Is he mad?

The fact that Michael Fry draws parallels with Catalonia suggests, however expert he may be on the glories of capitalism, he is not qualified at all to pontificate on matters constitutional. You don’t have to be a professor of constitutional law to know that the constitutional circumstances in Scotland and Catalonia are entirely different. So different that no meaningful comparisons can be made beyond the fundamental principle of the right of self-determination.

I suspect a professor of constitutional law would be more likely to award Michael Fry a rap on the knuckles than a passing grade were he to encounter the following argument.

“All-party agreement to the referendum rules is vital, and cannot be won in Scotland alone.”

That is just wrong in every way. If by “all-party agreement” he means the political parties, then what he seems to be saying is that the referendum rules would require a unanimous vote in parliament. Where is this stipulation made? Where does this appear in any internationally recognised law or convention regarding the right of self-determination?

But it gets worse! Apparently, we don’t only require a unanimous vote in the Scottish Parliament, we need the approval of Westminster as well! And that statement can only be taken to imply that Westminster’s approval would also have to be unanimous. There’s setting a high bar for Scotland’s right of self-determination, and there’s putting that bar into a deep space trajectory. And all this when there should be no bar at all. International convention prohibits interference in the referendum process by the state from which ‘secession’ is being sought. Michael Fry, on the other hand, maintains that such interference isn’t only lawful, but an actual requirement for legal validity.

The following would have our professor of constitutional law reaching for his rapping stick again.

“There is altogether a great weight of evidence that Scottish independence will come only by following the legal, constitutional route through agreement with the UK and not in defiance of it.”

What evidence? We can discount all the drivel about Catalonia because the constitutional differences make comparisons meaningless. What other evidence is there? I’m not seeing any. And it would take some powerful evidence to persuade me that there can possibly be a route to independence adhering to the laws, regulations, rules and procedures put in place by the British state for the purpose of preserving the Union.

Going even further, as Michael Fry recommends, and giving British Nationalists at least one and possibly more effective vetoes over the referendum would surely be a recipe for closing the democratic route to independence altogether and for all time.

(On the subject of time, you may note that Michael Fry would have us take a route which is “longer and drearier”, but nowhere does he address to consequences of further delay.)

The reality is that there is no route to restoring Scotland’s independence via a process designed and controlled by those who are fanatically opposed to Scotland’s independence being restored. There is no route which doesn’t involve breaking the British state’s rules. There is no route which avoids direct confrontation with the British state. Such is Michael Fry’s concern with making the process impeccably legal (according to British laws) he isn’t even aware that he’s making it impossible.

This entire article has been written for one reason. It is nothing more than a contrived legalistic rationalisation of the Scottish Government’s ‘strategy’ of waiting for the next thing that has to be waited for while never challenging the authority of the British state to deny or constrain or circumscribe Scotland’s right of self-determination. And, for goodness sake, don’t mention the Union!

I could maybe get to grips with this if Michael Fry was just asking me to trust Nicola Sturgeon and her team. But he is insisting that I should put my faith in the goodwill, honour and democratic principles of a British political elite that treats me and my country and the principles of democracy with open contempt. Is he mad? Or does he think I am?



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22 thoughts on “Is he mad?

  1. No country ever gained independence from the colonists by allowing the colonists to decide when and how the colony leaves.

    Scotland is in a so called union. However the truth is that we are England’s colony, the same as Eire was. The difference is that we just don’t appreciate that we are a mere colony of England. Once we start thinking like a colonial possession, then we will understand what is required to break free of colonial rule.

    We do this by action. In other words we declare ourselves to be an independent nation and then follow this up with a referendum to affirm it. Forget the treaties of union and the devolution agreement. These are legal traps , designed by unionists to supplant the idea that we cannot leave without their consent.

