This is mentioned in Wendy Wood's autobiography Yours Sincerely for Scotland on p 210 and 211:
With regard to the Royal Charter of 1604 given by James VI Berwick, like Calais was at that time an occupied town, held by another nationality. If it had not still been part of the realm of Scotland it would not have had the English officials as Calais had. King James abolished these officials for he could not as King of England claim occupation of his possession as King of Scots So Berwick, the capital town of its County is in Scotland and belongs to Scotland.
Up to the 16th century Berwick was specially mentioned as 'my' or 'our' town of Berwick in all Royal Proclamations and Statutes but by the Wales and Berwick Act of 1746 'It is declared and enacted that in all cases where the Kingdom of England or hath been or shall be mentioned in any Act of Parliament the same has been and shall henceforth be deemed and taken to comprehend and include the dominion of Wales and Town of Berwick upon Tweed.'
With this bald statement it is quite reasonable to doubt if the Treaty of 1707 was anything more than a complete farce.
So if Berwick has been legally part of England 'for over 500 years' as the media assures us why is the British parliament passing an act claiming it as part of England (along with Wales!) just over 250 years ago?
I contacted Christine Graham MSP of the SNP (who has been asking Questions about Berwick in the Scottish Parliament) and she is now looking into this.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
This is mentioned in Wendy Wood's autobiography Yours Sincerely for Scotland on p 210 and 211:
Joe Middleton of Independence First, the campaign for a referendum on independence has claimed that the new petition for a referendum on independence represents a “make or break” time for the independence movement.
He commented: “We need to have a massive public response to this petition. 80% of the public say they want a referendum based on opinion polls but now we need to convert that into a widespread popular response to the new Let Scotland decide petition. If the Independence movement fails on this we will lose considerable authority. It’s make or break time now. It is urgent that we deliver a massive petition to show the public is actively demanding a referendum on independence.”
Independence First are backing the petition which has been launched by the Scottish Independence Convention and have organised a working conference on Saturday 1st March 2008 to help organise the new petition on the ground.
The working conference of civil representatives from across Scotland will be held in the STUC offices in Glasgow at 1pm and will be addressed by Elaine C Smith and Isobel Lindsay of the Independence Convention. Lloyd Quinan and Eric Canning of Independence First will also speak.
Isobel Lindsay commented “The Scottish public need to be active players in the debate on Scotland's future not stuck on the terraces. Whether we have independence or not is a choice for all of us not a decision for elites. This petition gives us a chance to engage people in the central democratic issue of whether Scotland should be content with existing powers or whether we should have the right to make our own policies on war and peace, on social security, on the big economic issues.”
Contact Carol Roscoe (National Secretary) for more information on: 01259219945 or 07983208352 for more information or visit our website at www.independence1st.org
Posted by Joe Middleton at 7:51 PM
Friday, February 22, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Report in Scotsman
Devolution review 'may lead to loss of Holyrood powers'
GORDON Brown yesterday backed a review of Scottish devolution – but suggested it could mean the return of some powers to Westminster.
The Prime Minister gave his public support for the first time to the Scottish Constitutional Commission, the body which will be set up to look into Scottish Parliament's powers.Mr Brown accepted there might be a case for some financial controls, including new tax-raising powers, to be handed over to Holyrood from Westminster.But he also said the review would examine whether Holyrood should lose control in some areas, particularly over terrorism or agricultural diseases, to Westminster.
Report in Herald
We should be very wary of allowing the UK Government to revisit the Scotland Act. The Welsh Act has already been re-visited by BritGov and they took the opportunity at that point to fiddle the election system to stop people standing on the FPTP and PR Lists, a clear attempt to weaken the smaller parties and strengthen Labour who tend to do better FPTP.
Powers over 'anti-terrorism' are already held (and abused) by the UK Government. This is a chimera behind which GB can try and take over other inconvenient powers such as say the right to refuse planning permission to new nuclear power stations. Any process of delivering greater powers for Scotland has to be led from here because the UK Government simply cannot be trusted to act honestly.
