Tuesday, 29 July 2014

"I'm a proud Scot but..."

I've finally figured out what that actually means. When a unionist is about to assault you with some negative mantra about voting Yes prefixed with the statement above - the Unionist's idea of pride is (hopefully) embodied in the tweet below.

A bit convoluted, but I know what I mean... *

It sort of follows on from the last post, which an alarming number of people read (which always makes me think I've made a terrible mistake somewhere.) Its not to do with the difference between governments - much as unionist like to talk about the Land of Milk & Honey we terrible 'nats' think we'll get with a Yes vote. We understand governments can be crap, even if we elect them ourselves and that things don't always go to plan. It would be disingenuous for anybody to say Westminster or London could not organise something but Holyrood or Glasgow City Council could. During the Olympics G4S security was a mess but at the Commonwealth Games transport from out-of-town car parks has been rubbish.

Its the actual campaigns I mean. The Yes Campaign looks to things like the CWG's and says: "Look, we can do this. Scotland has the ability." It talks up the Whisky industry, oil & gas, our food & drink, tourism, bio-medical sciences and much more besides. Holyrood offered to take in the injured from recent disgusting activities in the middle east. Sure, we have issues, what country doesn't but the Yes Campaign derives a measure of pride from the things Scotland does well and tries to tell people about it.

Unionists on the other hand do things the other way round. On our behalf, they spent 6.2 billion smacks building an aircraft carrier that has no planes and another we can't afford to run. We're about to have an unaffordable replacement nuclear deterrent inflicted upon us that isn't fit for purpose. Westminster uses aid as leverage in its trade deals (often arms) around the globe, our soldiers are ill-equipped yet sent into danger on a capitalist's whim. Our government refuses to condemn the actions of another which is bombing innocent women and children out of their homes, schools and hospitals.

Where is the ability in all of that, where are the positives, the things to feel good - dare I say - feel proud about?

The Union has done some good, but its been mostly by accident or because it was forced to. I was having a lighthearted debate on twitter recently about Westminster 'giving' more devolution to Scotland, the valuable gift of suffrage was mentioned:

The notion that the union ever gave anything to anyone willingly is laughable, as with suffrage, that had to be extracted with blood & tears and in some cases; Life itself. I'm not saying anyone will give their life for the ability to tax landfill in Scotland, but the idea we'd be 'given' meaningful powers by Westminster if we vote no is completely risible - the UK MOD wouldn't even let us choose what colour of smoke spewed from the back of a plane, what hope do we have of getting effective powers for Holyrood?
Going back to my rather pithy tweet; aircraft carriers with no planes, a nuclear deterrent that doesn't really deter, foreign policy lacking anything approaching a glimmer of morality, not to mention policies at home with faintly despotic properties 
Yet, when the boats are launched to great pomp, inhumane policies are announced with faux regret and the start of a war that killed millions is commemorated; we're supposed to glow with pride?

When it comes to the British Government and the Union - especially at this time - what passes for pride often comes across as hubris.

* My Twitter avatar is not me, I've never been that shape - ever. Its Andy Murray, and it'll stay there till he wins another Grand Slam, (or until the weekend when the Men's 10m platform takes place.)

Friday, 25 July 2014

Another Union Dividend.

First of all, I don't think any one wouldn't be moved by Ross Murdoch getting his gold medal - scooped in the 200m breast stroke which I am given to understand is a swimming thing. The favourite - Michael Jamieson - looked gutted, but that was more than off-set by the look on the winner's face.

The BBC's Tom English said of the win:

"He powered on, super-charged by the roar of the crowd. Not just British-class or Commonwealth-class but world-class."

And there lies another union dividend. On behalf of the British establishment,  the national identity of others is over-written so it can lay claim to international plaudits to which it has no right. And if you're Scottish, Welsh and to a lesser extent Irish; there is no escape. Wimbledon for example, when Andy Murray plays, he plays for Britain, so when he wins - he's British not Scottish. If he was playing tennis in the Commonwealth Games, he should be representing Scotland, but if he won, the BBC's Tom English, would label it a 'British-class performance.'

