” Not An Independent Member State – Yet! “

Today, on St Andrew’s Day, I am a proud Scot. Not a proud Scot of the ‘proud Scot but’ variety, who seem to think they need to tell you how proud they are just before they go on to convince you that really they arenae that proud, and that it would be entirely impossible for the country they say they are so proud of to govern itself, to have its own currency, to manage and benefit from its own natural resources and the skills and innovation of its people, and to work to build a society that actually looks after its citizens, all of them. No, not that type of proud Scot, not the type that takes a very narrow, short-sighted, short-term view that we are too wee, too poor and couldn’t survive without being dependent, the blinkered ‘we’d be a third world country’ brigade.

No. After several months observing the more than worrying rise of right-wing xenophobic ‘patriotism’ (the other kind of nationalism, the one of a sinister nature)as it steadily becomes considered palatable and normalised through media coverage of such figures as Farage, Trump and Le Pen, I feel proud simply by reading a speech, then seeing footage of the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon’s reception, and warm and encouraging welcome during an historic visit and address to the Upper Chamber of the Irish Parliament (Seanad Eireann).

Having received a rousing reception from the students of the prestigious Trinity College the previous day the First Minister in her speech spoke of the shared history of emigration of both countries (arguably much of which historically has a causal link to the actions of our then mutual partner in Union).

She spoke of the current massive humanitarian crisis which has created the greatest movement of enforced refugees since World War II, and of the sense of understanding that the peoples of Ireland and Scotland have “ the instinct for self-preservation and the desire for a better life to seek a future far away from the lands of their birth.” She suggested that this may help explain why both countries have responded with such an open heart to the current crisis. Scotland is now home to almost a third of the Syrian refugees that have been resettled in the UK and Ireland too is playing their full part.

The First Minister spoke of Europe and the vital relationship both countries have with other members of the European Union, and how “the experience of interaction with other European states, on a basis of equality, has helped our national self-confidence and heightened our awareness of the value of our distinctive contribution to European culture and civilisation.”

She talked of Brexit being a problem not of Scotland’s making, Scotland having by majority democratically voted to remain an EU member, and a challenge too for Ireland. She spoke of protecting Scotland’s interests, and working towards presenting plans to remain within the single market whilst still a partner in the United Kingdom. She made it clear however that should these plans prove to be unsuccessful the option of Scotland considering again the question of becoming an independent country remains firmly on the table. “If the path that the UK chooses to take turns out to be deeply damaging to Scotland’s best interests – to our economic, social, cultural and international interests – then the people of Scotland must have the right to choose a different future.”

In the last few months Nicola Sturgeon has made similar statements several times but in the spirit of seeing ourselves as others see us the reception she received from Irish parliamentarians, which was heart-warming and clearly a meeting of kindred spirits, committed to positive civic nationalism, social justice and equality, was impressive, not that you’ll get that impression probably from any reports that you may read or see in the mainstream Scottish media.

Following the speech, and prior to a standing ovation, a number of the Irish Senators in attendance rose to praise Scotland’s First Minister.

Catharine Ardagh of Fianna Fail said “Scotland’s day will come” on fulfilling its constitutional destiny. “I admire your continuing passion for independence,” she told Sturgeon.

Independent senator Michael McDowell dedicated much of his response to independence, arguing that Scotland would benefit from self-government and the ability to determine its own future.

Irish Labour senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it was now “inevitable” that “Scotland will take its place in the nations of the world”, and commended the civic nationalism and democratic nature of Scotland’s independence movement.

Senator Mark Daly, also Fianna Fail, asked Sturgeon how his party and Ireland can assist Scotland in its moves towards independence.

Independent senator Frances Black told Sturgeon: “I do wish you all the best in fighting for independence for your country.”

Compare and contrast this visit, where existing relationships were further cemented, promises were made by the government of Ireland to stand for Scotland in any future Brexit negotiations (the First Minister having agreed that she will support Northern Ireland receiving access to the single market) and the prospects for future improvements to trading relationships enhanced, with Theresa May’s lukewarm reception in India, or the combined buffoonery of the Brexiteering Foreign Secretary, and his elitist pals, making ludicrous publically stated assumptions about fictional superior trading access to the single market post-Brexit, only to be consistently and clearly contradicted by the European ministers that at some point they are going to have to negotiate with. The message has been made clear that the UK will not have tariff free access to the single market without accepting the freedom of movement of EU citizens.

