Saturday, May 25, 2013

Moving to Word Press...

I am trying a move to another blogging platform and my new blog address is:

http://freescotlandnow.wordpress.com/

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Farage gets Bum's Rush from Edinburgh: "They even hate the union jack."



















Nigel Farage, the anti-European Union United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader, found himself in retreat on Thursday evening as dozens of protesters hounded him out of central Edinburgh.

Farage was finally whisked away in a police riot van under a tirade of abuse from a crowd of about 50 young demonstrators – students, anti-racist campaigners and activists in the 'Radical Independence' movement – after being forced to retreat not once, twice or three times, but four times. Farage was first forced out of the Canon's Gait pub on the Royal Mile after the landlord took fright as the demonstrators disrupted his casual press conference with shouts of "racist", "scum" and "homophobe".

Out on the street, as the fingers pointed and taunts escalated, he was rejected by one taxi and turfed out of a second. Then, finally, the harassed and ill-prepared handful of officers were forced to push him back into the Canon's Gait, slamming its front doors shut, as the demonstrators chanted: "Nigel, you're a bawbag, Nigel you're a bawbag, na, na, na, hey!" with gusto.

The etched sign above the Canon Gait's door read: "Enjoy your visit."

With further verses of "Ukip scum, off our streets" echoing in his ears, Farage was bustled into a police van under the glare of television camera lights. After gamely attempting to argue back, trying to hit back at the repeated accusations of racism and homophobia with protests of innocence, Farage finally had to admit his surprise.

"We've never, ever, ever had this kind of response. Is this a kind of anti-English thing? It could be," he said to a reporter. It wasn't. Not entirely. The protesters disagreed. Many said they were there to protest at Ukip's stance on immigration and the political backgrounds of Ukip's motley collection of local council candidates; others were there to protest against his party's obscure economic policies.

There was no violence, no punches thrown, no missiles lobbed. Rachel, a young woman in a wheelchair who had wheeled herself on to the Royal Mile to blockade the second taxi Farage tried to take, said simply: "Ukip are just bullshit."

Some were independence campaigners there to remind him of his nationality: after one, standing just a few feet from Farage, invited the Ukip leader to "shove your union jack up your arse", a flustered Farage said: "Clearly this is anti-British, anti-English. They even hate the union jack."

Farage had arrived at the Canon's Gait in buoyant mood, planning for his long-denied breakthrough into Scottish politics. Compared to the near-25% support in the English local elections, the highest his party has ever polled in Scotland is 5.2% in the 2009 European elections; in many others, Ukip support rests at under 1%.

The latest Ipsos Mori opinion poll, published in early May, found that just two Scots out of 1,001 would vote Ukip. He was hoping for a quiet, convivial briefing – hopefully with pint in hand – with the Scottish political press corps. This was to be the official launch of Ukip's campaign for the Holyrood parliamentary seat of Aberdeen Donside – a seat held very comfortably by the Scottish National party. "We've proved we can get votes in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, We're still untested in Scotland," he said.

"We've not had an opportunity to test Ukip policies with the Scottish people for a very long time." Asked about Ukip's chances, he was optimistic. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if we did quite creditably."

Less than 30 minutes after speaking those words, the MEP for South-East Counties was sitting hunched on the rear seat of a police riot van being driven off at speed, his plans to introduce Otto Inglis, Ukip's ever hopeful candidate for the Scottish parliament byelection on 20 June, forgotten.

Farage calls Scottish activist protesters ‘fascist scum’

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has described protesters who besieged him in an Edinburgh pub as "fascist scum".

Mr Farage had to be escorted from the Canons' Gait pub in a police van after angry confrontations on Thursday.

He told BBC Scotland the incident was deeply racist and displayed a total hatred of the English.

Mr Farage called on Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond to condemn the behaviour. The SNP said the UKIP leader had "lost the plot".

Mr Farage hung up during a telephone interview with the Good Morning Scotland programme on BBC Radio Scotland after being pressed about his lack of knowledge of Scottish politics and the low level of support for his party north of the border.

He later described the interview as "insulting".

Listen to it here and decide for yourself:


First Minister Alex Salmond said that Mr Farage's accusation of a "hate campaign" from the BBC during the radio interview showed it would be a "great mistake" to take "somebody of that mentality with any degree of seriousness".

Mr Salmond added: "We can frankly do without UKIP, who dislike everybody and know absolutely nothing about Scotland."

When asked if he condemned the demonstration against Mr Farage, the first minister said: "If there's been any law-breaking - and that's yet to be established - then obviously we condemn that, as we always do in Scotland, but you've got to get things into context.

"A student demonstration isn't the Dreyfus trial."



UKIP have always been out of touch and patronising towards Scotland as I found when I spoke with a UKIP Euro MP on the radio after the SNP's first election victory in the Scottish parliament (see post below this) - JM.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Radio 5 Live Appearance (2007)


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Scottish Independence Quotes
















Steady Tom, the answers are coming!

Better Together: I would say 'tell me why we're better together, not why we shouldn't be independent'... because we're a pretty stubborn race and if someone keeps telling you you can't do that and you can't do this we might just say, "well, yes we can."
 
