The Gospel according to St Dougie the Wee Lamb

I. And verily it came to pass that the Elders of the Kirk did decide to hold a debate on the independence of the land of Caledon. For the campaign hath caused rent and division, thus is it written in Scripture in the Books of Dailimail and Gaurdion and must be True. And did not the prophets warn that thou shalt not call politicians rude names on Twitter, for it is an abomination in the eyes of the Gord. But the people payeth heed not.

II. Lo! said the Moderator, we shall not take a vote, for if we vote yea the worshippers of Union shall rend their clothes and raise a mighty wail that shalt reach unto the Kingdom of Haverin at Pacific Quay. If we cast a ballot, Better Together shalt refuse to send a speaker at the last minute, Ken MacQuarrie reporteth us not and we shall never get mair bums on pews. For is it not true the Kirk loseth enough to thae mad Wee Frees or long lies in on a Sunday as it is?

III. And thus guaranteed – or so did he think – that he would not suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ridicule, Wee Dougie of Alexander, belovéd of Gord but not of his sister, did hear the call. A host of Magrit Currans and Ian Davidsons appeared to him in a dream, and did chorus: “Furfuxake Darling’s lost it, and thou shalt get thy jotters. Thou best get thine arse in gear, and thou canst save ours while thou art at it. Gaun make like a Holy Wullie, for it is the only thing thou art better at than thy sister.”

IV. And Wee Dougie packed his sub-galactic intelligence upon his Labour donkey and did pass unto the General Assembly whereunto he did speak upon a pedestal with his halo freshly polishéd with Mr Sheen. For was it not written by the Prophet Kokring of Telegraffos that in the End of Days Labour shalt lie down with the Tories and preach obedience to the One True Parlie? For yea it is a vengeful Parlie.

V. Dougie told the parable of the good neighbour, and proclaimed that the land of Caledon must show the loyalty to its neighbours that siblings have for one another. For are we not taught by Westminster that we must pool our resources, and share Scotland’s oil, and deer estates, and grouse moors with our neighbours, or at least the rich ones.

VI. And Dougie sayeth, is it not true that Westminster giveth tax cuts to our rich men, for it is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Sterling than for a Scottish camel to enter Threadneedle Street.

VII. And let us forget not that they allow us to look after their Trident missiles, which is the only potential boom we’re ever likely to be granted.

VIII. All that is good and True is the bounty of Westminster, and we would be lost sheep without a shepherd if it were not for their wisdom and the guidance with which they lead our future to the abbatoir.

IX. Neighbourliness and community, preacheth Wee Dougie, these are the things we can only experience through communion with Westminster. It mattereth not that Westminster has been hell bent on destroying them for the past three decades. For that was just a phase. Honest, ye can trust me, sayeth Dougie. For he was out the room the whole time he was a cabinet minister under the Lord Gord and He Who Must Not Be Mentioned. And so were the two Eds. That unpleasantness is safely out of the way, and so we can return to the True Path to invisible jam in a mythical Jerusalem.

X. And is it not true that if the land of Caledon were to sunder to the demonic armies of AYEbernats we would retreat from the benificence of Westminster’s multiculturalism. For Caledonians would then be foreigners too, but not in an exotic or interesting way.

XI. And is this not a very clever way of insinuating that wanting independence is racist but without actually saying so. See so I am so as bright as Wendy, thinketh Dougie the Smug to himself.

XII. But we must only pool with some neighbours, not foreign neighbours which follow the teachings of false parlies. For the One True Westminster is a jealous Parlie and refuseth to mention the Irish Republic.

XIII. Behold, sayeth Wee Dougie, the fruits of redistribution. Rejoice, for we are truly blesséd with the best of both worlds, and the weapons of mass destruction of one of them.

XIV. Yea, for it is not written in Holy BBC Scripture, but ’tis how better together we really are.

XV. And the people did laugh and mock. Except the Moderator of the Kirk of Scotland, who hath a contractual obligation to keep a straight face.

XVI. Then the people did reply – Aye but the neighbours keep voting Tory and UKIP, and we can’t change that for them. For it profit neither them nor us for us to jump into a barrel of shite and drown with them, as thou knowest fine bloody well. But we can see why thou hast a different opinion.

XVII. And the people cried out, before did we think that thou wert just sanctimonious, but now thou hast taught us well the meaning of Pharisee.

XVIII. Thou getst not the irony dost thou Dougie son? It is a truth uncommonly told that Labour needeth independence far more than the SNP. For it is the only path to your political salvation and through which ye can regain the soul ye sold to your lord Gord and the demon Tony Blair.

XVIX. Thus endeth the lesson on 18 September.



Plane tickets and devo journeys

Many of Project Fear’s scare stories say nothing at all about Scotland as an independent state. They focus on the process of becoming independent – What currency will we use? Will the EU let us in? You’ll have to renegotiate every single treaty the UK ever signed. In an independent Scotland there will be crisis meeting after crisis meeting as we realise to our horror that we’re still at war with the Mughal Empire and the Emir of Zanzibar, we’ve not formally recognised the Greek royal family or unrecognised them after the Greeks got rid of them, and we’ll have to set up a special committee to deal with our failure to ratify the treaty determining the border between Alaska and Canada.

It’s a bit like warning someone not to take up an offer of a holiday in the sun because they might get held up in a queue at the airport. This is what is so crass about independence supporters being described as separatists, it’s like saying people only get married because they want a big piss up and a fight to break out between the best man’s girlfriend and the bridesmaid, followed by trip to the airport and a fortnight in Benidorm. They’re not getting married because they love one another and want to build a life, they’re just irresponsible airportists who want to cause arguments and unpleasantness for their own selfish reasons.

Travellers going via Alicsammin Domestos Airport will have forms to fill in, paperwork to complete, 10,000 treaty applications to make. Going to the independence airport will be worse than making an application for disability benefit, but thanks to Iain Duncan Smith only marginally. We’ll have to undergo an ATOS assessment and get a letter from our GP saying that the Westminster parliament is sick in the head and not fit for work. That will be the easy bit, you only have to look at Westminster to realise the institution passed the point of senility a very long time ago. You’ll need passports, copies of your grandparents’ birth certificates in triplicate, a signed declaration from a vet that your dog doesn’t have worms – and make sure you have translations available in Slovene, Estonian and Croatian or you won’t even get in the queue for check in. Anyway you’ll never get past security, not with that Spanish veto. You won’t even be allowed into Benidorm that’s just how little they think of you. And there’s the uncertainties, will there be more surcharges than Ryanair, can men pee in the airplane lavvy without spraying it all over their trouser leg?

