The audacity of Yes

I went to church last night but I was among the converted they were preaching to, which was a novel experience for me. Canon Peter McBride of St Thomas church in Riddrie had organised a debate on the referendum, which was originally going to be held in the church hall, but a double booking meant a change of venue to St Bernadette’s church hall in Carntyne. Despite the late change of venue, there was still a good turnout – around 100 people attended, so many that the wee church hall wasn’t able to hold everyone and the event was moved into the church itself so there would be seats, or rather pews, for everyone.

However the debate turned out not to be a debate because Better Together or whatever they’re called didn’t manage to provide any speakers, although a number of requests had been made to them. Now there’s a surprise, they’re normally so keen on public engagement what with them being romping home in the polls and have supporters and donations coming out their ears.

But we must demonstrate some Christian charity, what with this being a church and everything, and assume that it’s not a deliberate strategy to keep people disengaged from the referendum debate, but their poor ears were so full of supporters and donations that they were unable to hear the polite request for some speakers for a debate. “What was that? You want streaker’s furry deer bait Father? Can priests ask for that? I’m sorry I can’t quite make you out, I’ve got a Tory business donor trying to privatise my cochlea.” So the good Father got slung a deafie. He’s clearly an SNP front organisation.

So we didn’t get a debate, and perhaps it was all the better for that. Free from the need to spend most of their time rebutting people who only want to talk mince about the currency (we’re going to keep using the pound, in case you were wondering) the speakers were able to expand upon more profound reasons for independence and what Scotland can achieve by taking her future into her own hands. For once we did not get bogged down in the trivial mechanics of the process of becoming independent.

There were three excellent speakers, the Scottish Government’s Health Secretary Alex Neil, Jeane Freeman, former advisor to Jack McConnell and founder member of Women for Independence, and the veteran Jim Sillars. All three spoke with passion and conviction about the kind of country that Scotland could become.

Alex Neil spoke about how we need independence in order to protect the health service from the creeping privatisation taking place south of the border. Even though Scotland’s health service is already fully devolved, the overall budget is still set by Westminster. It’s only with independence that Scotland can ensure that our health service is kept in public hands.

In an impressive speech, Jeane Freeman spoke about her journey to Yes from her traditional Labour background, and how over the course of her experience in politics she came to realise that devolution is not enough – Scotland requires the full powers of independence in order to develop into a mature and fully developed country. For Jeane, Scottish independence is the only way to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of the founders of the Labour movement, the people who first inspired her to get involved in politics.

But it was Jim Sillars I’d really come to hear. Jim has no need to go to Specsavers, he knows how to do the vision thing. Jim spoke about the oil. He mentioned the rumours of huge new discoveries off the west coast, and also explained how Westminster’s obsession with nuclear weapons led the MoD to ban oil exploration and development in the Firth of Clyde and the Atlantic approaches, despite significant oil resources lying under those waters. At the same time that Thatcher was taking an axe to the traditional industries of Scotland, her government actively blocked the development of a resource which could have led to a Clyde oil boom.

But then he pointed out that for decades, politics in Scotland has been reactive. We’ve devoted our energies and time to defending ourselves from the poll tax, from privatisations, against attempts to introduce fees in Scottish education, the bedroom tax and on and on in a litany of malign policies imposed on this country by governments we didn’t vote for or support. It’s only independence that can change that, and unleash those energies spent defensively to allow Scots can live in a country where we are no longer constantly fighting to maintain what we already have, but where we can take positive action to improve our lives and change things for the better.

Jim spoke of a Scotland of possibilities, a Scotland where working class people can have the audacity to dream bold dreams and seize the initiative. In passing he said that any independence negotiations must not be held in London, where the Scottish delegation could find its hotel rooms bugged by the intelligence services. We should insist that the negotiations are held in Edinburgh – that would really bug Westminster.