Tom Hunter demands answers from Yes and No camps

Good point. Sir Tom is an intelligent man and I am sure he is capable of doing some basic research like the rest of us. Presumably he is trying to clarify matters for the public however he should remember that Westminster are blocking asking some questions of the EU (presumably because they wouldn't like the answers).

Post independence negotiations will ultimately decide all these issues.

I don't know all the answers but my best guess would be as follows:

On Europe we will most likely be in initially (That's the view of a leading adviser to the German Government) but with the option to leave later if we wanted to. EFTA might be a better long term berth if the EU keeps moving towards further unpopular integration however.

On currency Westminster have admitted they could not stop us using the pound. George threatened Scots over the issue but the SNP have made a strong logical case for keeping it, at least in the initial period post independence.

If our economies diverge significantly post independence (as would appear entirely possible) then Scotland might wish to set up our own central bank.

This is not impossible but it is not necessary unless we find that the current British central bank does in fact attempt to interfere in Scotland's economy (as it is independent at the moment from Westminster that seems highly unlikely however we cannot entirely anticipate the actions of EWNI (or should that just be England because I doubt Wales have an interest in making things difficult for Scotland and the Ulster unionists almost always follow the English tory agenda).

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Is this the image of Scotland we want to present to the world?



This cartoon was published in The Herald the day after the failed 1979 referendum for devolution. Scotland had voted narrowly in favour but Westminster pre-rigged the referendum with a 40% rule (40% of the total population had to vote in fa...vour for the measure to be passed) and so devolution was delayed for 20 years.

The Tories promised 'better devolution' if Scots voted No to Labour's plans but Mrs Thatcher soon binned that policy and we were left with no defence against her brutal destruction of Scotland's economy.

The British unionists who want you to vote NO next year are playing the same politics of fear as was tried in 1979. Ask yourself is this the lasting image of Scotland we want to present to the World?
 
Devolution has been a great success and independence would take Scotland's historic home rule journey to it's logical conclusion.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Don't blame Susan Calman for Scotsman's daft story

I posted this via Twitter:

Re this story on Scotsman:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/susan-calman-death-threats-for-independence-satire-1-2914670

Hi Susan, I have just listened to one of your shows http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/convictedep4.mp3 which I quite enjoyed.

Comedians mine their subconscious which is a brave thing to do. Discussing Scotland on TV is a good thing so keep it up.

Remember the British establishment used your blog to attack Scotland/independence today. Why do you think that was?

I suspect it's because you said (after slagging it off a bit) that you were 'proud to be Scottish'

Who benefits if Scotland remains invisible internationally? Not the Scots.

Research more about the enlightenment period. In fact it was a period of horrific political oppression.

I suspect someone has led you up the garden path. Think about it and realise the Scots don't knive our own

------------

And on the Scotsman site itself:

The British establishment have jumped on this story with large jackboots however when you get right down to it Ms Calman has done nothing wrong.

She published a blog arguing that we should not shy away from political humour about Scotland which was fair enough.

She did not say in it she had received death threats though this daft story suggests she did. She said she thought there was some online criticism but she hadn't looked it up to find out.

Having listened to one of her routines (all the way through) at the end she says she is 'proud to be Scottish' which is something her new 'supporters' like Jim Murphy and Brian Wilson would never say.

Comedians are quite brave folk, who mine their subconscious for jokes. I think Susan's routines are a bit Boswellish in bits but that is the nature of the views of many in our society. The Britman has used an innocent blog to attack independence and 'cybernats'.

The comments below try to attack Scotland on a bizarre basis suggesting we are all humourless anti-English bigots who are desperate to take our opponents out of their bed in the middle of the night and shoot them, conjuring up some kind of Stalinist police state as Scotland's future. (I kid you not, read them through!).

This sh*t shows the nasty desperate side of British unionism and has nothing at all to do with Calman's gentle mickey taking of Scotland.

In fact Britain DID pre-arrest people in dawn raids who they thought might protest at Thatcher's funeral.   

Scotland needs independence to escape from bigotry, xenophobia and class hatred all of which are rife at Westminster. We (mostly) want a modern social democratic state on the Nordic model.
I'm sure that would suit Susan as well and she might well come to that conclusion if she thinks about who has tried to use her here to make a very  ill conceived attack on independence.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Scotsman claims Americans are against Scots independence


The 'Scotsman' newspaper (perhaps it should be re-named as 'The Britman' or the 'North Briton') the other day found remote ancestors of people who signed the American Declaration of Independence who are saying that Scotland should not also be independent (see link at end).

Firstly, Americans are against hereditary privilege so the idea that the actions of their ancestors gives them a special right to comment on Scotland's independence is wrong. 
Secondly, if anyone wishes to comment on our situation they are welcome to do so but they should at least do some basic research on the subject first!

The illogical arguments presented show a dreadful ignorance of our political situation in Scotland. At the moment the existence of Britain (which is 90% English controlled) stops Scotland having a seat at the United Nations.

Even after devolution (which could and should have been delivered in the 1950's!) the Westminster Government still controls our welfare, tax, defence and foreign policy. In all these areas there are deep political divisions between the Westminster parliament and Scotland.

A union between our country and another ten times our size was never equal and it's not now. In fact the UK acts as an enlarged England which regularly acts against our interests.

The same political control over all her affairs that the United States of America demanded is exactly what Scotland requires now and we need to break the British union to get it.