Why bother with independence eh? Forget about all those dreams you had of a better life. It’s just big argument, a queue in the airport and piss stained trousers that you’re missing out on. Who wants that hassle anyway.

Instead of an independence day party that’s got a nation sized cake followed by an exciting life journey of independence adventures and making our own decisions about where we’re going, we’re promised a devolution journey. We don’t get to choose the destination, and there’s nothing on the road except a flattened hedgehog which Johann Lamont is trying to pass off as a radical new increase in tax raising powers for Scotland. The devolution road itself bears a suspicious resemblance to one of those wooden backdrops in Roadrunner cartoons which independence supporting Wile E Coyotes slam into at great speed – just in time for a Westminster gravy train to appear from nowhere and flatten them. Its a very old joke which has been repeating for decades, but it’s nowhere near as funny as a Roadrunner cartoon.

Yesterday Alistair Help Me Rona Carmichael proudly unveiled some new roadkill in the devolution highway. After a no vote, he wants everyone to get together for a cosy chat over some shortbread and scones about what devo rodents we can all agree on, and we’ll have none of that lip from Nicola. Then once we’ve decided that we’d quite like a small hamster, he’ll have a wee word with a Davie Cameron who will not want to appear to give anything away to the Scots after they’ve voted no and he’s got UKIP voters to woo so he can win a rapidly approaching General Election. They won’t stand for English taxpayers footing the bill for a Scottish subsidy hamster, so he’ll roll the hamster ball to a committee somewhere down a dark and dismal Commons corridor, where it will get flattened by a stampeding rush of Tory and Labour MPs. And that will be the end of the devolution journey until the next time Scotland can think of a way of forcing itself onto the Westminster political agenda by finding a rabbit to pull out of a hat again.

There is no devolution journey. There’s a game of snakes and ladders with the dice loaded against you. No ladders but snakes aplenty, and no end in sight. It keeps us passengers occupied while the Westminster drivers privatise the motorways.

We’re better off at the back of the bus with certainties you can trust, like the certainty that the CBI would be back to issuing warnings about the uncertainties of independence just as soon as they thought the upset over their registration as No supporters had died down. It’s only been a fortnight since they swore blind it was all a terrible misunderstanding, that’s how long they think your memory lasts. What do you imagine they think we’ll forget between now and whenever they get round to delivering devolution, or a high speed railway connection to Scotland.

And while the UK media is quickly back to pretending that the CBI’s interventions in the independence debate are entirely neutral and motivated by nothing but genuine concern for our well-being, they don’t want to cover the storm that’s brewing on the offscreen side of the BBC weather map. The National Union of Journalists is growing increasingly frustrated by the decision of BBC Scotland management not end the corporation’s management of the CBI. It’s almost as though journalists on newspapers don’t have any idea what’s happening with their fellow union members at Pacific Quay.

They can’t be reading Newsnet or Wings or Derek Bateman’s blogs either – apparently it was pressure from the NUJ which led to the decision to include the online media in the round up of the papers at the end of BBC2’s shortly-to-be-axed Newsnicht. Instead we’re getting a radical new change in direction from BBC Scotland news and current affairs. Something presented by a woman with a famous faither that’s going to have fitba in it. So like Reporting Scotland then, only later at night. Certainties that you can trust, just like the devolution journey and the CBI.

I’d rather get the first available plane ticket. There’s a flight leaving on the 18th of September from Independence International airport. Let’s go on a journey that we choose.



Pilar’s independence podcast

Pilar Fernandez in Galicia is a great lover of Scotland and the Scots, so much so she married one.  Her bilingual blog (in Galician and English) A Ponte entre Galiza e Escocia is a great source of information about what’s going on in Galicia and about the links between our two countries.  Pilar is co-ordinating the Solidarity with Scotland campaign, which aims to get expats Scots and friends and supporters of independence to write letters of support for indy to the British Embassy or High Commission in their country of residence.  The campaign was started after it came to light that the UK Government is actively seeking the support of foreign governments, companies, and organisations to campaign against Scottish independence.

You can hear the podcast by clicking on this link.  It’s well worth a listen for a different perspective on Scottish independence, and a great explanation of the machinations of the Spanish government.

Galicia has long and close links with Scotland and Ireland.  According to Galician legend, many centuries ago a Galician king called Breogan ordered a tall tower to be built on the coast of his kingdom.  When the tower was built, it was possible to see a green land far away in the distance, and Breogan ordered his son to visit this country and settle there.  The green land was Ireland.  The story is still preserved in ancient Irish texts.  The Galicians are our Celtic cousins in Iberia.  They even have their own bagpipes.  Scots who visit the country are guaranteed a warm welcome.  You’ll feel at home.

Pilar is a great friend of Scotland, and I’m privileged to count her as a personal friend too.  She even got me a Spanish model tram!  How cool is that?

So to celebrate Galiza and the links between that beautiful country and the other Celtic nations, here’s a wee video of a Galician band called Luar na Lubre.  The tune is called O Son Do Ar, the Sound of the Air.

Escaping plans for Nigel

In a desperate effort to get some headlines in a country where most people think the party leader’s name is Bawbag, UKIP’s top candidate in Scotland has accused the SNP of adopting sectarian tactics because of a recent visit to a mosque by Al-Iqsammin. Many UKIP members believe he is a secret Muslim just like Obama, and the minute after independence he’s going to ban bevvy and pork sausages. You can write his name in Arabic letters and Al Qaeda will understand what it means – just how much more evidence do you need?

But if you’re still not convinced, Donald Trump is going to make a video demanding that Al-Iqsammin show his birth certificate, which will prove beyond all doubt that he is in fact a gay shoplifting communist Roma Muslim Romanian windfarm engineer asylum seeker on benefits who can’t be deported because he’s got a cat. And I’m not making this up, or at least, I’m only making things up to much the same extent that UKIP and Theresa May do.

