Monday, 29 September 2014

Notice of Absence

I am starting to once again try and put together a long gestating novel on the Falkland's Conflict - this is start attempt five. This one is called Silent Voices.

I have managed to write nearly 5,000 words today and think I have found a working format.

So while I am hot, I will be ignoring my blog until the muse dry ups or the novel is finished.

Silent voices -

Richard and me had a system.

‘Head and Neck’ came to me: Richard was ‘The Rest’.

To the uninitiated this appears, at first glance, a rather lopsided division of labour leaving Richard with most of the body to deal with but as you read on you will eventually understand the logic and why Richard had the easier job.



My name is Julio da Silva, I have just turned 16.

I live in one of the many slums that skirt Buenos Aeries, to pretend they are not slums the intellectuals call them fancy names like ‘barrios’ or ‘favellas’ but they are slums. Slums where dog, cat and human excrement mingle on the streets, where children struggle to ever make their fifth birthday and of those who do, too many will be shot or stabbed in the incessant gang wars between the rival ‘landlords’ and their men, squabbling over control of the drug and prostitution markets. The better off of the slum dwellers have solid concrete brick blocks for walls and corrugated tin for their roofs. The really posh will have electricity and running water, toilet facilities, rooms and even a front door - 2 cm steel plate, bullet proof, lockable – and a garnish of razor wire around their property boundary for that additional crime prevention feature.
Me and I friends lived at the bottom end of the ‘barrios’ housing ladder. For me that means a 4m concrete block box, no windows, a tin roof held together by rust and a tarpaulin for a door. I shared this basic block with my mother’s parents, four sisters and two brothers. Running water came down the walls and electrical supply came from the highly dangerous procedure of illegally tapping into the local domestic supply at the nearest lamp post (along with another thirty or more, local worthies).

Give Dad his due, he had improved the place with the ‘add ons’ the intelligent would refer to as ‘quaint bijou extensions’ but were more accurately stolen wood, tarpaulin and tin ‘lean too’s’ against the back wall of the ‘house’ – but at least they allowed us brothers and sisters our own space.

Occasional we had to ‘flit’ when the local authorities decided they should be seen to be ‘in control’ and spent a day or two knocking down ‘illegal and insanitary’ shanties. Usually we had enough warning of their arrival and would take our bijou extensions down so the council would not steal our walls and roof, saving us the hike down to the local tip to hump the materials back to remake them.


I can read, count and write thanks to the diligence of the Jesuit Fathers – when I say diligence, read - innumerable beatings. I go to church most Sundays because it is a good way of staying warm and dry in winter and cool in summer, for an hour or two, and just maybe my prayers will be heard and God will strike down Father Orlando with more vigour than he ever beat me or at least tear off his ‘cohunes’ which have lead to quite a few choir and altar boys pain and humiliation (My big brothers warned me off becoming one of Father Orlando’s ‘little helpers’).

I have two avenues of escape from the grinding poverty of my family. I can join the local gang and hope I survive the wars and revenge killings to get high enough in the organisation to make decent money, at next to no risk or there is football and thousands of other slum dwelling kids who think they are the next ‘Ossie Ardiles’ or ‘Mario Kempes’.

Some job choice for the kid on the make ...”


I have just got back to the house I share with my friend John, just a stone’s throw from the docks at Devonport. I was playing in a mixed hockey match and we had won, John has Sunday lunch on the go – it was his turn. I am planning to meet my girlfriend at the Brown Bear then take in a film and a meal in downtown Plymouth, at the best Chinese Restaurant in the West of England (no blow, it really is), such is the excitement of the life I live. John’s girlfriend, Jane, has joined us for lunch so John has pulled out all the stops in the best traditions of a Lancashire Sunday lunch. I know, it would have been better if they were ‘Janet and John’, a bit of ironic humour for those primary school generations of the 1960’s (Janet and John have their first orgasm – See John put his hand up Janet’s skirt ....) but they are not. I am about to go for a shower, as I am still in my cold and stiffening hockey gear, the phone rings a dismembered, highly stressed voice says, “Get off your arse and into work as fast as possible, we have an emergency.”

I remembered it was my birthday, explains the film and meal combination with the certainty of a shag for afters. So that was the film and meal bit gone west – I wondered for a brief second if the shag would still be on but that would depend on the nature of the work emergency and whether I was back at a decent (or indecent) enough hour. I showered and got into my work gear, Jane phoned Mandy, for me, to explain I had a work emergency; I gulped down lunch and headed off to the dockyard.

Whatever was going on, it had to be very serious because the ‘dockies’ were moving piles of rubbish that had lain unmoved since the Suez crisis. There was a stream of ‘Jacks’ heading towards their ships and the gate showed condition ‘red’ which meant there was a serious terrorist threat, to my mind. I pitched up in my department: this was clearly serious when even the boss was in on a Sunday.

“Great to see you, sir, there’s a ten tonner with a driver and LMA waiting for you.” said Fleet Chief Munday, “the boss wants you to pick up all the portable units in the dockyard and bring them here for maintenance and restocking. He then wants you to identify the ships on this list and identify which require prioritising and move the mobile surgery units to those with most need, once the portable units are serviced and re-stocked (Ah! that will be me and the LMA’s task as well) you have to set them up on the ships next in priority, not covered by the mobile units. Then you have to organise the deployment of clinical teams to the clinics, portables and notify their bosses of where they will expected to be at 0815 tomorrow to start work – the Port Admiral kindly requests you have it all done by yesterday ”

It appears while I was playing hockey, we have declared war on somebody, on my birthday as well – but who?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Constitutional conundrums .... more important than you think.

The current Queen is Queen of Scots because she agreed a contract with the people of Scotland in 1952 and signed up to it (it is called the Claim of Right 1689) - she is Queen of England because, technically, 'God' says so and has anointed her with some 'Holy' oil ... but since she is also ultimately responsible for what 'God' thinks in England, as head of the Church of England, you could accuse her of a degree of bias and favouritism in the matter.

The UK Armed Services primary loyalty is to the crown and the people and not parliament (that is what it says on my commission), the crown has to 'approve' the deployment of the RAF jets and personnel.