I would imagine that these American's illustrious ancestors are birling in their grave at this last gasp attempt to save the state they detested and fought against.

Hopefully this will backfire drastically and lots of Scots Americans will give a donation to YesScotland (it's legal if it is under $750 or £500) and they will declare that in fact they are wholeheartedly in favour of Scotland's independence and the break up of Britain!

Please pass this message on to any Scots-American friends who are interested in the future of Scotland.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/declaration-of-independence-wrong-for-scots-1-2912351

Why are BBC prioritising non-native Scots audience on independence?


I find it slightly worrying that for a debate about Scottish independence the BBC are first and foremost looking for people who were born outside Scotland. They add a bit about how if you are not from elsewhere in the British isles we would like to hear from you too but it is obvious that the BBC is prioritising people who were born outside Scotland.
They are also asking a series of questions about whether they support Scottish National (sic) and whether they are pro or anti-independence.

I was a member of the audience in the televised Usher Hall Debate on independence which if I remember rightly happened around 1992. This was an open debate organised by the Scotsman which was overwhelmingly pro-independence.

If you pick the make up of the audience, pick the questions etc then as with Question Time you can present a debate which is not necessarily the one an audience would like to have.

There are of course plenty of people who are originally from England who identify with Scotland and support independence. Mike Russell has played a leading role in the SNP and those who identify themselves as English have a right to voice their opinions on independence.

Nonetheless I don't think the BBC should be prioritising those who were born outside Scotland unless they are deliberately trying to find people who don't (for whatever reason) identify themselves as Scots.

I have written before that the British state as currently configured does favour English interests over Scotland's. That is true on a population basis (England has 10 times more MP's than Scotland at Westminster and 20 X more than Wales) and also because every aspect of British rule has an English aspect to it. The flag, the Queen's Title, The anthem, the name of Britain (from Britannia), the Bank of England (despite it's name it's supposed to be a British institution but given the statements of the Chancellor George Osbourne he clearly believes England owns the bank and the lone right to print Sterling notes).

Given this situation it makes some sense for JK Rowling and others to say they prefer the status quo. Likewise if you have spent most of your career at Westminster (like Alistair Darling) and identify with London more than Scotland, which I think it is fair to say he does, even though he claims status as a Scot due to his residence here (which I don't dispute but I do dispute that he would ever put the Scottish national interest first).

The question is why is the BBC blatantly prioritising the opinions of people who are not from Scotland originally over the people who were born here? Unless they are trying to find people in Scotland who prioritise the British identity over the Scottish one and therefore are more likely to vote against independence.

If this is the case then the BBC is not acting in the interests of the people who live here and we need to have our own national broadcaster. Broadcasting powers should have came to Scotland in 1999 if Blair had not deliberately scuppered the idea. (The plans from the cross party constitutional convention included broadcasting but he removed it). Now we know why!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Scots Covenant Campaign proved Westminster ignores Scotland's wishes

There was a large amount of moves towards a Scottish parliament at Westminster in the 19th century and a number of home rule bills were proposed and supported by Scottish MP's at the end of the 19th and the very beginning of the 20th century.

It wasn't until the Scottish Covenant Campaign however led by one of the early leading figures of the SNP John MacCormick (who would eventually join the Liberals) was launched in 1949 that the full support for some form of Scottish self government was revealed.




Excerpt from Restless Nation (1996)
An incredible Two million Scots in 1950 demanded home rule but were completely ignored by BritGov. This experience (not unnaturally)  disillusioned many. The election of Winnie Ewing in Hamilton in 1967 began the long march towards power of the SNP.

In the 70's fear of the SNP's rise in support (and the discovery of Scotland's Oil which boosted the SNP's credibility) led to Labour's 1978 devolution bill. There was a clear vote in favour at the subsequent referendum but Labour's wrecking clause (the 40% rule)  meant no devolution was delivered. The Tories had said if the people did not vote for the referendum bill as proposed by Labour then they would provide a stronger alternative. In fact when Mrs Thatcher gained power she immediately said no devolution would happen in Scotland (a move which then caused a younger Malcolm Rifkind to resign from her front bench, though he came back and acted as Scottish Secretary/Governor General for some years).

Thatcher then proceeded to decimate the Scottish economy which had heavily relied on manufacturing industry. This caused the Conservatives to gradually become less and less popular in Scotland and at one point they had zero MP's (they still even now, only have one!). Labour when out of power campaigned hypocritically for the devolution they had cynically denied Scots while in office and when Blair was elected he was forced (reluctantly) to introduce devolution. The rest as they say is history. We should never forget though that Westminster ignored that 2 million strong petition fo Devolution in 1950 and proved forever that they could not be trusted to act in Scotland's interests.

Why we need an independent Scotland

Why we need an independent Scotland
by Joe Middleton
 
There was much manufactured mirth in the press about Alex Salmond’s speech to the SNP Conference [2009] and particularly this passage:

"One of the things he [Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Arun] told me is that his grandfather's philosophy is much misunderstood. His resistance was not passive, but active. His dedication to non-violence a strength, not a weakness. Sometimes, someone has to break the cycle of retribution with an act of compassion - that is what Kenny MacAskill did and we should be proud of him for doing it."

‘Wha’s like us, - Ghandi!’ exclaimed Tom Gordon in the Herald.

