All you could ever want to know about Scottish independence

Note: These are all the Independence blog posts to date in one place for easy access.  Robert Henderson

The Scottish independence referendum  – The second STV debate 2nd Sept 2014

Robert Henderson The full debate can be found at Better Together panel Douglas Alexander Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary and MP Kezia Dugdale  Scottish Labour  Shadow Party Education spokesman and MSP Ruth Davidson Leader of the Scottish Conservatives and MSP … Continue reading 

Salmond vs Darling round 2 – The  shameless chancer versus the trembling incompetent

Robert Henderson The second Darling vs Salmond debate on 25 August was even more depressing than the first. It might have been thought that having gone through one debate the palpable nervousness both showed the first time round  would have … Continue reading 

Alex Salmond is a chancer in the mould of Paterson and Law

Robert Henderson William Paterson was the main mover of the Darien disaster which bankrupted Scotland in the 1690s through a mixture of ignorance, general incompetence and embezzlement; John Law was the Scot who ruined the currency and economy of Louis … Continue reading 

Federal Trust meeting: Devolution in England: A New Approach – Balkanising England By Stealth

Robert Henderson Speakers Andrew Blick  (Academic  from Kings College, London,  Associate Researcher at the Federal Trust  and  Management Board member of Unlock Democracy). Graham Allen (Labour MP and chair of the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee) Lord Tyler (LibDem … Continue reading 

Scottish Independence – How Cameron sold England down the river with the Edinburgh Agreement

Robert  Henderson The Edinburgh Agreement was signed By David Cameron and Alex Salmon  in Edinburgh on 15 October 2012. ( ). It established the legal basis for the Scottish independence referendum. The first point to note is that Cameron went …Continue reading 

BBC drama goes in to bat for Scottish independence

Robert Henderson The BBC Radio 4 play  Dividing the Union was  a crude piece of propaganda for Scottish independence (Broadcast at 2.15pm 14 March  – available on IPlayer  for six days from the date of  uploading this blog post The … Continue reading 

What happens if Scotland votes NO to independence?

Robert Henderson The Scottish independence referendum is deeply flawed as a democratic process because (1) the terms of independence have not been agreed before the referendum is held so Scottish voters will be buying a pig in a poke; (2)  … Continue reading 

Frank Field calls for an English Parliament on Any Questions

Robert Henderson Any Questions on 21 Feb 2014 (BBC R4) came from  Blundells School in Tiverton, Devon. The panel answering the question were the  Secretary of State for Scotland  and LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael, Conservative backbench MP Nadhim Zahawi  MP, … Continue reading 


Make you own currency kit Allows you to name your currency,  design your own coins and banknotes, create coins (3D printer included) and banknotes and set up a central piggy bank.  Warning: the money will have the same value as … Continue reading 

The Scottish Independence Referendum – unanswered questions

Robert Henderson NB UK2 stands for the UK containing England, Wales and Northern Ireland The vote on Scottish independence is in 2014. The next UK general election is scheduled for 2015. The date for  Scotland to leave  the Union is … Continue reading 

The future of England

Meeting arranged by the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP) House of Lords 20th November Speakers Frank Field Labour MP Lord Maclennan (Lib Dem) Professor Wyn Jones ( Professor of Welsh Politics, Cardiff U) Eddie Bone CEP There were around …Continue reading 

The BBC way with Scottish independence

Victoria Derbyshire BBC Radio 5 16 Sept 2013 10.00 am -12.000 noon Debate on the Scottish independence vote This was a  classic example of  the BBC’s  interpretation of balance and consisted of a number of regulation issue BBC propaganda tricks. … Continue reading 
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Suppressing scandal – The Mayor of London’s State of London Debate 12 June 2013

Methodist Central Hall Event broadcast by LBC Speaker Mayor of London Boris Johnson Presenter Nick Ferrari  of LBC There was a substantial audience of, according to LBC , 2,000. Boris Johnson gave a short inconsequential speech in his routine  Old … Continue reading 

SNP 2012 XMAS Novelties

Independence Balloon When filled with hot air the balloon floats away leaving its owner with nothing to hold onto Comes in your clan tartan or decorated with Saltires Hours of  innocent fun Has a use-by date of  31 December 2013. … Continue reading 

The English voice on Scottish independence must be heard

Robert Henderson The shrieking flaw in the  proposed Scottish independence referendum is the failure to establish the terms of Independence before the referendum is held.  This is vital because all parts of the UK are potentially seriously affected, especially if … Continue reading 
Robert Henderson Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish Numpty Party (SNP),  has been at full impotent froth over an article in the Economist which describes Scotland as Skintland and carries a map of Scotland with puns on place names … Continue reading 

The English white working-class and the British elite – From the salt of the earth to the scum of the earth

Robert Henderson 1. How it used to be  Thirty years ago the Labour Party primary client base was the white working-class, while the Tories still had remnants of the heightened sense of social responsibility towards the poor created by two … Continue reading 

Bring the Nuclear Deterrent to England now

Robert Henderson A Daily Telegraph report  of 27 January 2012  “Nuclear subs will stay in Scotland”  ( James Kirkup - is most disturbing. The essence of the story is that should  Scotland votes for independence the  UK nuclear deterrent would … Continue reading 

It must be no to Devomax

Robert Henderson The leader of the Scots Numpty Party  (SNP) Alex Salmond has a secret love. He has a long-time partner Independence , but also  a burgeoning  affair with  the siren Devomax.    No, this not a relative of the cyber personality Max … Continue reading
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Salmond’s proposed referendum question is heavily biased

The Scotch Numpty Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond’s proposed referendum question “‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” is strongly biased. ( The question is biased because it is (1) asking people to positively agree not merely choose from … Continue reading 

An “independent” Scotland must not be allowed to have the pound as their official currency

Robert Henderson The Scottish Numpty Party leader Alex Salmond desperately wants to have his independence cake and eat it. He wishes to have DEVOMAX as well as independence on the “independence” ballot and, if the vote is for independence, he …Continue reading 

SNP 2011 XMAS Novelties

Independence Puzzle Based on the Rubik Cube principle,  when solved the puzzle represents  a map of the Scotch mainland with the word INDEPENDENCE  in the its centre.  WARNING: this is a very demanding puzzle and even the brightest players will …Continue reading 

The complete “Wages of Scottish independence”

I have now completed the series on the implications of Scottish independence on the Calling England blog. They cover all the important ground relating to the question: The wages of Scottish independence – England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be …Continue reading 

The wages of Scottish independence – England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be heard

