A programme for independence

The Scottish Government has set out its programme for government for the coming year. This is the Holyrood version of the Queen’s speech in Westminster only without the fancy costumes and the Mediaevalesque traditions that were really only made up in Victorian times in order to give the proceedings an aura of historical legitimacy so no one would complain about how ludicrous they were.

In Westminster today we had the spectacle of Boris Johnson describing as a “union benefit” a hike in National Insurance which Scottish workers will also have to pay in order to cover a shortfall in England’s social care budget. Johnson claimed that a portion of the money raised will be spent on health services in Scotland, either forgetting – or more likely not caring – that health services in Scotland are devolved. So this “union benefit” is really yet another assault on the devolution settlement. For those British nationalists who say that Scotland shouldn’t look a Westminster gift horse in the mouth, this is no gift horse. Any funds disbursed to Scotland will come from taxes paid by Scotland. We pay our taxation, we pay into a pot which our own government needs to ask permission for funds & then the British Government fiscal controls to allow us to look after the best interest of our nation. If Holyrood had full powers over taxation it certainly would not choose to fund health and social care with a regressive tax the burden of which falls disproportionately on the lower paid and the poor. What Scotland is being burdened with by this Conservative Government is, as SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said, effectively a new Tory poll tax.

Boris Johnson’s new poll tax will see a regressive tax hike unfairly penalising young people, low paid workers and families. The Tories want to tax Scottish workers twice, forcing them to pay the bill for social care in England, as well as Scotland. The Conservative proposals will protect the wealth of home owners in London and the South East of England where average property values are high at the expense of the low paid, and those living in areas where property is far less valuable. It’s a classic example of robbing the poor to pay the rich. The Tories are robbing Liverpool to pay Surrey.

Meanwhile back in the land of the grown ups, well, away from the Scottish Tory benches that is, and Tess White was being very quiet today. The Holyrood event is a much more business-like affair than the Queen’s speech or the yah-boo-sucks and gaslighting which passes for debate in the chamber of the House of Commons.

Independence was given top billing in the First Minister’s speech. Poor wee Douglas Ross was full of his entirely predictable manufactured outrage because independence was mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the twenty-seven page programme for government. You’d think that the man whose own party’s campaign centred entirely on preventing a pro-independence majority in Holyrood, and which signally failed to do so, should not be all of a sudden surprised that the parties which promised another independence referendum should be committing to bringing about that independence majority which the electorate of Scotland gave them a majority in Holyrood to deliver. It’s almost as though he does not realise that the reason we voted for both SNP and Greens is so that Scotland can become independent and get away from that shit show called Westminster.

Douglas more than anyone ought to know that when the voters of Scotland looked at his party’s opposition to another referendum and decided that they were still going to elect a Scottish Parliament with the strongest pro-independence majority ever, voting instead for parties which are committed to another referendum, that there was going to be another referendum. This is a programme for independence, not a programme for government, fulminated Douglas like that was a bad thing. Douglas so badly wants people not to talk about another independence referendum that he spent almost the entirety of his ten minute rant spitting feathers about nothing else.

But then Douglas represents a party which feels no need to be bound by its manifesto commitments, or indeed by basic honesty. His boss in London was today announcing a rise in National Insurance in order to pay for the rising costs of social care in England despite the Conservative manifesto in the December 2019 General Election explicitly promising that a Conservative government would not raise taxes, including National Insurance, in order to pay for social care in England. The SNP is actually committing itself to keeping a manifesto commitment, unlike the Tories who regard manifesto commitments as becoming expired the second that they get into power.

I have to confess that I switched off the telly when the self-important void that is Alex Cole-Hamilton got up to speak, figuring that I wasn’t going to miss anything relevant or interesting, or indeed coherent.

Much to the disgust of Douglas Ross, and probably the Alex-Cole -Hamilton shaped void if I had been listening the First Minister affirmed that there will be another independence referendum in the first half of this Parliament, which means it will take place before the end of 2023, She stressed that the “democratic mandate to decide the country’s future is beyond question”. It is a shocking indictment of the lack of respect for the electorate displayed by the Conservatives and their fellow travellers that the First Minister even needs to spell out what the entire country knows this Scottish Parliament was given its pro-independence majority to do.