The Scottish Constitutional Convention (devolution version) called for powers over broadcasting and was supported by the scottish branches of Labour, Lib dems and Tories yet mysteriously when we actually got to the bill those powers were removed.
If we want to guarantee the significant extra powers that we need ie foreign affairs and proper control over all our finances then the obvious answer is to demand independence.
Taking more powers along that process seems logical but it possibly encourages the idea that the UK could be trusted not to interfere in other areas. As we can see from these comments we CANNOT trust Labour or the UK Government one iota and that has effectively been our experence of British rule for the last 300 years.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I have had the honour of being invited to Barcelona this weekend as part of an International Advisers Council set up by CONSEU, which is the annual conference for stateless nations.
We'll be looking at ways to help make the next CONSEU conference even more effective and also discussing the situation with the various other independence movements in Europe. My Independence First colleague Lloyd Quinan is probably the main expert we have in Scotland on this as he keeps tabs on a lot of developments amongst other stateless nations in Europe.
Lloyd has mentioned CONSEU and their parent body (which receives funding from the Catalan devolved Government) on a number of occasions so I am very pleased to get the chance to make this trip. It will be a bit odd going abroad without my other half but it will also be exciting to discuss the experiences of other nationalists.
I know that the Basque country is having a particularly hard time just now with two more political parties banned recently and some Basque activists being given ridiculous prison sentences for the 'crimes' of organising political rallies. What the Spanish Government does is claim that the activists actions have been ordered by the armed Basque group ETA. They don't offer any evidence of this, they don't need to. Batasuna, the left wing political party has been completely banned and most of it's leadership have been arrested by the Spanish Government and are now being tried on trumped up offences. It is a very difficult situation and I think people are quite pessimistic about what will happen next.
The PNV (a sort of right of centre pro business Basque nationalist party and the only one which is allowed to campaign) are in power in the Basque parliament and are campaigning on the prospect of holding a referendum on independence. Some observers doubt whether this will actually happen however as they could have done this some time before. The worry is how the Spanish army might react to such a plan, we can tell from recent pronouncements that Spain is not particularly interested in other countries rights to self determination and the Spanish army has carte blanche under the Spanish constiution to protect the existing state.
Catalonia is also of course moving slowly but surely towards independence. Hopefully I will get a better idea on my trip exactly what stage they are at.
Closer to home of course we have Wales (moving forward at a similar rate to Scotland, although Britain cheekily provided them with an inferior devolution package Plaid Cymru are in power with Welsh Labour and have gained cross party agreement on greater powers for their Assembly) and Cornwall whose case has unfortunately been completely ignored by the British Government. Some Cornish activists have been in touch recently, apparently the local police are giving them some harassment by making dubious use of new anti Terrorism powers. some more information about Cornwall is available here and I will be updating this page within the next few weeks.
It should be a very interesting trip. I'm taking my video camera so look for a video on youtube fairly soon. Shortly after I get back Independence First will be organising a conference (on March 1st) to help push the new independence petition which has been launched by the Independence Convention.
Sadly the media completely ignored the recent launch (not a shock but still annoying) so we will have to rely on word of mouth and knocking the doors to get the signatures in. It will be difficult but it will also be worth it. I hope all the Scottish parties and pro independence activists will pitch in on this, certainly IF locally will try and do our part.
I had a chat with Lloyd this week about CONSEU as he has attended previous gatherings, when I get back we'll have to get together with Kev, Ray, Simon, the two Kens, Chris, Eric, Anja and the other local IF guys and figure out own own strategy on the ground. Hopefully I'll be able to get an article or at least a few letters in the press prior to the Glasgow working conference.
This is a bit different from my usual postings of opinion bits but it's been all right so expect the odd post from 'real life' in future!
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:00 PM
"Conversation should be more than a whisper"
Of course the SNP is playing for time. It has no hope of getting a referendum bill through Parliament and there must be a sporting chance that eventually the opposition parties will fall out among themselves. Yet surely the electorate deserves something more concrete than a website.
The SNP Government have published a White paper on independence, not just put up a website, though no doubt the Scotsman hacks haven't bothered to read it!
