Pages tagged with "Media Watch"

A loss of freedom is the price we pay for Brexit

Brian Monteith tries to defend the indefensible, firstly equating Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion with the UK's 2016 Brexit vote and secondly agreeing with Boris Johnson's characterisation of being a member of the EU family, as slavery.  The comparisons could not be more inaccurate. Ukraine is fighting for its survival as an independent state after being invaded by its larger neighbour. Brexit was (as we now know) a Russian-influenced campaign resulting in a narrow vote to leave the European Union, that the UK had been a successful member of for over 40 years. Johnson's cack-handed attempt to conflate the two events is both politically manipulative, insincere and indefensible.

Monteith's Scotsman column serves only to demonstrate that the low quality of Johnson is matched by his acolytes. Monteith claims, Brexit has freed UK citizens from EU serfdom, is he aware that Ukraine desperately wants to join the EU, which the EU has accepted, and asked for its application to be fast-tracked, which the EU has declined?

Unanswered questions hang over the Brexit campaign. The head of Vote Leave, insurance salesman Aaron Banks, met Russian officials multiple times before the 2016 vote and was offered Russian money in the form of business opportunities and gold and diamond mines by the Russian ambassador to the UK. Aaron Banks also made the largest single donation, £8 million, to the Leave campaign. The Electoral Commission found there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the “true source” of the money.

It’s notable that Boris Johnson delayed the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russian interference in the 2016 referendum until after he was in Downing Street. One of the Authors of the report concluded that ministers actively avoided looking for evidence of Russian interference and that the UK Government should have recognised the threat in 2014 when there was “credible open source commentary” that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

Russian infiltration into the very heart of the British political establishment and London’s transformation into the world’s laundromat for dirty money is well documented. And we know that Johnson rebuffed intelligence officials’ concerns about Evgeny Lebedev (whose father was a KGB agent) and then he went ahead to make him a member of the House of Lords.
Does Monteith wonder why P&O recently sacked 800 UK employees but no French or Dutch workers? It’s because Dutch and French national employment laws are far stronger than UK laws. The Dover workers will be replaced by Indian seafarers being paid $2.38 per hour, well below minimum wage. The UK Government isn’t challenging P&O on the legality of their actions nor is it thinking of strengthening national employment laws to prevent this from happening again.

Monteith doesn’t seem bothered that Brexit will deliver a 4% permanent hit to UK GDP. The long-term damage from Covid will be just half of that. Even before the Ukraine war, higher taxes, food and energy prices and shortages were already a reality. 

Energy prices are set to soar higher, plunging millions more into poverty. The French have capped energy prices at 4%, but the UK is allowing them to rise 54%. And Scots will pay the most given the much higher transmission charges Ofgem imposes on Scottish generators. This is especially perverse when renewables, producing nearly all of Scotland’s electricity, are cheaper than oil and gas. 

The Australia trade deal will deliver a 0.01% bump to GDP while trade with the EU will plunge by 15%, costing the UK economy £32 billion. That’s money that could have funded social care and cushioned the blow from inflation and interest rate increases. The deal also threatens the livelihoods of Scottish farmers and fishermen, who have already seen exports take a nosedive since Brexit. 

Brexit hasn’t brought the UK ‘freedom.’ It has left it out in the cold, isolated and poorer but it is making the ruling class richer, which was always the goal. That's the cost of Brexit, not the cost of freedom.

Monteith ignores that 62% of Scots voted to remain, a material change in circumstance since the 2014 referendum. The only positive that can possibly emerge from this debacle will be the restoration of Scottish independence.

The answer to Scotland's energy security question is independence

Michael Glackin in the Sunday Times says the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed UK energy security. The answer, he says, is to drill for more oil and gas, frack and build nuclear power plants.

He’s palpably excited about Boris’ new ‘energy supply strategy’ but when have the Conservatives ever come up with a strategy that benefited Scotland and not the City of London? Successive Westminster Governments of both colours have been reckless with the nation’s energy resources, having sold them off to the highest bidder decades ago to enrich private corporations and shareholders, and is the reason the UK has no energy security today. And the oil and gas the UK Government privatised belonged to Scotland, as does the vast majority of this island’s offshore wind, wave and tidal potential.  Nations like France and Norway were wiser, keeping control of their strategic energy resources so that today their governments are able to shield their citizens from the obscene profiteering by oil and gas companies, many of whom offshore their profits to avoid paying the full amount of tax owed on their operations here. 

