Category Archives: Scottish politics, Scottish independence

Are We The Bad Guys?

I was disappointed to see the names of several people on the infamous celebrity love bombing letter that I genuinely admire. I loved Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan in Green Wing and Olivia Coleman, Robert Webb and David Mitchell have brightened up many a Friday night. One can only assume they have no idea what’s actually going on in Scotland, let alone who they’re sharing a platform with.
Hey folks, meet the BNP! BNP meet the guys!

It seems that Mitchell and Webb foresaw these events in their famous sketch

Yes, you are the baddies.

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I Am #YesDespite

I am #YesDespite having the best of both worlds, one where the wealthy and powerful live a privileged life of tax evasion, government influence and protection from prosecution and the other where the poor should be grateful for what they have.
I am #YesDespite pooling and sharing our resources, resources such as oil, which makes really big fucking pools and is shared by the city of London, corporations and arms manufacturers.
I am #YesDespite pooling and sharing our finances, giving more to London than we get back for the last 33 years and beyond to indulge in dick-waving vanity projects outwith Scotland.

I am #YesDespite being stronger together and being able to waggle our massive nuclear strap-on to prove it, to engage in the rape of another countries resources on the pretext of justifiable war and to radicalise thousands in the process.
I am #YesDespite having a seat at the top table, that ethereal what-the-fuck-does-that-even-mean top table of intangible benefits whose only contribution seems to have been to sell out Scottish fishing and agriculture interests.
I am #YesDespite having a world class NHS separate from the rest of the UK but dependant on funding which we cannot control, funding eroded by gradual privatisation in England.
I am #YesDespite living in the cradle of democracy and having a house of unelected but paid buffoons that have a say in my life, including removing powers from my government.

I am #YesDespite the bullshit, lies, misinformation, media bias, celebrity endorsements, negative campaigning and personal attacks.

I am #YesBecause we can rise above it all; we are creative, industrious, innovative, talented, stubborn and wilful.
I am #YesBecause we don’t expect utopia but we will work to achieve a fairer, egalitarian nation.
I am #YesBecause of the passion, confidence, belief and commitment of those I see around me.

I am #YesBecause we can achieve anything we want.

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The Killing Fields of Cumbernauld

When I was a kid I loved Lord of the Rings so much I thought Middle Earth was a real place, partly due to Tolkiens rich and elaborate prose but mostly because I was 10 and a bit stupid. The power to create a believable fantasy is a wonderful gift that can transport the reader to new worlds fantastic and terrible but we know they’re works of fiction. Cue the fevered imaginings of an alternative Scottish future courtesy of the Better Together Comedy Troupe and their media cohorts. The mind of your average staunch No voter must be like Dantes fucking Inferno……….

2016, or Year Zero as the media will call it, will see Scotland transformed from a vibrant modern society into a third world dictatorship riven by division. Salmond or Uncle Alex as he prefers to be known will appoint the Wings Over Scotland brownshirts as his official bodyguard. They will be responsible for rounding up English settlers and placing them in makeshift detention centres in Asda car parks for ‘re-education’. Despite the fact that the Pope (!) was behind Scottish secession, Catholics will be hunted down and persecuted by unruly mobs along with Pakistanis, Poles, Seventh Day Adventists and Jedi knights.
Terrorist organisations will find a new home in an independent Scotland. Al Qaeda, Hamas, HYDRA and the Legion of Doom will base their headquarters in Park Circus and have listings in the phone book, though new recruits will have to be brought in by sea, all Scottish airports having been bombed by the RAF.

The UKs refusal to remove Trident will see a partition of the country and the installing of a Vichy-esque government in Helensburgh. No voters from across the country will flock to this haven of democracy which has the added benefit of still using the pound rather than the devalued Scottish Groat. Lack of oil resources, Scotland’s only source of revenue, due to the Royal Navys blockade and redirection of pipelines lead to widespread poverty, though this won’t be widely publicised by the biased Scottish Broadcasting Corporation headed by director general Derek Bateman.