In the Commonwealth Games, Scotland is distinct, we're not competing as part of Britain. However, when one of our own wins - by default - its a win for Team GB. It hints at a certain mindset - there are those who don't understand that Scotland is a country in its own right, they see Scotland as a part of Britain and Britain is England/England is Britain. When Scots point out the error; we're called moany, chippy or over-sensitive.

The games themselves are being usurped by Britain. In a fly past, the red arrows were going to release blue and white smoke, but it was changed at the last minute to red, white and blue. Flags with Saltires on one side and Union Jacks on the other are also being handed out - it highlights how desperate the British state is to hammer home the message - You might be Scottish, but you belong to Britain.

Its an example of what's at stake on the 18th of September, much as many in the No camp would like you to believe - this isn't about national pride, its about national identity and the ethos it espouses. British ideals today fall way short, they've been warped and bastardised by hard-nosed conservatism and an inbred sense of entitlement. If the world was an open plan office, Britain would be the self-righteously grasping, privately educated twat in the corner taking credit for the hard work of others while pinching their milk and biscuits from the tea point.

This is subtle stuff, but its British Unity by thousands of tiny cuts. You might not notice them now, but when you do, you could find the time for treatment has passed you by.

Keeping the national debate out of the games was always a forlorn hope, as usual, those insisting on it the most broke their own diktats soonest, and given the almost maniacal British nationalism of the Olympics - it was probably an unrealistic expectation anyway.

If double standards was an event, the union would win gold.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Commonwealth Games... Yawn...

I'm going to set my stall out before things kick off: I can't be arsed with it. Like the Olympics, Wimbledon and the World Cup - its all a bit boring - well, for me at least. I understand folk can be interested in such activities; the running, prancing, waving and stick throwing etc - but it doesn't propel my javelin, flutter my rhythmic individual ribbon or lob my shuttlecock to the back of the court. That said, I may cast a lascivious eye over the Men's 10m platform.

Shit, someone get me his number.

What has become apparent before anyone has even tied their shoelaces or hefted a pole; is the political posturing. I've no doubt SNP strategists thought it wouldn't hurt the case for Scottish Independence having the referendum soon after a successful set of games, but for London-based journalists to criticise that after the pantomime that was the London Olympics - to me in any case -  seems to be a classic case of what I'm calling (and desperately trying to get trending on Twitter) Cognitive Estrangement.

We have Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph mithering:

"In theory, politics and sport should not mix. But to the nationalists, politics is all about identity, which side you cheer for and which flag you rally under. When Salmond chose September 18 for his referendum, he had a clear sequence of events in mind. There would be the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the Commonwealth Games, then the referendum, held as Scots waited for the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles. The drumbeat of Scottish nationalism, he hoped, would grow steadily louder."

The sweeping generalisations are obvious. The notion that many in Scotland might vote yes not because of identity or national pride embodied in a flag, but instead around cold calculations based on empirical economic fact or perhaps an aspiration for something a bit better than the cold bastard-libertarian ideas as espoused by an uncaring Westminster Government - is entirely lost to Nelson. 

(I would also say, with the best will in the world; the only reason many Scots now know this year is the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, is because unionist press lickspittles keep accusing Salmond and the SNP of cynically using it to their advantage - which is ironic really.)

Nelson Blithely suggests 'Salmond will know better than to mention the referendum...' during the commonwealth games (I'm not capitalising it) when what he really means is 'Salmond would have Vote Yes tattoo'd on the foreheads of all competitors if he could get away with it.' 

He goes on to say:

"The victories of Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins were celebrated in Scotland as the achievements of countrymen, not foreigners. That summer, with the Jubilee and the glory, was one long coming together of the British clan."

The double standard is plain to see; when Britain competes, national pride & identity is fine - when Scotland strives? Not so much so.

Meanwhile, over at The Spectator, Hamish McDonnell is having a solipsistic crisis - it turns out, the entire commonwealth games event was organised purely to piss him off. He says:

"Even the official emblem of the Glasgow Games – a jaggy thistle – seems to have been deliberately designed to prickle and get underneath those prissy white strips worn by the dastardly English."

I don't really know what to say to that other than: Do fuck off Hamish. Is he really suggesting, we cannot deploy a Scottish-based symbol during an event organised in Scotland because it might offend the 'dastardly English'? I mean, they sell Tunnocks Caramel Wafers & Irn Bru down south - does the poor soul run screaming from shops? Is Hogmanay a time of horror for the delicate little flower?