Will Boris’ ‘energy supply strategy’ reinstate oil taxes the UK Government cut to zero in 2015, foregoing tens of billions in revenue and making the UK the most profitable place not only for Russian oligarchs to launder their money but also for Big Oil to operate? Doubtful. And you can forget fracking if you care at all for the environment. The US has discovered to its cost that fracking causes earthquakes and contaminates groundwater.

As for nuclear power, not only does Scotland not need it but also there are two big problems. There is no way to safely dispose of toxic nuclear waste. MPs have warned that the UK is storing an “extraordinary accumulation” of this hazardous waste in “outdated facilities” that will cost £70 billion to clean up. So it is a deal breaker, Mr. Glackin. Nuclear power is also uneconomic. A recent German study of nuclear power plants constructed around the world since 1951 found the average plant made a loss of 4.8 billion Euros. Small modular reactors (SMRs) like the ones Rolls Royce is pushing, won’t save the day. There’s just one SMR operating and it’s in Russia. The two SMRs in Wales and Cumbria have been mothballed. Because nuclear power is so expensive, not even private companies are willing to stick their necks out to finance these plants. That’s why the UK Government is forcing consumers to pay for the upfront costs of nuclear power plants with its Nuclear Energy Financing Bill. The number of politicians with commercial ties to the nuclear power industry may also explain the UK’s eagerness to have consumers bankroll this dangerous energy source.

Renewables are by far the cheapest, most abundant and cleanest source of energy. Even before the war in Ukraine, global oil and gas prices were higher than renewables and the price of wind, tidal and wave power hasn’t changed. Renewables generate nearly 100% of Scotland’s electricity and there’s capacity to develop far more, which England is going to need. Renewables projects can be developed quickly and are six times cheaper than gas generation. Yet the UK’s privatised Ofgem has stymied new renewables projects by its absurd charging regime whereby Scottish generators pay £7.36/MWh to connect to the grid but their English and Welsh counterparts pay just £0.49, and generators in southern England get a subsidy!

There’s also the small matter of cataclysmic climate change. Last month’s IPPC report excoriated the world’s governments for acting in a fragmented and incremental manner when transformational changes are needed to safeguard human wellbeing. If we fail to reduce emissions, the Ukrainian refugee crisis will be dwarfed by the exodus of people around the globe desperate to escape rising sea levels, devastating heat waves, wildfires, lack of food and water, illness and trauma from natural disasters. Increasing oil and gas production will only accelerate humanity’s suicide.

The facts are, Mr. Glackin, that Scotland doesn’t need a UK energy strategy that subsidises Big Oil and nuclear power. What Scotland needs is to restore its independence so it can forge its own energy strategy and provide its citizens with security, safety, affordability, jobs and a more sustainable and hopeful future.

The Wheels are off the UK Bus

Guy Stenhouse, writing in one of the Herald's regular, 'talking Scotland down' columns, that they gift to unionist campaigners, appears to have only a passing acquaintance with movies or the facts. He uses the analogy about wheels coming off the nationalist bus just as they did in the movie the 'Italian Job' - I can categorically tell you that the bus in the aforesaid movie didn't lose any wheels nor has the Yes movement. However, let’s humour him with his wheels off the bus analogy and point out where he is wrong.

Wheel one, pensions. Scotland more than pays its way. Once independent, it will keep all the tax and national insurance revenues, not send them to Westminster, and since life expectancy is lower, Scotland could raise the state pension at no additional cost. But Scotland shouldn’t advertise this since it may precipitate a flood of people coming north to escape one of the lowest basic state pensions in the developed world.

Wheel two, currency. SNP policy is to adopt a Scottish currency as soon as practicable after independence. Currency has no intrinsic value but derives value from the goods and services an economy produces. Scotland’s immense natural wealth, highly developed economy and educated and innovative people will guarantee our currency has value. Scotland will launch its own currency at the point it becomes advantageous to Scotland to have one, there will be a transition period and using Sterling (our own currency) for a short period would maintain pensions values and facilitate trade as Scotland becomes independent. A sensible, desirable and pragmatic approach. 

