Friday, January 23, 2015

Devo Watershipped Down

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article at the International Business Times about the epic inadequacy of yesterday's devolution command paper.  And you might possibly find the odd reference to the Kirkcaldy East by-election, and a certain Ipsos-Mori opinion poll, thrown in for good measure.  You can read it HERE.

42 comments:

  1. James, your article is somewhat lacking in balance. The Sewel convention was proposed by the then Government during the introduction of the Scotland Bill 1998 in the following terms: "we would expect a convention to be established that Westminster would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament". The word "normally" appeared not only in that introduction, but in the memorandum of understanding, DGN10 and on the Scottish government's own website's discussion of the convention. You imply that Westminster mandarins are helping their masters renege on the vow, when in fact they have done precisely what the Smith report recommended, and proposed placing the convention, word for word, on a statutory footing.

    You might have a case if you argued that the convention itself is too broadly drafted and should be made more specific; and I am sure if the SNP wanted greater clarity as to the circumstances in which the Westminster parliament could legislate on devolved matters without the Scottish parliament's consent, or even to argue for the convention to be modified to expressly disallow the same, that is something that could be discussed. But you're just misleading your readers, inadvertently I hope, by implying that Westminster has pulled a fast one.

    Your complaint about the words "It is recognised" is similarly weak. The answer to your question "by whom?" is obvious. Once the Act is passed, it will be recogised by law. Again, the drafting could no doubt be improved; the words "it is recognised" are redundant, as far as I can see. But again there's no deceit.

    You have more legitimate grounds for complaint about the wording relating to the SoS's involvement in decisions on certain tax matters. The drafting is poor, and open to interpretation. It reads to me to be an attempt to ensure that the timing of any proposed changes is agreed between Westminster and Edinburgh to mitigate any adverse impact on people in one country or another; not a veto per se, but compelling constructive engagement between the nations. I suspect in practice it would work fine and be to the countries' mutual benefit, but it is clumsily expressed and could be improved. Again, and particularly in the context of the Westminster parliaments delivering what they promised they would, on the timetable they said they would, it is mean spirited and quite wrong to leap to the conclusion, still less to seek to persuade others, that Westminster is behaving nefariously.

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    1. "when in fact they have done precisely what the Smith report recommended, and proposed placing the convention, word for word, on a statutory footing"

      I'm sorry, but that's complete rubbish, and somewhere deep down you must know that. Even if you assume the "normally" get out clause simply has to be there (why?), it's clear that the "it is recognised" phrase is there to render the whole thing meaningless. Your suggestion that it's just 'poor drafting' is risible - they know exactly what they're doing.

      But I do hope you're only pretending to be obtuse inadvertently, Flockers.

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    2. Just to add, Flockers - I really wonder sometimes what planet you live on. How much more evidence do you need of the betrayal of The Vow before you drop this pretence that Westminster are being ultra-reasonable and consensual (always ready to listen - such splendid chaps!), and that those of us who dare to question that ludicrous notion are "mean-spirited"?

      You're making yourself look more and more absurd by the day. It isn't September 19th anymore, you know.

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  2. "It is mean spirited and quite wrong to leap to the conclusion, still less to seek to persuade others, that Westminster is behaving nefariously" Wow - so they are not.
    Maybe I've missed so much of the hinterland to the Smith proposals and the subsequent "watering-down". Oh! and by the way I am persuaded by what I find out not by what others say - that is why I will ignore the balderdash you have written. Sorry! I hate to be rude

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  3. The objection to the word "normally" is perfectly sound. Legally it gives Westminster the right to overrule the Scottish parliament at any time. The fact that British nationalist politicians adopted the same approach in 1998 merely reinforces that they always assert that English parliamentary sovereignty trumps the will of the Scottish people.

    The "not to be unreasonably withheld" clause gives control to the consenter. There is no legal obligation on the Westminster parliament to prove that it is being reasonable. The onus would be on the Scottish government to prove unreasonableness - which in the absence of any precedents would be difficult. Presumably they would also have to make their case in the Supreme Court, which essentially being an English court, could reasonably be expected to support the peculiarly English doctrine of parliamentary absolutism.

