Happy Brexoween

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(An affectionate message to us who advocate self government for Scotland from the right wing of one of the rightest of right wing tory governments in living memory, appropriate for a scary day like today……)

“Shut up Scotland. Shut up. Settle down and be quiet. You are forever babbling on amongst yourselves in that nonsensical guttural slang that you grunt at each other in. Stop it.

You are a loathsome minority. It’s oh so tiresome. Your parochialism is dull and boring. Get like your fruit, veg, whisky and that awful offal haggis, get with it, get red, white and blue, get an identity, get British.

Listen to your fellow countrymen and women who love us. They’re alright Jock. Strong Proud Scots. They’ve got it right. They admire our long held common history. Strength and security. Oh look, how cute! The Daily Mail has a snap of Pippa Middleton’s poodle in a kilt! Oh you should be so proud. We love your cute little tartan.

How could you possibly survive on your own? The clearances were inevitable. Shipbuilding got to be cheaper elsewhere. Here, have a contract for some navy frigates………Haha, only joking, gotcha again!

Ravenscraig needed to be demolished. Those factories and engineering works were only cluttering up the place. You can’t expect grouse and deer to thrive in decaying slums.

You always wanted to work as a casual shelf-stacker in a supermarket, didn’t you? Ambition? A mortgage? Come off it. Don’t make us laugh. Same day loans are designed for you, those repayment plans are there to keep you in line. Stay there.

Did we tell you that our oil, which you store for us, under your water, is running out tomorrow, and then again the next day, or is it the day after that?……You are indeed, how do you Jocks say it, mug punters.

You have no mandate because we tell you you have no mandate. It’s as simple as that. We decide, you don’t. It’s our type of democracy, not yours.

You had 56 out of 59 MPs at Westminster at one point. So what. They were powerless. Look at you now? Oh, and did we mention we are working on reducing the number of constituencies soon? That will hurt you more than it will hurt us.

You live in a region of us, face it, a region we have exploited for centuries, and to an extreme for the last 50 years. We have really kicked the arse out of it. But you are too collectively weak and divided to recognise that, thank you auntie, viewers in Scotland, keep paying that licence.

Such a strong devolved government we allowed you, control of almost 15% of your own destiny, haha, and the powers only to tie yourselves in knots, and make yourselves unpopular. That’s what you get when you mess with us. We’re experts at this kind of thing, ask India.

Our beneficence knows no bounds. You saw that demonstrated clearly when you spotted our slight oversight in trying to relieve you of an extra 7 billion pounds as part of the laughable Smith Commission settlement. Oops. How nice of us.

We tell you we love you, and you believe it. We tell you we would be heartbroken if you decided to leave our patronising embrace. In truth we would be nothing without you, and the gift of resources we unburden you of.

We’ll just keep laughing at you, marginalising you. To mock you we’ll keep printing pictures of your ridiculously atavistic blue-painted faces. Coochycoo Bravehearties. A pathetic simplistic lot. Talk about a chip on your shoulder!

Your own perspective on news and current affairs? Why would you need that? Does Cheshire get to have a perspective on world events? No. Then why should you? London knows best… shhhhh.

A mandate to have another squabble amongst yourselves about leaving us, where we’d only end up again having to frighten those who might initially lose a quid? You are having a laugh. Shut up Jock. Look at Spain. Oh no. No chance. Our patience with your insolence is wearing thin.

Instead, why not come with us to experience an exciting renaissance, the return of our empire. This Sceptred Isle can be great once more, in pounds and ounces. Come with us to a new world, a world of offshore tax corporate havens, golf with unhinged tanned leaders of the free world, and a perpetual obsession with hereditary power and personal wealth, for the very few, come to Brexitopia.”

(*A fictional summary of the circumstances surrounding the early days of a small Northern European nation returning to its rightful independent state).

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We could do worse

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I’ve long been an admirer of the intellect, vision and the capacity to communicate well on many levels of Lesley Riddoch.

