Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it

Headless chickens, also know as Tory and Labour MPs at Westminster after the Brexit vote of 2016
It looks quite likely that Scotland will get a second chance at voting on the matter of independence from the UK and become a real country just like all the others in the world. This is because of the recent vote across the UK which decided it wants to leave the EU, and Scotland deciding to remain part of the EU, followed very quickly by the realisation amongst the UK public that the UK political establishment in London don't have a clue what a leave vote actually means. 

Better Together claim leaving the UK puts Scotland's EU membership in doubt. How is that working out?
Complicating this further for the UK as a whole, is the clear vote in favour of remaining in the EU shown in Scotland. Scotland is a constituent nation of the UK that voted 55% to 45% less than 2 years ago to remain a part of the UK with many Scottish voters believing the Better Together claim that the only way to keep Scotland in the EU was to vote NO. Contrary to the confusion and power vacuum at Westminster Nicola Sturgeon current SNP First Minister of Scotland and leader of the devolved Scottish Government in Edinburgh has shown clear leadership in her desire to allow Scotland to remain a member of the EU

We have to shape our own future or it shall be shaped for us

Read and commit the following to memory as a cautionary tale before voting to stay within the UK.

In 1979 the people of Scotland were given a chance to decide their future. But was this one of the cynical episodes of recent times? In my opinion it most definitely was. And the sad thing is it appears to be part of a pattern. 

This is tale of UK Government intrigue and double dealing and how the fallout changed the course of history. 

‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it’. A quote by George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain  26 September 1952 in Rome, Italy) was a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist. 

The Scottish Covenant and the Stone of Destiny

The Scottish Covenant was a petition to the United Kingdom government to create a home rule Scottish parliament. First proposed in 1930, and promoted by the Scots Independent in 1939, the National Covenant movement reached its peak during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Initiated by John MacCormick, the Covenant was written in October 1949 at the Church of Scotland Assembly Halls in Edinburgh, during the Third National Assembly of the Scottish Convention, by a pressure group which evolved into the Scottish Covenant Association. The petition was "eventually signed by two million people".In the census of 1951, the population of Scotland was 5.1 million meaning the UK Government just ignored the choice of a very significant proportion of the Scottish population. 
The Stone of Destiny, the replica at Scone Palace. The original is held at Edinburgh Castle on loan from England even though it was stolen from Scotland centuries ago by the English King.

In 1950 Ian Hamilton, an ardent member of the Scottish nationalist organisation, the Scottish Covenant Association, hopes to end what he sees as the political and economic subjugation of Scotland by England. Frustrated and saddened by the complacency of his fellow Scots who seem to accept the status quo, he looks forward to a time when Scotland is no longer merely referred to as "North Britain". After a petition to the British Parliament for the establishment of Scottish home rule is rejected, Hamilton decides to perform a symbolic act to put heart into the movement.This is the returning of the Stone of Destiny to Scotland. This has been made into a film which I would strongly recommend watching.

The world in the 1960s and 1970s

In 1969 Colonel Gaddafi had seized power in Libya in a military coup. He now controlled a substantial part of the world’s oil supply.

In 1973 the Yom Kippur war between Israel, Egypt and Syria erupted. The Americans supplied the Israelis with arms. OPEC responded by raising the price of oil. 

OPEC is the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and intergovernmental organisation made up of representatives from 14 nations formed in 1960 to maximise the power of these countries on the world stage. As of July 2016, OPEC's members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait,Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader), United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Two-thirds of OPEC's oil production and reserves are in its six Middle Eastern countries that surround the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

James Callaghan's famous quote that he didn't actually say 'Crisis. What crisis?'
In the 1970s the UK was in serious economic trouble. It had widespread labour relations problems, workplace strikes, bad management of industry, and inflation or stagflation as the economy was flat-lining. On top of that it had  the crippling OPEC and oil supply crisis. The UK was so broke that it had to go to the world’s banker the IMF for a loan. The IMF loan had its price, spending cuts, and the impact of those cuts sent shock waves through Britain.

A ray of hope for the UK and for Scotland

With the discovery of oil in the North Sea in the late 1960s those people who believed Scotland should be a self governing nation received an unexpected boost. 

The black gold that has poured out of the North Sea has pumped billions into the UK Treasury’s coffers. In 2005 the amount of money totalled about 230 Billion pounds sterling in taxes from the oil companies on the oil they have extracted.

