Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Just a little bit more on CBI Scotland/Dummy's guide to the CBI Scotland carry on.

Lots of things being highlighted around CBI Scotland and its Scottish members leaving in droves, I might have posted something sooner but I was busy ensuring none of my ribs had snapped from laughter.

I understand people are busy, so if you want a much shortened version of this particular offering, just scroll to the end and read the last sentence.

John McMillan, a fervent supporter of the union - not that he's been trying to sway votes right enough
You see, CBI Scotland - in the form of Iain McMillan (Scottish Director A.K.A. Regional Manager for Scotland) - frequently went out of its way to claim it had a mandate from its Scottish members around its stance on the independence referendum. More recently (and more bizarrely) John Cridland (Director General of the CBI - Iain's boss) said the CBI wasn't seeking to sway the opinion of voters while mentioning at every turn he/they thought the idea of Scottish Independence was crap.

I mean, they applied to the Electoral Commission as an official supporter of the no campaign, meaning they could spend up to £150k - ummm - telling people it officially opposed independence plans... Not that they were trying to change any minds you understand.

I DID IT... MY WAAAAAAYYY... (This is John Cridland by the way.)
Now, John Cridland (the boss) is telling all who will listen that the application to the EC was a mistake (the Office Junior - reportedly also Head of Campaigns - got idea's above his station) and that the CBI had since applied to the EC to nullify their application. Also, the CBI will no longer be campaigning one way or the other, which I'm not sure I believe. They're going to withdraw entirely from the debate - which is presumably why Iain McMillan has announced his retirement, all he seemed to do was criticise the idea of Scottish independence; he'll have nothing left to do anyway.

Meanwhile, the BBC said it would only be suspending (which seems a bit cheeky given BBC rules around impartiality) its membership of the CBI - the now strictly uninvolved business lobby group, (not that it'll be doing any lobbying mind.) John Cridland ordered all views around the UK constitutional settlement & politics in general to be surgically removed from staff (especially the wee scamp who filled out the application form for the Electoral Commission.)

Or something...

Why is it funny? Well its schadenfreude really. CBI Scotland coveted their 'mandate' to speak for Scottish business, often pointing it out before uttering something negative about independence on behalf of its thousands of Scottish members - a lot of folk didn't believe a mandate existed because the CBI don't publish a membership list. When the CBI signed up as an official no campaign group - a lot of their Scottish members (not to put to fine a point on it) fucked off. .

Even if you're not a political saddo -that's quite funny.

Meanwhile, John Cridland is being accused of scapegoating Iain McMillan. The official CBI response was that McMillan had planned to take early retirement two years ago.

From here
Having said that, in the same article:

Are we splitting hairs? Are we being pedantic? Are the CBI just commenting on the facts around the independence debate and those comments just happen to be against? Or are they flailing about desperately trying to rebuild a semblance of competent impartiality? 

When Iain McMillan proclaimed...

From here.

... Was it just him being honest & affable but definitely not trying to sway your vote? After all, its not like the Confederation of British Industry have anything to lose if Scotland votes yes. (And who ever says Scotland would be a land of milk & honey anyway?)

CBI Scotland sounds like a cheap rip-off from one of those American detective shows - NCIS this or CSI that. But you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to get the gist of it. 

  • They applied to the Electoral Commission to officially campaign for a no vote with out breaking electoral laws.
"Ok, tell me more"
  • 18+ of their Scottish members left because they don't want to be seen endorsing either side - or the no campaign in particular. 
"That's quite funny..."
  • Now, Cridland says this was an action about which senior management (i.e. him) knew nothing about.
"Awwww, nearly had me there."
  • The CBI have requested that their application be nullified but it has nothing to do with Scottish members leaving.
  • Oh aye, and Iain McMillan is getting the boot - sorry, retiring.
"You're fired!"
He also says (and continues to say) the CBI is non-political and isn't trying to affect the way people vote in the referendum in September - its just that they have a mandate and feel the need to comment on behalf of its many, many Scottish members (well, not as many as it used to be,) and really; its just unfortunate that those comments are invariably and relentlessly negative because you know, its just such a crap idea. 

