The alienation of an alien nation

So we’ve had Danny Alexander making up statistics about start up costs and his arithmetical nervous breakdown being taken apart by the very man who supplied the raw data to begin with. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been running Liz’s state coach and horses through the civil service neutrality guidelines and using British diplomatic staff to drum up support for No. We’ve had the running sore of the CBI and its yes-no-yes-no-yes we’re a no saga and the highly dubious manner in which its registration was handled and a supposedly apolitical business organisation that is in fact highly politicised. And over the weekend the director of a leading pro-devolution body, Reform Scotland – a group which, let us remember, is in favour of retaining the Union – strongly criticised the UK government for its misleading and inaccurate statistics on Scotland’s potential oil revenues, and said that the true picture meant Scotland could more than pay its own way and have plenty of cash left over for better health or education services.

And what’s the lead story on the BBC Scotland news? Alicsammin sent the fishing industry a letter pointing out that some of their fears were ridiculous scaremongering a la David Mundell, and the fishy man thinks it is intimidatory to point out that a stupid scare story is in fact a stupid scare story. Bullying nationalists and cod stories!

If Alicsammin was indeed trying to silence the shy wallflowers of the fishing fleet, he’s clearly not very good at intimidation techniques, because fishy man is all over the BBC like a drunk pub goer with a whole fish supper on his shoulder telling everyone how hard done by he is. Perhaps that will be the next anti-independence spin from John Boothman – independence is a bad idea because the Scottish Government is rubbish at Labour and Tory intimidation techniques and suborning the civil service.

As the independence campaign has progressed, I’ve found myself increasingly detached from the UK media and its Scottish branch offices. I’m not alone in this alien nation. The media reports on a country I don’t know, a referendum I’m not participating in, a campaign that’s not the campaign I take a small part in. We’re the people they don’t want to become foreigners but we’re already foreign to them.

Who are they talking to? It’s not ordinary Scottish people. We’re being talked at, talked down to, told that the important issues are not those that we might find important. It’s an experience of alienation that’s being repeated across the country. The media is doing itself no favours, especially as many of us were already pretty alienated to begin with.

Alienation is the first step to independence. When you’re alienated, you’re already independent, you just haven’t realised it yet. It’s a very short step from alienation to becoming a new nation, and we have the UK media to thank for it. More and more the little people, the pixies and brownies and elfs of Scotland, are realising that we are already independent of the trolls and ogres and the big scary monsters. And we don’t want to live with fairy stories any more, we want documentaries and dramas that relate to the lives we really live.

When I was young there was no equality for people like me. Gay men were second class citizens in the eyes of the law. Lesbians didn’t exist at all, ignored and marginalised out of existence.

You can respond in a number of ways to this, you can accept it, return to silence, be quiet, remain invisible. Or you can ignore the ignorance right back, you can refuse to accept it. You can refuse to accept the role that’s been determined for you. And you can shout it from the rooftops. So we lived our lives as though we were already equal, and by living as though we were already equal, we became equal. Liberation starts in the head. Liberate your own head and heart, the rest will follow.

There was no same sex marriage so we got married anyway, in a humanist ceremony in the early 90s which had no legal recognition. But legal recognition is secondary, the most important recognition is the recognition you grant yourself. In our eyes, and in the eyes of our family and friends, we were already married. When civil partnerships became legal, it was only the law catching up with the equality we’d already established in our own lives and our own hearts.

Scottish independence starts in your own head. All across Scotland, women and men are making their own private declarations of Arbroath, their declarations of Galloway, declarations of West Lothian, of Glasgow, of Aberdeen, Inverness, and Orkney. People are thinking independently, freeing themselves from a Westminster trackway that doesn’t reach their homes, a high speed railway to nowhere we know. They’re ignoring a media that doesn’t tell stories they recognise, and are creating new means of communication, new networks, new connections. Scotland is becoming independent in hearts and minds. Shout it from the rooftops, tell everyone you know.

I don’t want to talk about BBC business correspondent Robert Peston and his “all you need to know about independence”. I know what independence means without the BBC telling me, and I suspect I know far better than Robert Peston what I need to know – so do you, so does everyone who actually lives in this country. What we need to know is what sort of country we can make this into. We can do better than what’s on offer. We can be better, because we are better already.

