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September 02, 2010


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My objection to this kind of thing at the British Broadcasting Corporation is having to pay for it.

I think perhaps that someone should point out how incredibly silly and petty they both sounded. How little and cheap.

If you look at Baroness Ruth's contribution it is, well, inarticulate in the extreme. It’s a wee bit silly coming from someone who sits in parliament. Does everyone in the House of Lords think that we are all on the dole and being subsidised? Maybe the House of Lords should tour the “provinces” occasionally so that they lose the impression of the land that Thatcher created in the 80s. We’ve moved on Mrs Deech.

Little Douglas might be quite good when he grows up, but he was too easily led by the laughter and cheers he was getting from the audience. You could hear him swelling with them, going that little bit farther for another laugh.., pushing the boundaries.

It was the performance of a stand up comedian running down his mother-in-law, not a serious commentator. He should come back when he has matured and has something intelligent to say.

But of course in Sutton Coalfield Scotland is a place far away about which they know very little.

As for the BBC, they seem to dislike Scotland; their programming here disrespects us. Their news is Anglo centric and frequently makes no mention of the fact that what they are reporting does not affect Scotland.

And still we pay the licence fee.

Looks to me like someone has had a word in Jimmy Wales' ear.
Can't go round upsetting establishment figures can we?

What I find rather strange is that Mr J Wales is willing to take as gospel what comes out of the BBC and anything that comes from A another source is dicounted as irrelevant because it shows the MSM in its true light. It has changed my view in Wiki's authenticity in being above board in all things which is there loss resulting in my reluctance to use it as an unbiased site.

Racist. Full stop!

I have no idea who Alan Oliver is. Maybe you do and can tell me. I agree, the comments you quoted are clearly ridiculously bigoted.
I do know who Baroness Deech and Douglas Murray are: They are high profile and regular commentators on UK TV and radio. One is a House of Lords peer. They have a great deal of influence. That's kind of important.
I don't agree with censorhip. Nor do I agree with character assassination, but I do believe in debate. If someone in the public eye says something bigoted, not a joke but a nasty comment in a widely broadcast political debate, it should be pointed out and discussed. As you said, it should be out in the open, not hidden away.

You will notice that the anti Scots on this thread just ignore any fact that doesn't suit them so there is little point in wasting time explaining stuff to them. Better to continue explaining stuff to intelligent Scots who recognise that you would find huge disparities in per capita funding if you looked at differnt areas for instance across England. It's geography and population desity, area to area, that produces the differences and of course "identified public expenditure", which only includes about 65% of public expenditure and completely ignores government procurement imbalances, has always been carefully identified to produce a slewed picture of the actual Scotland/England fiscal relationship.

Joan, I see you've attracted a colourful following on this one.

I am not entirely convinced about independence for Scotland, preferring first to attempt real constitutional reform within the UK. Perhaps I'm wishing on a star here!

So, when I listened to this abomination of a Radio programme, which is a fully-paid public service broadcast, I was offended to be told (to cheers) that my country should pack up and leave our beloved neighbours. That I was indeed one of a collective called "them" and not one of "us". That I was not in fact earning an honest crust by working fifty hours per week, but instead that I was being subsidised to live my life. That the politicians we elect to the Scottish Parliament are somehow "Mickey Mouse" politicians.

I said on another blog that I'm starting to become numb to this sort of treatment. Yes, it happens often, but in a less overt and more subtle way. Perhaps one day this sensitisation treatment will finally work and I will accept my inferior position within the UK. Until then I'll continue to speak up against this creeping bigotry.

A footnote:

"Scratch the average southern Englishman and you find a peasant whose
idea of humour is to point at a foreigner of any description and laugh."

This is a direct quote from a letter published by the Scotsman from one Alan Oliver on 2nd September. Am I offended? Do I think the paper should not have published it? No in both cases. Mr Oliver's criticism of the English is a mere assertion. His (not uncommon) bigotry speaks for itself. Far better in the open than hidden. (and yes, like Joan he does appear to be an offended nationalst)

Salmondnet, Wyrdtimes et al, If possible I'd like to depart from this UK set up, wish you a fond farewell and part as friends. Better that I go now before, as a scrounger, I offend you further. All that we need now is to negotiate the exit price and I'm off. Please work as hard as you can to ensure it happens as soon as possible. The thought of being handcuffed to you for another minute is as abhorent to me as it is to you. So as the Dolphins put it, "so long and thanks for all the fish".

PS as a bonus for you, imagine an England with no more labour governments as I imagine a Scotland with out the dead hand of Westminster lying on it nor the need to send our sons and daughters to die shoring up your "empire"

As salmondnet says ,it is curious the Scots. Nats. are the ones who are most offended at Baroness Deech's view
Surely it is getting them nearer to what they want"Freedom".
All it takes is a cross on a Paper at the next election
Please Scotland ,just do it.Bet they don't


"If Scotland pays out benefits that are not available in England it is not because the Scots are swimming in English cash, it is because the Government has chosen to pay for that benefit at the expense of something else."

It's not as simple as that.

Scots get more per person, per year funding than anyone in England outside London.

It's not just how the Scottish government decides to spend the money - it gets more money per person. A slightly higher amount might just be justifiable but the actual difference is the difference between free care for the elderly and old folks selling their homes for care. For free higher education and students leaving with £25000 worth of debt. Cheaper prescriptions etc etc

For the record, I was at this edition of Any Questions and the biggest cheer of the night was for Deech's comment on Scotland going it alone.

