Opportunity is always knocking

In a parallel universe there’s a Scotland which is reaching for the aspirin, complaining about its collective sore heid as it gets over the national hangover from the first independence day party. That’s a Scotland which has opened a blank page in a new book, and which is about to start writing a story for itself. It will be a story of challenges to be overcome, of milestones to be passed, of achievements and attainments and progress along a path that the country chooses for itself. It’s a story of imagination and dreams. It’s a Scottish story written in Scotland.

In this universe that we live in there’s a Scotland reaching for the aspirin to complain about its sore heid after being battered and bruised by the exhultant nay sayers who lied their way to referendum victory. The crowers and howlers, the noers and vowers. Independence will be too hard they said. It will be hard work, fending for ourselves instead of passively complaining about how we’re paying for Westminster’s global pretensions while we work hard on a living wage that isn’t a living. So instead of opening a new chapter we’re left living in a story of poverty of hope and narrowness of vision, of night sweats and nightmares. And the ones who have no respect who ensured that we are left without hope, without the dream that things could ever be any better demand that they are respected. In the desperation that comes from knowing they are on the wrong side of history they insist that the referendum must not be revisited. Those are the people who think that the ballot paper said Should Scotland become an independent country and if not this question will not be asked again. The people who want your grandfather’s decision to determine your entire life.

So here we are, for now, living in the Scotland that is a story that someone else writes, only they’re writing a horror story, a tale of misery and deprivation, of emigration and doors that slam in our faces. This is the story of our country, and it’s being written by people who don’t live here, who know nothing about us, and who care even less. This is the story of a Scotland where jobs are lost and pensions dangle out of reach, where leaving is considered a benefit of Union, whose culture is ridiculed and ignorant arrogance something to aspire to. This is the story of a Scotland where loss of opportunity is something that is crowed about while the spider hands of Westminster write chapters of despair.

American inventor Thomas Edison once said that we often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work. There’s always going to be work, and Scotland was tricked by those who wanted Scotland to work for Westminster, not to work for itself. Scotland was tricked by those who write a story for us in which they are the winners and we are the fuel for their ambitions. We deserve more than this, being burned out in the motor of British ambition and spewed out spent exhausted in their exhaust. This is the story that’s being written for us, a story we have no say over. A horror story of hard work that’s an opportunity for someone else. This is a Scottish story that’s written in the corridors of Whitehall. This is a Scottish story that is full of Jocks who die for Queen and Country, obeying orders but never writing their own destiny. This is a Scottish story for the cringers, a Scottish story that’s not Scottish at all.

In that other universe there’s a Scotland that grasped hope with both hands and will rise to any challenges with all the powers and confidence of a self-governing nation, in this universe there’s a Scotland that sold hope for an empty box marked home rule because it was enmeshed in the lines on a graph. This is the Scotland that was told it has been impoverished, and so it has to remain with those who impoverished it. Look you bumping along the bottom of this graph that shows you’re poorer than Greece, only with worse weather and so bad that even refugees don’t want to come here to be miserable in the rain with the Scottish deficit. Oil is volatile and your hopes of ever standing on your own two feet have evaporated away.

It’s like being told by a mugger that because he’s ripped you off your only option is to keep coming back to the dark alley to give him all your money forever. Scotland’s muggers do it with pretty graphs that take us for mugs. Then they gloat about the poverty that their beloved Westminster has created and claim it’s the best that we can possibly aspire to. But Scotland isn’t poor, it has been impoverished. There’s a difference. When you’re impoverished you have resources, you have talents and skills, you have wealth and value, it’s just that someone else gets the benefit of it. We’re paying to be the roadkill on Labour’s Parliamentary road to socialism. We’re paying to be the punchbag in the Tories’ internal wars.

Opportunity knocked in 2014 and Scotland didn’t answer the door. Now we have a choice, we can greet that opportunity isn’t knocking again, or we can make another door. Last time we stumbled and fell, but you’re only down out and defeated when you fall and you stay on the floor. Scotland got up and it’s still walking, still dreaming, still aspiring to something better, something bigger, something whole.

I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to wail. I’m not going to bow. An opportunity lost is only a new challenge. Let’s make a new door, and this time we’ll walk through it. We’ll walk through that door and find a blank book whose pages we will fill with a story we write for ourselves, a library of stories in Scottish voices.

Opportunity is always knocking when you declare independence of the mind and heart. The future is ours and it’s there for the taking.

Many thanks to Macart for doing such a fantastic job of looking after the blog while I was away. I had a wonderful time in the USA visiting with my significant other, but now I’m depressed to be apart from him. Shakespeare might have been the superlative wordsmith, but when he said parting was such sweet sorrow he was talking bollocks. There’s nothing sweet about it. But on the plus side, Ginger the Dug was very happy to have his daddy back. Meanwhile I’ve got jetlag, which is why I’m publishing a blog article at 4.45am.

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Hypothetically – What next?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Safe to say that, at the moment, polling for the outcome of the Holyrood elections on May 5th indicates that in all likelihood an SNP government will see a third consecutive term in office and with what appears may be an enlarged majority. Now, since every other bod likes to speculate on hypothetical stuff that hasn’t happened yet, I thought we might take a stab at it for a change.

Anyroads, back to the thought of a majority SNP governement and the next term. I hear some folks say ‘so what?’ and I can understand their frustration. What good is having 56 pro indy MPs in Westminster and possibly 70+ MSPs in Holyrood if we don’t have independence now? What use are they if they can’t even slap down an overly hostile media now and again, set up their own broadcasting legislation and yank the country out of the union as and when they feel like it? Used to be a majority of MPs was all you needed right? All valid questions and the last one especially will strike a chord with folks in a certain age group.

