Sunday, April 15, 2018

Why the Tories want the SNP to let their mandate for a referendum expire

Not for the first time, David Halliday has hit the nail on the head with this tweet -

"If not having an independence referendum before 2021 is sensible then why has Ruth Davidson been fighting so hard to make sure that that's what happens?"

If you find yourself doing (or considering doing) exactly what your opponents want you to do, it's always worth stepping into their shoes and considering why they want you to do it so badly.  From a Tory perspective, there are a number of very good reasons why an early independence referendum is something to dread -

1) The imminence of Brexit means that Project Fear would work in both directions this time.  It will be easy enough for the Yes campaign to produce a steady stream of "There were warnings tonight about the impact of Brexit on..." stories.  (How easy it will be to get the broadcasters to give those stories equal prominence is another matter, but an official campaign can help set the news agenda to some extent.)  If voters are convinced that there are credible reasons to fear the uncertainty of Brexit, the effect of fear in the campaign may be neutralised in a way that was never possible in 2014.

2) Theresa May is absolutely the worst person to be a figurehead for the No campaign.  She is tone-deaf in respect of Scotland.  She could single-handedly lose the referendum for No.

3) Jeremy Corbyn clearly has some appeal in Scotland, but an independence referendum would not be his natural terrain.  As was the case during the EU referendum, he probably wouldn't look terribly interested.  He would also say random things about "SNP austerity" that just wouldn't have much resonance for people in that particular context.

4) Given that the Tories are now Scotland's second party at almost every level of representation, it would be hard to justify sitting back and allowing Labour to be the cuddly public face of the No campaign once again.  And yet the alternative - an identifiably Tory-led No campaign - carries enormous risks.  Notwithstanding Ruth Davidson's much-vaunted "popularity", the Tories remain the most disliked of the major political parties in Scotland.  In a binary-choice referendum, there's not much use having 25% of the population solidly behind you if another 65% hate your guts.

5) The Vow may be a trick that was only ever going to work once.  On the pro-independence side, we tend to think of what could go right or wrong in a referendum purely in terms of victory or defeat, but for the Tories, giving too much ground on devolution is a fate almost as bad as defeat.  If a Yes vote looked like a realistic possibility with a few days to go, they would have to decide whether to make very painful concessions of new powers, or whether (and this is more probable) to offer absolutely nothing and just hope for the best.  Neither option looks too appetising for them in advance.

73 comments:

  1. Absolute spot-on analysis of the situation. Thanks again, James, for expressing the arguments so clearly. The points about May/Corbyn are so true - a boon to the Yes side in a way the Cameron/Miliband Alliance never were because they were a novelty and mildly affable. The May/Corbyn Group has little appeal.

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    1. His Excellency President Assad of SyriaApril 15, 2018 at 11:01 PM

      Hello Rex how are you. Can I help you Scots financially to get rid of the English. I have some chemicals stored away for you if required. I never used nasty weapons against my people. The English are lying and I thank Mr Corbyn and your First Minister for their support in condemning he English. I hate the English as much as you.

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    2. State of this.

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    3. Are you feeling any better today, Glynis? I hope so.

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  2. Excellent and to the point. When you consider doing what your opponents want you to do, take a deep breath and reconsider.

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  3. What off the fact we won't be protected by EU post March 19 and then Westminster Tories can disable our Parly in some way where we can't exercise our mandate, we know full well that they disregard rules and regulations, we will be faqr more vulnerable in what Tories can stop with our Indy after March 2019.

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    1. The real Scottish people do not want your anti English puppet State.. We voted NO..The corrupt mafia EU will eventually be confined to the dustbin of history.

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    2. Who are the "real Scottish people"? Rory Stewart and Edward Mountain?

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    3. The Scots living in Scotland are the Scottish people. Who is Rory Stewart and Edward Mountain? Jimmy Logan an Calumn Kennedy wis Scottish and Donald at the tap of Ben Nevis.

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    4. "Who is Edward Mountain?" Wash your mouth out with soap and water.

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    5. Carbolic soap an watter done but who is Eddie Mountain?

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    6. He is a frigging FOURTH BARONET and a TORY LIST MSP. What planet do you live on, man?

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    7. Awrignt James dont lose the fuckin heid, so he a man off his own importance.

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    8. State of this.

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    9. Are you sure you're alright, Glynis?

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    10. They are just hoping we will wait--
      and then they will turn into Spain!