The First Minister has been impressive in many ways since taking over the mantle from Alex Salmond. Looking through the dross of privileged elites, professional politicians, chancers and sycophants who pass for government ministers in the UK government, I think we can be more than genuinely pleased that Scotland has an outstanding leader, who will do everything in her power to protect the interests of the people of Scotland. A leader who, when the time is right, will unlock the door to Scotland becoming an independent nation. That is when the real work begins.

Happy St Andrew’s Day, from a proud Scot.

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Dodgy Photographs

Breaking news that following yesterday’s sensational tabloid revelations of information being released accidentally by a Tory MP leaving a UK government meeting about Brexit, that it is thought that another embarrassing photograph for the government may have come to light. This time it appears that inadvertently snapped by a hack contract media photographer outside 10 Downing Street a photograph allegedly exists of Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s handwritten notes of the meeting in late October between the UK Government and the leaders of the devolved parliaments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It is thought that as Mr Mundell finished kissing Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand, and turned to walk away from Number 10, he failed to cover up the pages of the Pirates of the Caribbean sketchy book which was in his free hand, potentially revealing his erudite statesmanlike thoughts to the nation via the means of a powerful camera lens.

It is rumoured that the photograph shows very clearly the following notations…..

‘MEETING WITH THE DUMB AND DEVOLVED (OCTOBER 2016)

THERESA IS LOOKING PARTICULARY LOVELY TODAY. WINE IS JUST THE RIGHT COLOUR FOR HER. IT SUITS HER. I WONDER IF SHE WILL NOTICE ME?

ON THE SUBJECT OF WINE… SHOPPING LIST, CHABLIS, CLARET, GRENACHE, SOME OF THOSE NICE HORS D’OEUVRES FROM HARRODS…

OH WAIT, THAT DAMN WOMAN IS TALKING NOW……. OH GOD, SHE DOES DRONE ON. SHE’S GOT ONE OF THOSE COARSE GUTTURAL ACCENTS TOO… GRATING. GIVES US PROUD SCOTS A BAD NAME WITH THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. EVERYONE IS NODDING AT HER LIKE SHEEP, PRETENDING TO LISTEN. I DON’T EVEN THINK MOST THEM EVEN KNOW WHAT SHE IS SAYING.

DAVIS HAS JUST PASSED ME A SCRIBBLED NOTE SAYING “ I DON’T FANCY YOURS MUCH.” HAHAHA. I HOPE THERESA DIDN’T SEE THAT. SHE BRIEFED US EARLIER TO PRETEND THAT WE WE’RE INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ZZZZZZZZ. THERESA IS A LOVELY LEADER THOUGH WHEN SHE GETS ANGRY. HER LITTLE NOSEY SQUIGGES UP. MUCH NICER THAN DAVID.

WHAT TIME’S TEA I WONDER? I HOPE THEY HAVE THOSE NICE CUSTARD CREAMS THAT THEY HAD THE LAST TIME I WAS AT A MEETING IN HERE. OH, THOSE CURTAINS ARE NEW.

OH SPEW! THEY WANT US TO WORK TOGETHER. ALL THREE OF THEM HAVE MADE STATEMENTS NOW, AND THEY THINK THAT WE ALL NEED TO CO-OPERATE TO ENSURE THAT THINGS RUN SMOOTHLY WITH THIS BREXIT THING. BLAH BLAH BLAH….BBBORING.

THERESA IS FLANNELING THEM NOW. SHE’S AWFULLY GOOD AT THIS. OH, THAT’S SURPRISING. SHE’S USING ONE OF THE BLESSED MARGARET’S QUOTATIONS. I’M NOT SURE OF THE RELEVANCE OF ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI? ANYWAY, THERESA KNOWS BEST.

HOW LONG IS THIS BLASTED MEETING GOING TO LAST? IVE GOT A LUNCHEON ENGAGEMENT AT WHITES WITH BARON FORSYTH OF DRUMLEAN. HURRY UP…..

HAHAHAHA…. THERESA IS SHOWING THEM A TELEPHONE WITH A PICTURE OF BATMAN ON IT……..HAHAHAHA….. SUCKERS…COMEDY GOLD…. DON’T YOU HESITATE… JUST RING THIS NUMBER AND DAVID DAVIS WILL BE ON THE OTHER END….AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY FOR CONSULTATION. ‘ YOUR CALL IS VALUABLE TO US’……HAHA… BRILLIANT. THAT LINE IS NOT EVEN CONNECTED TO THE SWITCHBOARD……. HILARIOUS.. WAIT TILL I TELL MICHAEL. HE’LL GUFFAW ALL OVER HIS BRANDY AT THAT ONE…..

