Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Jim Sillars is now, to all intents and purposes, opposed to an independent Scotland

I think that's fair comment.  It's rather like Gordon Brown's famous "five economic tests" for joining the euro - they were intentionally designed never to be met, because for whatever reason Brown had decided in advance that Britain should retain the pound, but he knew he had to go through the motions of looking open-minded about it.  Jim Sillars is not a fool, and he knows that the threshold he has just suggested for holding a second independence referendum (a 60% Yes vote in the polls for a sustained period of six months) is not likely to be anywhere close to being met at any time in the next twenty years, let alone in the next five.  He also knows that independence is essentially impossible if a referendum is not held, so it's reasonable to conclude that kicking independence into the long grass is now his conscious objective.  It's significant that even Pete Wishart felt it necessary to distance himself from Sillars' impossible threshold.  (Although of course that does beg the question of what Wishart's own threshold would be.  Don't hold your breath for an answer.)

So why would Sillars of all people want Scotland to remain subject to London rule?  Quite simply he got a pleasant surprise when Britain voted to leave the European Union, and he's now emotionally tethered to the idea of Scotland leaving European institutions when the rest of Britain does.  What's about to happen is a dream come true for a Eurosceptic, and he can't bear the thought of independence getting in the way of it.  That has led him to take what is a perverse position for any Scottish nationalist by denying the legitimacy of Scotland's own democratic decision to remain in the European Union. Essentially he agrees with the grotesque Richard Leonard doctrine that by voting No in 2014, Scotland empowered a neighbouring country to take a decision on European membership on our behalf, and that we are now honour-bound to abide by the decision made for us even though we disagree with it.

For anyone who actually prioritises independence over Brexit, it would be an extremely good idea not to follow Sillars down this latest rabbit hole.

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As you know, I was extremely hurt the other day to discover that Pete Wishart had blocked me for refusing to agree with him that the hard-won mandate for an independence referendum should be allowed to expire.  I hadn't said anything that could be construed as abusive or insulting towards him, so it seemed clear enough that the blocking was simply because he couldn't tolerate any dissent.  However, I've now had an explanation of sorts for his decision, and it is nothing short of extraordinary.


What that means in plain language is that he blocked me because of just one tweet.  This is the one....


As you can see, there is no insult in that tweet.  I just accurately described what we can all see with our own eyes - that Scotland in Union had used him as a poster-boy.  If he's so thin-skinned that he can't bear someone to state a fact when it's a wee bit embarrassing for him, then I suppose I just have to say "fair enough" - it seems a bit bloody silly, but people can make decisions about who to banish from their own social media space for the silliest of reasons, and that's up to him.  The problem is, though, that the blocking wasn't the end of it - not even close.  You've probably seen the gleeful articles in unionist newspapers such as the Daily Record that pick up on his complaints about abusive comments from his own side (ie. the pro-independence side).  You've probably also noticed that one of the two main examples he offered of this "abuse" was the fact that he had been referred to as a unionist "poster boy".  Incredibly, then, it appears to be the case that my totally innocuous tweet above is being cited by him as an example of vile Cybernat abuse.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a stunt.  His pride has been hurt by the reaction to the poster, and he's getting revenge by deliberately conflating genuine abuse with a comment that he knows perfectly well is completely non-abusive.  This is the second cynical stunt I've been on the receiving end from him over the last week or so (ie. after his so-called "right of reply" to me that was not a reply at all, and that just used me as a pretext to essentially regurgitate his original "let the mandate expire" article and get a second round of free publicity for it).  As someone who has received a large amount of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic online abuse over the years, I find it an absolutely sick joke to see an innocent comment of mine being ridiculously cited as an example of the worst abuse.  It trivialises genuine bullying and intimidation.  I must say that once I wised up to the game Pete was playing, I stopped feeling hurt that he had blocked me, and realised that it would be entirely appropriate for me to block him.

I'd also just like to note in passing the slightly sinister 'thought-police' aspect of Pete's suggestion that it is somehow 'unacceptable' to retweet certain ideological undesirables or to state certain facts.  Thank heavens he wasn't a TV censor during the original run of Catchphrase.  Roy Walker's famous exhortation of "say what you see!" would have had to be replaced with "say what you see unless it's a poster featuring Pete Wishart, in which case give us a pretty lie instead".