Having read the views of the broadcaster, journalist and activist about the people of Scotland’s capacity to do for themselves, as opposed to being done to, or as Lesley describes it ‘ stand there whilst we fix you ‘ excellently demonstrated by positive examples in her book ‘ Blossom’, and having followed her regular podcasts, as well as taking the occasional dip in to her Nordic Horizon work, for me she is an excellent advocate for the Scotland I would like to see established in my lifetime.

This admiration was further enhanced over the weekend when I watched the state broadcaster’s BBC World Catalonian crisis debate from Barcelona, chaired by Stephen Sackur, involving representatives of the Catalonian and Spanish Governments, an EU constitutional expert favouring Spain, and Lesley Riddoch.

I wondered at first why it was that Lesley was included in such an international forum before a live Catalan/Spanish studio audience asking the panel questions along the lines of BBC Question Time, until it was pointed out that she was there as a representative of the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) to provide her views on the self-determination question from a Scottish perspective.

From the off in the programme every contribution that Lesley made to the debate was clear, valid, at times thought provoking, and importantly very engaging. The audience in the room, admittedly appearing to be weighted more heavily on the side of those seeking independence for their country (a refreshing change for the BBC. Perhaps whilst in other countries they are not able to enforce their usual audience sifting policies) warmed to Lesley, who represented the viewpoint of Scotland’s independence movement in the wider context very well. She has a certain charisma.

I have always believed that diversity and a non party, all party, politics approach to independence is going to eventually win the day for us in Scotland. This is my personal opinion, I am entitled to it, I’ve been criticised for it in some quarters before, and no doubt will be again, but it’s mine, and it’s what I firmly believe.

I love the SNP’s work. I have nothing but a high regard for the leader of that party, a First Minister that Scotland should rightly be proud of (to use a word I usually associate with our old friends, British nationalist proud-Scot-but’s).

The Scottish Government’s ambitions to transform Scotland through plans for a national investment bank, a public green energy company to provide low cost alternatives for Scottish consumers, enhanced childcare provision and a seed change approach to the social security system, focusing on dignity and need are admirable. Plans which renew my faith in what public service should be about, integrity, humanity and leaving no one in society behind.

To win independence though,in my opinion, we will need to take the message out to a wider audience. An audience switched off by party politics.

I absolutely agree that in order to maintain momentum heading in the direction of radical change we need to back the SNP to the hilt as they face the constant political challenges which unionist parties and the state make to their position as Scotland’s democratically elected government.

I totally agree that we need to protect and strengthen that position wherever we can, at the ballot box when called to do so and by questioning detraction, correcting negative propaganda and spin and dispelling falsehood with facts.

However we need to also convince friends, colleagues and acquaintances, members of our communities who are not in the slightest bit interested in politics, that independence for Scotland is about more than the respective positions on the subject of Labour, the SNP, the Tories or Wee Wullie Rennie.

They need to be convinced that the future prospect of independence is not tied solely to the fortunes of an independence seeking political party, that it’s not about Nicola Sturgeon or her predecessor, that it’s not about all the fake negative nationalist separatist bogeyman racism crap the media tries to spin. They need to be persuaded that it’s about them, their children, their futures. It’s about everybody who lives their lives in Scotland. It’s about making Scotland the country it can be, better for everybody, socially just, outward looking, respectful of our neighbours in the remainder of the UK, Europe and beyond, and being respected in return.

Whilst the SNP get on with what they need to do to establish the right time for the next move, the hard job of navigating their way as best they can through the snakes and ladder board of Brexit and the jerking death shudders of an unpredictable and wildly dysfunctional British government somebody needs to take us forward, somebody not linked to party politics.

The SIC are meeting again soon to discuss strategies for the growth of our movement, an event where the results of the recent commissioned survey work carried out by Dr Iain Black of Heriot Watt University will be analysed.

In short summary, the commissioned work involved a study of a sample of different voters, a number of focus groups, and came up with the following conclusions and perceptions.