Others like Murdoch’s News of the World also lined up to claim that everyone was laughing about the SNP daring to compare one of its members to the great Ghandi. Yet there is a very real comparison which can be made with India and Scotland and India’s progress towards independence and Scotland’s.

One of Ghandi’s most famous quotes on independence is: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Well Scotland has been ignored and laughed at for years and the forces of the union are fighting to keep Scotland within it. They are not fighting through force of arms or beating us in the streets but they do use a biased media to belittle every achievement of the SNP Government.

Labour and the Conservatives would like people to believe that nationalism is a narrow backward force. That it is based on racism and hatred and xenophobia.

There is a type of nationalism which is all these things, British nationalism. Based on a dream of Empire British nationalism is based upon the idea that Britain is superior to other nations. Britain has a right to nuclear weapons but other nations do not.

The unionists like to hold their hands up in horror at the BNP but really the BNP is at the extreme end of a nationalism which they themselves subscribe to. We can also add into this group of comrades the ridiculous UK independence party (the UK is already independent!) and the Orange Lodge both of whom are firmly opposed to the idea of Scottish independence.

Ghandi’s nationalism was about the self determination of the people of India. It was about their right to rule themselves without being represented by the British crown.

Freedom type nationalism about the rights of a place and the people in it to represent themselves is a very different type of nationalism to the imperial type. Firstly it is not racist in nature, it is not based upon superiority but the idea of equality, that your country has a right to represent itself and that the people of that country have a right to be heard. 

The United Kingdom, Great Britain, none of these entities are a country at all!

England is a country, Scotland and Wales are but Britain or Brittania is really just a geographic name for that historic area that included England, Wales and Cornwall.

The ancient Britons (who ended up in Cornwall and Wales) had no connection with the state which was created in 1707. If Scotland had been the stronger partner in the union then perhaps Great Caledonia would be the world’s name for this island but it would not cancel out the modern existence of England anymore than renaming the English parliament cancelled out the existence of Scotland.

We know that there was an attempt to actually rename us as North Britain and Ireland as West Britain but those attempts failed. Scotland is still a country, it just isn’t an independent state.

Nonetheless in 2010 if the unionists agree then we will have a chance to vote ourselves into existence in international terms as a proper independent state. We will have our flag flying at the United Nations and we will have a full voice as a member state of the European Union.

We won’t have a larger voice than France or Germany or Luxembourg but we will have a equal voice with the other countries of the EU.

Ultimately the final decision on whether to stay in the EU or not will be up to the Scots after independence. Equally, after independence we will decide on the future of the monarchy.

Without independence however we can’t decide whether we want a monarchy or the EU and therefore independence must be the objective of all those who support Scotland’s rights whether they agree with each other or not on either of these points.

To my mind it would be very strange indeed if an independent Scotland decided to keep the Queen. The very existence of her position and her official title reminds us of the contempt in which we are held by Britain. Elizabeth II without an Elizabeth I of Britain reminds us that England is seen as more important than Scotland.

The Act of Settlement reminds us of a past where Scotland was divided on religious lines and it institutionalises anti-Catholic bigotry. Having a King or Queen to rule over subjects is as logical in the 21st century as having a house of parliament where no-one is elected!

Residents of the House of Lords like Lord Forsyth, Lord Lang or the newest denizen, Baron Martin are all effectively political failures. Their views became irrelevant when they resigned their seat or got thumped in elections.

It is a disgrace that every member of the Scottish parliament is forced to take an oath of allegiance to the monarch. A much more suitable oath would be to swear to represent the people of Scotland to the best of their abilities. This is something that ever person in Scotland could subscribe to, without actively discriminating against opponents of the monarchy.

Scotland can do better. We can do better than Labour or Conservatives or the Liberal Undemocrats. The latest recruit to Labour is the Orange Lodge! Yes that army of bigots and fools who marched against independence before the last Scots elections have endorsed Scottish Labour as the best chance of saving the union.

The Orange order claims credit for the Glenrothes by-election and it intends to use its legions of bigotry to try and win Glasgow North East for Labour. The only thing more embarrassing would be Nick Griffin turning up to canvass for Labour. However Labour were even willing to grant him legitimacy by allowing Jack Straw to join him in the recent debate on the BBC’s Question Time.

When you have the likes of UKIP, BNP, Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats all trying to deny Scotland a voice and a referendum on independence, it’s not too hard to realise who is on the right side of the argument.

If we become independent then what will happen? What policies are we likely to have in an independent Scotland? The only truthful answer to that question is that we don’t know.

However we do know that the SNP believe in the principle of free education. We do know that the SNP have said they will rid Scotland of the unusable Trident nuclear deterrent.

We do know that Labour have not only failed to close the gap between rich and poor in Britain, they have never really tried to do so!

When Labour got in they cut spending on the NHS. They doubled VAT. They removed tax breaks from pensions. They brought in a minimum wage, but at a very low level.

They refused to bring back housing benefit for students. They didn’t bring back the student grant. Instead they brought in tuition fees.

On economic policy they aped the Tories at every turn and rather than tax business they taxed the general public. Brown’s tax credits are an indication that wages are far too low.

The burden of paying a decent wage should be paid for by employers not the benefits system. Under Labour’s rules you get unemployment benefit for six months. It doesn’t matter if you were working for 10, 20 or 30 years. Six months is all you get before means testing and if your partner works more than 24 hours a week then you get nothing as an individual!