Wheel three, the deficit. Under the terms of the devolution settlement, the Scottish Government must balance its budget every year. London assigns Scotland a deficit based on the supposed benefits we receive from being part of the UK and for billions spent on nuclear weapons, foreign wars, unemployment payments because of UK economic mismanagement, Westminster corruption, servicing a UK debt Scotland didn’t generate, expenditure on Brexit and negotiating foreign treaties that damage Scotland’s economic interests. Some of the UK's spending on Scotland's behalf is spent in Scotland but what deficit Scotland has will change dramatically once we remove the added costs of UK membership and start investing in Scotland's wellbeing.   

Wheel four, the EU, not English, Single Market. ONS figures show the UK’s economic recovery has lagged that of its EU counterparts and UK exports to the EU plummeted by £20 billion in 2021 compared to 2018. As for that vaunted EU rebate, there is no £350m extra per week for the NHS. Regressive National Insurance taxes are rising, the triple lock on pensions is gone, and food and energy prices are soaring. Meanwhile, the newly minted Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Rees-Mogg, is desperately scrabbling around amongst Sun readers for ideas on how to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Scotland will be back in the Single Market as soon as we exit this failing Union and like Ireland, will rapidly forge new trade links with the EU, leaving behind an isolated rUK that will sorely need Scottish energy, water, and food and drink.  

The wheels have been off the UK bus for some time now. The founding director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, David Simpson, put it well: “The economic cost to Scotland of our dependency on England is measured by the incomes, jobs and tax revenues that have been foregone as a result of the slower rate of growth of the economy because of its mismanagement under the Union.”

Once independent, Scotland will be able to make economic, social and foreign policy decisions that will benefit the people of Scotland.

What the UK Government have really done to Scotland

In yesterday’s Herald, Tory peer Lord Dunlop wrote the ‘UK Government are doing more for Scotland than the SNP ever will'. Perhaps that explains why Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross didn't meet with Johnson on his latest furtive foray into ‘North Britain.’

The most notable thing that the UK Government have done for Scotland is to forcibly eject it from the world’s largest free trade bloc and damage Scotland's economy. The post-Brexit reality is grim, and no amount of furious political spin can conceal it. Before Brexit, exports accounted for a fifth of Scottish GDP. In the year to June 2021, they had plunged 25% compared to 2019. James Withers, head of Scottish Food and Drink, said many firms have simply “given up” on trading with EU companies because of the “tsunami” of red tape and said the worst is yet to come.

The Australian trade deal, trumpeted by Liz Truss with such fanfare, won’t increase UK GDP by even a tenth of a percent over 15 years, while Brexit is projected to shrink GDP by 4.9%. The deal will raise maritime and aviation carbon emissions, allow in cheaper, inferior quality beef and lamb produced to lower animal welfare standards, and undercut Scottish farmers, threatening their livelihoods. This was all agreed without the involvement of Scotland.

As for replacing the annual £2.1 billion Scotland lost from EU structural funds for infrastructure improvement, poverty alleviation, skills enhancement and agricultural support, a Westminster cross-party report said the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will fall short by 40%.

The loss of free movement has hit the hospitality, care and road haulage sectors especially hard, resulting in widespread labour shortages. And Brexit has resulted in higher energy and food prices, compounding the cost of living crisis.

Scottish artists can no longer afford to travel and perform in Europe because the UK government rejected an offer of visa-free travel for touring musicians across the EU. Scottish students have lost the opportunity to live and study in the EU following the termination of the Erasmus scheme.

This is just some of what the UK Government have done for Scotland. Factor in epic corruption, from cash for peerages to billions wasted on Covid contracts for cronies, chronic underfunding of the NHS, cruel cuts to benefit payments and regressive tax increases, and it’s easy to understand why this unequal Union is close to collapse.

Lord Dunlop says the drivers of Brexit and Scottish independence have common roots. They do insofar as both are rooted in Westminster malfeasance and mismanagement. But what he misses is that Scottish independence is driven more by both, a strong desire to have a government that is accountable to and interested in improving the wellbeing of the Scottish people and creating a nation that is inclusive, more equal and internally focussed. That is only possible with independence.

Daily Mail's incoherent attack on Believe in Scotland is a dishonest muddled misfire

The Daily Mail today tried to have a go at Believe in Scotland's campaign to end pensioner poverty, but their incredibly muddled attack produced a factually incorrect headline and an article that is incoherent and contradictory.