    The Smith commission proposals were designed to give the illusion that power was being transferred to Scotland while retaining power at Westminster. Power devolved is power retained. It is deceit. It is just transparent and ineffective deceit.

    Flockers is "quite wrong". But the comment is a great example of portentous sophistry.

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  4. Anonymous, as I noted, it is reasonable to want "normally" to be better defined. But the fact remains it has always been the case that "normally" was part of the convention and is accepted by the Scottish government, and the Smith report said the convention - not some new improved version of it - should be put on a statutory basis. I would be delighted for "normally" to be more clearly defined, but no-one is being cheated here.

    It would not, as you claim, be difficult for the Scottish government to prove unreasonablness for lack of precedent. There is a considerable body of precedent in judicial review cases as to the meaning of "unreasonableness".

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    1. Reasonable and Westminster does not compute.

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  5. It appears that Flockers et al argument is that as the 1998 documents contained similar language, it is okay to include this in the new command paper. It has been a long time since I heard such a pathetic and self-serving attempt to justify a clear breach of an agreement. The SNP has been vilified by some for complaints regarding the Smith report when they are signatories to the document, yet the Conservatives, Labour and LibDems were also signatories but are now willing and even campaigning to urge acceptance of a command paper that violates not only the spirit, but the very wording of the report recommendations. Fortunately, such efforts are being exposed and rejected.

    It is even more disingenuous to suggest that if the wording is poor, those objecting should go the courts for redress. However, it is typical of the Westminster establishment and their apologists to suggest such an endeavour. Even before legislation is presented, those alibiing the alleged Vow are already trying to escape from their own signatures.

    Scotland does not need to go to court to enforce the Vow, we have a far more effective alternative, and on May 7th, we will use that option.

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    1. "However, it is typical of the Westminster establishment and their apologists to suggest such an endeavour."

      Indeed Brian.

      Their desperation is transparent and obvious. Fact is the VOW has utterly failed to halt the SNP surge and it is unsurprising that scots are looking to the party to best represent the scottish people's interests against the out of touch westminster parties.

      No amount of weasel words and pitiful attempts at sophistry can disguise the clear reluctance of the unionists to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to the VOW.

      "Scotland does not need to go to court to enforce the Vow, we have a far more effective alternative, and on May 7th, we will use that option."

      Precisely. Why on earth would you blindly put your trust in the westminster parties to 'do the right thing' when you can ensure that any attempts to obfuscate or backslide on "near Federalism" are punished as they are held to account by the SNP. A party who are looking ever more likely to hold the balance of power after the GE.

      Actions speak louder than words but when the words are so weak, equivocating and feeble in the first place then we hardly need wait to see that lack of action fulfilled.

      Those unionists who blindly put all their faith in the VOW to solve all their problems will self-evidently be feeling very, very foolish right now.

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  6. I must admit I'm thoroughly enjoying the panicking twits who don't seem able to comprehend that the incompetent fop Cameron was never going to be allowed to call all the shots for the debates.

    Fact is the broadcasters knew fine well cowardly Cameron was looking for an excuse to scupper them. He had made no secret of it and had tried to torpedo the debates over timing long long ago. (we can safely ignore the bleating from the tory twits that it was because little Ed had nothing to lose. Little Ed is shit at those kind of debates and everyone knows it, but so too is the fop.)

    Well now Cameron's bluff has well and truly been called and he has ended up not only failing to stop the debates but the debates will now have the kippers, the greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP in two of them while the timing is, if anything, even more of a slap in the face to the fop.

    Interestingly the broadcasters have also decided to use the order of the debates as a political football. Little Ed and cowardly Cameron will be praying they can get the one closest to the election and it looks clear the entire purpose of the broadcasters saying the order was to be 'discussed' is to force the fop into taking part in the other ones. In other words if you play nice we'll let you have the punch and judy between you and little Ed just before the GE vote. If you don't we'll have that one first.