He's coming for YOU Hamish...

More over and in finishing, the entire thing can be encapsulated in one telling collage:

While the usual suspects across the unionist spectrum are insisting these commonwealth games remain unaffected by nationalist politics - to a one - they all declared the Olympics (and the cringing Royal Idolatry-fest of the Jubilee) as a ringing endorsement of what it is to be British.

Its been mentioned, that by publishing these articles, the authors are doing the very thing they're criticising in others - namely -  'politicising the games'. Also, there is an annoying assumption that everyone is into it (if I can deploy such youthful terminology.) As with the Olympic Games, the impact and interest, as far as I could see, wasn't anything like as wide-spread as reported. Outside the sporting bubble; who's talking about it now? Hardly any one. Same with the Jubilee thing - Rolf Harris not-with-standing - is the warm regal glow of Britishness still incandescing?

I think these empire hand-wringers miss the point, its not about Scottish athletic prowess. Its about Scotland's ability to put on a world class event - on its own, unaided financially or in terms of resources by the rest of the UK. I have no idea how it'll go or what the opening ceremony will be like (and I find it hard to care less) but this isn't about nationalist pride, its about national ability.

Turns out, people like Nelson and McDonnell are just judging us by their own tawdry standards.

Anyway, as I said, I can't be arsed with any of it (bar the men's 10m platform of course) so you probably shouldn't listen to anything I say...

... Except, if your still contemplating a No vote in September, you'll be voting in favour of some serious double standards.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Its what they do.

Yesterday saw as clear cut a case of Better Together/Vote Naw/No Thanks dishonesty, that all minds should be boggling violently - if yours hasn't; read on.

That is Jean-Claude Juncker, newly appointed - and not without some squealing from the British Government - European Commission President. He's an ex-prime minister of Luxembourg which if nothing else, goes to show that small countries (Luxembourg has a population of just over 500,000 people) can have sway at the top table in Europe - and since David Cameron fought hard to keep him out of the job - also shows just how much blat the UK Government really has. (Something to ruminate over when Cameron comes on the telly mithering on about renegotiating the UK's EU settlement before the EU referendum...)

But I digress.

In a nutshell, Junckers said this:
"Over the next five years, there won't be any new member states acceding to the European Union.
"It's hard to imagine that one of the candidate states with whom we are negotiating will have, in time, met all the accession criteria."
You can imagine the scene; interns bussed up to work beside highly paid PR wonks at Better Together's Blythswood Square HQ, looking at each other like gnarly old gold diggers who've just found a nugget the size of Blair McDougall's tuba


"Mr Juncker's office confirmed to the BBC that his remarks were referring to countries already in an accession process with the EU and not to a hypothetical case involving Scotland.
Albania, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Macedonia are candidate countries for EU membership." (From here.)
 Even after that clarification from the horses mouth - Patricia Ferguson (she's a Labour MSP and supporter of a No Vote) was on Scotland Tonight long after Mr Juncker's clarification still claiming his original statement was valid.

The real question is, given that Jean Claude Juncker's office made clear his original statement by categorically saying it DID NOT apply to Scotland - why did Scotland Tonight and the execrable Scotland 2014 still allow Ferguson etc to discuss the issue as if it did?

Patricia Ferguson is a regular on these shows, droning on about what a disaster a Yes vote would be while claiming as evidence arguments that never existed in the first place. Funnily enough, we were joking on Twitter about Johann Lamont's weekend interview with Andrew 'my-jokes-on-This-Week-are-shite' Neil and something called Cognitive Estrangement:


of or pertaining to the act or process of knowing, perceiving, remembering, etc.; of or relating tocognitioncognitive development; cognitive functioning.
of or pertaining to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning, ascontrasted with emotional and volitional processes.


verb (used with object), es·tranged, es·trang·ing.
to turn away in feeling or affection; make unfriendly or hostile; alienate the affections of: Theirquarrel estranged the two friends.
to remove to or keep at a distance: The necessity for traveling on business has estranged him from hisfamily.
to divert from the original use or possessor.