And he mentioned a mad off the wall and audacious idea, one which a friend had advised him not to bring up. The UK Government is currently building two massive aircraft carriers, even though they only expect to bring one into operational service – and that only after they’re able to find planes to put on it. The other was meant to be sold off on, but no one wants it. It’s a white elephant, a massive liability. Jim suggested that Scotland should do Westminster a favour and take it off their hands for them. It could become the flagship of the new Scottish navy, but not as an aircraft carrier bearing weapons of war and birds of destruction. Let’s convert it into a hospital ship, and send it to war zones and troubled regions around the world. With independence Scotland’s contribution to the wider world would no longer mean sending off our young men and women to fight and destroy, to kill and blow things up. Instead they would be healing the sick and caring for the wounded. It’s a vision of the kind of Scotland we can create.

Jim said the vessel should be named after that great Scottish humanitarian, Robert Burns. But that was the only point at which I disagreed with him. We should call it the Margo MacDonald.

But I’ll give the last word to Canon Peter McBride. In his closing words, he thanked the contributors, praised the audience for their polite and respectful reception of the speakers, and said that when considering how to vote in September we must not think solely of ourselves. It’s not about whether you personally will be £300 a year better off or worse off, you can do that by changing your electricity supplier, it’s about what’s best for everyone. Voting Yes, it’s the Christian thing to do.

Vote Yes. Dream a bold dream, dream of audacity, dream of taking your future into your own hands. Vote Yes, for compassion, empathy, and for those worse off than yourself.

52 comments on “The audacity of Yes

  1. Scot in Germany says:

    I thought this was going to be the first time I read a post of yours without greetin’. The last paragraph did it again …

    Thank you, Paul.

  2. dickybeau says:

    It’s a pity the clergy in the Helensburgh are aren’t so keen to promote discussion about the referendum. None would take leaflets for a Yes meeting and the Episcopal Church top man even had the gall to complain.
    O/t I’ve just watched a video of Loki that reminded me of Jimmy Reid and UCS and of times gone by. Not because he was speaking about industry but because he spoke with a passion that puts me and my ilk to shame. have a swatch at it

  3. Iain says:

    A wee catch in my throat and prickly eyes there, fantastic stuff as ever.

    Am I right in saying that Bettertogether/SLAB have not held or attended one single open meeting in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city? If that is the case this is one of most disgraceful (in)actions of the referendum

  4. Pam McMahon says:

    Wish I’d been there. I live in Caithness, so it’s quite difficult to get anywhere without several months notice. Jim Sillars is a amazing spokesman for independence, and his vision for the future of the embarrassing 2nd aircaft carrier is spot on.
    Did anybody have the foresight to video this?

  5. Bamstick says:

    Jim Sillars is talking at Eyemouth High School tomorrow night, 7pm, maybe somebody could video it then? I’d love to see it too. Don’t know who else is starring?

    • WRH2 says:

      Bamstick. The other speakers in Eyemouth on Friday are Prof Nigel Mace, Selma Rahmann (Women for Indy) and Scott Blair (Generation Yes). I’m going and hope you are too. Maybe we can have a word or two. Hopefully we will have our usual video guy to record it.

      • Bamstick says:

        WRH2. Thanks for the information.
        I would really like to be able to go and see this live and to meet you. Unfortunately, my health won’t allow it, sorry. But I would really like to see any video that is available. Hope it is a great evening.

  6. I wish Jim was coming down to Dumfriesshire again. I’d love to see him speak. I really do think the carrier idea is superb too. Some say we’re naiive; I just say we’ve just got higher stamdards than the intellectual paupers who only measure their country’s worth in its ability to cause damage to others. When you think of them in that context they’re like the guys in your year at school who used to bang on about who they’d been fighting at the weekend.
    Let’s, as Roger Waters put it; “wrestle technology’s sword from the hands of the warlords”.

  7. Steve Bowers 74% win says:

    G’waa ye bliddy pest, ye made me greet again we that last para !