Let’s be clear, they tried to write an article about Believe in Scotland, but we supplied them with the facts about pensions and they then tried to tie us into an earlier attack on the SNP. First, let’s deal with the claim about Believe in Scotland in the factually incorrect headline which states, “Nationalist Group ‘systematically deceiving OAPs’ after falsely claiming UK “worst in world”.  

The problem with the headline is that the UK pension is the worst in the developed world, and that is what we have correctly claimed. So, we will be writing to the Editor and demanding the paper prints a retraction or allows us the right to reply. 

The Facts

According to the OECD research that we based our claims on, the UK pays the worst basic state pension in the developed world, worth just 28.4% of average income at retirement (based on the net replacement rate). Furthermore, The House of Commons Library confirmed the 28.4% and further revealed that the UK state pension falls significantly below the OECD average of 58.6% but also the EU average of 63.5%.

So, to claim that the basic state pension is the worst in the developed world is wholly accurate. The Daily Mail headline seems to be based on claims that if you include wealthy people’s voluntary pensions contributions then people are better off - but that has nothing to do with the fact that the UK basic state pension is woeful and degrading to those who can't afford voluntary work and private pensions.  

When voluntary pension provision is included, the UK’s net replacement rate rises to 61% compared to the higher 67% EU average but the UK Governments basic state pension still sits at 28.4%. In other words, as many people can’t afford private pensions or to stay opted into voluntary employee pensions, the 28.4% figure is shameful and cannot be ignored.

People who retired before the New State Pension (2019) and the opt-out company contribution scheme came into force or those that were not paid enough and had to opt-out of voluntary pension schemes receive far less than the EU average. The lower replacement rate of the state pension penalises people who have experienced long periods of unemployment, carers (mostly females from less affluent households), women who take career breaks to raise children, people with disabilities or long-term illness and the working poor, all of whom have been let down by successive Westminster Governments.

So, the Daily Mail article (which was triggered by Unionist groups social media trolling) seems to be suggesting that we don’t need to pay enough for pensioners on the basic state pension to live with dignity as wealthy people are not affected - that is a truly disgusting attitude.

Even more of a muddle  

The second part of the article, which is even more muddled, suggests our campaign to raise the basic state pension is SNP propaganda. But our policy of a £210.00 pension is not supported by the SNP and our campaign is clearly partially aimed at persuading the SNP to agree with us. If we were an SNP front, then disagreeing so publicly with the SNP might not be such a priority for us. Also, the SNP are attacked in the article for saying “The UK owes people a pension and will keep paying people pensions after independence”. Let’s be clear, the UK does owe people a pension (if they have made their NIC contributions). However, we believe that an independent Scotland should a) Take on full responsibility for payment of pensions and b) Inform the UK Government that we will subtract the cost of this pensions from any debt settlement (matched to asset settlements) agreed during the independence settlement negotiations that will follow a Yes vote in 2023. So, we are totally at odds with the SNP on pensions and we try to influence them, not the other way around.

They also say that Believe in Scotland is “closely linked to Business for Scotland… the economic think tank set up before the 2014 referendum”. However, we emailed them and explained ahead of the article being written that “Business for Scotland Ltd is a business networking and campaigning organisation that supports independence and champions the Wellbeing approach to economics. It operates completely independently from any political party. Believe in Scotland is the name of one of our campaigns.” How hard would it have been to get that right?

They did carry a quote from our Chief Executive - the only part of the article that makes sense - he said:

Believe in Scotland are campaigning to end the UK’s degrading pensioner poverty in an independent Scotland by paying a Real Living Pension (currently £210.00 per week), then raising the state pension to match the EU average as the economy grows over time with the powers of independence.  

For unionist campaigners to claim that the 28.4% figure is irrelevant because it doesn't apply to the wealthy, simply shows how out of touch they are with the needs of pensioners. Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, Chief Executive of Business for Scotland.


The plethora of childish complaints about our campaigns (in papers such as The Daily Mail and The Times) all originate from trolling by the many fake-grassroots unionist front organisations and represents a desperate attempt to deflect from the investigations into their dark money funding and potentially illegal campaigning. 