In the matter of Scottish independence, the British political elite and the Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) are flatly  ignoring the interests of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish.  This is unreasonable for two reasons: firstly, the granting of independence to … Continue reading 

The wages of Scottish independence – If Parliament says NO

Whether or not Scotland would vote for independence is debatable.  Polls consistently show a majority against, although there are always a substantial number of “don’t knows”.  In a  referendum held only in Scotland with the YES campaign headed by the … Continue reading 
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The wages of Scottish independence – infrastructure

Geographically Scotland is very isolated. It is a stranded at the top of mainland Britain with a single land border with England.  Any goods or people coming and going to Scotland have a choice of independent access by air and … Continue reading 
The divided country is not the UK but Scotland. Its divisions are cultural, geographical, religious, demographic and racial. Demographically Scotland is a most peculiar place. It has a population estimated at 5.2 million in 2010 ( set in an area … Continue reading 

The wages of Scottish independence – membership of the EU

The Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond has a dream; well, more of an adolescent  fantasy really. He imagines that an independent  Scotland  would  immediately be embraced enthusiastically by the EU. In the more heroically bonkers versions of the fantasy, … Continue reading 
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The wages of Scottish independence – The monarchy

The Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) has committed itself to the Queen being Scotland’s head of state should independence occur. As with so much of the SNP policy towards independence this presumes something which is far from self-evident, namely, that …Continue reading 

The wages of Scottish independence – Public Debt

One thing is certain about an independent Scotland: it would begin life with a massive national debt. Exactly how much is problematic because  the Scottish referendum on independence will probably not be held until 2015. The Scots Numpty Party (SNP) …Continue reading 
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The wages of Scottish independence – the currency problem

The most problematic  decision for an independent Scotland is the currency.  There are three choices: to keep using the pound, join the Euro or create their own currency.   If they choose the pound or Euro they will not be truly … Continue reading 

The wages of Scottish independence – the loss of the military

One of the most complex aspects  of disentangling Scotland from the rest of the UK should  Scotland become independent is defence.   It is complex because of  (1) the siting of the Trident submarines and other major ships at Faslane; (2) … Continue reading 

The wages of Scottish independence – public sector employment

One of the many major issues which an independent Scotland would have to address is the extent to which the Scottish economy is  dependent on public spending and in particular the number of public sector jobs which would be  moved … Continue reading 

The truth about UK oil and gas

The Scots Numpty Party (SNP) bases its case for the viability of Scotland’s independence  on the idea that wicked England has been “stealin’ ouir oil” and that  if only they had control of the tax revenues from UK oil and gas … Continue reading 

Make sure the costs of Scottish independence get into the media

The letter  below was published in the Times 10 May 2011. It is extremely important that the debate on independence for Scotland  is conducted on the basis that Scotland will not be allowed to walk away from the financial obligations … Continue reading 

Scottish independence? Yes, but only on these terms

by Robert Henderson The Scots Numpty Party (SNP) has managed to defeat the  attempts of the unionists who deliberately devised the electoral system to thwart single party government (and hence leave independence off the practical political agenda) and get a …Continue reading 
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The Scottish independence referendum  – The second STV debate 2nd Sept 2014

Robert Henderson

The full debate can be found at

Better Together panel

Douglas Alexander Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary and MP

Kezia Dugdale  Scottish Labour  Shadow Party Education spokesman and MSP

Ruth Davidson Leader of the Scottish Conservatives and MSP

YES Scotland  panel

Nicola Sturgeon Deputy First Minister (SNP) and MSP

Elaine C Smith Convenor of Scottish Independence Convention

Patrick Harvie Co-Convener of the Scottish Green Party and MSP

Presenter Bernard Ponsonby

The debate  was divided into opening and closing statements by Alexander and Sturgeon with three sections in which one representative from the Better Together and Yes camps was put up to answer  questions. There was a fourth section which was the audience asking questions which could be put to any member  of the two panels at the presenter’s discretion.

It was a more edifying spectacle than the Darling-Salmond shouting matches.  This was largely but not wholly due to the   difference in programme structure , which included much more audience participation, had  six voices rather than two to be accommodated and excluded  formal questioning of each other by the two sides. This removed much of the opportunity for  the unseemly squabbling which had tainted the Darling-Salmond debates.

To the difference in programme  structure improving matters   can be added the absence of Salmond, , who was primarily responsible for the way the Darling-Salmond debates deteriorated into incoherence as the two politicians repeatedly spoke  over one another.  Darling is not  naturally shouty and was provoked into behaving out of character by Salmond’s  toxic behaviour.  It is also true that Douglas Alexander was a vast improvement on Darling, both in his persona, which was relaxed and controlled,  and in the quietly reasonable  way he answered questions. However, his effectiveness was curtailed  because  the format of the show   meant Alexander remained  silent for  much of the time.

Of the others  Dugdale was nervously gabbling,  Davidson attempted to give factual answers , but spoke  too quickly, Elaine Smith  was strident  and emotional and  Harvie supercilious and adolescently idealistic by turns.  Listening to Sturgeon  was to hear Salmond’s words slavishly repeated by someone else. She even mimicked his practice in the second Darling-Salmond debate of moving from behind her rostrum and wandering about the stage.

Although the debate was much  better mannered than   the Darling-Salmond encounters,  it was not  much more informative. There is an inherent  problem with public debates where two sides are allowed to make assertions without challenge from any disinterested third party.   Even where , as was the case here, the audience were able to ask a good number of questions, little is achieved because there is  no sustained questioning of the  speakers’ responses.  Even where the speakers appeared to be giving hard facts there was no solid challenge to what they claimed. The presenter, with the amusingly incongruous  English name of Bernard Ponsonby,   made attempts to challenge what was being said, but these interventions  rarely went anywhere and appeared more for show rather than a determined attempt to stop the speakers waffling, evading or lying.  The upshot was that after the one and three quarter hours  the programme ran I doubt whether the studio audience or the viewers were much the wiser about where the truth lay.

The subjects  covered  were social justice ,  benefit spending, health and social care,  tuition fees, the currency, North Sea oil,  the Barnett Formula, domestic violence,  the nuclear deterrent, Faslane, defence,  the EU and  the further powers offered  in the event of a NO vote. Because of the number of subjects,  they were all dealt with quickly and inevitably superficially. Some questions or points from the audience went unanswered lost in the fog of politician’s waffle.