Finally, CBI Scotland won't reveal how many Scottish companies are now members, it could be as few as seventy. Meanwhile, Business for Scotland which openly and unabashedly supports Scottish self determination boasts a membership role of some 1500 Scottish companies and rising. 

From Business for Scotland:

Inflated Membership NumbersIt is often said that the CBI have 24,000 Scottish members.  This is not the case.
In January this year The Telegraph reported
… “the CBI did not represent the views of companies north of the Border, pointing to Business for Scotland signing up 1,100 (now 1,800) members. However, this is dwarfed by the CBI, which has around 24,000 members in Scotland that employ 630,000 people”.
“The same article then goes on to say: “The CBI has around 240,000 members across the UK”.
The 24,000 figure is used over and over again on websites and in the media and we believe it is not possible for the CBI to have either 24,000 Scottish members or 240,000 UK members.
CBI Scotland Council member Anthony Rush has admitted, that the CBI may only have around 100 members and “he does not know where the true number of Scottish companies lies.”  The CBI is so secretive about its membership numbers that even some of its Council Members do not know how many they have.  Business for Scotland highlights that there is no evidence that the CBI have more than 70 companies – the vast majority of which take a neutral stance on Independence and were not consulted on the CBI’s support for and involvement in the No Campaign.
To put it another way, since this story broke on Friday, 73 Scottish business people have joined Business for Scotland – that may be more new individual members for Business for Scotland over this weekend than the CBI has organisational members from Scotland.

If representative/s of CBI Scotland or CBI London are talking about Scottish Independence - the odds are; they're either misrepresenting the truth, providing misinformation or flat out lying.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sooo... The Daily Express, Pensions and the CBI in Scotland.

You know how this works don't you, its a main plank in the Unionist's armament of techniques  against independence. Its not about the substance of the debate but the nature of the debate itself, where an action with a pretty obvious reaction actually means the opposite and a message printed for Scotland is the exact opposite of the message printed for England.

Starting with the Express, if its Diana, Franklin Mint plates and crimplene trouser (with elasticated waist bands) you're after - this is the publication for you. You'll have seen this on twitter, if you use it at all.

HT to @gordmatheson (not the leader of Glasgow Labour, well I don't think he is.)
The top image was the English paper's front page while we in Scotland got the lower half as our front page, although mercifully, there was nothing about Princess Diana or Royal Baby X. I have no idea who buys the Express in Scotland, I don't have a budgie - but if I did, I wouldn't use it to line the bottom of the cage lest the poor animal catches a glimpse of a headline and dies from fright.

You might remember this from some time ago, the Daily Mail gave free reign to Simon Heffer's arsehole - the top headline is from the English edition, the bottom is what we got in Scotland - proving Heffer's backside and the Daily Mail have little in the way of courage and nothing in the way of wit or intelligence.

These publications think the border has already gone up, denying any cross-border 'journalistic' or indeed any sort of informational exchange.

But that isn't all.

Although its not really being reported, possibly because not even the Scottish press in its craven recounting around the independence debate, could with a straight face report any warnings Gordon Brown has to give about pensions in an independent Scotland.

Listen to him if you will, as long as you do so with this in mind.
Meanwhile, after Gordon Brown has finished talking about pensions, Jim Devine will be giving a seminar on Honesty & Virtues in parliament.

Jim hopes to revive his political career on the back of several lectures on parliamentary ethics.

But wait, there's more (and boy did I laugh like a drain when I read about this...) The CBI - in a move it describes as 'a compliance issue' - has registered with the Electoral Commission as a supporter of the pro-union campaign in the run up to the referendum. Already, a number of members have become - well - ex-members; Glasgow Uni, Aberdeen Uni, Edinburgh Uni along with Scottish Enterprise, Visit Scotland, Aqua Marine Power and Balhousie Care Group and STV all left the organisation with more leaving as companies & other bodies re-evaluate their position.

CBI Scotland in reality never had much of a mandate in Scotland, yet have been one of the more shrill supporters of the Union and Better Together. Its gratifying to see them being brought down a peg or two, but as ever, they wish to bend all of our understanding of language and reality.