Why Westminster has said for years Scotland is Better Together in the UK
Why was the evidence suggesting that an independent Scotland could be amongst the richest countries in Europe and stamped SECRET and buried in the UK’s archives for 30 years? The ‘McCrone’ Report, as it has since been named, was only released under the Freedom of Information Act 2005. 

Please see this site for full details regarding this important document…

An extract from the McCrone Report

Large revenues and balance of payments gains would indeed accrue to a Scottish Government in the event of independence. The country would tend to be in chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree and its currency would become the hardest in Europe. The Scottish Pound would be seen as a good hedge against inflation and devaluation, and the Scottish banks would expect to see themselves inundated with a speculative inflow of foreign funds.

SNP Confidence surges on the back of North Sea Oil

In March 1973 the SNP felt confident enough to take on the UK Labour Party in their safe Westminster Parliamentary seat of Dundee East. The by election was caused by the sitting UK Labour member George Thomson being  appointed a European Commissioner. Dundee Harbour had become a base for oil rig supply ships. The SNP candidate Gordon Wilson believed that Scotland should get a share of the profits from the oil. Although the SNP didn’t win the seat on that occasion they came a close second to Labour much to the surprise of the UK Labour Party. Details found here.

Labour, George Machin 14411 votes or 32.74%

SNP, Gordon Wilson 13270 votes or 30.15%

Conservative, William Fitzgerald 11089 votes or 25.19%

Liberal, Nathaniel Gordon 3653 votes or 8.3%

Labour Party of Scotland, George MacLean 1409 votes or 3.2%

Independent, John S Thomson 182 votes or 0.41%

Majority 1141 votes or 2.59%

Turnout 44014

Scotland elects 59 UK MPs, England elects 533. A fair and equitable union for whom?
The SNP’s growing profile raised the prospect that Scotland may one day achieve independence and rest control of the oil from London and the Westminster Parliament.

It was a future scenario that attracted the interest of some powerful vested interests. 

In 1974 the USA State Department appointed one of its most distinguished diplomats to Edinburgh as Consul, Richard Funkhouser, who was also an oil industry professional. But the arrival of the senior diplomat and what he was there for caused some confusion.

'The American Consul General was negotiating in some way; I never knew the detail of it; with the SNP', according to Tony Benn, UK Secretary of State for Energy June 1974 to May 1979 and Secretary of State for Industry March 1974 to June 1975.

According to Gordon Wilson who became leader of the SNP in September 1979 and held the post until September 1990 ‘There were rumours that he might have been with the CIA which of course is the natural view of people in those days when Governments were being brought down by that organisation throughout the world’.

Whatever Funkhouser’s brief he listened to all sides. During an earlier visit to Whitehall in 1973 he had a meeting with a high ranking Foreign Office official who warned him that the Scottish Nationalists were a very serious threat. But the man from Washington DC was not swayed by Whitehall’s hard line. He adopted the pragmatic approach that the Nationalists may well some day be in control of the oil. 

Did Edinburgh Police deliberately encourage young Nationalists to commit bomb outrages and supply them with dummy explosives? 

Labour party anti independence poster 2014
In the past civil servants, MI5 and Special Branch were used by Westminster to obstruct and even sabotage the Scottish Nationalist movement. 

It seems likely the police force in Edinburgh and everywhere else in Scotland were given orders from the UK Government to take anything they saw regarding nationalism or devolution seriously.  It was their opinion that a close eye should be kept on everyone involved as much as possible.

They would encourage the weakest or most wayward of them to cause trouble. The operative would then inform the police where they could be found. This would result in the perpetrator being charged and bringing disrepute to their community or group.

Gavin McCrone states ‘There were those in the civil service who took a rather different view of this than they would normally do of political issues because they felt that they had to work for the integrity of the United Kingdom.’

The division line between Scottish and English waters in the North Sea

The revised sea boundaries in the North Sea between Scotland and England after devolution in 1999 as agreed Donald Dewar
In 1977 Berwick upon Tweed became central to a new campaign by the civil servants of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They wanted to redraw the offshore border between Scotland and England (subsequently done whendevolution was finally granted in 1999) so that it ran North East, not due east from Berwick upon Tweed. 

Writing to Prime Minister James Callaghan’s Foreign Secretary Anthony Crossland claimed that the recognised border due east of Berwick uponTweed would never stand international scrutiny and goes on to suggest ‘seeking to inspire articles’ with selected public opinion formers’ and briefing back bench MPs. 