During those six months you are ineligible for Legal Aid. Yet if you want to take your employer to an industrial tribunal then that has to happen within three months!

No doubt Labour will claim they inherited this system, but why have they done nothing to change it? Why have they wasted their years in power? Why should Scotland keep supporting a party which has done nothing to help the ordinary workers and the unemployed? Why should we vote in Scotland for the Conservatives Mark II when the SNP offer a decent left alternative?

Labour have failed. They have failed to offer moral leadership. Under their watch racism has risen. They have failed to help Trade Unions. They kept every Thatcherite anti-Trade union law.

When Cameron gets in he will find a situation where nothing substantial has changed. Britain hasn’t moved to the left but Cameron will move it to the right.

Scotland can do better and Scotland should do better. We gave Labour a chance to change things for the better. They failed to do so and now we need to take matters into our own hands.

To escape Conservatism, we now urgently need independence. In the future the policies of Scotland will be decided by Scots for Scotland.

No longer will we be ruled as if our opinions don’t matter and don’t count. We don’t know what the political future of Scotland would be but we do know that the anti-Scottish Conservatives are irrelevant to Scotland.

Annabel Goldie let the truth out when she said that the SNP was completely irrelevant to a British general election. If Scotland’s biggest party is irrelevant then want does that make Scotland?

The fact is that Scotland is irrelevant in numeric terms to every British general election. With less than 10% of the combined population of the UK and less than 10% of the MPs our opinions don’t count and our votes don’t matter.

It is a convenient fiction to pretend we are in an equal union. It wasn’t equal 300 years ago and it’s not equal now. Would Britain see a union with Russia, China or even the USA as equal? Why not?

To be treated equally in Europe and the United Nations we need the normal powers of an independent state.

I remember that Morgan Tsvangirai was furious when Robert Mugabe offered him a share of power where defence and foreign affairs were kept by Mr Mugabve. “Only an idiot would accept that” he said.

Yet this is exactly the great deal that the unionists offer Scotland! We can pay for Trident which we don’t want while they keep our oil revenues and block us from a seat at the United Nations.

The reason the unionists don’t want a referendum is because when we were confronted with the full force of British scaremongering at the last election the public voted the SNP into power. Confronted with the same negative scaremongering tactics during a referendum campaign who really believes that the people will vote no to independence? Even with opinion polls apparently in their favour, the unionists don’t want to take any chance that the public might not believe them.

We have had one party in Scotland already who ignored the people’s voice. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats want to avoid the fate of the Scottish Conservatives, if they don’t want to be the new pariahs of Scots politics then they will need to support a referendum on independence.

If not then the SNP will continue to rise and will pass a referendum bill with a much stronger force within the Scots parliament.

We Scots are not fools and we will show it when we get a democratic choice on the future of this country. The unionists can delay a referendum but ultimately they cannot deny our right to decide our own constitutional future.

Whether it happens in 2010, or shortly after, we will have our say.

Note: This article was written a few years ago (25/10/2009)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Supporters of independence have a Golden Opportunity


 
A rare occasion when the Edinburgh Evening News actually printed a pro-independence article!
 
This was printed on 31/03/2007 (on the same day as Independence First's second rally) and I think it holds up pretty well. Picture is a bit murky but  you can read the article online here:  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Scots 'got' Thatcherism but we didn't vote for it!

Thatcher: What does reaction say about Scotland?
Article in Scotsman by David Torrance

Given that David Torrance actually used to work for the Tory party at Westminster is he really the best person to look at 'both sides' of this?

I recently saw him on TV deliberately kniving the SNP during a discussion on class, he has a political agenda and I think like many others he is trying to re-write history to justify the 'Good old Maggie, she was just mis-understood in Scotland' myth.

"Of course anti-Thatcher hostility is not a specifically Scottish phenomenon, ­although here it has a curiously personal edge. Thatcher closed Ravenscraig; she shut down the coalmines, as if as Prime Minister she had personally – and by implication vindictively – directed the demise of heavy industry without reference to economic winds or management desire."

That anyone could blythly dismiss the Ravenscraig/Gartcosh closure like this suggests that David Torrance has read the books but he doesn't understand the reality on a gut level. He's perhaps just a few years too young as he was born in '77. That means he's only seven years younger than me but I have a vivid memory of '87 which is when Thatcher was first wholly rejected by Scots and was an election I was actually involved in, my first political action as a Scottish nationalist and I was interested in politics for some years before.

The Scots 'got' Thatcherism (in both senses, we were given it whether we wanted it or not, and we understood it), but we didn't vote for her and if Britain had provided devolution (something the Conservative's had promised us) we would have avoided much of the destruction of our industrial base during the Thatcher years. We certainly would never have had the Poll tax!

The recent film about Mrs Thatcher the Iron Lady was actually quite a clever film but it sheared away from the controversy of her legacy and in fact it seemed to be an attempt to humanise Thatcher, using her dementia as a device to show her love for her husband Dennis. That's not a bad thing, Mrs Thatcher was a human being after all, but despite the fantastic central performance by Meryl Streep it really did not serously touch on her politics at all! I don't think there was one mention of Scotland in it but that is probably not surprising.

