Stronger than fear (part 2)

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Yes. The UK is a pretty dark and forbidding looking place just now. And yes, there has been a marked rise in intolerance, societal division, austerity, isolationism and wealth disparity. Seems whichever way you look there’s anger, fear and uncertainty on the rise. As for the government where the buck stops? Probably the most reactionary, inept and dogma driven Conservative government of anyone’s memory. A party and government that has driven a horse and cart through standing international agreements, devolution settlements, partnerships and alliances by the by. A party and government whose name has become a byword for backstabbery and division. What else can you say that hasn’t been said of them already?

Their honourable opposition? Neither honourable nor very big on the whole opposing thing apparently. Their own recent history in both government and opposition, hasn’t exactly entitled them to any moral high ground. Besides, they’re far too busy these days abstaining needlessly, or having a bit of a disagreement among themselves, to act as any kind of break to yer breaks off Tories. In a certain light, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you couldn’t slip a fag paper between them and their chooms across the floor anyway. And don’t get me started on the state of the mainstream media. Our heroes. Our watchdogs. Absent without leave for quite some time is probably the kindest description possible.

So yes. Things do look pretty dark.

Hope IS stronger than fear though you know. And it’s why Scotland will, hopefully someday soon, become fully self governing again. Not too much is needed mind. Just a spark. It’s all it ever takes. A spark of hope that drives a determination and ambition to change and become something better.

Today? Next year? Ten years? I have no idea when to be honest, though I do know when I’d like it to be. I’m not a seer. I’m not some lettered or well read professor type. I don’t have access to think tanks with cadres of number crunchers and pollsters at my beck and call. I’m not even a writer. I’m just a bod with an opinion and a bit of life experience. Same as every one of you out there really. Oh, that personal opinion thing? That’s quite important as it turns out and we’ll get to that in a minute.

What I do know? Is that it will happen. The process has already begun and it began with the first person willing to believe there was a better way. It’s also going to happen because, if the concept of an independent Scotland didn’t already exist? Someone would have to invent it. Someone would have to invent the concept of a country and a system of government that answers to its population. One that’s directed by their needs, their hurts and their aspirations.

A government and practice of politics that doesn’t punish its population for the legislative mistakes they’ve made themselves. One that doesn’t scapegoat, divide or demonise its population to suit political agenda or self interest. A government that offers service, care, belief in the potential of its entire population. One that doesn’t care about where you come from, only where you choose to be, what you do whilst you’re there and the legacy you leave behind for future generations. Happily we don’t need to invent that concept. We have it here already.

Pie in the sky? An impossible utopia? Some folk would say that if you’re not trying for that, then you shouldn’t be in the job. Also? I like pies (which explains the shape) and whilst I’ve never been to utopia, it sounds awfy nice.

Which takes us neatly back to the subject of you.

Most people think that great events and movements in history are brought about by and are certainly remembered for, the big names. Individuals. Great statesmen and women, leaders, orators, philosophers and such. They tend to take all the credit for pivotal times of change. Which is, y’know, fair comment I suppose. Also tends to lend itself to the whole idea that people should wait around for someone ‘great’ to come along and rescue them from their misery right enough.

Seems to me though, that it’s the ordinary person who makes history happen. Or rather, the ordinary people. That’s folk like you and me mainly. It’s our needs and aspirations, our collective actions and will, which bring about change. Kinda why those and such as those decided a long time ago, that it’s better to direct the mood and the opinion of the ‘ordinary’ person in the street. For if there’s one thing which terrifies establishment politicians and the establishment they serve? It’s that you might have an opinion and a will of your own. That you have needs other than their needs. Standards of care for your fellow citizens better than theirs and a very definite idea of how service to ALL the population should be conducted.

They’re more than fully aware that if enough of those ordinary people (that’s us again) get together and determine their politicians are talking pish, getting out of hand and robbing them blind? There isn’t a thing they could do to prevent that population showing them the door and that would simply never do. Leading us by the nose and/or dividing and subdividing the collective will of a population is something they’ve become awfully good at over the years as a result. Understandable really, why the parties in favour of the Westminster system have become a tad on the nervous side of late.

You know the difference between caring and uncaring. You know the difference between service and self interest. You’ve learned that your opinion on their stewardship matters. You’ve learned you can hold your representatives to account for their actions. You’ve learned that you have the ambition and determination to change things for the better if you want to.

Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things.

All it took to kick the whole thing off? Was that spark of hope.