AW OH…… NIKLA’S TWIGGED…. THINGS ARE TURNING NASTY…..SHE’S STARING AT ME…. KEEP CALM…KEEP CALM….THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS….SHE’S STARING AT THERESA NOW…..

OH! THAT’S NOT CRICKET. SHE NEARLY HAD THE CABINET ROOM DOOR OFF IT’S HINGES THERE. DECEPTIVELY STRONG FOR A SMALL WOMAN…….

ON THE WHOLE I THOUGHT IT WENT WELL………..# NOTE TO SELF… FIND OUT WHAT ‘BOLT HEN’ MEANS……

It is thought that the Westminster press office has met with the photographer concerned and expressed the Prime Minister’s views, in the strongest possible terms, as to how she would feel should this photograph be released into the public domain. A final decision on which recognition of outstanding service the photographer is to receive in this year’s honours list has not yet been made.

‘You Know You Make Me Wanna Shout….’

Gordon Brewer: “ Joining us from Moffat we have the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, Good morning Minister.”

David Mundell: “ Good afternoon Gordon. The clock has just ticked over to noon so let’s be factually correct, shall we.”

Gordon Brewer: “Yes. Anyway. Thank you for joining us. Your government has been generating plenty of hot air in the last few days regarding the proposals in your Autumn Statement, and how they will help ordinary families. However the Institute of Fiscal Studies has suggested that these changes will only alleviate around 7% of the cuts to household incomes already put in place by your government’s previous policies. You guys are at, aren’t you?”

David Mundell: ‘Well no. That is not factually correct Gordon. Our government has a cunning plan involving increased personal allowances. tapering tapers and hunting down tax evaders with fox hounds (apart from the ones who drive Bentleys) which will make life dramatically better for all of those people who matter to us, those that are struggling, the JABs, (Just about bankrupt’s). Bear in mind too that as of this moment, well, today anyway, for the next hour or two, we have no plans, apart from our current proposals, to make further welfare cuts. We are beneficent to a fault.”

Gordon Brewer: “ You mentioned in an interview with The Times that Brexit creates a great opportunity for Scotland to achieve even more control over devolved powers. Can you be more specific? Can you give me examples?”

David Mundell: “ Pie fillings.”

Gordon Brewer: “ “Sorry Minister. I never quite caught that. Could you repeat it?’

David Mundell: “ Pie fillings Gordon. For years those bureaucrats in Brussels have dictated to us in Scotland the consistency of our pies. From the day and hour we leave the EU that will no longer happen. This is an exciting and transformative new power for Scotland, and I will expect the Scottish Government to manage this prudently, and with fairness and equity. With that in mind I say here and now that my Office will ensure that a regime of scrutiny is in place to ensure that this happens. There will, of course, be other minor powers which currently the EU has control over in areas like agriculture and fisheries, and the environment and justice, hardly worth mentioning, which will just be absorbed back to Westminster. We wouldn’t want to bother Holyrood with such trifling issues (cough).”

Gordon Brewer: “You said last June, following the Brexit vote, that should the Scottish Government decide to have another independence referendum Westminster shouldn’t stand in their way. Do you still believe that?”

David Mundell: (Coughing fit, getting very red in the face) “ Let me be clear. I have been absolutely consistent with this. This is a process issue. There has been a referendum on this already. The Scottish Government should abide by the Edinburgh Agreement. The overwhelming number of people in Scotland do not want another referendum.”

Gordon Brewer: “Okay, let me put it another way. Your party’s leader in the Scottish Parliament, Ruth Davidson, around the same time, said that if the Scottish people decided to have another independence referendum the UK government should not block it. Do you agree with that statement?”

David Mundell: (Getting louder) “ Let me be clear on this once again. I have been absolutely consistent with this. This is simply a process issue. There has been a referendum on independence already. The Scottish Government should abide by the Edinburgh Agreement. The overwhelming number of people in Scotland do not want another referendum. The overwhelming number…..”

Gordon Brewer: “ Minister are you aware that you are shouting at me? “

David Mundell: (Shouting) “ No I’m not. It is the overwhelming majority I tell you.”

Gordon Brewer: “Let’s try it another way. Do you agree with that statement, Yes or No?”

David Mundell: (Fingers in lugholes screaming na-na-na -na) “ My position is not inconsistent with what Ruth Davidson’s current position is.”