She also said that the Scottish Government have restarted preparations for the detailed prospectus to be put forward in that second independence referendum campaign. This will not be a Brexit style referendum where the people are effectively being asked to sign a blank cheque. Brexit,the pandemic, and the urgency of the climate crisis have changed everything, that’s why the prospectus for independence must be built anew. The prospectus detailed in the White Paper in 2014 is now a historical document.

We can now look forward to detailed proposals which will undercut the favourite attack points of the British nationalists. When the next independence referendum takes place we will be campaigning from a position of strength and confidence. No wonder Douglas Ross is raging.

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43 comments on “A programme for independence

  1. Bob Lamont says:

    Aye, nothing further, the Aye’s have it…

  2. Iain says:

    But Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want independence…
    But Nicola Sturgeon just wants to be a regional manager…
    But Nicola Sturgeon strangled my little money…
    But Nicola Sturgeon…
    But…

  3. grizebard says:

    While I warmly welcome a commitment by the Scottish Government to start preparing a new case for independence, I hope it will not result in a carbon-copy repeat of the prospectus of last time, which offered a well-meaning shopping-list of aspirations which mostly served to provide the opposition with ample ammunition for distraction instead of doing the crucial job of winning-over the fearful.

    This effort must be a hard-hitting exercise in realism that can convince the yet-to-be-convinced that our social and economic future, albeit after a year or two of necessary adaptation, will be greatly enhanced by running affairs for ourselves. Among other things, it must use GERS as all it’s fit for, a salient example of how badly we are served within the Damned Union, and otherwise put a stake right through the heart of it.

    • ArtyHetty says:

      Totally agree there Grize. Last time people were given the positives, grt, but, the negatives were ignored and so folks were inclined to believe any positives were just pie in the sky. People need reality checks, left, right, centre and full on…tell them what the future will be for their kids & grandkids if Scotland does not secure independence. A bit of history, and mostly exposing lies and scams of the BritNats & how Scotland is robbed and has been robbed to the tune of £trillions…telling it like it is…ask questions as well, why is Scotland ‘too poor’ why the ‘subsidy junkie’? Then, comparisons with other countries of similar size, and population that are not controlled and stolen from massively, by their next door neighbour, etc.

  4. Alex Clark says:

    Today the Tories also broke a second manifesto commitment when the Pensions Secretary announced that they are abandoning the “pensions triple lock” which has been in place since 2010 and kept getting the OAP’s in England to vote for them.

    Of course, the whole purpose of announcing this today at the same time as announcing the NI increase is an attempt to brush over it because there will be a fair number of OAP’s who voted for this shower very unhappy to find out about the scrapping of the triple lock.

    As for raising NI for all workers? They in the main couldn’t care less since it won’t affect them.

    https://archive.ph/f2F00

    • Welsh_Sion says:

      Us Welshies aren’t too happy, either:

      https://nation.cymru/news/boris-johnson-to-take-away-wales-power-over-health-and-social-care-funding/

      Boris Johnson to take away Wales’ power over health and social care funding

      07 Sep 2021 2 minute Read

      Boris Johnson is taking power away from the Welsh Government over health and social care funding.

      The Tory Prime Minister has announced Wales will receive a share of extra money from a UK-wide hike of 1.25% in National Insurance.

      But in a significant change of the devolution settlement, the additional money from the hike will legally have to be spent in the way the Westminster government decides.

      Johnson told the House of Commons: “While Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own systems, we will direct money raised through the levy to their health and care services.”

      […]

  5. Alex Clark says:

    But in a significant change of the devolution settlement, the additional money from the hike will legally have to be spent in the way the Westminster government decides.

    Johnson told the House of Commons: “While Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own systems, we will direct money raised through the levy to their health and care services.”

    Surely that is not possible for Westminster to dictate how money distributed via Barnet formula consequential should be spent by either the Scottish or Welsh governments.