Without access to the EU, trade will collapse and the only growth industry left will involve the construction of massive statues of Uncle Alex in a Saddam-like pose. Public sector recruitment will drop as the requirement to speak Gaelic and the ability to say ‘geezannuradodarat’ in a convincing Scottish accent deters non Scots from applying for positions. Tourism will suffer as Scotland makes Lonely Planets list of ‘Countries That Used to be Cool But Are Now Really Shit’ and stringent border controls will discourage visitors from the rest of the UK.

Let’s face it, with independence, were fucked.

Ok so it’s a bit over the top but every example has been quoted, with my own added exaggeration, by the No campaign or posters on social networks. It’s difficult to contemplate how relatively sane and normal people can imagine their country disintegrating with the simple act of self determination. Proof will come in due course that autonomy and our will to succeed can create a Scotland that is far removed from the above description.

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We Hate The Tories (Mostly)

At the 2010 General Election the Conservative party won one seat in Scotland. This is generally held up as an example of Scotland’s contempt for Tory neoliberal policy and our nations social democratic ideals but conveniently ignores another statistic: how many voted Conservative across the country.

Over 412,000 people in Scotland opted for the Tories as their party of choice, 16.7% of the vote. How many of those will choose to support independence?
It’s a difficult question to answer because we are not voting for a political party but if I were a Conservative I’m pretty sure id be inclined to vote no.

The grassroots element of the Yes campaign have been the single most exciting and invigorating aspect of this debate. Ordinary people finally realising that this is their future and they can, by their involvement, affect the result. It seems unlikely that this new found confidence and democratic participation will fade any time soon as the customary reluctance of ordinary Scots to engage in the political arena has been superseded by an intense need for change. The thrust has focused on developing a fairer, egalitarian society based on principles of social democracy. The online campaign can be confrontational and adversarial; Westminster parties often the subject of disparaging memes, aggressive language and a typically blunt Scottish ‘did ye, aye?’ attitude which leaves no room for compromise. The Tories fare worse than most in these exchanges so how would you as a Conservative voter view the prospect of an independent Scotland?
I’d imagine not with much confidence.

This, to me, is the essence of the whole progression to independence. No matter how staunchly Yes we are, we can still barely grasp the incredible potential to change anything we want. We still think in terms of the current political system and ideologies, ideologies which force people to choose sides depending on their income, upbringing or social status. ‘No More Tory Governments Ever’ is a popular refrain in support of independence but it presupposes that a truly Scottish Conservative Party – or whatever they wanted to call themselves – would be the same as a Westminster Tory party and would be unwilling to adapt and embrace the new political landscape. The truth is that Scottish Tories would have to adapt, just as Labour and the Lib-Dems would because independence would be a rejection of those same parties and their neglect for the needs of the people of this country. How quickly they themselves realise this will determine their success in 2016 but it is not inconceivable that a Conservative party could actually make themselves electable in Scotland in the future. We cannot fear such an event because it would reflect the very democracy that we seek to attain.

One of the main driving forces in the Yes movement is the lack of representation in a union which can safely ignore Scotland, 8.4% of the UK population. It’s unacceptable that we should do the same to double that number of our own citizens. Independence brings a wealth of possibilities for every political belief; our parliament lends itself to diversity and Conservative voters should be reassured that their concerns and needs can be met in the new Scotland.

It has been said that a 3% swing could clinch the vote; persuading even a quarter of Scottish conservatives that independence can work for them would see us over the finishing line.

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Welcome To Scotland Ya F***ker

While under the influence of drink and perusing some Yes threads on Facebook for someone to argue with I came across an interesting comment; that a Scottish poem from the 1500s contained the first written example of the word ‘fuck’. This briefly sobered me up enough to do a quick google to clarify this amazing revelation. Unfortunately as I suspected it wasn’t quite so cut and dried as that but there was enough information to suggest that once again we were ahead of the game in world culture.

I couldn’t help but think that Visit Scotland were missing a trick. Sure we gave the world television, the telephone, antibiotics and a whole warehouse full of consumer goods but being the home of Fuck? An ad mans dream and the commercials would be 24 carat gold.