I suspect the answer, though again frustrating to many, is as simple as ‘they are democrats and gradualists’. The modern SNP aren’t a party or a movement of protest anymore. They are a grown up party of government who work through consensus and democratic mandate. I see them as wanting people to travel with them, not get dragged by them, toward an independent Scotland. As a party of government, they are bound by two things in particular. Firstly: Democratic mandate, or basically they do what they are given leave to do by the population. Secondly: Abiding by the spirit and letter of the union of parliaments as laid out in the Scotland Bill, again because that is what the majority of the Scottish electorate agreed they should do. That is not what they want. Its not what they argued for, but it is what they WILL do because they were instructed to by their electorate and as a party of government it is the duty they are bound to. All of which means that since our population narrowly voted in favour of devolved government (yeah we’re all aware of the circumstances by this point), their powers/competences are dictated by Westminster vote. Those competences and that system we covered in some detail previously in Bill of Goods.

A government doing what its told… ah know! Pure crazy, bat shit madness, daein’ whut yer telt? Vile Nats cunningly raising people’s expectations of how politics should be done. THOSE SCRUPLED BASTIRTS ARE DOING IT DELIBERATELY!

So again, what good are they? All those seats, all that responsibility and their hands are tied behind their backs by that damned bill and… and… and their own electorate?!?! Their word?!?!

Well in a nutshell, YES. Near as I can see anyway. What kind of government would they be if they didn’t go through the processes we asked them to as an electorate? Basically they’d be no different from the establishment parties (see under misery) who’ve ruled the roost for decades. The ones that same Scottish electorate have gone to no little trouble to vote out. So yeah, they’ll work with that bill and take all the shit that comes with it, because they are our government, because that is the service they are in and because… a majority of our electorate asked them to. In Westminster, the 56 pro indy Scottish MPs WILL fight enforced bad legislation, in the face of a shitstorm of negative media and political pressure,… because we ask them to. They delay, they argue, they amend as best they can and they bring to public notice WHAT they can, again… because that is what we ask them to do. Pretty certain though, they’d rather be practicing the day job elsewhere.

To be clear. YES, the whole situation is a pile of steaming manure IMO and YES it particularly reeks when you consider what was ‘delivered’ as a devolution settlement and just how it was intended to be delivered. Just as well our government were there to help the treasury with those complex sums, yes?

And now the good news!

Having overseen the outcome of the referendum and the delivery of the current devolution settlement, the SNP have stated in their recent conference that as of this summer they will launch a new drive for independence. Their stated aim, to resume their argument for returning all powers of sovereign government into the hands of the Scottish parliament and electorate. What shape this renewed campaign will take is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for certain, I don’t think that under the new management it’ll be quite what the opposition parties would expect.

Then there’s the wider pro independence electorate who, unlike a party of governement, are a true and growing movement. What can they take from such an electoral outcome and what could they be doing to bring about the constitutional change they seek? The SNP have proven themselves a capable and credible party of government, but is that all that they are? Well no, in this instance they, along with other smaller pro indy parties, are arguably the Scottish electorate’s only guarantee of full democratic choice and systemic constitutional change being on the table at all. They’ve been selected by a broad spectrum of the Scottish electorate as whut ye might call, gatekeepers. I’d say the pro indy movement can be fully assured that if/when polls show a regular and clear pro independence majority, that particular government WILL act upon the wishes of that majority and move for a second referendum. I would speculate, with a reasonable degree of certainty (cough), that the two and a bit establishment parties, Conservative and Unionist, Labour and Libdems, would bolt that gate, padlock it and throw a chest containing the key into the sea, arbitrarily removing any such choice from the Scottish electorate. Does anyone seriously believe they could ever be trusted to act upon any clear constitutional desires for change from the Scottish electorate?

As for what the pro independence movement could be doing? Well I’d say they’re pretty much doing most of it right now. Investing in their new media, continuing to keep open lines of communication, spreading news and sharing information, patiently convincing and pressing their arguments, all looks good as a starter for ten. Some groups organise get togethers, discuss ideas and current issues, cementing that sense of cause and community, of forward momentum. Being seen to help out deserving causes where and when they can, whether through crowdfunders, group or personal action also seems a good pro active step too. It let’s folk know, this is what community and common weal is about, what THEY are all about and what they expect their governments and politicians in Holyrood to be all about. Still speculating like, but I believe its a direct result of this continued communication, the networking, discussions, ideas and actions that the pro indy movement will continue to grow.

In short, whilst the SNP argues from the standpoint of confidence in the capability of Scotland’s government and parliament, the independence movement should carry on doing what it’s doing for the moment. It needs to be remembered that any referendum doesn’t belong to a government. It doesn’t belong to a party. It belongs to you, the public. It’s a people’s referendum and you decide when, or if, it happens. Your engagement, your will, your drive, and most importantly, your mandate. So keep doing what you’re doing and by that I mean stay engaged, and keep biting the hand of project fear.

N.B. This will be my last post before Paul gets back. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank the readership for bearing with my ramblings and the site over the past couple of weeks and can assure you that normal service should be resumed shortly.

Many thanks folks. 😀

Timing is everything

A guest post by Samuel Miller

So what’s with all the negative waves man?

OK, we’ve gone over the well worn establishment strategy of ‘Don’t look over here‘, in a post already. For bods of an independent tendency, its what the past three weeks have been all about after all. Does anyone seriously think that GERSmageddon and the Independence Day Massacre Pt.2, (the return of Project Fear), were really accidental in their build up and timing?

I mean, having a dig at the Scottish Government is rarely far from the top  of any ‘to do’ list in meeja land, but the past three weeks have seen the usual  suspects go into not just SNP BAD overdrive, but independence bad frenzy. The politicos and media were reaching past the Scottish Government and going straight to the source of political change in Scotland… the public. Not something they do lightly these days, or very often.

