Tag Archives: scottish independence

Baroness Wilcox’s Expenses

(Posted April 2018) This was doing the rounds of Facebook the other week, especially Scottish Indy group pages. This woman apparently claims our hard earned cash to pay for her travel to the House of Lords from her house just round the corner. This appeared on the Facebook group page Pensioners for Indy and it had been shared from another FB group page called Rolling Thunder.

Continue reading Baroness Wilcox’s Expenses

Indy Meme Culture

dictionary definition: meme (noun) 

1. an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one     individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. 
2. an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.

Or this from Wikipedia:
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.I wrote some background about Indy Memes in a post Indy Memes: True or False. I included an example of a false meme. False memes spread disinformation even if they are genuinely meant to persuade people to support Scottish independence. Good memes are definitely a good thing... they spread accurate information in a way that's easy to understand and share.

I voice my opposition to false themes by explaining why they’re inaccurate and unhelpful. But I am also interested in why people post them on social media and how they get under our skin in the way they do. And they certainly do have an impact because they are shared round and round social media. Often the same meme re-eappearing every few weeks or so.

This page follows on from my original post and shows up some Indy  memes, asks if they are true and wonders how they impact on us. Click on the images to find out more….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indy Memes: True or False?

dictionary definition: meme (noun) 

1. an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one     individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. 
2. an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.

Or this from Wikipedia:
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

I log into various Scottish Indy groups on Facebook. There are lots of ‘memes’ in these groups. Most of them are positive, often funny, sometimes inspiring.  Here are a few taken from Yes Scotland’s Future.

There are other memes though which are attempting to communicate something but which are doing it by disseminating misinformation. I’m not going to go far as to say that their creators are deliberately lying. Or cynically trying manipulate other people. I think it’s likely that most of the misleading memes are genuinely intended to spur others to come over to the Yes side of the Scottish constitutional debate.
 
I think it’s only fair that whoever first creates a meme needs to have thought about and researched their topic. At least to have googled it. I think it’s also fair  that people who share a meme over social media also need to consider how likely it is to be true or false.
 
Having said that, it’s also true that the aspirations and emotions behind these memes are shared by all of us who want Scotland to be its own independent country. But the question is: are those aspirations well served by misleading slogans and posters?
 
Look at this one:
 
Two statements and an image.  And the “You Yes Yet?” and “The Way Forward” slogans at the bottom makes it clear what the aim of the poster is. Behind what you see here are some basic facts about Scotland and being Scottish:
  • we Scots make one of the best, most appreciated, and sought after drinks in the world. No, not IrnBru. Whisky. 
  • it’s an iconic part of being Scottish
  • it carries a great deal of cultural and social weight here. It’s what you offer your guests when they come through the door. It communicates values of friendship and trust.
  • whisky is exported all over the world and to some extent it carries those Scottish cultural memes with it

As well as those cultural associations, whisky produces a lot of revenue from the various ways those exports are taxed. It will be a significant part of an independent Scotland’s GDP and revenue stream.

This is where things get muddy. HMRC does the sums about the UK’s trade. The UK’s trade. There is no Scottish HMRC which does the sums for Scottish trade. Instead what we have are a series of estimates made by HMRC. It can’t be an easy task because although Scotch is made in Scotland, it is exported from ports all over the UK. It’s probably often sold on to secondary firms elsewhere in UK who then arrange for its export from, say, Felixstowe or Liverpool. Add to this practical nightmare, it seems that in the past HMRC didn’t count anything as a Scottish export, or a Welsh export, unless it did leave through a Scottish or Welsh port. I’m saying ‘seems’ because I have no way of confirming that actually happened. But it is widely held to have happened. And more to the point, it is still held to be happening now.

The meme works because it plays into a sense that Scotland is treated unfairly by the current tax and financial arrangements. Something that we create and which has value to us is somehow lost to us. It doesn't count, literally. And it's not a big step from that to "we don't count".

Hence the the two statements on the poster. The first statement is true. But whatever export accounting system that HMRC may have used in the past, the second statement is definitely false.