Crosland’s civil servants advised the Prime Minister: ‘However the dividing line was drawn it would give England a considerable area of what are now Scottish waters. It might also have the effect of putting into English waters a certain amount, and possibly even a great deal of oil’. ‘Information Division has sought for a long time in briefing to undermine SNP claims to North Sea Oil. In the process it has played on the Shetland Orkney uncertainty, as well as the angle of any dividing line between England and a hypothetically independent Scotland’.The line ’Indeed it is part of my ‘standard sales patter’’ appeared in the same document.
Extract from the McCrone Report
It is hard to see any conclusion other than to allow Scotland to have that part of the continental shelf which would have been hers if she had been independent all along. 

March 1st 1979 Scottish Devolution Referendum Day.

Polling day opened. Both UK Labour and the Scottish Nationalists were supposed to be campaigning for the same goal i.e. a Scottish Assembly to be based in the Royal High School building in Edinburgh to deal with Scottish internal affairs.

According to Gordon Wilson, future SNP leader ‘The Labour Party in Dundee made no attempt to get out their vote and the same was true of many other parts of the country. They didn’t fight for it. They didn’t believe in it. They didn’t want it.’

There was also still the issue of the George Cunningham amendment to the Scotland Act 1978. He was a UK Labour politician from Scotland representing an English seat at the time. His amendment meant that 40% of the registered electorate had to vote in favour of a Scottish Assembly.

This important referendum was conducted on an electoral role that was substantially out of date. 

According to Jim Sillars ‘When you actually looked at that in detail the dead voted NO, because every electoral register dies about 1% a month. So the dead counted NO; anyone who had been placed on the electoral register like some of the American students in Edinburgh for example in the halls of residence; they counted NO’. 

James or Jim Sillars (born 4 October 1937) is a Scottish politician. He was married to Margo MacDonald until her death in 2014 who was another very famous Scottish Nationalist politician. He is a leading figure in the campaign for Scottish independence and generally regarded as among the best orators in politics. He founded and led the Scottish Labour Party in the 1970s, and was Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party.

The actual results of this referendum were as follows…
1979 Scottish Assembly Referendum result - Note majority for an assembly

Western Isles 6218 Yes, 4933 No

Dumfries and Galloway 27162 Yes, 40239 No

Shetland Islands 2020 Yes, 5466 No

Central 71296 Yes, 59105 No

Fife 86252 Yes, 74436 No

Orkney Islands 2104 Yes, 5439 No

Border 20746 Yes, 30780 No

Tayside 91482 Yes, 93325 No

Grampian 94944 Yes, 101485 No

Lothian 187221 Yes 186421 No

Strathclyde 596519 Yes 508599 No

Highland 44973 Yes 73274 No

TOTALS 1230937 Yes 1153502

Therefore in spite of the majority in favour of a Scottish Assembly the terms of George Cunningham’s 40% amendment meant not enough had voted in favour. 

It was therefore fundamentally undemocratic. Why the people asked at the time is First Past the Post good enough for Westminster elections? Why was a good enough for the referendum on the EEC? Why was it good enough for those measures but not good enough for Scotland?’

Why was the evidence suggesting Scotland could be amongst the richest countries in Europe stamped SECRET and buried in the UK archives for 30 years?

Margaret Thatcher swept to power in the UK General Election of May 1979. For the next 11 years a committed unionist Prime Minister would be in power. There was no longer any doubt as to who had control of the oil revenues from the Scottish North Sea. She was. 

Labour voters who voted Tory this time have very short memories: Ravenscraig
The money from the oil off Scotland’s coast bank rolled Thatcherism. The revenue from the North Sea allowed Margaret Thatcher to reverse the policies of the 1970s. She believed in the free market or ‘laissez faire’ economics. She even sold off Britain’s national oil company.

North Sea Oil increased the value of the pound and increased the exchange rate. The City rejoiced as foreign capital flooded in and boosted the financial services sector.

But there was a down side. Margaret Thatcher used that money to restructure the economy of the UK as a whole. But in Scotland few agreed with how she spent the North Sea Oil revenues. 

Throughout the 1980s there was escalating industrial unrest in Scotland as unions fought to keep jobs. Massive unemployment followed. Money that was at one time earmarked to boost industry was used to deal with the consequences of its disappearance. 