    I doubt that this is a correct interpretation of the law from the Fat Controller and matters will be clarified soon enough.

  6. Hamish100 says:

    So dictat from London as to how our money is spent in our own country.

    What arrogance.

  7. Hamish100 says:

    We should just say “naw”. This is our money, our decision, our country.

    • scottish skier says:

      Erm, aye, it’s Scots taxpayers money, and clearly no ‘subsidy’ as it will be right there on Scots pay slips.

      ….And England wants to force us to spend it on something we may not actually need against our will. After all, the NI rise was specifically to tackle an English care crisis.

      This is just another total PR disaster from London as it desperately attempts to ‘take back control’ in the last days of Rome.

      If Boris had proposed a tax on the wealthy, SNP would be like ‘Oh s**t’, but naw, he’s handing them votes on a plate.

    • Dr Jim says:

      Gordon Brown came up with this wheeze to bypass Holyrood in 2002

  8. scottish skier says:

    After the government’s announcement of plans to make the formerly independent EC an arm of No. 10, I feel another shiver down my spine at this image:

    The UK government is not, and should never be, ‘Downing street’, but that’s the way it is clearly headed. Not even a one party state, but a one leader state. This focus on leaders not parties is a long time in the making for British politics, but the process is accelerating now.

    Thank god we are leaving. It should bring the whole house down and allow the English to rebuild their democracy anew.

    Just keep coolly, calmly and steadily walking towards the door Scots and our government.

  9. Gfaetheblock says:

    Is there any explanation of the timeline, there is 26 months the land a referendum, but getting a court decision or a new Edinburgh agreement in that time, and space to raise money and have a full campaign, seem somewhat optimistic.

    • Alex Clark says:

      Nobody is seeking an “Edinburgh Agreement” and whether or not the Referendum Bill that will be brought forward by the Scottish Government ends up in court will be a decision for Westminster.

    • scottish skier says:

      Hey Gfae. Think the last time we met was on SGP?

      Cool £1.1 million in the war chest at the start of this year, and with polls looking like this:

      It looks like no Yes campaign is actually needed, certainly not by 2023 anyway, as the result is already a forgone conclusion.

      Still, worth boosting it to the max I suppose.

      Tick tock.

      • Gfaetheblock says:

        I think it was another site, long ago, that is all rather odd these days.

        I’ll take the chart and the funding, but it still feels like a tall order to land. Time will tell.

        • Dr Jim says:

          Westminster will refuse the section 30 transfer of power agreement, Holyrood will proceed with the bill and name a date to hold a referendum, Westminster then has to decide whether to proceed with court action, not to prevent a referendum but to refuse to legally recognise the result of one
          and good luck with trying that on, the political ramifications of doing so would reverberate around the world

  10. Welsh_Sion says:

    dePfeffel wants to talk, eh?

    Boris Johnson calls for summit with devolved leaders on Covid recovery

    07 Sep 2021 5 minute Read

    Boris Johnson has called for a summit with the leaders of the devolved nations to discuss the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In a letter to the First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the UK Prime Minister said he hopes the meeting can take place, “ideally in person”, next month.

    Johnson also said he is also imposing a UK-wide Health and Social Care Levy. He claims this tax, the money from which will be “ringfenced”, will make an additional £12bn available for health and social care across the UK on average per year.

    […]

    • Alex Clark says:

      So the Fat Controller is inviting in a letter to “the leaders of the devolved nations to discuss the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

      Has he forgotten the invitation from the FM to meet with him when he came to Edinburgh last month to discuss exactly the same topic and to which he refused?

      BORIS Johnson was “quite right” to turn down an invitation to meet Nicola Sturgeon in-person during his trip to Scotland, Douglas Ross has said.

      Will DRoss feel the same if Nicola Sturgeon was to tell him she was too busy? Rhetorical question best ignored.

      Now I see though how he thinks he can “ringfence” the money to stop the Scottish and Welsh Governments from spending the money as they see fit. There is a major flaw in this “ringfencing” though in that the Scottish Government can quite correctly divert money already committed to the NHS or social care in the full knowledge that the “ringfenced” funds would make up the difference.