Essentially, it is the habit - voluntarily or not - of being disconnected entirely from the ability recognise that which is demonstrably & provably true. It seems around the independence debate, many on the unionist side - as evidenced by this episode - suffer from it.

One final but incredibly important sentence:

If you know anyone who is undecided or voting No; you might ask them if it is wise to vote in favour of any proposition when its backers are denying reality & lying through their teeth to promote it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Ruth Davidson... Again...

She'll be flapping her lips a wee bit later on giving a speech to a group of young Scots. Apparently, Conservative officers asked some young people if they'd like to attend but no one knew who Ruth Davidson was. Normally when a Tory wants you to do something, they offer you money, these days though, its all about sanctions. Fortuitously, coming just days after T in the Park, Ruth's henchmen managed to bribe some still-drunk/hungover young people meandering their way back from Balado with cans of Irn Bru & two Anadin Extra in to attending.

A young Scot is 'helped' by Tory activists on to the boat, erm, I mean into the hall where Ruth is giving her speech.

"If we vote to leave the UK, we'd be closing off avenues of opportunity for Scotland's young people that have existed for generations," she is expected to say. 
"We'd be selling young Scots short.
"Our young people are as dynamic and ambitious as their contemporaries in any other corner of the globe.
"They've got what it takes to 'make it' in life - the talent, the drive and the determination to make their mark on the world.
"And it's our responsibility to make sure they get the best possible chance of achieving their full potential."

As usual, Ruth deploys the normal amount of brass-necked unionist bullshittery you'd expect. Of course Scotland's young people have what it takes, unfortunately Scotland has been talked down for so long - generations Ruth - that a lot of young folk feel they need to leave to make their mark.

Ruth's speech today can be likened to one of those oily recruitment consultants any one who's ever been on the dole had to deal with, promising quality jobs but actually delivering turds. She wants Scotland to vote No so the British Establishment can continue to suck the talent from the rest of  the country for its own enrichment, nothing more, nothing less.

What Ruth isn't going to say is, we can vote yes and still have those opportunities for our talented youth - if they want to go south (or any other direction for that matter) to work they still can. What a Yes vote offers is the option to stay.

More over, with independence, Scotland's newly graduated, fresh-faced school leavers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a new country - sure we've got a bit of a head start, we won't be starting from scratch - but Scotland's new adults have the chance to shape the DNA of a country, if they so choose to do.

It seems to me, that opportunity trumps anything Ruth can offer as part of the union; minimum wage, zero hour contracts, unpaid internships, cut-throat employment practice and a shit pension if you're ever allowed to retire.

Why settle for the lowest common denominator, when you could  build your own future?

Just in case any young folk are reading who don't know who Ruth Davidson is, this is she:

While that picture may not be literally correct, figuratively - I think you'll find its accurate.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Tunnel Vision.

Bit of an onslaught last night from the television, with a Dispatches program dedicated to alleged SNP government bullying of business owners and Robert Peston's For Richer/For Poorer about the economics of independence.

I didn't see the former so cannot comment except to say, the notion that Scottish Government ministers are 'bullying' business leaders doesn't really make sense, its also curiously lop-sided - does the Better Together Campaign not also 'bully' business owners? Or should the media wonks behind the entire notion grow up and call it what it is: campaigning, canvassing or lobbying? It also seems a bit dubious that the main witness for the prosecution was one Gavin Hewitt formerly of the Scotch Whisky Association - currently suing the Scottish Government in Europe over minimum pricing for alcohol - not that they're at all miffed right enough...

The entire program is based on intrepid Channel Four newshounds contacting fifty companies who they 'believed' might have concerns around Scottish self-determination. Of this fearful fifty only five were fretful, another fourteen claimed to know of other business' that had been 'contacted'.