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  4. Hiv tae say James that Rex Nash sounds a bit Yank like a bowly ricket cowboy that presses his troosers over a barrel. What about Calton Tong Ya Bass, something familiar with the Glesga wurkin class.

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    1. State of this.

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    2. I can have help sent round to you in minutes, Glynis.

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    3. Are you sure you dont need help, Glynis?

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    4. I could contact someone on your behalf, Glynis, if you need assistance badly.

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  5. We'll let's get started ASAP, we all know Brexit is going Tae be a major f**k up. Great piece by the way👍🏻

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    1. Big Tam McGuire, We can get your Irish pals over tae help big man!

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    2. State of this.

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  6. @James Kelly

    I love your writing on independence and David Halliday‘s tweet is genius in 127 characters.

    However, reading your points I couldn’t shake the feeling that the post’s subconscious frame of reference is arguing all the points that lost YES the last referendum. These points may be all true. But it leaves the narrative in the hands of Westminster and as such YES remains at the mercy of their forces (and their apparatus…media, money)

    Once Scotland showed it wasn’t going back in the box, Westminser has not stood still and is now gunning for Scotland. This is no longer the 2014 question of self-determination …I suspect this is now a question of self-preservation for Scotland and its Sovereignty.

    This time the circumstances are totally different, the threat is pressing and Scotland now has a different and compelling case for protecting its sovereignty that has nothing to do with Westmister parties—good, bad (or terrible). That should be the language and become the frame for discussions.

    Every week that passes, events by Westminster are making Scottish Independence ever more important and urgent. When the Brexit vote occurred, no one fully extrapolated/knew the potential dangers to Scotland. If you want to break out in a cold sweat just consider the implications of the following 5 revelations/fact that have emerged since the Brexit vote:

    * BREXIT HENRY VIII powers –
    Ministers alone can change/repeal any
    act/law with out parliament approval

    * SCOTLAND OFFICE – Supersized
    Indy-car’s information about a secret & massive
    expansion of Westminster’s Scotland Office....(why and what for)

    * A NEW ACT OF UNION – by Westminster
    Sooooo freaky. How can anyone in Scotland sleep at night.

    * UK’s UNWRITTEN CONSTITUTION
    Once a convention is broken by parliament,
    it is no longer part of the UK Constitution.
    Any new convention is part of the Constitution.

    * THE SEWEL CONVENTION - is as worthless as “The Vow”


    If you don’t see it... just feed POINT 1 into POINT 4, and then apply to POINTS 2 & 3. Extrapolate that out…Does it leave you with a Scottish parliament, Scottish legal system,….Is your sovereignty safe….Is that a place you want to live?

    HENCE. This is not the 2014 question of self-determination. This is potentially an existential threat to Scotland’s very sovereignty.

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    1. If anyone is curious about how changing the threat changes the Independence narrative/message….I will re-post the following extract:

      ……………………………………….
      WHAT IS THE MESSAGE/WHAT IS THE QUESTION?

      There is a saying that the ground is as comfortable as you are tired.

      The level of threat to Scotland determines the level to which all the subsequent questions need to be answered (or if they are even asked).

      Just as an example, If I told you that within 6months Scotland would cease to be a country, have any parliament, and be assimilated permanently within Brittan as a region…

      What would you do?
      Would you vote for independence?
      Are Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May relevant at all?
      How many details of the future independent Scotland’s arrangement would you need fully answered?


      ……….THE MANDATE……….
      People appear to have forgotten the SNP mandate is not a universal “VOTE FOR SNP and HAVE INDYREF2’. It was very specific….

      IF there was a material change
      of circumstance, Scotland reserves
      the right to hold another referendum….

      YES needs to be strong and honest about the real issues. Also, if YES can’t sell the independence case when their sovereignty (being a country) is at threat from a rogue Executive, then that is a huge problem for the YES movement.


      ………………………………………………………
      OH…and to end…

      There potentially really is only 6 -12 months until Scotland faces the danger of no longer being a sovereign country….Less if Westminster crashes out of Brexit.

      SO….What is the question.

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  7. Have I been asleep for over a month or is there something sinister at electoral calculus site

    "Prediction based on opinion polls from 02 Mar 2018 to 27 Mar 2018, sampling 7,723 people."

    Do they prepare poll results so far in advance?

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    1. Bah, just noticed after posting, it says mar, not may. Off to get some coffee and wake up

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  8. Yes, I agree that David Halliday is spot on (and usually is).