There is, then, a theoretical constitutional quandary:

  • If the people of Scotland oppose the deployment (as represented by the recalled Scottish Parliament which acts under Scots law and constitutional practice) and the Queen of Scots still agrees to the deployment, is she in breech of the 1689 Claim of Right by ignoring the considered will of the people of Scotland (which is always paramount) as represented by her parliament in Scotland?
  • The UK Supreme Court has already made clear in two judgements on the validity of Acts, Bills and Statutes that they have no powers to overturn such Acts, Bills and Statutes if they reflect the considered will of the people of Scotland, as represented by the Scottish Parliament
  • Lord Cooper in McCormack vs the Lord Advocate, 1953 - questions the legitimacy and legality of the UK Parliament at Westminster to ignore the considered will of the people of Scotland as their Law and constitutional practices are preserved for all time by the Treaty of Union and that Westminster's presumption of only English constitutional practices in the UK Parliament is open to challenge; at that time Lord Cooper could not see where a challenge would come from.
Given the current considered will of the people of Scotland by a ratio of 11:9 to maintain the Union while having a SNP majority at its parliament at Holyrood seeking greater autonomy within that Union, how would the Court of Session in Scotland approach such a challenge under the Claim of Right (1689) on this issue?

The Court of Session's fundamental constitutional role is to protect the people of Scotland from abuse of power given by the sovereign people of Scotland to the crown or politicians by maintaining the 'Laws and Constitutional practices' of Scotland. The 1707 Treaty of Union is quite specific on this issue. The moot point is whether any such challenge gets past the inbred sense within UK constitutional legal beagles and practice that assumes the 'UK's unwritten constitution' (aka English constitutional practice) holds supreme and who state that Lord Cooper was in error in McCormack in his view and assertion of the protection of given to Scottish constitutional practice under the 1707 Treaty of Union.

It is clear the Crown and the UK Parliament would have to take any successful challenge against the 'Crown', on this issue, in the Court of Session to the UK Supreme Court. The question then becomes does the UK Supreme Court have any power or legitimacy to rule on a constitutional issue peculiar to Scots law and constitutional practice preserved by the Treaty of Union for all time?

Fine this is just a bit of intellectual 'jiggery-pokery', a thinking out loud, a 'What if'?

Yet I believe there is a real legal and constitutional point to be resolved which is dependent not simply on the powers and rights the UK Parliament seeks to claim to itself under the Scots Crown but the right of the people of Scotland to express their 'paramount considered will' and Westminster's legitimate or otherwise right to ignore it.

At the heart of all this is the myth of a 'Union of the Crowns' which has never, ever happened. A myth
through which the UK Parliament seeks to justify its powers, rights and privileges by assuming there is only one Queen and one UK crown. We have seen the weakness of this constitutional claim over the last three or so years with the UK Parliament's inability to prevent the referendum from happening and its continuing panic in the attempts to stop a referendum on this issue ever happening again or the squabble about 'English votes for English Bills' both of which will undermine the legitimacy of the parliament at Westminster to remain the UK Parliament, if passed.

The UK Parliament exists on the fundamental right of all elected MPs to vote on all Bills, Acts and motions before the 'house'. The only way you can have a situation where there can be 'English votes for English Bills' is devolution and the setting up of an English Parliament or series of regional parliaments. Any attempt by English MP's at Westminster seeking to block Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MP's voting within the current UK Union set up requires fundamental changes to the 1707 Treaty of Union. These fundamental changes can only be agreed by the original signatory parliaments of the Treaty which would require the recall of the sovereign English Parliament from its temporary suspension (the Scottish Parliament was recalled in July 1999 as part of the Scotland Act 1998).

This leaves the intriguing question:

Having recalled the sovereign English Parliament from its temporary suspension, held elections to the recalled parliament, how do you get it to 'agree' to a new UK Union settlement (given the large anti-jock sentiment) and how then do you then ask it to get back in its box and disappear?

Especially as this sovereign English Parliament would be likely to be elected with a sizable majority of UKippers and 'anti-Sweaty Jock' Tories who want rid of the Scots, full stop. On the other side you will have a sovereign Scottish Parliament with a built in, pro Independence majority, happy to walk away.

'English votes for English bills' could yet deliver what the 'Yes Campaign' did not quite succeed in doing so.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The process of recovery

For the Yes Vote Friday's result was equivalent to a death, it was an idea which died, and idea that's time may yet come but it was for that instant - no more.

To accept the result we have to accept the inevitable personal feelings we each have and deal with them through acceptance or we will stay stuck in a past every bit as toxic as the No Campaign's vision for Scotland.

The stages of any bereavement are:

  1. Numbness and incomprehension
  2. Denial
  3. Despair
  4. Anger
  5. Acceptance
Every single Yes voter has to proceed along this pathway - some will reach acceptance more quickly than others. These 'acceptors' may appear to other Yes supporters stuck in stage's 3 or 4 as 'back sliders', uncaring of their anguish and anger, people who are letting 'No' away with it. Equally those who are at the acceptance stage must support the despairing and angry to find their own way through their personal maze and not tell them to 'grow up' and other such pathetic remarks I have seen posted on some threads.

Some will stay stuck in 'despair and anger'. It is this small group who will create future problems in any further Home rule / Independence campaign for the supporters of the Yes Campaign. They will seek retribution, vengeance and to humiliate the other side. They will justify verbal and possible physical violence because that is what the 'No Campaign' used, they will use the language of retribution talking of 'crushing opponents', sending them to their (metaphorical) 'graves', taking action to 'annihilate' them as political parties. This small group will not be able to accept any other process than confrontation when a conciliatory approach is what is required to seek the Yes Campaign's unifying aim - a better Scotland.