    So the coward Cameron has failed to stop the kippers taking part, failed to stop the SNP and Plaid taking part, failed to move the timing to well, well before the GE and failed to stop the head to head debate where, according to them, little Ed has "nothing to lose".

    As the westminster tory twits would put it, Cameron has 'played a blinder'.

    LOL

    Regardless it will be very, very obvious to the viewing public which of the parties are represented by out of touch public schoolboy twits and which are not. :-)

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  7. Quite annoying see that Bill Mason MSP has decided to put through his own goal with some ridiculous Creationist nonsense. Already getting coverage, at least its not on TV. Yet. Someone in SNP leadership needs to stamp on him.

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    1. "Someone in SNP leadership needs to stamp on him."

      Interesting comment from a unionist apologist. Does this approach apply to the CONS, Labour and that other party? Perhaps Murphy, Davidson, Rennie, Cameron, Milleband and Clegg can show the SNP how it is done and lead the way.

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    2. Lol, I'm a Unionist am I?

      It should apply to any politician under a whip who proposes embarrassing, laughable legislation which will be used as a hammer by opponents. If you don't understand how important the negative impression created by nonsense like this is, it';s not surprising you confuse which side people are on.

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    3. The comment was unionist apologist. If you took it as calling you a unionist, I with clarfify that this was not my intent and I apologize unreservedly, It was commenting on the propensity of some to have one standard for SNP and another lesser or non-existent standard for members of other parties.

      While I totally disagree with Mason's opinion, I will not concoct rules that prevent him from expressing his personal views on a personal, not political matter, nor will I seek to impose my view. You will note that he was not espousing party policy nor was he seeking to impose any action on others but expressing a viewpoint honestly held. You will further note that another SNP MSP put forward a totally opposite position and yet do not condemn that action.

      In a democracy, matters that fall under the whip are matters that the party must take action. Those that do not require no action and MSP's must be allowed to voice their views without censure. Mason has views that may not match the majority but I have also noted that he follows the whip when needed and is a strong advocate for SNP policies.

      If you want to support a party that imposes group think on its MSPs even on matters outside of the whip, then I suggest the SNP is not that party.

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    4. One of the great benefits of the SNP running the country is that due to their long term goal being independence, they can't fuck up governance, as a result, we have in general terms a much higher standard of governance than the rest of the country has.

      Perhaps it is right that where independence is both a beneficial and aspirational goal that a higher standard should be required of SNP representatives because, rightly or wrongly, the public mood will be that they represent aspects of a future Scotland.

      Politics is not a fair game. While there is no genuine harm in individuals, even elected indfividuals, voicing fringe opinions those opinions will be used by opponents in the most biased and unfair way. I predict that during the Scottish only debates, someone will mention Creationism as an "SNP goal". It will be wrong and will be answered but sometimes mud sticks.

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    5. I agree that creating an own goal is not a successful strategy. However, group think and intemperate control can be just as damaging. The unionists and the MSM need not delve into obscure backbench comments when they are comfortable spreading distortions and outright lies on a regular basis. John Mason's motion is a one day story but constant reference by those on both sides of the divide only lengthens the event.

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  8. I noticed a throwaway line in an Alan Cochrane piece about the Gordon constituency, which in general was him pleading for the Lib Dems and Tories to stand aside for each other (Labour having obliquely done so by picking a no-hope candidate).

    "And a poll, to be published shortly, is, according to both Scottish Lib Dem and Tory leadership sources, expected to show that she is lying second in the race – but well behind Mr Salmond, with only half his support."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/SNP/11361448/The-battle-to-keep-Alex-Salmond-out-of-Westminster.html

    Presumably this must be one of the Ashcroft constituency polls? If his estimates are right, that would give SNP something in the mid-40s, Lib Dems low-20s and Tories high teens, I would guess. If the SNP were running 50+ there wouldn't be much point in the Tories or Lib Dems standing aside.

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    1. Surely the only way to stop Salmond is for all the candidates to stand aside in favour of Alan Cochrane?

