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By a Newsnet reporter

Arch-unionist Michael Forsyth has expressed his belief that we are now close to the point where independence is in both Scotland and England’s interests and has denounced the unionist parties for being in a “shambles”.  Mr Forsyth added that the anti-independence parties were being “played” by the Scottish Government over the Scotland Bill.

The Conservative peer has tabled a series of last ditch amendments to the Scotland Bill, which is currently in the final stages of passing through the Westminster Parliament.  Mr Forsyth’s latest amendments would require a referendum to be held in Scotland before the Scottish Parliament could make use of the income tax varying power.  

The amendments also demand that 2/3 of the Scottish Parliament must back the measure before the tax varying power could be put before the Scottish electorate in a referendum.  Mr Forsyth also wants any use of the tax varying power to be approved by the UK Parliament, but only after an “impact study” has been carried out.   The effect of Mr Forsyth’s amendments would be to make the tax varying powers unusable.

However it now appears that even Mr Forsyth, described as an “arch-Unionist” by fellow Conservatives, believes that the Union is close to ending.  He angrily described the Unionist parties as being in a “complete shambles” and said they were unable to organise an effective campaign against Scottish independence.

Speaking to Conservative commentator Fraser Nelson on the Week in Westminster programme on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday, Mr Forsyth said that the recent agreement on the Scotland Bill was “absolutely bizarre” and he accused the Coalition Government of being “played” and out-manoeuvred by the Scottish Government.

Mr Forsyth said:

“The whole thing is absolutely bizarre  Alex Salmond and the Scottish Parliament have not given legislative consent to the Scotland Bill because they think it doesn’t go far enough, and yet we’re at the final stages of the Scotland Bill.  We don’t know whether the [Westminster] Government will take the view that the Bill shouldn’t go ahead if they don’t get legislative consent.  My guess is that Alex Salmond has been playing the Government like a salmon, if I can make a pun, and that he will say ‘well it doesn’t go far enough but we’ll accept it for what it is’.”

He admitted:  “The truth was that the Scotland Bill was cobbled together by the unionist parties to try and prevent the Nationalists gaining the majority which they got in the subsequent election in Scotland, and it hasn’t worked.  And it’s now largely irrelevant because the real debate is whether or not we’re going to have an independent Scotland.”

Fraser Nelson asked Mr Forsyth if it was not the case that, one way or another, Alex Salmond is getting his way, adding that he may not win the referendum but the difference between the status quo and independence is getting smaller and smaller because of what Westminster is doing.

In reply, Mr Forsyth quoted Enoch Powell, who warned in the 1970s that devolution would lead to the point where Scottish independence would be in the interests of both Scotland and England, and added:  “I think we’re getting pretty close to that point.”

Asked whether the Coalition’s difficulties were due to the fact that most Government ministers understand the south of France better than they understand Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, Mr Forsyth said:  “I think that’s probably true.  What alarms me is that when I got into the House of Commons in 1983 almost every Tory supported the Union and was committed to it.  Now I find Conservative MPs saying in increasing numbers ‘Why do we need Scotland?’ and abandoning the unionist position.”

Mr Forsyth added that Devo Max meant recognising that “We can’t have 49 Labour MPs coming down to England any more.  And that’s another thing about the Scotland Bill, it doesn’t address the West Lothian issue of Scottish MPs voting on English issues and nor does it address the funding question. Both these things are sources of resentment.  My worry is that the Union will be broken on both sides of the Border by resentful English Conservative MPs and people north of the Border who felt they got a bad deal.”  

He continued:  “The unionist parties are a shambles, they can’t even get their campaign together and meanwhile Alex Salmond has got £2 million pounds in the bank and will have a very successful local elections, and he will be off.  All this appeasement has been hugely damaging.”

Addressing himself to Lib Dem and Labour supporters of devolution, Mr Forsyth said:

“You guys said, if we have devolution it will kill nationalism stone dead, you designed the Scottish Parliament so that no party could ever get a majority and you laughed at people like me who said it would lead to the Nationalists getting control of the Parliament and it will lead to resentment and the break up of the Union and this is where we are now.  I admit, I didn’t think it would happen quite so quickly.”