David Coburn, UKIP’s Scottish candidate, is desperately hoping to get a seat, which he can only get if the SNP’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh doesn’t get one. The polls aren’t looking good for Davie. Unkind people might think that he was sounding a racist dog-whistle in making a sectarian song and dance out of ‘party leader asks people to vote for his party shock horror’. Thankfully we’re not unkind at all. Milk of human kindness we are Davie, and our milky nature means we can recognise that Davie’s just sour because north of the Border UKIP’s as popular as Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher.

Standing on a milk crate, Davie pointed that if he appeared in a Catholic church people would accuse him of sectarianism. Which would only be true if you were singing the Sash at the time. However more realistically Davie would be unlikely to gain a sympathetic hearing in a Catholic church in Scotland because most of them are full of Scottish-Poles and Scottish-Lithuanians and the priest is likely to be Scottish-Nigerian.

UKIP’s Scottish candidate doesn’t have a high opinion of gay people either. Which is fair enough, gay people don’t have a high opinion of him. He thinks that gay marriage is “rubbing people’s noses in it”. Which is just silly. That only happens at Inuit marriages. Gay marriage is legal in Greenland and Canada, perhaps Davie Coburn spends a lot of time in the Arctic and was unfortunate enough to attend a gay wedding when he had a heavy cold. It’s not nice when a bearded wedding guest reeking of whisky rubs noses with you and your snotters freeze him to your face. It’s even more unpleasant for the other person, especially if he’s a gay Romanian. However it would be a justifiable reason for Davie’s nose rubbing traumas so let’s not leap to the conclusion that he’s just a bit of a bigot, the wee snottery lamb.

Nigel doesn’t condone homophobia, not at all. Oh no. He just thinks that homosexuality makes most people over 70 uncomfortable. Which is peculiar, you’d think by that age they’d have learned the importance of a good lubricant.

UKIP is widely expected to become the largest UK party in terms of vote share in Thursday’s European elections. In Scotland it’s unlikely to gain a seat, although it will probably overtake the Lib Dems in vote share, Scots will still prefer Professor Pongoo, who did it first. Penguins don’t even come from the UK, they come over here and gobble up our fish stocks. They should go back to Penguinia, which as the geographically challenged contestants on Dale Winton’s In It To Win It know is right next door to Romania. This is convenient because such people are UKIP’s target voters. Yet penguins are still more popular in Scotland than UKIP.

UKIP doesn’t seem to have a policy on devolution. In its last manifesto it wanted to replace the Scottish Parliament with a glorified committee of Scottish Westminster MPs, but in August last year while on a visit to Wales Nigel the Bawbag said that was old outdated thinking and he told a reporter for BBC Wales that UKIP was about to unveil a shiny new devolution policy. He still hasn’t told anyone what that policy might consist of however, apart from vague noises about federalism, although the possibility remains slim that Nigel is the Federalism Fairy David Torrance thinks is going to magically deliver a federal UK. This is despite the fact there’s a Scottish independence referendum going on – you’d imagine that ought to have the effect of concentrating the political mind, but it remains uncertain whether UKIP has one of those either.

UKIP are the political bastard offspring of Maggie Thatcher and Tony Blair. Nigel is in no hurry to pin his party down to specific policy measures. In the meantime the party can be a convenient vehicle for voters in the rest of the UK who are disillusioned with politics as usual. The real danger from UKIP is that the other parties will tack even further to the right in a bid to prevent losing support, and as they do so they’ll move ever further away from Scotland’s priorities. If the party does gain the largest vote share after Thursday’s election, the pressures on the Tories and Labour to shore up their dwindling voter bases will be immense. Expect a lot more ‘tough talk’ about benefits, more demonising of migrants and foreigners, and the looming certainty of a referendum on EU membership which could see Scotland out of the EU even if most in Scotland vote to remain.

Most of the results will be announced on Sunday evening, after the ballot has closed in countries where elections are traditionally held on Sundays. In Scotland however, we’ll have to wait until Monday – the Western Isles votes won’t be counted until then – by which time the gulf in political aspirations between Scotland and the rest of the UK will be starkly apparent.

In September we can vote to make Scotland a UKIP free zone, then we no longer need to worry about what plans are being made for Nigel, and we can get on with making our own.




Watch this video

John Jappy is a former senior civil servant with the UK Treasury.  He has seen the Treasury figures which prove that in the 1960s, before the oil revenues started to flow into the Treasury’s coffers, Scotland was more than paying its own way.  This video was produced by Clan Destiny and was also published today on Newsnet Scotland.  Everyone who has doubts about Scotland’s financial strength needs to watch this video and learn how Westminster has systematically hidden the truth from the Scottish electorate.  These people have dissembled and misinformed us over decades, they cannot be trusted with our future.  Please share this video as widely as possible.

You can read more from John Jappy on his blog, click here

Where are we going as a nation, and why are we in this handbasket?

You can’t go to the shops for the messages these days without having to dodge the missiles being thrown by hordes of angry yes voters across a barricade of burning car tyres blocking Cumbernauld Road. Inside every shop there’s an irate man with a blue painted face spouting anti-English insults and calling for the reintroduction of hanging for everyone who refuses to learn Gaelic. Meanwhile pensioners clutching poly bags run in terror past Parkhead Forge to escape the whirling blades on the wheels of a van bearing a Vote Yes sign. But you’re not even safe at home. Throughout the land families cower in fear of the late night chap on the door, it will be an SNP fanatic who’s going to stab you unless you agree to vote yes more quickly than a blink in Alistair Darling’s eye. It’s so bad that Better Together can’t put forward any speakers for public debates, out of fear that their supporters will be dragged from the hall and stuffed into a wicker man to be set on fire to propitiate the ancient Celtic god Alicsammon, the sybil of secession. Even potted plants are biological weapons in this war. It’s referendum carnage.

All of this must be true, because it’s regularly reported in the media. But then, so are sightings of Nessie.