Gordon Brewer: “Are you aware that you are still shouting, also sweating and rocking quite a bit. All you have to say is Yes or No.”

David Mundell: “ The Scottish Government should abide by the Geneva Convention. The numbers are overwhelming I tell you, overwhelming.”

Gordon Brewer: ‘We don’t seem to be getting anywhere with that question. Moving on. As Scotland’s sole representative in government, a country which voted by majority to remain in the EU, are you arguing the case at Westminster to stay in the single market?”

David Mundell: (Still shouting) “ It’s not simply a case of Scotland getting their own way. We voted as a United Kingdom to leave the EU. I’m pushing for the best possible deal for all of the UK. Scotland voted to remain as part of the UK overwhelmingly, and the Scottish Government should abide by that. We will negotiate a unique deal for the UK where we will have barrier-free and tariff-free access to the EU single market.

Gordon Brewer: “Minister, you are now ranting, and are you aware that ministers of the other member states of the European Union burst into fits of the giggles every time a member of your government mentions Westminster’s confidence in achieving a favourable deal to access the EU single market?”

David Mundell: “ A unique deal I tell you, unique……The overwhelming majority I say, overwhelming…”

Gordon Brewer: “ Lastly, on that subject. As the only elected member of your government from Scotland, the only Conservative from a country where at the last General Election the people of 56 of the 59 electoral constituencies voted democratically to put their faith in a representative of a party which seeks independence for Scotland, how do you know that there is no appetite amongst the people of Scotland for a second independence referendum?”

David Mundell: ‘ I am the Secretary of State for Scotland. These are my people. I know them. I understand them. As I pass them working in the fields they doff their caps at me and I often wave back, acknowledging their plucky stoicism. I live and breathe Scotland. In fact the Prime Minister has promised me that in a few years I can pick out a nice Scottish place name for myself to go on the brass plaque on my seat in the Lords.

Gordon Brewer: (Shaking head) ‘”We’ll have to leave it there.”

Moving Up To The Start Line

Nutt, that’s it. We’ve had enough. We want independence right now, in fact yesterday.

I propose a national day of positive protest called Hug a No Voter. Get oot there folks, grab yer nearest No Voter, in fact grab two, whether they are sitting next tae ye at the breakfast table taking the top aff an egg, or perhaps are at the next workstation across from you at the work, an old school pal perhaps, the gasman, yer uncle Billy, grab them, gie them a big brotherly or sisterly squeeze and say, “Please, Please, for the love of goodness, gonnae change your mind?”

We’ve tried everything else. We tiptoe through seemingly never-ending periods of negative, inaccurate, often completely false, and just downright misleading media nonsense and witch hunts by trying to point to the actual facts (from reputable and unequivocal sources) rather than the output of the Ministry of Propaganda.

We have dozens of excellent commentators extolling the virtues of a society where the people in control of the cashbox would actually have the interests of that society in mind, people like Robin McAlpine, Paul Kavanagh, Derek Bateman, Lesley Riddoch, Andrew Tickell, Carolyn Leckie, Michael Greenwell, Pat Kane, Michael Gray, Alan Bissett, Richard Walker, Mike Small, Angela Haggerty, Billy Kay, Iain MacWhirter, just to name a few. Bright smart people, no’ dafties. We’ve even got the fellow in Bath who provides a sterling service with excellent ripostes to much of the false negative guff about us being too wee, too poor, and too gullible.

We’ve a newspaper, that’s just turned two, The National. A paper that actually, and refreshingly, provides a bit of actual analysis of the news as it impacts Scotland. It’s value, even on a symbolic level, should never be under-rated.

All of the information that these folks generate and communicate, which will make Scotland a self-determining country, is easily available and accessible. The big challenge is getting more people interested enough to access that information, question it, compare it with how Scotland is currently governed, and at least then be aware that there is a viable alternative. We’re no’ doing this because we are aw ‘mad nationalists wae blue painted faces.’ There is a point to this. We in the Yes Movement all believe passionately that our children and grandchildren will have a better life, and better opportunities, in an independent Scotland.

We’ve a grassroots movements that’s so impressive that it would make your hair stand on end, just itching tae get started, getting restless, by far our biggest asset in the coming months. When that juggernaut starts to move you will hear the roar coming from the north as far south as Whitehall, and nothing will stop it. But naw, let’s get out and Hug a No Voter. That’ll do it…………

Nicola, when yer ready First Minister…..

Not Resigned To It

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: “ Minister, your rail service, which you personally are responsible for, personally, is dreadful. You are incompetent. Will you resign?”