John Cridland said of the move:

"We are not trying to campaign to influence the Scottish voter but we are a business organisation and on the business issues – jobs in Scotland, growth in Scotland, living standards in Scotland – we have a view," he said. 
"We don't think the economic case for independence has been made and we think the economy in Scotland and the economy of the United Kingdom is stronger together."

Right, because reading that makes me think you are trying to influence the way people vote. 

Never forget, the 'B' in CBI stands for British.

In our next blog entry, we talk about how The Waltons - even although they said goodnight to each other at the end of each episode - NEVER WENT TO BED!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

He would say that wouldn't he/First Sea Lord opens his gub.

Where I work, change management is a big topic. They're always banging on about it and using ever more patronising methods to deliver training on the gnarly subject. Sometimes one can be forgiven for thinking, they think, we're all really fucking stupid (I swear to under-line just how much so.)

I think Unionists could do with some training or counselling in the same area, they don't do change very well. 

This was the chosen vehicle for delivering change management training where I work, read some of the reviews for a flavour of how shit it was.
So we come to First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC DL (please see here for caveats around people with letters & words before or after their name given to them by the Queen and/or British Establishment.) The letters he has after his name are Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. Not Bath as in the place, but 'the Bath' - make of that what you will. Whether it is a bath or the place called Bath, he's a Knight Commander of it - its safe to say - he owns a bath, the bath or Bath... or something...

The Distinguished Service Cross he got while in command of HMS Chatham during Operation palliser off Sierra Leone. The Type 22 Frigate Chatham was involved in evacuating British, EU and common wealth nationals during the civil war in Sierra Leone. 

The DL stands for Deputy Lieutenant which has something to do with imaginary lieutenancies, to be honest, the Wikipedia entry isn't clear. The award is so old fashioned and pointless its not worth looking further into. I don't know why George got it, I imagine it'll be something to do with knowing a Lord Lieutenant because they're responsible for doling them out.

George Zambellas

Before I go any further, it is not my intention to disparage George Zambellas or anything he has achieved, I merely aim to point out that all he has achieved has been at the hearth of the British State, he's spent his entire working life in service of it - he's hardly likely to say anything that would do it down.

I also quite like his uniform.

So why are you reading (if you still are reading) about George Zambellas? Because he's the most recent person to stick his head above the parapet - or should I say bulwark - in the independence debate.

He said - and bare in mind the BBC often change articles once the more unsubtle parts of a message are implanted...
"I believe very strongly that, for a premier league navy, respected around the world, with a big responsibility, for us to be divided would be less efficient for both the UK and Scotland. 
"The nature of our military construct, infrastructure, basing, people, equipment and the families who support a hard-pressed navy, all of those add up to a construct which doesn't bear dividing its efficiency, and my job is to provide the navy as efficiently as I can. 
"The way we do business means that if you try to pull some threads out of the rope it's much less efficient, and that applies particularly to the navy because it's so hard-pressed."

Eh, don't you mean pull some threads out of the 'sheet' George? (Actually, I think that's just in sailing - never mind...)

"The UK is deeply respected for its maritime contribution to Nato, with its maritime deterrent through its ships and submarines and marines, and that whole piece is part of Nato's contribution to security.
"Taking that apart would give us a much weaker result. The two components would not add up to the sum of the whole."
Here's the thing though.

Asking someone like George Zambellas what he thinks about Scottish Independence and the obvious effects it would have on the rUK is a bit like asking Phillip Clarke (CEO of Tesco PLC) what he thinks about supermarket provision in the UK and expecting him to say ASDA does it much better.

He just wouldn't, Phillip Clarke knows about Tesco, he's paid by Tesco and probably has an excellent pension and great share options - with Tesco.

George Zambellas is in the same boat (ha ha.) He's made his career in the Royal Navy and advanced to the top position. He's hardly likely to say: 
"Actually, do you know? It'll be fine, I'm not worried about the decapitation of the UK's already very limited ability to provide an adequate Royal Navy. Being able to project force on a global scale was over-rated anyway and lets be honest; Trident missiles and the subs required to carry them & aircraft carriers with all the shield vessels they require are all a bit OTT.
We should really wind our necks in a bit and live within our means, mind our own business a bit more, look after our elderly & infirm - lift all those kids out of poverty - that sort of thing."
No, he wouldn't say that at all would he.