It’s a strange thing. Apparently no voters are being terrified into cowed silence, too afraid to speak out despite having the support of the entire apparatus of the British state and most of the mainstream media. Love for the Union is the love that dare not speak its name, yet every day it’s plastered all over the front pages of the Mail, the Telegraph, the Record, the Sun, the Guardian and the Scotsman, like a page three model with a come hither tease and a premium rate phone line. Better Together have helpfully provided an astroturf lawn for Vote Nob Orders picnics. The telly, and the BBC in particular, is chock full of the Joy of Great British Unionsex, demonstrating all the positions in which you can be shafted yet still convince yourself that you’re in a partnership of equals. It’s not like no voters are bereft of support, it’s not like there is no one who wants to encourage them to speak out, it’s not like there is no one to give them information and arguments they need to state their case.

What we’re seeing now is what happens when a scaremongering campaign goes wrong. Better Together set out from the assumption that support for independence was the preserve of a relatively small minority. And back when the campaign started this was true. Opinion polls regularly showed that most Scots did not want independence, and most Scots placed constitutional issues quite far down their list of political priorities. So Better Together decided that it would win the referendum by ensuring that this state of affairs continued. No voters were to be taken for granted, in the way that Scottish voters are always taken for granted by Westminster politicians, and they’d concentrate on scaring the shit out of the don’t knows while demonising yes supporters as SNP fanatics that no reasonable person would wish to associate with. All that was required for this campaign to work was domination of the airwaves and the printing presses, and they had that.

But it didn’t work as planned. What they didn’t count on was an effect that they themselves had created – the widespread public distrust and outright hatred for our political classes. No one loves Westminster except those for whom it’s the mainline terminus of the gravy train. If you had a quid for every time that Westminster broke a promise, you still wouldn’t have enough to pay your English daughter’s uni fees.

So across Scotland, people began to ask the question – where are we going as a nation, and why are we in this handbasket? Gradually the realisation dawned even on many who were predisposed to vote no that we’re up shit creek and the paddle has been privatised. Previous no voters realised that voting against the continuance of the Westminster system isn’t voting to end a glorious era, it’s voting to end a greedy error.

The fearbombs were exploding on a daily basis in the media. And were getting more and more extreme, and less and less believable. There’s only so long that people will accept being treated like idiots, do it long enough and those people are going to rush to accept the first chance they have of giving you an almighty kick up your smug self-serving backside. It’s not like they had a high opinion of Westminster politicians to begin with.

The campaign broke out of the party political rut, where it could have been contained within the regular ding dongs of the licenced party trolls. It spread to non-party groups, it became a mass movement. But even that could have been contained. Containment and demonisation worked with the anti-globalisation protests, which helpfully assisted in their own demonisation by smashing up the centre of London. But these protests were also unfocused, a howl of rage against an unjust and unfair political and economic system, without a clear plan of action to take beyond the demonstrations.

There has been no campaign in recent British political history like the Scottish referendum campaign. Referendums* aren’t commonplace in the UK, and when they do occur they are usually hedged around with qualifications, obstacles and ah-buts from the political parties. The farcical AV referendum was devised so that voters were offered quite possibly the only alternative system of voting that was worse than First Past the Post, and it was a vote carefully depicted in party political terms – embodied in the lying liar Nick the liar Clegg. Voting against AV was more a vote to kick the lying liar Nick the liar Clegg in his lying nads. Did I mention he was a liar? The result was a vindication of Westminster. And Nick’s lying nads are still well padded. Westminster’s backroom machinations behind Scotland’s 97 and 79 referendums are well known. The independence referendum is a referendum whose terms have not been determined by Westminster, and for that reason alone it is is unique.

In the shape of the Scottish referendum, Westminster is faced with its worst nightmare. It’s a referendum whose terms they have not set and did not control. It’s a popular mass campaign beyond party politics, whose activists have little interest in party political point scoring. Alicsammin is a big fat liar you say? And this should bother me why exactly? I’m not voting for Alicsammin. I’m voting for independence. But worse than that it’s a focused campaign, with a very clear political objective – a yes vote in the referendum. Political goals don’t come more focused than a single affirmative word.

A focused mass movement in a campaign beyond their control – no wonder they’re scared of us. Yes supporters should not be discouraged or even angered by the increasingly hysterical shrieks in the UK media. It means they’re still losing.

It will get worse over the next few months. Expect all-out doomageddon on the one hand, and a red white and blue bunting-fest on the other when the polls start to show yes is in the lead. They have no other course of action open to them, but it will be self-defeating. The no campaign is already disintegrating – Labour MEPs confirm that Scotland will of course be admitted to the EU, Danny Alexander admits that there will be no border controls, the UK Government admitted that pensions will continue to be paid. One scare story after another is admitted to be false, and with every admission another little piece of Better Together’s credibility dies. All that is left are the shrieks and the slurs, and the desperate attempt to rally the troops with the pageantry of wars long over.

The more they shriek, the more they attempt to diminish, abuse and demonise, the more they depict a reality that ordinary voters in Scotland cannot recognise, the more people in Scotland wonder how we can possibly be better together with a political system which holds us in such contempt.

We can step out of the handbasket, and decide on our own destination.  It’s a promise that comes with home made jam.  That’s a promise that Westminster cannot compete with.  And yes will keep winning.


*Pedant’s note: I refuse to stop banging on about this.  The plural of referendum is referendums. Referendum in Latin is not a noun, it’s a gerund, a part of the verbal system. Latin gerunds do not have plurals, and the Romans weren’t overly keen on mass participatory democracy either. Neither is Westminster come to that, but that’s by the by. English has gerunds too, and they don’t have plurals either – although English confusingly uses its gerund ending -ing for a variety of other grammatical purposes which can sometimes be pluralised. In the sentence “I like monstering”, monstering is a gerund, but in “I like a good monstering” it’s a noun.  You can pluralise nouns, or at least most of them, and some gerunds are also used as nouns.  But you can’t say “I like swimmings” in the same way, because swimming is only a gerund, or a present participle which can’t be pluralised either.  Referendum in Classical Latin was like swimming, not like monstering.

Gerunds in Latin take the same endings as neuter singular nouns. Referenda is what the plural of referendum would be in Latin if it were a neuter singular noun. But it’s not a neuter singular noun, it’s a gerund. The only reason a plural is required is because the word was borrowed into English as a noun and the rules of English grammar demand that nouns have plurals. So since referendum only requires a plural due to the demands of English grammar, not Latin grammar, the only appropriate plural is the English plural referendums.  Referenda is bad Latin, and using it just makes you sound like a pedant who has mispedanted.