Voters are scunnered tae the back teeth with having to make important political decisions. they feel overwhelmed, tired and confused with it all, which when you consider the number of times they have been asked to make such decisions over the last few years, often with scant or debatable supporting information to inform their choices, I can understand.

They see Brexit as a disaster waiting to happen but as they have little information on the detail of it they don’t understand the full complexity or consequences of it yet

When confronted with the constitutional question in the future they want proponents of self government to engage them with facts, not statistics, and ‘from the here and now’. They wanted this in 2014 but their perception is that they never got it.

They think it’s too soon for the many grassroots members of the independence movement to get the comfy walking shoes out of the cupboard and their knuckles prepared for door chapping.

Those that voted Naw in 2014 have apparently seen very little since then that changes their mind.

Kinda deflating stuff really when taken on face value. However if looked at as what the study was designed to be, an opportunity to learn and adapt our message to grow our movement, it can be viewed differently. It can be seen positively.

Somewhere soon, some time soon, an organisation needs to emerge to act as a central hub for the movement for Scottish independence, an organisation which re-starts the work of persuading the not-yet-convinced, and provides support for the widely spread grassroots groups in doing this outreach work through solid information, through facts, through clear messaging on how a new Scotland will work, a vision of what we can be.

When that organisation is identified, presumably from the ongoing work of the independence convention, which she is a member of, it could do a lot worse than have Lesley Riddoch front and centre as a figurehead. Engaging, persuasive, informed, driven and very importantly an honest broker with a proven track record of non allegiance to a particular political party (regular listeners to her podcasts would attest that she often gives the SNP as many pelters as the parties of unionism where she feels it’s warranted).

Her broadcasting background and debating skills seldom see Lesley phased or bettered during a TV or radio appearance or question and answer session, without pushing her opinion down your throat.

An ideal candidate for the public face of a movement hoping to be the majority before too long.

Wide as the Clyde

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He’s at it again. The Secretary of State Against Scotland, flyman extraordinaire, David ‘Air-miles’ Mundell is doing what he’s there to do, protecting and serving the government of the foreign country he works for, which rules his own country in the guise of a partnership in a union, and trying to pull the wool over the eyes, and misdirect, the people of Scotland.

Stuck in front of the Scottish Affairs Committee in the House of Commons the other day he was quizzed about why it was that the Scotland Office, his wee fiefdom, which before devolution had actual meaningful work to do, but now mainly performs the symbolic function of a high commission in a colony, has, when their responsibilities have decreased, actually increased their annual expenditure on media relations, since the Tories came to power in London, from around 108k in 2010 to an astronomic 688k last year, and why staffing has increased from 5 under plastic socialist New Labour rule to 71 now.

Not phased in the slightest, ye couldnae paint a red neck on the man with a dulux gloss brush, he came up with the answer. His government respect and take seriously the recommendations of the Smith Commission (he might need that red paint to change the colour of the road signs) and are therefore, as well as implementing the Scotland Bill, with great skill, he added, ensuring that they provide the people of Scotland with more information to understand the roles of both Westminster and Holyrood.

Good eh? He could leap from a tall building that was on fire, land in the Clyde and come out smiling with a Spanish doubloon in each pocket that fella.

In reality the Scotland Office, thankfully changed from its previous name the Scottish Office (it’s a subtle distinction but we appreciate the accuracy) is nothing more than a propaganda shop, whose function is to underplay, misrepresent, criticise and belittle all that Scotland’s government achieves, whilst promoting and flying the flag of good old Britain like a stunt double for Roger Moore jumping out of an aeroplane, pushing the too wee, too poor, nae oil, stick with the broad shoulders of a basket case angle at every turn.

He’s been busy this week has David, and this hasn’t involved him flying tae Chile tae tell a bewildered audience in a cactus debarbing factory, who thought they were there for a wedding, and a BBC reporter, that when he’d previously said that Scotland was going to get a ‘Bonanza’ of returned powers from Brussels when his beloved leaders, all potential Mensa members, sort out those blasted EU Brexit negotiators, what he’d actually meant was that chocolate Wagon Wheels are going to get bigger in Scotland again once Brexit is complete, so that’s alright then.