Only Alexander and Davidson made any real attempt to consistently answer questions with reference to   facts. For example, Davidson had  a very good point about the startlingly meagre nature of the proposed armed forces  put forward in the SNPs white paper on independence.  (Go into the recording at 1 hour and 15 minutes). At the point of independence  the White Paper proposes that “ Scotland will have a total of 7,500 regular and 2,000 reserve personnel at the point of independence, rising to around 10,000 regulars and 3,500  reserves by the end of the five years following independence” (P237) with the possibility after  ten years  of  15,000 regulars and 5,000 reserves.   (That is for the army navy and airforce of a country whose territory constitutes 30% of  the UK).

Judged purely on the information being given by the panellists,  the Better Together side was far superior, but the YES mixture of bluster, bald assertion  and outright lies was  backed  up by aggressive audience participation by YES voters  which covered the massive gaps in their responses to questions.  The  NO  part of the audience applauded vigorously when good points were made  by Better Together, but they did not exude the childlike  excitement and joy  seen on YES supporters’ faces , which were eerily reminiscent of the sublime inanity of the faces of the hippies in the film Easy Rider.

The extremely  large elephant in the room –   the interests of the rest of the UK in the referendum – went unmentioned  but for one brief comment by Alexander. He  pointed out that  a vote for independence would give Salmond a mandate to engage in negotiations for the terms of separation, not  as the YES camp claimed,  a democratic mandate for anything Salmond demanded : “ The sovereign will applies here  in Scotland.  it can’t bind what would be the sovereign will of what would be a  separate country after independence. “ Go into recording at 33 minutes.

To take one example of the rest of the UK’s ignored  interests  which is of immediate concern , no  discussion has taken place about the position of Scottish MPs at Westminster if there is a YES vote.  If the General Election takes place in 2015 but Scottish independence not until 2017 (or even later if the negotiations go badly), there would be the absurd situation of Scottish MPs and peers  still sitting in Parliament at Westminster, making decisions on English matters.  In addition, if Labour win the  election but only with the support of Scottish MPs, a Labour Prime Minister could find himself with a majority in the Commons one day and a minority government the next. It would also mean that the terms of independence  for Scottish independence would be negotiated by a PM who was arithmetically certain to have to resign after Scottish independence day and was dependent on the Scottish MPs to pass whatever terms were agreed.  That would be an incentive to give far too much away to the Scots.

Looking at the three debates   together , (the two Darling-Salmond debates and this one)  it is astonishing that so many important questions other than the  rest of the UK’s interest in the referendum have gone largely or wholly unexamined. Here are some of them:

  1. The public service jobs which will go south of the border if there is a YES vote. This will be the military  ones,  including the Trident submarines and missiles at Faslane,  plus the  considerable number of public service jobs which have been exported from England to Scotland which deal with English matters  such  as the administration of the English  welfare system.
  2. The position of public sector pensions in Scotland, both those already being drawn and the pension entitlements accrued to the date of independence which have not yet begun to be drawn.
  3. The condition of private sector pensions in Scotland such as those attached RBS and HBOS. These could very easily default especially if the Bank of England is no longer the lender of the last resort.
  4. The very heavy reliance of the Scottish economy on taxpayer funded jobs .
  5. The narrowness of the private sector of the Scottish economy, it being massively dependent on oil and gas, financial services and food and drink.
  6. Immigration to Scotland.
  7. Scottish Nationality.

How should  the NO  campaign have been conducted?

The Better Together campaign has suffered from what is always a fatal flaw: they have  built their strategy  around  appeasement of the Scots. Appeasement can never be a strategy because the appeased always returns for more concessions. Appeasement can only ever be a tactic to buy time, something which does not apply in this context.

The policy of appeasement  has meant there has been no input from those who are  not Scottish and opposed to the break up of the Union.  Any Unionist politician with an English accent has been treated as toxic  by the NO campaign.  The debate has been entirely about what is best for Scotland. Fear of being accused of being  a traitor or Quisling has meant that no honest answer has been given to the challenge put by pro-independents along the lines of “Are you saying that this extremely wealthy and wondrously talented country Scotland cannot be successful as an independent country?” . This is   because to suggest  that Scotland is  anything other than a supremely talented and amazingly  wealthy country would bring exactly those accusations.   Faced with that dread the NO camp has  retreated to the absurd position of  agreeing that Scotland is an extremely wealthy and talented country whilst saying that it should not be independent because it would lose so much economically by independence.

The fear of being labelled  either a Quisling (if Scottish) or a bully (if an English Westminster politician) has allowed the YES camp in general and Salmond to make absurd statements which have gone effectively unchallenged, for example on  these two major issues:

  1. Salmond’s claim that Scotland has part ownership of the Pound. This is a literal nonsense. The legal position is very simple: the Pound Sterling is the English currency. Scotland gained the right to share it when they signed the Treaty of Union. If they leave the Union they forfeit that right because the  Treaty and the subsequent Acts of Union will no longer operate.  No one on the pro-union side has made this very obvious point.
  2. Salmond’s threat to default on taking a proportionate share of the UK national debt if they do not get a currency union. This is a non-starter because Scottish independence is dependent on the Westminster Parliament repealing the Act of Union. Again, no one on the pro-union side has made this very obvious point.
  3. Sterlingisation. Why on Earth did no one on the Better Together side not ask Salmond the question “Who will be Scotland’s lender of the last resort if there is Sterlingisation?” A simple question but one Salmond would not have been able to evade.

The whole business has been misguided from beginning to end. Granting an independence  referendum to be decided simply by those in Scotland  when it affected around 90% of the population of the UK was wrong in principle.  That error was compounded by the failure to define the terms of independence before the referendum was held. Had the terms been decided before the referendum,  it is very doubtful that  the referendum would have resulted in a YES vote because Westminster politicians would have been forced to take account of what the electorate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland  would tolerate by way of terms for Scotland to secede from the Union.  For example, the three major  Westminster Parties would have had to make their pledge that there would be no currency union part of the terms,  because to  agree to a currency union would have left them open to the  anger to the electors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland  at the idea that the Bank of England (and hence the UK taxpayer)  would be the lender of last resort  for Scotland.

If the terms had been agreed in advance, ideally these should have been put to a referendum of  the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for their acceptance. But even if that was not done,  the fact that a UK general election was  to be held in 2015  would have put great pressure on the politicians negotiating the deal with the Scots to not give too much away.

What can be done before the referendum by unionists?  Precious little if anything in terms of promoting the positives of the UK  because it is simply too late. . What the Westminster parties should not be doing is scrambling around promising an ever more potent version of  DEVOMAX.  That would be because it will be seen as appeasement and because the closer the DEVOMAX on offer gets to independence, the less reason there is for people to vote NO  to get DEVOMAX.