    We leave when we decide , and to me that time has already come.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. On the nail, BJ. I’d go further and say that it appears to have occurred to very few English people either that they have no God-given right to make our decisions for us. The most worrying aspect of British Nationalism, I find, is that so few have any real sense of self-awareness, and that applies on both sides of the border. Perhaps that comes with feeling downtrodden or ignored. I don’t know, but British Nationalists have this total lack of self-awareness. If I lived in England, and England decided to go it alone, I think my first thought would be, no matter how disappointed I was: do I have the right to stand in their way? I do believe my answer would have to be, NO, and that is the reason that, although I am a Remainer, and my heart bleeds for England’s self-inflicted future, I cannot, as a democrat and human and civil rights believer, in all conscience, think that I have the right to stop other people from making their own mistakes, apart from stating that I believe they are mistakes. It still upsets me – although I’ll take what we can get – that many NO voters still do not really espouse an independent Scotland but can stomach Brexit less, so that it becomes a choice between two evils, for them, rather than a choice for a new and, hopefully, better future for all of us in Scotland. Sad, really.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. An earlier extract from your blog: If you’re asking what the level of support is for independence you’re asking the wrong question. You should be asking what the British State is prepared to do to preserve the Union.

    May I suggest there are – at least two – additional pertinent questions:

    If the British State is prepared to do anything and everything to preserve the Union – what evidence exists to illustrate the means they have long since established to achieve their objective?

    Have those who wish to achieve independence for Scotland recognised, and fully prepared for what may transpire?

    To address those questions, I offer some limited but imho relevant starting points:

    How many have read:

    The Democratic Socialist Federation – Dunoon Unit Report – the Postal Ballot at the Scottish Independence Referendum.

    How many have read:

    The Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013?. How many flaws did it contain that would have assisted the British State, had it proven necessary?

    How many have read:

    The Referendums (Scotland) Bill? Does it retain and harbour the same deficiencies/flaws that will assist the British State, when it does prove necessary?

    How many have read:

    The Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums – July 2018? Why was it constituted, by whom was it instigated, and what was the importance of the involvement of Andrew Wilson? Most importantly, was it established to allow its variety of recommendations to be adopted and acted upon, when it proves necessary?

    How many are:

    Currently being encouraged to ensure they are registered to vote, but do so unaware of an entity named “Democracy Counts”, and the techniques they use in the voter registration process?

    One final question:

    Nietzsche said. “Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.”

    As we cry “Dissolve the Union!”, “Use the Mandate!” – how mad are we going to be by having failed to prepare for what may transpire, and for what the British State has already planned and for which it is well prepared?

    Example, one of many: At present we hear “NO!” … I suggest a clear and present danger will come if we hear “Yes” and then are advised of the terms and conditions that accompany that word – drawn from: The Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums – July 2018

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely agree that the British State will not let us go amicably. Many of us do realize that we could be in for a very rough ride, but, frankly, I fear more the consequences of the whole independence drive being driven underground, as I believe it would be. That could result, as has happened in almost every other example, in an eruption that brings civil war in its wake. It is also the reason – apart from being a proponent of political legality where it is sensible and practical – why I am with Mr Steele and Craig Murray on resiling the Treaty, holding a ratifying referendum and then dissolving the Union. No one can argue (unless he or she is certifiable) that a legal breaking of the bonds that bind, recognized by the international community, is preferable to bitterness and recrimination that will almost certainly be the result of any second pre independence referendum unless the result is a runaway majority that no one can gainsay democratically and politically. This could have been done over three years ago, and we would be independent now and (probably) still in the EU or negotiating associated membership. Knowing that a country is determined to be independent has never prevented the British State from making that as difficult as possible, from creating divisions and sowing discord, and worst of all, from leaving little time bombs that will detonate when they are far away. Ireland is just one example; there are many, many others, not least Palestine and India/Pakistan. To a great extent, resiling the Treaty in full sight and light of the international community will help. Keeping everything in the shadows, as some appear to believe is the case with the SNP denies us, and, more importantly, the international community, that illumination, but lets the British State work its perfidy in the dark.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Good questions. I shall start by addressing my own – what is the British State prepared to do to preserve the Union? The answer to that is, absolutely anything it supposes it can get away with. It is impossible to overstate how vital Scotland is to the British state. We hear about Scotland being a ‘cash cow’ for the British exchequer. We hear about the ‘ripping off’ of Scotland’s resources with only a disproportionately small benefit accruing to our nation. We have long heard stories about economic exploitation and it is often assume that this is the reason the British ruling elites are so desperate to preserve the Union.

      Only more recently have started to hear more about how the Union harms Scotland’s democracy. Brexit is a particularly egregious example illustrating clearly Scotland’s subordinate status in this supposed ‘equal partnership’. But there is still insufficient awareness of how this affects us every day. The democratic deficit is not just for Brexit, it is the constant background to all of Scotland’s politics. The asymmetry of power within the Union affects the way we see ourselves. So it affects the way we are. During the 2014 referendum campaign I gave a speech in Dundee in which I addressed the matter of what the referendum was about,

      “It is about you. It is about us. It is about the people of Scotland and what kind of people we are.