As usual, scratch the surface a wee bit, actually not even a wee bit. The quote below is from the Dispatches link above:
"Gavin Hewitt, the former Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association tells Channel 4 Dispatches that he or senior members of his staff met with Angus Robertson - the SNP leader in the House of Commons - on at least six occasions over the past two years:
“He and the SNP have regularly tried to get the message to the Scotch Whisky Association that the Scotch Whisky Industry should stay out of the independence debate. He was, I think, trying to neuter business comment. There was a genuine fear that in fact if we were seen to scupper by coming out publically against independence, there would be retribution down the track.”
“Regardless of whether the SNP win or lose the referendum vote in September they will be in power for many years to come and that those people who have stood against them or worked against the central plank of their policy, independence, will be singled out and will be remembered.”
Contacted 'on at least six occasions over the past two years' said Gavin Hewitt - be still my racing heart! You were in charge of the umbrella body for one of Scotland's premier and most well known industries, of course people from government are going to visit you. Does any one really believe the agenda for all of those meetings consisted only of Scottish Government ministers tag teaming the beleaguered Gavin Hewitt into not uttering a view independence?

Donning my Jessica Fletcher outfit for a moment - surely SNP ministers would try to persuade him to support independence - it would make more sense. That ministers instead cruelly bullied him into silence must mean he was already dead against the policy. In terms of the oppressed Mr Hewitt's appearance on a program seemingly partly set on damaging the SNP, you can draw your own conclusions.

John Swinney also comes under fire for suggesting public bodies might want to leave the CBI because it had registered as an official no campaign group. Scottish Enterprise left of its own volition and the heinous Swinney used that precedent to pressure other public bodies in to doing the same. In a previous paragraph, you get a measure of the journalistic prowess being deployed:
"The programme reveals new information about what happened following the decision by the CBI to publicly back a No vote. This led to many of its members pulling out, most of whom claimed they’d made the decision in order to remain politically neutral. Channel 4 Dispatches has obtained emails which reveal the role played in this pull-out by the SNP’s John Swinney."
The 'decision by the CBI to publicly back a No vote'  - Gosheroony - its as well they did because we'd never have known. 

Beyond that, read Peat Worrier here for a more poetic skewering of the program.

So to the latter program which I did see - Scotland: For Richer for Poorer. Robert Peston's expose on the economics of iScotland. Its not a great start when in the first few minutes of the program Paul Johnson, head of the IFS claimed Scotland spends more money than it raises in taxes - this is not true. Scotland raises more in tax than it spends and has done for decades.

He went on to say we'd have to raise taxes or cut spending - we wouldn't. That isn't an out-and-out lie though - he's telling the truth; so long as you're happy to accept Holyrood would adopt all of Westminster's spending plans. In terms of deficits though, most nations have them, it wouldn't be a disaster if Scotland did - it would be the norm.

The IFS need to base projections on something, so they base it on current spending priorities going forward. If you vote yes, after independence day, an SNP administration (for example) plans to spend £2.5 billion on defence, about a billion less than Scotland's current share as part of the UK. Infrastructure is another example, Scottish tax payers will be paying a per capita share amounting to £4.5 billion for HS2 - yet the new tracks won't come anywhere near Scotland - what might we choose to spend that cash on?

Our own infrastructure could stand some attention.
When ever you read or hear information coming from organisations like the IFS or OBR - its probably flawed. The formulas and arithmetic will mostly be correct, but the numbers being plugged in will mostly be wrong. If you decide to downsize your home - when you're working out how much you'll be saving in your new bungalow, you don't use gas & electricity bills from the broken-down stately home you've just left.

Peston also talked about the Pound then parroted the old can't-have-the-assets/will-have-the-liabilities meme. There is a principle at play here. How can it be, if we choose to dissolve the political union - we'd only have rights to the liabilities accrued over the years? 

The Pound is an asset, it has existential value partly built by Scottish industry and effort. More over, Westminster can't stop anyone using it - how would that work anyway? If a guy from Pencaitland is standing next to a girl from Ashby de la Zouch in a Magaluf Bureau de change - is a crack treasury operative going to rappel from a helicopter and confiscate his cash while she changes hers into Euros?

Crack Treasury Operatives about to pounce on a man from Bolfracks who is in the process of paying for a Cornetto with Sterling.
And unionists still offer as certainty that we wouldn't be able to use the pound.

I didn't see the Dispatches program but based on their web page, I'm going to give them 2/10 - a CEO or chairperson having 'a feeling' does not a scandal make. I look forward to next week's program about how Westminster politicians have been doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

On Peston's effort, a higher score is required - it would be higher still if the makers hadn't made the program with old bog roll tubes sellotaped to their eyes. It isn't good enough to endlessly quote propositions from either side without ever mentioning the rebuttals - 6/10. 