In the same article Col Stuart Crawford who used to be an army officer said:
"Scotland would be more than capable of running its own armed forces should the country become independent.
"We shouldn't imagine that those armed forces would be a microcosm of the UK's armed forces - not just 10% of the UK inventory if you like.
"It would be something much more modest with a different focus."
Stuart Crawford advised the SNP in the past and is a supporter of independence so we could apply the same logic to his words as we did to George's. But - and this is where the 'Terms of the Independence Debate'* kick in - who, according to real world rules is being more reasonable? George Zambellas who thinks Britannia can still rules the waves or Stuart who thinks a Scottish Navy with a more regional focus would suffice?

Meanwhile, we're told by the usual sources that Scotland couldn't afford a Navy. For example here, an article by plain John McAnally who by the end turns out to be Vice Admiral John McAnally, a former commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies tells us... Actually I won't bother, the 'article' is riddled with the usual scares & misrepresentations that have already been debunked countless times, don't click on it: its total nonsense.

The point is, the Royal Navy as it stands cannot defend British territorial water. When the Russian Navy twice came within 30 miles of the Scottish coast, the Royal Navy had nothing in Scottish waters, it had to send a ship from Portsmouth - it took 24 hours to arrive - by which time Russian sailors had had their tea on shore and were back tucked up in their hammocks - I have no idea if they use hammocks, I like to think they do, where's the harm?

The Admiral Kuznetsov dropped anchor in the Moray Firth in December 2013, its 100% hammock-equipped you know...

Currently the Royal Navy is so busy trying to project power on a global scale (at the behest of Westminster) they aren't able to provide adequate security for the British Isles. Something's got to give, the UK as it is now cannot afford to do all it used to do, with the best will in the world First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas isn't being realistic.

As you would expect, George's 'intervention' comes at the same time Phillip Hammond (Secretary of Defence) is visiting Scotland, ostensibly to tell us all how crap we are (again.) I should say at this time, the link I provided to what George Zambellas said at the top of this page is now the same as the link in this paragraph to what Hammond is saying - in the time its taken to write this, the BBC has already changed the article.

I think all we need to know about what Hammond said in the changed article can be encapsulated in this quote:
"The combination of our scale, our critical mass and our reputation allows us to punch above our weight in security terms and enables diplomacy that is second to none."
Blah blah blah, YAWN. I don't think we need say anything more, we all have a pretty good idea what Westminster means when it talks about punching above its weight.

It means people at home have to make sacrifices when they don't need to.

* The Terms of the Independence Debate: These are special rules set out solely for the independence referendum debate. For example; questions that have been answered countless times can still be called 'unanswered', when although both the Yes and No Campaigns have the same information - the things the No side say are factual but the things the Yes side say are assertions and where those who support the union are fluffy & cuddly but those who support the no side are vicious cybernats engaged in a violent, abusive campaign of terror (probably) - usually from a bedroom in their parent's home.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The ultimate fearbomb?

Or did Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen go to far and tip over into the absurd?

First of all, taking it back to the beginning, who is The Right Honourable, The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen - KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRCE, PC? As you can see from the letters after his name, he's a person who's thoroughly immersed in the trappings of the British State - it is possible to judge the vehemence of a person's unionist leanings by how many letters he or she has been awarded by the establishment via the Queen - I think George is doing pretty well.

From Lord George's match.com profile - He enjoys long walks, good food and talking shite.

He's an ex-Labour MP who first entered politics in 1978, in that time he's been a member of parliament for Hamilton South, a shadow secretary of state for Scotland, a defence secretary (under Tony Blair) and a secretary general of NATO.

He's now a life peer, hence all the words before and letters after his name.