      This referendum is about the most fundamental constitutional issue of all – sovereignty. The sovereignty that rightfully rests with the people of any nation.

      This referendum is about whether we are the kind of people who will carelessly allow that sovereignty to be usurped by the ruling elites of the British state, or whether we are the kind of people who will seize to ourselves the power to shape our own destiny.”

      The Union underpins an important power differential. It is essential to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The British political elite rightly fear that dissolution of the Union will lead to a breakdown of those structures.

      Then there is the fear of exposure. When Scotland votes Yes and negotiations begin, the books are thrown open. All will be revealed. Including the way the British political elite has lied, not just to the people of Scotland, but to all the people of these islands over, not merely years or decades, but generations. They fear that exposure.

      Finally, there’s the matter of pride. Scotland’s departure will be a massive blow to British pride. And we know how prideful they are. It’s also about status in the world. A large part – probably the largest part by far – of that status comes from two things – possession of nuclear weapons; and Scotland’s geopolitical importance. Without Scotland, the British state is seriously diminished. The UK’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council will almost certainly be lost.

      I apologise for going on at such length. But if we are to appreciate what the British state might do to preserve the Union it is vital to understand what it means to them. It means pretty much everything. So we must assume they will do almost anything to prevent Scotland’s departure.

      In fact, it might be more productive to ask what they won’t do. Or what they are unlikely to do. Personally, I don’t think they will resort to main force. They won’t send in the troops. Partly because they don’t have the troops. Partly because the generals would tell them to fuck off. Partly because any kind of heavy-handed police action would do almost as much damage to the British ruling elite as the dissolution of the Union. And partly because they’d be feart of getting their arses kicked.

      Short of military occupation, pretty much anything goes. That means all manner of political, legal and administrative manoeuvring. Neutralising the Scottish Parliament has to be a high priority.

      And so to Mike’s questions. What means has the British state at its disposal and what historical evidence is there to indicate how these means might be deployed. Most minds will at this point turn to Northern Ireland and The Troubles. But, as I’ve said, I don’t think we’ll see anything remotely like that played out in Scotland. Scotland’s size alone makes it unlikely. No! The army that te British state will look to is its army of lawyers and civil servants. It will deploy that army to put obstacles in the way of the independence campaign. That is already happening. We can expect that activity to intensify.

      The thing about this is that it all depends on the Union. All of the British states power over Scotland stems from the Union. Once the Union is broken, so is the British state’s power. So, in a sense, breaking the union must be the very first part of the process by which Scotland’s independence will be restored. That is somewhat counter-intuitive because we’d tend to think that once the Union is broken, that’s it! We’re independent. But in reality the Union, and the power it gives the British state over Scotland, must somehow be broken in order that the process can happen. Because the British state will use that power to block the process.

      I leave you to think about this. It is a matter I have been very reluctant to speak of in public because it could so easily be misrepresented as ‘undemocratic’. It isn’t, of course. It is the Union which is undemocratic. So democracy requires that it be broken. Democracy cannot proceed until it is. I bring it up now because it has a significant bearing on Mikes next question – how prepared are we to deal with what the British state might do to preserve the Union. (With apologies to Mike for paraphrasing. I don’t doubt he’ll let me know if I’ve inadvertently distorted his meaning.)

      To be frank, I have little time for conspiracy theories about ‘interventions’ in the voting process. And absolutely no time at all for notions of rigging the count. I am very much in favour of constant vigilance and measure to make the system more secure. But there is no such thing as 100% security. I can guarantee that, whatever measures are implemented, there will be no end to, or even diminution of, ‘report’ claiming to identify gaping holes. And it is impossible, as things stand, to interfere with the count in such a way as to have a significant impact on the result. If anybody claims otherwise, just ask them the minimum number of people who would be required for such an exercise to succeed. Then ask them how these people might be recruited and how their silence after the fact might be ensured – forever.

      Many of the issues – real, potential or imagined – with the voting system can be at least ameliorated by ensuring the highest possible levels of participation. Focus on turnout!