Unfortunately to have a conversation it takes both sides to be willing to debate and logically consider all the options. The SNP did this, their paper made a serious attempt to look at the other options short of independence that the Scottish people might be interested in.
The unionists however have spat out the dummy, decided that normal power for scotland is out of the question and have retreated to London only to be told by Gordon Brown (and his mouthpiece David Cairns) that no significant powers will be coming to Scotland whether the public want them or not!
It's all just "the McChattering classes" the Scottish public still love Labour and the union, which is why they gave the SNP their first ever victory and Labour's poll figures are in freefall!
Wendy is showing that she is as much of a puppet as Jack McConnell and Labour are actively proving that they have learnt nothing from the election result and are maintaing the contemptuous attitude towards scottish aspirations that they maintained when in power.
As long as they ignore the logical option of independence those who have some ambition for Scotland will have a conversation without them, we might not get much arguments but let's face it we've heard all their scaremongering rubbish against independence many times before. It didn't wash with the scotiish public in the last election and I very much doubt it will work in any future independence referendum either.
That's why the unionists don't want to give us a referendum, they know their arguments aren't working and they could easily lose it.
Unfirtunately for them, the argument has moved on. The question must now be, why no? Who not have the normal powers every other country has, the seat at the UN the individual voice in the EU and control of our own natural resources?
Why allow ourselves to be used as a military base when we don't want nuclear weapons, why not decide our own future free of control by people who clearly despise their own country and think we are all second rate cretins who can't tie our own shoe laces without England?
There's no good reason to not go for it ourselves.
I believe we can and we will and eventually the SNP positive message will convince all Scots of the virtues of normal powers. Labour's day is done, a bit like the tired British union and the tatty flag which goes along with it.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 9:56 PM
We are in a difficult situation in Scotland, even though we weren't technically a colony and although we played a large part in the workings of the Empire, in fact Britain has also treated us like a colony or at least an occupied country in many respects.
Certainly our original languages have been deliberately disparaged and there was even a concerted attempt to wipe out our national identity altogether and rename us as 'North Britain'. This project obviously failed (probably due to the actions of Scottish patriots like Walter Scott and Robert Burns) but there is an underlying current of imperial racist attitudes towards anything Scottish.
This isn't often entirely obvious but it manifests itself in both the 'we can't do it by ourselves' poltics of unionism and the 'I don't like my own accent' cringe. This has been identified in other countries and the answer to it is to build our confidence by taking back what's ours.
I think our national confidence has grown with the new Government and we are very close to making the logical decision to support normal powers.
"Sovereignty will come only when the final step is not seen as a vital break with the past, but rather as a natural one."
- Scotsman article
I think that the above time has almost come and if the Scots do eventually get the opportunity of a vote on independence, I think they would actually go for it. We've now heard the scaremongering of Labour on numerous occasions and it's no longer working.
The last election proved that. Labour's contribution to Scottish constitutional politics is to contemptously claim it's just waffle from "the McChattering classes". Jack McConnell was never treated as anything other than a joke by his bosses in London and it's pretty obvious they don't listen to Wendy very much either.
Since Labour are so awful and the Tories and Lib Dems in this regard are not much better, Hobson's choice is the SNP. While the SNP rule in the parliament Scotland's confidence will only increase.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 9:48 PM
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
The petition is launched at the Scottish parliament, Margo MacDonald Independent MSP signs watched by SNP First Minister Alex Salmond and other SNP MSP's and Elaine C Smith of the Independence Convention (who are co-ordinating the petition).
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:35 PM
An independent Scotland could become a global peacemaker, First Minister Alex Salmond suggested yesterday. He believes Scotland could play a significant role in international conflict resolution, building on the sense of goodwill towards the nation from around the globe.
"Real leadership is not just about winning conflict, it is about having a strategy to defuse it," he said in the inaugural talk on Scotland in the World Forum series being organised by Aberdeen University.
"Resolution of conflict is harder, more subtle. More difficult. But it is an area where Scotland can excel. One only needs to look to the efforts of our Nordic friends in a range of such conflict situations to see the extent of what can be achieved," he went on.
He said global citizenship was about commitment to safety and security around the world.