  8. Steve Asaneilean says:

    We must, must, must not let go. A Yes vote is only the start of a process, not the end. We must keep the pressure on come what may and even if it takes years we must build the fair and equal Scotland that we want and deserve. There is no going back and our children and grandchildren will never forgive us if we take our eye off the ball and let a once in 300 year opportunity slip through our hands and crumble to dust.

  9. Mammy says:

    Don’t just dream DO it

  10. rosa alba says:

    Well I was in tears wi Jim’s Hospital Ship idea. The Caledonia would be my name for it. Or the Alba. A herald of the country we want to be.
    And bravo to the priest who as been forthright enough to do as Christ asked of us: consider the needs of others first – not the bawbee in our ain pyock but Acts of Mercy, our obligations to feed, clothe, teach, tend.

  11. Devereux says:

    I think Caledonia would be braw – but perhaps she could be pulled out of the firth by a brave wee tug called the Margo MacDonald.

  12. Fin Struthers says:

    I think the good ship Jock Tamson would be appropriate.

  13. jamie macdonald says:

    Magic wee dug! yer just the best! , Jim is a force in himself, Margo and he were a dream team for our nation…,LOVE! the ship suggestion, ….I would paint that myself for free!…..Any colour you like- I can do tartan if you want?(!!)

  14. buchanloon says:

    Jim’s point about the intelligence services is a valid one, after-all Westminster and the British state have proven themselves to be wholly untrustworthy.

  15. andygm1 says:

    They definitely bugged the Lancaster Gate negotiations over Rhodesia. Check out Peter Wright’s book.

  16. A Meringue says:

    This bit here- “Scots can live in a country where we are no longer constantly fighting to maintain what we already have, but where we can take positive action to improve our lives and change things for the better.” That nails it for me. all of my life politics has been a fight against Westminster. Enough!

    Along with some other veterans I am speaking at a Yes event in Bearsden “Veterans for Independence” organised and livestreamed by Independence Live. It is in the Westerton Hall 82 Maxwell avenue Thursday 28th August at 7:00pm.

    It was because of this that led me to thinking about what kind of Armed forces that an independent Scotland should have. I came to the conclusion that an armed forces with the ability to excel at disaster relief would be a great way to make friends around the world. The present Royal Engineers have numerous skills in building roads, runways, water supplies, tented villages and field hospitals. Also there is search and rescue on land and sea. Although their local knowledge is invaluable we rely on volunteers to man our lifeboats and find us when we go missing in the Cairngorms. All easily transferable skills and from the Army, Navy and Air Force`s point of view excellent training. Just like Jim sillars converted aircraft carrier wouldn’t it make you proud to watch on TV whenever disaster strikes around the world. That “The Jocks” were first in. And for once for a good reason.

    On the subject of blatant plugs. Folk that can make it to Uddingston Grammar School on Tuesday the 19th from 7pm till 9:30pm can hear Jim Sillars speaking live at a public meeting – open to all. Other speakers include. Graeme Sneddon (generation x) Debora Waters (Labour for Indi) Michelle Thomson (Business for Scotland) and Robin McAlpine (Jimmy Reed Foundation)

    (Mair plugs than Currys!)

    Seriously any suggestions about what the hell I’m going to say on the 28th much appreciated.

    • macart763 says:

      I think you’ve got the bones of a great talk right there Meringue (I’ll struggle calling you a dessert).😀

      But yeah, a vision of an SDF dedicated to disaster relief, which would specialise in bringing aid and protection to those in need. Imagine how an SDF, our military, could be re tasked to fit a new role.

  17. […] I went to church last night but I was among the converted they were preaching to, which was a novel experience for me. Canon Peter McBride of St Thomas church in Riddrie had organised a debate on t…  […]

  18. Perhaps it’s just as well BT didn’t put in an appearance, you’ll have had a much more positive evening. Their non-appearance at meetings surely must be sending a message to the voters — or have they not noticed? Love the fact you had to move into the church from the hall to accommodate everyone.