P.S. This will be my last post before our host returns. Once again, I’d like to thank readers for bearing with my ramblings over the past few weeks and for your contributions below the line. You’re the bestest. 🙂

Buttons up the back

A guest post by Samuel Miller

It’s a safe bet that the next few days are going to be eaten up with dissection of the latest austerity ending budget. Now stop snorting at the back. And we’ll have no swerry wurds either. It’s not seemly you know.

Anyroads. You can get behind the whole budget parade every few months, kick back and let the number crunchers do their thing. Makes for quite the spectacle as, (dependent on the political affiliation), the meeja goes into overdrive to either spin the bestest possible outcome ever, or fall over themselves to savage the chancellor du jour. Except…

Except that this year and this budget is a wee bit different. I mean, we know that he’s a Tory chancellor and that when his lips move, it’s a clear indication that he’s either fibbing or not telling you when the other shoe will drop. Hell, that’s a given. No. This year we have a budget with a caveat. A budget that may or may not be carried through, (steady now), dependent on circumstance.

That’s got to be right up there with the appointment of a food supplies minister and cordoning off chunks of Kent to make a zooper lorry park, now isn’t it? The general idea is that a no deal Brexit could see today’s budget proposals binned in favour of …what?

”We would need to look at a different strategy and, frankly, we’d need to have a new budget that set out a different strategy for the future.” Philip Hammond

One pound down, change off address kinda strategy springs to mind personally. So a new budget and a new strategy? Uh huh! And only a no deal budget could make this happen? Sounds an awfy lot like a sticking plaster proposal t’me, but then I would think that. Now, there’s all sorts of reasons for this caveat thingy I’m sure. It’s just that none of them paint a very pretty picture. Readers can and will draw their own conclusions as to Mr Hammond’s thinking here.

Mibbies just me, but I’d say there’s quite a lot that a Brexit of any kind will have massive and detrimental economic effects upon. Mr Hammond’s pre budget statements aren’t exactly the most inspiring or confidence affirming if truth be told. Be interesting to see, over the next few days, what the breakdown of Mr Hammond’s budget amounts to. What we do know is that given the well documented current contraction of the economy, near historic wage stagnation and growing wealth disparity in the UK, ENDING AUSTERITY for major demographics is probably NOT going to happen any time soon.

Clearly most politicians believe, and/or hope, that your average punter’s head buttons up the back. It is, after all, how they make a living. They count on marketing, mass media saturation and manipulation to sell their product via a headline or a soundbite. Mainly because they, themselves, are pretty rubbish at selling their own flammery face to face (see under Theresa May in any interview ever). This time however, I don’t think it’s going to be quite so easy. Not entirely sure that many folk will be of a mind to simply believe because… reasons.

This time even those pro Conservative outlets in the meeja may have their work cut out for them.

Exactly what it says on the tin

A guest post by Samuel Miller

This isn’t going to end well you know. Brexit that is. I mean. We are aware that there never was an exit strategy. A plan for removing the UK from the EU. Right? That everything done (or not done) in the past two years has been on the hoof?

So far as anyone can see, politics in the UK is currently in a state of complete chaos. Not threatening to become. Not descending into. But actually there. The two major parties which effectively form the traditional binary choice of the UK’s population for the big chair of government? Both are hopelessly divided on policies, agendas, futures and ideologies. Each party sunk in a swamp of leadership backstabbery and each leadership hopelessly trying to convince their parliamentary memberships, their wider party memberships and their voter base that:

a. They represent something to everyone within those groups

b. That they have a successful vision for the UK going forward through this galactofeck

c. That their respective visions are anywhere near credible or achievable

d. That they’re capable of uniting all of society around their respective leadership and getting said populations out of the shitstorm that they themselves brought about

In order? They don’t. They don’t. They aren’t and they can’t.

To say that both parties don’t have their troubles to seek on infighting, ideological division and delivery is another one of them understatement thingies. Each leadership hasn’t a hope in hell of delivering what their respective parties, memberships and support desire most.

Brexit has exposed the real divisions and issues which lie at the very core of UK politics and wider society. The traditional practice of socially divisive politics and manipulation of popular narrative has ensured that the sixty six million people inhabiting these islands don’t exactly sing from the same hymn sheet. (still shrugging) So, yes. A confusing and unpredictable mess at best. Given that this is probably one of the most critical and pivotal points in recent history to the populations on these islands? The political behemoths of the UK state are effectively holding a chimps’ tea party.

Who knew(?) that decades exercising short-termist dog whistle politics would have long term seismic ramifications.  What happens when the leaderships don’t/won’t/can’t deliver what their memberships, or the wider populations, want, need or even expect through this crisis period? I’m guessing the response will be loud, messy and all over the place. In my experience, most folk don’t appreciate being misled for decades. Makes them grumpy. Just so you know.