We Scots definitely did understand her politics and we didn't like them in much the same way as we don't support the actions of David Cameron right now. 

Let's not forget that the Tories recently used the murder of six small children to justify their benefits reforms. That puts a few hundred people in George Square holding a flash demo on the day of Mrs Thatcher's death in perspective!

Harry Reid wrote these comments about Mrs Thatcher on the Scottish review of books:

"The fact is that by the mid 1980s Thatcher had lost Scotland. This was a disaster for such an enthusiastically Unionist politician, a leader who grandly claimed that the Tory party was a “national party or nothing”. This was a quote from Disraeli, which Thatcher duly delivered to an audience of Scots Tories. In this context, national meant British. So, in Scotland anyway, the Tory party became, by her own admission, nothing.

Thatcher could never really grasp that Scotland itself was a nation, and a proud one; that was part of the problem. For her, much as she tried to respect and to understand Scotland, the country was just a component part of the UK. In losing Scotland, she grievously diminished her party’s unionist credentials, and she helped to pave the way for the fragmentation of the Union she cherished.

Thus the most successful and controversial British leader of modern times, and the most politically talented Unionist, could not maintain the unity of the UK. That is, in essence, her legacy in Scotland. It could be argued that she, more than anyone, paved the way for eventual Scottish independence."

What we can say about Mrs Thatcher is that she clarified the relative status of Scotland and England within the British union. England elects a Government, we get the results, and our opinions can be utterly ignored by Westminster.

In private Mrs Thatcher actually claimed to be an English nationalist and her action in denying Scotland devolution (a reversal in policy which caused Malcolm Rifkind to resign) and making sure North Sea Oil stayed in 'British' hands were certainly not in our interests but a case could be argued that these two actions allowed her to keep British imperial delusions alive, something which is central to English state interests.

-----------------------------

PS: I recommend reading this article by Mike Small on Bella Caledonia:

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2013/04/11/ding-dong/

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Opposing British Rule in Scotland more effective than singing songs



Taking effective political action in Scotland against British rule is more productive than singing songs complaining about that state's rule in Ireland!

Catholic Anger at School claim by Sheriff - Herald Scotland  

With regard to the above article it should be clearly understood that singing a song about the republican struggle in Ireland is a political act not a sectarian one because it is not against a particular religion. On the other hand demanding that Catholic schools be shut down is sectarian and discriminatory. 

 Rather than singing about Ireland at their fellow Scots football fans in Dundee Celtic FC fans would be better off actively campaigning for Scottish independence in Scotland. This political action would effectively abolish the British state which would improve the lives of the people who live here because it would mean important international and domestic powers from the British Government would be transferred to Scotland and we would also have our own seat at the United Nations.

It would also as a by-product strengthen Ireland's hand in future negotiations with the rUK Government because the state that currently claims ownership of a part of Ireland would no longer officially exist and unionists would be faced with the embarassing notion of saying they prefer to actually be a part of England rather than Britain or Ireland.

Some Celtic fans (not all or anywhere near it but a minority) are using the excuse of this legislation to justify voting for the retention of the UK. This shows an alarming political inconsistency and a lemming like willingness to be divided 'n' ruled in Scotland by the same state which has so effectively divided Ireland.

If the legislation concerned is flawed then it could be reversed in the future but football fans should realise that the intentions behind it were honest by the Scottish Government. 

CALEDONIAN THISTLE?

To further illustrate the point think about this: if our positions were reversed and Scots immigrants to Ireland had set up a team called Caledonian Thistle in Ireland and I was born in Ireland but had a strong connection to my home country in Scotland then perhaps I would wish to sing songs about Scotland in Ireland (particularly if Scotland had voted for indy in the early 20th century but Britain had somehow managed to retain a part of it such as Strathclyde!).
 
If I also at the same time suggested that I actually supported British control over Ireland while supporting independence for what I saw as my home country then if the Irish felt my political position to be risible then I would only have myself to blame!
 
If on the other hand I had a chance to play an active role in a democratic independence struggle for Ireland which would also weaken British rule in Scotland then it would seem very politically inconsistent not to do so.
 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Bitter Together are fuming as they can't find famous Scots to back No campaign

"A lot of people think we’re all going to fall flat on our face if we do this. We’re too feisty a people to let things turn bad if we went and tried it. Why not? Why not try at least?"

Kevin McKidd
















 
Kevin is a talented Scots actor from Elgin who appeared in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting and currently stars in US TV series Gray's Anatomy.

Bitter Together are fuming, they can't find anyone famous to back their campaign!

All they can come up with is English people who have a tenuous link to Scotland like J K Rowling who once lived here while writing a kids book or Emma Thomson who can do an almost passable Scottish accent.  Oh and of course there's the famous bra manufacturer and a fitba manager who plies his trade in England and soup and teacake makers. Oh and a millionaire Tory donor (based in London, what a shock) who is funding most of their campaign!

Against this parcel of minor level and irrelevant rogues we have:

Author and Booker Prize Winner: James Kelman

A large number of genuine Scots actors including the patriotic Mr Kidd above and the most famous Scotsman ever Sean Connery (who has backed indy since endorsing Winnie Ewing in Hamilton at the height of his fame as James Bond)

Alasdair Gray, our greatest living writer

Joseph Stiglitz a Noble Prize Winner

Iain Banks one of Scotland's most brilliant and successful authors

Blair Jenkins a former head of the BBC

Michael Fry a leading historian

Dougie MacLean writer of Caledonia

Dick Gaughan, perhaps our most famous folk singer

Various TV actors

Irvine Welsh, writer

Brian Cox, famous Scots actor

Frankie Boyle, comedian who has 1.4M followers on Twitter!