      Childish games at play here by Westminster and I’m sure Kate Forbes will have their measure.

      • Welsh_Sion says:

        This comment from a compatriot is right on the button. (I hope he doesn’t mind me cutting and pasting):

        Y Cymro
        4 hours ago

        This is an undemocratic act and an attack of Welsh devolution by Conservative fascists in London.

        I’d advise the Welsh Government take this hostile Tory idiocracy the Supreme Court and challenge their overt power-grab. These are the same clowns that said the EU were diktats who foisted rules & regulations on Britain that stole our powers & sovereignty. The irony.

        I’ve said this over the years fighting for Wales & Welsh independence, that if Boris Johnson had his way he’d happily flood more Welsh Valleys for English water consumption in the SE. He said so as London Mayor.

        We have a choice. Do something, or do nothing. The ball is in Welsh Labour’s court. Prove you stand up for Wales for once. Talk the talk, now start walking the walk. #YesCymru #Ymlaen

        • grizebard says:

          Ah, but when they said “take back power”, they meant to themselves. It’s all about further centralising what is already one of the most centralised governments in Europe.

      • grizebard says:

        Ah, but I think the BoJo Clown Circus will want to micromanage. Merely to show they can do it. And somehow believe that this will convince us they’re accepted, when all it will achieve is the diametric opposite: offend. Previous English Governments were savvy enough to leave well alone, and thereby retain an impression of being in overall charge, whereas this one is reckless and insecure enough to interfere and thereby confirm that it is not.

  11. robert harrison says:

    All i can see for the union jack cult is oh Scotland is nothing without the English Scotland is to wee poor and stupid to survive as the eu card cant be played the pensions will backfire because the conservatives removed the triple lock after lying they wouldn’t do that and the oil running out is gone with this over campo thats 3 attacks they just lost of the top of my head as along as we go on the attack and put billboards and posters up on what theyve done since the no vote to Scotland thats how we will win show them up for the liers they really are.

  12. STAGE LEFT says:

    Neo fascism for dummies – or the real thing? How the Tories are planning to attack the UK people, with a little help from ex-Trotskyists. And only Scottish indy can save us!

    Boris trots out a plan

  13. James Mills says:

    The ”extremist ” Greens have entered Government with the SNP and are enabling Independence legislation to go forward in the Scottish Parliament .

    Which ”extremist” party has severed links with the EU ?
    Which”extremist party has denied our young people the opportunity to freely travel among European allies ?
    Which ”extremist” party has created food shortages in our supermarkets ?
    Which ”extremist” party has cut International Aid to the poorest nations ?
    Which ”extremist” party has undermined Devolution Settlements at every turn ?
    Which ”extremist” party has syphoned off billions of Public money into the hands of party donors/friends/relations ?
    Which ”extremist” party has introduced legislation with the intention of reducing the number of voters in democratic elections ?
    Which ”extremist ” party is in the process of BREAKING their Manifesto promises from the last election ?
    Which ”extremist ” party is condemning the SNP for KEEPING their Manifesto promise from the last election ?

  14. Well done Paul,you have summed up the situation perfectly.How refreshing to have a discussion about the need for independence that does not distacr from the arguments that need to be made ,by attacking individuals who are on the same side.

  15. Pogmothon says:

    Here’s an odd fact:-

    the £36 billion proposed to be raised over the next three years (if there are no more hikes) by the increasing NI. To fix a problem in engerland that has been known of for the last decade.

    is the same as:-

    the amount of money lost / siphoned off / trouser-ed by the failed engerland track and trace.

    Here’s a couple of ideas,

    First option, Jail the thieves and claw back the track and trace money.
    No NI increase required.

    Second option, Compel the companies who sell here but register abroad. To pay tax
    at the point of sale, especially the electronic ones that inhabit cyberspace.
    (Other governments around the world can turn them off if they don’t conform
    to their local systems, why can’t we ??)

  16. deelsdugs says:

    Brilliant…😂 ‘Poor wee Douglas Ross was full of his entirely predictable manufactured outrage because independence was mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the twenty-seven page programme for government’.