      What we have to be prepared to do, as a nation, is what I touched on earlier. We must be prepared to take bold, decisive action. We must be prepared to break the rules and defend the breaking of them in terms of a democratic imperative. We must be prepared to preempt the British state as it attempts to deploy its final solution to the ‘Scottish problem’. We must be prepared to seize control of the entire process and all the apparatus that supports it.

      As individuals, we must be prepared to stand behind our political leaders as they take action that the British will denounce as ‘illegal’. As, indeed, it must be given that they make the laws. We must be ready to make our voices heard and, if necessary, to take to the streets to peacefully demonstrate our determination that democracy shall prevail in Scotland.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “To be frank, I have little time for conspiracy theories about ‘interventions’ in the voting process. And absolutely no time at all for notions of rigging the count.” What do you make of this video which shows YES votes on NO piles, and an adjudicator filling in ballots? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=MZRYVE4naHc&fbclid=IwAR2JYTtHNrYUaUEGmtNAb0z43QcEmCk1gCuVcUSFXD9p3BhjRBkzrZHAUfE&app=desktop

        I’m not convinced that the English government of the UK would not send in the military.

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      2. “…Just ask them the minimum number of people who would be required for such an exercise to succeed. Then ask them how these people might be recruited and how their silence after the fact might be ensured – forever…”

        I would agree absolutely that actual polling station vote rigging is very difficult unless you are a banana republic. However, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden showed how it can be done easily enough with modern technology. For the postal vote, the names and voting preferences are put into the computer at the early stage; you have thousands of fake (but real, obviously) voting envelopes, and, as each name and preference is added to the computer, you change it and change the fake ballot paper to reflect the state’s preference. You wouldn’t need to do that with all of them, just enough to turn the tide, but thousands, admittedly. We all know, more or less, who is counting the votes at the polling stations, but has anyone ever been identified as a postal vote counter? We cannot even be sure that the count was not carried out, by machine, in England, courtesy of a former Tory MP’s company.

        Computer hackers change data stored in computers all the time and use it for their own purposes. The beauty of this is that, unless an individual demands to see his or her own ballot paper immediately after the combined polling station and postal vote count, before the papers are destroyed, he or she would never know if it corresponded with what he/she had recorded as his/her vote. No record was kept in 2014 of the votes of those who opted for a postal vote, so there is now no way to check. The people who would do this – very quickly – would be those whose job it is to protect the state, and they sign the Official Secrets Act and very rarely tell even their own families what is happening in security circles. Computer hackers are, anecdotally, enlisted by the security services quite frequently. Not saying this happened, but the tallies taken by both the SNP and other independence groups before the vote in 2014 appeared to suggest that certain areas would be strongly pro independence. In the event, they turned out to be anything but, so either the SNP system failed spectacularly for the first time, as all previous election results had been fairly accurately predicted, or many people lied about their voting intention. Would the state do this? Oh, yes. All in the past, though, but we must ensure that, next time, the Electoral Commission keeps a separate record for postal voters and votes – just in case.

        “…Many of the issues – real, potential or imagined – with the voting system can be at least ameliorated by ensuring the highest possible levels of participation. Focus on turnout!…”

        Spot on.

        By the way, what is quite startling, but not surprising, is just how far the reasons for Scotland’s imprisonment in the Union are the same as those of 1707, and long before. That fact alone, should be worrying.

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      3. Are we agreed … “ if we are to appreciate what the British state might do to preserve the Union it is vital to understand what it means to them. It means pretty much everything. So we must assume they will do almost anything to prevent Scotland’s departure.

        Let me open up, and I do so only ever so slightly, just one of the items I made reference to in my original post, and I hope I do so in a manner which is acceptable to you, Peter.
        .
        Were I tasked to assist the British State in their endeavours, this is where I would start, this would be my primary, but by no means sole, hunting ground.

        At 1 December 2018:

        the total number of UK Parliament electors in Scotland was 3,925,800. This is a decrease of 24,800 (0.6%) on the previous year.

        the number of registered Scottish Parliament and Local Government electors also fell slightly to 4,105,800. This is a decrease of 15,300 (0.4%) on the previous year.

        there were 78,400 young people aged 16 or 17 registered to vote at Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections, accounting for 1.9% of the total electorate. This is a decrease of 5,200 (6.2%) on the previous year.

        over a sixth of the Scottish electorate was registered for postal voting at 1 December 2018. Over the last decade this proportion has generally increased; it was a tenth in 2008.

        there were 132,800 (non-UK) EU citizens registered to vote in Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections, an increase of 7,800 (6.2%) on the previous year and nearly three times higher than the 45,800 figure for 2008.
        This represented 3.2% of the total electorate in 2018 and is the highest recorded number of EU citizens registered to vote in Scotland, although the latest year-on-year increase is smaller compared with the increases recorded between 2015 and 2016 (18.0%) and 2016 and 2017 (10.4%).

