Latest Herald letter – published 28th August. (Beat the paywall)

IT is difficult to this outsider to understand how even a small number of Church of Scotland ministers favours independence, or how “Christians for Independence” is not a contradiction in terms (“Dozens of Kirk ministers backing independence”, The Herald, August 25).

What part of “love thy neighbour as thyself'” do they not understand? I have checked it this morning: my King James Bible does not go on to say “except thy closest neighbour, and not beyond Berwick”.

Peter A Russell,

Dear Yes voters and other Nationalists,

Today, a friend tweeted that he would be bowing off twitter for a few weeks; this follows others of my acquaintance in the No camp who have done likewise.

It is not my intention to do so (at least not completely) but you should know the reasons why people feel this way.

First, a message to the hardcore, otherwise known as “Radical Independence Campaign”, “Scottish Socialist Party”,  cybernats, etc.

It is your right to disagree with anyone.

However, you might like to consider that you may be mistaken to characterise those who disagree with you as “a wanker, a racist, a snob, a Quisling, a fascist, a warmonger, a coward, an idiot, a liar, uncaring of the poor, and someone who would have kept Nelson Mandela in prison” and to hold us responsible for the global banking crisis, the MPs expenses scandal and NHS privatisation in England. (Also please leave the c-word to the literate, like the Earl of Rochester)

Please just consider that like me, they might be better described as “a social democrat who prefers devolution to independence.”

By the way, please feel free to describe me as an apologist for the invasion of Iraq. See my blog on the subject here. Since then, I continue to agree with the forces of democracy and freedom in Iraq who also supported the invasion, above all the Kurdish people who again face dire peril, this time from ISIS.

And a message to mainstream/official Yes Campaign:

In the course of a conversation about friends and comrades who have quit Twitter completely, I stumbled on the phrase “like a 24 hours a day argument with a Trot.” At this point, the light-bulb went on: that is exactly what it is like, and in some cases, exactly what it is.

Like Militant and other far-left groups who infiltrated the Labour Party in the 1970s and 80s, many Yessers are in the grip of cult-like certainty and do not shrink from intimidation in word and deed.

One manifestation of this is the behaviour of your Yes supporters in public, which has consistently included an element of intimidation. This ranges from the picketing and disruption which makes the arrangement of Better Together meetings difficult, to the hostile mobs which greet Jim Murphy on the streets of Scotland. Here is an example which features official Yes blue jackets.

People now openly talk of not putting No posters in their houses for fear of having their windows put in; and you have surely heard of cars bearing No stickers being vandalised

So, please be careful who welcome into your Yes camp. They do your cause no good and shame Scotland.

You may also wish to reflect on the experience of the Labour Party and the Militant Tendency. Militant’s aim was to destroy the Labour Party by implosion, and to replace it as the party of the British working class. So do not be surprised if your far-left adherents follow the same pattern. The signs are as follows:

  • assertion that the cause (in this case independence) will of itself bring about miraculous results
  • messianic belief that the cause is a force of destiny, i.e., that “history is on our side”
  • hatred and belittling of those who do not share the cause (see above)
  • irrational dismissal of impartial information such as opinion polls and the media as being in the hands of the enemies of the people
  • conspiracy theories (like advising voters to not use pencil provided as it can be rubbed out and falsified)

These are then followed by denunciation of aims and leaders of the cause when miraculous results do not appear. So watch out after 18th September, whatever the outcome. You are being taken for  “useful idiots” and being supported by the leftists “like a rope supports the hanged man” as Lenin also puts it.

To everyone else, by the way:  

I am not stopping using this blog and the letters pages to campaign for No. Just today (Saturday 23rd August) I have written to the Herald on the subject of Yes intimidation.

I will just be taking a lower profile on Twitter. I have – maybe belatedly – remembered the wise words that it is best to avoid arguing with an idiot in public, as onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

At the same time, my admiration for those with more stamina in the NO camp is enormous.

Finally, to the cybernats once more:  

Three words, two of which are “get” and “to”. I feel better for that.

Herald letter – not published.

You really wonder at some people’s lack of knowledge sometimes. And that the press indulges them. And will not publish refutation.