Plus top Scots singers like Karine Polwart, Eddi Reader, Pat Kane, The Proclaimers and Deacon Blue

and many others...

In fact almost everyone who has actually made a significant impact on Scots culture in the last few decades is backing normal status for Scotland.

Also from outside Scotland:

Adrian Dunbar - Irish Actor and Director

Ken Loach - English Director

Peter Tatchell - English Civil Rights Activist and Equality campaigner

John C Reilly - American Actor

All of whom back Scots indy

and from the past the greatest figures in Scottish History!

Robert Burns

William Wallace

Robert Bruce

Sir Walter Scott

Robert Louis Stevenson

John MacLean

James Connolly

Hugh MacDiarmid

The signers of the Declaration of Arbroath also ring out from history

"It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

Given that the Yes campaign can boast all the above and also the direct support of our elected SNP Scottish Government it's no wonder the little Britons of BT are so bitter about Mr McKidd, and they are very bitter indeed as can be seen on the comments on this article in the Scotsman:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/celebrity/scottish-independence-kevin-mckidd-would-say-yes-1-2882132


He says he's a patriot and I believe it. I don't believe the various non-entities on the Bitter Together site who claim to be patriotic about absolutely everything apart from actually wanting Scotland to rule our own affairs!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Better Together, for who?

by Joe Middleton

The British unionist campaign in the Scottish independence referendum is called Better Together but the question needs to be asked Better Together for who? There are clear advantages for England in retaining the Union and it does not surprise me when English people in Scotland like J K Rowling or Emma Thomson argue in favour of its retention.

If you see the Union Jack as equivalent to the English flag and given the dominance of the St George's Cross in the centre, who couldn't, then the flag could credibly represent England.
 
Given that ancient England was named Britannia by the Romans then Britain is also quite acceptable and indeed it backs up the English preferred view of Wales ie that it doesn't exist.

Therefore if you are English then you can be quite comfortable with either of these symbols in the knowledge that they really actually mean England.

Similarly Queen Elizabeth II of England has a certain ring to it and celebrating bashing those rebellious Scots who England regularly fought with over hundreds of years doesn't really present a problem. Similarly singing about Brittania ruling the waves doesn't really reflect on any other country apart from England a fact made quite evident by the British naval flag.

Since England has approximately 90% of Britain's MP's Westminster could legitimately be claimed to be as good as and in fact a lot better than any devolved English parliament.

Britain means retention of the Scottish Oil Fields under English political control and the use of that money in capital projects like the London Olympics, or duelling the A1 or indeed the Channel Tunnel. It also keeps the pound as a credible currency and magnifies British importance in Europe much like the Scottish fishing grounds.

The Bank of England is effectively Britain's central bank. The inclusion of Scotland and Wales's GDP keeps Britain in the G8 and these additions mean that not only does Britain have a seat in the UN they also get the added boost of being a member of the security council. Both of these places which England relies on would be at risk after Scottish independence.

All in all England gets every advantage from the Union and zero disadvantages. So a piddling amount of Scottish or Welsh MP's might vote in a different way to the English but in reality any party who gets into power in Westminster has to have huge support in England by definition.

The Trident Nuclear Deterrent means England can boss other countries around and interfere in their domestic policy while sonorously declaring that no-one else should have nuclear weapons. They are unpopular in Scotland of course but it's handy to keep them somewhere.

Retaining Britain means that England also retain control of little outposts like the Falklands or tax havens like the Channel Islands which means that the filthy rich can still work in Britain while avoiding paying any nasty tax there.

Do we want or need these? David Cameron certainly sees them as important.

Unfortunately all these additional benefits for England come at a cost. Wales and Scotland have to pretend we don't exist internationally. David Mundell (Scotland's lone Tory MP) doesn't have a problem with that but Better Together can't count him as very representative of the general viewpoint!

The truth is 'independence' for England would mean an actual reduction in power not an increase and England would have to accept that their imperial dream was finally over.

This is something that no English MP will ever countenance voluntarily (though they will be forced under international law to do so after any democratic vote for independence) which is why every London based party is 100% against Scottish independence. It is not in their national interest.

Can Alistair Darling whose ultimate loyalty to London has never been in doubt really convince the Scots who live in Scotland (and don't flip their mortgages) that they actually benefit from English control of everything?

I don't think so.

Britain not Scotland has a fascism problem


In light of the disgraceful image in todays Scotland on Sunday (below) which attempts to link the Scots self determination movement with both the Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan and the scaremongering associated article it is worth considering whether the British themselves have something significant to hide in terms of links to fascism both before and after the second World War.
 





I should start off by saying that the Scots, English and Welsh all played an honourable part in defending the World from the fascist threat of the Nazis. During that time however Churchill regularly referred to Britain as 'England' and during the war Scots were buried under an avalanch of propaganda that rarely if ever mentioned Scotland.
 