It goes with out saying (although I'll say it anyway) having a career such as he's had may mean he gets a pantomime title but certainly doesn't mean he's got any intellectual advantage over you or me. The KT denotes The Order of the Thistle (for chivalry no less) and is given to Scots who have pleased the Queen and/or British state in some form or another. The GCMG - the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George is a non-military, military honour, presumably for his time as a Defence Secretary and/or time as SecGen of NATO, (I didn't type military twice, its named after two military saints apparently and is awarded for services in a foreign country. I take that to read, awarded for sitting quite far behind enemy lines - imagined or otherwise - while 'directing one thing or another'.)

The FRSA and FRSE are charitable bodies with interests in the arts among other things. Basically if you want in, existing 'fellows' need to nominate then vote you in.

The PC refers to in house training Lord Robertson attended while he was plain old George and working part time at Currys/PC World.

Port Ellen branch where George was frequently employee of the month.

Its not you know, it stands for Privy Council -an award given to Members of Parliament for, well, being members of parliament.

There are those who think having all these awards and accolades means the person holding them might in some be way accomplished, intelligent or deserving of attention. As evidenced by Baron Robertson of Port Ellen when he opens his mouth and talks - this is demonstrably not true.

Those words uttered during a debate where a substantial vote in favour of No was turned over (in no small measure by Stuart Hosie's efforts) to a majority in favour of a Yes vote.

So to the fearbomb. It is a contender for the biggest of all - the Tsar Bomba of the independence debate if you like. George tells us during a speech given in Washington:

"The loudest cheers for the breakup of Britain would be from our adversaries and from our enemies. For the second military power in the West to shatter this year would be cataclysmic in geopolitical terms."


"Nobody should underestimate the effect all of that would have on existing global balances and the forces of darkness would simply love it."

Forces of darkness!

"The geostrategic consequences don’t stop with what happens in the United Kingdom on the 19th of September. The ripple effects will go much wider than our own shores. The United Kingdom is not alone in having separatist movements."

Geostrategic ripple effects - DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!?

"In Spain, both Catalonia and the Basque country have declared that they want independence. Catalonia where million and a half people marched in the streets demanding independence –and remember that the SNP have never had more than 10,000 people in any demonstration—Catalonia says that it will have its referendum from Spain even if it's in breach of the constitution of its country."

Better Together said four, maybe five people took part in the 2013 March for Independence. The Scottish Police Federation and organisers said around 20,000 turned up.

"The Basque extremist have only in the recent past have backed away from terrorism, but they are watching Catalonia and Scotland with quote undisguised interest."

"Then there's Belgium, a country which is held together by a thread. The Flemish nationalists see Scotland as breaking the mold. We're next if Scotland breaks free and becomes a member of the European Union, they quite openly say."
Not Belgium too, say it ain't so George - SAY IT AIN'T SO!

"And as if to underline what this means for Europe, despite its manifest claim to nationhood, Kosovo still finds itself unrecognized by a handful of European Union countries worried about the implications of breakaway for their own separatist movements."
How much fear can a simple non-honoured, non-FRSA/FRSE-aligned member of the public possibly be expected to tolerate? (23 of 28 EU countries recognise Kosovo of which the UK is one, take from that what you will...)

"So I contend that it is far from scaremongering to use the term Balkanization to predict what might happen if Scotland were to break from its 300 year old union. The fragmentation of Europe starting on the centenary of the First World War would be both an irony and a tragedy with incalculable consequences."

And a final desperate attempt to equate a yes vote to the onset of a World War - its clearer why the British State insists we all celebrate the start and not the end of WW1.

Robertson had much more to say on the subject (as you'd imagine,) the entirety of the speech is linked above.

As per the terms of the independence debate, we find Lord Robertson's words - if we apply a normal amount of common sense that is - to be entirely devoid of rationality. What he's saying is, if Scotland exercised it's democratic right to vote for independence, the entire western world would crumble, even although for the duration Westminster has gone to great lengths to say rUK would carry on as before, undiminished as the successor state. Now though, George Robertson tells us a rUK denuded of 10% of its population, 30% of its landmass and a decapitated economy would spell the end of western civilisation as we know it?

Seriously? Which is it to be?

I try at all times to be as professional as I can be on this blog (although I know it might not often show,) but do fuck off George - what you say insults our intelligence.