    Talking about compassion and empathy, here’s another great speech on video from Philippa Whitford –

  19. lastchancetoshine says:

    Why stop at holding discussions in Edinburgh though? that as easy bugged, where’s the ambition? lets go for Oban, North Uist even🙂

  20. WGD

    I think I may be the person who had the idea about using the second white elephant aircraft carrier as a humanity disaster response ship.

    I had it about a year ago and put it up on a thread on, I think, Wings. I think one or two people commented but that was the end of the public outing of that brainwave.

    It did not stop there and I surmised that Simonstown in the Cape Province of South Africa would be the best place to berth it. Simonstown used to be a Royal Navy base, even after South African independence but was abandoned during the dirty years of apartheid.

    The reason it was an RN base was that it was at the meeting of three oceans, the Atlantic and Indian with the Artic Ocean due south.

    Thus the Caribbean and Central America was accessible as was the Indian sub-continent and SE Asia where most of the catastrophic natural disasters happen; the hurricane and typhoon zones of the World.

    It also has the plus factor of being nearly in the GMT zone and travel can be affected by overnight flight form the UK to Cape Town.

    The ship would be berthed there with a skeleton crew fully loaded with emergency food supplies and water purification plant and well as helicopters and small ferry vessels.

    I tried to research what the actual cost of creating and running such a vessel but reached a dead end.

    What would be the cost of purchasing it, for example? That would depend on the attitude of the rUK and such a vessel would need to be built for that purpose. I am not sure how far down the line the second carrier is but a fighter aircraft carrier with a fighting crew, equipped for that sole purpose would not be easily serviceable as a rescue ship.

    The UK Gov looked at converting the second carrier into a helicopter ship but gave up, possible because such a ship would be a sitting duck to a missile arrack, as, I think, is the first one. It needs a close body guard of a small task force to keep that threat well away. I do believe that the Chinese have missiles that can be sent for a distance and would be able to hit any carrier anyway so the big bugger is a white elephant . It is just another dick waving Trident grade dick waving exercise.

    So, to return to the humanitarian vessel it would need extensive modification from the original design, during construction and that is the way of all MOD contacts which are written as signed but unstated payment cheques. Every last MOD procurement contract has gone stratospherically over budget, so the modifications alone might make the concept unworkable.

    Great idea but not quantifiably viable, at this stage.

    I bought Jim Sillar’s book /manifesto / blue skies vision and see in it he mentions the concept of the humanitarian aircraft carrier. He states that the cost of running this ship would be £35 millions a tear, with a crew of about 5,000. He has modelled this on the African Mercy a similar concept ship equipped to provide a floating hospital and series of operating theatres for a range of problems that we in the West would be consider everyday; cataracts, cleft palates, etc.

    You have to love Jim Sillars. He paints fine canvas with a wallpaper paste brush and then moves on.

    That is blue skies thinking and should not be dismissed out of hand. It, like all blue sky thinking needs nuancing, refining and reiteration.

    It could fail at the first hurdle, the attitude of rUK to selling the boat to us. J S thinks we may get it for nothing, as they are not going to use it anyway. It has a scrap value at least and could always be sold to some despotic offshore banking haven to spite Scotland and enrich David Cameron’s chums at the Bullingdon Club. Heaven knows there are enough of these lurking about Cameron’s anteroom looking for the main chance.

    I would love to have carried out a real and proper financial analysis of this project, and I have tried. From here it is not possible as I need actual answers to questions I cannot pose to people I do not know. Even then, how I would I know whether I would get truthful answers.

    I have to say, that although Jim Sillar’s idea could have been mine originally, he did say he picked it up at a YES meeting in Edinburgh about a year ago. Maybe two people quite independently had the same idea or one took it in form the other. I may well have read a report on it .

    It is one of many ideas I may have had and anyway what really matters is whether this is a good idea that, could, should and will work. Not who had it first as that smacks of two bald men fighting over a comb. That is not what I want my new Scotland to be, free of the Westminster Punch and Judy politics.

    I have moved onto thinking about holding Holyrood and the SMP’s more and directly responsible to the voters. How are we going to turn Scotland into a bottom-up democracy and wean the servile Westminster programmed top-down Morlocks to that concept?