        Source: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/news/2019/scottish-electorate-shows-slight-decrease-in-2018

        Might it be interesting to have a very close look at an entity called “Democracy Counts” and in particular how they play a key role for many Scottish Local Authorities in establishing and maintaining the systems used for voter registration.

        It will take time to fully investigate everything that I need to understand, but maybe this youtube item is worth looking at, just for starters: https://youtu.be/8caFsAcsPfE

        Looks like I can find every single registered voter and every single unregistered voter, and hey everyone who has asked for a postal vote …given my knowledge – thank you Scottish Government – this might just be very interesting!

        Need a quick chat, first … maybe someone at GCHQ???

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      4. You seem to be suggesting some sort of interference in the voting process, Mike. You would hardly be the first to do so. I confess to having no idea how this interference would work in practice, or how it would get around existing checks. But. before we even get to such matters, there are more basic questions to ask. If the British establishment has the ability to determine the outcome of polls, how come we have an SNP administration at Holyrood? The entire devolution ‘experiment’ only went ahead because the British ruling elites were assured that the Union would not be compromised. The basis of this assurance was that the Scottish Parliament would always be under the control of the British parties. The electoral system was designed for this purpose. It was designed to keep the British parties in control without any interference – just using electoral arithmetic.

        OK! Scottish voters broke that system. Why were they able to do that if the British state had the power to ‘fix’ elections? OK! Maybe the vote-fiddler were caught on the hop in 2007. But again in 2011 and 2016? I don’t think so. It’s not much of a rigging system if it fails on several of the occasions when it’s most needed.

        At UK general election, why would they need to fix the vote? The system is already set up to favour two establishment parties. At least until recently, the establishment could be certain nothing much would change whatever the outcome of the election. So why bother developing a means to manipulate the vote? Why bother controlling elections when you control the government?

        It might be argued that this election-rigging capacity is needed now. That it was needed in 2015 and again in 2017. Where was it? If such a capacity existed, how did the SNP achieve that 2015 landslide? Why didn’t Theresa May get her increased majority in 2017?

        In terms of referendums, why bother having a system to fix the outcome if you can just stop the referendum happening? Why bother having such a system when you control the media?

        The only logical conclusion from the foregoing is that, either this vote-rigging system doesn’t exist, or it doesn’t work.

        Which, of course, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant. We should always be on the lookout for ways in which voting might be tampered with. We should always be seeking to make the system more secure. But the evidence against the existence of such a system means it shouldn’t, or needn’t. be our first concern when considering what the British state might do to preserve the Union. Even if there was the possibility of vote-rigging coming into play in a new independence referendum, our first priority must be to look at what the British state might do before anybody gets to vote.

        They might rely on propaganda. But, given what’s at stake and changes to the media environment since 2014, it seems no more likely that they would depend on a new Project Fear than that they would put their faith in a vote-rigging capacity with a near-100% record of failure. They might be confident that they can control the situation whatever the outcome of the referendum. But that too seems a very big gamble. Especially given how chaotic the political environment is at the moment.

        So! What’s left? Looks like the only thing to do is to stop the referendum even happening. With a backup plan to intervene in the process should the vote go ahead despite all efforts to prevent it. And a third line of defence in the form of measures to ensure an unwanted result doesn’t come into effect in such a way as to compromise the Union. All of which can be done using existing powers or powers that can easily be acquired; existing legislation or legislation that can easily be put in place; and infrastructure; that either already exists or is in the process of being developed/

        These are the things we should be looking at before concerning ourselves about the vote being rigged. Priorities! We have to be prepared to deal with what the British state might throw at us instead of or before it would resort to manipulating the vote. Firstly, we have to ensure that the referendum happens, Secondly, we have to ensure that the process is entirely controlled by trusted authorities and agencies. Thirdly, we have to ensure that the capacity to honour and implement a Yes vote is retained.