What we have had since the referendum was announced has been  the very small Scottish tail  wagging the very large English dog. That is both absurd and a betrayal of the 90 per cent of the population who do not live in Scotland.

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Salmond vs Darling round 2 – The  shameless chancer versus the trembling incompetent

Robert Henderson

The second Darling vs Salmond debate on 25 August was even more depressing than the first. It might have been thought that having gone through one debate the palpable nervousness both showed the first time round  would have been largely gone.  In the event Salmond  was less nervous,  but Darling was  embarrassingly anxious.

Whoever thought Darling was a safe pair of hands for this type of work was profoundly wrong. The man is woefully ill equipped for a one-to one-debate. Throughout he frequently fell into  stuttering and even when he did not – which was primarily when he was reading from prepared notes – his delivery was leaden. When Salmond attacked him Darling  seemed peevish; when the audience derided him or asked insulting questions he was utterly at sea. (example audience comment: “I think the  fundamental difference here is that the YES campaign are fighting passionately for the future of  Scotland; Alastair Darling and others are fighting passionately for their jobs”)  Darling  spent much of the debate staring blankly ahead  like a rabbit caught in a car’s headlights while Salmond stood looking at him grinning insultingly. Darling also waved his hands for emphasis far too much, while  his habit of pointing at Salmond was a sorry mistake.

Darling also got his strategy wrong by concentrating heavily, almost obsessively,  on the point which he had laboured in the first debate,  namely, what Salmond would do if there was a vote for independence and Scotland was denied a currency union with the rest of the UK .  This is a seriously difficult question for Salmond,  but there  are only so many times a debating opponent can be prodded with the same weapon before the audience becomes restive, and restive is what they became here. The nadir of this Darling obsession came when the debate reached the section where the two politicians questioned each other. What was Darling’s first question? You’ve guessed it:  “What is your plan B for the currency?”  It was an open goal for Salmond who immediately taunted Darling with being a one-trick pony.

The way Darling asked  questions was also feeble. Not only did he keep repeating the same things, but time and again he allowed Salmond to ask him questions when he, Darling,  was supposed to be grilling Salmond. nNor did Darling seemed to have prepared himself properly,  because he was constantly running into trouble with  questions for which there was a perfectly reasonable answer, an answer which should have been anticipated.  For example, Darling was asked what his choice of the best  currency for an independent  Scotland would be if a currency union was not available. That should have been his cue to say any of the alternatives on offer was  unpalatable or that none was better than the others  and use the opportunity to run through the various weaknesses of the currencies on offer: new currency, sterlingisation and joining the Euro. Instead Darling kept on feebly saying he would not choose anything which was second best for Scotland. That of course led to calls for him to explain why he did not back a currency union which was, of course, the best bet.

Apart from  his personal deficiencies and misjudgement of which subjects to raise, Darling was at a disadvantage because he is a Scot, a Labour MP  and the last Labour Chancellor.  The fact that he is a Scot means he is vulnerable to any question which places him in a position where he if he answered honestly he might be portrayed as having no confidence in Scotland. In the first debate when Salmond asked Darling  whether Darling believed Scotland could go it alone, Darling floundered around saying he thought Scotland could but it would not be the best thing for Scotland. This allowed Salmond to keep on pressing him by asking why he had no confidence in Scotland. Here, Darling  allowed himself to be lured into flatly admitting that Scotland could use the Pound if they chose to use it because the Pound  is  a freely traded and convertible currency. This had Salmond bouncing around shrieking that Darling had said Scotland could use the Pound. Darling  desperately tried to mend the damage by pointing out that it would mean having no say on how the Pound was managed or having a central bank to act as lender of the last resort, but the damage was done with his initial admission without qualification.

The fact that Darling is a Scot also meant that he could not easily raise the question of the interests of the rest of the UK  for any suggestion that he was concerned more for the rest of the UK than Scotland  risks accusations of being a  Quisling in the service of England. Consequently,, those interests were only raised very briefly when Salmond tried the “will of the Scottish” people gambit again in an attempt to get  Darling to agree that if there is a YES vote  that would mean Salmond would have a mandate to insist on a currency union with the rest of the UK  (Go into recording of the debate at 21 minutes)   Darling  did point out that sharing the Pound with Scotland might not be the “will of the rest of the UK”.

When Salmond repeated his threat  that  Scotland’s liability for a proportionate share of the UK national debt would be repudiated  if a currency union was refused, Darling did not do the obvious, say  that  Scotland could not have their independence  legally unless the Westminster Parliament repealed the Act of Union.  No taking on a proportionate share of the debts, no repeal of the Act of Union.   Darling  could also have pointed out that the rest of the UK could block Scotland’s entry into the EU if the debt was not taken on, but failed to do so.

Being the last Labour Chancellor also allowed Salmond to attack Darling on the grounds of his economic competence because of the vast addition to the National Debt built up under his chancellorship and the massive budget deficit he left the coalition.  Being a Labour MP left him open to jibes about  being in bed with the Tories just because he was putting the case to stay within the Union.

There was also two other  built-in advantages for Salmond which had nothing to do with Darling’s shortcomings . 200 of the  audience of  220  was supposedly scientifically chosen by the polling organisation ComRes  to reflect the balance of YES, NOs and Don’t Knows in the Scottish electorate.  The remaining 20 , again supposedly chosen to reflect the balance of opinion in Scotland, were chosen by the BBC from those who had sent questions in prior to the debate.  Whether the selection was honestly and competently made to reflect the balance of opinion, judging by the audience reaction there seemed to be more YES  than NO  people in the audience.  The YES camp certainly made a great deal of noise while the NO camp was pretty quiet.

Darling’s final handicap was the fact that debate’s moderator  Glenn Campbell  behaved in a way which intentionally or not  favoured Salmond.  Arguably ten of the thirteen questions  from the audience came from committed YES voters. It is rather difficult to understand how simple chance could have produced such a bias to one side of the debate.  In addition Campbell made only half-hearted attempts  to stop  Salmond and Darling interrupting one another. As Salmond was the prime culprit,  this gave him advantage, because whenever he interrupted he almost invariably went into a long riff which was rarely cut short by Campbell.  When Darling interrupted it was generally to correct Salmond on a point of fact and his interruptions were generally short. Moreover,  Darling did his cause no favours by allowing himself to look visibly put out by questions which were essentially crude abuse.