Now don’t look so shocked and stop laughing at the back. March 24th, 2016 was always, but always going to be a bit nervous for the poor dears. Political parties and media alike are fully aware that the ‘better togetherness’ they sold to the Scottish electorate hasn’t exactly been all it was cracked up to be in the past eighteen months. Question is, what to do about a date that was always going to strike an emotional chord with a still grumpy electorate in Scotland in the run up to an Osborne budget, followed by Scottish elections and an EU referendum? The excellent Business for Scotland web site has a rather damning article on the past eighteen months record HERE and it is well worth the read. Enough to say that bods in some quarters were motivated.

Anyroads, clearly policy wonks and meeja types had a light bulb moment. The approach appears to have been, convince the Scottish electorate that the past eighteen months of Westminster’s ‘RESPECT AGENDA’, VOWS DELIVERED, financial hardship and austerity ideology washing over their country, isn’t anywhere near as distressing as it would have been under independence.

Master stroke! Back of the net! CHA CHING!

Cue headlines of fiscal carnage which Scots couldn’t possibly have coped with on their own. I mean, that is how it comes across. Whether that’s exactly how the media intend these dire warnings to come across is purely a matter for conjecture of course, but it’s depressingly hard to read it any other way. Seems to me that every other country in the world handles their own economy in good times and bad. Its kinda what grown up, responsible countries and their governments are expected to do. It’s pretty much accepted common practice that governments of independent countries, having access to all relevant economic levers, have the ability to take action in the best interests of their electorate as and when required. Common practice that is, except for viewers in….

Me? I have confidence that Scotland has all the resources and the talent to manage our economy and voted accordingly in 2014. Good times or bad, you look to the government you vote for to steer you through. They do good? They get to keep their jobs. They do badly? Well, that’s why its called a democracy, but with independence you’d get the government you voted for with their full attention firmly focussed on your particular needs. That’s all beside the point though (shrugs).

Right now Scotland is NOT independent, the levers of the economy belong to the government of the UK (where they’ve been for quite some time now) and any hypothetical financial doomsday scenario projected for an independent Scotland is just that… hypothetical. I have no idea what measures an independent Scottish government would have taken over the past eighteen months, for the simple reason that whole independence thing DIDN’T HAPPEN.

Ayup, apparently others convinced enough of the voting public that Scots shouldn’t have to steward their own economy. No, they could leave all that grown up stuff to a system and folk who know better and who would look after them, honest. The same bods (they’re interchangeable) as it happens, whose stewardship of the economy ran up a £1.6tr debt for instance? Maybe just me, but if you’re looking for governments in trouble who struggle to handle an economy, balance the books n’ such, then don’t you think the meeja may be looking in the wrong place by this point?

It seems to me that if a chancellor hadn’t met self imposed deficit reduction targets, or forecast (cough) economic growth targets, I’d be more inclined to be asking pointed questions of that government and its economic strategy. That’s the criteria for a deluge of negative meeja attention about your ability to cope, right?  Just to be clear, £1.6tr (and not falling) is a big number isn’t it? Shouldn’t that really big number be considered one of them BLACK HOLE thingies? And just think, no hypothetical speculation required. RESULT!

Or, is it the case that where Scottish politics and its electorate are concerned, this is the very definition of ‘DON’T LOOK OVER HERE’ and why timing, in our own recent experience, is everything?

This could have been…

This could have been independence day.

It could have been the day when the biggest street party Scotland has ever seen took place. A historic day. A day of colour and song and hope for the future. A future unwritten, ever uncertain and yet full of promise, choice and possibility.

Not on this day.

It could have been the day when Scotland joined the family of independent nations. A day when a new voice was heard on the world stage. A voice long absent, though not forgotten. The voice of a country who finally stopped the world and got on. A day when a bright new thread was woven into a rich international tapestry.

Not on this day.

It could have been the day when the peoples of Scotland ensured that their government would have all the sovereign powers and responsibilities of nationhood. A day that would see an honest ‘VOW DELIVERED’. A government directly accountable to the population, its needs and its aspirations.

Not on this day.

It could have been the day when every person living in Scotland would have been able to look to Holyrood and know for an absolute certainty that the government they vote for is the government they get. A day when representative democracy and a chance to remake their politics was born into an old land.

Not on this day.

It could have been the day when the peoples of Scotland said we’re here and we’re a friend to all who want to take our hand and a burden to none. A day for the young to look forward with expectation and for the old to say, ‘We did our best, now over to you’.

Not on this day. Not quite yet.

Tomorrow though?

Tomorrow is another day.



Patience is a virtue (definitely) part 2

A guest post by Samuel Miller

As noted by the ever excellent Scot Goes POP and Wings Over Scotland, the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has recently been released and the figures make for encouraging viewing for those of an independent mind. Fact it was such a bombshell one particular mainstream title was prepared to suffer the pain of near terminal whiplash in an attempt to spin some bad news for the independence camp. The result of their spin? Not so much egg on face, as an entire omelette.

The upshot of the survey was a 6% movement toward voting for an independent Scotland, which is pretty damn impressive considering the source. For a more informed dissection just click on the links above (they do numbers n’ such so well).

A couple of months back I posed a question and chewed over the possible outcomes – ‘If, as many suspect, this settlement is a constitutional and fiscal bear trap for the Scottish Government and electorate, where do we go from here?’

Folk who know me well on threads are familiar with my Westminster will be Westminster theory of independence. My theory being that the actions of Westminster’s establishment and the established system of party politics will ultimately figure heavily in bringing about the end of the current political union. That self interest, party political maneuvering for the big chair and the sheer arrogant, ignorant and condescending grippiness of that hoose would near automatically ensure that pledges made during our referendum would be reneged upon, or so twisted by the inherent nature of the beast, in both Commons and the House of Lords, that any resulting deal would bear no resemblance to what the Scottish electorate were led to believe was on offer.