So we now play the 'Westminster game' but we seek to play it far better, pushing the Westminster players into ever tighter corners through continuous pressure to force them to fulfill on their 'published vow and promise'. In doing so the Elitist Westminster Group will not just be held to account by Scotland but suffer a reaction from the sense of being left behind and ignored now prevalent in their English electorate. A sense of being left behind and ignored which is seeing UKIP's electoral chances in 2015 in the ascendent. The need for Scotland to hold Westminster to account is being reflected in the rapid membership growth of the SNP. The Westminster elite is increasingly trapped between a rock and a hard place of their own construction. What we do not need is independence 'extremists' creating excuses to let Westminster wriggle out of their vows and promises to the Scottish electorate.

This is the core message Nicola Sturgeon is now sending out, 'hud yer wheesht', Westminster is heading down the road to destroy itself, we just need to keep giving it a shove, English MP's for English votes sees the purpose of Westminster as the UK Parliament undermined and in a constitutional quandary because when push comes to shove the UK Parliament has no legal or constitutional power to make this change and retain its current control on such a bill.

Such a move changes the nature of the UK Parliament, changes which are only the power of the original sovereign signatory parliaments to the Treaty of Union to agree and requires the recall of the English and Scottish Parliaments. The other option is for an English devolution bill but by giving such a parliament the same powers as Scotland and Wales the question arises - just what will there be for the UK Parliament left to do, as currently most of its time is spent on England only legislation?

We may have lost the battle on Friday 19th September but the war continues in our favour, we just need to 'hud our wheesht' and keep the heat on the Westminster machine until the pressure can no longer be resisted and it will crack.

Accept the result and keep working for a better Scotland.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Denial .... still going strong

On Sunday morning I posted Urgent: SNP Changes Policy; more to shed some of the anger I felt and to focus it in a way that could have some beneficial effect by raising awareness of the worst case scenario faced by the SNP membership at this October's conference.

I was imagining how John Swinney would seek to place this unpalatable change in policy, one which rubs against the grain of the SNP's social democratic heart, in a manner which the SNP conference would acquiesce to the necessary cuts that may well be yet required. Currently the page has now had 1577 unique hits since it was posted, 5x the normal rate and over twice the previous high for a day.

Some people believed it was an actual SNP Press release, most realised it was merely blue sky thinking but a sizable enough number thought it was true - this was going to be presented as policy to the SNP Conference in October. It seems I am not the only one concerned with regards the real costs of a 'No vote'.

Here we are on Monday afternoon. All the 'Vows' and 'Promises' of the 'No Campaign' are already in tatters as the Margaret Curran's of this world waltz onto the BBC say the 'vows' and 'promises' are not 'Vows' and 'Promises' just negotiating positions, negotiation positions not between the Westminster parties but internal negotiating positions within the parties as Labour's Jack Straw seeks to ensure this 'referendum situation' can never happen again. Miliband's weakness is exposed when faced with the reality of of English MP votes for English only policies being peddled by Cameron. All of this new discussion is being peddled as 'constitutional change' by the same media which brought you the unthinking journalism of the No campaign, who remain blind to the reality this is about control of Westminster by the usual elites. I expect there will be all sorts of smoke and mirrors between now and the 2015 Electoral Campaign with the end result 'nothing will change'.

Given nothing is going to change and £27 billion of public service cuts are on their way, with an estimated 500,000 job losses, who can tell me my outline of John Swinney's supposed speech to conference in October 2014 will not be fact by October 2015?

There is now a window of opportunity between now and May 2015 to turn Yes Scotland into Scotland First (as it best describes what unifies the SWP, SSP, Greens and SNP) and for all the still aligned activists to plan how we can retain and use the grass roots organisation to ensure that May 2015 sees a majority of SNP MP's being returned to Westminster.

For those seeking a recount, wake up it will never happen, focus on the serious tasks which are in front of us like cutting Margaret Curran's 11,800 majority because the campaign for Scottish Independence is not over, a campaign which has been running ever since 1714 but it can not be won until the Labour apparatchiks like Curran, Murphy, Davidson are political history. To think otherwise leaves us in as much denial as the No vote who believe they are 'safer' as a part of the 'UK'.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Urgent - SNP Policy changes

October 2014:

Conference - in the aftermath of the No vote in September, the SNP Government has been forced into carrying out an urgent review of current spending policies and priorities within Scotland as many of the current spending plans were predicated on a Yes vote and Scotland having complete control over its public finances.

The impact of Scotland's share of the £27 billion of public service cuts both Labour and the Tories are committed to at Westminster, after the May 2015 election, coupled with the ending of the Barnet Formula requires cuts to Scottish spending of in excess of £8 billion in 2015-16 and a further reduction of £3 billion per year over the following four years. To achieve these cuts, within the balanced budget required of us by the Scotland Act 1998 and the amendment bill of 2012, they will, sadly, have to fall on services and support we have previously sought to protect from Westminster's avarice and small mindedness.

We have sought to spread the cuts evenly across Scottish Public Services to this end we will be bring forward urgent statutory orders and bills of the Scottish Parliament between now and May 2016 to enable the following:

  1. The sell off of Scottish Ambulance Service to private contract and to allow further privatisation of areas of NHS Scotland when and as required. We are also seeking to remove access to NHS Dentistry to all those with a current a salary of £25,000 p.a. or more
  2. Current support to Scottish Councils to alleviate the impacts of Westminster 'Bedroom tax' legislation will be withdrawn along with the salary support allowance given to enable the payment of a 'living wage' to low paid council employees. All current Scottish Government Council grants are being reviewed to seek further areas where we can reduce costs. The current levels of central support for the Care of the Elderly Scheme will also be reduced in preparation for the future privatisation of this service under TTIP requirements
  3. We have informed INEOS we will no longer be able to support the offer in grants and low interest loans offered as part of the deal to keep the refinery open and the construction of the new gas liquefaction plant. We understand that INEOS will now go ahead with its plan to close Grangemouth and will be issuing 40 day notices within the next few days
  4. Scottish Government support for renewables is also to be cut to bring it line with UK Government allowances and grants. This puts the future development of the sub-sea tidal generation barrage in the Pentland Firth at risk unless the UK Government fills the gap left by the end of Scottish Government subsidy and support grants
  5. The reduction in money available to the Scottish Government will also require the slow down of a number of infrastructure projects currently underway causing further delays to the new Forth Crossing and the Aberdeen Bye-pass and indefinite suspension of the A9 dual carriage way completion between Perth and Inverness until funding is made available by Westminster or can be found from the Scottish budget.
  6. The Scottish Government will seek to provide primary and secondary education provision under private contract using a mix of Education Co-Operatives and sponsored academies as already is the case in England and Wales
I have been in discussion with COSLA and the relevant public service trade unions to say they are not pleased with these developments would be to understate how they and I feel about these savage cuts. I have invited interested parties to come up with alternative saving plans and informed the Labour, Liberal-Democratic and Conservative opposition at Holyrood of the SNP Government's change of direction which implements policies which fit in with their political stance of ending a 'something for nothing' society in Scotland and have their sought support for, what are after all, the stated economic, health and welfare policies of their main UK Parties.