One thing I do agree with Pete about is that we should be taking Scotland in Union on.  But what I don't understand is how voluntarily adopting huge swathes of their programme and rhetoric is supposed to help us do that.  Yes, they were being mischievous by using Pete's image on their poster, but there was a sort of inescapable logic to it as well.  For example I'm struggling to see a huge difference between Ruth Davidson's stated reasons for opposing a referendum, and Pete's own views about Scotland supposedly being "weary of big constitutional decisions".

63 comments:

  1. It hurts as much to read your post as I am sure it did you to write it. Sillars is a gift to the unionists just as he was with his pre the 2014 referendum vote comments .
    Pete Wishart's pouring cold water on the head of steam building up is much harder to understand. A misjudgement that we should not waste any more energy trying to rationalise . If the SNP do not use the mandate the consequences will be dire. I would rather try and fail than stand by and let Scotland be taken off the cliff edge.

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    1. Totally agree with your comments, Derek. I am constantly reminded of this famous quote when I read stuff like this from supposed Scottish Independence supporters.

      Better to die on your feet, than live your life on your knees.

      The time is coming, and in my opinion, we MUST hold the next referendum before the UK formally leaves the EU on 29th March 2019. After that, we may not even have a Parliament in Scotland, never mind anything else.

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    2. You must be a fanatic off sorts. Give up religion and get aff yer knees ya plonker. Scots are never on their knees to anyone. Cleary you are not Scottish.
      We are what made Britain great. Now go and prostrate yerself tae the EU.

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    3. "GWC2April 10, 2018 at 10:23 AM
      You must be a fanatic off sorts. Give up religion and get aff yer knees ya plonker. Scots are never on their knees to anyone. Cleary you are not Scottish."

      Sorry but if you don't mind, this sentiment has been outvoted and as we know, we will just ignore it.

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  2. "he's now emotionally tethered to the idea of Scotland leaving European institutions when the rest of Britain does"

    If this is his thinking, then it's an example of how EU membership would be a major obstacle anyway. Any future vote on independence has to separate the EU issue, possibly with a double question.

    We can't give away a big chunk of anti-EU votes right from the start. A path has to be given for YES/NO voters.

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  3. Wishart has gone native. He's the perfect poster child for why parliamentary terms should be limited to a maximum of three.

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  4. A particularly foolish thing to say. A three-term rule would’ve barred Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson for a start, or do you think that they ‘went native’ too?

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  5. At least for pro-Independence Scots they have the consolation that more powers will come closer to Scotland with Brexit (Scotland has more say in the UK (9%) than it does in the EU (1%)).

    So Scotland will get more independence by having 1 tier of super-national government rather than 2.

    Maybe that’s why Sillars is now contented with this prospect and it’s better to be in the UK and out of the EU than out of the UK but in the EU, as Scotland’s voice is bigger in the UK.

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    1. Can't tell if you're being serious or parody.

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    2. I’m pro-union (with constitutional reform) but I’m trying to work out Sillars’ way of thinking and why he’d abandon his long held position. Do you think that’s a possible explanation?

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    3. Indy Sco in EU would have equal say and right to veto any trade deal. Take the Belgium Region (a fully autonomous Parliament within Belgium) which vetoed TIPP trade deal with USA last year. In UK outwith the EU Scotland has no say whatsoever. England decides everything.

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    4. Fair point but England doesn’t decide everything - the Conservatives have a majority in England but not in the UK so in the UK Parliament 2 parties need to work together - GB & NI.

      I’m the UK Parliament it was the Scottish Labour MPs that were needed to vote with the English & Welsh labour MPs to impose tuition fees in England.

      Of course, there are increasingly more devolved matters now anyway.

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    5. Union 2.0 - rubbish. The Tories do have an absolute majority in the rUK. Scotland‘s participation in the Union has seldom decided a government‘s majority.

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    6. That’s just democracy though. London gets outvoted by the rest of the UK, as does Yorkshire.

      So do we need devolution to England and an English First Minister as well as a UK prime minister to stop the provocative notion that The UK = England. A Scot is just as important in UK elections as an English person.

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    7. So you're saying that you're ok with the Nation of Scotland having no more say in its future than the County of Yorkshire, or the City of London?

      And it seems you have missed that the UK is 9 wolves and a sheep voting on who's for dinner.

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    8. I’m just saying it’s democracy. Liberal Democrat Orkney & Shetland are outvoted in the Scottish Parliament. So is south Scotland which is conservative.