Comments  

 
#
lumilumi
2012-03-28 00:16

Well, finally the other Lord F is talking sense.

The unionist parties are a shambles and being played, run circles around by the SNP.

Take away the spat feathers and the arch-unionist mindset, and I think his political analysis is pretty accurate and fair. (Never thought I’d say something this positive about a Lord F!)
 
 
#
Adrian B
2012-03-28 01:02

I would say that Michael Forsyth has had a moment of clarity. What a positive turn of events!
 
 
#
Jiggsbro
2012-03-28 02:34

He’s still got a lot of catching up to do before he’s as reliable as a stopped clock.
 
 
#
Adrian B
2012-03-28 04:00

Agreed Jiggsbro, However the day after Cameron gives his speech to the Tory troops in troon Forsyth is interviewed for radio 4.

Forsyth has gone on the record acknowledging that the Unionists are not only badly losing the arguement, but that they are also so very far behind the curve. He is acknowledging that from their information at grass roots level the SNP will make massive gains in May. He is acknowledging that Salmond pretty much has it in the bag(at this stage at least)

This for Forsyth is quite an admission. I had to read the article twice to take it all in as he articulates a great deal of information that you would not expect this man to do at this point in the game.
 

 
#
freeussoon
2012-03-28 01:08

The clever SNP have listened to the right people and are playing the better game.

The unionists, meanwhile, are jumping up

and down and stamping their feet…….

that doesn’t work for two yr olds either!
 
 
#
John Lyons
2012-03-28 09:02

I think that’s an excellent point right there free us soon.

The SNP are NOT winning.

The People of Scotland are winning.

The SNP are simply the only ones who listen to the people here.
 
 
#
Mako
2012-03-28 09:49

Spot on. I have said for a while now, to any who are unsure about the snp or voting for them, that the SNP will NEVER EVER deliver us from the union. The reason why they wont is very simple. They Cant. ONLY the Scottish people can. It is up to us and that is that.
 
 
#
macgilleleabhar
2012-03-28 16:01

Quoting John Lyons:

The SNP are simply the only ones who listen to the people here.


A very concise and accurate summation.
The SNP are acting as politicians should by taking their instructions from the people.

 

 
#
Hing em high
2012-03-28 12:15

Dont forget gnashing of teeth and gripping of fists and the constant wail of they got more beans than I did!

I just love those Unionist tantrums!
 

 
#
Exile
2012-03-28 07:14

Quoting Enoch Powell? Powell “warned in the 1970s that devolution would lead to the point where Scottish independence would be in the interests of both Scotland and England.”

Seems to me old Enoch is a bit like the Bible: you can find a quote in there to cover any option you want. Did he not also say that “power devolved is power retained”.

Why on earth Enoch Powell is seen as some sort of oracle or intellectual genius is beyond me. Or is the bar just so low at Westminster that any semi-erudite man is seen as a genius?
 
 
#
proudscot
2012-03-28 13:45

Quoting Exile:

Quoting Enoch Powell? Powell “warned in the 1970s that devolution would lead to the point where Scottish independence would be in the interests of both Scotland and England.”

Seems to me old Enoch is a bit like the Bible: you can find a quote in there to cover any option you want. Did he not also say that “power devolved is power retained”.

Why on earth Enoch Powell is seen as some sort of oracle or intellectual genius is beyond me. Or is the bar just so low at Westminster that any semi-erudite man is seen as a genius?



I think a lot depends on who is making the assessment of the “genius” in question. A couple of years ago, it was constantly being alleged in the Scottish press and media that Wendy Alexander had a “brain the size of a planet”.

What these Wendy worshippers didn’t add was that the planet they had in mind for their comparison was Pluto, which was subsequently downgraded to planetoid status – or a wee insignificant object in space, which also described Wee Wendy in my humble opinion!

 

 
#
clootie
2012-03-28 07:26

What is interesting is that he openly admits he wanted to prevent the will of the people being developed.

The arrogance that he warned that the Scottish would use a parliament to express their desires sums up this TORY -He knows better what is in our best interest.
 