Is the positive case for the union really, seriously the safe continuation of the western world? "Vote no or Western Civilisation gets it!" Is that it? What next, are Unionist politicians going to gather atop canal bridges, holding hessian sacks stuffed with puppies & kittens over stagnant waters while demanding we vote no or else?

More and more I find myself voting yes not because of any positive messages coming from the yes side - although you can compare what Lord Robertson said in his speech in Washington, to Alex Salmond's speech in New York for tone & content - but because of the absolute nonsense unionists expect us to accept as fact.

Coming from the Yes Scotland meeting I waffled about in my last post, at which there were a number of no voters present. Some assumed a smugly superior position because unlike Yes Scotland and its spokespeople - Better Together and unionist politicians weren't pulling the wool over their eyes. It is uniquely frustrating and unedifying listening to people being so certain about a subject when it's foundations are so easily dissolved by the application of even a droplet of common sense reality. (I would happily accept challenges about any proclamations coming from the Yes Campaign.)

In shoring up the United Kingdom and the last vestiges of a dead empire, those who speak in its favour are portraying a version of reality which is as tortured as it is unrecognisable. You only need a modicum of common sense to see the absolute absurdity of the visions they attempt to project, currently agents of the British Establishment are doing their best to redraw the debate in order to keep people ignorant.

I'm not sure whether to be angry at Robertson's assumptions around yours and my levels of intelligence or amused at his moronic ideas around Scottish independence and our place in the world.

Won't some one think of the kittens?

Monday, 7 April 2014

A wee busy spell.

I haven't had the chance to post much of anything for one reason or another; using up spare leave from work, managing parents (having elderly parents is like having children) and a more fortunate conflation of other pleasurable visits, dinners and outings.

But its back to normal now, not quite like returning from a proper holiday mind but we're all back in to the usual routine. (Although the schools are now out for Easter meaning quieter roads and more chance of a parking space.) But enough humdrum domesticity - I did something new at the weekend:

I went to a Yes Scotland 'grassroots' meeting in my local village.

The village is Longniddry, I grew up there and still have links. I would say its probably more No than Yes - people are pretty comfortable for the most part (although you never know for sure what goes on behind closed doors.) The crowd (if I can call it that) was a mixture, I would say as many no voters as there was yes voters (about five or six each) three or four don't knows, four SNP/Yes activists and what I began to call the Three Horseman of the Apocalypse up the back in the form of one Labour Councillor (who I know) one posh chap clutching a Scotsman article and another corpulent face I recognised from the village.

At one point, the evening began to feel not so much like a Yes Scotland event but some weird BBC/Scotsman-esque meeting in which Better Together rules of reality applied. The posh chap started parroting Better Together Mantra, the well fed one sat reclined in his plastic seat, legs crossed and arms folded and held forth on a number of issues at length and the Labour Councillor gave a speech (entirely without irony) about how well his family had done in a Scotland within the Union.

(One of his sons is a diplomat and had worked in Iraq, he assured us how fair the entire escapade was and how much the benighted people of that country appreciated Team GB's efforts to free them from Saddam's evil control. He went on to say how much better Iraq was and that he had no doubt about this because his son said it was so.

There was the odd snort.)

I would have been disappointed if there was no counter-argument, I suppose the night's only saving grace was; where the meeting was a bit too SNP-orientated in the first instance, the No arguments where the usual array of vapid soundbite and tired rhetoric. It was gratifying to see undecided voters (both of them) roll their eyes when the posh chap reeled off all the companies who'd be leaving the country if we vote yes.

Its difficult to go into detail, the meeting wasn't overly well chaired, Fraser McAllister was a moderate voice but not strict enough with some speakers. The lady who spoke about pensions was excellent and was the only speaker who talked uninterrupted for the duration, I didn't get her name but she worked in a big pension provider's HR department dealing with employee benefits. She was erudite, matter-of-fact and not in the SNP, she also made the crucial points around pensions that needed to be made - the Three Horsemen had nothing to say in reply.

They then had a chap up to talk about the economy, he obviously knew his subject but used China as an example of good economic practice when in the video we watched at the beginning, it was held up as an inflexible economic behemoth. After that, the well-fed chap (still reclined with legs and arms crossed) started to hold forth on a number of subjects each one more boring and less pertinent than the last - the rest of the small crowd (even some of the no voters) ended up telling him to 'be quiet'.