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    9. "...that more powers will come closer to Scotland with Brexit"

      "closer"? these powers, which are Scotland's right, will not come closer to Scotland unless we fight for them. Westminster is no friend of Scotland.

      "...it’s better to be in the UK and out of the EU than out of the UK but in the EU, as Scotland’s voice is bigger in the UK."

      Ha ha ha! At least you've brightened my dreich with that one.

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    10. Ahh, yes, the "it's democracy" argument, saying that it's only democratic that the 9 wolves eat the sheep.

      Never even considering what the sheep's reaction to that "democracy" should reasonably be.

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    11. Union2, do you really think Scotland as a nation has more powers and influence with devolution in the UK, compared to independence within the EU ?
      There are other arguments for the union, but this doesn't seem like a credible one at all.

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  6. Does Jim Sillars support independence? Based on his pronouncements I thought he had been against the idea for at least the last eight years.

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  7. The one guaranteed way to ensure we do not become independent is to not try. When people call for over-long delays they are calling for us to not try.

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  8. Best Wee Country in the WorldApril 10, 2018 at 10:34 AM

    Belfast Agreement 20 years on and NI is still bum boy free and soon to be EU free. That is what you call real freedom. And not a hint of a referendum.

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    1. Hello, Glynis. Not using the GWC2 name today? Sad face...

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    2. It thinks it's fooling us. Bless...

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  9. I fully concur with this piece, under the following nuance.

    The problem with the “grotesque Richard Leonard doctrine” is that it’s true. It aligns with the notorious high-level legal opinion that Scotland was extinguished by the union, which also happens to be true. These are unconscionable not because they’re false, but because they’re true. By insanely voting No in 2014, when independence was offered to us on a silver platter, we sanctioned that status quo, and by that very act demonstrated that we were not fit for independence. That is why the one and only escape from Scotland’s self-selected oblivion, and the one and only sign of our fitness for such liberation, is to choose independence.

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    1. But is this actually true? And even if it is, don't the Acts of Union contain terms and conditions?

      For example, we're often told that the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty doesn't apply in Scotland.

      From Wikipedia: It's "suggested that the Acts of Union 1707 place limits on Parliamentary Sovereignty and its application to Scotland" and "in MacCormick v. Lord Advocate, Lord Cooper stated that 'the principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish Constitutional Law', and that legislation contrary to the Act of Union would not necessarily be regarded as constitutionally valid".

      And here's Grouse Beater from 31 March: "Article 3 of the Treaty of Union is a clause that can be altered at any time. What Article 3 did was to establish a completely new legislature, one that allowed continuation of the English parliament and the Scottish parliament. England didn’t bother because it had the winning hand, an agreement in which Scottish MPs cannot attain power over England.
      Scottish MPs did continue with our parliament, as Turner’s unfinished study – see above– shows. In time, Scots grew weary of duplicating debates and discussions held at Westminster. We voluntarily decided to send our MPs to London. The myth of a single parliament issues from 300 years of subservience to a fictitious ‘final’ authority."

      Are these points correct? Could we use it to our advantage? I don't know, but I feel that somebody at the top of the Scottish government should have begun to look into this some time ago.

      I'm not a lawyer but, as a former tax inspector and now tax adviser, I've spent my professional life dealing with tax law and lawyers and it's taught me two things. One is that, no matter how cut and dried you think something is, another lawyer will be able to make a convincing case otherwise. The other is that a lot of law comes from court cases where the judges are making it up as they go along. (If you're ever unable to get to sleep, read some Appeal Court or House of Lords/Supreme Court decisions on tax cases - you often get the feeling that the judges have already decided on their verdict and are then trying to bend the law into shape to support it).

      So, given all this, I've never understood - although I suppose cost may come into it - why we (the SNP government) haven't been more challenging on the Constitution and the differences between Scottish and English law when dealing with things like Brexit, Austerity and Westminster diktat.

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    2. The truth is is we would not be independent if we had voted yes. We would have 6 MEPs in an EU Parliament which has 751 MEPs. We would not control our own border and immigration. Our agriculture and fisheries would be in the hands of the EU Commission. We would be forced into the euro. We could potentially lose our largest trading partner, England. Could we really afford to pay NATO 2% of our GDP. Real independence means leaving both Unions

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    3. State of this.