As considered in that post, the Scottish Government did indeed accept the powers on offer, but not without some hard bargaining and an edge of the seat game of chicken between Westminster’s most famous towel folder, George Osborne and the SGs John Swinney. Now pretty much anyone with functioning brain cells knows two things about that deal and the powers being devolved:

1. With one or two exceptions, the package is still a poisoned pill with the settlement being revisited after five years in order to rehash the same arguments on the fiscal framework. The weak package of powers would also have come with a £7bn albatross which would have had a devastating effect on a Scottish economy still constitutionally attached to a UK economic model and still at the mercy of austerity ideology.
2. The deal as delivered, clearly is NOT what the Scottish electorate were led to believe was on offer. That Bill, created/amended in the post referendum period, would have not only delivered a massive amount of financial ‘detriment’ to the Scottish electorate, but with apparently a flagrant disregard for both the spirit and letter of the Edinburgh Agreement and the subsequent Smith Commission proposals.

I guess it was just lucky the Scottish Government could help the treasury out with their sums.

The establishment parties, it appears, simply could not help themselves. Westminster will be Westminster – Q.E.D

At this point in time we see Westminster politics in all its glory, the parties of established politics embroiled in their own self obsessed internal strife. I suppose they reckon that with the Jockanese problem stuck on the back burner for the next five years (aye, right), they’ve got time to sort out some of their own powerplay issues. We’ve got a hugely right wing Conservative government haunted and split along a European fault line and a parliamentary Labour party fighting over the bones of Blair’s toxic legacy in an attempt to define its future relevance to the particular electorate which determines who sits in the big chair. (Hint: that would be the same electorate in the same marginals which put Cameron in power). Oh and just to be crystal clear – ABSTENTION isn’t protest, it’s enablement. As for the Libdems? What can you say that hasn’t already been said? Well, we’re pretty sure they’re big fans of the term ‘That’s just politics’.  Oh and yes, Alistair Koalamichael is still an MP at this point in time. Apparently the Libdems don’t have a problem with that, or indeed anything else when it comes to principles, but whut can ye say eh? The irony in all of this being of course, that you couldn’t put a fag paper between any of them when it comes to how they practice their politics, regardless of their ‘supposed’ ideological differences.

Politics, party politics, YOUR politics and your parliament doesn’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to be constant battles about who inhabits a big hoose with a shiny black door, or runs a party (into the ground), or favours one demographic over another when in power. It doesn’t have to be constantly confrontational or adversarial.

It should, you’d think, be about shared responsibility and consensus.

Now something else pretty essential is required by my pet theory. Something that sets panic in the pants of the Westminions and gives policy wonks and triangulators sleepless nights. Something that causes the bean counting, disingenuous little Herberts to burst out with spontaneous sweats every time a poll comes out on Scottish matters.


Let me remind you of something I said in ‘Patience is a virtue (probably)’:

“Since 2007 you’ve begun to engage in politics again, you’ve been part of a reawakening and a sea change in Scottish politics. Your aspiration brought about a majority government in a parliamentary system which was designed never to have one. Your voices made real the claim of right and Scotland’s right to independence if it so chose (and may still do). It took enormous effort on Westminster’s part simply to slow your aspirations down last September and if anything made you more determined than ever. Your continued engagement since the referendum has brought about the greatest political upset in these islands in over three hundred years and not all the power of big government, big media and big business could stop you.”

And do you know what? They still can’t.

You provide the impetus, the momentum which keeps the establishment system panicked and the independence supporting parties on their toes. No pivotal change can occur without your continued engagement and drive for that change. None of what is now happening via current polling would be possible without your willingness to keep communicating, keep convincing and keep reaching out. That reaching out bit is crucial by the by.

Right now we are entering an election period in Scotland. Attempting to reconcile constitutional aspiration with party loyalties can be difficult for many. Totally understandable.

Something to remember though. During the referendum I think we all became familiar with YES voters of all parties and no parties. Some simply can’t or won’t bring themselves to vote for one party or another. The common weal, the common cause is the glue that binds the whole together. The independence movement has come so very far and on current evidence, inclusion and patient persistence is beginning to pay dividends.  We all made friends from political quarters we never thought likely and that ability to reach out across those divisions is worth remembering every day. This is really my clumsy way of saying we made friends, so let’s make sure they stay friends. Its also something for party politicians to consider. If we, as the voting public, can do this… what’s your excuse?

More importantly, when a second referendum comes along (and with everyone’s continued engagement I strongly suspect there will be one), I would want to see YES voting members of all parties willingly leave the rosette in the drawer and work to ensure that it is truly a PEOPLE’S REFERENDUM.

Spinning an exit

a guest post by Samuel Miller

Well that was quite a weekend. It had all the elements of the classic theatre. There was high drama, big headlines, betrayal, infighting, division, angst and spookily it had bugger all to do with Labour. There may also have been tears, but that would be hard to verify without satellite evidence. Aye, the story of the weekend, stealing the Labour conference’s thunder, was the resignation of one Iain Duncan Smith, now EX senior cabinet member and EX heid bummer of the DWP.

Link to the full resignation letter here: Letter

Did he jump? Was he pushed? Is it conscience, or was there a hint of internal strife over the upcoming EU referendum? The broadcast and print media are in hog heaven and have gone into IDS overdrive over the past couple of days. Now conjecture is peachy, but what is  absolutely certain is that the Westminster government and more particularly George Osborne and the government’s budget are now in the centre of a very public, very LOUD, and very embarrassing stramash. The whole episode certainly hasn’t done George’s future career prospects much good and could throw the race for Cameron’s future replacement as Conservative leader wide open.

As for the Labour conference? Other than SNP bad, which goes without saying frankly, this from the Scottish Labour leader’s keynote speech:

“We will stand for the most powerful Scottish Parliament with the most powerful, radical Labour manifesto ever.”