We as a party and as Yes Campaigners sought to make the serious risk to public services a No vote would bring with it, clear to the people of Scotland. They chose not to listen and vote for the status quo and it is with great sadness and regret I seek the conference's approval for this program of deep and serious cuts to Scotland's Public Services. Further I can not promise conference that, if we are still in Government at Holyrood after May 2016, I will not return to future SNP conferences to seek support for further cuts in Scottish Public services as the impact of further economic stagnation in the Sterling zone and Sterling devaluation hits us in Scotland, as Westminster continues to prop up the City of London at all costs.

I ask conference to agree to these cuts in Scottish Public Services and open the floor to discussion for and against my proposal, prior to a vote of conference on this motion being called at 4 pm.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Oh No! ..... They lied to us .... already

Within 24 hours Brown's promises made in his self acclaimed 'speech in his own life time' are dust.  He is now telling everyone, who will listen, how he saved the Union in much the same way as he saved the banks, brought peace to the Middle East all in his own Walter Mitty land of Gogg's Broon ...

Milliband has now stated he has more important things to do than Devo-max (such as sell off the NHS in England, run down the Welfare system, make more UK citizens homeless, reduce more UK citizens to poverty and starvation and improve the profit margins of the US TTIP benefactors).

While Cameron has basically said - what promise? Gordon never asked me .... Oh! The vow thing ... you did not take that seriously, it was printed on yesterday's chip wrapper ... no way that's going to happen .... my England Tory-UKIP MP's would flay me alive if I agreed to what Gordon had 'promised'.

In the meantime, so far over this weekend, the SNP membership has risen by another 5,000 new members.

This is not finished, the 'Yes Campaign' is not going away. It is going to see the birth of a new political movement of the left which will squeeze Labour out of Scotland and inspire the Radical English to rediscover their voice once again, much as Hardy, Maxton and MacLean did in the early days of the 20th Century.

The reason for the continuing support is simple - the real problem, a London centric UK Parliament, which remains unreformed and continues with its self interested policies of greed and division. Policies only benefiting the 'elite' of which they presume they are part, as they rob UK taxpayers of millions in illegal expenses, UK publicly owned and paid for services and award themselves offensive pay rises while taking 'consultancy' back handers left, right and centre from the companies making a fortune having been sold the services for a 'song'.

In the meantime, the left and radicals in England cried 'Scotland please do not go and leave us with an eternity of Conservative Governments'.

We Scots currently are not going anywhere but need to ask the left and radicals in England:

  1. 'Why do you continue to vote for a minime Tory Party masquerading as Labour?'
  2. 'What are you going to do about it?'
Beyond your ineffectual, hand wringing gestures of inadequacy and cries of we have no one else, we just hope Labour will change once they get back in power, I mean, they have sort of promised this is what they are going to do.

All the while UKIP suck up electorate in England, electorate looking for an alternative to the moribund wasteland of the current UK parties in England, into their dystopian vision of an UK which hates foreigners - especially bloody meddling Europeans - and blames immigrants for all true Brits ills from unemployment to their inability to get a NHS Dentist in England (Whose NHS dentists are, ironically, increasingly immigrants recruited from the old Russian Eastern Europe - exactly the sort of immigrants UKIP says it really, really hates.).

The people of Scotland have decided - now we want to cash in on all the 'promises' that have been made if we voted 'No'. The promises on Devo-max which Miliband and Cameron are already claiming they never made .... and the promises English left and radicals made about changing the UK's political structures.

Wait - I thought I just heard a squadron of flying pigs, in formation, over my home .... or maybe it is the wailing of North Britons who are now waking up to what they have actually done.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

One small step ...

Voted ... taken a deep breath, enjoyed the clean air and sunny skies of Galloway while walking wee Dillon back from the village hall polling centre and now wait to find out what the sovereign people of Scotland are going to decide is their paramount, considered will. The pressure is off, there is no more to do, I feel relaxed and can say to myself I have done all I can to create the conditions for a Yes Vote.

This is a campaign that started for me in 2006 when I was writing for Labour List, on a regular basis, seeking to warn Labour apparatchiks and members in London and England of the potential threat of the growing SNP support in Scotland. This in a Labour Party which took its 'Scotch' vote for granted and their Scotch MP's as 'shoe ins'.  I proposed the need to look long and hard at a new federal settlement for the UK Union, seek to create a new union, fit for purpose in the 21st Century, a mix of a parliament for England combined with greater regional autonomy within England, alongside full fiscal autonomy for Scotland. A new UK Union which took political power away from a small self selecting elite in Westminster and put it back with the electorate - the principle of subsidiarity which Labour has long claimed to believe in.

Yet this was a Labour Party deep in its Blairite rush to be 'minime' Home County Tories and in doing so left me and a large chunk of their Scotch vote behind. Having made us politically 'homeless', Scots, like me, looked past the propaganda and rhetoric we had been fed, to find a social democratic, left of centre party we could accept in large amount, a party which thought about Scotland first and not just narrow Westminster electoral advantage: The SNP. 

A party I finally joined in 2011 - to do my bit to secure a 'Yes vote' and set Scotland on a political and economic path of its own choosing, veering away from the death wish of neo-liberal decline it was being dragged down into by a Westminster and 'City' elite.