Salmond’s  strategy in the second debate was straightforward: to make an emotional appeal to Scots patriotism as often as possible whilst giving as little detail  as he could get away with of what would happen if there was a YES vote.   He largely succeeded  because of Darling’s truly dreadful performance and Campbell’s ineffective moderation, although his refusal to tie down the currency question continued to cause him discomfort and he got himself into a mess when answering a question about the loss of jobs if the Trident nuclear subs and missiles were removed from the Clyde as the SNP promised.  (To the latter question Salmond claimed that the Trident Base would become the centre of Scotland’s independent defence force   and this would  make up for the loss of Trident. On being pressed for details of how that could be, he did his usual, simply claiming it was so.  )

Some important issues other than the currency and the Nuclear deterrent were raised, the oil and gas reserves (a shouting match with different figures being thrown around), the NHS  (Salmond had to admit that Scotland could not be forced to privatise the NHS because they controlled the Scottish part of it) and the entry of an independent Scotland into the EU (Salmond simply asserted that the EU would let Scotland join without being bound by the requirements of new members such as membership of the Euro).  Important issues al, but l treated in a superficial fashion.

What effect did the debate have? An ICM Poll for the Guardian shortly after the debate ended gave the debate 71% to 29% to Salmond. However, the sample was unscientific, viz: ‘ICM,  said the sample of 505 adults was not representative of the Scottish electorate at large and support for independence was “identical” before and after the debate. ‘ 

That there has been no radical shift is unsurprising because of the unsatisfactory nature of the debates which provided all too little hard information. For the onlooker,  the two debates could almost be reduced to the unwillingness  or inability of Salmond to address the currency question meaningfully  and Darling’s nervousness and general ineptitude  which showed all too bleakly  just how much modern politicians rely on the recital of set positions and are unable to think on their feet.    As  vehicles for informing the voters in the referendum they were next to worthless.

All in all, a most dismal display of the meagre quality of our politicians.


See also

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What is treason today?

A vital part of the liberal internationalist plot to destroy Britain as an independent nation is the destruction of the concept of treason. They do this the attempt through a tidal wave of propaganda about the joys of diversity, the incessant reciting of mantras such as that “we live in a globalised world” , the signing of treaties which embroil Britain in supra-national authority and the repeal of laws relating to treason. (see as an example of the present government’s mentality).

A concept of treason is fundamental to every society because it sets the bounds of loyalty. Allow that there is no difference between a native of a state and a foreigner, as the liberal internationalist does in practice, and the coherence of a society is destroyed which puts its very existence under threat.

This is particularly pertinent now because of the emergence of large numbers of British born Muslims showing unambiguously their rejection of British society through violence and threatened violence.

The article below examines what constitutes treason today.  It was published in Right Now! magazine in 2001.
What is treason today?

Robert Henderson

Treason is a famously slippery word, not least for the reason enshrined in the oft-quoted but, because it contains a savage truth, eternally potent rhyme:
Treason never prospers,
What’s the reason?
For if it does
None dare call it treason.

Yet elusive as it is, treason clearly has an objective reality, a reality, moreover, whose essence is changeless. That quality is betrayal which goes beyond the personal. If a friend betrays you to another friend that is not treason. If a fellow countryman betrays you to an occupying power that is treason.

As a legal concept, treason has been redrawn during the past millennium. In a dynastic context, where the king is king in executive fact as well as name, treason is the betrayal of the sovereign by a person who owes him allegiance. That betrayal may be through disloyalty or an attempt to harm the person of the monarch (and generally his family). By extension, the same applies to those to whom the monarch’s executive power is delegated. Kill the King’s man and you attack the King.

But treason in dynastic circumstances was not a straightforward matter of simply plotting against the king or attempting harm to the king’s person or doing the same to his representatives. A great noble or courtier close to the king might well lose his head through being deemed to have given “evil counsel” to the monarch, even though that counsel had been accepted and acted upon by the king. The “evil counsellor” would be blamed (and probably executed) to ensure that the monarch was not held to account.
The idea of “evil counsel” had an important effect in English constitutional development and a consequent broadening of the idea of treason. Evil counsellors were generally identified not by the king but by others, most notably Parliament. Thus the practical application of the idea of the evil counsellor both reinforced the idea that the monarch was not a completely independent agent and created the idea that any man involved in politics owed not merely his formal loyalty to the king (and later the people), but also should take care to act and speak in a way which would not be to the disadvantage of the king and his subjects.

The notion of treason evolved in Europe because monarchs have rarely if ever been able to act indiscriminately in their own interests. Indeed, European monarchs have been remarkably unsuccessful in creating efficient and lasting despotisms. Because of that, their subjects never truly succumbed to politically debilitating ideas such as the divine right of kings. Rather they expected of a king duty as well self-promotion and satisfaction. The concept of the unjust prince was well developed by 1100 and culminated in the doctrine of tyranicide developed by John of Salisbury in the 12th Century. Here is Manegold of Lautenbach writing in the 11th Century:

No man can make himself emperor or king; a people sets a man over it to the end that he may rule justly, giving to every man his own, aiding good men and coercing bad, in short, that he may give justice to all men. If then he violates the agreement according to which he was chosen, disturbing and confounding the very things which be was meant to put in order, reason dictates that he absolves the people from their obedience, especially when he has himself first broken the faith which bound him and the people together.*

* Quoted by A.J. and R.W. Carlyle in A history of Medieval Political Theory in the West , Vol. III, p. 164, n. 1.

For Manegold a people’s allegiance to its ruler is a promise support him in his lawful undertakings and is consequently void in the case of a tyrant. In a sense, a tyrant committed treason by dishonouring the office of monarch and its implied and inherent obligations.

Restraints on the monarch were given formal status by their coronation oaths. In England, Magna Carta (1215) moved matters on to another stage where a monarch was forced to agree to direct constraints on his power. The example of Magna Carta in turn led to the development of the English Parliament, which moved from a petitioning and tax granting body in the 14th century to the point where it practically, if not in theory, usurped the power of the king.

As the power of monarchs waned, the emphasis of who was betrayed gradually moved to the idea that the entire population of a country was an entity in itself and betrayal of that entity amounted to treason. The shift from monarch to people was completed with the advent of the formally democratic state, where, in theory at least, the general population became the sovereign.

Of what does treason consist in the formally democratic nation state? Generally it must be the conscious decision to act in a way which will weaken the integrity of the nation state. Betrayal in the old manner of spying or acting for an enemy in war is still part of that. But the primary treason in the modern formally democratic state is more insidious. It is the abrogation of the sovereignty of the nation state by immersement in larger political entities and through the signing of treaties which restrict the opportunity for national self-determination.