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    2. I'm not sure Cochers is ideologically pure enough. He has confessed to voting for the Nats in the past.

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    4. Cockers voted for the Nats in the past? I feel so unclean after reading that,back to the shower.....LOL

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    5. Cockers said Cockers voted SNP in the past.

      I suggest this comes down to "do you believe anything Cockers says".

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  9. The tone of the Cochrane piece was the most interesting part to me, the resigned acceptance, the lack of his usual ebullience. It was the epitome of a Stage Five article.

    And of course the wonderful comedy of him pleading for one Unionist candidate while the quotes and actual content made it clear that each of the Unionists agreed - as long as that candidate was themselves.

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  10. Is it surprising to anyone else here, that the lib dems & Tory people knew the results of the Ashcroft polls, yet the wider public hasn't been told yet?

    If one of the most No friendly constituencies with a 65% No vote, has the SNP candidate on double the % than his nearest challenger, what are the other areas showing?

    C'mon Ashcroft, let us all see the results of your poll!

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    1. He'll be polling different Scottish constituencies, one at a time or a few at a time, and saving them up to publish in one go later on. That does mean that a lot of them will be out of date by the time we see them.

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    2. Ok, thanks James, he's be better releasing the results, perhaps 5 constituencies at a time, then releasing all the results together.

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  11. O/T
    A rumour on wings the other day, suggested all is not well in the Labour party.
    The rumour was that one Labour man in the No east would be defecting to Ukip, and this happened the next day, with the mayor of some English city defecting.

    The other rumour shared was that McTernan doesn't like Jackie Bailey and wants her out asap, Now Jackie wasn't at First Ministers Question Time on Thursday, which is unusual for her, so...

    There was two people who made my skin crawl and who I wanted to be booted out of Scottish politics more than anyone else:

    1. Johann Lamont.
    2.Jackie Bailey.

    Please let this rumour be true!

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    1. Fingers crossed, Patrick.
      I too share your distaste for that lying scumbag Baillie. She is typical of the modern British Labour Party. Privately educated and no morals.

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    2. In my ideal world, Katy Clark would defect to the Greens, the SNP would withdraw their candidate in North Ayrshire and Arran and the spirit of a Yes Alliance would boost the vote at the General Election.

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    3. Is Katy Clark Yes? Surely that would've been pointed out during her deputy leadership run.

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    4. No idea if she is Yes. But she is definately Green. She must have felt very alone on the Trident debate.

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    5. Alasdair Allan,
      Katy Clark is a hypocritical Labour Party drone (of the 'I am a lefty rebel... honest!' variety). I have had a few long conversations with her during the referendum campaign in Largs, behind her BetterTogether street stall. Just a matter of months ago, she enthusiastically stood against all the things she now pretends to espouse. In the final analysis, she values this corrupt Union, her career and it's salary (plus expenses) higher than any of the 'lefty Labour rebel' principles she has always used to cloak herself in. That's how you win the type of seat she currently has. Do not be fooled.
      In her constituency she is absolutely dependent upon the type of ' Katy Clark, shes almost a Green isn't she?' bollocks that you are perpetuating. She is a Party hack. She stood for deputy leader FFS!

      IF she were to jump ship now it would obviously be of the sinking ship variety rather than anything nearing the 'principled'! She had more than enough opportunities during the referendum, with all the same whispers of defection and all the same 'no, Katy's one of the decent ones... really she is' crap.

      Sorry to be so blunt Alasdair, but you've floated this turd once too often and risking undermining the serious battle folk have in her constituency in overturning her 10,000 majority. I usually sit and nod while reading your posts, but on this you are very, very wrong. The solution is simple (and the same across the board for the Unionist held seats post referendum).

      Sack Katy Clark! (change name to suit)

      braco

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  12. On a totally different topic...

    Oil price is going to shoot up again soon enough.

    The whole shale oil thing is a giant ponzi scheme. It's not made any money really, just created another debt fuelled bubble; the debt being built up by drilling an exponential number wells in a mad chase for nothing. Google 'shale bubble' and have a read.