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    4. "By insanely voting No in 2014, when independence was offered to us on a silver platter, we sanctioned that status quo, and by that very act demonstrated that we were not fit for independence."

      I would argue that the No vote in 2014 proved that the only people who could keep Scotland in the UK are the people of Scotland themselves. The fact that the UK bent over backwards talking about The Sovereign Will of the Scottish People means that, following a Yes vote in a future referendum, they simply cannot go back on their word without looking like petty, opportunistic hypocrites.

      This is why all the blocking of indyref2 is inherently undemocratic. The SNP have a stronger mandate for indyref2 in the Scottish Parliament than they did for indyref1: they have more MPs and a far greater proportion of the vote in the UK Parliament than they did for indyref1; they have more councillors & a greater proportion of the vote in the local elections than for indyref1. In every possible respect except overall majority in the Scottish Parliament (a result of the d'Hondt method which manifested *despite* a singularly superior performance in the constituency votes), the SNP have a greater mandate for indyref2.

      The only reason I can see the UK Government treating this mandate so differently from the last one is sheer terror that they might lose, as they so nearly did the last time.

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    5. without looking like petty, opportunistic hypocrites

      Is it possible they may be willing to pay that price?

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    6. They already have.

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    7. "We would have 6 MEPs in an EU Parliament which has 751 MEPs."

      6 MEPs with the power of veto is better than 100 MPs in a parliament of 1,000 where the majority rules.

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    8. Taranaich, having another referendum too soon after 2014 is an insult to the integrity of the Scottish people. We are not Ireland where the government and EU frightened the Irish people into having a second referendum over the Lisbon Treaty. Accept the 2014 referendum and give it 12 years until those born on 2014 are 16 years of age.

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    9. State of this.

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    10. Maggie Thatcher said that the only mandate needed for Scotland to go independent would be if a majority of Scottish Commons seats were held by the SNP.

      It's a disgrace to her memory that Scotland wasn't granted her independence when that happened!

      Why are we talking about referendums, when the arch-witch herself's words proclaim us independent?

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    11. 6 MEPs with the power of veto is better than 100 MPs in a parliament of 1,000 where the majority rules.

      In fact, we'd likely have twice as many MEPs. Under the UK, Scotland is under-represented in the European Parliament. Ireland is smaller than Scotland and has 11 MEPs. Denmark is slightly bigger and has 13.

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  10. Pete is either one of two things. He is either out entirely for himself and this was a play to the soft Tory voters of Perth and Kinross. Or he is a guy who has a fairly high opinion of himself and his media darlingism and misjudged the reality of opinion of the movement, his importance within it and and farted out some pompous pish.

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  11. Tom Gordon has a piece in the Herald obliquely referencing this stoshie. He has Sillars "admitting" Yes supporters are turning on themselves- unfortunately someone btl commented Sillars "opined".

    Whilst my view is closest to James' I did fear this would be turned into a stick to beat the independence movement and lo and behold Gordon obliged.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/16148662.Yes_supporters__turning_in_on_themselves___Sillars_admits/

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  12. Agree with you, James. Your original tweet was reasoned. Likewise your article today

    Poor old Jim Sillars. Desperate to say anything to get in the papers and on Britnat media. The Britnat media will love him for it.

    Disappointed to see The National giving him encouragement. Best to treat Jim as a sad joke. And The National?

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  13. Sillars hasn't been a nationalist for many years now. He's unionist through and through.

    As for Wishart, he's entitled to his opinion but he's wrong. Very wrong.

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  14. I post as Hen Broon on Twitter and told Wishart that in my opinion he and the SNP Westminster battalion have gone native, they have settled in not settled up, they are becoming fat and soft gorging on our taxes, they don't want independence because the amount of cash flowing in to their bank accounts each month could never be replicated in Scotland. Wishart became very threatening and blocked me.

    I couldn't give a toss about being blocked. But his blethering is doing more to damage the independence movement than anything. He should strap the guitar back on and forget politics as he will be out on his ear soon. Sillars and Wishart are a negative force in Scottish politics. The BBC will love them now. Maybe that was the reason for their bleating.

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    1. I think he was on keyboards, Not guitar actually...

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  15. Fail to hold a referendum and the movement collapses. Hold the referendum and lose it - same result.

    That puts the chances of the indy movement fragmenting at some point in the next 3 years at about 80-90%.

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    1. The statistician is here to hit us with some science

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    2. The SNP has won it's current position on the fact that it has actually followed through on its campaign promises.