Perhaps it is because of this (possibly unintended) insult that the post war years saw a gradual but ultimately impressive increase in support for the Scottish independence movement.
 
London's actual attitude towards Scotland at the time however is rather more disturbing. According to official documents Britain would actually have allowed an invasion of Scotland to happen and that England was seen as "the total priority for defence".
 

These damning allegations are contained in a book called When Hitler Comes which is available from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Hitler-Comes-Preparing-Invasion/dp/1843410621

The book also exposes fascist Scots in Scottish society however as the above article notes these were linked within the British Unionists (which was the old name of the Scottish Conservatives) and landed aristocrats.*

Hitler's ultimate agenda was not entirely understood before the war. Though there were obvious indications of his hatred of the Jews the full extent of the Nazi Holocaust was only exposed fully afterwards.

In England in particular there was substantial support for fascism and in fact Oswald Mosely who was a politician who had been a Westminster MP for both Labour and Tory formed his own army of Brownshirts under the label of the British Union of Fascists.











The BUF (flag above) used to martial support in the thousands and held various parades. After the war started their support died away however an English minority attraction to fascism has continued until today with some modern support for Nick Griffin's British National Party who have even managed to gain enough support in England to get MEP's elected to the European Parliament!

The BNP and the non-fascistic but still xenophobic and offensive and anti-Scottish UKIP (UK Independence party) an oxymoron as the UK are already independent have made zero headway in Scotland. In England however UKIP are rising fast and the British Conservatives (who with one MP are also as popular as the plague in Scotland) have taken them so seriously that an in-out referendum on the EU is officially planned in the next few years.   

In short then England had a real pre-war problem with home grown outright fascism and has an on ongoing problem with a modern equivalent of the French National Front in the BNP.

Given the above facts the attempts by the Scotland on Sunday today via a book named 'Fascist Scotland' which is illustrated on the web by a picture of Oswald Mosely but had a disgusting mock up of a Saltire shaped into a Nazi flag in the paper (see top of article) to suggest there was real support in pre WW2 Scotland for fascism based on much innuendo and speculation are desperate and rather absurd and I suspect this has been a desperate attempt to bury the bad news of the original damning book and its conclusion that Scotland was seen as expendable by British military planners during World War II.

Clearly the writer desperately wants Scotland and early Scots nationalists to be tarred with the Nazi brush but he admits himself that BUF demos which were organised up here were disrupted and fought against in Scotland just like the English Defence League (which they renamed as Scottish Defence League in Scotland but no-one believes it) demos in Scotland involving a few hundred English skinheads have been in recent times.  

The Orange Lodge can muster 10K anti-independence Union Jack waving marchers down the Royal Mile (much of them imported from NI) but no-one could argue that they credibly dominate the political debate in Scotland. In fact their sectarian views are rightly seen as repugnant by the vast majority of Scottish society.

The summation of the article shows the writers intentions and marks a new low even for the Scotsman:

Today, the ruling party of Scotland has nationalism as its creed and is suspiciously coy about its own history. Elsewhere in the nationalist family, the BNP, before it plunged into fratricidal warfare, trounced the Far Left in recent Scottish elections and, in 2010, received a respectable 1,000 votes in Alex Salmond’s stamping ground of Banff and Buchan. To this should be added growing sympathy for the agenda of Ukip. The Scottish electorate now appears more receptive to radical nationalism than Mosley’s blackshirts could ever dream of. With fears of globalisation and mass immigration on the rise, and the political “old gang” unpopular, there might still be living space in Scotland for the “Brown Beast”. In this way, we would be very much in line with our European cousins. Wha’s like us? Quite a few.

The facts are that the SNP are a civic nationalist grouping which warmly welcomes support from all sections and ethnic groupings in Scottish society. Even in it's earliest incarnations it supported self determination and opposed right wing extremism. Read the Flag in the Wind by John MacCormick to read the early (and proud) history of the SNP.

Even early outspoken radical Scots like Wendy Wood (who was often involved in civil disobedience such as moving the border post to it's more accurate position just after the River Tweed) were firmly rooted in legitimate campaigning and democratic politics.

Despite the British State's best efforts the Scottish independence movement has never ever been linked credibly to any political violence of any kind. This is despite the fact that the UK authorities (as exposed by Gaelic doc Diomhair still available on Youtube) attempted to supply young Scots students with fake explosives. MI5 have also regularly spied on Scottish demonstrations and the British Government itself deliberately and persistently lied about the extent of North Sea Oil during the original 1978 devolution referendum.

British mainstream parties like Labour and the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are also nationalists but of the British type. It could be credibly argued that British nationalism which constantly harks back to the glory days of the British Empire and seems to embody a distrust of foreigners and immigration is of a much more negative nature than the 'national freedom' type nationalism of the SNP which has much more in common with those countries who eventually escaped the imperial yoke.  

To insult the SNP and the wider Yes campaign in such a desperate and sickening fashion shows the desperation of the No lobby which has came up with zero positive arguments for union. A fact effectively illustrated in this video which was temporarily banned from youtube for daring to use embarassing pseudo-patriotic footage of Better Together's own activists.  



* Incidentally the former English King (Edward VIII) was in fact known to be a Nazi Supporter who had meetings with Hitler and who would almost certainly have been installed as a puppet ruler of Britain if Germany had succeeded in their invasion plans.