Boris Johnson gets it wrong, and he’s an Eton and Oxford educated Classicist apparently. I went to a comprehensive in Coatbridge. Sic id fellitā Boris. That’s Latin for ‘So suck it up Boris’, only ruder. Because we can do monstering in Latin too.  Now go and write it out 100 times.

Bhòt THA anns an reifreann and annoy Nigel

I once nearly got accused of stalking when I lived in Spain, and to be fair, I was actually following the couple. How weird and creepy is that. But in my defence it’s not because I was stalking them, it’s just that I overheard them in the street talking in a language I’d not heard before, and I wanted to hear enough of it so I could work out what it was so followed them along the street for a minute. I’ll admit to being weird and creepy that way, I love listening to the sounds of other languages.

Anyway, the language was probably Quechua, or maybe Aymara, which are spoken by several million people in Peru and Bolivia, and I hadn’t been so excited since I overheard overheard a couple in a bus station in Utah talking in Paiute. At least I think it was Paiute, it might have been Shoshone. It might not get anyone else going, but for some of us it’s like an auditory form of trainspotting.

This makes me the polar opposite of Nigel Farage, so I can’t be that weird and creepy after all – and that was the best news all week. Nige doesn’t like hearing people speaking furren on the phone on trains. Unless it’s his German wife talking to her relatives. It makes him uncomfortable as he’s convinced that they’re talking about him and saying nasty things. And to be fair, they probably are. Spanish for bawbag is escroto, it’s a word you may very well hear if Nigel is the subject of a Spanish language conversation.

The leader of UKIP objects to people speaking languages other than English in public spaces in the Yookay. He thinks it’s terribly rude. How dare foreigners come to this country and refuse to forget how to speak in their own language to their mammies. But the truth is that UKIP aren’t very good at other languages, even those which have been spoken in the British Isles for a lot longer than English. Other languages force them to wake up to the reality that not everyone is a culturally insular little Kipper and that SHOUTING. AT. PEOPLE. SLOWLY. isn’t the same as talking French.

They have as many problems with Welsh. Last year the Welsh language version of the party’s website announced that it wasn’t the United Kingdom Independence Party at all, it was Plaid Annibyniaeth y Du which translates as “The Black Independence Party”. Nigel hadn’t suddenly come out as a supporter of Malcolm X, although UKIP members making black power salutes might have improved their chances of courting the ethnic minority vote. It was just a typo for the correct Welsh version – Plaid Annibyniaeth y DU. DU is the Welsh abbreviation for Deyrnas Unedig, Welsh for United Kingdom. Without the capitals, it’s du, the Welsh word for black. They didn’t notice the mistake until someone pointed it out to them.

But despite the window dressing of some Welsh language pages on website of the party’s Welsh branch, UKIP isn’t keen on any languages other than English, even those which aren’t remotely ‘foreign’ at all. In 2012, the party’s branch in the English county of Shropshire mounted an objection to the use of bilingual Welsh and English roadsigns in parts of the county close to the Welsh border.

Welsh isn’t a foreign language in these districts, it’s not even just the language of another nation in this greatest union of nations that the universe has ever seen (© Better Together). The administrative border between Wales and England does not coincide exactly with the boundaries of the Welsh language, and there are villages in the Shropshire border districts where people still speak Welsh – especially around the town of Oswestry, or Croesoswallt to give it its Welsh name. But UKIP’s local activists thought that eliminating a part of their own linguistic heritage was something to celebrate.

But we shouldn’t be too surprised. UKIP are a bit confused about the linguistic heritage of the country they claim to be defending from hordes of foreigners with their strange speech and suspicious food. They think Welsh and Cornish are forms of Gaelic – which is exactly like thinking that French or Spanish are forms of Romanian, or that English is a form of the same language Nigel’s wife speaks with her relatives in Germany. Which is maybe why Nigel doesn’t object to that.  According to a policy document on “restoring Britishness” published in 2010, the party swore to “enthusiastically support teaching of the various Gaelic languages and histories within the UK, in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall”.

Not that UKIP are enthusiastically supportive enough to give “Gaelic languages” any resources to allow them to maintain themselves. In 2013, UKIP’s MEPs, including the linguistically sensitive Nigel, voted against the EU giving support to the minority and regional languages of Europe – languages spoken by people who are not immigrants who have willfully failed to learn English. Language like Welsh, Gaelic, Scots and Cornish, all of which have as much claim to be languages of the UK as English does.

UKIP members are typically the kind of people who are blessed with the power to hear people talking even when they’re not in the same building. You know, the traditional complaint that Welsh people in pubs all start speaking Welsh to one another as soon as an English person enters. Which leaves you wondering just how the kippers knew what language the Welsh people were speaking in before the English person entered the pub. Or how the Welsh people knew that the person entering didn’t also speak Welsh, because contrary to some stereotypes, speakers of Celtic languages do not all know each other personally. In fact Welsh people all speak Gaelic to one another in pubs just before an English monoglot Kipper enters and only switch to Welsh to confuse Nigel. Welsh for bawbag is sgrotwm.

UKIP are threatened by linguistic diversity. Not just the languages of migrant communities, but by any language which isn’t English. The future they have in store for Scotland and Wales is one where our languages and cultures are kindly granted the status of hobbies. We’ll be allowed to pursue them in our own time and at our own expense, but don’t expect the state to do anything but preside over their slow extinction. Which is pretty much their view of devolution and Scotland’s distinctive political culture too.

There are European elections on Thursday. They’ve not set the heather alight in Scotland, where we are more preoccupied with another vote later this year. But UKIP are likely to perform strongly in England on Thursday, and their malign influence will have a major impact on the strategies and policies adopted by the main Westminster parties. The UK is gradually drifting away into a fantasy land of Little Englandism where everyone speaks only English and thinks Thatcher was a Great British Hero.

Scotland’s rich and diverse tradition of multilingualism is under threat. UKIP’s attitudes are distressingly widespread enough as it is – the Scottish Government is not providing bilingual Gaelic and English ballot papers for the referendum.

