About Frann Leach

Frann Leach lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and is interested in all aspects of natural health, including aromatherapy, herbal medicine and dietary approaches.

Do you really believe Scotland will get extra powers after a No vote?


All three of the traditional main parties (including Lib Dems, but excluding UKIP) have said that they will give Scotland extra powers in the event of a No vote, despite refusing to offer a third option of “Devo-Max” on the ballot paper.

UKIP’s policy is to stage another referendum on returning to the UK if we vote to leave1.

Until a few weeks ago, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson MSP, firmly ruled out any extra powers after the referendum.

Westminster’s balance of payments is kept viable by the strength of Scotland’s oil, but despite this all the English parties were working on the assumption that Scots would believe their propaganda (which after all had worked for many years) that Scotland was “too wee, too poor and too stupid” to be able to manage their own affairs without help from Big Daddy England.

But things have changed since the polls started showing consistent swings in support away from No and undecided towards Yes. Frantically, the parties have each brought their offers of extra powers to the table, hoping against hope that they will be enough to persuade the Scottish people that continuing to give Westminster 9.9% of the tax take, and getting 9.3% back would make them better off than by having full control.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont originally promised more, but after their Party Conference (when the No camp were still confident of winning) the Labour proposal was watered down. All they are offering now if they win the election is the ability to raise or lower the basic rate of tax by an additional 5p (from the existing level of 10p to 15p) and to raise (but not lower) higher rate tax. This is because Labour do not want to give Scotland an advantage over rUK. They also want to split Housing Benefit from Universal Credit and hand the administration over to Scotland (they’re also talking about giving Housing Benefit to councils in rUK to administer). Oh, and they will abolish the Bedroom Tax in Scotland2.

The LibDems are backing Labour’s post-Scottish referendum devolution proposals3.

The Tories have gone further. They will also abolish the Bedroom Tax in Scotland, pass control of Air Passenger Duty over and also full control of rates and bands for income tax4.

These powers and sources of income are not being considered for transfer by any party:

  • Revenues from our natural resources (oil, wind, hydro etc.)
  • Power to increase the Minimum Wage
  • Ability to create a fairer welfare system (instead of mitigating Westminster cuts, as we do now)
  • Pension age and level
  • Removing WMDs
  • Getting the Government we vote for
  • A seat in the Council of Ministers in Europe
  • Double the number of MEPs

 
So, that’s what they say is on offer. Every party has made an offer of extra powers, and these offers were in place ahead of the Queen’s Speech setting out legislation for the final session of Parliament before the next General Election.

But No mention was made in the Queen’s Speech of any enabling legislation for extra powers. It seems logical, doesn’t it, that if there was any real intention of abiding by these promises, steps would be taken at the next available opportunity? They haven’t been.

In 1974, we won a referendum on devolution by votes cast, but failed to reach the 40% threshold. The Government of the day (led by Margaret Thatcher) had promised that if Scotland voted No there would still be a transfer of extra powers. These promises were never fulfilled.

The current Westminster government is led by David Cameron. He made many promises before the election, including “no top down reorganisation of the NHS” and that VAT would not be raised. Few, if any, of his promises have been fulfilled.

Ms Lamont urged people in the North-East not to believe propaganda about extra powers and riches heading to Edinburgh

Labour is doing badly in the polls at the moment, and the likelihood is that there will be a Tory government after the General Election, possibly in coalition with UKIP. However, in the light of Johann Lamont’s speech in the North-East reported in the Northern Echo on the 13th April (extracted above), even if they do scrape through you might want to take their limited offering with a pinch of salt.

I’m voting Yes for many reasons, but one of the most important is, as The Who said, “I won’t be fooled again”.

1979 headline: No vote will not kill devolution, pledges Thatcher. 2014 headline: Cameron promises more powers if Scots vote No

Believing Westminster party’s promises? #NoThanks!
A free Scotland with full powers? #YesPlease.

————-

1. The Sunday Herald, Sunday 1 June 2014, Ukip’s new MEP: ‘We will move to overturn Yes vote’
2. The Scotsman, Tuesday 18 March 2014, Labour reveal plans following No vote
3. The Guardian, Monday 10 March 2014, Lib Dems back Labour’s post-Scottish referendum devolution proposals
4. BBC News, Monday 2 June 2014,
Scottish independence: Tories back Scots income tax power

Two absolute certainties after a No vote

Everybody knows that the future is uncertain. Nobody knows what’s around the next corner, though we can hazard a guess most of the time. But there are some things that we know for sure will be there, in the absence of an earthquake (which we probably would have noticed).

We don’t know the results of the referendum. There are only two choices, to be sure, but which one will win out isn’t certain. And if the answer is Yes, a lot will change, many would say for the better (on the basis that they couldn’t really get much worse).