 
#
UpSpake
2012-03-28 07:56

Whichever way the referendum vote goes, and we all know which way we would like it to go, there remains an issue that the remaining countries in Britain need to address. That is, a new way at looking at whatever might remain of the UK. If a disaster occurs and the SNP lose the referendum then the same scenario applies.
A new relationship is on the cards whichever way the cookie crumbles. Full and difinitive preparation for either scenario MUST be made ahead of the referendum, not after it when there will be much bitterness on at least one side.
A vindictive punishing attitude to other members of the UK by another is no way for a democracy to flourish.
From the independence party/s there should be no questions/doubts as to how an independent Scotland would function. I am surprised nay disturbed, that full and comprehensive preparations have not yey been made?. 2 years is not a long time to establish departments of state, most if not all needed whether we become independent or not as they would be required in a federal arrangement.
 
 
#
John Lyons
2012-03-28 09:19

You sound like Michael Moore.

“Tell us what you’re planning Alex, tell us tell us tell us!”

The fact the SNP haven’t doesn’t mean they have no plans. I would expect they have it all sorted and will only reval it when they see fit. And revelations now just give the unionists 2 years to pick holes in it.
 
 
#
nchanter
2012-03-28 11:59

Quoting John Lyons:

You sound like Michael Moore.

“Tell us what you’re planning Alex, tell us tell us tell us!”

The fact the SNP haven’t doesn’t mean they have no plans. I would expect they have it all sorted and will only reval it when they see fit. And revelations now just give the unionists 2 years to pick holes in it.


Of course

 

 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 09:30

I would imagine if we loose the vote. They will take a number of steps to ensure a referendum or SNP majority never happens again. I imagine the unionist parties would have a stripping of powers of the parliament.

I think at that stage I’d like to emigrate.
 
 
#
edinburgh quine
2012-03-28 10:46

Islegard

Well I’m too auld to emigate, so lets win the flamin’ election.

And Upspake
What on earth do we want to do, getting caught up in the minutiae of a Independent Scotland? We wont vote and then be immediately leave the UK. There will be a handover of power over a couple or so years I’m guessing when that will be done. You do seem to love your bureaucracy
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 10:47

You’re right Edi. Loosing isn’t an option!
 
 
#
Aplinal
2012-03-28 11:25

I’m already overseas with plans to return, but if the Scots vote NO, I’ll be staying here. I have plans to purchase a property in Edinburgh after the referendum, but that will stop with a no vote.

I really can’t believe that enough Scots will vote no to stop us. I just can’t bring myself to believe it.

But there is a tough job to overcome the entire MSM – especially the Biased Broadcasting Company.

Keep the faith

Saor Alba
 
 
#
nottooweeorstupid
2012-03-28 11:26

Sorry, pedant time… could we just please remember –
loose = not tight
lose = not win


This one, along with ‘independance’ is driving me bonkers. Might seem petty but having well-reasoned and properly spelt arguments is important!
(And sorry to pick on you Islegard, you’re not alone, it’s just that I’ve seen pictures of both Michael Forsyth and Margaret Curran this morning and it’s got me a bit ratty.)
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 11:31

Thanks nottoo. Everytime I type lose I have been thinking is it loose or lose. English lesson taken!
 
 
#
nottooweeorstupid
2012-03-28 11:44

ah you’re welcome, hope I didn’t offend! 🙂 I have a primary teacher friend who does it too…
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 11:48

Not at all I try to correct my spelling and grammar all the time!
 

 
#
macgilleleabhar
2012-03-28 16:05

“Anyway but Lose”
Showing my age!
 

 
#
nchanter
2012-03-28 12:00

Quoting Islegard:

I would imagine if we loose the vote. They will take a number of steps to ensure a referendum or SNP majority never happens again. I imagine the unionist parties would have a stripping of powers of the parliament.

I think at that stage I’d like to emigrate.


Drill some holes in your suitcase I’m coming with you

 
 
#
colin8652
2012-03-28 13:38

no thats the time to take to the streets and take our country back
 

 
#
Chateaulait 57
2012-03-28 08:25

I was pleased to read that according to Lord F, current tory MPs are saying in increasing numbers “Why do we need Scotland?” (they obviously don’t check the UK treasury figure’s) it must be hard for Scottish unionists to preserve the union when the rank and file of the unionist party in England are giving up on it.