Nor was he off to Myanmar again to tell another BBC reporter, and a listless and confused room full of local farm and plantation workers that the people of Scotland don’t want a second independence referendum.

No, he’s been dodging flak like Bruce Willis in a meteor’s coming tae flatten Easterhouse and St Tropez movie.

In the wake of the LSE (London School of Economics) releasing a report on the probable impacts of a hard no deal Brexit if a bunch of incompetent public school halfwits can’t convince the EU to bend to their will, which is highly likely, a report possibly entitled ‘Thank fuck we’re not Scotland’ which suggests that Scotland and the northeast of England will suffer the most from Brexit, (the Scottish economy may leak 30billion pounds over a five year period) the bold Davey refuses to speculate on the internal research that his government have done on the same subject, saying only that this will be shared with the Scottish Government in the fullness of time, but not made public, because, wait for it, it would risk causing a second independence referendum!

Ladies and gentlemen, if you weren’t shyting yourself before about the prospects for Scotland’s economy once Brexit kicks in I would suggest now is the time to invest in some waders! Frightening stuff.

Quizzed by Tommy Shepherd, in the Commons, on the ‘ Bonanza’ of returned powers that Scotland might expect once all returned EU powers have been sieved through Westminster’s grubby little paws, and cajoled into naming at least one power that Scotland will definitely receive control of post-Brexit, Davey couldn’t or wouldn’t answer, which I suppose is only fair seeing as he usually only talks Scottish politics when he’s several thousand miles away from Scotland.

He’s fighting the good fight for London. Stick with it David, the ermine superman cape and the stupid pretentious title await. You’ll definitely have earned it, if they still allow members of an independent country to the north of England to park their arses on the red benches that is.

Fake, lies and propaganda

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There is absolutely no truth in the rumour, that I’ve just started, that the urgent repairs to Bute Hoose that have been identified, resulting in the First Minister having tae decamp tae a local bed n breakfast (continental breakfast only, a fry up is 4 quid extra a day, black pudding is another quid on top of that) is less to do with dry rot, structural faults or cracked ceilings, and more to do with the fact that the place lights up a bank of digital recorders in Cheltenham like Blackpool during the illuminations.

Secretary of State against Scotland, David ‘Air-Miles’ Mundell , who before devolution would have been lucky enough to be residing in the gaff, would have been shocked (on a day he was asked to come along and present his government’s detailed comprehensive Brexit plan to the Scottish cabinet, the FM’s diary secretary having had him pencilled in for five minutes to cover this, including questions) to see his Westminster colleague MP Mhairi Black balanced precariously on an IKEA ladder placed on top of a late Georgian Adam writing desk shouting “Haw Theresa, gonnae let us go? Mone, don’t be rotten” into a ceiling light fitting.

For months neighbours in Charlotte Square have wondered why it is that every time a visitor, usually a foreign looking type from the EU, arrives at the residence of the First Minister for a meeting that suddenly without warning, and for the duration of each visit, the building reverberates to the sound of “Runrig at Edinburgh Castle” or “The Proclaimers live at Loch Lomond”.

Critics have suggested this loud music might have caused any cracks in the building’s structure that may have been identified, as well as creating havoc amongst the usual gentrified serenity of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Speculation is rife, only by me again, that during the structural investigation which identified the requirement for repairs, that a large envelope was discovered cunningly wedged in between a cornice and a ceiling decoration which appears to be former Secretary of State against Scotland Michael ‘Toryboy’ Forsyth’s (now obviously Baron something or other) secret stash of snaps of his idol.

The envelope has the words ‘Simply Margaret’ written in red, white and blue crayon on the front, and includes photographs of former dictatorial Premier Margaret Hilda Thatcher in her prime.