I’ll leave it for readers to decide for themselves whether the current Scottish parliament is the most powerful, or the Labour manifesto the most radical that’s ever been.


A bit radical

The last independent Scottish Parliament

An alternative letter

We are the Robots

A guest post by  The G-man Yes Scotland’s Future

Despite the rise in people engaging with politics since the Independence Referendum the media still focus on leaders not ordinary people. Leaders are figureheads but its real people who put flyers through letter boxes and convince no voters to change their attitudes.

There are different approaches to leadership in Scottish politics. There is leading by example and past performance or leading by soundbite and media spin. The SNP have a good track record of the former and Scottish Labour and the Tories the latter. In the Scottish Parliament and Westminster we have what Joe Strummer  would have called ‘cool operators’. In Holyrood Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney holding out to Treasury pressure to stop the theft of £7 billion. In Westminster Stewart Hosie regularly blasts away at Westminster elite, and  Mhairi Black at just 21 has made a mark for herself in defending women’s pension rights – no other takers for that cause it seems from Unionist parties.The 56 MP’s and next years Holyrood intake look like providing our parliament with the three ’S’s and I don’t mean Sun,Sex and Sangria. SUCCESSION, because there are new people coming through who look inspiring. SUSTAINABILITY, because even though the next independence referendum may be sooner than we had hoped, we need a strong Scottish Government, and STABILITY. We need it and that is why splitting the second vote is not a good idea until we achieve independence.

Driving home I was reminded of a theme in a radio phone-in show this week where they wanted listeners to highlight performers they liked but gave very disappointing ‘live’ performances.

People cited a range of duff live performers. Bob Dylan turning his back to the audience. Van Morrison playing what the audience thought was the first half then heading off to the airport to do another gig. Van Halen failing badly at performing their classic ‘Jump’ due to excess alcohol,  and Dead or Alive being booted off of  ‘The Tube’ just for not being able to play at all. You get the picture? All of the comments had one thing in common, the ‘image’ of the group or performer that was conveyed in the video or the studio album was just not followed through to  the actual stage show. Plenty of stage shows in Scottish conference season right now. We just had an amazing one at the SNP’s jam packed SECC event. It was inspiring and while the pre- conference news was all about playing down the news about next steps to Independence it delivered. The announcement about a new campaign for Independence was warmly welcomed and it feels like the Yes movement has been listened to again!

The Scottish Labour Conference for me is looking more like an early Kraftwerk gig. The German electronic outfit were famous for experimentation, unlike Scottish Labour! On a few occasions the band fooled people by having concerts simultaneously in two cities at the one time. They used robotic band members and played the same songs.Ticket paying punters either got the real deal or the artistic/robot performance. Isn’t that what every Scottish Labour conference is and has been for decades? It is a ‘branch office’ clone of the national event- one which Jeremy Corbyn will not attend this year, allegedly to give ‘Kezia her place’. What he is actually doing is distancing himself from failure. Both Corbyn and deputy Leader McDonnell will not be attending, despite the latter being in Scotland. A report in the Statesman on Labour’s disastrous 2015 election highlighted how far the ground has shifted for Labour in Scotland. In our opinion, this may be why Jeremy is giving it the big body swerve.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, whose recent re-shuffle turned out to be more of an old shuffle does not have much if any ‘new blood’. Who will succeed? Jackie Baillie, Neil Findlay- whose outburst at parliament nearly got him expelled, is he worthy of governing  or is he just taking an MSP salary? Old establishment links are still showing. Alistair Campbell, Blair’s spin doctor, was up here helping old BBC chum Ken MacIntosh. He  tries to call the SNP arrogant when Chillcot still has not reported on Blair’s war crimes. Campbell also has a bash at Boris, London Mayor, for scaremongering on EU. Coming from a Labour spin doctor that is rich! Reminded of a twitter joke which came out  during Indyref- you know who you are Sangiv. ‘There is a spare unit between our local fishmongers and ironmongers, would Better Together/AKA Scottish Labour/ The Tories and the Lib Dems like to open a Scaremongers shop there?’ Alistair Campbell is a spin doctor by profession but we can assure him that his party were among the worst scaremongers during Indyref by terrifying our pensioners with threats of independence costing them their pensions.They were worse than Ian Duncan Smith, (recently portrayed as Nosferatu by Steve Bell, Labour’s favourite cartoonist).

When speaking at conferences you need to be careful what road you take. The ‘Donald’ has been unleashed in the U.S. by the right wing inciting hatred against Barack Obama. Let us remind the media, we stood up to Trump long before it was ‘cool’  to do so. We hear now that his followers have declared themselves the ‘Lion Guards’ in a similar way to the ‘Brown Shirts’ who protected Hitler in his earlier political days before he swept all opposition away. This reminds me of that wee but quite significant input by an ex-Labour candidate, seen most recently and surprisingly on a BBC Question Time from Dundee posing a question from the audience, who at one time likened young people joining their families in a protest against the BBC of being like the Hitler Youth. Nazi jibes from Labour politicians against our democratically elected politicians will not win votes. Over the last few days Clydebank has commemorated the bombings of houses, factories and shipyards by Nazi German Planes in 1941. Despite the years going by there has never been a proper commemoration of this event at a national level- we hear there is now going to be one. At the time the information was suppressed. No one has yet made the link to peace in the EU debate. For us the memories of Clydebank should highlight this.