Humza: “ No it’s not. It is not perfect, and we are working to improve it, but it is not dreadful.”

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: “Have you considered resigning? Your trains are never on time.”

Humza: “ Em, well actually most of the time they are on time. We have improved over the last year to nearly 90% of our trains being on time. We’re working to improve that further.”

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: “ Compared to the rail services of the rest of our great and glorious United Kingdom ScotRail’s performance is woeful. Has resignation been in your thoughts?”

Humza: “ That isn’t the case. If you compare ScotRail’s performance on the key measurement used to monitor rail services we are better than the UK average as a whole. “

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: ‘ Well, you are underinvesting in the rail system, which was once a cornerstone of our wonderful Union. Letting it go to wrack and ruin. You must be considering resignation?”

Humza: “ That’s not true either. Since this government took over we’ve invested 7.7 billion pounds to maintain and upgrade track, stations and trains in Scotland, and we are committed to a further spend of an additional 5 billion pounds up to 2019. On a per head basis, in comparison, that’s about double the amount invested in the rail network of the rest of the UK.”

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: “ Yes, but the system is breaking down. You are cutting back, and isolating communities. Isn’t resigning the honourable thing to do?”

Humza: “Nope, you are off the mark with that one too. We’ve opened 13 new train stations since we took over, and are planning more, opening up more of our rural communities.”

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: (Nervous coughing).

Humza: “ Listen guys, can I stop you there. Is it because I’m from the SNP?”

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: (Awkward silence, shuffling of feet).

Humza : “C’mon, let me buy you all a coffee?”

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: (Herd lightbulb coming on, swiftly changing tack) “ Here he goes. Just like Nicola Sturgeon. All he ever talks about is independence.”

Humza: “Who wants milk and sugar? “

Baying unionist-owned media hack pack: “Independence, Independence. Give it a rest. Minister, what our readers want to ask is why don’t you just get on with your day job? When will you resign?”

Humza: (Sighing) “Anyone for a tea cake? Or maybe you’d prefer an empire biscuit?”

Sign Of The Times

The world is going to hell under a nicotine stain coloured hair weave, in a gold plated golf cart. Bigger than any catastrophe movie ever seen, a blockbuster available to a global audience on a TV screen near you from 20 January 2017. It’s a worry.

Emboldened by the rise of right wing populism in North America extreme right wing groups throughout Europe stir and agitate, some making significant gains as they head towards parliamentary elections over the next two years. It’s a worry.

In the UK the Tories don’t have the first of the first clues what they are going to do once the 27 remaining European Union countries say ‘so long. farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye’ after they receive the clearest missive of forthcoming disaster since Chamberlain opened an envelope enclosing an autographed photo of a dictator of another era, with the words ‘ I promise not to invade Poland’ pencilled in at the bottom. It’s a worry.

The only negotiating tactic the forces of Tory Brexitopia seem to want to utilise with their soon to be former European colleagues is to make arrogant sweeping demands, when clearly they are not in any position to do so. They are so out of touch. It’s a worry.

The tax payers of the current UK have been advised that in these times of austerity they must again put their hands in their pocket to ensure that the most privileged family in the country, multi-millionaires, are kept in a manner that they and their ancestors before them, have become very accustomed to, to the tune of three hundred and sixty odd million pounds, and perhaps maybe a new yacht on the side. It’s a worry.

Somehow the same Tory government manage to sneak into law, under the cover of the current political chaos, the most sinister and privacy invasive measures available to a government ever seen, described by Edward Snowden as “ the UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.” It’s a worry.

Screaming Lord Farage of Xenophobia plans to lead a jackbooted horde of 100,000 dreepy-knuckled high achievers in storming the Supreme Court in an attempt to undermine, and influence the decision of, the independent judiciary of a supposedly free democratic society. It’s a worry.

The cabal of useless unionist career conscious leaders of the Scottish Parliament who wouldn’t vote to agree that tomorrow follows today if Nicola Sturgeon proposed it, in case it’s a nasty underhand backdoor route to independence, not interested in protecting the people of Scotland, continue to have the backbone of the lesser dappled Mauritian jellyfish….. They are a worry, a nonentity, but a worry.

But hey Humza, get those trains running on time wee man……

Polishing The Golden Hat

The watery winter morning light shone in through the kitchen window. The draught from the warped window frame, badly in need of a paint and maintenance, causing the half net curtain to flutter each time a gust of wind struck the building. In her mid-seventies Ina was never really warm unless she switched on the central heating , and left it on. Having sobbed when she’d read the quarterly bill the previous winter the radiators now sat gathering dust like quiet monuments in every room. It was her hands and feet that were the problem, always cold, sometimes numb and tingling.