We have had Alex Salmond havering about aliens and driving on the righthand side of the road, and scaremongering about NHS budgets, but now we have the most truly preposterous claim by the Yes Campaign so far: Mr Bill Ward tells us that Donald Dewar might well have been a Yes supporter.

I knew Donald: I worked with him on local government issues in opposition. He kindly agreed to speak at Fabian Society meetings which I organised. He was my MP. I attended his funeral.

Many knew him better than I did, and I am sure that like me, not one of them ever heard Donald make a single statement which could be interpreted as support for Scottish independence – indeed, his opposition to it was legendary, which put him in a very special place in nationalist demonology.

To him, there was no question that devolution was unfinished business or a halfway house to independence: it was – as it remains – an end in its own right, whereby Scotland governs its own affairs within the UK. I am sure that Donald would have employed a characteristically inventive and scathing response to any such suggestion otherwise.

The rest of us should reflect on just how deluded Yes supporters are by their irrational faith in their misguided cause, and wonder what they will claim next. The support of Norman and Janey Buchan maybe?


Peter A. Russell

The Yes Scotland NHS Scares And Lies Strategy. (My latest on Left Foot Forward)

Cannot let this rest. Yes lies about the NHS need to be exposed.

Planet Pedro!

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the latest turn of the independence referendum shows it to be true, as the Yes campaign has borrowed one of New Labour’s best tricks.

Those of us with long memories will recall various bye-election campaigns in Tony Blair’s spell as Leader of the Opposition when Peter Mandelson would run a last-week leaflet bearing the headline “One Week To Save Our NHS/Hospitals” etc.

This would appeal to the natural concerns of the local public who would then turn out to defeat the hapless Tory candidate who would be left shaking their head in bewilderment.

The Yes Campaign is now playing the same game, but with an important difference: where the New Labour case was based on genuine concerns, the Nationalists are spreading a pack of lies.

A further difference is that Labour was genuinely concerned about the future of the…

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Latest Herald letter (beat the paywall)

YOU report Alasdair Gray as telling his audience: “This will be the third referendum, and at each of the past referendums, the vote for Scottish independence has increased” (“Gray encouraged by No camp’s promises”, The Herald, August 14).

For a polymath, this is surprising ignorance, as the two previous referendums were, in fact, both on proposals for devolution.

Nor is this mere pedantry, unless the verdict of the Scottish public is to be dismissed as a matter of mere mistaken identity, or that the settled will of the Scottish people for devolution was not that at all, but a Trojan Horse for independence (which was certainly not on the ballot paper).

On the contrary, in 1997 the people of Scotland voted for – and the late Donald Dewar and the Labour Government delivered – a Scottish Parliament with powers over Scotland’s domestic affairs, services and institutions, supported by and within the shared security and responsibilities of the United Kingdom. The devolution referendum was specifically a vote for the best of both worlds.

A Yes vote would be an insult to the memory of Donald Dewar and to so many others who campaigned for devolution as a rational and practical alternative to independence. Conversely, a No vote is the only vote which accepts and honours their efforts, and the verdict of Scots in those earlier referendums.

Peter A Russell,

I told COSLA…


Tell us what you think                                                                             

We have not provided a long list of questions to answer, but we do want to hear what you have to say about some themes.  Please respond to as few or as many as you wish.  However, it would be helpful to keep your overall response to eight pages or less.

Please provide evidence or examples in support of what you say.  This will help us understand and explore your ideas further.

  1. LOCAL DECISION MAKING: Do you think that decisions about local issues and services are made locally enough in Scotland at the moment? If not, what does deciding ‘locally’ mean to you? Please illustrate your answer with any examples from your own experience.

The key is the principle of subsidiarity, as practiced in e.g., Germany. This means that it assumed that public policy decisions are made at the nearest possible level to the citizens who are affected, and that decisions are only made at a wider level only if it can proven to be impractical or undesirable to do so locally.

On this test, Scotland clearly fails. It continues the UK position whereby any written constitution would not commence “…We the People…” but “…We, the Government…” instead.

In decision-making, ‘locally’ means as near as possible to point where the effect of the decision will be felt.