But what if the result is No? Will everything stay the same as it was before? The No campaign would like you to say “of course”. They want you to vote for the status quo, and they’re banking on you not finding out what I’m about to tell you.

No does not mean the status quo (picture: @JohnJappy on Twitter)
No means more cuts, more poverty, more WMDs, more Governments we didn't vote for

Certainty number 1: More cuts

In a speech on 6 January this year, George Osborne said “We’ve got to make more cuts – £17 billion this coming year, £20 billion next year, and over £25 billion further across the two years after. That’s more than £60 billion in total.” So the cuts we’ve seen so far (around £10 billion) haven’t even scratched the surface, even though the UK already has more than a million families relying on food banks to feed their children. Incidentally, Trussell Trust have been warned that if they continue to campaign on this issue, they will probably be closed down.

Even if the Labour Party does manage to beat the Tories and win the next election, the £25 billion promised by Osborne for the 2 years following would still take place. Ed Balls, the Labour shadow Chancellor announced 8 days after Osborne’s speech that “Labour will accept Tory cuts in full”.

Certainty number 2: A reduced budget for Scotland

The main part of Scotland’s allocated resources from the Westminster government is calculated according to the Barnett Formula. This distributes expenditure… in proportion to population… Its principle is that any increase or reduction in expenditure in England will automatically lead to a proportionate increase or reduction in resources for the devolved government. Austerity will obviously reduce the budget, but this is not the major problem.

Because of geography, Scotland receives more per head than England, but less than Wales and Northern Ireland. Senior Conservative politicians, including Boris Johnson and Alistair Carmichael (Secretary of State for Scotland) in London and Ruth Davidson in Scotland have all called for the Barnett Formula to be scrapped and this has been echoed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxation, which has called for it to be replaced “as a priority”. Scottish Labour have called for it to be scrapped as well.

If the Barnett Formula is replaced with a simple calculation based on population without adjustment (a suggestion which seems to be pretty popular down South), Scotland will lose more than 14.5% of its budget – resulting in a huge loss of services. Then you add in the austerity measures I already talked about above… they don’t even have to punish us for the temerity of asking for a referendum, because they will turn Scotland into a total basket case anyway!

Given that Scotland has been subsidising the rest of the UK for over 30 years, this reduction in funds would be unfair, of course. But politicians aren’t renowned for paying much attention to fairness except when they have to – as they do at the moment, but won’t after the result is known. The only way for Scotland to have a future worth living in is to vote Yes and take it into our own hands.

Take note of what Andrew Neil said, “Devolution, the Calman Commission, the Scotland Bill, the Edinburgh Agreement, all of this and more you have, is because Westminster parties are scared of the SNP. If you vote ‘No’ you massively change the balance of power and they will not only give you nothing, but will probably take powers away from the Scottish Parliament”.

In fact, they already have! Powers over the renewable energy obligation were brought back under the control of Westminster by a vote in the House of Lords at the end of last year. This is Westminster “being nice”.

Think about it. If Scotland were the liability that the No campaign would have you believe, why would they be so passionately involved in trying to stop us leaving? One thing’s for sure, it isn’t ‘cos they love us, or if it is, they have a pretty strange way of showing it.

All my WordPress posts disappeared… how I fixed it

On another blog site of mine, suddenly, all of my posts disappeared, though when I checked the database, they were all there, and repairing it didn’t help. Nor did any of the other fixes I saw online.

Then I checked the error_log (this is a file you find at the same level as the main wp files in File Manager). There were lots of warnings about Psychic PSB.

I had a plugin called Psychic search, so I went into the plugins and deactivated it to see what would happen. All my posts reappeared. Needless to say, I deleted the plugin, and probably won’t use it again.

If you have the same problem, I suggest you check your plugins.

All adult Blogger/Blogspot blogs with ads will be deleted

Google’s about to delete all “adult” blogs on blogger/blogspot which have ads. “Adult” might not be what you think. It includes stuff like medical advice, fetish fashion… If you have an adult warning at the front, or were offered one, that’s you.

If you have one of these you have less than 2 days to deal with it, and avoid losing your blog content forever. Go over to self-hosting. You could move to Tumblr, but how long before Yahoo does the same thing?

ZDNet has useful information, in particular:

“DreamHost has a one-click WordPress installation, then instructions for moving from Blogger to WordPress.”

I’ve used Dreamhost and can recommend them. There’s a coupon here.

Go do it! you really must act now if you’re affected.

Stop screwing up my Contacts!