The UK media’s priorities are not mine, their interests are not mine. I don’t want to talk about Westminster’s welfare. I want to talk about dignity. I don’t want to talk about interest rates. I want to talk about fairness and equality. I don’t want to talk about currency unions. I want to talk about land reform. I want a land whose own voices are heard.

Independence of the mind means we no longer need to focus on the stories and spin the media tells us is the story. We can write stories of our own, we can begin to imagine the kind of country that Scotland could be, that Scotland should be, that Scotland will be. A country whose citizens think independently.

Westminster and the UK media want us to focus on the process, not the state of being. It’s like going on a trip around the world, new experiences open up before you, possibilities undreamt, opening your eyes to the great diversity and the dances of life and becoming a part of it. You have all this to look forward to, new ways, new sights, new sounds and new directions that you choose for youself. It’s the trip of a lifetime. But the UK media only wants us to talk about the potential for hassles in the queue at the airport, anything to stop us getting on a independent plane that soars away from Westminster’s narrow expectations.

When you decide you’re voting yes, you have freed yourself from the shackles of a future that’s determined for you by people whose interests are not your own. You’ve realised that there are different paths to tread, different destinations to strive for. You’re independent already, and you already live in a Scotland that Westminster cannot deliver. Live independently in your own head, and you’re already a citizen of a new Scotland.

A yes vote in September just makes the law catch up with the reality we’ve already created. Independence has already been declared.

Think independently, vote yes.



48 comments on “The alienation of an alien nation

  1. Steve Bowers says:

    Brilliant Paul , I love being different, from the outside I have ( for the adult part of my life) been a normal member of society, but then art, writing, creativity have always been a place to go, now an independent Scotland is a place to go, it’s not a destination, it’s a terminal to a new and exciting country filled with possibility, I just can’t wait.

  2. diabloandco says:

    Yes ,yes and yes! and another YES for good measure!
    How is Andy ?

    • weegingerdug says:

      He was very tired today, so I didn’t stay long. He’s going to be in hospital for at least the remainder of the week. But there’s no evidence of anything sinister, so fingers crossed he’ll be home soon.

  3. I have found through the build-up to this referendum that in fact I have indeed always been independent in my own head.
    I resent the naysayers holding me back.

    Inspirational writing, Paul. We will be an independent nation again come what may.

  4. bringiton says:

    Great article Paul and one that the No hopers should read.
    A leap in the dark but one that just about every other country (except Greenland and they are on the way) has taken and hasn’t looked back.
    Managing your own affairs is the normal process for humans,except through lack of cognitive experience (children) or mental disability (the courts usually appoint an attorney to represent you).
    So which is it with the No hopers?

    • bringiton says:

      Should also have mentioned that, by coincidence, the PM of Greenland is called Aleqa Hammond which is very close to our FM’s name.

  5. […] The alienation of an alien nation. […]

  6. mary vasey says:

    Thanks Paul yes I’ve always been independent and brought up my kids to be independent individuals who think for themselves. So we’re all voting YES. It’s good to seeing you back, I hope Andy is back home with you.

  7. JimnArlene says:

    Firstly, how are you, Andy and the dug? Secondly, I can reaffirm; my declaration of Darvel ( via Ayr ). With the long held belief that, we as a nation ( of peoples ) can and must be independent, thus we can and will build a society, fit for living.
    Loved the guest blogs.

  8. Dr A Brown says:

    Brilliant, you expressed exactly how I feel but have never been able to say. I have never conformed, always asking questions and being told to shut up or to follow orders without question. I never have and I never will. Some of us have been born out of our time. But our time is coming soon and we will have an independent Scotland to catch up with our own independent selves.
    A Scotland that puts people first, second and last. A Scotland worth waiting for and to cherish.

  9. For me Paul and other fellow travelers.

    It is not that I am an alien, I just find all the things I used to accept without questioning, the monarchy, the truth of the BBC, the political Punch and Judy show that is Westminster, the complete corruption that is Westminster, the fact that I am of a nation too wee, to stupid, too poor to be good enough to govern ourselves is all a construct of lies and falsehood.

    I have no faith in Westminster anymore and anything they represent or say.

    I am not alien to them, they have become alien to me.

    I want better.

    This is a very good song if a bit cliché.