    Someone in response seemed to imply that it was just a good electoral tactic for Ruth Davidson to follow and that was why she was doing it. Well, I am sure she is certainly pleased of this side-effect but I don't think it's her only (or even main) reason.

    In any event, in considering why 'Unionists' full stop are determined to push it past 2021 we can get a bit too focused on 'why does Ruth want it?' at the expense of why 'unionists' as a whole are trying to put it off.

    In some ways, the above is understandable because (by dint of having benefited most from 'No to Indyref 2') Ruth has become sort of the figurehead of 'No' amongst unionist MSPs.

    But, in seeing things through the eyes of the MSP who has benefited most electorally from shouting 'Naw', we can maybe lull ourselves into seeing all 'No' people as just thinking in terms of the votes that are in it for them.

    Looking at some of the others shows that (even if only partly the case for Ruth and the Tories) it really must be determination to put us off. Because (other than in some pockets of the country) surely no-one is going to argue that Willie Rennie or Kezia Dugdale or countless others supported No or shouted 'No to Indyref 2' because it made their parties more successful?

    Rather Labour and the Lib Dems have been content to allow the Tories to have electoral success because they are so against indyref 2 that they'd rather screw themselves over than allow it.

    So it cannot be the case that all unionists are only against having indyref before 2021 because they think it's making them more electorally successful to say so.

    As a side issue, it may be the case that Labour are happy to have Ruth be the figurehead of No in the next go-round, imagining the Tories will then suffer afterwards as Labour did after indyref 1.

    If so, this is a terrible miscalculation on their part because i) the reverse wouldn't happen because few if any Yessers would go into indyref2 imagining the Tories were 'on their side' and ii) anyway Labour forget now that they were in decline well before indyref 1.

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  9. "If not having an independence referendum before 2021 is sensible then why has Ruth Davidson been fighting so hard to make sure that that's what happens?"

    It's because opposing a referendum has been a big vote winner for the Tories, even though the No vote has held up at indyref levels.

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    1. More than one motivation impossible? Ruth uniquely placed to know exactly what the outcome would be pre-2021 (i.e. has reason not to fear an indyref under any circumstances)?

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  10. Still think there will be a referendum Sep 19...maybe as soon as May 19 and no later than May 20. It will depend on the fall out of the final Brexit deal which should be clear by Oct 18 (but, on current performance by the UK team, that may slip a month or two).

    Don't see the point in waiting until post 2021 other than the demographics are in our favour...which I concede is a consideration. There is a possibility that there will not be an overall majority in Holyrood in 2021 for another referendum but that is a gamble for the No camp too. If there is a majority and the vote is in 2022/2023 they are even more likely to lose than now.

    The electorate post March 19 is going to exclude EU nationals regardless but they voted 70% No last time believing the guff about us leaving the EU. So that is not a loss to the Yes camp it a loss to the No camp. OK if we could include them this time they would likely vote 100% Yes but I doubt that is an option. May is not a democrat by nature and wresting a section 30 from her grasp is likely to be fraught enough as it is. Indeed we might have to proceed without one.

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  11. @HandandShrimp

    I am curious why you think Sep 19. I note all your dates are post the (29 March 2019) Brexit date where UK has legally left the EU and Westminster's insidious legislative framework is fully in place (Henry VIII powers).


    I agree, Scotland can not count on a Section 30 from Westminster. If YES thought Westminster played hard last time....I suspect that will look like child's play against what it will be like this time. Scotland needs to be careful of "asking permission"...instead it must move from a position of its own sovereignty. Eg., The UK did not seek permission for the BREXIT referendum from the EU and would never countenance such a position.

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    1. The SNP manifesto was to hold a referendum based on a significant change in circumstances. As things stand and largely due to the UK's inability to grasp difficult nettles we are unlikely to see the extent and scope of those changes until Oct 18. I think a six month campaign would be sufficient so May 19 looks like the earliest we could hold it. A vote in the winter months is feasible but hostage to fortune if it snows. If Westminster proves obstuctive then a Sept 19 date may well be the most practical option (or sometime between May and Sept). I don't think it will May 20 but it is an outlier.