Such narrow minded attitudes don’t need any more encouragement, but if we don’t put a cross next to the Yes box on our English language only ballot papers, that’s exactly what will happen. There’s only one way to protect Scotland’s languages, and only one way to ensure that Scotland’s migrant communities are encouraged and supported in their efforts to maintain community languages. Linguistic diversity enriches us all, it gives us a window on the world that we don’t get if we can only function in English.

Bhòt THA anns an reifreann! Vote AYE in the referendum.

Apologies to anyone whose comment hasn’t appeared.  The site’s spam filter went awry and trapped a lot of comments in the spam filter.  Some may have vanished into the ether. 


Attack of the Oomphaloompa

Since the negativity isn’t working, Davie Cameron has come to visit for two days, painted his face orange to blend in with Scotland’s last remaining North Britons, and wants to tell us all about oomph. Davie the Oomphaloompa promises that his bar of chocolate substitute really does contain the golden ticket to the Willie Wanker’s Devo Factory. This is what passes for a positive case for the union in case anyone was wondering. If we vote no we’ll get a bar of his special oomphy chocolate, and can open it up to find a big devo surprise.

There’s one chance in 1.5 trillion of it actually containing any devo, or even any chocolate. More likely it will contain a letter from Iain Duncan Smith saying your chocolate ration has been removed because you refused the offer of a zero hours contract. Davie’s not promising devomax then, just oomph, which is also a handy mnemonic for the speed at which devolution legislation passes through Commons committee stages: 00 mph.

We also put the Great into Britain. Which was nice of him to say. It’s like oomph, but with nuclear missiles and submarine bases. That’s what allows Westminster to be the Big Bawed Oomphaloompa of Europe, only because Brussels sprouts give them testicular envy and Davie would prefer to be firmly attached to the scrotum of the Pentagon they’re semi-detached Big Baws. Which is possibly the first time ever that a hernia has been pitched as something to aspire to. That might explain the strained expression on his Davie’s face then.

Got to keep that positive vibe going, and that’s hard to do when you don’t have anything concretely positive to say. The Oomphaloompa kept repeating the phrase ‘best of both worlds’, which his strategists had obviously told him was the theme du jour, apart from the oomph. It’s unclear how any world can be described as best if it means having Oomphaloompa Davie as Prime Minister. But he does make a good impression of a Roald Dahl character, after all Davie and his pals throw kids down the waste chute too.

You’d think in at least one of those two best worlds the Prime Oomphaloompa of Scotland would actually talk to the little people in Scotland who were not either serving members of the armed forces under orders to treat him with deference, or tame journalists who do the same because it’s part of their job description. He keeps carefully away from anyone who might point out that he’s not actually a children’s character proferring a bar of chocolate and a dubious devo lottery.

So he’s definitely not for debating Alicsammin, even though he’s a very naughty boy bent on gobbling up all Westminster’s Scottish sweeties. A real Oompa loompa would have words with him. Or at least a wee song. Instead we got waffle about this great family of nations. The problem with that is that Davie thinks he’s the daddy. He wants to tell Scotland when it’s devo bedtime.

He also made what is quite easily the most asinine argument ever made in favour of the Union, and in that he’s been up against very strong opposition. Not for Davie the simple ridiculous scare, the outlandish threat. Oh no, in his manic quest for PR content free positivity he took inanity to an entirely new level. The long awaited positive case for the Union is that the only way we can get more devolution is by voting no. If we get independence, the process of serving up more devolution stops. Davie wants us to know that we’ll no longer have dinner to look forward to if we have a full plate of food and are able to feed ourselves.

We’re having to arm wrestle him and his Labour and Lib Dem associates for the dinner one cold baked bean at a time, with only a hint that there may or may not be some chips too, but forget about ever seeing the steak pie. A pudding? You think there’s chocolate too? There might be a stale cracker that Michael Forsyth, Iain Lang and George Foulkes have chewed on until it’s devoid of any flavour or calorific value. And there’s always the food bank.

You’ll have had yer tea Davie. And now we’re going to help ourselves to ours. You can get back to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. We’ve had enough children’s stories.

Oompha Loompa, de-vo-voo-doo,
Dave’s got a devo carrot for you.
Oompha Loompa, de-vo-dee-lay,
If you vote no he’ll whisk it away.
What do you get when you trust a Tory?
Trident, bedroom tax and austerity.
What is he at we can see through his crap.
What do you think will come of that?
And we don’t like the look of it

Oompha Loompa dee-vo-dee-dum,
Vote yes to give him a kick in the bum
Then we’ll live in happiness too,
Bye bye Oompha Loompa dee-vo-voo-doo.

The four whored-men of the acrapolypse

The four whored-men of the acrapolypse, Warmonger Reid, Kiss of Death Murph, Pestilence Prudence Broon, and Wee Dougie who’s starved of affection, are riding across Scotland to rid the land of worshippers of the demon Alicsammin in preparation for the coming of the Tory lairds and just in time for the release of the new Godzilla movie. Better Together is relaunching its campaign only this time it will be headed by Labour’s own Godzillas – Gordie, John Reid, Murph the Smurf and Wee Dougie have all been fingered. Scotland’s likely to reply with a pair of fingers of its own.

How many relaunches is that then? Wasn’t there one of those last year? And another in February? By the time you get to three, it’s no longer a relaunch it’s what happens to a rubber chicken stuffed with a whoopee cushion when it’s tossed out of the window of a London PR and rebranding specialist. Birds are after all the only living descendants of the dinosaurs, so it’s appropriate really.

Labour’s Big Beasts are exactly the same as the city wrecking version found in Japanese B movies, they went through several relaunches and rebrandings too. The only difference is that Labour’s Big Beasties insist upon us paying for a glitter effect lavvy seat before they take a dump in the High Street. At least Godzilla takes care of his own toileting arrangements and isn’t overly concerned with public donations. But it’s not enough that John Reid got taxpayers to pay for his sparkly new bog seat, Labour wants us to kiss the arse of a man they loathe almost as much as disaffected Labour voters do.

There’s a reason John Reid has hitherto not put in an appearance in the independence debate. And it’s because the hatred that the rest of the Labour party has for him is exceeded only by his hatred for them. John never held on to his socialist principles, but he’s got a PhD in holding grudges. He enthusiastically hitched his wandering red star to Tony Blair’s warwagon because he wanted to be a cowboy. However he is a fortunate man, not only has he already got his bahoochy firmly planted on both a sparkly lavvy seat and a bench in the Lords, unlike Dougie he doesn’t need the plebs to love him. He’s already blessed with a close and loving relationship. Every morning he gazes upon the face of only person on the planet that he truly loves and who loves him back, and then he has a shave. The only reason he’s getting involved now is because they really are so desperate that they have to be pleasant to him.