It would appear they have a battle on two fronts.
 
 
#
John Lyons
2012-03-28 09:21

Yes. Not quite support for independence, but indifference to the union is good.
 

 
#
alicmurray
2012-03-28 08:32

It is a terrible admission that MPs know more about the south of France than Scotland. So much for a union that knows nothing of your needs and worse cares even less and this despite dozens of overpaid, incompetent party lackeys being returned for 300 years. I just wish they would forget about us all together.
 
 
#
thomsor
2012-03-28 08:35

Forsyth is now in panic mode. Forsyth and the C&U; party have never changed their views on Scotland, Ruth Davidson’s line in the sand quote says it all. They have always treated Scotland as a colony and cash cow and wish to continue doing so. Why else do they keep promising jam tomorrow but only if Scotland votes no? They are more likely to reduce the powers that Scotland currently have in order to stifle any further attempt to gain Independence. What has changed is that the lies that have been told to the people of Scotland by all unionist parties are being exposed daily. England will no longer be a major power after Scottish Independence, that is what they are fighting for not what is best for the Scottish people. Vote Yes
 
 
#
theycantbeserious
2012-03-28 09:50

Forsyth is a disgrace to the human race! Trying to stop the people of Scotland benefiting from their birthright so he can continue to lord it up, has “selfish tory…i’m all right unionjack” written all over it!

Keep exposing them for what they are!
 
 
#
nchanter
2012-03-28 12:06

Quoting thomsor:

Forsyth is now in panic mode. Forsyth and the C&U; party have never changed their views on Scotland, Ruth Davidson’s line in the sand quote says it all. They have always treated Scotland as a colony and cash cow and wish to continue doing so. Why else do they keep promising jam tomorrow but only if Scotland votes no? They are more likely to reduce the powers that Scotland currently have in order to stifle any further attempt to gain Independence. What has changed is that the lies that have been told to the people of Scotland by all unionist parties are being exposed daily. England will no longer be a major power after Scottish Independence, that is what they are fighting for not what is best for the Scottish people. Vote Yes


Give them beads and rotgut booze in exchange for their furs and oil. I think this has been done before.

 
 
#
hiorta
2012-03-28 13:16

“”England will no longer be a major power after Scottish Independence”” Thomsor.

Ah, the fear that dare not speak its name. The fear that terrifies England.

However, it is a misplaced fear as England has not been any sort of ‘power’ for a very long time and the ‘power’ was based on terrorising whoever they could. A logical view if ‘might is right’.

Democracy speaks of a greater ‘might’ – one backed by humanitarian justice.
All that’s needed now is for those who subscribe to it, to implement it.
 
 
#
proudscot
2012-03-28 14:04

hiorta, you have just drawn attention to the elephant in the room. I tuned in to the Lords debate on the Scotland Bill, and was unfortunate enough to catch a speech by the reprehensible chinless wonder Lord Caithness. He repeated his absurd claim about the Northern Isles remaining with the UK, in the event of Scottish independence. Then he mentioned his real concern that an England/Wales/N.Ireland successor state would be at risk of losing its (UK) seat on the UN Security Council.

So there we have it – Westminster’s REAL fear about Scotland voting for independence – England/rUK would probably lose its seat among the big boys. Aw diddums. Tough!
 

 
#
jurist
2012-03-29 00:37

You’re absolutely right, thomsor. The concern is for England being smaller in size (population and economy) than Italy. Its influence in the EU (which it will not leave) will be much diminished. All the UK opt-outs negotiated over the years would probably disappear. It will be second banana to Germany, France & Italy. England (not Scotland) would probably be forced to join the Euro – because of the City of London. It would struggle to remain in the G8 (replaced by Brazil). It would most likely lose the permanant seat on the UN Security Council. The final “levelling” will be the diminishing of the “Special Relationship” with the US.

These English Tory MPs that want Scottish Independence do so because they’re hostile to us. They don’t have enough grey matter to foresee what awaits an “Independent England” – hell mend them !!
 

 
#
alasdairmac
2012-03-28 09:41

A quite amazing interview. He’s absolutely right on the Unionists being in a shambles over the whole issue but his most intreresting observatuon for me was that more and more Unionist MPs are “abandoning the unionist position”.