Now that her daughter Katherine had passed away Ina mainly lived in her kitchen or her bedroom, seldom entering most of the rest of the living space of the three bedroomed flat, taking her small two bar electric heater with her to whichever room she was in at the time. Half an hour , half an hour only, was all she would normally allow herself the luxury of the fire. Just long enough, she kidded herself, to take the edge off the cold in the room. Some nights, under the heavy weight of the blankets and her outdoor jackets draped across the bed the room was so cold that Ina, chest rasping, would see her breath in the darkness and huddle tighter under the covers, too frozen to sleep.

The doorbell rang. “ Hiya Ina love, its only me” . Her friend Mag, a cheery distraction to the news on the wireless. “In ye come hen. A wee cuppa tea?” “ Oh aye, please I’m gasping.”

“So” said Ina “ what’s your news today?” Shaking her head slowly Mag responded “ I was roond at oor Brian’s hoose yesterday for Sunday dinner and he was going his dinger, ye know like he does, about politics. He’s heavily intae aw that independence cairry oan and it disnae take much tae get him started. Yesterday it was the Royal Family, of all things. A right braw lassie that Kate, really lovely cheekbones. Did ye see that nice dress she had on in that programme the ither week? It was beautiful. Anyway, we’re eating dinner and it comes on the telly in the living room that Buckingham Palace is really needing a bit of work done to it, and it’s going to take a lot of money tae fix it.”

“Aye hen, I saw that in the paper. It was in the Express. They were saying something about bringing it up tae the proper standard for our new young Royals. It’s needing rewired and new plumbing, that kind of stuff, and there’s me cannae even get the Cooncil tae come and look at that damp patch on the ceiling in the bathroom (Laughing). Anyway it’s the Queen’s residence, and she deserves it, the money she brings in. It’s a well-known fact, and she’s got a lot to put up with.”

“Aye, that’s what I said tae, but Brian, well he’s on the high horse, and he’s no’ having it. A disgrace he calls it. Three hundred and sixty-nine million pounds of oor money it’ll cost, he says. Oor money? I telt him to away and no’ be daft. How is it oor money? It’s the county’s money, and she is the Queen of the country, so it’s her money anyway. He’s easy wound up. Why get yourself excited about something like that?

Then he started reeling off random figures. I wrote them doon here (taking out a small piece of paper). He says, and I am sure he must be wrong about this, the Queen is estimated tae be worth at least five hundred and ten million pounds or three hundred odd million pounds, depending on who ye ask, in her own right. Apparently Charlie has about two hundred million, Fergie’s ex-man is worth seventy-five million, Edward, forty-five million, and Anne, thirty million, and that’s before you include all the palaces and the crown jewels and all of that stuff. That surely cannae be right, can it? I think he’s just making it up tae be spiteful. He also says that the Queen gets over forty million pounds of, as he says, ‘oor’ money every year for expenses, to pay her staff and for state functions, and that kind of thing. Mind you that wouldn’t be a cheap thing that.”

“I think he’s a blethering skite Mag. If he thinks the Queen’s spending his money just tell him he’ll need tae do some more overtime. That’ll get him going. (chuckles). You are shivering there. Are you cold? I can put the fire on for ten minutes and heat the place up if you like? “

Respect For Democracy

Have the admirable traits of having courage, thinking for yourself and displaying personal integrity gone out of much of Scottish politics? Has the doing of the right thing for the people you represent, rather than what fits with your political ambitions, or following instructions from headquarters, become a fiction that only the naïve believe? Of course it has.

Earlier in the week the complete abandonment of any pretence by Westminster’s satellite branch office representatives at Holyrood that they have Scotland’s interests at heart, or even anywhere near the front of their blinkered minds, in failing to back the Scottish government’s motion (supported by the Scottish Greens) to seek protection of Scotland’s access to the European Union single market, clearly provided evidence that for them there is only one strategy that matters, save the union at all costs.

Brexit may result in Scots losing employment in their thousands, Scotland losing favourable access to markets it has traded in profitably for several decades, and the acceleration of the significant challenge to Scotland’s economy of an ageing working population once the tap is switched off to access to free movement of European citizens, but hey, nah, none of that matters. Those pesky nats might want independence, and they need to be stopped.

