Tuesday, 11 November 2014

"Business for Scotland" Smith Commission Submission

I've covered at length elsewhere in this blog the background to "Business for Scotland"; they are a thinly disguised SNP construct that - post referendum - seems to have given up any pretence of being apolitical.

I've observed before that one of their founding Directors (Jim Mather) is the former SNP Minister for Enterprise, their CEO (Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp) is a failed SNP local council candidate and the First Minister is fond of using them for photo-opportunities and attended their annual fund-raising dinner. We can now add to that the fact that Business for Scotland Director and spokesman Ivan McKeee - who made a very public show of outrage when I suggested in a public debate that he was aligned with the SNP - has recently announced he has joined the party.

Business for Scotland's Smith Commission submission is authored by David "an SNP and independence supporter all his life" Hood.  Before you read the following extracts you might need to be reminded that these people actually lost the argument and the vote.  Extracts follow, highlighting and translations are my own;

  • "any major change to Scotland’s place within the UK requires only the domestic Scottish-based representatives of Scotland and the assent of it’s people to make it so in terms of a democratic process and decision"

    Translation: let's ignore the fact that the sovereign will of the Scottish people has just been shown to be to remain in political union with the rest of the UK; instead let's assert that the rest of the UK should have no say whatsoever as any major change in Scotland's relationship with the UK has nothing to do with them

  • "This Commission should be viewed and conducted in line with the spirit of the Edinburgh Agreement; that is, to work to remedy the fact that ‘promises and pledges’ made in the Referendum campaign period by the main UK political parties (including the ‘purdah’ period) are meaningfully delivered as a baseline foundation from which to deliberate further. Anything less than that will be an effrontery to democracy and justifiably render this Commission and its findings or recommendations void and justifiably precipitate legitimate political, legal and moral action on behalf of the people of Scotland, to deliver full independence."

    Translation: if you don't deliver what we interpret the vow to have meant we'll just declare your recommendations void and become independent anyway (because we didn't like the actual referendum result).

  • "The ‘No’ vote that prevailed in the referendum does not sanction or mandate the UK government to consider adding a minimum level of further self governance, to the existing devolution structure. It if anything, the vote sanctioned the opposite. It was given in anticipation of a maximum level of powers and capabilities and must therefore be seen as endorsing a position as close to independence as possible"

    Translation: although the electorate answered the very clear and simple question "Should Scotland be an independent country" with a resounding No, you should interpret that as they really meant Yes.  Because - you know - when an electorate says no they really mean yes...

  • "Everything should be devolved apart from specific, agreed, reserved items – but those items must be expressly agreed with, and by, the democratically elected representatives that are elected in Scotland, and hence must reflect the ultimate sovereignty of the Scottish people. It is not for those that populate London, Westminster or Whitehall to limit, decide or confer. Nor indeed is it within their competency. Again, anything less than a true reflection of will, that results in an express and sanctioned agreement will be a travesty of democracy, a stitch-up and a lost opportunity to produce something of profound and lasting merit"

    Translation: in case you missed it earlier, let's reiterate that despite the will of the Scottish people being to remain in political union with the rest of the UK we urge you to ignore that because any politicians outside Scotland are incompetent.  In fact we're already preemptively whipping ourselves into a fervour of outrage - we can't resist using words like "travesty" and "stitch-up" - because let's be honest we don't really care what you come up with; we'll cry foul if it's anything other than de-facto independence and this submission is just letting you know that.

  • "The current ‘democratic deficit’ is of course debatable, depending on perspective; yet what is clear is that things on both and all sides are not as they should be and any deficit needs to be addressed convincingly and completely. If that democratic deficit is not reduced to the point that most of the Scottish people would wish it (that is, the aspirations of the overall majority of the electorate, whether they voted Yes or No in the Referendum), then it should be clear to the Commission that the only way to resolve this would be when, and how, Scotland chooses to take the step to full independence unilaterally"

    Translation: If the implied threat earlier wasn't clear enough let's be explicit about this - if we don't like your answer we'll just make a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.  It doesn't matter whether people voted Yes or No in the referendum; we're going to claim they're on our side either way.

  • "There are an infinitive number of permutations that the Commission could consider whether as a starting point or end, but the simplest of all hypotheses is one where Scotland is already 
  • independent, and this starting perspective prevents discourse and deliberation becoming unnecessarily complexLooking at where there are existing and likely competing agendas, aspirations and desires between the Nations making up the UK, is a fantastic and logical place to start"

  • Translation: Don't go troubling yourself with any complex discourse or deliberation or worry that Independence was resoundingly rejected by the Scottish people; just pretend the vote was actually Yes so your recommendations have to be as close to independence as possible.

I can't begin to imagine how helpful the Smith Commission will find this submission from this self-styled "political party neutral business and economic policy think tank"


Fedupsouthener said...

What a great article Kevin. You couldn't have summed it up better. Democracy in Scotland will be dead if Salmond and co get their way. I fear for all of us living in Scotland and especially for those who are not born here. Doesn't look as though there will be many openings for them in Scotland. Already the whole issue of independence is having a dire effect on the housing market. No homes have been sold in my area for a very long time and there are some lovely homes but as one agent put it "People from England who used to make up much of our market are being simply put off by the political goings on in Scotland right now". Who would want to move here of their own free will only to find they have no democratic rights and their vote means sod all??

geomac said...

The ever devious and manipulative SNP are once again trying to circumvent democracy - not only have they bullied quangos into supporting them, they are setting up front groups like this to try to fool people!

Anonymous said...

Really well put.

Gordon Innes said...

Disappointing you decided to use your blog to attack individuals rather than focus on a comparison of BfS submission to that of the CBI. But you did force me to do my own research on this by looking at the published Bodies submissions and initial report on public submissions on the Smith Commision resources webpage - so thank you for 'kicking' me into doing that :-) .

A key basic flaw in what you have written is that you identify the piece you complain about as the official BfS submission - but it is not! Patrially true but not actually correct. It does make this clear in the BfS page you reference, but I'll give you benefit of doubt that this was a genuine error rather than a "Blair McD style" assertion. This is in fact the BfS Edinburgh submission. And for anyone who thinks that does not matter you might like to ask why there is a CBI submission - but none from CBI Scotland ...

As >90% CBI members are outside Scotland it is clear that its view - focusing almost exclusively on what should Not be devolved - represents that of a UK 'Establishment' Org rather than considering what might benefit Scots; Scots firms; Scottish Business sectors and the wider Scottish economy.

It is also interesting to note having watched part of the Smith Commission meeting yesterday that the CBI was one of the bodies invited to give views live to Commision and did so through one of its UK [Westminster Lobby Team] rather than anyone from CBI Scotland. It appears BfS was not invited.

While I understand your wish to question the way BfS 'over-represents' is is nothing compared to the lack of transparency from a Royal Charter CBI - who refuse to provide verifiable evidence on thier claims. I would rate thier analysis as weak and narrow scoped; and while raising a few valid concerns provides limmited justification for assertion. If it were a Student paper I'd send it back for more work!

So your thoughts on that and the relative analysis in the actual BfS paper and that from the CBI could be interesting to hear.

Sorry post is so long ...

Kevin Hague said...

Gordon: sorry to disappoint you.

I have now reviewed their main submission - I really don't have time to cross-compare all of them for you - see latest post Business for Scotland and Smith Commission II