Back to the issue on hand though. Widely held opinion (and I’d include mine here) is that UK gov’s initiation of the EU ref and their subsequent handling of both phases of the negotiating period with the EU, have been and continue to be, inept, ignorant, disingenuous and ultimately disastrous. (That’s me being polite by the by)

Let me be crystal clear on what I think Brexit means here. There is no good Brexit. Deal or no deal. This IS going to hurt. A LOT! Budgets are going to contract radically and people are going to do without. If you thought the past ten years of austerity legislation were pretty dire? Then you’re about to discover whole new definitions of the word.

The cost of brexit to date, (that’s just the last two years negotiating period), has been in the region of £23bn per annum.  A 2.1% contraction of the economy, or about £900 per household to you and me. Worth repeating. This is just the negotiating period.

Currently we’re staring at either a blind Brexit deal or a no deal scenario. Just what do you think either of those will do to national budgets and home finances over the coming years readers? Y’know, given the veritable fiesta that’s been the past decade of austerity legislation.

Well? Let’s have a look at what some other folk think of a range of Brexit scenarios. And no, you really don’t have to be an expert in macro economics to understand that the outlook doesn’t look particularly shiny.

HERE and HERE and HERE aaaand HERE.

To be fair, you could fill digital pages with links and opinion like that and a LOT worse. Long story short? Less to go round, really does mean exactly what it says on the tin. This is going to hit everything and everyone for years to come. When the money is gone. It’s gone. And it WILL, under any of the linked scenarios, be some time before it returns.

So. Some simple questions. Do you think Scotland’s devolved government have the powers and the budget control necessary to mitigate (ooooh, my favourite f***ing word) any of that? I mean, they’re going to try. Mainly because that’s who they are and what they do. But do you think any devolved Scottish government could mitigate this kind of economic damage?

Could you, for instance, see Ruth Davidson, whose heid office party brought this shit show to our door, even trying? Do you think the people who drove this epic bout of idiocy even care about collateral damage to the populations of these islands? The agreements they’ve endangered? The settlements they’ve ridden roughshod over? The people they’ve put in harms way for their own self interest?

In Scotland, we may soon have the opportunity to limit the damage of this biblical bout of political self harm through the simple application of pen to ballot paper. An action which would fully empower a Scottish government and provide them with the necessary tools to deflect most of the oncoming hardship threatening our population, our economy and our politics. We can have that option if we really want it. We can then begin the process of repairing the damage already done. We can begin to build something that puts care of and service to, the people back into a government we get to choose and a practice of politics we get to define. Something worth passing on to future generations. Something better than mountainous debt, a democratic deficit, social inequality, party tribalism and a lack of hope or personal investment.

Or we could pass on that opportunity and continue to allow others to make our decisions for us. They’ve clearly done such a bang up job to date.

It’s up to you.

When words fail

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Y’know, you read appalling stuff about yer political class every day. Brexit shambles, leadership backstabbery, cash for access scandals, election campaign under investigation because reasons sorta thing. The levels of hypocrisy, cynical abuse of power and public manipulation can leave you speechless. For instance, I read a typically clinical dissection by Wings Over Scotland on the current equal pay dispute going on in Glasgow. Well worth the effort to go read. I can predict a very high probability of a ‘words fail’ moment.

If you’re a supporter of self determination for Scotland, then you’re probably no stranger to the notion that the political class of the establishment are a bit on the hypocritical side. You’d also be understandably forgiven for being of the opinion that, at best, those establishment political types should be considered disingenuous opportunists. At worst?

I mean, it’s not as if we haven’t been round this track before. Ruth Davidson especially has a penchant for …. changing definitions. Or is it really necessary to remind everyone that Scotland’s Conservative branch supervisor’s definition of democratic mandate seems to have somewhat altered since 2011?

To be fair, you don’t have to look very far in Scottish or UK politics for examples of hypocrisy. The history of UK politics is rife with the stank. It seems to rear its head every other week. Kezia Dugdale on some form of second EU referendum for instance? That’s reportedly a yes. A positive thing, showing a respect for democracy apparently. On a second pure divisive Indyref? Well, that’d be a not so much. Not entirely sure what the difference is, but I’m sure an explanation will be along any day now. Same can be said for the Libdem’s Willie Wossiname. At this point your more cynical reader might think that circumstances only ever change in other countries and democracy is only ever allowed to be an evolving thing so long as you’re not Scotland. That reader may have a point. (Also? If I keep shrugging, I’ll do myself an injury). Willie also has a thing for moral rectitude and resignations. Except of course when it’s a Liberal Democrat. Which you’d think is neither a very liberal or democratic stance to take really, but there you go. (Shrugs. OWWW!)