In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, which saw 62% of Scots who voted vote overwhelmingly for Scotland to remain a member of the European Union, they were all out there doing a bit of high profile preening of themselves about how the people had spoken, expressing their determination to protect Scotland from the ravages of the unfolding Brexitastrophe. That didn’t last.

It wasn’t long before the provincial darling of the new right was doing a stand-up routine at the annual UK party rally, which strangely didn’t involve a tank (wait until next year, there will be marching) or a coo wae horns, but did involve the usual elements of cringe which we all know and loathe, although I think she might have missed the one about us being tight. She’s destined for big things, but not in Scotland. One of Theresa’s brighter new starlets. she’ll maybe get a job holding Lord Farage’s jaiket whilst he mud-wrestles alligators to amuse his pal the Commander in Chief, or helping Boris load the boot of his sports car up with boxes of cheap Prosecco before the border shuts.

Then there’s the stateswoman-like representative of the most European minded European citizens of the world, we love Europe, vote Hillary, Europe Europe Party, who loves Europe so much that she doesn’t want to vote to help her country to stay in it. It’s all too hard, so we’ll just abstain says she. The spinning top which is Kezia Dugdale is becoming increasingly bewildering. Her “crystal clear” narrative on Scottish politics is so unclear that you wonder what the hell she’s going to say next. What are her actual views on anything? Does anyone know? Does she know? I worry that one day someone will find her sitting eating breakfast in the Holyrood canteen reciting the phrase “ Let me be perfectly clear, I don’t like poached eggs but I like my eggs poached” over and over again. Thinking for herself is not big on the list of priorities, following the Westminster party line is, by whichever one of the two sides of her party she is being instructed by at the time.

The man who is a winner (he is convinced that if he just keeps saying it, writing it down, and thinking it, that it will happen, maybe at the bingo) the winner Wee Wullie Rennie is still in the huff because Nicola Sturgeon has spoken to everybody else, and their auntie, apart from the winner Wullie Rennie, about their views on Brexit, and ways that Scotland can protect itself from the ravages of being hoyed out of the single market. The winner Wullie only found this out though because his local newsagent let it be known that he’d had a wee chat with Nicola one morning when he was taking the milk and bread in early, and gave her a few pointers. Winner Wullie has now taken to leaving scribbled post it notes headed “ Ways to be a winner on Brexit” on the First Minister’s chair in the parliament chamber. The cleaners are furious. However for Wullie, as the winner that he is, he sees everything as an SNP plot, and he refuses to look beyond that.

Here was the perfect opportunity, amid the chaos in these uncertain, and very possibly deleterious, times, for the leaders of these respective parties in Scotland to put the people they represent before self. To get behind a reasoned measured message of Scottish unity to the UK government, and beyond. A message to declare, following the people of Scotland deciding democratically that they should remain as citizens of the European Union, that their decision should be respected, and will be protected by those who serve the people.

It was never gonnae happen was it?

Scotland can do so much better.

The Only Road

A week later it reads like a far-fetched dystopian novel. A mega-capitalist billionaire reality TV star strikes back at the ‘elite’ from his golden skyscraper. A period of normalisation. A time when his extreme views and behaviour are rationalised, and not condemned, but diluted, laughed off, enabled, encouraging and raising hope for extremists elsewhere. The very early days of society’s widespread acceptance.

He’ll be ‘managed’ the pundits say. They won’t let him out of his box, they say. The herald of a new way forward, or an old and dreadful path. Some believe an intervention has taken place, he’s God ordained.

His country’s traditional major ally, the other half of a ‘special relationship’, a state which previously had ruled over his country until, well over two hundred years previously, the citizens declared themselves to be free to be an independent, self-determining nation, is in chaos.

Its ruling political party, behind a thin veil of mutual co-operation, squabbling amongst themselves, bewildered and poorly qualified to make decisions. Its citizens, having taken the hugely significant view that the state must extricate itself from its established trading partnerships, following promises from rightwing politicians that life for them will improve if they vote to do so, smell a rat. Leaked memos warn of mismanagement, lack of direction, funding shortfalls, and the need for perhaps 30,000 additional civil servants to churn through the administration of separation.

Cue the expected entrance of the usual suspects from the corporate financial management world to save the day, at massive public expense, where they will once more part wealth from the many, and place it in the hands of the few. Give it time.

When in doubt or danger the Establishment of the state concerned always turns to its traditional soothers, as a former empire builder, bluster and over-confidence. For public consumption in the media, and in parliament under questioning, it invokes the convenient veil of the requirement to play the negotiating cards close to the chest, to mask incompetence.