        If we fail to do these three things, either by inadequacy or inaction, then it won’t matter a toss what vulnerabilities there are in the voting system.

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  3. Not neccesarily!If there is another hung pasrliament with the SNP, They would have to give the Scots another Indyref as they would have no choice if they want to form a government,and could they handle the troubles in Scotland and Ulster???I seriously doubt it.Independence is simply a matter of time and method.It is up to Westminster to choose the method.It is after independence which could be the problem

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  4. Peter. It’s a 50/50 whether there will be a general election on the 1st of November.

    Lets say the SNP go into that without specifically tying a majority to the right to proceed to negotiate Scottish independence. Because from past experience that might be a mistake they make again. So the SNP then go onto win 50 seats. What would you suggest they do in these circumstances.

    My answer is you win a majority and that is your mandate to dissolve the union. However they have had two Westminster majorities, and did hee haw. I am not confident that they will do anything ,even if we have crashed out of the EU on the 31st October!

    To be honest my confidence in this SNP government ebbs on a daily basis.

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  5. You mention pride, Peter.
    I just wish more Scots would get off their knees.
    Pride can be a many faceted concept, but standing up for the people of your country, and being proud of doing so, is a noble concept in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Of these stated attributes: None of my attitudes are immutable. None of my conclusions are final. None of my opinions are humble. I am relying on “None of my conclusions are final.”

    In an earlier reply you said: “And it is impossible, as things stand, to interfere with the count in such a way as to have a significant impact on the result. If anybody claims otherwise, just ask them the minimum number of people who would be required for such an exercise to succeed. Then ask them how these people might be recruited and how their silence after the fact might be ensured – forever.”

    What I attempted to do in my last post was to accept your challenge by illustrating that it is not people per se that would be targetted, but the data related to people, 1) by having access to the data supplied by the Scottish Government as to the breakdown of the numbers related to those eligible to vote or not and 2) by illustrating how intimate personal details, names, addresses, even signatures etc in those overall numbers were collated and stored as data.

    In your latest reply you conclude: “The only logical conclusion from the foregoing is that, either this vote-rigging system doesn’t exist, or it doesn’t work.”

    I repeat my reliance on “None of my conclusions are final.”

    Your logical conclusion should have extended to at least one further alternative, namely “… or has not yet been deployed, and is being retained for the time when it proves vital. A time when we read “ … what the British state might do to preserve the Union it is vital to understand what it means to them. It means pretty much everything. So we must assume they will do almost anything to prevent Scotland’s departure.”
    Lorna Taylor was on the right track in one of her posts when she referred to hacking, involving the likes of data capture, data manipulation, identity theft, it is a long long list for which there is ample evidence that it is rampant, try here:

    Center for Strategic & International Studies

    Significant Cyber Incidents

    This timeline records significant cyber incidents since 2006. We focus on cyber attacks on government agencies, defense and high tech companies, or economic crimes with losses of more than a million dollars. The link below will take you to a page which addresses incidents – only in the past year, you can download events since 2006, please take time to absorb the evidence that is presented:

    https://www.csis.org/programs/technology-policy-program/significant-cyber-incidents

    If we agree, as we do, that the British State will do almost anything to prevent Scotland’s departure, please, I repeat please, do not ask me to accept that the British State is devoid of such technical abilities, and that the likes of “Democracy Counts” is unique in the world and has the only and singular concentration of data that cannot be penetrated, and manipulated.

    The stakes, as you well understand, are as high as they could be, and daily gaining height, retain an open mind Peter, not that I am correct, not that it will happen, but that what I am entertaining cannot be eliminated as utterly totally impossible because that conclusion pertains to a closed mind.

    Which takes us, as you correctly identify, to vigilance and defence – and it leads directly to some of the other items I listed in my original post. I will post on that next separately, may have to be a bit later, it has it’s own and distinct importance.

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    1. None of what you say here relates in any way to the counting process. So I stand by my conclusion on that. And you talk of data collection and hacking but don’t explain how this is used to manipulate the vote.

      As for the capacity to manipulate the vote “being retained for the time when it proves vital”, weren’t the instances I gave previously “vital”? And, in any case, how would they know in advance whether manipulation is going to be necessary? That would require foreknowledge of the result. And you’re not going to tell me they have the technology for that.