"For me, therefore, Scottish independence is not just an opportunity to move Scotland forward but a chance for Scotland to give something back - to meet our global responsibilities."
In a separate launch yesterday, the government said it wanted to encourage more overseas firms to use Scotland's legal brains. Business and legal experts meeting in Edinburgh have been asked by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to find ways of making Scotland "the jurisdiction of choice" for solving disputes and going to court.
Well said Alex Salmond. We need to get our seat at the UN and independent representation at the EU. We need independence not any form of devolution where Britain still runs our foreign affairs.
Scotland has potential and we now (for the first time) have a First Minister who has positive energy and believes in our country. That's a lot better than trying to pretend we have an Empire by sooking up to the new imperialist element in the USA.
Scotland could lead by example to Wales, Cornwall, the Basque country and Catalonia by getting our independence first, we then have the potential to be a positive rational voice in the world community but we won't get there if we are led by people who still hark back to the Empire like Prince Andrew or Gordon Brown.
We can do a lot better.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 1:59 PM
Monday, February 04, 2008
HOLYROOD and Westminster clashed yesterday over the future of Scottish banknotes, with a claim from Alex Salmond that the Treasury is trying a “smash-and-grab” cash raid and a dismissal from Labour that the First Minister was “scaremongering”.
Mr Salmond’s attack voiced fears Scottish banks may be forced to stop issuing their own notes if proposed Treasury rules are put into effect. UK Government Chancellor Alistair Darling last week launched a consultation on measures aimed at improving financial stability and protecting depositors in the wake of the Northern Rock crisis.
This included the level of deposits banks are required to lodge with the Bank of England. The SNP leader claimed the changes could sharply raise costs for Scottish banks, as well as those in Northern Ireland, that issue their own notes and the possible cost could reach £100m a year – making the distinctive banknotes uneconomic.
In Scotland, three banks are allowed to issue their own notes: Clydesdale Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland, which has been issuing notes since 1695. No other country allows commercial banks to issue branded notes. Under current laws, the banks have to lodge funds with the Bank of England to cover the value of their notes, but only for three days of the week. On the other four it can be invested elsewhere, gaining millions in interest.
However, the new proposals would require funds to be lodged with the Bank of England for the entire week. Mr Salmond yesterday claimed the changes were “the greatest threat” to Scottish notes since 1845, the year the Banknotes Scotland Act was introduced to regulate the procedure.
The First Minister said: “This is a real dagger at the heart of Scottish banknotes, which are a proud tradition in Scotland and hugely popular with the Scottish public. It would remove any advantage from issuing notes. I am certain one or more of the banks would stop the note issue.”
Mr Salmond also launched an attack on the Treasury and Mr Darling: “Under the cover of a consultation on financial stability, the Treasur y is launching a smash-and-grab at the Scottish note issue. What makes this particularly underhand and shabby is to cloak it in a document about financial stability.”
A spokesman for Clydesdale Bank said it was “very concerned” about the potential impact of the proposals and was seeking a meeting with the Treasury. He said: “If this were to go ahead it would force us to consider whether issuing banknotes would be viable, a position we do not want to be forced into.”
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:26 AM
NINE days ago, Scottish drawing rooms echoed with the glorious, phlegm-sodden sounds of Robert Burns poems, recited loudly and at length. Burns Night takes place every year on January 25, the presumed birthday of the adored Scottish poet. A haggis supper is optional, but recitation of Burns' most famous poem, the feisty Address to a Haggis, is not.
In it, he hails the "great chieftain of the pudding race", which is sneered at by the anglicised upper class but keeps the Scot strong: "The trembling earth resounds his tread."
Burns died in 1796, but his patriotic poem has more resonance than ever. Despite last year celebrating 300 years of its union with England, Scotland, along with parts of Wales and Northern Ireland, is restless.
The Scottish National Party, whose goal is Scottish independence, has won government for the first time ever, and there is talk of a referendum on the subject. Wales, which occupies a place in the English heart similar to that of Tasmania in Australia, also has its own independence movement. And despite a recent power-sharing agreement, the voices of nationalism in Northern Ireland are stronger than ever. Which leaves a very lonely England looking vulnerable as the last vestiges of its old empire are threatened.