A party in place of a Labour Party which may regain my vote when the Augean Stables of a mess (which is Labour's current Scottish region) is resolved and they rebuild the CLP structure to make it accountable to its membership (not the Unions, Co-op and the rest but like the SNP its membership - truly OMOV). Having done that they will need to weed out the current, time served incompetents like Baillie, Lamont, Murphy, Alexander and the rest of that little cabal along with the old style Labour Mafioso in their councils like Glasgow. Then they only have to be able to present credible policies predicated not on 'we hate the SNP' but 'we want the best for Scotland'.

Even with the best will in the world, I do not think Dennis Cavanan, Alan and the rest of Labour for Independence can manage that heroic work by 2016, maybe by 2020 but not by 2016 - I stand to be proven wrong. Maybe the real option is to let the Tory contaminated Labour Party in Scotland to simply die and allow a new left wing party to arise, Phoenix like, from Labour's ashes, based around the great work done by the Radical Independence Movement in re-connecting with Labour's disillusioned and disenfranchised voters in the 'Schemes'.

How about calling it the Labour and Socialist Party?

On Monday - Yes or No, I will return to watching and analysing the antics of our political parties, their leaders, their press releases and filleting out what is so. On a Yes vote I will be as hard on the SNP or any other members of the negotiating group involved in ending the Treaty of Union, as I have been on the No Campaign, these last three years or so.

The battle may yet be won but the peace and future of Scotland has not. For the next few days I am taking a break, trusting the next stage of Scotland's rebirth does not take another eight more years.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Let the fun begin ..

How bitter are the Tory MP's, like Mr Chope, going to be when they wake to find they will have to be elected to the recalled English Parliament fairly soon?

Especially those who have UKIP snapping at their heels - to give the recalled English Parliament legal and constitutional legitimacy, without which it has no powers to negotiate the ending of the Treaty of Union. When the English Conservatives get to grips with this situation, just how long will Cameron fight off the 1922 Committee's request to fall on his sword, taking the odious Osborne with him?

"Cameron is gone, Arise King Boris!"

It is a matter of legal and constitutional record that in 1953 the UK Parliament conceded it could not be involved in negotiations relating to any changes or alterations to the Treaty of Union, only the two original sovereign parliaments or their successors could do this.

At some point in the next two weeks, after a Yes vote, all this will have to be resolved and England and Wales will go into an election with the choice of Miliband, Cameron, Farage or Clegg and their 'look a like' parties to storm this recalled parliament.

Parties who will have to convince a skeptical English electorate, in their campaigns, to support the renewal of England and Wales membership of the EU, as one of two successor states of the now defunct UK, argue round why a currency union now makes sense and why getting 'snippy' with the Scots and 'having their revenge'- as many of the No vote support in England, seem to wish - is not a very smart move, not smart at all.

We will also see an out of sorts English establishment, for the few and against the many, in serious difficulties, riven with internal wars, making the Borgia's look like sugar plum fairies, as nobody within Westminster takes responsibility for the mess they have made by breaking the UK Union on their political watch.

Will the real left of centre politic in England and Wales get off its butt and follow the success and structure of the 'Yes campaign' by creating a new, truly grassroots party with a common vision of the sort of England and Wales they wish to live in?

The next few months will reshape politics on the island of Great Britain - for the better. This will be reliant on the continuing engagement of the grassroots in Scotland and a real grassroots movement stirring in England and Wales, because their part of this 'Sceptered Isle' will still be broken and the old order will wish to rebuild it in their own image. After all that is the basic concept behind conservative thinking.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Whose War is it, anyway?

With around 48 hours to go to referendum day I am turning my sights away from the, "Who said what, about who,and why that left them crying?" media coverage of the Yeserendum and back to things global, stuff we soon to be independent Scots need to start thinking hard about and first up in my mind is what is happening in the Middle East.

Cameron and his media friends in the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Express and the rest are trying to drum up support to put UK citizens in military garb back into Iraq to:
  1. Try and stop Islamic fundamentalists killing each other
  2. To stop both sets of Islamic fundamentalists from killing Iraqi Christians who no one apparently knew about until last week
  3. To stop a different group of Islamic fundamentalists set up with Saudi Arabian money and trained by the CIA, US and UK Special Forces from killing the fundamentalists (of bullet point 1) and the Christians (of bullet point 2)
  4. Be absolutely clear it is not about the oil reserves in Iraq which are in danger of being overrun by the fundamentalist nutters (of bullet point 3) it is about humanitarian aid and the preservation of human life - well humans Cameron and the UK Media have selected as being worth saving
You can throw in the Islamic nutters of bullet point three are currently killing anyone in Syria who does not believe in 'their manifestation of God' but apparently those Christians and Islamic folk in Syria are not worth saving anymore -  a crying shame, but they do not have oil. There are also the Palestinian Christians who are suffering oppression, random violence, their land stolen and imprisonment without trial ..... but that is OK because the nice Israeli's are doing that and they are the USA's best friends (but sometimes its the Saudis) in the region.

The answer, as it appears to Mr Cameron, is to put back into Iraq the very same military forces which caused this whole shebang in the first instance. I can not be the only person thinking - utter madness - why not just send in gun slinging Christian fundamentalists from the USA Bible Belt and be done with it?

The reality is there is a psychological game going on here where the three main players (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel) alternate in their own and the world's eyes between victim, accuser and rescuer. Israel (accuser) attacks Palestinian Gaza (client of Iran) and Saudi Arabia seeks to act as peacemaker (rescuer) via an embassy in Egypt. All three payers in this game are happy to see an end to Assad in Syria simply because he is in their way. The question nobody asks is just why are these three happy to play this game of Middle East unhappy families?

A look at their scarily similar under belly is avoided by keeping the world's attention on this tension (always on the point of ripping apart the Middle East but never quite gets there) is it stops people looking at the torture, imprisonment without trial, quasi religious judicial murder and generally genocidal actions against perceived minorities that underpin each of these three states daily acts - all are as bad as each other and all are useful to each other as the ultimate baddy who is coming to get you, you Wahhabbist, Sunni, Shi'ite, Middle Eastern Christian or Jew.

