From the Telegraph -
"The Daily Telegraph has learned that the permanent secretaries from all the Whitehall departments no longer discuss Scotland if Sir Peter Housden, the Scottish Executive’s permanent secretary, is present.
Their strategy for the forthcoming independence referendum would usually be discussed by all the permanent secretaries at their weekly meeting on Wednesday morning in Whitehall...
“Concerns have been expressed at the highest level about this individual. People cannot serve two masters ultimately and he has been put in a very difficult position by Salmond,” said one senior Whitehall source.""
All of which begs a series of questions. Precisely what "strategy" would it be legitimate for the UK civil service to have in relation to the independence referendum? Unless that strategy is inappropriately partisan in nature, it's hard to see what possible harm there could be in Sir Peter Housden overhearing it, regardless of whether the paranoia about him "going native" has any truth to it. Secondly, isn't Alex Salmond supposed to be Sir Peter's "master", in the sense that he sets the policy direction that his permanent secretary is obliged to follow? And last but not least, if Salmond is merely one of Sir Peter's "two" masters at present, who in heaven's name is meant to be the other one? David Cameron?
The irony is that unionists actually have a rare opportunity here to point out that the British state is working the way it should be working under devolution - that technically being a member of the UK civil service, and indeed originating from another part of the UK, hasn't stopped Sir Peter scrupulously and conscientiously helping the elected government he works for to pursue its policy agenda. But, no, the likes of the Telegraph would much rather encourage an absurd situation whereby civil servants working for Alex Salmond operate as a kind of institutionalised "enemy within", and thus make the case for a separate Scottish civil service utterly irresistible.
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At the risk of incurring the wrath of Craig Gallagher, there are some gems from Political Betting that just cry out to be reposted, again and again. Exhibit W : these two irate reactions from 'Hooks Law' when I simply point out to him the irrefutable fact that the Single Transferable Vote system is a form of proportional representation -
"Don't be daft - PR, as in directly proportional number of seats to votes, is not STV which is what was in the LD manifesto. This fact undermines tim's argument.
With STV the LDs said they would reduce the number of seats by 150. Its going to be only 50 but with FPTP.
I don't think there is a massive difference there."
"'proportional system' = PS
PR = 'proportional representation' is a PS
STV and AV = preferential voting
Tim suggested the LDs wanted proportional representation, ie 20% of vote =20% of seats. Their manifesto says different and the difference between their pledge of STV and 150 less seats is not much different to FPTP and 50 less seats.
AND on top of that they got their referendum on AV.
So yet another tim smear holds no water.
I was clear enough in the last post and am clear enough in this one. Grow up."
Crikey. I'll have to brace myself before breaking the news to him that the Earth isn't flat.