    It is nevertheless a pleasant way to finish the day.


  10. […] So we've had Danny Alexander making up statistics about start up costs and his arithmetical nervous breakdown being taken apart by the very man who supplied the raw data to begin with. The Foreign …  […]

    • Carol says:

      3 things; I agree with what you say, I admire how you express yourself in writing & I expect nothing less of a Scot. Awesome!

  11. macart763 says:

    Good to hear Andy is doing fine.

    Fully agree on Alien Nation. We don’t need the media to tell us what we already know, we needed them to question both sides and explore the possibilities. They’ve done neither and frankly at this point are no longer relevant. We’re doing the discussing amongst ourselves.

    We’ll let them know how it turns out…

    … eventually.😉

  12. Capella says:

    So true! I can’t listen any more to Radio Scotland and we ditched the TV years ago. The constant whining of the trolls in the MSM is just tedious. So thanks for the boost of a confident, forward looking post. This blog is therapy!

  13. How right you are. Less and less TV being watched, and in the car it’s Classic FM — you just need to turn down the volume for the odd burst of Land of Hope and Glory or Jerusalem. No papers bought now either. Why pay to be lied to when you can source news elsewhere? I don’t know where this campaign is going, but some of us aren’t going to go back to the good old ways after September, irrespective of the result.

  14. arthur thomson says:

    Great as always. Thank you. My best wishes to you and your family.

  15. paul gerard mccormack says:

    Wonderful, just absolutely bloody wonderful!

  16. Douglas (NOT Alexander) says:

    Fantastic, keep up the good work.

    Regarding the TV tonight:

    With trepidation, I viewed Robert Peston’s contribution tonight and was actually surprised.

    The economic arguments rumbled on but at the end he concluded that in any case the overall wealth of the nation wasn’t going to crash and it was about about much more than the money. Not bad for an Economics Editor!

    I actually think the programme might have done some good. Regarding the economics, I think many folks are held back from voting Yes out of fear. As long as they are confident that it’s not going to be a disaster, they want to vote Yes (hence the No narrative that it will be a disaster).

    I think the air time for some positive Yes views will be useful.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I haven’t watched it yet, was planning to catch up with it on the iplayer thingy. I’m glad you seem to think it was relatively well balanced.

      • Douglas (NOT Alexander) says:

        ‘you seem to think it was relatively well balanced….’
        I would’t go quite that far :o)

        It was more a case that they couldn’t avoid giving a few positive Yes folks a bit of reasonably fair air time and the power of our case shone through. He seemed to be at least trying.

        • weegingerdug says:

          Ah that sounds much more like the BBC we all know and love then. Maybe it was just my optimism showing. Which reminds me – isn’t it funny that optimism is never touted as a UK benefit?

          • Eilean says:

            The channel4 Dispatches wasn’t as bad as it could have been. to be fair they did show up VNB for what they are and mentioned A. Darling liking A.Salmond to Kim Jong Il. It was very much the view from the south though. The presenter did mention right at the start that he lived and worked in London.

  17. indyreiver says:

    Paul I can see where you’re coming from and understand the many tentacled forces of the establishment determined at all costs to retain Scotland as part of the United Kingdom.

    The agenda has principally been determined by the No campaign and
    thereafter by necessity centred around the economics and practicalities of independence. The more we shout Yes we can, the louder they shout No you
    can’t We have probably past the point where reasoned argument will gain much more traction or additional significant support.

    The Meeja with a few notable exceptions will continue to court favour with Westminster and post Levenson and the BBC Savile difficulties they collectively don’t want to be seen as rocking any boats. The Yes argument or news benefiting independence will continue to be incorrectly reported,distorted or completely ignored thereby creating bias by omission.

    The Yes campaign is strong in social media and grassroots but there is only so much and no more that grassroots and social media can do to change public opinion. Perhaps I’m wrong in even suggesting this but sometimes I think we’re only talking to ourselves on social media.

    However the polls are pretty consistent in showing Yes at around 40% indicating to me that sometime between now and mid August we need an OMG moment or Game changer which would be unanswerable by No and set the heather alight.

    We need a well articulated and passionate vision of a Scotland free of Westminster politics and establishment influence. A Scotland reborn and delivered over a period of 2 parliaments. One that we can all share and be content to gift to our children and grandchildren.