      If such a capacity existed, it would have to be deployed every time there was an important vote, just as a precaution. And if they were doing that, why not just make it routine. The only reasons for not doing so are cost and fear of getting caught. Cost is not an issue considering who we’re talking about. And if they are afraid of being caught then the vote-rigging system is not as good as you suppose. If they are worried about security, that suggests there are flaws that they are aware of or suspect. If there are flaws they’re aware of or suspect then, by the nature of the beast, there are flaws they’re unaware and don’t suspect. And if there are vulnerabilities, those vulnerabilities are going to be found and the plot uncovered.

      In short, there is neither evidence nor persuasive case that any viable method of rigging elections exists. As with the count, if it is possible, then it must be possible to explain how it is possible. When someone shows me that it can be done, I shall start to worry that it might be done. And “they have the technology” is not an adequate explanation. What technology? To do what?

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    2. I think that it is only the postal vote that is vulnerable because everything is done behind closed doors until the postal votes are counted finally (mooted to be in England for the postal votes) before being brought to the polling stations to be added to the polling station votes and counted again as one whole. Cyber technology makes interference very possible. With the polling station votes, the Electoral Commission keeps a record of who voted (yes, they do – it is possible to check off the numbers at the back of the ballot paper and work out who voted what, but that would have to be retrospective and would not alter the final count). Quite serious postal vote fraud has been detected in England, but this has been through people taking the names and addresses of real people and voting in their stead, so that when those people’s real votes arrive, there are two votes. The system I suggested in my post would be undetectable unless someone insisted on seeing his/her postal vote before it was destroyed. It is relatively easy for computer hackers to change data to suit their purposes. It would be at the early stage that the information data would be changed, and, if the final envelopes were not checked, no one would know. We already know that few checks were made by any of the parties on the envelope opening. Does anyone know who the counters were here? Does anyone really know how the votes were transported for the final postal vote count? Who transported them? Where they were transported to? Who, then, worked the machine that counted them? The system all along the way for polling station votes can be monitored, but I have tried, in vain, to get information on the postal vote records – because none were kept in 2014. Forget elections. They would be far more difficult to massage, but a one-off referendum? I would not claim that this actually happened, but only that it is possible. Only that it is possible. That is why we need better rules in place if there is a next time, starting with a proper record kept of postal voters to be compared with votes cast. We can always ask people how they voted and many would comply willingly. Then that information could be used to compare the records and the percentage of votes cast for YES and NO. That a British Nationalist party spin doctor, very likely in close contact with security figures, could tell us a full four days, in a public television programme, before the close of poll, that NO had won via the postal votes, when no one should know the final tally (the final envelopes containing the vote should not be seen by the parties, according to the EC’s own rules) or bruit it abroad, as this certain Labour spin doctor did, brings forward all kinds of questions.

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      1. I’m not at all clear about what this vulnerability in postal voting is. I have attended several counts. It is very difficult to get anything past the invigilators. So we can forget anything happening at the count. We can also discount anything happening at the polling stations, as they are also closely monitored. And it is difficult to see what could be done in the way of tampering in any case.

        The ballot boxes are transported and sometimes stored. This is done by companies whose reputation depends on them ensuring the ballot boxes are transported and stored securely. They are not going to risk that reputation. And, even if they were prepared to do so, what could they actually do.

        Again,it comes back to the question of how many people have to be involved in order to carry out any kind of manipulation such as would significantly alter the outcome. Even if there was a practical way to do it, it would require hundreds or thousands of people. How do you recruit them? how do you ensure they don’t talk afterwards?

        You say it’s easy enough for computer hackers to change data. It is on TV and in the movies. In real life, not so much. And what data are they going to change that will significantly affect the outcome WITHOUT THE TAMPERING BEING DISCOVERED?

        There is a reason I don’t (usually!) get involved in discussing these conspiracy theories. I hope that reason is becoming clear.

        PS – The vote tallying that Ruth Davidson talked about is perfectly legal and is, in fact part of the system of checks. What was illegal was her talking about it. For that, she should have been prosecuted.

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  7. Peter, I will restrict myself to one last post (with one short addendum to enable me so to do).

    I have divided this paragraph in your last post into two:

    “You say it’s easy enough for computer hackers to change data. It is on TV and in the movies. In real life, not so much.“

    In response I would simply say that the link I provided earlier covers a period of 13 years, and lists 29 pages of verifiable hacks – in real life – including those involving elections.