Over all, I don't think it won any new voters for either side, it may actually have put them off. It could have been more slick (for example, how difficult can it be to fit the image your projecting on to the screen you're using?) And it should have been less about the intentions of political parties and more about constitutional change. (At no point did any one say after a Yes vote you could vote for who ever you liked and that after a no vote, you're vote in Westminster elections would continue not to count.)

A lot of time was wasted on Labour/SNP/Tory intentions. As we know; its not about the left or right of it per se, its about the framework in which our politics operate.

Of course its easy to carp from the sidelines, I could have put my hand up - I probably should have put my hand up. It would be obvious what side I was on as soon as I started to speak but since most of the other questioner's views were obvious, I'm not sure why I didn't.

If I was to stand up at one of these meetings, I'd want to talk about the terms of the debate. There's still far too much 'whataboutery', far to much hyperbole on topics that are strictly secondary to the vote in September. People need to understand the rules of the debate if they are to understand the substance of it.

I did say (if only to myself) that nearer the vote I'd move more toward the face-to-face campaigning and away from the safety of the internet.

Maybe its time to start?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

School's out. (Not really about indyref. Feel free to pass.)

Just a very quick note...

Listening to the young folk I know, they were talking on Sunday night about how many days they had left of school, they seemed surprised and excited to realise it could be measured in single figures. There was wistfulness, uncertainty and concealed excitement in the air - most will be off to university, others haven't secured a place yet (but probably will) while others still have no idea what they'll end up doing.

We all know Scottish independence day wouldn't be for a couple of years - there would be two more years of school leavers before Scotland became properly independent (or as independent as most countries can ever be, ) but the parallel is there. These young folk can't stay at school for ever so have no choice but to move on and for the most part, they're doing so with optimism - there is a little trepidation but then should there not be? They are clever & self-assured - confident they'll handle what ever appears on the horizon, would that the rest of the country reflected that attitude.

I couldn't wait to get away from school, I hated it. I well remember that period of time between leaving high school and starting further education - I had my unconditional offer from Jewel & Esk Valley College (or Drool & Veg as it was also known.) Even then I was under no illusions - it wasn't a difficult place to get into. But the thing is - and I'm glad I noticed because normally this sort of thing passes me by...

I was well aware those weeks between finishing school and starting college were unique - I still remember leaving the school buildings at North Berwick for the last time and realising; I had no worries. I was going to college and didn't really know how it worked but since thousands of other people seemed to manage, I reckoned I'd muddle through.

I was trying to get this across to those young people. I've known them for a long time so you'd think I'd be able to communicate this simple idea, but they just looked at me in that patiently disdainful way young folk do when someone they perceive as being quite old says something they view as being quite dim.

Anyway, I hope they enjoy this window, it is a skylight through which one can see true sky. When the holidays are over and Uni or the workplace beckons, the smog of life starts to build up - few are immune.

(Although it is my sincerest hope, these young folk are among them.)

In the meantime, all that stands between them and a worry-free summer (well, for those with unconditional offers anyway) are some exams.

A refreshing aspect of spending time among the youth of today is the constant threat of being mugged - I'm joking. Its constantly being brought back to earth with a bump, although I would say, being asked if you wrote your exam answers with chalk on bits slate is now officially unoriginal.*

Here for your study is an updated list of things to say to people who are older than you.

You're so old if I told you to act your age; you'd died.You're so old your national insurance number is 1.You're so old; when you were in school, history class was called current affairs.You're so old your memory is in black and white.
You're so old you have a picture of Moses in your yearbook.You're so old your birth certificate says expired on it.You're so old you knew Burger King while he was still a prince.You're so old you were a waiter at the Last Supper.You're so old you took your driving test on a dinosaur. You're so old your birth certificate is in Roman numerals.You're so old you drove a chariot to high school.
You're so old you owe Fred Flintstone a fiver.You're so old you walked into an antique store and they kept you.You're so old you used to baby-sit Yoda. 

* All my past exam papers can be found here.