 This is what I commented when this meme appeared on the Pensioners4Indy Facebook page last month:

I’m as much in favour as anyone else in this group to get accurate figures for Scottish economic activity. But this is just not true. Or I should say it’s mostly not true, and it’s all untrue as stated in the poster above. Please don’t share it.

If a Scottish company exports its product even if it goes via a port in rUk, then HMRC classes it as a Scottish export.

What does appear to be true is that if something is exported from a Scottish company to a separate company elsewhere in rUK and then that second company exports it from rUK, then that ‘second port of export’ won’t count towards Scottish export figures.

You don’t have to take my word for it, just google “HMRC Scottish exports” and you find this on the HMRC website:

Are Scottish goods which are exported via ports from the rest of the UK counted as international Scottish exports?

Yes. The ESS publication measures the destination of goods exported from Scotland regardless of the port from which they leave the UK.

How are Scotch Whisky exports treated?

All international exports relevant to Scotch Whisky are counted as Scottish exports, irrespective of the port at which they depart the UK. The data is sourced from the HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics report.

Scotch Whisky exports to the rest of the UK are estimated based on GCS responses, as HMRC do not collect information on trade within the UK[1].

How does ESS treat the situation where Scottish goods are initially exported to the rest of the UK, and subsequently re-exported?

The ESS estimates only capture the first point of export. This means if a good is exported to a company in the rest of the UK and that company then exports it somewhere else, ESS will only capture the export to the rest of the UK.

Direct sales from Scottish companies to international destinations are counted as international exports regardless of where they leave the UK.

 After a couple of days, with quite a few ‘likes’ appearing on my comment, the original post was deleted by whoever posted it. I counted that as a success. Though I have to say that before it was deleted it had been shared about four times. On that basis it wasn’t a success. And if those shares were themselves shared then by this time it will have appeared in hundreds of Facebook posts. 
 
Now if you’re reading this and you’re someone who does share Indy memes on your Facebook page then you might be feeling a bit grumpy or offended with me. If you are, I don’t mind that. It might be  good thing if it makes you  hesitate the next time before you click that share button. 
 
If you’re now wondering about other misleading Indy memes, look under the Indy Snippets tab at the top of the page. I’ll add them there as I come across them.

Indy Meme Culture: Passion, Reason & Debate

I’m linked in to a number of Facebook groups which support Scottish Independence. I see a lot of what’s posted in these groups. I reckon that there’s lot of overlap between me and the other people in the group in terms of our aspirations for Scotland. Also in terms of our sense of humour. Also in terms of our politics.  There’s a bit of mild abuse directed towards Tories in general and towards Ruth, Theresa and Boris in particular. On the whole we don’t think much of Labour’s new saviour Mr Corbyn. Nor his Scottish lieutenant, Richard Leonard. And mostly we don’t even bother to mention the Scottish LibDems or any other LibDem variety. But of course we like Nicola and her cohorts. And we also approve of the Scottish Greens.

It’s true that hese groups are echo chambers for like-minded independence supporters. There aren’t even many unionist trolls to be seen off. But we also inform each other, bring news from elsewhere to each other’s attention, promote events and fundraisers, and cheer ourselves up when yet another inaccurate mainstream media item hits the headlines. Some people in the groups are a dab hand at creating great posters. Some of us like me write on our own blogs and post to the groups.

But every now and then I see stuff that is completely wrong factually. Continue reading Indy Meme Culture: Passion, Reason & Debate

SCOxit: Putting English Gas O’an a Peep….

Posted on 14 Mar, 2018

Read on to find out where these figures come from …..

There was a report last week, Perfect Storm for Energy Supplies as UK Runs on Empty about UK gas supplies running low in the Siberian cold snap and snow storms we’ve had. It’s in the Telegraph and has a lot of background detail (though they’ll only let you read it once before asking you to register).  In 2004 North Sea gas production meant that the UK was self-sufficient in gas. Since then our production has fallen and  we are now importing about 60% of our needs. And it’s not going to get any better : the National Grid estimates that we will be importing over 90% by 2040. The Guardian has a good article about this too though they are mostly concerned with the fact that a third of the imports are from Qatar.

Here are the facts.