Read whole article here:
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:17 AM
They said the allegations could damage relations between the Muslim community and the police.
It is public policy that law agencies cannot eavesdrop on politicians since a bugging scandal involving Harold Wilson's government.
The Muslim Council of Britain called for urgent meetings with the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, and Straw, to ask for clarification on the "disturbing news".
"This kind of behaviour cannot but do immense damage to the level of trust between Muslim communities and the police."
Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation Britain threatened to ban after the 2005 attacks on London, said the allegation was indicative of the country's ever increasing draconian security measures.
"Is it any surprise that many Muslims believe Britain is becoming a police state for our community?" it said in a statement.
Downing Street 'Lost Letter' on bugging
The Conservatives are accusing Number Ten of losing a letter warning Gordon Brown an MP may have been bugged. Labour whip Sadiq Khan was apparently recorded by police while visiting a terror suspect in prison.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:14 AM
The fact that promises of humane treatment from state torturers are inherently
untrustworthy and have not worked in a number of cases does not seem to bother
The US, UK and other western nations are ignoring flawed or rigged elections in some countries for the sake of political convenience, Human Rights Watch charged today in its annual round-up of rights abuses around the world.
While publicly espousing the cause of democracy, Washington, London and others were happy to deal closely with "despots masquerading as democrats" such as Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, Russia's Vladimir Putin and the Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak, the US-based group said.
Separately, HRW singled out the UK government as a concern for its policy of deporting terrorism suspects to countries with repressive regimes if assurances are given the detainees will not be tortured or otherwise mistreated.
This "handy device" had now been borrowed by the US to justify renditions, while Russia and other nations were also happily trying it out, the group said.
The report detailed human rights abuses in more than 75 countries and territories, covering perennial rights pariahs such as North Korea, Burma and China as well as the US and EU.
It additionally criticised Israel for blockading Gaza in response to rocket attacks, describing this as "collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population in violation of international humanitarian law".
But HRW's primary target this year was what it views as the hypocrisy of western nations condemning democratic violations only when expedient.
"Rarely has democracy been so acclaimed yet so breached, so promoted yet so disrespected, so important yet so disappointing," HRW's executive director, Kenneth Roth, said in an introduction to the 569-page document.
This "pseudo democracy" had seen leaders in countries such as Egypt, Nigeria and Ethiopia recognised abroad for their popular mandates despite elections plagued by fraud, intimidation or other flaws.
"It seems Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the 'victor' is a strategic or commercial ally," Roth said, calling the promotion of democracy "a softer and fuzzier alternative to defending human rights."
President Bush had even praised Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, for placing Pakistan "on the road to democracy", Roth noted.
"If, unlike human rights law, 'the road to democracy' permits locking up political opponents, dismissing independent judges, and silencing the independent press, it is easy to see why tyrants the world over are tempted to believe that they, too, might be eligible," he said.
In Africa, Roth said, the current violence in Kenya prompted by the seemingly rigged election on December 27, which returned President Mwai Kibaki to power, could be traced back to overseas reluctance to challenge a similarly flawed poll in Nigeria 10 months earlier.
"Nigeria's leader came to power in a violent and fraudulent vote, yet he has been accepted on the international stage. It's no wonder Kenya's president felt able to rig his re-election," he said.
In a separate section of the report, HRW castigated the UK for its pioneering policy of allowing terrorism suspects to be transferred to the care of brutal regimes on receipt of what the group termed "empty promises of humane treatment".
"The fact that promises of humane treatment from state torturers are inherently untrustworthy and have not worked in a number of cases does not seem to bother London," it said. "The goal is to deport terrorism suspects, no matter what - and if brokering unreliable, unenforceable agreements with states that torture is what it takes, then so be it."
The UK had sought such assurances from "a veritable A-list of abusive regimes", among them Algeria, Egypt and Libya, HRW said, with other countries now following its lead.
Russia, the report noted, happily accepted such diplomatic assurances from Uzbekistan, "a notorious practitioner of torture".
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:12 AM