Each photo has been annotated on the back with a description and includes such gems as ‘ Margaret and General Pinochet at a garden party’, ‘ Margaret looking stunning as a tank commander on Salisbury Plain’, ‘Me and Margaret at the beach’ and’Denis, Margaret and I at the Highland Games.’

As this envelope is considered an artefact of Scotland’s history it is thought that it may be catalogued and exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland alongside a photo of Baron whatsisface, formerly Forsyth, during his glory days, solemnly accompanying the Stone of Destiny home in his kilt.

…More seriously, If you believe that any of what is written above is remotely true you also probably would believe the Foreign Minister of Spain when he described footage of the recent brutal and uncompromising violence perpetrated by officers of the Spanish state against the citizens of Catalonia, defenceless demonstrators, not resisting or responding to provocation with violence in return, often pensioners or women, simply exercising their democratic rights to vote, as ‘fake.’….

….Or even Theresa May, when she tell you that her government is making positive progress in its negotiations with European Commissioners.

There’s the truth, and then there are just lies and propaganda.

Affside

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When a Prime Minister cannae bring herself tae even attempt tae properly pronounce the name of the constituency which one of her new wee pet shortbread tin scotty dog cheerleaders is purported to represent, when he’s no’ dropping his wee fleg (they like their flegs the Tories) at the feet of Lionel Messi hoping that the wee man will pick it up, hand it tae him and immediately request a Lionel and Dougie selfie, then we see that Westminster is quite clearly way past its sell by date with regards to its relevance to Scotland.

Theresa May’s lame effort (at least she’s consistent) in response to Falkirk’s man in the chamber John McNally red carding her, and rightly pulling her up about the fact that being a member of parliament representing the people who elected you is supposed to be a fairly responsible occupation which should take precedent over any other interest, hobby or second occupation in reference to the member for Moray ( that is pronounced “ Murray” Theresa no’ ‘Maww-ray’) shooting the craw tae Barcelona tae up his status in the UEFA line dancing rankings, and deliberately missing a very important debate on a subject which impacts his constituents as much as anyone else, was poor.

It’s not that long ago that the likes of Phillippa Whitford, who in what passes for her real life outside politics as an SNP MP, is a specialist cancer surgeon , was getting slaughtered left , right and centre for volunteering to go out to refugee camps in war torn areas to save the lives of people who are desperately ill, during recess time from parliament, in her own time. I’ll repeat that, in her own time. John McNally himself, a barber to trade of some thirty or forty years standing, suffered a similar kicking in the media at one stage for simply cutting somebody’s hair, no’ even with a bowl either, but no’ its alright, wee Dougie can charge up and doon the wing waving his wee fleg tae his heart’s content, any time he likes. Day job? When you are a Scottish Tory the day job doesn’t matter.

Mrs May used the same robotic standard phrase she has used many times before, one she picked up from David Cameron, when responding to John McNally’s question, suggesting in that entirely unconvincing manner that she has that the Scottish Tories are doing more for the people of Scotland than the SNP have ever done. The reality is that a bench load of cardboard cut-outs of Dougie and his Scottish Tory colleagues made out of old cornflakes boxes with papier mache heads, utilising soggy copies of the Sunday Post formed around a balloon ( not David Mundell this time for once) would be entirely more effective and useful to the people of Scotland than the real thing.

Government from, and for London, is the present and the past . Independence is the future. Government by a neighbouring country is no longer required for Scotland.

Spinning yarns and stifling potential

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We do indeed live in strange and bizarre times. A time where spin and warped perspective rules. An era where an updated 21st century version of Hans Christian Andersen’s short story “ The Emperor’s new clothes” would not be too far removed or inconsistent with actual events as they unfold during the politics of the day.