If they were anything other than smoke and mirrors operations for Westminster's economic and moral failures, they would spend their time pressuring the UK Government to match our call for a £210.00 a week basic state pension to allow our old folk to live with dignity but that is just clearly not on the Unionist agenda.

Crisis over, so Alex Massie gets back to putting Scotland down

One wonders if Alex Massie, a Scot, enjoys talking down his country. But then again, as a Spectator and Times journo, he’s paid to do so. It’s his confusion that’s more concerning. He writes “the present economic case for independence is non-existent” but in the next sentence says “Scotland is certainly not too poor to be independent.”

According to Alex, the reason there’s no economic case for us managing our own affairs – after all Westminster is doing such a smash-up job – is because we have such an enormous deficit. He then follows this with yet more confusion, saying Scotland is a wealthy part of Britain. Which is it, Alex?

Perhaps the IFS’ David Phillips, whom Alex selectively quotes, can assist. Phillips said that an independent Scotland’s economic growth “could more than offset the loss of fiscal transfers from the rest of the UK.” This is from a man whose research is funded by the UK Department for International Development. Phillips confirms that “despite devolution, the majority of Scotland’s tax revenues and a hefty part of its public spending is pooled with the rest of the UK,” adding that “there is no overall Scottish budget deficit or surplus, or accumulated debt.”

And that brings us to GERS, designed by Tories to show what an economic basket case Scotland is and how it couldn’t possibly survive outside the protective womb of the Union. David Simpson, founder of the Fraser of Allander Institute, not exactly a pro-independence think tank, has implored the Scottish Government to cease its publication. We understand David Simpson's reasoning but we think a better idea would be to publish the current UK-GERS report alongside a new report called i-GERs. This would be a projection of what Scotland's finances would look like as an independent nation, with a wellbeing economic approach. Then everyone could clearly see that all the economic arguments against Scotland's independence are just the UK Government's false accounting. 

Simpson points out that since by law Scotland's Government must annually balance its budget, it can’t have a deficit. The deficit Massie is so worried about is fake, assigned to Scotland through UK Government accounting practices, and concocted from what Westminster says it spends “for our benefit.” Among these “benefits” are nukes on the Clyde, helping Saudi Arabia lay waste to Yemen, unemployment payments because Westminster is rubbish at managing the economy, Truss’s private plane to Oz (costing £500,000) to negotiate treaties that hurt Scottish farmers, and paying London £4.5 billion pa to service a UK debt we didn’t create and certainly don’t benefit from.

On top of that, because 85% of social spending is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has frantically tried to mitigate policies like the bedroom tax, miserly Universal Credit and state pension payments and chronic NHS underfunding.

GERS is what Scotland pays to remain in a Union that has failed us. It’s why the Tory and Labour parties are terrified we’ll leave. It’s why they will never concede that Scotland would prosper if we kept our own money, controlled our own resources and could make decisions in Scotland’s, not London’s, interests. And it’s why we must restore our independence.

We are not all in this together

In 2018, the UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston issued a damning report on the UK. Then, a fifth of the population was living in poverty and 1.5 million were unable to afford basic essentials. Since then, the combined impacts of Brexit and Covid have significantly worsened the picture. Rocketing energy bills, soaring food prices and regressive tax increases have forced millions more into poverty. Alston warned that the impacts of Brexit, which Scotland soundly rejected, would hit the most vulnerable and disadvantaged the hardest, and he’s been proven right.

Alston identified the root cause of the misery as a deliberate shift, since 2010, in the underlying values shaping UK government policy. “Compassion for those who are suffering, has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society.”

A recent example of this approach was provided by food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe. She demolished the UK government’s claim of a 5% cost of living increase, showing that for those who have long relied on the cheapest supermarket staples to survive such as pasta, rice, baked beans, canned spaghetti and bread, prices have risen by 141%, 344%, 45%, 169% and 29%, respectively. In addition, she points out that many products are smaller but priced the same, a practice known as ‘shrinkflation.’ Yet a particular upmarket supermarket price for a ready-meal hasn’t changed since 2011, and if subject to the same inflation rate as rice, would cost £26 instead of the current £7.50. We are not, as David Cameron claimed, ‘all in this together.’