Might this improved disposition towards Scotland’s future be what’s really behind Cameron’s very lack-lustre performances and half-hearted attempts so far to save the union? Does Dave also sense this feeling amongst his legions, is not yet quite ready to admit to it himself, but doesnt want to have to U turn too far when he does acknowledge it? It would certainly explain a lot.
 
 
#
Jim1320
2012-03-28 09:41

Forsyth is an old school Unionist and to be fair to him I agreed with him albeit from the other side of the fence when devolution was first mooted. I wanted it to be an incremental step forward. I did not think as George Robertson appeared to that devolution would kill off the SNP. Once people get a taste for devolved power they usually want more. Countries that gain independence rarely (if ever) give it back up willingly.

Forsyth isn’t daft, all the spoiler amendments were designed to kill the Scotland Bill or better take power back. He is understandably spitting feathers about Cameron and Salmond ignoring the Lords and their trick amendments.
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-03-28 09:49

We still need to ca canny, its not in the bag yet.
 
 
#
ananinginaneana
2012-03-28 09:55

If you can’t quite believe it and want to hear him say it for yourselves, here is the link (Lord F starts at about 20:50)

bbc.co.uk/…/…
 
 
#
Mako
2012-03-28 09:57

I would have thought that designing a parliament to ensure that no one party gets a mojority would be antidemocratic and therfore illegal. Also, it would apear that Unionists are now openly admiting that it was to prevernt the SNP from getting a mojority. Is this not discrimination. There are a lot of things I can call this and every one of them are, at the very least, challengable in court. Countries have have seen UN, UK and USA tanks and troops camping in their front garden for less.
 
 
#
Mako
2012-03-28 09:58

Not to mention the changin of goal posts in voting. We seem to be getting hit with the 40% rule or 2/3 rule.
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 10:11

Do you think the UK can really be called a democracy? There is no free independent media for a start. Can the system of government in the UK be called democratic? The story above is about a unelected individual who is part of the UK Government.
 
 
#
Mako
2012-03-28 10:27

Then we cannot win this referendum on our own. At least not democratically. There must be more we can do.

The Scottish government raised the issue of bias in the national broadcaster and NOTHING has happened. I thinkg we need Europe involved. Or do you think that this is the plan and the Scot Gov are just waiting for an incident that ensure International involvement?
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 11:06

From what I can gather Mako the SG does seem to be following a process that may lead there and the SDA have begun pursuing European involvement.
 

 
#
DoricBob
2012-03-28 10:08

Forget what Forsyth says. The man’s NOT to be trusted. He’ll still do his best to screw things up.
 
 
#
alexb
2012-03-28 11:03

Quoting DoricBob:

Forget what Forsyth says. The man’s NOT to be trusted. He’ll still do his best to screw things up.


Spot on, DoricBob.

 

 
#
daveniz
2012-03-28 10:21

again the unionists are blaming the SNP for everything even them being shambolic and losing the argument on independance but hey if they want to credit the SNP for them being such a mess then I’d accept that! 🙂
 
 
#
theycantbeserious
2012-03-28 10:31

Forsyth is a disgrace to the human race trying to prevent the people of Scotland benefiting from their birthright so he can lord it up! This attitude has selfish tory…i’m all right union jack written all over it!

The fault line widens!
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-03-28 10:38

I thought Forsyth had accepted that their attempt to sabotage the Scotland Bill had failed when it was announced that there was an agreement between Moore and Salmond, yet he and his partners in crime continue to add amendments to the bill.
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 11:05

J Wil You would think wouldn’t you. However Monday brought a flurry of amendments:-
publications.parliament.uk/…/…
And yesterday:-
publications.parliament.uk/…/…
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-03-28 14:10

Since I posted my comment I have been watching the live proceedings in the Lords. The Scotland Bill was on the agenda and when that came up for discussion the Lords almost emptied. Forsyth said he was disappointed at the lack of interest.

Forsyth presented an amendment which was to instruct all of the government departments in Westminster to produce green papers to inform the public of the arguments on economics, welfare, defence, etc, if Scotland became independent. He reckoned this could take them 9 months to complete then there would be a further period for discussion. It had to be done in an non-political fashion!!! It was suggested that a committee of independent economics experts should be set up to ensure the impartiality of these assessments.