      EU membership is shot I think. I don't think the EU is capable of moving quickly enough to bridge any gap even if we voted today. Rejoining should not prove difficult but as a stop gap we may wish to consider EFTA as a stepping stone. If we like EFTA we could stay on that stepping stone a while. Of course the EU may surprise us and say you're in the day after a Yes vote but unless that is on the table we cannot offer it as part of the Yes deal. Likewise we cannot offer a currency union as part of the Yes deal. This time we offer nothing that is not within our gift to give, even if it is self evident that it is a likely outcome because it is too easy for others to say "That's no happening". I favour our own currency. The No side can say our own currency will be shite and smell of cooties (indeed they will say that about everything in an independent Scotland) but they cannot say we cannot have one.

      Just my personal views I will entertain others :)

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    2. @HandandShrimp

      So glad to hear your thoughts on this.

      As I interpret your post, you currently see that the "Significant change in circumstances" must be the effects occurring from the changes rather than the underling changes themselves. Would that be accurate?

      I am curious if you don't see any threat to Scotland's sovereignty (and its ability to even have a referendum) from the legislative and constitutional actions Westminster are setting in place for Brexit? Ie. the changes in the legal structure of Westminster....rather than focusing on what those new laws may eventually reveal (I won't list them here for brevity).

      My comment about EU was not about Scotland retaining continuous membership. The comments were to note when the legal changes we are seeing emerge actually have come into force. Once Westminster signs the Brexit Bill and Ministers are able to change legislation without parliament, the foundations will shift rapidly.

      EG: If Indycar's Jan 29 report is accurate, what is the point of a new 100+ staff being hired by Mundell for the Scottish Office since Jan 2018. 100+ staff department can get through a lot of prep work in over a year that they will have been working before Brexit Date. Taking the cynical position, that gives all the indications of Westminster setting up a new governing structure for Scotland under wraps just waiting to be activated.

      If Westminster crashes out early, then that may occur much sooner than the scheduled 29 March 2019.

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    3. There is a potential threat from some of the Machiavellian processes Mundell is involved in and it might in the end come to Catalonia style direct action. Westminster might consider that they are playing with fire if they think they can unpick the 1707 Union and lock themselves in perpetuity to unbridled power. In the end I doubt they are so foolish to try such a thing but they have proved foolish in a number of areas already so it can't be ruled out. I think that road leads to Irish troubles style violence which I would deplore. It would be a long and painful road to independence and people would die. It isn't something I would want it isn't something Mundell should want if he has any sense.

      Of course Britain could fall out of the EU and the worst case no deal scenario kicks in. In that case an earlier referendum is likely, possibly Oct 18. I don't think May wants a no deal scenario so I have not included it in my possible options but of course the best laid plans and all that. Having come this far though I think they will negotiate right up to the wire.

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    4. @HandandShrimp

      Thanks for the response. I will try and keep this reply positive and not fall down the negative rabbit holes.

      Reading your last post, it appears you do countenance that the risks for Scotland potentially embedded in the current "change of circumstances" are exponentially greater this time. This is radically different to 2014.

      The question is how you handle that risk...Do you trust Westminster to treat your sovereignty rights with respect? Do they have a history of that behaviour? (I will not list the alternate facts here...many make me too sad and it takes any conversation away from the positive). Instead, lets look at it this way. Historically, states are as brutal in their efforts, as you are of value to them. How valuable is Scotland and Scottish seas to them? Post Brext:
      - London will no longer be the EU banker;
      - England will be out of EU's just in time manufacturing;
      - London's gold primacy will be challenged by China's new gold backed oil dollar.

      These damaging losses for England did not exist in 2014. Extrapolate onto those impacts what an isolated England would loose if Scotland left. Now consider how hard Westminster would fight for that.

      The question for YES is: How do you best protect Scotland (and its sovereignty)? Is it better to use the mandate you have but before Westminster can activate any negative legislative tools. OR Do you wait...and hope that Westminster doesn't activate a power grab and neuter Scotland's political institutions/tools.

      You even raise the option of OCT 2018...Which is the safer option where Scotland has more control over factors. PSSST...that is 6 months away....if YES needs that option, you now have 6months to do what it took 2 years to organise for the 2014 indy ref. As a question, if you had a event that you may need to activate next week or next year, which do you plan for? The only way to deal with that risk is to plan for the soonest and if it is extended then role plans over....Planing for the latter and getting ambushed by the earlier is hugely risky and doomed to fail...

      In relation to May/Westminster intentions, all we can stay at present is that they show no signs planning for an orderly normal Brexit. If that is off the table, all we can do to see any real intentions is look at their actions. At best, it is only possible to surmise that Westminster is laying the ground work for both options (Transition deal / No deal). Again, trusting a government that is making all the noises of a potentially devastating outcome and cultivating a "Blame Europe/Saboteurs" atmosphere...This is a huge risk.