Picture the scene. A fishing boat is silhouetted against the setting sun on Loch Fyne, pipes play a lament in the background. Cut to a young man sitting on a hill staring across Glencoe shrouded in mist, fade to a couple strolling through fields of purple heather and laughing, switch to the piper standing atop Eilean Donan castle. A throaty voiceover cuts in….

“Scotland. Fuckin gorgeous eh?”

Imagine billboards in America with the legend:

“Told your boss to fuck off? Don’t mention it, our pleasure. Visit Scotland”

Or

“Scotland. We give a fuck, but in a nice way”

The truth is we love to swear. Most of us are aware enough to know when and with whom it is appropriate. The advantage we have over almost every other nationality is that we are incredibly imaginative about it. On the same night I discovered the ‘fuck’ reference I came across examples of such audacious sweary word-smithery that I guiltily laughed out loud, though admittedly I didn’t feel that guilty.
Our profanities are as varied in tone as they are in structure.

Take fud.

The word fud has a massive invisible full stop after it which says ‘checkmate’. When someone calls you a fud you know that is the endgame, the coup de grace. There is simply no adequate response short of physical violence, it is the obscene bullet to the brain and you know you have been bested by a superior linguist. You retire and mentally take ‘fud’ with you.

Fanny is another one. It has a certain beauty because it manages to convey inadequacy, despair and disdain all at once. Most commonly used by the type of people who would struggle to define the meanings of inadequacy, despair and disdain but used effectively nonetheless. The classic “What a fanny” will never go out of style.

There’s more, much more but to list them and their varied uses would take longer than I have.
To close, I’ll leave you with this handy phrase for the next time you’re out canvassing.

Don’t be a fud, vote Yes.

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Oh What A Lovely War

My dad died in 1966. I was a year old so never had the chance to know the man. He enlisted in 1939 at the age of 18 like so many others in Scotland and joined the Royal Artillery. Family anecdotes had recalled he was a parachutist too and it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I realised operating big guns and jumping out of aeroplanes were strange bedfellows, unless you’re Chuck Norris or Arnold Schwarzenegger, so I dismissed it as hero worship from my siblings. It took till last year to get around to requesting his war records which threw up some surprises.

He did indeed serve with the RA, at one point in Basra, that city so identified with modern warfare and the British army but he also volunteered for and served with the Raiding Support Regiment, a short lived special forces group whose contemporaries were the SAS and the Long Range Desert Group. The RSR operated in the Mediterranean and Yugoslavia, dropping behind enemy lines and offering heavy gun support to local partisans, including Tito.
He was parachute trained in Palestine.
He was wounded twice in action.
He was docked a weeks pay for some undisclosed misdemeanour. Boys will be boys.
As a kid I was immensely proud that my dad had been a soldier and fought against Hitler. I loved looking at his campaign medals kept in the drawer in my mums bedroom. I loved war movies and still do, British preferably because they do ‘War Is Hell’ better than anyone.
Better Together and the UK governments assertion that we have a shared history, almost always in relation to war, can be a powerful and persuasive argument but the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the subsequent commemoration service at Glasgow cathedral demonstrated that times and people change, history doesn’t.

All of the countries competing had been former colonies or dominions of Britain; this island forms an integral part of their own story, a story which often reflects the casual brutality of the British Empire.
They were the British Empire and their contribution in both world wars is often ignored or understated. Over a million Indian soldiers volunteered to fight in the Great War – 140,000 of them fought on the Western front alongside Scots, English and Welsh troops – a fact which shames me to say I didn’t know.
Indian, Australian, Gurkhas and Kiwis fought side by side at Gallipoli; I thought it was just Mel Gibson.
In total over 9 million men from commonwealth countries fought alongside British soldiers in the first world war, three and a half million in the second. Their history and experience is interwoven with that of our countrymen, the hardship, death and deprivation the same.