This raises an interesting question, namely can an elected politician commit treason if the treasonable activity is part of an election manifesto or it is put to a referendum? The textbook answer would be that ultimate sovereignty in a formal democracy lies practically and morally, if not always legally, with the electorate. An electorate which elects a party or individual on a manifesto or votes yes in a referendum is considered to be tacitly granting the policy legitimacy. However, there are strong objections to this interpretation.

The first is that the treasonable activity may be misrepresented by the party or politician. A classic example of this is Britain’s entry into what is now the European Union (EU). The British electorate were undeniably deliberately misled by the 1970 Tory manifesto into believing that they were merely joining a free trade area.

They were deliberately misled again during the 1975 referendum on Britain’s continued membership. They have been deliberately misled consistently in the 35 years since the referendum, being told by every government that British sovereignty is not being lost, when massive amounts have been ceded. That is treason by any meaningful definition that has ever been used in the past.

But what if all the sovereignty which had been ceded to the EU had been done after it was presently honestly to the electorate? Suppose every change had been the subject of a referendum. Suppose those referendums had been conducted with absolutely fairness.What then? Here the old idea of “evil counsellors” has utility. In the modern formal democracy, politicians play the role of counsellors. Where their counsel is bad and the results of it disadvantages the people to which they owe their good sense and loyalty, then that might be said to be treasonable. Our representatives owe us their best judgement and courage. If they act in a way which is compromised by considerations other than their honest judgement and that action has results which are treasonable, they are guilty of treason. Not only that, but the representative must be honest about the foreseeable consequences of what they propose. In the representative’s special position, treason may be committed though acts of omission as well as commission, through not pointing out consequences.

What are the great particular treasons of our time? They can be defined in terms of what causes damage to the viability of the nation state. In the case of Britain, the most dramatic formal act of damaging the nation state has been our membership of the EU. But that is only one of a number of serious attacks on the British state and people. The permitting of mass immigration is a profound form of treason, for mass immigration is a form of conquest. North America is now dominated by the white man because of a slow accretion of settlement not through sudden and violent conquest. To that treason is linked its sister act, the attempted cultural cleansing of the native population of Britain in general and the English in particular, through the wilful denigration of the native population of this country, the deliberate denial to them of their history in our schools and the suppression of dissent through the power of the state, willingly assisted by the mass media.

To those may be added these others which are patently against our interests. Entering into treaties which remove freedom of action from the country, for example those governing membership of the World Trade Organisation. The failure to maintain the country’s military capacity and the use of what military we have in foreign adventures in which Britain has no natural interest. The deliberate refusal to ensure that the country’s economic capacity can supply all essential items in time of emergency, in particular the securing of the food supplies. The spending of taxpayers’ money on foreign peoples. All these treasons, and those of the preceding paragraphs, apply to a lesser or greater degree throughout the First World.

Our own time has brought a new problem of definition to treason. The elite ideology of the moment is Liberal Internationalism. This might seem to be a direct challenge to the very idea of treason, for where neither the primacy of the nation nor the authority of a sovereign is recognised, against whom is treason committed? The answer is that for the Liberal Internationalist, treason is any dissent from his ideology. Treason has put on totalitarian clothes.

Unfortunately, the Liberal Internationalist propaganda has been so successful that treason has an old fashioned ring to the modern Briton. It is mocked along with the very idea of patriotism. So long have the British been at peace, so safe does everyday life seem, so ruthlessly have the liberal elite and their educational and media nomenclatura promoted the idea that the time of the nation state is passed, that even naturally patriotic Britons find the idea of treason an uncomfortable one.

That is a mortally dangerous because a belief that treason may be committed is vitally important if we wish to maintain our independence. It is so because the nation state requires a concept of treason as a foundation of its integrity. We desperately need to understand the nature of treason and act upon it for our own protection.

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Alex Salmond is a chancer in the mould of Paterson and Law

Robert Henderson

William Paterson was the main mover of the Darien disaster which bankrupted Scotland in the 1690s through a mixture of ignorance, general incompetence and embezzlement; John Law was the Scot who ruined the currency and economy of Louis XV’s France through the use of paper money backed by land.  The men  had something in common with Salmond: they were both hideously reckless. This disastrous trait was evident in spades during the first of the debates between  Salmond and Alastair Darling on 5 August 2014.

Overall the event was a truly depressing affair, being  little more than a shouting match.  Salmond  spent most of the time with a fixed condescending smile glued to his face while Darling,  thinking he had to be seen as assertive, frequently sounded and looked peevish as he adopted a behaviour  horrendously  at odds with his reticent and mild personality.

The discussion was horribly narrow, being concerned almost entirely with the material advantages and disadvantages of independence and even there much was either omitted or barely touched upon, for example, the  large numbers of  businessmen warning  of  a likely decamping from Scotland to England of many organisations if there is a YES vote or  the loss of UK government contracts if Scotland becomes a foreign country.   Other issues which had economic implications but a much wider significance, most notably  immigration,  remained unmolested by the debate.    To a significant degree the debate was limited in scope by the disproportionate amount of time taken up by  Salmond’s refusal to give a straight answer to the question of what currency Scotland would use  if the vote was for  independence . More of that later.

Completely lacking was any mention of   the consequences of a YES vote for the rest of the UK in general and  for  England in particular. The debate was  conducted entirely on the basis of what was to  the advantage of Scotland.  The fact that the programme  was only available on terrestrial television in Scotland on STV or streaming  through  the STV Player  (which crashed because it was unable to handle the demand)  made some unkind souls see this as  ironically symbolising both  the exclusion of the rest of the UK  from the debate and the many  warnings  from various quarters that Scotland would be a shambles if it goes  alone.

Darling had the better of  the debate simply because Salmond was so inept . Making cheap gibes about Westminster and repeatedly  telling the same old evasive lies on any topic which caused him problems  did not go down well even with the sizeable studio audience .  The polling after the programme confirmed it. The first   YouGov poll taken after the debate  showed  those who have decided  which way to vote will  vote  61%  No  and  39%  YES. With the undecided included   there were 55% supporting a No vote and  35% backing independence,  with  9%  undecided.

Perhaps even more telling than the polls, on the 13 August the Better Together campaign asked that no more contributions be sent to them because there had been thousands of donations  sent in after the debate and they were in danger of breaching the spending limits for the campaign.


Salmond was particularly weak on the question of the currency.   He started from the objectively false claim that the Pound belongs to Scotland as much as it does to England. Darling counter-argued that the Pound belonged to the entire UK.