    Sorry, if this has been too long a post, I just felt I had to write it.

    • jdman says:

      Your a very bad Panda Bugger, the idea of utilizing the second carrier for humanitarian purposes was mine, you responded by pointing out an unused carrier was sitting down in South Africa in mothballs that could be used, no bamboo for a week for you.🙂

    • macart763 says:

      An amazing concept though and what a gift to the world it would be.🙂

  21. Steve Asaneilean says:

    We have had the same experience here – No speakers invited to local meetings, agreeing to come and then withdrawing often at the last minute.
    It strikes me as being profoundly undemocratic – we will not speak unless we can control the event, vet the questions, etc.
    We have right to hear their views and question them face to face. But we are being denied that right by people who claim to be democrats.

    • gerry parker says:

      A Darling is apparently speaking in Coatbridge on Saturday morning ( 10:00am). Still no idea of the venue as they don’t say where it is on the tickets, it’s announced Friday evening by the organisers apparently.

      A very strange way of going about things.

      • JGedd says:

        Secret locations, people who don’t turn up. The BT campaign on the ground is in the realms of farce now. If it wasn’t for the full-scale media campaign covering up and spinning for them, they would be far behind.

      • hektorsmum says:

        Bet he is talking to the converted. Seems none of the Bitter together gang get out much which is obvious to everyone but them.

  22. McTim says:

    The use of the second aircraft carrier for humanitarian purposes is a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing with us, Paul. Did Jim say anything more about his preference for a new currency as well? It bugs me big time that Eck and co. aren’t running with this officially (not yet anyway).

  23. gerry parker says:

    Paul, Another excellent article. I do hope you become a mainstay of the new media we need after the rubbish that is the current MSN get their marching orders.

    We’ll need broadcasters, we’ll need writers, we’ll need new print media with Scotland’s interests at heart. We’ll need to empty Pacific Quay and start from scratch.

  24. JaceF says:

    It’s nice to hear the people in Carntyne and Riddrie are backing Yes, I grew up there (behind St Thomas’s School). Perhaps a lot of people like me remember growing up in areas in the East End at the height of Tory Thatcher rule.

  25. macart763 says:

    O/T Perhaps Darling was only joking about that whole oil running out by 2017 thing.

    That must be it right enough. One of Comical Ali’s jokes.🙂

  26. faolie says:

    Nice one again wgd. Excellent that they had to move it to the church itself. Wish you’d taken a picture. I saw that picture of the kirk where Nicola was speaking. Full to the gunwhales so it was.

    I like that aircraft carrier idea. Oh it would be so good to do something like that. Spears to ploughshares an a’ at. What a great, different country we’re going to be. Cannae wait.

  27. Gavin Barrie says:

    YesTroon had a meeting in the South Beach hotel on Tuesday evening. Speakers Philippa Whitford, Ivan McKee and Jim Sillars. Meeting open to all, full house and so we requested committed Yes people to give up their seats to the Undecided and No attendees. All three speakers were inspiring.
    The video is presently being edited.

    Better Together are holding a meeting in the South Beach hotel today, Friday- invitation only.Head Girl Ruthie is speaking.

    And so compare:
    Yes campaign – Public meeting, All welcome,
    Better Together – Who are you? We may invite you.

    Setting aside all the political and economic pros and cons,that comparison really motivates me as a committed Yes campaigner to work for an socially integrated society in Scotland.

  28. Guess what the postman jist put through ma door???Scottish Independence Referendum Official Poll Card !!!! YES !!!!

  29. macart763 says:

    And the next myth to bite the dust is?

    Only the union will protect ship building in Scotland.

