Hannan: Unionist silence helping no-one

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It might have escaped your notice but tomorrow will see Chancellor George Osborne unveil his Budget.

Despite the fact that the contents of the red box are supposed to be top secret, some of his plans have been trailed in the press. So we know that it won’t be a good budget for poor people – the abhorrent bedroom tax and frankly evil squeeze on benefits will continue, and I would not be surprised if he panders to the Tory right and gives some relief to top-rate taxpayers.

There will be no massive giveaways – Osborne will keep that for next year to bribe the English electorate to vote Tory in the general election.

Scotland will get its due under the Barnett formula, and no doubt there will be complaints about us getting even that.

Don’t look for too many mentions of Scotland, though. As they continuously do, the Chancellor and his sidekicks David Cameron and Nick Clegg will not answer big questions about their view of the future of Scotland.

It’s time for the Unionists and Project Fear to start answering those questions. This SNP member would like to pose a few.

If Scotland votes Yes in the referendum, will all the three major political parties accept that democratic decision – no matter how narrow the vote – and work with the Scottish Government to bring about a negotiated independence by 2016? We have yet to hear a definitive answer on that.

In the event of a Yes vote, how quickly will the Westminster Government remove their immoral Trident submarines and missiles from Scottish soil? Has the Coalition Government made any plans for their removal – it would be prudent to do so – and if so, can they say where in England or Wales or Northern Ireland the new Trident base will be?

In the event of a No vote in the referendum, exactly what further powers, if any, would the major parties cede to Holyrood? Are the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour prepared to make a legally binding manifesto commitment to those extra powers, as David Cameron signally failed to do in his speech last week?

If the vote is Yes in September, will the Scottish sections of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats become separate parties? Have the three parties considered their future or made any plans in this regard? Like all those big businesses who have joined Project Fear’s grubby scaremongering campaign, it would be sensible to consider a separate future, so what have the three parties decided?

If it is a Yes vote, exactly what will the rest of the UK do with regard to treating Scotland as a foreign country? Will the remainder of the UK insist on passport controls, or will they take the attitude that presently and sensibly prevails on the divided island of Ireland?

Mentioning big businesses, if England rejects the European Union in David Cameron’s promised 2017 referendum, how quickly will they relocate to, say, Ireland? Will they make “quit” threats before that referendum, too?

If the September vote is No, and, if England subsequently votes to withdraw from the EU, can Scotland get another independence referendum as we will vote overwhelmingly to be European?

I’ll be asking more questions in future. I will not be holding my breath for answers as the Unionists will continue their ostrich mentality.

MATTER OF LAW

Great to see Law and Order UK back on our screens. A terrific crime show but just one problem – it should be called Law and Order England as only English law is featured.

Modern Labour is pale shadow of Tony Benn

I CANNOT claim to have been a friend of Tony Benn, but I met him on a couple of occasions and heard him speak on others. I didn’t always agree with what he said, but the power of his oratory was undeniable and his life really was spent campaigning for the good of people less well off than himself.

You remember Tony and other giants of the Labour Party’s past and then you look at Labour’s so-called leading lights of today, and if you are of the left, you weep, and if you’re of the right, you laugh out loud.

Time does not dull affection

IN what seems like another life, I worked for the public relations and tourism department of this city, and the people there were thoroughly professional and really cared about Edinburgh.

Last week, some of us got together for the first time in years, and we remembered happy times spent in the service of Edinburgh – we were proud of this city, and still are.

John the Roslin man will be sorely missed

THAT guid Scots word ‘kenspeckle’ could have been invented to describe John Ritchie, my dear, departed friend who was laid to rest after a beautiful funeral service at Rosslyn Chapel on Friday.

Colourful, bright and one of life’s genuine enthusiasts for life, John was a ‘lad o pairts’ who made an impact on everyone who met him along the many paths he trod.

We attended something like 25 Edinburgh Festivals together and they just won’t be the same now he’s gone.

It is entirely fitting that this man of Roslin was laid to rest in the shadow of Rosslyn Chapel, on whose mysteries he was a renowned authority.

To his family and many friends go my deepest condolences.