Then we get back to what might be an ‘at worst’ scenario.

It’s a sad condition of politics as it is practised really. UK style being no better and no worse than many around the globe. The accepted practice, (accepted mainly by politicians), of ‘all’s fair in love and politics’. Aye, seemingly it’s acceptable for the public to be misled, manipulated, cajoled, insulted or even downright intimidated. You would think, as a VERY long suffering public, we’d get used to that and the above examples of hypocrisy by now. That if we held a given individual, an institution, or a party in low esteem, then that opinion couldn’t get any lower. It’s entirely possible you’d be wrong.

Readers can draw their own conclusions on what ‘at worst’ means when it comes to their thoughts on the political class and political practice.

Personally? I don’t think I have the words these days.


A better way

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Been quite the autumn so far. Seems everything is going off all at once and it’s coming at you from every direction. That can be frightening. And to be fair, it is. The politics of intolerance, exclusion and isolation seems to be rearing its ugly kisser whichever part of the globe you look at and the UK is no exception. Brexit is proving to be every bit as shambolic and catastrophic as many feared it would be. UK politics has rarely been so chaotic, inept or disorganised, as it is now. It’s shortcomings and the skittery things which hide in its dark corners have never been so exposed to the light either and that’s going to leave a mark on everyone.

Elements of society driven to hate at the drop of a hat. People being led to believe that such politics, such attitudes, would solve all their problems. As ever, egged on by those who don’t really give a shit about the demographics they encourage to these acts. Their priorities are probably a bit different. Their greed. Their ideology. Their indifference to others. It’s going to leave raw wounds on anyone who’s been on the receiving end. So yes. Scary.

A little over four years ago, the YES movement suffered what felt like the world crumbling and falling away from beneath your feet. If you didn’t live it, then there is no describing how that felt. Such a seismic occurrence should have and would have put most individuals and movements beyond recovery. Having your world view, your values and beliefs suffer that kind of assault can do that. Certainly many who supported the Better Together campaign hoped so and I’d be stunned if those who orchestrated that campaign didn’t share those hopes.

That’s not what happened though. You determined to rebuild that world one stone at a time. Simply a blind refusal to accept? Some would say so I’m sure and I’m sure there’s even an element of truth to their claims. Sometimes a blind and stubborn refusal to bow down before what you believe to be wrong can be a good thing. (For policy gonks’ future reference? It really does matter how you win a thing and it really does matter how you conduct yourself in the aftermath. Just sayin’.) 

What you did in the aftermath of that 2014 result took courage. I choose to believe you began that process because you knew it needed to be done. That there IS a better way and that we need to be working toward it for all our sakes. I choose to believe you knew there was a very bad day coming and that giving up, or fading away, was NOT an option.

After four years of appalling treatment and misrepresentation at the hands of elements within the mainstream media. After four years of indifference, ignorance and arrogance doled out by Westminster government and political practice. You didn’t stop. You didn’t get back in your box. You’re still here and… you’ve grown.

It makes what you continue to do and what you’ve done, all the more impressive really, and all the more important. You’ve organised and marched. You’ve argued, debated, mocked and persuaded in equal measure.

Something I wrote at the end of last year. Something I believe to be fairly important.

“I’d say it’s not simply winning it which matters, but how you win it. The foundations for the society you want must be solid. The establishment parties and their practice of politics really should be a heads up as to the shit storm you build up over time when winning by any means necessary. When you divide and rule. When you win without care or consideration for others.

Seems to me that Brexit, austerity, fractured society, political elitism, bigotry, intolerance, exceptionalism and isolationism might be seen as reason enough NOT to repeat their mistakes? You govern for ALL in your care, or maybe you shouldn’t be governing? Just a thought.

What we see in the UK today is a direct result of the politics of societal division. Me? I’m more of a hugger. I’ll hold my hand out and welcome folk from any point of origin or walk of life who want to work for a more socially just Scotland.

In the season of good will and given all that 2018 may bring our electorate, it’s maybe worth remembering that a little good will and understanding can go a long way.”

Well? 2018 hasn’t disappointed so far. It’s delivering exactly the kind of political, economic and societal upheaval no one should wish for, but many feared would happen. The politics of poverty or slash and burn economics, hatred, misplaced anger, alienation don’t solve problems. They create them.

Most people learn fairly quickly when someone’s actions intend harm. When someone has misrepresented their intentions or lied to you, that would kinda stand out too. It’s about acquiring experience I suppose. It’s really not rocket science and it’s happened to ALL of us.