  30. hektorsmum says:

    An excellent post yet again Paul though I am not as starry eyed about the both Sillars as you and many others here are. I am forgiving but not forgetting when Margo was urging people to vote Labour and when Jim came over as a sullen wee boy who had lost his ball. We might have got the chance at Independence a lot sooner, ah well!
    It would be nice to use the useless boat,okay ship for good rather than a death ship which will be blown to smithereens as soon as it gets involved in any conflict if the opinions of others are correct. It could be used to take people out of Gaza presently if we had it. Most of us want to see our country as a force for good, but right now I want to see us get our own on their feet first, then we can look abroad.
    Too much of the other sort emanating from Westminster, people starving here, and they cannot see the irony of feeding refugees in Iraq, a country they created. If they had stayed out of it they would have not looked so bad.
    We will be missing you for a couple of weeks but we expect we will have lots to read on our return.

  31. […] and love is Jim Sillar’s idea of converting the next UK aircraft carrier into a hospital ship (that the Wee Ginger Dug would name, the ‘Margo MacDonald’). Talking of the Wee Dug, love is what brought him £10,000 from all around Scotland from people he […]

  32. […] love is Jim Sillar’s idea of converting the next UK aircraft carrier into a hospital ship (that the Wee Ginger Dug would name, the ‘Margo MacDonald’). Talking of the Wee Dug, love is what brought him £10,000 from all around Scotland from […]

  33. athollman says:

    What was the worst time Scotland and the rest of of the UK went through?
    It was the thatcher years my dad was a miner and in our family we felt the wrath of that women as did every other person
    She came to power due to the help of the snp.
    The fated year was 1979 all 11 SNP MP’s voted and sided with Margaret Thatcher to bring down the Labour Government and bring the tories to power
    Can you trust the snp Scottish government to take us into independence I say no
    Due to that vote in 1979 the snp and there friends in the tory party allowed us to go through sheer hell with the worst years Scotland has known due to thatcher.
    Again I say can you trust the snp who acted as a vehicle for the thatcher years, remember the poll tax that was one of the most hated taxes we have known.
    In case you have forgotten or were to young to know about it this was done during the thatcher years. The snp have a lot to answer for. Independence at any cost including past history in which they used the 1979 vote to bring thatcher to power.
    The snp don’t want you to remember that vote as it allowed the tories to devastate the mines and other industries. In a way it was a modern day highland clearance in which not lives but jobs were targeted and brought about the diminished power of the unions.
    Voting yes will devastate Scotland and if the snp don’t get a currency union they say they wont pay the debt owed, this will leave Scotland an international pariah.

    So only 2 of the snp could be bothered to vote for changes in the bedroom tax, they falsely let us believe that it is abhorrent to them seems 4 don’t believe what there party line is, for a policy that they keep bringing up during the campaign it beggars belief that they would not want to let their vote count just like they keep telling us that your vote is needed.
    Salmond and his cronies’ could not and do not seem bothered enough to make sure that they vote for something so important, care for fellow Scots who have been affected by the bedroom tax that’s a laugh, snp care they don’t know the meaning of the word. But it was different when they voted with the tories against the living wage which again would have helped the people they claim to care for.
    I will tell you how much they care, a few years ago we had a memorial to soldiers who lost there lives in current war zones, an snp councillor was put in charge of the opening ceremony and on the day ex world war 2 soldiers some who were in wheelchairs turned up for the ceremony. This caring snp councillor wanted these patriots removed as it would have spoiled his day, in the end he was forced to resign, do you want this caring party to drag us into independence on the back of the if’s and maybes of there white paper, and falsely getting a yes vote based on fabrications and not facts.
    I know you will say that it is not about individual parties but independence, that would be the case in an ideal world but the snp keep forgetting this.
    They are the worst offenders in regards to bringing it down to party politics.
    They want people to vote yes well why did all of the snp mp’s not reciprocate by voting yes to help break the injustice of the bedroom tax, the 4 just could not be bothered to turn up, and remember you are paying there wages for a job they reneged on

    NO to yes
    YES to NO

  34. […] to patrol the sea to offer succour  and refuge to the needy, as dreamed of by Jim Sillars in his speech at St Thomas, Riddrie during the Independence Referendum? But,more to the point, how do we move […]

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