- All you could ever want to know about Scottish independence
- The Scottish independence referendum – The second STV debate 2nd Sept 2014
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- What is treason today?
- Alex Salmond is a chancer in the mould of Paterson and Law
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- How the BBC fixes phone-ins – The Radio 5 Breakfast Programme phone-in on 6 May 2014
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Robert Henderson The full debate can be found at http://player.stv.tv/programmes/yes-or-no/ 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Posted on March 25, 2014by
Robert Henderson During February 2014 the Conservative, Labour and LibDem parties all pledged not to enter into a currency union consisting of Scotland and the rest of the UK if there is a YES to independence in the coming referendum … Continue reading →
Robert Henderson The Edinburgh Agreement was signed By David Cameron and Alex Salmon in Edinburgh on 15 October 2012. (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Government/concordats/Referendum-on-independence#MemorandumofUnderstanding ). It established the legal basis for the Scottish independence referendum. The first point to note is that Cameron went …Continue reading →
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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xgsly). The … Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
Posted on February 10, 2014by
Robert Henderson What do our politicians think of the electorate: precious little. All the major mainstream parties either ignore or cynically misrepresent the issues which are most important to the British – immigration, our relationship with the EU, the English …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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Posted in Devolution, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged England, independence, Parliament, Scotland | 41 Comments | Edit
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 →
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 →
Robert Henderson A Daily Telegraph report of 27 January 2012 “Nuclear subs will stay in Scotland” ( James Kirkup -http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9043092/Nuclear-subs-will-stay-in-Scotland-Royal-Navy-chiefs-decide.html) is most disturbing. The essence of the story is that should Scotland votes for independence the UK nuclear deterrent would … Continue reading →
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→
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. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9040988/Alex-Salmonds-independence-question-is-loaded-and-biased.html). The question is biased because it is (1) asking people to positively agree not merely choose from … Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Posted in Devolution, Economics, Immigration, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged EU, public service, public spending,Scotland, The Scots | 4 Comments | Edit
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 (http://www.scotland.org/facts/population/) set in an area … Continue reading →
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 →
The Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) has committed itself to the Queen being Scotland’s head of state should independence occur. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2011/may/25/alexsalmond-queen). As with so much of the SNP policy towards independence this presumes something which is far from self-evident, namely, that …Continue reading →
Posted on June 13, 2011by
The Scots Numpty Party (SNP) fondly imagines that an independent Scotland would continue to have free access to England. They recklessly assume Scotland’s position would be akin to that of the Republic of Ireland. However, that assumption rests on a …Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 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 →
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 →
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 →
The full debate can be found at http://player.stv.tv/programmes/yes-or-no/
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The very heavy reliance of the Scottish economy on taxpayer funded jobs .
- The narrowness of the private sector of the Scottish economy, it being massively dependent on oil and gas, financial services and food and drink.
- Immigration to Scotland.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 http://www.hmg.gov.uk/epetition-responses/petition-view.aspx?epref=TreasonAmend 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?
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.
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.
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 http://results.glasgow2014.com/nation/SCO/scotland.html
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 : http://results.glasgow2014.com/nation/WAL/wales.html
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.
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 .