So it angers me when it is suggested that Scottish independence dishonours the memory of British war casualties while ignoring the contribution of these countries, most of whom gained sovereignty after the Second World War. Did Indian independence dishonour the dead? Or Australian? Or Jamaican?
No. It is only we Scots who should feel ashamed.
To suggest the we should carry a burden of guilt, that somehow history will be erased by independence is crass and reprehensible. The past is immutable and we share it not just with other nations in the UK but with the commonwealth, with France, Belgium, Holland and every other country who worked together in times of conflict.

My dad survived the war, many of his comrades of every nationality didn’t. He had a shared history and experience with men of the commonwealth, men who fought the same battles. It didn’t stop those men from claiming their sovereignty and it shouldn’t stop us.

The dead should be remembered but war should never be celebrated. Mentioning Gallipoli brought to mind this song; it still moves me and hope you feel the same

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

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B.O.L.L.O.C.K.S

To: All Group Organisers
Cc: DC/OO/UKIP/BNP/VNOB
From: AD

Subject: Reorganisation

As we approach the final weeks of the referendum campaign we have decided to adjust our structure and the way we disseminate information with a view to maximising media focus. This will entail the creation or renaming of several groups.

Better Together will now be known as Britains Best Campaign (BBC) The BBC will be firmly on message and have responsibility for relaying important information in support of the union.
New groups include Labour Idealists Against Radical Separation (LIARS). This group will emphasise the dangers of independence and gather news damaging to the yes campaign. Youth ambassadors Friendly Union Debaters (FUDS) will focus on the positives of a strong union and Together With All True Scots (TWATS) will accentuate the essential similarities between all Britons.

Those voters who are undecided or leaning towards yes have now been classified as Scottish Citizens Unconvinced of Membership (SCUM).

There will be a reclassification of categories of information to be distributed with two main threads. Shared History In Troubles (SHIT), the focus of which shall be examples of cooperation between UK nations at times of national emergency and Problems Involved in Scottish Hegemony (PISH), a self explanatory thread exploring the difficulties facing an independent Scotland.

The BBC will attempt to disseminate as much PISH as possible, especially to less informed SCUM. The bulk of their output will be provided by LIARS though TWATS have a significant role to play as talking heads. FUDS will talk SHIT to SCUM at a grassroots level though due to a lack of FUDS in Scotland we may have to bus some in.
Leaflets printed will be mostly SHIT with elements of PISH and will be heavily endorsed by LIARS and TWATS through the BBC.

To conclude, LIARS, FUDS, TWATS and the BBC have an important role in convincing SCUM to vote No. We must distribute as much PISH and SHIT as possible in the time remaining without allowing SCUM to suspect we are talking CRAP (CRAP).

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Minor Union Irritation #126:

Having to check ‘United Kingdom’ as country of origin on internet forms.

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Life of Alex

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REG: Those Nats have bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers’ fathers.

LORETTA: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

REG: Yeah.

LORETTA: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

REG: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

XERXES: Council Tax frozen for seven years?

REG: What?

XERXES: Council Tax frozen for seven years.

REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.

COMMANDO #3: And cutting the business rates.

LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the business rates, Reg.

REG: Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the council tax freeze and cutting the business rate are two things that the Nats have done.

MATTHIAS: And the free university tuition.

REG: Well, yeah. Obviously the free university tuition. I mean, university education goes without saying, doesn’t it? But apart from the business rates, the council tax freeze, and free university tuition–

COMMANDO: Provided an extra £20million to combat the bedroom tax .

XERXES: Raised smoking age to 18.

COMMANDO #1: Increased foreign aid.

COMMANDOS: Huh? Heh? Huh…

COMMANDO #2: Provided the HPV vaccine for teenage girls.

COMMANDOS: Ohh…

REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

COMMANDO #1: And the free prescriptions.

COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah…

FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss, Reg, if the Nats left. Huh.

COMMANDO: Investment in green energy.

LORETTA: 1000 more police officers and recorded crime at a 39 year low.

