best placed to represent our interests individually and collectively within the UK state.
    For those who wish to see the maximum benefit accruing to Scotland within the union,then the SNP is the only major party who are committed to this.
    If the unionists cannot accept the idea of people standing up for Scotland’s interests then suck it up, we have had generations of being on the receiving end of people and policies who don’t.

  25. Outstanding, Mike. Outstanding.

  26. Mealer says:

    I hope my daughter doesn’t get a punch in the face at her work today.

  27. Alan Weir says:

    The GERS figures incorporate £5-6 billion a year ‘debt’ repayments from Scotland to rUK. I don’t deny we have to shoulder our share of that liability, Brown and Darling’s Casino Capitalist gift to us all. But the UK government have a similar moral liability to Scotland for the greatest mis-sold investment scandal of reason years, lying about the oil in the 70s. Knowingly false advice from investment advisers which costs you money requires compensation. The Cuthberts’ calculate that we’d be around £148 billion in the black, not a similar amount in the red, had we had control of oil revenues during the boom, instead of sending 45% of our non-oil GDP to Thatcher. £6 billion going the other way, rather than from us to London, would mean we would not need the oil at all for the current account and could use it as a genuine bonus, large or small depending on the price. Even if an SNP block could ‘hold the feet to the fire’ and ensure Westminster give us the ‘union dividend’, which BT set at £7 billion a year even before the oil drop, that would go along way to providing such restitution. That must be a minimum demand: no debt repayments and the ‘union dividend’. Full fiscal autonomy is not credible without it.

  28. emilytom67 says:

    We need more visionary ideas about a future Scotland,we need to bring on fresh ideas and free thinking people that will appeal to all Scots most importantly the “waverers” and promote/publicise them,what an opportunity we have to change the political landscape,inmo we have to take on board those who oppose what we are trying to do,we cannot have the strict political agendas of both left and right that are restrictive and concentrate on bringing in members of society that are entrepreunuerial in thought not just in business but in the betterment of society for all, we as a small country have to have shared ideals can this be achieved I think so,though it would be an uphill battle

  29. florian albert says:

    In yesterday’s Times, Tory commentator Danny Finkelstein wrote – about the referendum, ‘ a majority of Scots wanted independence. Yet they feared risky change and possible loss.’
    This strikes me as a fair summary of where we were (and are.)
    Instead of producing policies which would convince and reassure, Mike Small is stuck in denunciation mode;
    in this case denouncing Jeremy Clarkston.
    This clearly enthuses a lot of those who read this website but,it strikes me as likely to guarantee that any referendum in the near future would have the same result as 2014 had.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I’m trying to follow this, if we denounce racists then people won’t vote for democracy? Erm, okay, if yo say so.

      1. florian albert says:

        Does a policy of relentless denunciation work ?
        (Last year both Robin McAlpine and Gerry Hassan criticized the Scottish left for its readiness to slip into denunciation mode.)
        Before last year’s Scottish Euro elections, the Scottish left went into overdrive against UKIP. When the votes were counted, UKIP had come from nowhere – or middle England to be more accurate – and won a seat; beating the Scottish Greens and the Lib Dems comfortably.
        On BBC2’s Great Immigration Debate on Tuesday, there was the UKIP MEP – David Coburn – on the panel. There was nobody from the left.

  30. tartanfever says:

    Time to get some detail into the GERS figures.

    As far as I’m concerned, they’re ok. As Business for Scotland have said – they show a commitment from the Scottish Government to protect welfare, which we all benefit from.

    Austerity doesn’t work, an argument thats been made for years, and it particularly doesn’t work if all your main trading partners decide to do the same thing. All it does is shrink the economy. See Mark Blyth ‘Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea’

    He (and others) have proposed that countries carrying out austerity have actually worsened their level of debt when compared to non-austerity countries.

    Over the last five years in the UK we’ve had a schizophrenic economic policy – austerity mixed with quantitive easing – which really only reinforces the idea that levels of tax, whether business or personal, import or export, are low. We now know that the quantitive easing that flushed money into the banks stopped there. Designed to be given as loans to encourage new business and mortgage lending, the banks instead decided to hold on to this new funding to improve their balance sheets.

    The best course of action at present is to stop austerity, of that I’m convinced.

    The other misleading aspect of these figures is the level of the UK deficit (2013-14 – £97bn or 5.6% of GDP)

    Remember, that figure includes some of the windfall from the sale of Royal Mail in it’s revised figures. The figures published last April in all newspapers was £107bn (6.6 % of GDP).

    I doubt there are many out there that would consider the sale of Royal Mail as an excellent piece of economic prowess from Osbourne – especially as the pension debt liability has now been incorporated into the the UK’s public pension. Yet, that windfall allowed Osbourne to reduce the year’s deficit drastically, exactly as he did in 2012-2013.

    For the reality of the Royal Mail sell off and transfer of pension liability, have a look at this piece from the Daily Mail.

    The key paragraph is:

    ‘Here’s the scam. By nationalising the Royal Mail pension fund, the government gets to snaffle its £28 billion of real, tangible financial assets. That’s all real money, which can be used to offset our borrowing needs, hence the reason why the government debt falls by that amount.