I’m guessing more folk by the day are becoming very clear on what it means to have placed their trust in Westminster’s system and practice of politics. Personally, I don’t think folk can take much more of the kind of care and management style they dole out.

Probably also worth mentioning something else you’ve achieved at this point. The journey from NO to YES isn’t nearly so scary these days. You helped do that. You made sure that when things are looking a bit on the dark and scary side? There was someone out there who would hold out that hand. You made sure there was still something to hope for. It doesn’t take much if truth be told. Just a little care and understanding can work wonders you know.

Now more than ever, the hand and welcome offered needs to be genuine and it needs to be heard.


Kicking the can down the road

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Wednesday’s summit went well then. Okay, perhaps a tad sarcastic, but the meeting went pretty much along expected lines. That would be the summit where some people had a fair idea that there wouldn’t be any agreement. That one.

Ms May’s bespoke deal was widely expected to be a non starter before it was even presented to Mr Barnier. (TBF the outcome from talks between Raab and Barnier last weekend was a bit of a heads up moment. Duh!) The deal itself was widely derided as a fudge. A blind and murky brexit at best. The main sticking point? The EU’s reluctance to accept a backstop for the backstop proposal on the Irish border issue. Their own would result in a (permanent? *shrugs*) commercial border running through the Irish sea and of course, a differential status for the population of Northern Ireland.

The EU have already and consistently over the past two years, told UK gov. that there could be no cherry picking on future trade agreements. You either want to conform to EU legislation and regulations, or you don’t. You either want to be party to the four freedoms, or you don’t. No one is holding you back either way. Just… pick one. Which is why the Chequers plan/fudge came to be. So far as the EU are concerned? I’d say their stance is a loose CU deal (blind brexit catastrophe) or no deal (crisismageddon) and therefore that would also be Ms May’s final choice to make.

Of course Ms. May currently doesn’t feel she can commit to a backstop without end and for fairly obvious reasons. Any CU membership or compliance, however long or short is anathema to the Brexiter elements within her own party. Most of whom are queuing up to practice that age old tradition of political backstabbery on Ms May as you read. That and the fact that she doesn’t control a majority in the HoC without the aid of the equally ideologically opposed DUP. Another thorny problem however, is that of the runaway narrative. Brexit is, after all, Brexit. That and the fact that some folk have no short term memory problems.

The failure of her plan to date? Well that’s resulted in the EU rejecting those proposals and narrowing her window to seal some kind of post exit deal. The November summit has apparently been canned and December looks to be the next crunch deadline. With no deal appearing at that point? The clock really starts ticking down.

Her only option available? Buy time I’d guess. What it’s always been since the day and hour this omnishambles reared its ugly head. Keep kicking the can down the road in the hopes of finding solutions to at least some of the above. Look for an extension to the transition period and waffle for Brittania. Turn the spin doctoring in yer meeja up to eleven and scapegoat everything with a pulse. Try and slide as much responsibility for this epic and ongoing galactofeck onto anyone or anything that’s not you or most of your party. Salvage whatever you can of the reputation of your big hoose on the Thames. Take two paracetamol and go to bed until you feel better… or it all goes away.

But it won’t.

The EU’s damned insistence on adhering to its own rules of membership are not Ms May’s only problem. Even IF, (and that’s a really big IF), she managed the miracle of squaring that impossible circle. Fairly certain she knows that waiting in the wings is the Scottish debate. A hacked off Scottish government and a growing number of Scotland’s electorate who are aware of the impending financial and constitutional catastrophe that is Brexit of ANY kind. A Brexit they didn’t vote for. She knows that when, (not if), clarity of any description becomes available to them, Scotland’s population will have a choice to make and a say on their future. She also knows how badly her government and media chooms have treated their partners. What they failed to achieve in the past four years.

Clock’s ticking right enough I’d say.

One more time with feeling

A guest post by Samuel Miller

On Monday Nicola Sturgeon gave a bit of a keynote address to the RSA, (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), on the current state of play surrounding Brexit. A speech which sets out Scotgov’s latest proposals for Scotland’s place in Europe: A Way Forward. One more attempt by the FM to square a wonky circle created by others. One more attempt to act within devolved competences and contribute constructively within the UK political system. One more attempt to talk to people about a UK issue, whilst the usual suspects shout BOOOOO, HISSSSS from the sidelines.

We’ve also pretty much been round this track before and a full text version of Scotland’s Place in Europe from that first attempt to provide sensible options to the UK government can be found HERE. Most readers are already fully aware of how well that ended and what UK gov’s actions toward the devolved legislatures have resulted in subsequently. Bear in mind, this original report was put together after some fairly extensive research on the impact of proposed changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU on Scottish interests had been carried out.