Helen Lidell supported the amendment and made a statement that the 30,000 public sector jobs which had been moved from London to Scotland would be taken away and she applied a leverage factor of 3 which brought the total up to 100,000 jobs affected. Also, some public sector jobs would have even bigger leverage which inflated the total jobs even further. No mention however that many of these jobs would be needed by the independent Scottish Government to carry out similar functions.

The whole discussion was grim.

They say that a wild animal is at its most dangerous when it is cornered and this was certainly the impression I got watching it all. The Lords preserving themselves.

I was unable to see the final outcome but some like Lord Steele were not supporting the amendment because of the time delay. Saying the referendum would be here before the information was issued.

One interesting comment was made by the Tory Leader who had been asked about the Lords sitting for one specific extra week. He said that would not be happening because it would cost the pubic purse £1,000,000.

It’s worth a watch.
 

 
#
Dubai_scot
2012-03-28 11:33

Now, if the good Lord had his thinking cap on, he might come up with a real idea on how to save the union. How about the “commissioners” for Scotland and England sitting down and rebuilding the treaty and making it suitable for the 21st century? That way everyone wins.

But then that would be too easy, for them to lost control of Scotland that is!
 
 
#
Islegard
2012-03-28 11:36

Judging by their latest Scotland Bill amendments. They won’t accept the term “Scottish Commissioner” it would have to be “Commissioner for Scotland”.
 
 
#
alasdairmac
2012-03-28 14:07

There’s a thought. On independence, why don’t we adopt the old name of “commissioner” instead of MSP. Does anyone know what the term for the equivelant of First or Prime Minister was?
 

 
#
Dundonian West
2012-03-28 14:04

“You guys said, if we have devolution it will kill nationalism stone dead, you designed the Scottish Parliament so that no party could ever get a majority and you laughed at people like me who said it would lead to the Nationalists getting control of the Parliament and it will lead to resentment and the break up of the Union and this is where we are now. I admit, I didn’t think it would happen quite so quickly.”
I NEVER,EVER, THOUGHT I’D HEAR MICHAEL FORSYTH UTTER THOSE WORDS !
Does he know what he’s said,OR is this a Unionist tactic once again,to dupe,anaestheti  se,the people back home in Scotland.
NOTHING would surprise me from the Labour/Tory gang at Westminster.Absolutely nothing viz the Balls/Curran e-mail voting spin fiasco.
Apologies to Curran,who was probably included,only to keep her in the loop.
 
 
#
rhymer
2012-03-28 16:25

Quoting Dundonian West:

. You ended by saying, “apologies to Curran,who was probably included,only to keep her in the loop.



I thought J. Lamont was supposedly the High Heid Yin of the Labour party in Scotland – why was she not first in the loop ?

I think they call it ” plausible deniability” in the excited states.

 
 
#
Dundonian West
2012-03-28 16:39

Quoting rhymer:

Quoting Dundonian West:

. You ended by saying, “apologies to Curran,who was probably included,only to keep her in the loop.



I thought J. Lamont was supposedly the High Heid Yin of the Labour party in Scotland – why was she not first in the loop ?

I think they call it ” plausible deniability” in the excited states.


Yer right.Lamont was given overall control of MSPs AND MPs,discipline,  etc. a few weeks before the Labour Joyce punch up.
Labour Westminster dealt with him.

Seems Curran’s more ‘senior’ as a Shadow than Lamont as a Leader.
Who the heck’s in charge doon there–up here for that matter—does Milliband still tell Lamont what to do?

 

 
#
rob4i
2012-03-28 14:25

This last minute attempt at altering the Scotland Bill to make Scotland have to get permission from Westminster to even breathe, just shows that true Unionists are much more concerned with the power,than what is best for Scotland!!
 
 
#
Peter A Bell
2012-03-28 15:20

Credit where it’s due, Michael! The anti-independence parties didn’t get to be a shambles without a lot of help from yourself and your wee pals, Foulkes, Caithness and Tinkerbell.
 
 
#
Independista
2012-03-28 17:41

Keep saying it. Vote No. Get nowt!
 

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