    Working in regular oil and gas, the shale bubble, just 5 years old, only really hit my radar when it apparently was the cause of the current price drop. I mean I work in a petroleum research institute and nobody was starting up shale research groups. Why if that was the future?

    Because it isn't. The shale gas bubble has already burst - took just a few years. The shale oil bubble followed in a desperate attempt to try and pay of debts by drillers. It was peaking / bursting already before the Saudi's added salt to the wound.

    Anyone who works in the industry will understand what I mean when they look at this; the typical production profiles for oil wells in the 'good quality' (ok, best quality of one of the lowest grade oil 'ore' possible in the world) US shales.

    http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/US_typical_shale_wells.png

    When I saw that I thought 'OMG - ponzi scheme'. To maintain production you have to drill more and more wells. To increase production, you need to increase wells exponentially. You are chasing your own tail just to stay afloat. Whole landscapes with (the most expensive types of well possible - horizonally fracked) for as far as the eye can see.

    A conventional oil and gas well would take ~38 years to drop to the levels seen in a shale well in 5 years. And that's the 'sweet spots' that are largely exhausted in the states. Of course the boom is around 5 years old so now this data is emerging...

    Thank god it hasn't spread to Europe. I hope the US and EU banks aren't too over exposed to it.

    As a geologist / production chemist, I knew shale was shit and you wouldn't go near it unless you were really desperate with high prices making it possibly worth a shot. I had no idea that the reality was far, far worse. Those production curves made my hair stand on end.

    If it looks too good to be true, it normally is.

    Of course the fledgling industry oversold those early production figures as it chased loans / investment and the 'black gold' rush began...

    Nuts.




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    1. Max Keiser's been warning about this for years amongst others.

      If you apply any rational thought to Shale drilling, it is pretty clear that it doesn't pass a Reasonableness Test. You can crack open rocks, releasing molecules of hydrocarbon at a time and somehow you can recover economically viable quantities? Doesn't make much sense.

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    2. @SS

      Euan was a regular contributor to The Oil Drum which is sadly closed down now.

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    3. Aye, read that with interest during my look into the subject. The bubble had already burst before the price drop for oil - that research being 2013. Not even remotely sustainable with prices very high, never mind now.

      What is it about humans and bubbles / get rich quick schemes... Keep repeating the same mistakes.

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    4. Bubbles work for the same reason that Trickle Down "works". First in gets the money, by the time it reaches those outside the Elite, it's worthless. Adam Curtis has explored this a few times, his docs should be required in schools (instead of Creationism!)

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  13. Alasdair Allan,
    Katy Clark is a hypocritical Labour Party drone (of the 'I am a lefty rebel... honest!' variety). I have had a few long conversations with her during the referendum campaign in Largs, behind her BetterTogether street stall. Just a matter of months ago, she enthusiastically stood against all the things she now pretends to espouse. In the final analysis, she values this corrupt Union, her career and it's salary (plus expenses) higher than any of the 'lefty Labour rebel' principles she has always used to cloak herself in. That's how you win the type of seat she currently has. Do not be fooled.
    In her constituency she is absolutely dependent upon the type of ' Katy Clark, shes almost a Green isn't she?' bollocks that you are perpetuating. She is a Party hack. She stood for deputy leader FFS!

    IF she were to jump ship now it would obviously be of the sinking ship variety rather than anything nearing the 'principled'! She had more than enough opportunities during the referendum, with all the same whispers of defection and all the same 'no, Katy's one of the decent ones... really she is' crap.

    Sorry to be so blunt Alasdair, but you've floated this turd once too often and risking undermining the serious battle folk have in her constituency in overturning her 10,000 majority. I usually sit and nod while reading your posts, but on this you are very, very wrong. The solution is simple (and the same across the board for the Unionist held seats post referendum).

    Sack Katy Clark! (change name to suit)

    braco

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    1. Sorry for the double post folks. :-( Though possibly worth saying twice! ;-)

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