      If it doesn't hold the referendum, it will lose that trust.

      Plain and simple.

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    3. Also, I'm curious who your prophet is, describing the future with such certainty like that.

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    4. I think this analysis is correct, although of course the % given could be quibbled. Brexit is a "change of circumstances", which makes the pro-independence core think that there must be a referendum in this Holyrood term. Yet the politics of Brexit are a complicating factor, and you are forcing people to reconsider basically the same question twice in quick succession - Yes would clearly start any referendum as the underdog.

      I think James is under-estimating the cost of holding and losing a second referendum. I don't think you could credibly have a third go anytime soon.

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    5. Whereas you are underestimating the cost of not holding a second referendum while we actually have a mandate to do so. We won't be having a second go at all once we no longer have a pro-referendum majority at Holyrood. It always bemuses me that people "warn" that a second defeat would take a referendum off the table for a generation, when taking a referendum off the table for a generation is what they are actively embracing anyway. If you're comfortable with Scotland remaining part of the UK for the next twenty years, why are you so scared of defeat in an early referendum? How would we be any worse off? It makes no sense.

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    6. Actually, it's quite simple:

      The SNP's USP, in a lot of people's eyes, is that they stick to their word. When they say something, then they actually do it.

      They said they'd hold another referendum on Scottish Independence if Brexit went through, so either they do so, or they never get elected again.

      Why this is under debate baffles me. For the SNP to survive as a political party, they simply have no choice about holding this referendum. Anyone who wants them to go back on their word wants them dead, plain and simple.

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  16. Pate Wishart is entitled to his view on a referendum but then so are the rest of us. I think we need to be careful that the two different approaches (now! and later!) to our drive for another referendum should not end up dividing us in the long term. Perhaps the real problem is that we are still discussing things amongst ourselves rather than putting together the case for an independent Scotland that will convince the No voter of the advantages of moving to our side. In a sense we discuss tactics (now! or later!) rather than dealing with the issues. We need a bit more leadership to conduct our voices into harmony.

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    1. I concur. We spend far too much effort debating tactics/strategy, and bugger all time trying to target floating voters (of whom there are hundreds of thousands). Fortunately for us, the Unionists are also ignoring the huge group of unconvinced voters and are content to preach to folk already firmly in the John Bull camp. That may not last.

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    2. Think there is plenty of that kind of debate and thought going on within the yes movement, its just that those 'floating' Nos are by their very nature not very likely to engage in the subject deeply enough at the moment to change their minds. This will not happen until they really are faced with the need for a decision. This kind of inertia only ever really gets overcome thru a fully fledged campaign. It needs a universally accepted 'all important' decision date looming on their horizon, then effective arguments work because they are actively looking for them.

      In my experience during 2014, many converts from 'floating No' to Yes happened over the last few days, never mind weeks. This is the power of a real campaign, for a real decision! It's this reality that brings in the 'normal' folk that don't normally follow in detail because they correctly understand that all the talk and arguments are a waste of their time as it just talk and leads to nothing. Not in a Referendum campaign it doesn't!

      We NEED a Campaign! simple. :)

      braco

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  17. Sillars is probably more interested in the welfare and economic prosperity of the Scottish people than a bunch of English hating nat sis resident in Scotland and beyond.
    His anti EU stance is credible as the Scottish nat si slivering snakes would sell out Scotland to the EU.

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    1. State of this.

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    2. 1 MEP with the power of veto holds more power than 10% of the MPs in Westminster.

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    3. Aye well there will be no British MEPs raking in the dosh pretty soon. They will no doubt be competing for a skive in their respective parties.
      You have lost Nat sis.

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    4. State of this and its impotent rage.

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  18. Jim Sillars wants a Socialist gvt.Margo was the driving force for Independence,not Jim.If a Socialist gvt. was in WM, Jim would throw any idea of Independence under a bus,and Scotland along with it.

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  19. Ha Ha poster boy blocked me too.

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  20. the article seems to be under the illusion that 60% is impossible.

    the union had 60% and more polling support. gay marriage polling 60%, brexit vote over 60%.

    it's not impossible if it's what the people want.

    Clearly what the point is, is that only hold the vote when the people want it. It's not rocket science.

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  21. we got a shot at it in 2014 and failed. The people wanted to have their say overwhelmingly.

    The same can't be said this time.

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