“You know, it seems to me that one of the lasting casualties of Brexit is the notion that the UK is in any sense a partnership of equals.” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s conference speech, October 2018.

No. What I find wearying and entirely predictable, are the replies these efforts to work constructively and within the current political system are met with. Whether it’s certain elements of media coverage or political opposition. The whole Nikla bad, Essenpee bad, independence bad, kneejerk and reactionary nonsense can leave you shaking your head in sad bemusement.

Yes, there are some beauts out there who insist Scotgov are using Brexit to instigate an independence drive (SIGH). When considering this particular viewpoint, it’d be perfectly understandable if you’re picturing some dystopian future wasteland. One which is sparsely populated by bods running around wearing leather budgie smugglers, rubber tyres for body armour, eatin’ each other, (or anything else with a pulse), but thanking GOD that at least they’re not independent.

You’d also think at this late stage and given what we’re all facing, that maybe, just maybe, there’d be a little less party and a lot more people in some folks’ politics. That ANY option which might avert or alleviate hardship for a population should be on the table. Apparently not.

Still. One more time with feeling.

Scotland’s population didn’t ask for any of this. They didn’t ask for Conservative government, its appalling austerity legislation and an ever more critical need for their devolved government to mitigate (I so hate that word). They didn’t ask for a fudged devolution settlement, or to have their mandated representation crapped on from a great height in Commons. They didn’t ask to have the assurances and pledges given to them in the 2014 indyref abandoned for someone else’s political expediency. They didn’t ask for an EU referendum and they certainly didn’t ask for Brexit of ANY kind. Neither did Scotland’s devolved government.

But it’s what we got. It’s what we ALL got. The responsibility for ALL of that lies elsewhere.

Oh, and that last point? A Brexit of any kind? There are those of an opinion that there WILL be a heavy cost for this omnishambles and Scotland’s population didn’t ask for that either. Just to be clear. Evidence collected so far, suggests that there is NO GOOD FINANCIAL OUTCOME TO BREXIT. (Shouting for those at the back)

And yes, I’d say you’d be right in thinking that by this point, it really wouldn’t matter what zooper deal PM May has or doesn’t have. Deal or no deal. Backing or no backing. Brexit has the potential to put huge swathes of the populations of the UK  in a very bad place.

Today’s big EU summit was supposed to be about finalising details and agreements. It was supposed to be about moving forward to the final stages of this farce in March of 2019. Uh huh!

So far as Scotland’s population is concerned? Well it’s another of those laugh or cry Q.E.D. moments. Some folk we didn’t vote for are making us do something we don’t really want to do is the bottom line. Something we were expressly told wouldn’t happen not so long ago. Mind you, they made a lot of promises to a lot of other folk too over the years and they’re not big on keeping those promises either. Binding agreements, pledges, even understandings are to be respected and kept by others in perpetuity. Seemingly, for your average Westminster government, they’re more what you’d call guidelines.

Scotland’s First Minister, so far as can be seen, has stuck to the rules of devolution and done her duty by the post she holds. Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on any procedure required as it were. Which is kinda more than can be said of her critics and opponents. Oh, and probably worth those critics while to have a think about their current contributions. I very much doubt Nicola Sturgeon needs to use Brexit to instigate anything at this point. The fact that it has occurred at all has started that ball rolling all on its own. The evidence gathered that it would inflict grievous economic hardship on all of the UK’s populations and that this was NOT the future promised to Scotland’s electorate just four years ago, might also have some bearing on folks’ thinking.

Now might be a good time to ask yourselves. What kind of country do you want to live in? What kind of government would you rather have?


No laughing matter… maybe

A guest post by Samuel Miller

I was looking forward to a nice Sunday with the feet up and maybe watching a box set of Laurel and Hardy’s best screwball slapstick. Had a bit of a hankering for some of the classics of comedy recently. Can’t think why. What I got instead was a nice Sunday watching a poor man’s tribute act of same, only without the humour or the slapstick. Also probably missing the talent, skill and charisma. (sigh) No, Sunday became one of those days where if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry. So laugh it was.