In 2015, UK  production of natural gas, including natural gas liquids (NGL), was 429 Terawatt Hours (ref: Oil & Gas Stastistics) and in 2016 it had climbed to 463 (ref: UKGov Natural Gas, Ch4). This got me wondering how much if that comes from Scottish waters. I expect you see where I’m going with this!

How much natural gas does Scotland and rUK produce?

Overall, 96% of UK oil & liquid natural gas production comes from Scottish waters, so it’s very tempting to think that, post-SCOxit, the situation for England  will be hugely worse when it comes to them having to import  gas!

But then I remembered that the southern sector of the North Sea mostly has gas fields and this sector will be within English territorial waters. So the proportion of gas production from Scotland compared with rUK is much less, though it’s still more than half:

By Gautier, D.L. – US Dept. of Interior USGS Bulletin 2204-C, Public Domain, Link

I’ve also done a bit of researching into other sources for how much gas is produced from the Southern North Sea . It’s all there in the Oil & Gas Authority Offshore Production figures, gas field by gas field, except you need to know which fields are in the south. Fortunately  Wikipedia has a list of North Sea oil and gas fields by sector. So by putting the two sets of info together I’ve got an estimate for gas production coming from English sector of the North Sea. It amounts to around 150 Terawatt Hours in 2017. This is gas from offshore North Sea. There is some onshore gas production and some from Irish Sea sector. That all fits with this 150 tWh estimate being a bit less than the 170 tWh that I calculated from the Oil & Gas Statistics.  

But the main point is that in 2016 we produced 60% of UK’s natural gas and  LNG, liquid natural gas. (Ref: Scottish Government Oil & Gas Statistics)  

How much natural gas does Scotland & rUK consume?

In 2016, UK consumed 891 tWh of natural gas. (Ref: UK Energy Brief, p23) Initially I assumed that 10% of that consumption happens in Scotland, based on us having 8% of the UK population plus a bit because it’s colder up here. But since then I’ve found these stats which show that in terms of gas meters, we only account for  4.5% of UK metered usage. 

However that doesn’t include other ways in which gas is used, the big one being power generation. Now Scotland is fast approaching self-sufficiency in electricity production from renewable sources, ie not from gas fuelled power stations. But let’s be generous and assume that Scotland still takes 8% of total UK gas usage, ie 71tWh. That means rUK consumption is 820 Terawatt Hours. If they produce 170 tWh and assuming that all imported gas, 418tWh,  will go to  rUk then they will still need a further 232 tWH supply to plug the production hole post-SCOxit.

Where do our gas imports come from?

It’s from these countries that we import gas to UK at present:

According to Reuters, Norway won’t be able to plug a post-SCOxit gap (Ref: Reuters, 2012) Another option is to import it from elsewhere in Europe but that in effect means becoming more reliant on  Russian gas.  The easiest option will be for rUK to buy it from Scotland. But can Scotland plug the rUK gas shortfall? No, not all of it.  We’re producing about 260 tWh and using about 71tWh. So we have a surplus of about 189 tWh. In the short -term rUK’s gas imports will look like this. 

OK, so that prompts another question. What’s the wholesale cost of natural gas? And how much income would come to Scotland from exporting 189 tWh of it to England? 

The wholesale gas market in Britain has one price for gas irrespective of where the gas comes from. This is called the National Balancing Point (NBP) price of gas and is usually quoted in price per therm of gas. (Ref: Ofgen)

Current price is around 50p/ therm (Ref: ERC Equipose) so that just needs converting to tWh….. OK, 1 tWh equals 34.1 million Therms. UK therms, of course, just in case you’re worried that I’m using the right units. So Scottish exports of 189 tWh of gas will sell for – Wait for it :

 

Now this exercise isn’t about me finding a new source of income to the Scottish Exchequer. Tax income from this £3billion is presumably already included in the GERS estimates under Oil & Gas Revenue. What this is about is showing that rUK will be dependent on us for its gas supply. There’s no way they can do without Scottish gas imports. So next time we hear some Unionist telling us that independence will put Scottish trade at risk cos they might just stop trading with us, just wait till they draw breath and say: 

Aye, right!! but whit aboot yon 180 terawatt hours of gas ye need frae us?

 

 

 

 

 

Scotland 8% of UK Population: Too Wee, Too Poor?