FRANCIS: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it. They’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

COMMANDOS: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

REG: All right, but apart from the council tax freeze, free prescriptions, free university tuition, business rates, public order, help with the bedroom tax, green energy, foreign aid and public health, what have the Nats ever done for us?

XERXES: Given us the opportunity to reinstate our country as an independent nation.

REG: Oh. Independence? Shut up!

And the original source is here

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The Confidence Trick

Every parent knows the value of building self esteem in a child; it creates self belief, encourages communication and by extension investigation and prepares that child for a world which is wonderful but often seems harsh and unfair. The armour of self confidence allows hope and ambition to flourish, lack of it can create an insular personality, fearful, full of self loathing and doubt.
Scots as individuals generally don’t lack confidence but as a nation we are the kid who was always told they’re a bit, well, crap.
We are drunken belligerent subsidy junkies, we are racist English hating bigots, we are parochial tartan-clad
bumpkins who can’t be trusted to hold the national bank card. We are morose and maudlin. We accuse ambitious Scots of rising above their station. We make good soldiers but poor officers. We don’t have the intelligence, organisation or skill to operate without the benevolent hand of our guardian to lead the way.

Unfortunately most of us have believed some, if not all of this, at some point in our lives so it should come as no surprise that many in Scotland have not embraced the risky, danger filled path of independence.

This negative view that many of our countrymen hold of their nation has not occurred by accident, it has been a calculated and cynical design by the British ruling classes to maintain a subservient and compliant Scottish population and it has been until now an overwhelming success.
A nations history is important in engendering a sense of self, it can offer clues to who we are and what we might become. I was never taught about the Darien Scheme and the Act of Union at school. The Jacobite Rebellion, the role of Scots in the slave trade; zilch. I was taught about Corn Laws, Rotten Boroughs and the Industrial Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Middle Ages all from an English/British perspective but nothing of my own countries past. It was as if we had no history, or at least none worth investigating, none of any value.
Throughout the decades the portrayal of Scots by the media has been predictably negative. We are the Jocks ( I read recently, possibly Derek Bateman that if we are supposed to hate the English so much, why don’t we have a nickname for them? We are quite imaginative when it comes abusive terms but I’ve racked my brains and can’t think of any bar the mild ‘sassenach’). It seemed for several years during the 1980s that every London drunk on TV was Scottish. We know that is not who we are but we care that others might think so and that has a subtle influence on how we see ourselves.
The secrecy of the McCrone Report, the destruction of our mining, steel and shipbuilding industries and the vilification by Labour of the SNP, the only political party solely concerned with Scotland’s welfare have all contributed to the belief that we have nothing and we are worth nothing as a nation.

Until now.

Something strange has happened in this debate; people in Scotland have decided collectively and en masse that we are worth something and ironically it may be the No campaign and the British establishment that have inspired that self belief. Over the top estimates of costs, denial of currency, denial of EU and NATO membership, threats to security, pensions and mortgages have all inspired people to ask the most important question of all: why are they trying so hard to keep us?.
This has been answered by every Yes organisation, website and blogger; we are a wealthy nation, more than capable of looking after our own affairs and the British establishment stand to lose more than simply a piece of land, they lose status, prestige and cold hard cash. Healthy finances do not buy happiness but they do provide a degree of stability that breeds confidence in the future and confidence is the cornerstone of this debate.
My first indication that a Scottish government could provide a country that I wanted to live in was the freeing on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. That took guts and a morality which was directly opposed to Westminsters US-led revenge doctrine. To make a decision which they knew would be widely condemned took courage and confidence and they have continued through policy and attitude to demonstrate to the Scottish people what is possible.

Every time I visit an independence thread on Facebook, Wings, Bella and countless other sources I see a nation that is waking to the possibilities. I don’t recognise this Scotland but it is a welcome sight. Positivity and hope abound as information is sought, found and shared. Many will not be swayed, the insidious nature of their conditioning is hard to counter but confidence is bred by strength in numbers, by visibility, by strong role models and above all by information.

So spread the word and show your colours; others need to see that they are not alone and that their belief is your belief.

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