Aye. Turns out, our very own Secretary of State for keeping an eye on Scotland, David Mundell and the local branch supervisor Ruth Davidson, aren’t too happy with the idea of Ms May’s latest proposition for the N.I. border issue, or indeed any differentiated position in the Brexit negotiations. They didn’t toil in the mire of indyref 1, presumably throwing suspicious looks at burly men and keeping this sparkling and precious union together, only to see a border appear in the Irish sea. Oh no. They’re so miffed at the prospect apparently, they’d resign their posts and march off in a fit of righteous wossiname into the sunset. What their actual Scottish constituents think of this, I’m not entirely sure. (Rumours of the odd spontaneous ceilidh breaking out overnight and muffled laughter being heard from borders all the way up to Cape Wrath and beyond are completely unfounded.)

You might think that to say they’ve missed the point entirely over the concerns and priorities of the electorate is a bit of an understatement, but I couldn’t possibly comment. You might also think that Brexit happening at all in, y’know, SCOTLAND would be a bit more of a pressing issue to the population of SCOTLAND. That perhaps the Seccy of State for SCOTLAND and the branch supervisor might have a bit more concern for their constituents who happen to live in… SCOTLAND.

The more cynical among you might also be thinking that such an action, (should it ever come to pass), would appear to be somewhat of a dereliction of duty. ‘Course distancing themselves from a PM beset on all sides by folks out for her chair might not hurt either. Perish the thought on both counts. I mean, Treeza has been welcomed so warmly by Ms Davidson on a number of occasions and was quite the busy bee fighting the remain corner during the EU referendum. I’m sure they’re excellent chooms with a simply super working relationship. (The amount of dust in this room fair makes your eyes water)

How and ever, they needn’t have worried. Seems yesterday’s EU talks between Michel Barnier and Dominic Raab didn’t exactly go smoothly. The outcome? Well it was all a bit on-again/off-again throughout the day, as reports of done deal and no deal kept flying back and forth. The current situation, (so far as we know), is that Ms May’s plan, (once again), has been rejected. At this moment in time, it appears that the dreaded ‘no deal’ scenario looms just that wee bit closer as the parties remain deadlocked. The very bestest outcome of Brexit fudge, (bangs head off table), looking decidedly ropey to say the least. The pending cabinet meeting on Tuesday and the EU summit on Wednesday should prove to be fairly…. tense…. affairs.

Advisory note (cough): It’d be well worth readers’ time, at this point, to stock up on popcorn around now. You may not want to miss a second of what happens next and running short on snacks would never do. Also? After Brexit is finalised, stocking up on anything may prove to be a bit of a problem.

Probably also worth mentioning that for mahoosive swathes of the population, Brexit of any description may look beyond grim.  Soft, meejum, hard and any other buzz term you care to mention, would be basically the equivalent of putting lipstick on yer proverbial pig.

Just to recap and so far as I’m aware, there was no agreed definition of the terms of Brexit prior to, or during, the EU referendum. No exit strategy in place by either UK government, or the leave campaign. Not even a negotiating stance. The deal was subsequently described however, as going to be “one of the easiest in human history”. How’s that working out for them around now do you think?

More importantly, how is it working out for you?


This is it



Hi there.

You may have seen a piece this week in the National about the Scottish Independence Convention’s plans to try and help along with the rest of the movement reach our goal of Independence. It was an open letter from the executive committee.

However this is a personal plea from me to all of you.

I, like all of you, am passionate about a better future our country and I believe that the quality of people’s lives would be so much better if we were free from the chaos of Westminster. I also know that the tireless work of so many in the movement has continued from 2014 and it continues to build. The dream of Independence for Scotland has been kept alive by all the various groups who keep working, campaigning and marching. That work has been quite phenomenal at times.

The SIC has also continued to meet and organise as part of that bigger movement too. The last two years have allowed us to contact and include as many of the Indy groups out there as we can, to set up a proper structure in which to operate, initiate much needed research, set up a campaign group and organise two very large conferences and all done with no funding.

Now we’d like your help to get an official campaign up and running to allow us to help organise further.

The SIC is made up of groups from all over the country campaigning for independence. We want to pool our strength to bring together all the best bits of our movement. We’ve set up a crowd-funder ( to raise money for a small staff team to provide media, messaging and strategy support for the grassroots groups. This is not another top down “We’ll tell the movement what to do type” of organisation- I personally wouldn’t support that. This is a small staff team bringing skills and expertise, but more importantly, commitment to the cause, in an office that gives a central focal point of contact across the movement.

At almost every meeting or event I have attended over the past four years I have been bowled over by the self organising and work that is going on across the country. However I am always asked about a central place/organisation/hub that can distribute and communicate what’s going on with all the other groups. That’s what we aim to try and provide. We know there is huge commitment and expertise out there already so I envisage that there will also be many volunteers who will be a big part of the new office structure too.

We don’t know when the next referendum is going to be but we know we need to step up a gear and start this working now. (You can find out more details by reading the open letter at the end of this email.)