I’m a fan of John Robertson’s website Talking Up Scotland. If you search for ‘8%’ on his website you get a list of his posts where he gives various examples of how Scotland, with 8% of the UK population, repeatedly achieves much more per head of the population than rUK. 

I used one of his posts, about the number of nurses in Scotland compared to England , to make up this visual: 

It proved popular on various Indy supporting Faceboook groups and I know that it’s been shared around quite a lot. So I thought I should produce a set of such visual aids for other examples where Scotland punches above its weight. All of them give a reference for how you can find the original data if you’re so minded. Most of them are taken from Talking Up Scotland, some I’ve found myself. 

I’ve tried to compare Scotland with whole of the UK. But to be honest, England is so much the biggest share of UK, that adding in Wales and NI doesn’t make that much difference to the overall percentages.

Here they are. Don’t know about you but it makes me think that the “Scotland’s too wee and too poor to be an independent country” slogan is just not true. Well I’ve never thought it was true but it’s good to have some examples of just why that slogan is such as insult to what we’re already doing for our society, never mind what we could do if we held all the political lives of power in our own hands.

 

#DebunkingUnionism_001: NHS Scotland

I’m a fan of John Robertson’s blog Talking Up Scotland. He scans stories in the Scottish media and where it’s needed – and it’s often needed – he debunks pro-Unionist propaganda: first of all by making it plain where the media outlets are using Labour, Tory or LibDem press releases verbatim and without any fact-checking and secondly by putting the information into context.

One of his posts  on NHS Staffing is about the run of anti-NHS Scotland stories about what a shambles the SNP is making of it. These stories are appearing all over  the Union-supporting Scottish media, which is to say most of the Scottish media.

I quite enjoy taking his info and putting it into visual format. Here are a couple I’ve just done. 

Denying the Facts

A couple of years back I did a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Denial101x run by the University of Queensland. It is a very, very good introduction to how climate change deniers misrepresent and twist information about climate change to suit their agenda. Their agenda being that “it isn’t happening”, or at least “it’s not happening very quickly”, or “it’s not happening where we live”.  This will take you to my post on Denial 101X if you want to find out more.

These days that climate change denial industry has expanded to other subjects. Donald Trump is a master of using outright lies and misdirection to get his agenda across. Unfortunately social media allows his followers to spread that misdirection to a huge audience. In fact to a huu-uuge audience. Of course he has his own denial about climate change too: “It’s a hoax invented by the Chinese

Even more unfortunately, pro-Union supporters employ the same sort of tactics against the Scottish Independence campaigners. They’re just not so good at it.  Or maybe they think we have the attention span of a gold fish and won’t remember what they said on Twitter before they deleted what they said. Or maybe they just think our heid buttons up the back.

 

 

Wee Duggy Dug!!!

I have just discovered these wee videos made in 2014 by NewsNet.scot in the run-up to ScotRef and starring Duggy Dug. He knows everything about why Scotland should be an independent country. Thank you NewsNet.scot… Grrruff, grrufff.

North Sea Oil – Still Game After All These Years?

Is the UK North Sea Oil Sector its Last Legs?
During the 2014 Scottish Independence campaign it certainly seemed that North Sea oil was at the end of its useful life. We kept being told that independence would be a disaster for Scotland. We’d be bankrupt, not least because the oil was about to run out.

The Scottish Government White Paper on Independence used the oil industry’s own estimates of 24billion barrels of still recoverable resources. Then Sir Ian Woods intervened in the debate  saying 15-18 billion barrels was more likely and that by 2050 an independent Scotland wouldn’t have any oil revenue income. (Ref: BBC, Aug 2014). Sir Ian doesn’t support Scottish Independence. That doesn’t mean he was being biassed in his estimate but his opinion was given a great deal of weight by the Unionist-supporting media (ie nearly all of the UK media) and less was given to the oil industry’s opinion.

Continue reading North Sea Oil – Still Game After All These Years?

Please, Norway, Could You Help Us Look After Our Oil?

Let’s start with this impressive statement of intent from Norway about its oil resources:

“The overall objective of Norway’s petroleum policy has always been to provide a framework for the profitable production of oil and gas in the long term.
It has also been considered important to ensure that as large as possible a share of the value creation accrues to the state, so that it can benefit society as a whole. This is partly obtained by the tax system.”
(Norsk Petroleum)

That’s called responsible stewardship.