In our opinion, when it comes to actual ‘Live’ performance, Labour of recent times have been shocking. The Labour conference website is inviting people to attend and having checked out their website for how to attend, we were unable to find any comments just a day before the event. They are apparently a party in terminal decline. It appears the heather is not going to be even slightly scorched let alone be set alight. Kezia Dugdale always disappoints at FMQT because she has somebody sensible to challenge her assertions. At the conference this weekend she will make some statements without having such a challenge and she will have the full spotlight of the BBC and Murdoch media to fall back on. Her performance will be finessed by exposure in the main stream media arena. She will still not be a patch on the performance of our democratically elected leaders who have kept our dream of Independence alive and are looking for our support in May to make a fairer Scotland a reality.


Link: https://www.facebook.com/YES-Scotlands-Future-290782454428626/

A cunning plan?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Aye, it appears that the political classes and assorted meeja types are at a bit of a loss as to why no one will listen to their air biscuits of wisdom currently. Their cunning plan to date seems to be comprised of an avalanche of editorial, twitter snark (whatever that is) and general broadcast sound bites from assorted punditry aimed at either a. Convincing the public they have undergone mass brainwashing/enforced indoctrination or b. Shaming the same public into a realisation that they have been an unwilling victim of the biggest mass political con of the decade and therefore are essentially just dim.  Oh, and you’re all the wrong sort of nationalists if you support independence for Scotland. To coin a popular phrase these days… You’re all vile frankly (sigh).

Basically, y’know, insulting and antagonising people, which is always a great way of winning folk over.

Now all of this has apparently been perpetrated by those evil masters of deception and duplicity, that sinister, single issue fringe cult of Essenpee (bad) inc., who are…wait for it… planning to continue arguing for independence. That is quite some feat for a party that struggles to get the gopher in any daily title’s editorial bear pit to answer the phone, never mind have said title print pro Essenpee propaganda for the mass market to get all brainwashed over. Oh and as for favourable broadcast coverage?  Safe to say, it appears that the media in general aren’t fans of either the Essenpee or the concept of Scottish independence.

So I thought it might be a bit of a help if we telt them just why we personally vote the way we do and why we’ve kinda turned off to what they’re saying.

I’ll start shall I?

What I believe – Put simply, I believe Scotland is a country. I believe the population of a country are those best placed to make decisions about their own needs, governance and future. I believe the electorate of a country should expect to elect and be governed by the party of their democratic choice, one that will reflect and administer for their priorities, their particular needs and their aspirations. I believe in personal and collective choice, democracy and responsibility. To quote a rather well known American fella, I believe in a “government of the people, by the people, …”. I don’t consider myself superior to anyone else, but I’m damned if I’ll be considered less than anyone else because of my country of origin, or because I wish to see that country exercise its democratic rights on its own behalf.

I believe stewardship and governance of a country is all about the future, the next generation and that it is the present generation’s duty to act as caretakers of the country and custodians of that future. In short, to leave behind a better place for future generations, or at least not to feck it up so badly its of no use to anyone. I also believe in interdependence, NOT DEPENDENCE, that Scotland rejoining the family of nations and adding its own distinctive voice would be a friend to the world and a source of strife to none.

Doesn’t seem hard to understand and to me it doesn’t seem like a big ask for all politicians and parties in Scotland to accept as a concept with some merit. Yet this is NOT the system of government the population of Scotland currently lives under and so, unsurprisingly, I personally support a movement and parties who aim to rectify this state of affairs and return Scottish government to what I consider its natural home, into the hands of its own population. Again, not a hard concept to grasp.

So why don’t I listen to politicians from established political parties such as Labour, Conservative or Libdem anymore? Bearing in mind that upon a time I did, what changed?  Where would you start with an answer? My own lifetime personal observations and experiences, (as an ordinary bod), of politics as it is practiced in the UK is a good catch all. However, best to put some meat on those bones. Starter for ten: None of those parties believe in the premise of an independent Scottish government, nor even true equal partnership, home rule via FFA (shrugs). Apparently their only interests as fully paid up members of the Westminster establishment is limited devolution as decided by a fairly loaded, anti democratic and self serving system of central government. This system decides the disposition of our sovereign powers, our economy and our resources in a parly where our representation is a bit on the outnumbered side when it comes to voting on constitutional issues and/or day to day legislation. Even if almost every single Scottish MP decided FFA was a good thing (which they did), the nature of the chamber, the system and the vote under the current constitutional arrangement would ensure it was an option that never came to pass. Ohhhh wait….

Simply listing the Westminster system’s abuses against its own population could wear your fingers down to stubs. Illegal wars, decades of mis managed economy, expenses scandals, cash for access and questions, patronage for favour, an unelected chamber, government compromised by the corporate world, political ideologies creating wealth disparity on an eye watering scale. Oh and let’s not forget to mention naked party political manipulation of the population and democratic process. Playing one section of society, or voter demographic, against another simply for electoral gain. All of the above affect the UK and its constituent parts both separately and as a whole. The parliament and its system is figuratively and literally broken and may as well exist on the moon as far as the bod in the street is concerned, so divorced are the decision makers from the lives of the population. Just a thought mind, but perhaps a parliamentary sovereignty operating on elitism and patronage isn’t the grandest starting point for any kind of democracy? Still, pretty much acceptable business as usual for an entire class of professional politician. All of which neatly leads me back to having a government that is directly answerable to its electorate, a popular sovereignty.

The poorly managed deindustrialisation of Scotland in pursuit of a rust free, greed is good, finance sector driven economy and ‘trickle down’ theory may top a personal list or two for readers. A shift in economic ideology that left one time working/manufacturing communities employment free deserts which spiralled slowly and painfully into lasting poverty. Moving through the years, the misrepresentation and squandering of Scotland’s resources and contributions may get others top spot (‘family of nations’, right?). Imposition of the poll tax, the introduction of the crippling PFI schemes, Bedroom Tax,  Benefits ‘reform’, sanctioning, the growth of food bank culture… A never-ending litany of ill conceived and what felt like, most times, punitive legislation. All of this topped off with a constant reminder by our politicians and our media that we simply weren’t good enough to manage our own affairs. I’m sure readers could add literally yards of their own examples to the list.