The rewards each country gains are simple:

  • Israel it is billions in USA foreign 'aid' - if by 'aid' you allow Reathon stand off laser guided bombs
  • Saudi Arabia - the USA keeps the world media away from the true oppression and brutality of the Saudi regime and the USA acts as a check on Israel when things get out of hand
  • Iran - at first review it is difficult to see what this country gets apart from world media being diverted from their equally oppressive and brutal regime. Then you look carefully and see, by playing the game, Iran gains direct and indirect concessions from the USA, helped by keeping Russia and Putin as an ever present threat over the USA's head.
At this point you begin to understand why all three want something done about ISIS because ISIS taking control of Iraq, a chunk of Syria and threatening Saudi Arabia's own borders is potentially a game changer and a threat to the current brinksmanship game. Worse ISIS as a territory, sitting like a spider in the middle of a web, is a threat to USA oil supplies from the whole Gulf region because if Saudi Arabia falls to ISIS, the rest of the oil producing 'mini states' on the peninsula fall as well. The USA can not allow that as it endangers their current neo-liberal economic model based on low oil and gas pricing - hence the rush in the USA to frack itself to bits and ignore the serious environmental and local geological consequences.

It is into this seething, chaotic, unstable and violent mix in the Middle East, Cameron and his London media friends are wanting to put the UK Military. Putting the UK Military into a mission which can have no end as long it is to the benefit of the three main players, in the Middle East, to keep it going. A UK Military under going a contraction in size and capability orchestrated by the self same political and media weasels who are trying to persuade the general public to request the Government to put the shrunken and still shrinking UK military in harms way.


The only answer which bears any real scrutiny is;

To help secure the USA's oil and gas supplies from the Middle East.

Monday, 15 September 2014

I heard it on the grate Vine ...

E-mail to the Jeremy Vine Show:

Mr Vine you are a disgrace, your weak attempt to generate ‘hatred’ where none actually exists epitomises how low the BBC have now sunk in their churn of UK Unionist propaganda.

An ex-colleague now working for Channel 4 said he was glad he was out of the BBC because he has not seen the BBC churn so much propaganda since the Iraq War.

Last night another of your BBC Scotland colleagues, on the Big Debate, pointed out how Nick Robinson and the Tories were telling porkies about the early release of market critical information on the RBS. Yesterday on BBC 4 Mr Peston pointed the finger at Mr Robinson for the error in releasing the information early.

Over the weekend there were Yes rallies all across Scotland – where was the hatred or violence? On Saturday the bigots of the Orange Order, who are supporters of the ‘Union’ marched through Edinburgh to massive indifference but no violence.

Tomorrow I will be being play golf, at an outing, with a load of my friends many of whom are dyed in the wool Tories voting No .... how does your theory of violence and tension within Scotland work here?

The only violence Police Scotland have recorded is from ‘No’ supporters on Yes canvassers, likewise nearly all the acts of vandalism have been perpetrated by the ‘No’ side.

You are simply trying to stir the shit - even after Police Scotland have asked both sides (including the media and politicians) to refrain from potentially inflammatory statements.

Scotland is a different place now, your views are blinkered neither, Cameron’s attempts to get involved in a war or your pathetic attempt to incite violence will alter the increasing reality – the UK Union is dead.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The last Saturday and still 'No' does not understand

The usual bitter arguments can be seen in 'Comment is free', in the Guardian, against a open and sensible article by Fintan O'Toole .

A bitterness fed by angry ignorance in the greater part. Time to grow up England and accept your diminished role in the modern world, forget Trident - you can not afford it, forget Empire - it is long gone. Time to concentrate on what is rotten at the heart of England and understand the world is looking at what is going on in Scotland and are seeing those emblems of Westminster power such as the BBC struck low, they are seeing self acclaimed 'powerful UK politicians' mocked while they run around like headless chickens saying in effect, "This was not supposed to happen, it is not fair!". It comes to something when one of their own, the ultra British Nationalist - Farage, identifies the similarities between the No Campaign and the strategy of Edward the Second of England at Bannock Burn.

People of assumed greatness and power who are seeing their political system shorn of its over weaning sense of control and right to power, for powers sake, revealed as small people in a panic; after all how could No possibly lose with the organs of the UK State, the UK media, the BBC, the City, the CBI, Tory funding and a tied on, monkey in a red rosette, Labour vote in Scotland behind it?

How could such a powerhouse be left being seen as self confessed liars before an international press and media?

How could one screen capture destroy what little integrity was left in the British Nationalist campaign?

How did Nick Robinson think he would get away with his appalling claims, dissembling and crude edit on the BBC News when the full exchange with Mr Salmond is free to view on YouTube?

Here we are, a few days away from the potential end of the UK Parliamentary Union and neither its politicians nor, it appears, a serious chunk of the English electorate understand why we are now at this point and remain in denial shouting, "You'll be sorry sweaty jocks!" at the tops of their voices and more nastily warning of all sorts of vengeance if the Scots have the temerity to vote 'Yes'.

In their unconscious self mockery they reveal the truth behind the tag the Unionist, British Nationalist campaign has been given in Scotland - 'Bitter Together'.

Meanwhile the anger of those who now feel betrayed by their British Nationalist State in Scotland erupts like so many plukes on the face of the Scottish nation, exhibited as any immature youth would do in the stamping of feet, threats of violence and petty acts of vandalism and that from the servants of the UK media in Scotland who should know better.

Yes will win, as Fintan is suggesting, because it is about the people of Scotland and not vested interests. Our test as a new nation is to ensure this empowered democratic movement stays strong even as the unifying core for a Yes vote is inevitably broken in the discussion on the best way to move Scotland forward. Yet, even here, there is more that unites the Social Democrats of the SNP, the Greens and the Scottish left than separates them - in the months after a Yes vote it is important we remind ourselves of what a Yes vote is about, the reason we have got this far:

Wealth creation and social justice for all Scots and not just those who think themselves 'The Elite'

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Scot's Wha Hae

In the nearby village of Gatehouse of Fleet there is a hotel, the Murray Arms, where it is claimed, in the hotel's old snug, Robert Burns first penned the words of 'Scots Wha Hae'. Further down the street in the Ship Inn, Dorothy L Sawyers wrote 'Five Red Herrings' around a century or so later. Quite the literary hotspot, is our Gatehouse of Fleet.