Continue reading Please, Norway, Could You Help Us Look After Our Oil?

Scottish Political Parties: Social Media ratings

STV have just done an analysis of how good Scottish political parties are at using social media. I’m not surprised that SNP are way ahead of everyone else. I think that’s partly because they know that mainstream media do not accurately reflect the SNP activities, spokespeople and  policies. So they’ve had to get good at blawin’ therr ain trumpets!

But when I say they’re better than everyone else, I mean they are way, way better… Look at these comparisons:

 

 

Stiglitz on Brexit and on Scottish Independence

Jo Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize winner for Economics. He is also one the First Minister of Scotland’s council of economic advisers. In this BBC interview, he is pondering on Brexit. He thinks a Norway-type agreement would be best if we do leave; and on Scottish Independence: he was in favour in 2014 and thinks those arguments are stronger now given the way Brexit talks are going.

Meet My MEP – Alyn Smith

The EU Parliament in Scotland runs regular events called Meet Your MEP. I went to one here in Glasgow with David Martin, Labour MEP. I really appreciated what he said and the Q&A session afterwards. The most recent event was in Edinburgh with Alyn Smith, SNP MEP. I’m on his weekly email list where he sends out a round-up of he’s been doing and what’s in the news regarding the EU, UK, Scotland…. These days most of that is dominated by Brexit. He posts links to the response to the Brexit negotiations in European media which I wouldn’t come across otherwise.

You can see me scribbling down some notes during Alyn’s talk and the Q&A afterwards. Most of what was spoken about referred to Brexit, its consequences for UK and in particular for Scotland. Here is the gist of my scribbles as accurately as I can make them.

Continue reading Meet My MEP – Alyn Smith

Richard Murphy’s Journey to Yes

Richard Murphy is a political economist. You  might have come across his blog TaxResearchUK which is much, much more interesting reading than you might guess from it’s title! For example “It’s time the BBC learned that all money is made out of thin air.” and “Has Carney taken leave of his sense?” Carney being the Chairman of the Bank of England.

Recently he wrote about the inadequacies of the GERS (Governement Expenditure & Revenue Scotland) figures. If you read my blog you’ll have spotted me trying to makes me sense of them and what they say about the Scottish economy. According to Richard, I shouldn’t waste my time as they are not fit for purpose. Or to be more precise not fit if your purpose is to make sense of the Scottish economy. On the other hand if your purpose is to obfuscate the likely state of an independent Scottish economy, they do an admirable job. He has written several posts about GERS, for example “Why economic data provided by London will not help the Scottish independence debate” and  “More on Why GERS might properly be called crap data” .

In this video he talks about he see sees leaving the UK as the only way for Scotland to reach its full economic and human potential.  The prize is a better Scotland. He takes about the economic forces powering the Yes movement, he dismantles the case for GERS and looks at the key issues of currency, investment and taxation that must be addressed to win the independence argument. Worth a listen….

Journey to Yes

In 2014 we Scots voted in a referendum. Either Yes! we wanted Scotland to be an independent nation once more after more than 300 years of political union with England. Or No, we wanted to remain in that union. At the beginning of the campaign opinion polls showed a Yes vote at about 25%. By 14 Sept 2014 the day of the vote it was 45%. That’s a big increase. But not a big enough increase. 

Since then the promises made to us by the Unionist politicians to get us to vote No have mostly been shown to be empty. In particular the No campaign took a strong line over EU: the only way to be sure of remaining in the EU was to stay in the Union; an independent Scotland wouldn’t be able to join the EU; Spain would veto us; we’d be out in the economic cold. Aye, right. It was not correct then and it sure as hell isn’t right now after England voted to leave the EU last June. Scotland voted to remain by 62% : 38%. That isn’t important apparently and we should just be quiet and let our kindly Westminster Government get on with sorting things out for us.

Not surprisingly, some people who supported the No campaign in 2014 have shifted their view and now support Yes. Here are some videos made by Phantom Power which tell the stories of those Journeys to Yes.