  17. scottish skier says:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-58476636

    Wales’ MPs could be cut by eight as major changes published

    20% cut in Welsh MPs proposed by the English.

    Wales, if you stick around, you will end up just a tiny province of a greater England.

  18. Dr Jim says:

    When did Westminster introduce a separate accounting unit for *National insurance*? do folks not know it’s just a tax like the TV licence is just a tax, like the road fund licence is just a tax and it all goes into the one big tax box then the Westminster government removes what it wants for a railway it probably will never build in the country next door, or a mythical bridge to a part of another country over the Irish sea or some boats that don’t exist in any country whatsoever

    Or the Westminster government might decide to upgrade some American nuclear products based in a country that doesn’t want them, but of course they wouldn’t do any of those things with everybody’s money because they promised didn’t they

    The Boris Broadcasting Corporation is in full swing promoting all the money Scotland is going to get from the money the Westminster government is going to take from us that we already pay but this new money will go directly to pay for England only, so Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland will pay twice before we get our money back and as with most fiscal transfers Scotland won’t begin to get it back for around two years, so when Ian Blackford says it’s another Scotland Wales Northern Ireland poll tax he’s right

    England’s politicians borrowed a boatload of dosh spread it around themselves and their pals, made huge profits from Covid on the back of knowing that when the dust settled they’d hike some taxes and we the common five eighths would be the mugs they could land the bill on, now they’re pretending they’re our best buddies doing the right thing for us hard done by souls because it’s all for the poor wee nurses and why wouldn’t we want to do something good for them
    Well the Scottish government did do something good for the poor wee nurses almost immediately the Pandemic began to calm, they gave those nurses a 4% pay rise where the really very good and kind Westminster government only offered the poor wee nurses 1%

    The people of Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland have just got to stop believing the absolute SH*TE that spews forth from the mouths of Tories Labour and Liberal Democrats whose whole reason for existence is the preservation of England, and the worst of them are in our own countries infesting our parliaments like a disease, whatever our countries have that makes any money these people want to remove it to England to pay for votes in that country, they don’t care about Scotland’s piddling wee 59 MP votes or Wales 40 to be reduced to around 30, England has nearly 600 hundred so when it comes to importance they count and our lot don’t, in simple terms we just aren’t *allowed* to be representative enough and never will be because it’s their club not ours so they make the rules so that England wins, they have the ground the pitch the ref the goalposts the grass the supporters and they own the TV rights over it

    But they do promise to be kind to us, so that makes everything fine, do you feel relieved?

    When England was more posh about doing politics once upon a time the description used for Scotland and the Scots was that we were *disobedient*

  19. Capella says:

    How does our public service broadcaster website cover the Programme for Government – our equivalent of the Queens Speech ?
    It ignores it – almost completely.
    You have to scroll quite far down the page before seeing any mention at all of what was in Nicola Sturgeon”s speech. First the restart of the case for independence and second, in video, plans for Social Care.

    Top item is the £1.1 billion ringfenced for the Scottish NHS by the PM. How kind of him. Second and third items cover failures in the SNHS. Then football. Then the police being fined for not saving the couple who died in a car accident.

    Under the headline “Justice for Lamara” is buried the Scottish newspaper review. Most of them are rabid raging against Nicola Sturgeon and outrage at Police Scotland’s failure to save the coupe in the car accident.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/scotland

  20. Capella says:

  21. scottish skier says:

    One for Welsh_Sion so you dinnae feel left oot.

    https://skiersfirindy.blogspot.com/2021/09/welsh-independence-polling.html

    • Welsh_Sion says:

      Many thanks, Scottish skier – but you mustn’t think I’m left out – I’ve been active on this page for both nations for many a long year … 🙂

  22. Marybel Tracey says:

    Well said James Mills. There is power in your prose!

  23. Dr Jim says:

    So this vaccine passport thing that the Liberal Democrats absolutely hate in Scotland but now appear to love in England so will vote with the Tories to introduce, is it butter together, bolster together or busted together

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