The Scottish electorate turned out repeatedly, loyally and hopelessly over the years to vote time and again. There was no one else to vote for you see, no other system in place or even possible for long enough and people wore disappointment, depression and apathy like an old jacket. It came to the point where we simply expected to be the butt of the joke. Yet after the inevitable failure to tackle any damn thing with anything other than scapegoating and half arsed, short term policy or sound bites, not a single party of government, (which would invariably be either Conservative or Labour), could or would simply hold their hands up and say, we got it badly wrong. They never felt they needed to I suppose. We were, for all intents and purposes, a captive audience.

Decade after decade of these parties doing what they wanted, not what they were asked, or what should have been expected. No, they were too busy jockeying for political power. Too busy using, manipulating and abusing the public trust and perception in a system where the public became pretty much electoral coin, and a means to an end. Decades of Scotland’s electorate only rarely achieving a share in a government it actually voted for thanks to a massive and obvious democratic deficit. Most times? Living with ill suited or downright harmful legislation passed by self interested members with only the smallest of mandates. Legislation ‘debated’ and voted upon in a chamber where the Scottish electorate’s representation was not only hopelessly outnumbered, but the overriding perception was that historically they were more than content to follow a wider ‘party line’ than defend the interests of their own electorate. That would be the very definition of politics as it is practiced in the UK then.

The question, I believe, isn’t why don’t folk listen to those political parties and their media advocates anymore, but why SHOULD they?

Amazingly though, the politicians and the media commentariat are confused, hurt, enraged and outraged that their electorate/readerships/viewers/listeners are increasingly ignoring and abandoning the traditional in search of other more reflective representation and/or sources of information.

The Scottish referendum, to me anyways, was a heads up for the public. The hugely one sided flow of ‘information’ from the media shocked and horrified an independence movement who literally begged them for fair representation. The media’s willingness to give near unchallenged access and column space to proponents of the pro union campaign and their much criticised negative narrative, left a bad taste and bitter memories for the independence vote post referendum. During the campaign, it wasn’t simply that they were poorly represented by the press, but badly and sometimes cruelly misrepresented by both elements of the media and their campaign opposition, with absolutely no thought for collateral societal damage. That campaign strategy would come back to haunt both establishment parties and the mainstream media in the 2015 general election.

Again the question isn’t why aren’t people listening anymore, but why should they? Why should people support a party political system and media that abandoned them, that clearly holds them in contempt and supports political and constitutional views that are polar opposites from their own? A system that saw no problem at all with its actions during that period and in one particularly famous case of more recent times, (an excellent example of media and politics UK style in action), didn’t have a problem printing unsubstantiated leaked information from high office in an attempt to undermine an opponent and affect public opinion during a general election campaign. Ayup, ‘politics as it is practiced… etc.’.

The answer would seem fairly self evident to me. The independence movement and that would be near half the Scottish electorate, have absolutely no reason whatsoever to listen and both establishment politicians and the media achieved this sad state of affairs all by themselves.

How they change this is up to them, but the current cunning plan of constantly shouting ‘you’re stupid and/or deluded’ ever louder, doesn’t appear to be a winning strategy.






Or just google Tartan Stalinists, McMess, Cunning Nats, Most Dangerous Woman in Britain, One Party State, SNP BAD etc, etc, etc, etc. (again SIGH).

Don’t look over here…

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Right then. George Osborne’s recent history in the No.2 chair.

Since November last we’ve gone from this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34922394

to this:  http://www.thenational.scot/politics/george-osborne-warns-of-more-austerity-as-18bn-hole-looms.15008

and now as of yesterday, this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/osborne-budget-stinkers_uk_56e96801e4b03fb88ede7e6b?utm_hp_ref=uk

Just so we are crystal clear, Osborne and ‘his’ OBR missed their target (yet again) and have come back to the ‘bank of the helpless’ to tap those least able for the funds to put a sticking plaster on the UK economy. In fact, and I’m happy to be corrected, but I don’t think Osborne has met a single forecast target since rolling into office in 2010.

This is the real upshot of six years of Conservative government and austerity economics. Catastrophic record of deficit and debt reduction targets missed and not one OBR forecast met, but six years of an ideology where the welfare state (what’s left of it) gets disassembled before the public’s eyes. Six years of tax breaks for some, six years of heartbreak and hardship for far too many to count. Oh and don’t get me started on Osborne’s shameless trolling of the Scottish benches during his speech. His praise for Sir Nick Macpherson and his contribution to the civil service was beyond bilious. http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/george-osborne-pays-tribute-sir-nick-macpherson-treasury-perm-sec-marks-final-budget

So are we now all perfectly clear on what Conservative austerity ideology is all about?

Now, you don’t suppose that this is the reason for the media and establishment doom fest over the recent release of this years GERS do you? Surely nobody would be so crass and transparent as to paint a picture of Scotland as a financial basket case, just so George and Westminster look  good by comparison? Why that’s crazy talk.

Could it be that George, once again doing his best impersonation of a robber baron, may have dented the better togetherness bubble somewhat? After all, Scotland rejected Conservative government quite comprehensively in May 2015 and yet we WILL still feel the effects of that government’s economic legislation for years to come and that is whether the union continues or not. Near as I recall, this is a government that promised broad shoulders in times of economic hardship, job security and opportunity, pension protection and a ‘nothing off the table’ approach to devolution and partnership. Has the reality lived up to the hype? Too harsh to say, not even fecking close? This ladies and gents is what’s known as yer DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT. Government by a party the vast majority of your own electorate rejected. Are we feeling better together today?

Just something to think about, but when the media and establishment parties say, ‘don’t look over here, look over there’? Look anyway.