Listening to the three stooges attempts to scare us into a 'No Vote', yesterday, accompanied by the rising tide of their shield slapping media lackeys, their shrill cries of anger, despair and out right denial. My mind flicked to my recent visit to Bannockburn and the key reason for the Scottish success that day:

Steadfastness and self belief in the face of massive opposition -

with Bannock Burn comes 'Scots Wha Hae' like bread is to butter.

"Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
         Let him follow me!"

When your opponent resorts to name calling and scapegoating you know they are beaten - just do not be sucked into their bitter and twisted little world.

Take the RBoS; if they move their name plate they will not be able to issue Scottish notes or coin in an independent Scotland. This means a big loss in market status and potential profit for the bank - especially if Scotland decides against a formal currency union after March 2016.

The next few days will be much akin to holding back a suicidal 'banzai style' attack from the No Campaign. Stay steady, hold the line and the attack collapses - try to attack or (worse) run and they will break through.

The Yes Campaign's modern day 'schiltroms' need to stand fast and let the opposition break harmlessly over us - left throwing useless and ineffective weapons in our general direction while we continue with our steady and evenly paced advance, they will break and run, military history shows they always do.

"Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
         Chains and slavery!"

Having been involved in combat - it is the calm, thoughtful and steady who win through. The angry, patriotic filled hot heads and the rash are the casualties.

Nobody, with any sense, fights for a flag, in combat, your fight is to keep your mates safe, first and foremost.

To keep the people of Scotland safe from the rapacious greed and self interest of Westminster and the City of London it is worth fixing this reality in your mind:

Next Thursday is about keeping your friends and family safe - first and foremost.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Cameron - has he any point?

Down in Tory 'Galloway' the reality is beginning to sink in - after cancelling their proposed 'gloat fests' in Castle Douglas and Dumfries - they are losing.

The cottars are revolting, the bonded labour are casting off their chains and the good burghers of Galloway are increasingly asking, 'Do they actually know their arse for the elbow?'

In other news:

Belted Galloways vandalise 'No Thanks' banners

Local police says all the accused are full of bull shit and blaming the Black Faced Sheep. The local polis inspector was quoted as saying, "Thon Belted Galloways have their denials off pat, as smooth as shit off a hot shovel. They some how got round the sheep hurdles which had been put in place. The Galloway's alibi is only sheep can clear sheep hurdles - it is a longstanding agreement between the Breed's Unions, a clear area of demarcation, adding there's none as fly as Black Faced Sheep."

A spoke sheep for the Black Faced said, 'It was outright racism on the Belted Galloway's part . They would nae have tried to put the blame on the Texel Liberation front , thon wooly minded bastards, cause they are aa pro EU and those groups often go 'Dutch'. Nah, it is always us Black Sheep thit get the blame - not thae incomers. Is fir thon feral goats and Lamas .. this black leggin' baahstards ... ', at which point the sheep's representative ate the recorder and my scarf in an attempt to ram the point home.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Ane ode tae Rinka (i' the haund o' Rabbie Burns)

Fair fa' yer gallus, sonsie face
Braw maiden o' the Thomson's race
Aboon them a ye'll tak yer place;
Quine, lass an' bairn.
Weel wordie ir ye o' a grace
As lang as ma airm.

Yer een sae bricht is ony star,

Wi cheeks sae saft wi oot ae mar,
A mou thit ony man wid want tae buss:
Kung, cheil ir faither.
Ma hert ye've tae' in

Wi' ilka bother.

Wee lassie, yer a wurld awa
In Japan far ye bide an'a.
Ye'll na forgit yer Granma an Pa
In Scotia's land.
Fir ir luv's deep an huds richt fast

Tae mak ye grand.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Wealth of Nations

I have been thinking while walking Dillon the Dug; what is the actual difference between the capitalist model of true social democrats and that of the neo-liberal scatologists?

I took me back to the opening thoughts of Adam Smith in his great economic treatise on what constitutes the wealth of a nation. Smith is clear, the Wealth of a Nation is predicated by its natural and human resources.

Smith is also quite clear that there is a direct relationship between productivity and sense of worth of the worker. A sense of worth not simply in cash terms of what they are paid but also support for the workers family be it health, education, a roof over their heads and access to decent food at reasonable cost. Smith's capitalist, economic model was brought together at New Lanark, if in a rather patriarchal manner - as befitted the times - but none the less an example of social democratic capitalism in action. A model still held up to the world as an example of the positive impact of capitalism on improved worker welfare, often by the most rabid of the neo-liberals.

In England Quaker business entrepreneurs copied the 'New Lanark model' while putting their own touches of patriarchal 'guidance' in with the workers recreation facilities and other benefits. The Cadbury's and Rowntree's were the exceptions in the UK, as most business at the time of the industrial revolution and ever since looked to get as much out their work force, for as little they could get away with, housing the workforce in single roomed slums and over crowded tenements where malnutrition and ill health were the norm amongst the families and job security often a day to day experience - the neo-liberal model of capitalism writ large and seen at work across the USA to this day.

In the late 19th Century, as the UK middle class grew in size and consumer power, there came an increase in moral rectitude. The poor, it became 'decided', need not always be with us and that society (that is the middle classes) had a duty to ease poverty and discrimination where ever it presented itself which in turn saw a series of public health measures on drinking water safety and safe sewage disposal encompass the cities of the mother of the British Empire. In the early 20th Century the Liberals enacted the first National Insurance scheme to ensure everyone had a basic pension after the age of 65, in the 1920's this was developed to give access to basic health care by encouraging the setting up of provident health societies which improved the access for workers (and their dependents) to health care via their trade union or work place. In 1948 the funds in these provident societies were handed to the NHS and today have morphed in charitable 'Friends of Great Ormand Street' health care fund raisers and like across the UK.