Legally speaking they were both wrong. The Pound Sterling  is the English currency which Scotland was allowed to share when they signed the Act of Union in 1707, viz.

XVI  That, from and after the Union, the coin shall be of the same standard and value throughout the United Kingdom as now in England, and a Mint shall be continued in Scotland under the same rules as the Mint in England; and the present officers of the Mint continued, subject to such regulations and alterations as Her Majesty, her heirs or successors, or the Parliament of Great Britain, shall think fit.

The Scottish pound became defunct at the same time. If Scotland repudiate the Act of Union of 1707,  they lose the right to use the Pound Sterling in the sense that they no longer have a political right to share the Pound on an equal basis with the rest of the UK.

Scotland  could of course simply use the currency, but they would have no say over its  the management,  no printing or coining rights, and the Bank of England would not act as lender of the last resort to Scottish financial institutions.  Scotland would also have the problem of buying enough Sterling on the open currency market. To do that  she  would have to sell goods and services abroad to provide the wherewithal  to buy  Sterling.

During the time set aside for the Salmond and Darling to question one another,  Darling asked Salmond repeatedly what was his Plan B for the currency now that all three main Westminster Parties had stated categorically that there  would be no currency union between England and Scotland if there was a Yes vote in the referendum.  Salmond simply kept on repeating that if there was a Yes vote Westminster would cave in and accept a currency union. This so angered many of the studio audience that Salmond  was roundly booed as time and again he evaded the question of what would happen if there was no currency union.

Salmond has stuck to the same line on the currency since the debate  saying in an interview that “There is literally nothing anyone can do to stop an independent Scotland using sterling, which is an internationally tradeable currency.…the No campaign’s tactic of saying no to a currency union makes absolutely no economic sense. But it also makes no political sense, and is a tactic that is a deeply dangerous one for them.”

This is classic head-in-the-sand Salmon.   His position is built upon  two ideas: (1)  that anything he demands for Scotland must happen simply because he has demanded it and (2)  that any attempt by the English to point out dangers or look to their own interests is illegitimate and bullying.  At one point Salmond made the incredible claim that if Westminster did not grant Scotland whatever they demanded Westminster would be denying the democratic will of Scotland.  This piece of Lilliputian arrogance was sharply knocked down by Darling, who pointed out that all a YES vote would do would be to empower Salmond  to negotiate terms with the rest of the UK.

At another point Salmond claimed that if there was no currency union , Scotland would not take a proportionate share of the UK national debt. Incredibly Darling did not challenge him on this issue, most probably because he would have had to say that if they did not take  their share  Westminster would have to veto Scottish independence which is, legally speaking, ultimately dependent on the UK government agreeing terms.

No opinion poll over in the independence  campaign has shown the YES camp ahead. The odds are heavily on the  referendum will producing  a NO result.  If the ballot produces a seriously bad result  along the lines of the YouGov poll cited above,  Salmond  and the SNP could be in a very difficult position because it would put another vote on independence  out of the question for a long time, perhaps a generation.   There would it is true be new powers given to the Scottish Parliament,  but the ones likely to be on offer are things such as Scottish control over income tax rates and the collection of the tax by the Scottish government.  Such developments would mean the Scottish government having to take the blame for tax rises or public service cuts if taxes are not raised. That would make  the Scottish government and Parliament much more prone to unpopularity than they are now. If that happens,  those living in Scotland would probably become less and less enamoured of the idea of independence because they would have had a taste of what both sides of government – taxing and spending – would  under an independent  Scottish government.

Even if there is a NO vote with a small majority, much of the difficulty which would occur with a heavy defeat for the YES side would still exist, for it would still be improbable that another vote on independence  would be held quickly, probably not for  least ten years.  During that time those is Scotland would have plenty of opportunity to become disenchanted with their government having to make  the type of hard decisions on taxing and spending  which are the common  political currency of a fully fledged state.  Indeed, things might even be more awkward if the referendum is close rather than heavily against independence.  That is because the closer the vote the more powers Westminster are likely to grant Scotland. The more powers given to Scotland, the greater the opportunity for those in Scotland to blame the Holyrood government rather than Westminster.

There is also the unresolved question of England’s place in a devolved UK. In the event of a NO vote and the granting of greater powers to Scotland (and Wales and Northern  Ireland) there will be pressure for the number of Scottish MPs to be reduced, for English votes on English laws or an English Parliament.  This will eventually produce circumstances which reduce or even completely exclude Scots from English domestic affairs.

Both the increased powers for Scotland and the reduced participation of Scottish MPs  at Westminster will make it more and more difficult for  the Scottish devolved government to blame Westminster for so much of the decision making will occur in Scotland.  In addition,  if the Commons becomes  increasingly an English chamber through English votes for English laws or a completely English chamber if it is used as the English Parliament, that will produce   English politicians who will not be able to neglect English interests as they are now more or less completely neglected.

What does Salmon really want? He certainly does not want true independence because he wishes to have a currency union with the rest of the UK, to keep the Queen as head of state and to join the EU,   which would be a much harder and intrusive taskmaster than ever England would. I suspect that he does not want a YES vote but rather a narrowly won NO vote. That would allow him to get the most potent form of DEVOMAX.

What will be the consequences if, against all the polling  evidence, there is a YES vote?  Salmond will rapidly find himself in the mire. His fantasy world is one in which there  a currency union,   England acts as lender of the last resort  if Scottish financial institutions fail, Scotland is allowed to join the EU on the terms they now  enjoy as part of the UK, England continues to  push huge amounts of money by way of defence contracts and research grants to Scotland and  the revenues from North Sea oil and gas continue to flow like ambrosia from heaven.

There is not  one of the elements in Salmond’s fantasy world which will be realised. Even our Quisling Westminster politicians would not agree to a currency union which would involved England underwriting the Scottish financial system.  The EU will be less than delighted at the prospect of one of the major EU members losing part of its territory to an independence movement because of the precedent it set for places such as Catalonia and those parts of Italy which favour the Northern League.  It is likely that Scotland would have to apply for EU membership like any other applicant. This process would be both time consuming, perhaps several years, and Scotland would have to sign up to the requirements which any new EU applicant has to agree to, including membership of the Euro.  There is also the possibility that the remainder of the  UK could veto Scotland’s application to join the EU.