Alston acknowledged the Scottish Government’s frantic efforts to mitigate the worst aspects of UK austerity policy. However, as helpful as they are, the Scottish Child Payment, free school meals and Best Start Foods cards can only scratch the surface of what’s needed to build a more equal and fair society.

Creating a nation that cares for the wellbeing of all its citizens will only happen once we reclaim our independence.

Brian Wilson's Herald column demonstrates Labour's confused thinking on independence

Brian Wilson is right that gas and electricity are natural monopolies and at least some of that belongs in state, not private, hands. There are great examples across Europe of publicly owned and partially publicly owned energy companies, often working in parallel with public sector providers.

However, when serving as UK energy minister in Blair’s Labour government, he had his chance to bring British Gas and Britoil back into public ownership but didn’t.

On top of this, the Labour Government chose not to renationalise the National Grid, privatised by the Tories in 1990, but approved Ofgem’s 2003 grid transmission charges that penalised Scottish renewable providers and landed Scots with the highest transmission charges not only in the UK but in Europe. In the north of Scotland, charges are £7.36 per MWh but only £.49 in England and Wales.

This is especially galling since Scotland possesses a quarter of Europe’s wind resources and 60% of the UK’s offshore wind capacity.

And Mr. Wilson has nothing to say about Starmer’s reneging on Labour’s pledge to renationalise the Big Six energy companies, despite last autumn’s overwhelming party conference vote to take energy back into public ownership and Sir Keir’s own leadership campaign promises to do the same.

It’s clear that Labour would rather pacify private energy companies and their shareholders rather than ease the misery of millions facing ruinous energy bills.

So long as Scotland remains a UK region, its vast renewable resources won’t be harnessed for Scotland’s benefit but, like our oil and gas, will be sold off to private companies with the proceeds squandered on tax cuts for the wealthy and UK debt servicing.

For Scotland to have a state-owned energy company, as Brian Wilson says he wants, it must first become a state. The investment needed over several years isn’t possible with the limited borrowing and capital investment powers of a devolved region of the UK. Wilson should know that, which exposes the incoherence and or dishonesty of Labour's opposition to Scottish independence.

Restoring Scottish sovereignty is the only way out of this quagmire.

The Times embarrasses itself with cack-handed attack on Believe in Scotland 

The Times, a deeply Conservative and Unionist newspaper has today launched an incompetent and completely self-defeating attack on the nonpartisan Believe in Scotland campaign, in a blatant attempt to provide political and legal cover for a plethora of fake unionist campaigning groups who have been accused of dark money funding.

Why is it "Incompetent and completely self-defeating"? Well, all the evidence required for any reader to understand that Believe in Scotland is 100% above board is contained in the article. The fact is, we discussed our 2021 campaign plans and the money we would spend, with the Electoral Commission, and they agreed that we did not have to register. That should have been the end of the article right there.  However, The Times, desperate to make a story out of nothing, sought a quote from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) about dark money and the dangers it poses to democracy and added it into the section about Believe in Scotland as to make it look like the ERS was calling for an inquiry into Believe in Scotland dark money donations. We spoke to ERS, and they made it clear that is not the case saying that  "The quote from us doesn’t call for an inquiry” and that it was "Not targeted at Business for Scotland/Believe in Scotland but more a general call we make for improved transparency when it comes to campaign finance laws".  

The article headline is "Call for ‘dark money’ campaign inquiry" but who is calling for that? It's not the ERS as the article tries to make the reader think. In fact, there seems to be no specific call for an inquiry. The headline seems to come from comments made by Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader who has a track record of making outrageous claims. In this case, she is clearly trying to deflect on behalf of unionist front groups facing dark money accusations - some of whom have links to the Labour party (you couldn't make this up). In fact, BiS parent company, Business for Scotland, has called for such an inquiry, see our article - Electoral Commission: We'll look into any claims of 'dark money' funding Unionist ads

We want to make it clear that the Believe in Scotland campaign believes wholeheartedly that dark money being funnelled to fake Unionist groups is an affront to democracy and we also call for an inquiry into such dark money groups - the Electoral Commission requires more powers to investigate the bank accounts of such unionist groups.

Dark money coming to BIS - don't make us laugh - we are very open about where our campaign funding comes from and we are completely political party neutral, never campaigning for a specific outcome in any election.