Support for Scottish independence is growing in England at least.

If Scotland pays out benefits that are not available in England it is not because the Scots are swimming in English cash, it is because the Government has chosen to pay for that benefit at the expense of something else.

It is as simple as that.

1. GERS are official figures and show no funding gap. I have already referred to to the McCrone and Stiglitz links on which you chose not to comment.

2. You and others may well agree with the Baroness. I was talking about her tone which was odd for someone in her position. Plus she did say benefits and I have listened to her several times, she meant scroungers - whatever she says with hindsight. Interesting that you don't address the points I made about an establishment Scot making similarly inflammatory statements. It just wouldn't happen and if it did there would be outrage.

3. If Scotland is doing as badly economically as you suggest, it's not a great argument for The Union is it?

4. Some Scottish Unionists - certainly not all - would rather see Scotland fail than break up the UK. That is because they regard survival of the Labour movement and/or the Labour party to be more important.

Just three points. One. I didn't say that the oil revenue is irrelevant, I said it is not enough to plug the funding gap. I know it is an article of faith amongst Scottish nationalists that the English have been living on Scotland's oil. There will never be any agreement on this, because that belief is what has underpinned the resurgence of Scottish nationalism. I repeat, however, that I am confident enough that they (you?) have got their sums wrong to be very happy for the matter to be put to the only undeniable test - an end to the Union.

Two. The idea that Scottish Unionists would want Scotland to under perform is frankly bizarre to the point of paranoia. I have never encountered a Scot of any political colour for whom Scotland's interests were not paramount. Unionists merely take a different view of how those interests are best served.

Three. I heard Baroness Deech's comments and have read a transcript. They are tough, and truthful, but do not bear the interpretation that she called the Scottish people scroungers (she was talking about the benefits which the Barnet Formula pays for in Scotland which are not available in England). It is not her fault if the truth hurts.


Curiously, it is Scottish Nationalists, who also seek an independent Scotland, who seem most offended by Baroness Deech's view.


@salmondnet. Re subsidy. The figures for revenues have long been unreliable see Alan Holt's academic piece on Scotland and Wales funding here

It's interesting, however, that as the data collection improves, Scotland's position improves. Please use the links in my blog re Prof Stiglitz and McCrone. The UK has been an oil economy for a long time - the point is beyond dispute. So it follows that arguments claiming oil revenue would be irrelevant for Scotland are unsustainable. What is sustainable is that the Scottish economy as a whole could have performed better. The Union has served us badly. Perhaps it suits Scottish Unionists for us to underperform, exporting our talent etc. Others have more ambition for Scotland and its people.

The tone of the Baroness's other comments offended people, particularly given the position she holds. She did not just attack Scottish Labour politicians (and English ones with Scottish names!) she called the Scottish people scroungers. I simply cannot imagine an equivalent establishment Scottish figure using similar language talking about the English - it is inconceivable that an SNP politician could say something like that, using similar phrases, and for it not to cause a row. As I say in the blog post, we are constantly reading stories about "anti English racism" in the context of football....but this broadcast, which has clearly offended lots of people, passes without comment apart from the web, and my column.

I don't want to get into the business of personally attacking the woman's character or using words like racism. I just wanted to point out the inability of the BBC national network to adequately "speak to the nation". It's an impossible task if 90% of the nation live in England.

Those who believe in the Ancient Nation of Scotland also believe in the Ancient Nation of England don't forget.

Minor pedanticism: "wiki" is a generic word for website the readers can edit; no-one owns this word. "Wikipedia" (proper name, trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation) is the popular web-based encyclopedia the readers can edit.

("Wikileaks" apparently started wanting to model itself on Wikipedia, and uses the same software - which anyone can use - but now isn't user-editable; however, they're probably stuck with the name. Derives from the generic term.)

I can assure you that the Scottish nationalist view is extremely well known in England, far more so than any Scottish Unionist view. That is why the audience so approved of Baroness Deech's comments. However we remain unconvinced that, overall, North Sea oil revenues plug the funding gap. They have done so, but only in half a dozen or so of the thirty plus years that the oil has been on stream.

Baroness Deech, far from ranting, said what many of us think - that a semi-detached Scotland is, from an English perspective, much more trouble and expense than it is worth. Full Scottish independence would be greatly preferable.

Scots may find that unflattering, but the world is not obliged to accept Scotland at its own valuation.

Curiously, it is Scottish Nationalists, who also seek an independent Scotland, who seem most offended by Baroness Deech's view. If you really believe you are funding the Union please take the logical step and go for independence. This will make England a much happier place.

Well said Joan, thank you. Murray purports to be the Director of something called the "The Centre for Social Cohesion" which boast that it "is a non-partisan think-tank that studies issues related to community cohesion in the UK. Committed to the promotion of human rights, it is the first think-tank in the UK to specialise in studying radicalisation and extremism within Britain". Looks like this man needs to get the vision statement out and start reading from word one of line one. Either that or the commision needs to boot him out, as he appears to have failed miserably in understanding what they are about. Unless of course it counts radicalising the Scots by making extreme comments a success? Pathetic, and made worse by the pitiful responses of our politicians, who appear once again in cringe mode.

Hi Joan,

It looks like Douglas Murray has been at it again, see Is it true he runs a Centre for Social Cohesion? If so he has a strange way of bringing about any sort of cohesion, except perhaps amongst racists.

Excellent article - a pity that more are not so fair and balanced as yourself.

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