Gavin McCrone states ‘Looking back on it now you can say that a large part of the oil revenues were used to pay for the unemployment that was created in the early 1980s. That is not really what one would have liked to see if you look at it objectively. If there had been a special fund for North Sea Oil it could have financed all sorts of important things in Britain’s infrastructuren which could have been important for economic develiopment’.
Gordon Wilson says ‘Not only did we have an unsympathetic Prime Minister who was wiping out our industry but she was using money from Scotland’s oil’.
Extract from the UK Government documents…North Sea Oil revenues could be used for the improvement of the North and South circular roads to motorway standards and to build an outer ring road. Building of the proposed Channel tunnel might be reconsidered.
Further extract from UK Government documents…The notion that North Sea Oil revenues could used for the improvement of the north and south circular roads may very well appeal to the commuting civil servant, but it is impossible to present it as a measure to strengthen the UK economy as a whole and it would therefore be political suicide for any Government that was anxious to retain seats in Scotland.
Jim Sillars states that ‘What it brought home to us was that no matter what political decision was taken north of the border it didn’t matter unless it coincided with the decision taken south of the border. ‘

In this article I have sought to reveal how successive UK Governents have used, and at time abused their power to keep Scotland in the Union and sabotage the causes of devolution and independence. I have also looked at UK Government files that show…
  1. How the Police were diverted from catching criminals to spy on legal and peaceful SNP demonstrations. 
  2. How the will of 2 million Scots was defied by simply ignoring their demand for devolution.  
  3. How the Edinburgh Police encouraged young nationalists to commit bomb outrages and supplied them with dummy explosives.  
  4. And how evidence that an independent Scotland could be among the richest countries in Europe was stamped SECRET and buried in the archives.
For anyone that cares about democracy such behind the scenes attempts to undermine legitimate political movements are a cause for concern at the very least. At least we are now able to access these confidential files and documents that some politicians might have preferred to remain secret forever, so Scotland does never make the same mistake again.

The Buckley Paper

Extract from the McCrone Report

North Sea Oil could have far reaching consequences for Scottish membership of the EEC because of the tremendously increased political power it would confer. As the major producer of oil in Western Europe Scotland would be in a key position, and other countries would be extremely foolish if they did not seek to do all they could to accommodate Scottish interests. This paper has shown that the advent of North Sea oil has completely overturned the traditional economic arguments against Scottish nationalism. For the first time since the Act of Union was passed it can now be credibly argued that Scotland’s economic advantage lies in its repeal. 

The McCrone Report

Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor and ex member of the Conservative Party in England states ‘North Sea Oil runs out very slowly whereas the flow of cash from the City can run out just like that’.

The SNP and subsequently the Scottish Government now that the SNP is in power in the devolved Scottish Parliament, would very much like to have control over the oil revenues  and has as a party consistently argued that there should be an oil fund.

Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, FBA (born February 9, 1943), is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a former member and chairman of the (US president's) Council of Economic Advisers. He is known for his critical view of the management of globalization, laissez-faire economists (whom he calls "free market fundamentalists"), and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and theWorld Bank.

He argues that the Scottish Government are absolutely right on the matter of an oil fund. To him it is so upsetting and striking, and it must be particularly for the citizens of the UK, that in a sense the UK squandered that wealth and you mistook the success of the Thatcher era as a success based on good economic policy when it was really a success based on living off of your wealth and leaving future generations impoverished. 

The economic management of Scotlands resources by London has been awful, surely we wouldn't do it worse ourselves? Margo MacDonaldThis article explains exactly why I became a believer in Scottish self determination i.e. the incompetence of UK Governments to manage Scottish resources, and their ability to lie and cheat and use underhand methods to maintain the integrity of the UK at all costs no matter what the cost to the inhabitants of the whole of the UK or indeed in this case one part of it i.e. Scotland. 

I was a child in 1979 and could not understand why nothing was going to happen about a Scottish Assembly when a majority of people in Scotland voted for it. I was also aware in the 1970s that the UK was in deep trouble as we used to get power cuts. In the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was in power I could never work out why the UK Government was reducing public spending when I thought they must be awash with money, with the oil money but also from all the public assets they were selling off, whilst industry was being wiped off the map. The other things I have found out subsequently.
Is Scotland a country?
Scotland is a nation subsumed within the UK nation state. I am yet to hear a reason why it cannot be a valuable but equal player in the modern world in its own right. Why anyone would want to maintain the UK after the above, no matter what the starting conditions for an independent Scotland is beyond me. I cannot comprehend it.

And that is before we start to create a different Scotland once Scotland's future is in Scotland's hands.

Let's go back to being governed by out larger neighbour, said no independent nation ever.

Much of this text is taken from the following video It is so good I wish I had created it.

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