    Who delivers the message and the content will be forever remembered as the defining moment in the Referendum.

  18. Cag-does-thinking says:

    Great weblog, the Robert Peston programme was another one from the aliens though,

    it’s not in the questions that he asks but the blindingly obvious ones including follow ons that he doesn’t and then the way things are presented, the hopeful yes people in business are small and aspirational, those saying no are in charge of PLCs and probably hopeful of knighthoods in the natural order of things. Subtle but every scene is carefully choreographed, it is like watching a public information film of the 1960s bashing you over the head with the designated points that the lords and masters wish to have aired. For a man who didn’t want to debate with aliqsamon Dave pops up a lot on Scottish telly these days as leader of the UK government.

  19. yerkitbreeks says:

    Another wee typical addition to our new thinking Scotland :

    • Capella says:

      Thanks for the link yerkit. Interesting discussion about land reform. Looks like the site has a lot of potential

  20. Morag says:

    watched ‘Despatches’ tonight, purporting to report on the controversies of the Referendum debate? i.e the bullying of the man wi the fish supper and the ex-ambassador fronting the whisky industry, etc – another paddle in shallow bias. Beam me up, Scottie!!!!

    • Eilean says:

      I watched Despatches as well. At least he admitted that he didn’t live and work in Scotland and didn’t it show!

      What has become more and more obvious as the media coverage increases is just how little the Londoncentric media understands about the debate. Unless you are giving it your full attention you miss a lot of the small things that go towards the big picture. And of course our own indigenous media they are a national disgrace.

      Thank the Wee Man for wordpress!🙂

  21. Eilean says:

    As Wallace said at his show trial in Westminster “England is foreign to me”. I know the feeling! Not necessarily in a bad way but it has definitely become “Somewhere else”.

    I turn on my TV and its not just the news and politics that seem so remote. Most of what I see is so disconnected from the life that I know that I just don’t bother anymore. It is someone elses world not mine. I cant imagine how anyone in Scotland could sit through an hour of Question Time with the endless agenda of “The Pound” “Interest Rates” Immigration” “Europe” rinse and repeat!

    Nowadays I set my DVR to record anything that might be interesting, informative or amusing and ignore the rest. I can’t even be bothered to channel hop any more.

    I can’t add much more as this post has for me at least hit the nail so firmly on the head.

  22. “On an independent plane” – ha! I like the wordplay🙂

  23. dennis mclaughlin says:

    The News where we are is that the Wee Ginger Dug knows the score and we are all the better for it.
    You’re a STAR in our firmament wee duggie 😆

  24. Aye, you’ve done it again, brill! Hope yir mans hame soon………….regards,

  25. Maggie Craig says:

    Your words are as inspirational as ever, Paul. Unless I missed something, what struck me about the reports on Bertie Armstrong (think that’s his name) being intimidated was that we were never shown the text of the letter or even a few quotes from it. It’s like his fellow shrinking violets among the captains of Scottish industry who claim they’re being leaned on by Alex Salmond. We don’t get any details, we’re just expected to accept what we’re told. Hah! Those days are over.

  26. rosa alba says:

    Ya pinched a good wallop of my proposed content: but I joke. Should have been up and screivin hors ago.

    The early carer needs no sleep (actually late carer as child would not sleep till two).

    What we need now is to all write, speak, sing or shout – to share our Aye have a dream stories of what we – the body politic – aspire to.

    The recycling scaremongers have no more stories: their warnings chewed up. We need to be positively Yes.
    And write our own script.

    • macart763 says:

      “What we need now is to all write, speak, sing or shout – to share our Aye have a dream stories of what we – the body politic – aspire to.”


      I was just thinking about an idea along similar lines. A post describing my/our Scotland which invites others to describe their Scotland. Their hope for the future, their aspirations and ideas. Get them out there for the indy net to see and beyond kinda thing.

  27. DInna_fash says:

    Strength to strength Paul, strength to strength.

    You really do have your finger on the pulse, Bravo!

  28. No no no...yes says:

    You are man who finds the right words and conveys them with artistry. A joy to read and I feel uplifted. It’s frustrating dealing with the MSM guff every day. However, was there a reference to the wee orange lamb on Scotland tonight? I’m sure Caroline Leckie, Women for indie, made a subtle reference when she was talking about personal stories/journeys. The presenter Claire Stewart shows some promise and has more relaxed style than Rona.