The mantra from those in power rings out loud and clear. We will receive the best possible deal from our former trading partners. We will have access to the single market. We will have favourable trading arrangements with the European Union, without the requirement of the free movement of European citizens.

It’s pseudo buffoon-like minister responsible for maintaining effective foreign relationships simplifies the task in hand (a task where somehow his disjointed government must persuade twenty-seven other nations that they should accept detriment so that one of their number, who is leaving them, generating potentially huge negative financial repercussions, can have better trading terms than them) espousing the arrogant view that the Italians will want to sell us their wine, therefore they’ll cave in and tow the line on a tariff free relationship with the UK. One example of many such crass comments by Brexiteers since June. This is almost a form of childlike delusion.

Meanwhile ministers of the European Union member states look on, bewildered, shaking heads and face-palming as the scale of the gulf between reality and the exiting state’s perception of the situation becomes clearer. It is obvious to everybody, apart from the Westminster government, that the Westminster government just doesn’t get it.

Scurrying around in the shadows is a dangerous individual. The president’s man. A finger in many pies, a foot in many camps. A stirrer of bigotry, hatred and division. A darling of the state media. Heavily involved in preparing the mood, and the landscape, for the trading decision his country-folk have taken, and a trusted acolyte of the golden anointed one.

Coming in from the cold, steadily, slowly but surely becoming palatable, in where he feels he can be useful. A go-between. Unofficially of course. (Officially, the government will keep him at a distance, for now). A maker of sycophantic excuses, bedding in further normalisation and acceptance of extremes, of xenophobia, marginalising minorities, helping to facilitate a transatlantic trade-off.

In exchange for agreeing to continue to indulge a relationship of mutual admiration, reinforcing credibility, and rewarding unacceptable behaviour, the British state will receive access to a premier partnership closer than Thatcher and Reagan on speed, but untrammelled by accepted early 21st century convention.

Meanwhile in Scotland we have to keep hoping that things will get better. That timing, circumstances and the events of the next two years will see a majority of Scots satisfying themselves that the only road left is independence.

Well Deserved Gideon

That’s smashing tae hear that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Daddy’s big in carpets, George Gideon Oliver Osborne, has been made a member of the Order of The Companions of Honour at an investiture on Friday by Prince William at Buckingham Palace.

Splendid. Mr Osborne receives this great honour for his work in………wait for it……. political and public service. Just think about that for a minute. It’s the equivalent of awarding Hannibal Lector the brass cup for Best Lorne Sausage at the annual Great British Butchers Awards.

Having only ever had that one cabinet post, since 2010, this member of the over privileged elite spent the next six years wildly forecasting that his withering austerity measures, slashing public services and punishing those in society who could least afford it, single parents, the lower waged and disabled, would balance the budget by 2015, then 2017, then 2019 and finally 2020. You wouldnae want him picking your lotto numbers would you?

On the road out, tripping over the front door step at number 11 Downing Street, he was happy to talk of his record on bringing down/keeping down unemployment. This however was only achieved by low wage growth and the rise in zero hours contract types of low security of employment jobs, effectively fudging the figures.

After six years of his prudent hand on the tiller by April this year the UK financial current account was not only worse than it was when he took over but worse than it had ever been since records began, he had sold off more public assets than even occurred in the worst moments of the Thatcher era, £57.7 billions worth, him and his boss had borrowed heavily, vastly beyond the previous government, to the point where the Governor of the Bank Of England was quoted as saying ” relying on the kindness of strangers is not optimal’, the productivity gap between the UK and the rest of the G7 States was the biggest that it’s been since 1991, in the negative, and the UK national debt just before the Brexit night of the long knives was around £1.6 trillion,(heading rapidly to £1. 7 trillion) approximately £ 24,900 for every man, woman and child in the current UK, rising by at least £555 billion since he took over the job.

And we are the financial basket case? “Independence?” Say the naysayers, “We’d be bankrupt!”

The next time GERS gets flung in your face, just remind whoever is flinging it that the the calculations used reflect Scotland’s share, as a region of the current UK, of bailing out the real basket case. An independent Scotland wouldn’t pay a share for huge capital improvements for London or high speed rail systems which don’t go to Scotland, and hopefully won’t have to pay for the catastrophic financial disaster that is coming as a result of Brexit, caused by the xenophobic red,white and blue nationalist chancers that took charge of Gideon’s old office calculator.

Well done George, you fully deserve your award.

Scotland can do oh so much better.