    “And what data are they going to change that will significantly affect the outcome WITHOUT THE TAMPERING BEING DISCOVERED?”

    To respond let me set aside in its entirety all my earlier posts – and ask that you simply allow me this one assumption, namely that something/anything occurs or is deemed to have occurred in a referendum process.

    It’s source might be something like the item I originally included – The Democratic Socialist Federation – Dunoon Unit Report – the Postal Ballot at the Scottish Independence Referendum. It might be raised by one of the political parties, it might perhaps be as simple as the unexplained disappearance of one of the ballot boxes – just that one assumption – it could be anything, but sufficient in its nature to raise a question or questions.

    In my original post I listed The Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 and The Referendums (Scotland) Bill , both are complex legal documents, I want to use one extract, it occurs in both, this:

    Legal proceedings

    39 Restriction on legal challenge to referendum result

    (1)No court may entertain any proceedings for questioning the number of ballot papers counted or votes cast as certified by a counting officer or by the Chief Counting Officer under section 9(2)(b) or (as the case may be) (4) unless—

    (a)the proceedings are brought by way of a petition for judicial review, and

    (b)the petition is lodged before the end of the permitted period.

    (2)In subsection (1)(b) “the permitted period” means the period of 6 weeks beginning with—

    (a)the day on which the officer in question makes the certification as to the numberof ballot papers counted and votes cast in the referendum, or

    (b)if the officer makes more than one such certification, the day on which the last is5 made.

    (3)In subsection (1), references to a petition for judicial review are references to an application to the supervisory jurisdiction of the Court of Session.

    Two factors arise, 1) time scale and 2) costs.

    If you have allowed me my assumption that something/anything “ …has arisen sufficient in its nature to raise a question or questions”,

    then 1) in a matter of 6 weeks lawyers and QC’s have to be engaged and a request for a judicial review prepared and raised in the Court of Session.

    And 2) as we heard only this week the costs of a judicial review can run to £500,000.

    I offer no personal opinion beyond those brief notes – but I do wonder how many are aware of that position and find it entirely acceptable? Have you ever seen it discussed anywhere by anyone? Six short weeks and crowdfund perhaps £500,000 – is everyone/anyone prepared for that?

    (Addendum): The one item on my list that I will now leave unexamined in the detail I had originally wished is The Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums – July 2018 – it can be searched online and it was the details in Chapter 9:Thresholds and other Safeguards to which I intended to draw attention.

    However let me end by simply repeating something from earlier:

    At present we hear “NO!” … I suggest a clear and present danger will come if we hear “Yes” and then are advised of the terms and conditions that accompany that word – drawn from: The Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums – July 2018

    It will come as no surprise to me if the word that will become common parlance is “Threshhold”

    It will equally come as no surprise to me that history will be repeated,

    My genuine thanks for your patience and involvement, Peter – it is appreciated. See you soon!

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    1. It goes without saying that no ‘incidents’ are acceptable. But I was under the impression we were talking about a large-scale operation such as might affect the result. And still nobody has explained how this could work. The mere fact of small-scale or low-level incidents doesn’t, in itself, imply anything bigger is going on.

      I am not even asking for evidence that election-rigging has happened. I only ask for evidence that it is possible. I have been asking for that a long, long time now. Nada!

      As to your final comments, I meant to say earlier that I have written about the problem you refer to – https://peterabell.blog/2019/01/04/the-deadly-section-30/

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  8. Can I also add that my Daughter at the time a Council employee was seconded to one of the 3 allocated day’s to….
    Open the postal votes…
    Compare the Signature…
    And add the ballot paper to the box for counting.
    She wasn’t allowed to talk about it at the time,but since then has said that there was nothing untoward in that part of the process.
    As a Yes voter she was indeed watching for any jiggery pokery, and as someone taking part in an historical event and not something she did every day, was paying attention and understood how the process “should” happen!
    She was more than prepared to speak up should things not have been above board during her part in it.
    And I certainly would have been shouting about it now…
    Only a snap shot I know but I hope it helps to clarify thing’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s one of the things about the election-rigging conspiracy theories, they tend to assume a significant number of ordinary people willing to commit serious criminal acts. And very few watching out for such criminal acts.

      And still nobody has been able to explain to me how this election-rigging might be achieved.

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