  29. Helena Brown says:

    I like that Paul, Scotland is becoming independent in it’s hears and minds.
    If you feel you are married then you are. Strangely we, Husband and I always considered our trip to the registrar’s office as merely a formality and can I say why everyone should have not have had this legal formality is quite beyond me. We had decided we were going to be together and we have been, coming up for 39 years, many of those who had the full fig are now separated.
    Strikes me Scotland and the Union are pretty much the same, the Parliaments may have had the ceremony, the trouble is the people were not invited nor was there a desire to hear their voices, well they are now.
    Sick of the MSM and no I have not desired to hear another one furth of Scotland give their uneducated opinion. Uneducated in that they do not live here, do not understand the depth of feeling. Robert Peston may have produced a “no bad” piece but then they have to do some, only then can they say there is no bias.

  30. Helena Brown says:

    Hearts! Hearts I mean, I know I should proof read. Glad also to hear that Andy is on the mend.

  31. andygm1 says:

    I was in London at the weekend at a family gathering and there were a lot of politicos and journos there. One Journo told me that he would be be up in Scotland in a couple of weeks doing a report on the economy for telly.

    Most interesting conversation was with a No. 10 civil servant whom I shall call X (to preserve anonymity and also because I can’t remember his/her name). Unprompted, X asked me about the referendum and seemed to be genuinely very interested in what was actually going on in Scotland as opposed to what was being pumped out by MSM.

    I told X not to believe the polls and that MSM were only punting No line and that real debate was internet based. X was fascinated and said that it must be an exciting time to be in Scotland. X was English, Gay and Socialist.

    I think a lot of BBC and MSM stuff is actually aimed at the English audience and is designed to keep them in ignorance of what is actually happening in Scotland, hence why they keep harping on about the economy, reducing it to a squabble about the national cake.

    My view is that independence is about how we can use it to become a better, fairer and more equal nation.

  32. JGedd says:

    Great to have you back, Paul. Sums up how I feel about their ‘wonderful’ society. I feel completely disconnected from their posturing and perfidious Union. United it ain’t.

    By the way,contributions from guest posters was an excellent idea. Perhaps it’s something you could keep going, having occasional guest posts to take the strain off you? I know verbal pyrotechnics come easily to you but the physical and mental demands of caring mean that you could do with a break now and then. From the very interesting guest posts we have had, It looks as though you would be able to call on worthy contributors when needed, to fill in and give us insights into their experiences.

    Glad to hear that Andy will be home soon.

  33. Jane Blanco says:

    I agree with you entirely about the media, especially the BBC. I even wrote a letter of complaint to BBC Scotland in Glasgow about bias in their political reporting in Scotland, and received a reply from Darlington, of all places, stating categorically that the BBC was ‘not a spokesperson or mouthpiece for anyone’. They even had to watch the programme I complained about (David Dimbleby on Euro Election Night) to find out what I was complaining about.
    Rather symbolically, I’ve had difficulty raising the Saltire in my garden in NW Scotland. The first flagpole I bought (made in England) broke, and the Saltire fell down. Now, I’ve put it up with a Scottish hardwood flagpole, and it’s fluttering majestically!

  34. faolie says:

    Dead right Paul. That’s the thing that the Beeb, the MSM and the UK government really didn’t factor in to their battle strategy (they do have one, right?). And that’s we don’t need to keep fighting and rebutting. In the end we can just ignore them. Whatevs.

    Much like the old Gary Larson cartoon really, where the guy’s giving his dog a row:

    What they’re saying: And you can’t keep the pound, and Nato will shun you and then where will you be, and of course you’ll be chucked out of the EU and have to rejoin and get in the queue behind Kazakstan, and you’ll be poor, and when your oil runs out in December don’t come running to us for some of our nuclear power, and try getting across the border without your British passport, which we’ll confiscate, and see how far you get, and don’t even think about sailing abroad because all your shipyards will close. And that’s not all…..

    What we hear: blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

  35. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    “Alienation is the first step to independence. When you’re alienated, you’re already independent, you just haven’t realised it yet.”

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