It appears the nearly 300 year cycle of improved respect for the human natural resource in the UK has fallen from its heights and is now plummeting down to its nadir. The UK Government in Westminster is in the process of destroying the remnants of the UK's social democratic traditions which started with Adam Smith's great treatise being made real, from New Lanark onwards.  Workforce consultations are now a rarity, even more so after the UK Trade Union Movement's self destruction of the 1970's. Malnutrition once again stalks the streets of the poorest in UK society. Education is once more predicated on access to wealth. Preventable diseases related to poor diet take UK citizens' lives in ever increasing numbers and in England, for now, the sense of there being a safety net from cradle to grave has been erased, nor will it stay or long in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland if this UK Parliament has its way.

It could be argued; the last three decades of increasingly neo-liberal governance in the UK Parliament in Westminster has undone the work of far sighted individuals across the UK in the previous 20 decades and destroyed all the promises made to my father's generation who had actually put their lives on the line between 1939 and 1945.

I sense commentators who are describing the levels of poverty, malnutrition and preventable ill-health now at 'Dickensian' levels across the UK as not being that far 'over the top' and what ever UK or rUK Government is elected in May 2015 life is only going to get even worse for those at the bottom of the heap. The cry from the UK political, business and landed elites is once again:

"The poor are always with us; it is all their own fault; let them suffer."

Ignoring all the evidence, to the contrary, of the previous 200 hundred, and more, years of social development.

Why, as we are being given the chance, would the Scots want to remain attached to this ignorant way of running a country into the ground?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Jam Tomorrow - cross our hearts, honest, Scotland ....

Horse, door, stable: bolted ...

The Scots made clear in 2006 via poll after poll we wanted the next step of devolution to be a new federal union with fiscally autonomous nations and regions.

When it became clear Labour was not going to shift we elected a minority SNP Government to Holyrood in 2007 as a hint and a warning.

Labour's response was to take a big hissy fit cancelling, the then cutting edge, CO2 recovery plant at Peterhead, forcing Edinburgh's hyperbolic and shambolic trams project through while taking lumps out our pocket money. Basically the message from Labour was - we're naw listening and your aa fir it when we get back in in 2011.

In 2010 England elected a Tory Government, in 2011 Scotland elected a SNP majority to Holyrood in a electoral system (d'Hondt) which was supposed to stop this ever happening. 

Did Westminster listen? 

Did Westminster take the option offered by the SNP Referendum Bill 2012 to put forward fiscal autonomy option and the chance to create a new Union fit for purpose in the 21st Century?

No. The only reply Scotland was given was 'shut up and get back in your box, you are going to lose'.

It is only now, when the enormity of Westminster and its weak minded London media friends failure becomes clear, Scotland gets what can only be described as this last ditch insipid offer of 'jam tomorrow'. The offer is only in part because of the surge towards 'Yes' and has more to do with the increasing devaluation of Sterling in the markets and the price the UK Government is now are paying for five year bonds (over 5% yeilds) as the uncertainty it created with its cries of 'no currency union' are causing the world financial markets to get the colly-wobbles. A serious financial hole for Sterling is opening up with the potential to make the 2008 crash look like a walk in the park for the rUK, according to many financial analysts. 

You can not say Scotland has not warned Westminster about the problems of the 'no currency union' line to the rUK and declined to talk about a 'Plan B', the 0.5% drop in the value of Sterling Thursday to Friday last week is a good reason why. Worse, the head of the Bank of England asked the Westminster politicians to shut up about 'Plan B', two weeks ago, as it was destabilising Sterling. Again, no one at Westminster or in the London media listened to what was actually said, they were too busy spinning 'Nyah, nyah, nyah Scotland!' stories.

Time to understand; the Yes support is not an 'overnight' phenomenon, the movement has been building steadily since before 2006 and has only become Yes because Westminster could not be bothered to listen to what we Scots were actually saying - fiscal autonomy and a new Union fit for purpose in the 21st Century - while continuing to slap us down at every turn to show us Scots who was superior.

In ten or twenty years time historians will look back and talk about how Westminster's neo-liberal rush to the right broke the Union and how the Scots were driven to independence by Westminster's indifference to what the Scots actually had wanted:

A fairer Union for all the UK's nations and regions.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Guardian on 'Freedom of Speech'!

Maybe the Guardian Editor can explain away his paper's ludicrously uninformed coverage of the Scottish referendum while peddling Better Together press releases as 'fact' via the pen of Mr Carrel.

It may just all be down to 'ignorance' as, after all, the British Establishment consider Scotland as a 'minor North British entity' according to Lord Robertson of Port Ellen - he of the 'Devolution will kill the SNP stone dead' presumption. Then there is the disappearing Scotsman article which reported voter rejection of Lamont's and her party on the doorsteps of Govan - a once Labour stronghold.

The UK Press could be free at a stroke - they only need to stop allowing themselves to be bottle fed by failed politicians at Westminster, as the start point.

Why not start accurately covering of the marches and protests going on across England against Ian Duncan-Smith's 'Welfare Reforms' which Labour's Rachel Reeves is committed to continue with or Mr Hunt's privatisation of NHS England which is the end result of 'NHS reforms' started by Blair's Labour Governments.

Where are Guardian's protests about the failure to exempt NHS England from TTIP?

When is the Guardian going to challenge the totally rubbish claims that England can not afford its NHS while ironically wittering about the need to spend on a £100 billion+ Trident replacement?

Where is the coverage of the real problem ahead for Sterling if there is no currency union agreed on a Yes vote on the 18th and the increasing trend of Sterling holdings being sold off by investors coupled with last week's continuing devaluation of Sterling against the dollar and other currencies?

Commentators from the New Economic Forum, Schroders and Bloomburg's (amongst others) are making clear that Sterling with out a currency union is just one shock away from collapse of which Scotland walking away from Sterling could be just one of many.

The Manchester Guardian would not have been so precious about Labour's right wing drift nor failed to defend the two vital Labour reforms which made the biggest changes to UK social welfare in the 20th Century.

I say again, the UK press is free - if it will only break the ties to Westminster's apron strings and think for itself once more.