  1. LOCAL ACCOUNTABILITY: How important do you think it is for locally elected people to be responsible for decisions about local issues and services? Do you have any examples of why this is the case?

Local politicians come in two main varieties, both of which are useful.

Type One comprises career politicians, who serve a stint locally before going on to higher office: these are useful because work hard and have an interest in making a wider impact.

Type 2 comprises citizen-politicians, who serve because they want to do the best for the community and their town or city. These are useful because they know their electorate, and because they are generally stay around long enough to see major projects through.

Great examples of Type 2 councillors in Glasgow are Jean McFadden (Leader, Treasurer and President of COSLA); Pat Lally (Leader and Lord Provost); Susan Baird (Lord Provost); Bob Winter (Lord Provost). I worked for all of these (except Susan) as Policy Adviser.


  1. LOCAL PRIORITIES: How well do you think that communities’ local priorities are accounted for in the way that national and local government works at the moment? What is effective, and if there is room for improvement, how should things change?   

National government at Westminster and Holyrood treats local government appallingly: worst of all, MPs and MSPs appear to see local councils as a problem, not as part of the solution to problems in cities, towns and communities. As a result, Holyrood in particular interferes and undermines local decision-making. This ranges from a crude power grab such as a centralised police force or the Council tax Freeze to the abuse of local council decisions as weapons in Scottish Parliament bye-elections (school closures in Dunfermline).


  1. STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY: What do you think should be done to strengthen local democratic decision making in Scotland? Do you have any ideas or examples about how this could improve people’s lives?

See excellent report by Eberhardt Bort et al for Jimmy Reid Foundation:

Also my own letter to Sunday Herald

My structure for local government in Scotland would be to identify local councils (in cities “Burghs” in the country: towns and villages as the basic building block. These would be supported by regional bodies (e.g., Greater Glasgow, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire) as next stage up, but these would all acquire powers at expense of the Scottish Government (as per my letter).

The regional level would be mainly redistributive through a Regional Income Tax. In this way, Glasgow could be very similar in status to the successful model of the German Hansestädte. Other units (Edinburgh/Lothian) might also adopt this model if suitable locally.



  1. SCOTLAND’S FUTURE: Has there been enough discussion about local democracy in the debate about Scotland’s future? If not, what should be addressed and how might this be achieved?

No. The SNP Scottish Government has centralized and wishes to keep quiet about this.

Labour might address the issue in its Devolution Commission but that remains unknown.


  1. OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES: Do you have any concerns about strengthening local democratic decision making in Scotland?  

There is no agreed and settled system of local government finance and taxation. The current system will not survive a revaluation and must be replaced, meaning winners and losers. In a Scotland where losers are to be avoided at all costs, it is difficult to see how this will come about.

(I would prefer a Regional Income Tax plus Councils allowed to set own levels and Bands for Property Tax, and being allowed to set and keep own non-domestic rates.)


  1. We would like to keep the conversation going with you. Can you tell us about any events, networks or other ways in which we could help achieve this?  Is there anything that we can do to support you?

I would be pleased to discuss my views with you, and look forward to hearing from you.

The Union “as Domestic Abuse” – Condemned by Scottish Women’s Aid and Disowned by Yes Scotland.

On 23rd July I sent a copy of the attached poster to Scottish Women’s Aid in the following terms:

Hello Scottish Women’s Aid.

I would be grateful if you could let me know your views on the comparisons
being made by Yes Scotland between the UK and an abusive relationship. I
enclose a link which illustrates my point:

I have never been in an abusive relationship, but members of my family
were (in the 1970s)and I find the comparison offensive and inaccurate.


Peter A. Russell

I received the following reply on 28th July:

Hi Peter,

Thank you for your e-mail. And bringing this poster to our attention.
We agree that the poster does use an inappropriate and offensive comparison to someone living with domestic abuse. However, we have checked and this poster was not produced by the official Yes Scotland campaign, but by an individual. We have sent an e-mail to the official yes campaign to alert them to this.

Best wishes
Lydia Okroj
Service Development Manager
Scottish Women’s Aid

Hopefully this will put a stop to such offensive garbage ever being peddled again.