His arch nemesis Gordon Brown has been ‘entering the fray’ ever since the fray started to unravel, which was before Better Together’s stuffed rubber chicken was first hatched in a PR company’s focus group meeting. Gordie pops in and out more often than a drunken knee trembler up a back alley. That always starts with a promise and ends in disappointment too. However Better Together’s Tory strategists have managed to convince themselves that the sympathy we felt for Gordie when he was subject to blatantly anti-Scottish abuse at the hands of the Tory press somehow translates into respect for what he did while in office and a willingness to believe any of the tortured syntax that issues from his conniving gob. We felt sorry for him. But no one wants to vote for an object of pity, especially when the object of pity has made an extremely lucrative career out of preaching about poverty in luxury hotels and conference centres. They really should stop dragging him out. It’s getting cruel now.

Wee Dougie Alexander needs to remember that the next time he does the puppy eyes thing and begs for us to show some solidarity. You know, like he did for his sister. Dougie only wants to be loved for being a clever little boy, but big sis was the one with the galaxy intellect. Dougie was left with the fun sized curly wurly and the task of masterminding Ed Miliband’s 2015 general election campaign. At this stage in the proceedings, Her Maj’s Opposition ought to be enjoying a commanding lead over a collection of clueless public school Tories and Lib Dems with a suicide note. But no, instead UK politics are dominated by a fight between the Tories and UKIP over which one of them is the true inheritor of Maggie Thatcher’s handbags, and Labour is behind in the polls. Dougie knows that the only way Labour can get back into power is by showing they can wield Maggie’s handbag just like the rest of them and by adopting the Iain Duncan Smith approach to statistics. So this one looks like it’s going the same way as the last election campaign that Dougie masterminded, the one that gave the SNP an absolute majority in a system Labour had designed expressly to prevent that happening. How many bites has he taken out that curly wurly so far?

And then there’s the Murph, skulking up from behind and hoping that no one with a vote will notice him. A cut price Jack Straw in an ill fitting suit conspiring against his party enemies in whispers. He was another devotee of Tony’s. Tony is the great unmentionable of Labour’s ProudScottery Promotional Department, the spectre and his 150,000 Iraqi ghosts at Labour’s funeral banquet, whose name cannot pass the lips of Better Together in case the public remember that the four whored-men had sold themselves for that one too.

Better Together believe that disaffected Labour supporters in Scotland can be persuaded to place their trust in a party and a parliamentary system by the very same bunch who trashed that trust in the first place. They embody most of the reasons we’re having this independence debate. They’re not the solution, they’re the problem. But they’re going to come and lecture us about the dangers of alicsammin anyway. Which is why they will convince no one, it’s not about alicsammin, Scottish independence is a non-prophet organisation.

Meanwhile details of the secret poll suppressed by Westminster have started to leak out. Rumour has it that when asked whether they thought that the intervention of Gordon Brown would aid the No campaign: 47% of respondents broke out into derisory laughter, 16% demanded he reimburse the losses they’ve suffered to their work pension plan, 21% said they they were too creeped out by his photograph to answer, 11% said there is nothing he could ever say now that they could possibly believe, 4.9% said ‘Who?’, and 0.1% said they were related to him and had to agree because they need to face him at family New Year gatherings and he’s a kill-joy enough as it is.

99.98% agreed that George Osborne is an alien space lizard, and 0.02% are Ruth Davidson. Asked their views on his Sermon on the Pound, 62% said it made no difference because they never believed a word Osborne had ever said before anyway, 23.5% said it made them throw a mug of hot coffee at the telly, and 1130% said they couldn’t give a shit about numbers and statistics and currencies because it’s not about money, it’s about democracy.

The only accountancy some of us are interested in is making sure our politicians are held to account. We can only do that with a yes vote. We can’t do it with the four unaccountable accountants of Labour’s love in with power.



Another Portuguese politician, Scotland and the EU

Ages ago, I suggested that we adopt the term darling as a unit of measurement for the time between a Project Fear story was published, and its being debunked by the independence movement. The darling was already a currency which was devaluing rapidly, and now it’s entering negative territory as scare stories and misinformation are debunked before they’re even published in the mainstream media.

Here’s another negative darling, one they’ve not got round to yet, but possibly will sometime over the next few days. Fore-warned is fore-armed and all that. Though when I was a wean I thought it was four-armed – which would be four handy for a spot of swashbuckling. You could give yourself hauners. So that too.

Anyway, serious heid on noo …

According to Spain’s El Diario newspaper, during an interview on Basque Radio this week, former Portuguese deputy prime minister António Vitorino stated that Scotland will accede to full EU membership. He was quoted as saying that in the event of a Yes vote in September, the EU will potentially have 29 members instead of the current 28. He also stated that he expected Scotland to negotiate membership of the EU simultaneously with negotiations with Westminster on independence. And yet more good news for the yes campaign, he said that he thought that the legal aspects of Scottish independence within the EU would be dealt with in a relatively straightforward manner.

But his comments were more measured than that, and no doubt if Vitorino’s remarks make their way into the pages of the UK media, they will be spun into “a new blow for Alicsasmmin”. Because he did also say that he believed that Scotland would accede to the EU in accordance with article 49 of the EU treaty, and not article 48 as proposed by the Scottish government.

A noted lawyer and member of the Portuguese Socialist party, Vitorino was formerly a judge on the Portuguese constitutional court, served as the European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, and is currently the director of the prestigious European think tank Notre Europe. Notre Europe was founded by French president Jacques Delors in 1996 with the aim of continuing the work of bringing about an ever closer union of European nations. This aim is a founding principle in the Treaty of Europe.