"We simply believe that any government of any political colour controlling all the powers of a normal independent country will be better for Scotland than any government of any political colour making bad decisions for Scotland from Westminster."Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, Chief Exec Business for Scotland Ltd and Founder of the Believe in Scotland campaign.

Our spending was independent of all political parties - we have never and will never accept funds from political parties, neutrality is very important to us.

Our funding comes from four key revenue streams and arrives mostly through micro-donations. See our successful 2021 fundraiser, it's not a secret!

1) You can donate £5.00 a month or more to Believe in Scotland here

2) You can buy a copy of our best selling and game-changing book on Scotland's economy, Scotland the Brief here

3) You can become a member of Believe in Scotland here

4) Our events calendar has been curtailed by lockdowns, but you can join the BIS mailing list here and we will let you know about forthcoming events.


The Times article was dishonest in four key ways

1) It splits the article in two placing the credible concerns about dark money funded unionist groups in a missable sidebar, whilst the non-credible attack on BiS is presented as the main thrust of the article.

2) It places the quote from the Electoral Reform Society in the BiS section in what seems like a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader into thinking the ERS is complaining about BiS when they have made it clear to us that they were not.

3) The article states that an anonymous campaigner had said our billboard campaign would have cost as much as £30,000 but when they contacted us, they were saying as much as £80,000 and they clearly backed off that ridiculous amount when we told them it was laughable - they are basically making it up as they go along.

4)  The Times will not say who made the claims about BiS or who supplied the estimates. The article was not researched by the journalist in question but seems to be based on evidence supplied by people with links to those accused of being fake unionist campaign fronts. When I asked him (by email) to tell me who was making these false accusations he wrote "I don't discuss any sources for stories".

The facts

We discussed our 2021 plans with the Electoral Commission, explained that we were not campaigning for any party standing in those elections and that our campaign was ongoing - and they agreed that we were not required to register.

We have never and will never accept funds from political parties, our neutrality is very important to us. All our funding comes from events revenues, publication sales, memberships, and donations.

There has been well-documented and justified criticism of potential "dark money" used by unionist campaign groups. They are indeed a threat to our democracy and seem very well funded, potentially from vested interests, whereas almost all our funding comes from monthly micro-donations from ordinary people who simply believe in Scotland.

Believe in Scotland has hundreds of thousands of followers but only a tiny fraction donate to us (£5.00 a month helps massively), we make every penny count and last year we distributed nearly two million items of physical campaign materials to the Scottish public to help them realise that independence is normal. You can see what we are up against - organised fake unionist fronts with questionable and massive funding - please donate now and level the playing field.

Fuel Poverty vs Fuel Security: A story of two countries

The headlines are dominated by the soaring price of energy that will impact all UK citizens, especially those who are already struggling to survive. Even before the current crisis, over 3 million households were having to choose between heating and eating.

What they are not telling us is that across the Channel, it’s a different story. French President Macron just ordered EDF, the state energy company, to cap electricity prices at 4% to shield consumers. He can do this because the state owns 80% of the shares in the company that supplies the majority of power to French consumers.

Contrast that with the UK. Since the 1980s the government has sold off our energy resources (as well as the national grid, water, rail, buses, ports, and telecoms) to private companies. EDF is one of the foreign companies that bought a chunk and now owns over 10% of UK electricity production. Another 30% is owned by German, Spanish and Dutch companies.

Privatisation of our national assets has been a colossal failure for consumers and the environment, but a huge boon to private shareholders and company CEOs. Oil and gas giants BP and Shell are expected to announce huge increases in gas revenue that is boosted further by paying zero taxes for the past 3 years. Bernard Looney, BP chief executive who received £1.75 million last year, crowed the company is a “cash machine.”

As a result, UK consumers are looking at increases of 50% once the price cap is lifted in April. Ofgem, the energy regulator, must by law pass on rising costs to consumers.

This will be especially painful for Scottish consumers who already pay the highest transmission charges in the UK while England and Wales are subsidised. Plus, with just 8% of the population, Scotland produces 82% of total UK gas. What would this gas be worth if Scotland had control over its own energy resources? At least £22.5 billion, the sales value of Scottish oil and gas production in 2019.

And London tells Scotland it’s too wee and too poor to go it alone. One need only to look to Norway. It has channelled its oil and gas revenues into the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund that is now being used to fund a renewables revolution. Independence can’t come soon enough.