I look forward to the job ad for Crack Treasury Operatives in Job Centres around the country. It'll probably be farmed out to G4S or Capita. (Zero hour contracted, applicants must have own rappelling equipment - uniform provided.)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Random tweet that caught my eye...

Twitter is a hell of a place, exasperating and entertaining in equal measure. Others have tried to explain how parts of it work, but I can't get my head round some bits at all. You concoct and publish a delightfully witty yet informative tweet - someone replies to it - you then reply to that; but someone else has replied to the original tweet and you're replying to that in error. Then there are those so intent on getting their point across they write multiple tweets that are suppose to run into one and other, but users reply before they've finished and it turns into an incomprehensible mess. You can have two or three tweets maybe, but not entire essays. Twitter isn't a blogging site, any one who thinks it is can be ignored automatically.

That said, it is a useful environment for planting seeds and destroying myths, so long as you can do it within the character limit of course. And so it was with this tweet:

You never really know real names on twitter, so I don't know if Hugh is Hugh or if Hugh is even a he. I know three things, his avatar image sports an impressive 80's moustache, we follow each other and the contents of his tweet caused me to come out with the following dribblings. 

A lot of people think there wasn't anything like Twitter before Twitter - but there was. Let me show you...


The first image of a non-electronic tweet is the plaque commemorating the opening of the third bridge at Bonar, Gordon Campbell (MC PC DL) has been mentioned before. It was he who said the Scottish fishing industry was expendable during negotiations over EU Common Fisheries Policies. He was also against Scottish oil revenue being used to rejuvenate the Scottish economy and advocated 'exceptional measures' to force Shetland Isles Council to accept an oil terminal without any financial  benefit to the islands.

Gordon Campbell until his death in 2005 was also known as Baron Campbell of Croy. He was made a life peer after being kicked out of office in 1974.

The second unplugged tweet is the tablet on the Lilleshall Monument near the Shropshire village of the same name. That monument is to the memory of another character we've mentioned here: George Leveson Gower KG PC, First Duke of Sutherland and Second Marquess of Stafford. Responsible for clearances in the Sutherland area of the Scottish Highlands. Quite a short sentence there covering all manner of injustice, also containing the word 'clearances' which many still substitute with the term - ethnic cleansing. All of which is somewhat at odds with the inscription pictured.

So two tablets parted by 141 years but the message is the same, those who are prepared to do Scotland down can expect to be rewarded handsomely by the British Establishment - anything from some letters after your name to a life peerage is on offer for doing your duty. 

Its not even as if you can claim it was a long time ago. More recently the Poll Tax was put in place by Thatcher's government in 1989/1990, with only 10 Tory MP's out of 72  in Scotland. 

My new favourite image.
Malcolm Rifkind, under Thatcher, supported the imposition of the Poll tax...

"Rifkind supported the introduction of the community charge, or poll tax, which the Cabinet had approved shortly before his appointment. He also agreed with the decision proposed by his predecessor, George Younger, that the new tax should be introduced a year earlier in Scotland than in England because of the political necessity to end the domestic rates." (wiki)

After being given the boot in 1997, Rifkind tried again to regain his Scottish seat, to no avail - I know - my heart bleeds for him. In the meantime for his troubles, he was awarded a KCMG in recognition of his work in 'foreign & common wealth affairs'. In 2005 he returned to the Commons as MP for Kensington & Chelsea - as you can probably tell, a moderately safe Tory seat about as far as you can get from Scotland geographically, socially and politically.

The only reason Rifkind hasn't been ennobled (yet) is because he's still an MP.

Hopefully you begin to see the pattern, these 'tweets' from the past show they don't even try to hide it and in terms of examples; its the tip of the ice berg. The British Establishment Expects and if you deliver, the rewards are plain to see - there are monuments and civil engineering projects around the country standing testament to the fact. 

Going back to Hugh's most excellent modern tweet, can those extolling the 'virtues'of a no vote expect similar rewards if they are successful? If history is anything to go by, I'll bet my bucket of shite to your pound, its exactly what'll happen.