In Vitorino’s opinion, Scotland will have to apply for membership under article 49 of the European Treaty, meaning that full agreement will be required amongst all EU member states. Negotiation will be required, and entry into the EU will not be immediate. However he insisted that Holyrood could negotiate with the EU at the same time as it negotiated Scottish independence with Westminster, and noted that the European Treaty obliges all member states to respect the democratic and constitutional decisions of other member states – and Scotland’s independence will be achieved in exactly that way. Remember, the question on the ballot paper is not “Do you want to leave the EU” – that’s the question planned for Davie Cameron’s UK referendum.

What this means, although Vitorino did not explicitly spell it out, is that other EU member states are obliged to respect and accept the constitutional and democratic decision within the UK that Scotland becomes an independent country. This does not mean that Scotland would be expelled from the EU, it means that other EU member states will be obliged to negotiate continuing Scottish membership because Scotland is currently a member as a consequence of being part of the UK, and will become independent as a result of a democratic and constitutional process within the UK. And we will not have voted to leave the EU. Other EU member states do not have the legal right to exclude Scotland simply for daring to answer the question of independence with a yes and for engaging in a process which the EU Treaty itself guarantees to protect and uphold.

Other EU states quite specifically do not have the right to place obstacles in the way of Scottish membership in order to discourage independence movements within their own borders. Vitorino has now told us that this is contrary to the EU’s founding treaty. And that’s significant, because discouraging other independence movements is the only reason Better Together ever give for the possibility of other EU states blocking Scottish membership or getting sniffy about it.

In essence, the view from Europe, at least that of the president of the Nostre Europe think tank, is that the matter of Scottish independence is one for Scotland and the remainder of the UK to sort out. Europe will accommodate itself to the outcome. And that’s the reality, not the fervid imaginings and dire threats of Alistair Carmichael and Alistair Darling – has anyone seen him recently? Has he been given his jotters or what? Shouldn’t we be told?

This doesn’t mean there will not be negotiations. It doesn’t mean that there will be no political horse-trading. Of course there will be. This is the grown up world of real international diplomacy, not the childish fantasies of the Better Together campaign. And in the real world Scotland does not go into those negotiations cap in hand without anything to offer. We are only naked and powerless under Westminster.

Here’s a translation of the revelant passages from the report in El Diario. In the rest of the original report he’s talking about Ukraine. I’ve not translated that. The original Spanish language article is here.

In an interview given to Radio Euskadi, and reported by Europa Press, Vitorino has averred that “the case of Scotland must be dealt with within the constitutional framework of the United Kingdom”, and if the result of the referendum is Yes, “the exit of Scotland from the United Kingdom must be agreed.”

“This is not going to be immediate. This has many implications, financial implication, above all the debate on the future of the pound sterling, of the currency of a possible independent Scotland,” he added. At the same time, he signalled that there is “a very important point” in the bilateral negotiations between Scotland and the United Kingdom, and in the multilateral negotiations, what is the statute of Scotland “within the European framework”.

In this sense, he believes that article 49 of the treaty will be applied, because “there is a new state which has been born and that new state has to negotiate” on the one hand with the United Kingdom, and on the other “accession with the other 27 members of the EU.”

In his judgement, there are issues of legal and political management “in this story”, and he has stressed that he, as a judge, believes that “all the legal issues will be dealt with”, whereas “the political ones are much more complicated.”

From 28 to 29 members

Thus, he insisted that if the result of the referendum is yes to independence, “the consequence will not be immediate because it will demand a political negotiation and a legal translation.” He stated “But, the truth is that the EU one day has 28 members, and if the referendum says yes, the next day it potentially has 29.”

António Vitorino considered that “the founding fathers of the EU” stood for “a union forever closer between people”, and affirmed that the treaties guarantee that “the European Union respects the territorial unity of each member state.”

In his judgement, that signifies that questions such as Scotland, Catalonia, the Basque Country or other cases “are not questions, in the first instance, of European law, but rather national questions which have to be dealt with, as much politically as legally, within the national framework of each member state.”

“And it is left to the EU to respect decisions taken within the constitutional framework of each one of its 28 member states, and afterwards,to negotiate the consequences which may come from these decisions for the Union in its totality,” he added.


Original Spanish version

En una entrevista concedida a Radio Euskadi, recogida por Europa Press, Vitorino ha afirmado que “el caso de Escocia debe ser arreglado en el marco de las reglas constitucionales de Reino Unido”, y si el resultado del referéndum es sí, “hay que pactar la salida de Escocia del Reino Unido”.

“Esto no va a ser inmediato. Esto tiene muchas implicaciones, implicaciones financieras, todo el debate sobre el futuro de la libra esterlina, de la moneda de una posible Escocia independiente”, ha añadido. Asimismo, ha señalado que hay “un punto muy importante”, en las negociaciones bilaterales entre Escocia y Reino Unido, y en las multilaterales, como es el Estatuto escocés “en el marco europeo”.

En este sentido, cree que se aplicará el artículo 49 del Tratado porque “hay un nuevo Estado que nace y ese nuevo Estado tiene que negociar”, por un lado, con Reino Unido; y por otro, con “los otros restantes 27 miembros de la UE la adhesión”.

A su juicio, hay gestiones jurídicas y políticas “en esta historia”, y ha precisado que él, como jurista, cree que “todas las gestiones jurídicas se arreglan”, mientras que “las políticas son mucho más complicadas”.


De esta forma, ha insistido que, si el resultado del referéndum es sí a la independencia, “la consecuencia no será inmediata porque exigirá una negociación política y una traducción jurídica”. “Pero, la verdad, es que la UE tiene un día 28 estados miembros y, si el referéndum dice sí, al día siguiente tendrá potencialmente 29”, ha afirmado.

Antonio Vitorino ha considerado que “los padres fundadores de la UE” abogan por “la unión cada vez más estrecha entre los pueblos”, y ha afirmado que los tratados aseguran que “la Unión Europea respeta la unidad territorial de cada Estado miembro”.

A su juicio, eso significa que cuestiones como la de Escocia, Cataluña, País Vasco u otros casos “no son cuestiones, en primera línea, de derecho europeo, sino cuestiones nacionales que tienen que ser arregladas, tanto política como jurídicamente en el marco nacional de cada estado miembro”.

“Y a la Unión le queda respetar las decisiones tomadas en el marco constitucional de cada uno de sus 28 estados miembros y, después, negociar las consecuencias que pueden venir de estas decisiones para la Unión en su conjunto”, ha añadido.