    But the government is also nationalising the future obligations of the Royal Mail pension fund. And – how unsurprising is this? – those liabilities are almost £10 billion greater than those assets. So in fact the taxpayer has just lost out to the tune of £10 billion. The only reason why the government debt looks better not worse is that our current – insane – accounting standards don’t report pension obligations as part of total financial obligations.’

    Take out the Royal Mail sell off and Osbourne’s deficit reduction for the last few years has been:

    2011 – £120bn
    2012 – £115bn
    2013 – £107bn

    Remember, when the Tories came into power, the deficit by 2014 was meant to be £0. They quickly realised that was wrong and by 2012 they claimed they would have it down to £50bn. In real terms the deficit hasn’t improved much and we haven’t even taken into account the other ‘one off’ payments that have improved the figures for Osbourne, like the hundred’s of millions in bank fines.

    UK ‘official’ figures give a false impression of the reality.

    So when we start talking about this years deficit, just remember what has been said in the last few months.

    Osbourne’s targets have been missed from April – Oct 2014, November improved because he received £1.1bn in bank fines.

    In December 2014 the OBR and IFS said this years target of a £90bn deficit would be met (even though the financial year ends on 31st March 2015 !) and the first six months showed borrowing of £58bn. I never knew these organisations had the ability to travel through time. Remember, in previous years early OBR and IFS predictions on the deficit have all been wrong and adjusted upwards.

    In the last two weeks he’s sold of a huge batch of bank shares not because it’s a particularly good price, but because he’s utterly desperate to reduce this year’s target figures and he only has until the end of this month to do so.

    Osbourne know’s he’s up against it – the key indicator will be the scrutiny given to the deficit before the May election. It could well be the case that no data is made publicly available in an attempt to hide bad news – as happened in the run up to last year’s referendum when the ONS stopped producing any statistical reports months before the vote.

    Sorry for the long post, but the general theme is while it’s ok to look and criticise Scotland’s figures it becomes highly problematic when they are compared to UK figures. We don’t have the ability to do the accounting tricks that Osbourne does (nor should we) and instead, we should concentrate on what’s suggested here – looking at Scotland and how we can improve our situation by adopting completely new thinking and approaches.

  31. Donald Mitchell says:

    It’s great to see the Red Tory panic spread to the Blue Tories and the rag tops!
    The shriller and more hysterical their ant- Scottish rants become the better, our best chance of gaining independence is in a UK wide referendum.

  32. Frederick Robinson says:

    Why is there no ‘unsubscribe’ from Bella Caledonia’s ‘words, words, words’ (Hamlet)?

  33. Rosebud. says:

    ‘…If there was ever a better sign of the gulf that has opened up between SunLand and Scotland it is here. I don’t know anyone under 50 who feels British…’

    (I know plenty…think you need to enlarge your circle of friends. perhaps?)

    ‘…Moore again: “This is the rich and powerful deriding the powerless while pretending to be heroic victims. It is a revolting, sweaty lie.”

    Really? The powerless like Nicola Sturgeon? Me thinks you do the women a disservice?

    Is it just me or is Bella becoming increasingly bizarre? It used to run the occasional good story/ debating point but now it’s just a cul de sac of bitterness and attack (any chance of a positive article? Might want to think about it before all the ‘normals’ desert the sinking ship and you’re left with the crazies.

    First up, stop treating people like morons – we’re smarter than you are! As though we have no independent access to information and cannot form our own opinions with such childish polemics.

    It is common knowledge that Alex Salmond is still cosy with Murdoch, said proprietor of the SunLand. Could it possibly that Murdoch is helping his pal north of the border by fermenting artificial anti Scottish sentiment to further the SNP cause – seems to be working no? Let’s not forget it was Milliband (the only leader) who refused to be bullied by Murdoch and damn the electoral consequences, (remember BskyB fire sale? remember how Salmond Lobbied on behalf of Murdoch? And Millibean told him tae get tae?

    Pretty contemptible really. While Milly Dowler’s parents (the genuinely powerless!) were giving evidence during the phone hacking inquiry, Salmond was singing Murdoch’s praises for a grubby few articles in a rag of a paper. Stomach turning to think this is the moral framework of the one time Scottish First minister. No wonder Jk rowliing gave a million to Better together! And Steve Cogan and all the others lined up against Salmond and indy.

    Also, if the best you can do is use Clarkson (who if you ever visit England, is considered in most parts as an utter twat) – albeit an occasionally entertaining one – once upon a time! It’s a bit like measuring Scotland on Frankie Boyle (also occasionally funny – once upon a time). Or when middle class, wealthy white Scottish comedians tell jokes about rape, abortion, race, disability etc etc etc… it’s different?

    Need to up your game Bella if you want to remain in the game that is.

    Nil fis quod odisti!

  34. Corporatist Hell says:

    I hear that extracts from Alex Salmond’s book, The Dream Shall Never Die, his referendum diary looking back on the campaign for independence, are going to be published in –

    The Scottish Sun on Sunday – !

    Well fancy that.

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