Stop screwing up my Contacts!I’ve just spent over an hour cleaning up the contacts on my phone – and not for the first time. This time it was LinkedIn that inserted their unwanted intrusions into my private space, but in the past it’s been Facebook, Google+ and probably others.

I think the problem is that the makers of social apps, services and similar platforms have difficulty in distinguishing online contacts from the real world. A distinction even geeks like me can figure out. So why can’t they get their heads round it? One assumes they’re reasonably intelligent people – although of course the intelligence required to program is not the same thing as “emotional intelligence”, if that even exists.

Let’s be crystal clear about this. A contact on, say, Google+ or LinkedIn is not a real world contact. I may wish to connect with someone on a particular platform for many purposes, few if any of which relate to any desire to email/phone/text them. For example, on Facebook and Google+ I might “friend” people purely so as to add them as neighbors in some game. Other platforms have other priorities.

So I go to phone someone, and there suddenly are hundreds of strangers’ faces and names cluttering up the list. Who wants this? Do you know anybody who really wants to scroll down for several seconds to get to anyone they actually want to contact? No. I thought not.

In the past, as on this occasion in fact, I’ve gone down the list and “deleted” (well, you get a message that you can’t delete, you can only hide. Good enough) all the extraneous peeps. Thankfully, there were only a couple of hundred of them.

I’m afraid I got so mad, that I went to LinkedIn to find out how to turn off syncing, and finding none, I just deleted all the contacts on there that I don’t actually know irl (sorry if you were one of them). I don’t have anything against them as people – I just don’t want them filling up my phone list! I won’t be phoning/emailing/texting any of them any time soon, probably never.

When will this be sorted out? There is no way round this that I can find.

I tried putting all my “actual” real life contacts into a new group “My Contacts” reasoning that I could just look at that group, and never have to do the same thing again. No. That doesn’t work. Oh sure, you can look at a group, but the layout is unusable. Why can’t it be a straight alphabetical list like the full one? No. It has to be 2 images on a line, then another 2. Even more scrolling. Doh.

I am fed up with this. Every time I get a new phone I have to do it all over again (because you can’t delete you can only hide, and this doesn’t seem to be passed on to the new device).

For heaven’s sake. Somebody sort this out. Or bring out an app that hides contacts from “social” apps/services automatically.

Graargh.

Fixing the two main Nexus 4 bugbears

I’m the proud owner of a Google Nexus 4, and I’m very pleased with it, in the main.

But there are two major problems I’ve been wrestling with since I received delivery of the device:

  1. When you’re in the middle of a call, and you press the Power button to refresh the screen so you can look something up or make a note, the call ends.
  2. The back is so ridiculously shiny that, apart from the fact that it feels cold and unfriendly in the hand, it slides off stuff that isn’t exactly level – on any surface, rough or smooth, with an angle of 1 degree or more away from true! This is a pain (it wakes me up in the night as it slides onto the floor with a bump, so on), and is also not really a good thing if you have a valuable phone (ok, I know the N4 is actually pretty inexpensive, but that’s irrelevant), as sooner or later it might land on something hard enough to damage it.

Fix for power button terminates callI was bemoaning my problems to my son, Allan, on the phone the other day and he solved both of them in the space of 10 seconds. The second wasn’t something I’d really thought about or researched, but the power button thing had been reported to Google as a bug by several people, myself included, and they didn’t seem to know that a solution was already available. They just said it was a feature to add accessibility for the blind. Those of us who worked with computers in the 80s will recognize the word “feature” as a euphemism for bug.

But it’s easy to fix. It’s an accessibility option. So if it’s been bugging you, too, go to Settings -> Accessibility, scroll down to Power button ends call and uncheck the box. Doh.

Fix for slidey backThe shiny back may be pretty, but it’s nowhere near as usable as the nice textured back on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. To fix the sliding problem, you have to put up with a marred aesthetic. Stick some rubber feet on the back. I used 3, as mine are quite big. If you have smaller ones, you could probably use one in each corner without the risk of getting in the way of the camera.

Now all I’ve got to do is try and always hold my phone without any part of my fingers and thumb wrapping over the screen. As it goes right to the edge, you end up thinking the screen’s frozen when it’s just confused because your left hand’s registering as well as your right.

To be honest, I think I’d prefer my old Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which had none of these problems. My toilet has a lot to answer for…

This is just me saying Hello World! like you do

I’m mainly involved in what you might call Alternative Health. I know this is usually just about herbs and essential oils, but you could call the gluten free diet an alternative to medication as well, in many cases.

Lately, I’ve been making Kindle books about these subjects. Some of them are shown at the bottom of the page in a carousel. No horses with candy poles, though. And they’re linked to Amazon.com. Alternatively you can find links to both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk on my books page.

If you wish to contact me, please use the following address: email address.