Okay then. Yesterday is yesterday and today we have to live with the reality of ongoing austerity. Most folks on the pro yes side of the debate in the run up to the 2014 referendum feared that this is exactly where we’d be today in the event of a no vote. Well here we are and yes it’s bad and probably set to worsen even over the period of this parliament. Well poverty and hardship doesn’t care how you voted in the referendum, or even if you voted and a lot of people are going to need help. I know we have a lot of demands on our pockets these days for many worthy causes, not to mention just making ends meet ourselves.  If its possible though, don’t forget every wee bit helps those local charities. A bag of food for your local food bank, old clothes, rag bags, even time if you have any to spare for whoever needs it.

What is happening now is bad, but folk can make a difference simply by giving a damn and that’s something this readership has proven time and again. Give generously where you can folks.

On the fast track out of the Union

It’s the budget day tomorrow. George Osborne has been spending the last week like Scrooge, working out new ways in which he can extract a few more pennies out of Bob Cratchet in order to benefit the bank. Already over the past couple of weeks the Tories have cut benefit payments for people with disabilities and slashed tax credits for the lowest paid. Tomorrow it’s expected that there will be yet further cuts to the social security system, reducing what was once a safety net to a few frayed threads. But not to worry, there will also be tax breaks for the rich and funding for three more major transport infrastructure projects.

There are to be improvements to the M62 motorway across northern England, and Scotland’s taxes will have to contribute to two new railway projects even though the new rail tracks will hit the buffers long before it gets within a hundred miles of the border. There will be untold billions on yet another Crossrail for London, and HS3, a High Speed railway line between Manchester and Leeds. There’s a metaphor for Scotland’s place in the UK right there. We’re not on the fast track. We’re not even on the slow track. We’re not on the track at all. We’re just tracked down when the bills come in, so Scotand is helping to pay for a British road to nowhere.

Scotland’s getting new train services, but our railway system is already bursting at the seams. Some lines are going to require major investment and rebuilding if they’re going to be able to cope with increased services. Large scale investment in transport infrastructure in England is regarded as a UK national project and Scotland has to pay towards it without receiving any compensation by way of Barnett consequentials. Large scale investment in Scottish transport infrastructure is paid for by Scotland alone. That’s why it’s taken almost 50 years for the gap in the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh to be upgraded to motorway standard. That’s why it’s taking so long for the A9 to Inverness to be dualled. We’re paying for the new Forth Bridge ourselves.

Scotland’s transport comes out of Scotland’s budget, and when those pretty Unionist graphs show the Government expenditure so graciously bestowed on Scotland by the benificient UK, they also include a portion of the costs for London’s local commuter rail and trains that only reach Birmingham. You want an explanation as to why Scotland supposedly has such a massive deficit worse even than Greece? Greece doesn’t pay for the Istanbul metro.

London’s on its second ruinously expensive Crossrail project involving drilling tunnels under a congested city, but Glasgow’s modest proposal for a Crossrail project involving existing railway lines remains a distant dream and it’s only now that the main line between Glasgow and Edinburgh is being electrified. A high speed railway connecting Scotland with the rest of the UK and via the Channel Tunnel with the European high speed network remains as unlikely as George Osborne announcing in his budget that he’s going to raise taxes on bankers and company directors in order to increase benefits for people with disabilities.

Of course Scotland will benefit from Osborne’s new projects say the Unionists. These are major UK transport infrastructure projects which will benefit the entire UK. Scots travelling across the north of England will find travel time reduced as they zoom down the road amongst the speedier traffic on the M62. Scots travelling between Manchester and Leeds will zoom there in thirty minutes. Scots going across London will zoom across the city on the new north-south Crossrail 2. It’s a bit like saying that Scotland benefits from increased services on the Paris Metro because it makes it easier for Scottish people to get across the French capital when they go there on holiday. C’est ci un bénéfice de la Union.

The only zooming going on here is the attempt by certain Unionists to claim that Scotland benefits from English transport projects that Scotland has to help pay for. Still, we shouldn’t complain too much. This time there’s no new London sewer project which Scotland has to pay for like the last major upgrade to London’s sewer network operated by privatised water companies. The best that can be said is that at least the UK government can claim it’s not literally taking the piss this time, it’s just taking it metaphorically. And that’s about as good as it’s going to get.

The Chancellor is going to have to find a further £4 billion in cuts if he is to achieve his stated aim of balancing the books before the next general election. You can be certain that money won’t be found by increasing taxes on those who are already well off. It’s going to be found by cutting the social security of those who are most in need. Britain is an ugly country that’s getting uglier and crueller. There will be more poverty porn on the telly, inviting the better off to treat the poor and the vulnerable as entertainment. It’s the modern equivalent of the guided tours of the lunatic asylum two hundred years ago, and we’re the ones chained to the wall. We’re under the control of ignoramuses who claim we don’t even have a language, it’s just a made up pretend slang.

The Union is dying. An opinion poll out this week showed that a majority of Scots will vote for independence if the rest of the UK votes to leave the EU. The Union is dying because Scotland’s on the wrong side of the tracks. The Union is dying from a thousand cuts. The Union is dying because it’s being killed by Unionists, Unionists who have piece by piece dismantled all the bricks of the British state and gouged out the mortar that held them together. And then they stand shocked and surprised at the very idea that anyone would want to escape the rubble that they’ve created. What they don’t understand is that the more that they attack the fabric of the welfare state, the more that they privilege London infrastructure above everyone else’s, the easier that they make it for us to leave. Scotland is on the fast track to independence, and it’s down to the Unionists.

This will be the last post from me for two weeks as I am off to the USA to visit with my significant other, who I’ve not seen since December. Sam Miller (Macart) will be taking over the blog in my absence. I’ll be back on March 30. The dug is going to stay with friends in Glenboig, so he’s going on holiday too.

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