As for  contracts for defence work and  research grants,  Westminster would have every reason to keep those within the UK. At best, Scotland would have to compete for the contracts and research grants as just another  EU member.  At worst, the rest of the UK might vote to either leave the UK or  remain after obtain concessions which allowed preference to be shown to business and research institutions within England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Either way Scotland could easily find itself excluded.

That leaves the oil and gas dream.  Production of  the oil and gas in Scottish waters  and the tax collected has been steadily declining, viz.:

 Significant production decline and increasing costs have led to total revenues from UK oil and gas production dropping by 44% in 2012-13 and by 24% in 2013-14. In the last two years Corporation Tax revenues have declined by 60% from £8.8 billion in 2011-12 to £3.6 billion in 2013-14 and Petroleum Revenue Tax by 45%  from £2.0 billion to £1.1 billion in 2013-14. [These figures are for the entirety of UK oil and gas production, some of which is in English waters].

The decline is likely to continue, perhaps even speed up, as shale oil and gas deposits are increasingly being exploited.  Nor should the possibility of other energy advances such as cheaper and safer nuclear power be ignored.

But those are only part of the problem for Scotland If the vote is YES. There are many public sector jobs in Scotland which deal with English matters, for example, the administration of much of the English benefits system. All those jobs would leave Scotland.   Many Scottish businesses, especially those in the financial sector  are likely to move at least their head offices to England.  There would have to be border controls to stop immigrants using Scotland as a backdoor to England. More generally, the Scottish economy is dangerously dependent on public sector jobs.  These jobs  would almost certainly have to be severely culled.  The  economy is also very narrow  with drink,  food, financial services and the oil industry making up much of the private enterprise part of it. .

The danger for England would be a Scotland which got itself into a terrible economic mess  and Westminster politicians bailing the country out with English taxpayers’ money . However,  because the  politics of the rest of the UK would  of necessity become ever more centred on English interests, that would become a very difficult thing for the Westminster government to do.

Salmond’s attempt to  lead Scotland to independence on a wing and a prayer is horribly reminiscent of Paterson and Law’s behaviour  300 years ago, with the idea riding way ahead of reality.

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The Commonwealth Games:  England should have many  more medals against their name

Robert Henderson

Gratifying as the official success of the England team at the Commonwealth games –173 medals made up of 58 gold, 59 silver and 57 bronze medals – this underplays the scale of England’s dominance.

Of the 19 gold medals officially ascribed to Scotland and the five ascribed to Wales, no less were won by competitors born in England.


Gold medallists born in England (Place of birth beside each) taking gold for Scotland are:

Dan Keating – Kettering – Gymnastics
Dan Purvis – Liverpool – Gymnastics
Sarah Addlington – Shrewsbury – Judo
Sarah Clark – South Shields – Judo
Libby Clegg – Stockport – Athletics
Chris Sherringham – Ormskirk – Judo
Hannah Miley Swindon – Swimming
Euan Burton Ascot – Judo

8 golds won

Scots born competitors taking gold for Scotland

Darren Burnett bowls
David Peacock bowls
Alex Marshall bowls
Paul Foster bowls
Neil Spiers bowls
Neil Fachie Cycling
Daniel Wallace Swimming
Ross Murdock swimming
Kimberley Renicks Judo
Louise Renwicks Judo
Josh Taylor boxing
Charlie Flynn boxing

11 golds won

The places of birth can be found at

NB the Scots born winners include those in bowls who won playing as pairs. Hence, there are more than 19 names when the two groups are added together. The English born competitors all took individual golds.


The gold medallists born in England (Place of birth beside each) taking gold for Wales were:

Jazz Carlin Shrewsbury
Georgia Davies London
Francesca Jones Kettering
Welsh born competitors taking gold for Wales
Geraint Thomas cycling
Natalie Powell Judo

2 golds won

The places of birth can be found here :

The two Northern Ireland golds were won by Northern Irish born boxers, Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes.

It is reasonable to assume that the use of competitors born in England by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will occur amongst those winning lesser medals or not winning medals at all. The percentage of Scots , Welsh and Northern Irish golds won by English-born competitors is 42% (11 out of 26). If this is repeated in the silver and bronze medals against the Scots, Welsh and N Irish names, that would mean 14 extra silver and 20 extra bronze for England. The English medal total overall would read:

69 gold – 73 silver – 77 bronze, a total of 219.

In addition to the skewing of the medal table by large numbers of English men and women sailing under Celtic flags, England also aids the Celtic Fringe born competitors in many sports because they are part of GB performance programmes which are largely funded by the English.

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How to get larger crowds for County Championship cricket matches

Robert Henderson

In 2001 I put forward a plan  to improve interest in and attendance at County Championship matches to  the  then Chief Executive of the ECB Tim Lamb. The proposal was to allow anyone who purchased a ticket for an England game in England to present that  ticket stub at any County Championship match  to gain free admission to  a day’s  play.   Tickets for Test matches, ODIs and international T20s would qualify.

The beauty of the scheme was that it involved  no cost at best or negligible  cost at worst to  either the ECB or the individual counties. The spectator would simply turn up at their chosen game and hand in the ticket stub. There would be no significant  cost to the county because all the most they  would have to do  would be to  count the number of stubs to allow a judgement to be made as to how successful the scheme was.  As the stub is  produced automatically by the normal ticket design for England matches no extra cost would arise there.

Hundreds of thousands  watch England play cricket in England every year so there  would potentially be  a very  large number who could use their free entry tickets. Many probably would  because entry to Championship  games is  becoming increasingly expensive and  people find it hard to resist something which is free, especially if it is expensive.

Many people who would not normally dream of going to a Championship match would probably   be brought into grounds. Once there they might like what they see and come back as paying customers. Even regular Championship watchers might be persuaded to go more often as paying customers.

But even if  attendances only rose when the free entry ticket stubs were used,  that would be a benefit for it would increase takings for the caterers and club merchandise. Moreover, larger crowds would also create a better atmosphere and that would make the games more attractive to  spectators, broadcasters  and sponsors.

Sadly, although Tim Lamb  showed interest,  nothing ultimately came of  my  attempts to persuade  him to put  the proposal to the ECB.  Arguably the scheme has even  more merit now that it did in 2001 because of the ever  greater dominance of international cricket over domestic  first class cricket   which is struggling throughout the world. What I am proposing for England could  be used in any Test playing country to revive interest in their domestic first class competitions.  It is vital for  the long-term health of world cricket that domestic first class cricket is preserved because it is that which is the conveyor belt producing players  for international cricket.

Would the plan work? Most probably because of the numbers involved and the lure of something free. It is at least worth a trial for a few years for it would cost next to nothing to run the scheme .

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