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  12. Just consider this about a Section 30 Order. May has to determine whether it would be safer for her to win 50% in a referendum vote or lose to a 40% vote for the SNP in a subsequent mandated for independence General Election. My money would be on the former as her better bet, but it would give her sleepless nights.

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    1. @Bill McDermott

      After the 2015 General Election, Westminster is no longer scared of how many SNP MPs there are. They only need to make sure they are not the balance of power.

      If the SNP had 56 of the 59 Scottish seats and were little more than an annoyance to the Tories, that moment was essentially proof that it is not possible to effectively express Scotland’s sovereignty through Westminster. This landslide independence majority did nothing for its securing of the just promised rights…”the Vow” has fully evaporated as the apparition it always was.

      My money would be on Westminster never granting another Section 30. Why risk an unforeseen escape, when they have shown they are learning to manage Scottish flare-ups. Add to this the reduction of MPs for Scotland to 53 and some political/economic shenanigans to manage the rogue "saboteurs" north of the boarder and they can almost just leave it to their Scottish branches and the media.

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  13. Rex Nash, Your initial comment was mince and wishfull thinking. James has to attempt to ratchet up nat sis support but you lot are going no where in the polls.
    And Corbyn is a liabilty for Labour. Knickerless is a disgrace for using the chemical attack on children to have a go at Trump. And that motormouth gobshit Caroline Lucas is a rival for Knickerless in the gobshite stakes.

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    1. You're not any better, Glynis? Maybe try and get some help tomorriw, dear.

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    2. Rex trot aff tae yer wee hut in the gerden an lick yer haw maws.

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    3. State of this.

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    4. You'll probably be as right as rain soon, Glynis dear.

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  14. Kenny Grayskull latest nat si traitor. Nat sis imploding.

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    1. State of this.

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    2. Poor Glynis just won't seek help. I worry for her.

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    3. It doesn't come here for dialogue, Rex. All it's interested in doing is venting its impotent rage on the rest of us. It's fit only for our mockery.

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  15. I have know idea why the numpties on here keep responding to GWC2 if you want to reply to him write IGNORED stop fueling the Frire.

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    1. The numptie fuels the Frire!

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    2. State of this.

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  16. Taxpayers alliance say 220 people employed by local authorities take home salaries over £100.000 and all due huge pensions. We have over 1.223 councillors and 129 MSP'S plus their staff and 44 spin doctors. And food banks! And you nat sis are in power.

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  17. For God sake - when are we going to get out of this tyrannical union?! I woke up this morning - AND WE'RE STILL IN IT!!!

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    1. You were an unfertalised nat si sperm and lost in heaven. You know, just a prick.

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    2. GWC2 you are not faithfull to the true faith and papa Frank the big yin. Ok we were fuckin children up the be hooky but we are sorry.

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    3. State of this, talking to itself.

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    4. State of this.

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  18. Whits aw this aboot the Jock Nat sis employing that Cambridge mob to do dirty work for them?

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    1. It is not going away and it is not surprising that a bunch of nat si would employ a bunch of nasties.

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    2. State of this.

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  19. House of Lords flinging a spanner in May's Brexit works.
    Opportunity knocks for Scotland. Soon be time for Henry McLeish and Co tae get aff the fence and back scottish statehood.
    He could bring a lot of Labour folk along with him.

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    1. The Lords should be abolished and replaced by a second elected chamber of around 150 to scrutinise legislation.
      Scottish MSP'S should be cut by 50% and a second elected chamber of around 30 to scrutinise Parliament. The Gravy Train needs expunged and the taxpayer
      not ripped off.

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    2. What do you care? You hate democracy.

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    3. I do care that my tax is being handed out to a glut of unnecessary politicians.
      And it just goes to show that you Tartan Tories are no better than the rest.
      The Scottish Parliament could easily be halved and no one would notice.

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    4. State of this pathetic rant.

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  20. The Jocko Nat sis need to explain why they approached Cambridge Analytica in the first instance and for what purpose.
    We need to know the names of the Nat sis who did approach them and who authorised it.
    Who would have footed the bill if the Nat sis did employ them.?

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  21. When the BritNat trolls get totally hysterical, you know that James has nailed it.

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    1. Hysterical laughter at you Nat sis.

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    2. State of this.

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