Here’s what I’d like to ask you do:- donate to the crowd-funder if you can – tell your friends and family – tweet and post about this on social media – share this email with anyone you think is sympathetic to the cause of independence.

There is a huge task before us and we will only achieve Independence if we work together. We need to listen to the people and convince them of the benefits and have as much of the detail and information that they need to get us well beyond 50%. I don’t doubt for a second that within the movement, and within Scotland, that we have the talent, dedication, intelligence and ability to do just that.

The time is now – this is it!

All the best and thank you,
Elaine C Smith


Please back and share this crowd-funder with everyone who believes in an independent Scotland –

Sauce for the goose

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Been a hectic few weeks out there for political anoraks. Not to mention fairly enlightening for those of us who believe that self determination is the normal state of affairs for countries and individuals.

A Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, (badly) dances onto a stage when most folk are either on their last crust or nerve and promising, not for the first time, an end to austerity (sobs). A leader of the honourable (?) opposition, calling for folks to get all radical and doing some nifty dancing of his own, mainly on the head of a pin. Probably hoping against hope, that no one notices the gaping chasms of ideology and policy within his own party. Seems to me though, that if Mr Corbyn wants radical? Well, you’d think it doesn’t get more radical than the peoples of Scotland choosing their own form of government. One which truly reflects their needs and wishes for a change. Just a thought.

Oh, and both have local branch managers seemingly only too happy to redefine democracy for a population. To, how to put it? Manage your freedom to choose as and when the need arises, or when you might feel it’s necessary. Why? You may ask. In order to maintain a political union? Or… Or preserve the entitlement of the state to define your politics, your identity and your lives for you? The right of the tail to wag the dog. Readers can make their own minds up on that one I’m sure.

Both head office leaders did, however, absolutely paint the perfect picture of UK politics as it is practised. Oh yes. Both of them apparently focused on preserving the right of the few to use politics to abuse the interests of the many in any way shape or form they choose. Both of them intent on preserving a system and a parliament which historically and arguably, doesn’t really do partnership or sharing very well. A practice of politics, system of government and a parliament which you’d think might be aware that its existence is currently, (and some would say deservedly), hanging on a very shoogly peg.

Also safe to say that UKgov’s current woes regarding Brexit, the N.I. border (backstop/no backstop) and party in-fighting won’t have gone unnoticed. Ten MPs holding a party of government to ransom. Who’da thunk? The ironies (and there are a few) shouldn’t be lost on any of us really.

The Scottish government’s and the majority of the Scottish population’s opinion in all of this?

Pretty much ignored really. For now. Not for the first time in recent history though, now is it?

“You know, it seems to me that one of the lasting casualties of Brexit is the notion that the UK is in any sense a partnership of equals.

Our vote to remain in the EU ignored.

The Scottish Government’s compromise plan to stay in the single market dismissed.

Our request for a role in the negotiations cast aside.

A raid on our parliament’s powers. And when the Scottish Parliament said no to that raid, the UK Government could and should have respected that decision.

Instead they took us to court. That’s not partnership. That is Westminster control.

Scotland deserves better.” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s keynote conference speech, October 2018.

I mean, if one demographic within the UK can be considered for exceptional status, then why not yer akchul nation partner? What message is being sent out by UK gov here? (Bit of a rhetorical question really.) Pretty sure Scotland’s population had the odd agreement and assurance from the government of the UK which were meant to be furrivver n’ always too. Ensure stability and warm fuzziness going forward. That kinda thing. In this instance surely what’s sauce for the goose applies? The next few weeks should send popcorn sales through the roof.

I know what I believe politics should be and what I would hope it should aspire to be.

It’s about care. It’s about keeping those in your care safe, helping them to put bread on the table and keeping a roof over their heads. It’s about tending to their hurts. It’s about service and compassion. Not a lot of any of that to be seen in today’s media and an absolute dearth of it anywhere near a Westminster politician. They’re a bit busy stabbing each other in the back playing that game of theirs.

Reading more extreme elements of the press today, you’d be forgiven for thinking that compassion is in fact a very bad word. Suitable only for the more crazed fringe elements of the population. Not, y’know, a mark of decent, reasoning, civilized humanity. Oh, and that’s regardless of your political background or point of origin. The more cynical among you might presume what they’re really about has more to do with political expediency and survival.

When it comes to narratives? You write your own. People are defined not simply by the words they say, but the actions they take and the choices they make. Just so yer average policy wonk is aware? Compassion doesn’t need redefining. It doesn’t belong to a particular rosette, and you don’t require anyone’s permission to have some.