In what currently still exists as the UK the titular head of government spends the majority her time appeasing the right wing of her party, those who have tacit control, those who manage the country’s affairs from the back seat of whichever blacked out windowed Range Rover they find themselves lounging in at the time. Everything is for them, for their benefit, every move she makes is to comply with their aims. She is there to shield those that are coming from the backlash of the economic, cultural and social isolation that nationalism dressed up as patriotism is bringing. Somewhat bizarrely it appears from some news reports, and inconsistent with her unstated role, it is suggested that her recent attempts to reach out to those is in power within the European Union are a cry for help, an appeal for an alliance, an alliance, Jean Claude Juncker finds himself confused, and wondering, against whom?

The governments of Europe allied together now in a trading partnership for many years, decades of relative peace and harmony, determined never to go back to the times where generations of youth were used as cannon fodder in the middle of state power struggles or trade disputes, are bewildered at the incompetence and bizarre behaviour of Britain as its government uses a slim majority in an advisory referendum as a mandate to wrench itself free of membership of this bloc principally to limit immigration to the UK, a step seen by many as drastically slicing off their nose to spite their own face.

No one really knows the specific impacts of Brexit yet. Many have pondered, many have speculated, but all of the expert economic forecasts involving the various scenarios ( Hard, soft, boiled, microwaved….) suggest that whatever happens at Brexit the UK, upon giving up its membership of the various constituent arrangements of the European Union, will be in a worse position, both financially and in terms of future economic growth, than it is at the moment. That is the stark prospect that awaits the citizens of the United Kingdom. The clock is ticking down to a date sometime soon when employment, trade, standards of living, prospects of making a living, travel, education, careers and much more are going to be impacted in some way negatively, and the UK government, ill equipped for the task, unprofessional in their approach and incompetent in their strategies are walking blindly into a solid brick wall.

The media. almost exclusively controlled by those with a vested interest in ensuring power is retained where it currently sits, and if you think that statement is suggestive of a conspiracy theory you clearly reveal your own naivety about the world around you, will not emphasise this prospect to you too strongly, because it is not in their best interests to do so. You’ll hear about the wonderful possibilities of former colonies desperate to form new trading links with the old Mother Country, you’ll hear about a new closer bond in the ‘special relationship’ with the dangerous narcissist who currently retains executive power in yet another former colony, you’ll hear about how Europe needs us more than we need them, however none of that is actually demonstrable, and in the case of Europe if EU Commissioners legislated to give the UK preferential treatment on a trading deal without the responsibilities of membership it would be signing the trading bloc’s own death warrant creating disputes with its remaining members.

Its’ going to get bad folks. It really is.

Meanwhile today the First Minister of Scotland, the democratically elected leader of a devolved limited powers government, a government which London allows to have charge of between 20% and 25% of Scottish raised taxation revenue and around 15% of powers over welfare benefits for its’ citizens, is opening the world’s first floating wind farm off the coast off the northeast of Scotland. Scotland with approximately 25% of Europe’s capacity to create renewable energy from wind, tide and even solar technology potentially has the ability to be a world leader in this field of clean energy, even despite Westminster hampering that potential though the withdrawal of development subsidy schemes in favour of traditional environmentally damaging energy production.

The rest of the world will hear more about the scheme that Nicola Sturgeon cuts the ribbon on today than you will from the box in the corner, or the paper you pick up in the shop, although I note the BBC news website has at least mentioned it today.

It is interesting at times ‘ tae see oorsels as ithers see us’. Watching a recorded interview and news conference with the First Minister from the recent Artic Circle 2017 Conference attended by many leading environmental academics, as well as politicians from many Scandinavian and Northern European countries, as well as Scotland, I was struck by the level of knowledge about Scotland, its innovation and its place in the development of the modern world during periods like ‘the Scottish Enlightenment’ that speakers and questioners from other countries around the world had. It was clear that they view Scotland as an entity in its own right, and value its contribution as an outgoing country which embraces internationalism.

It’s almost embarrassing that internally many of our own people do not recognise this, or have a very limited, or woeful, knowledge of their own country’s history and contribution to the rest of the world. The danger now is that we appear powerless to stop a government we didn’t vote for, from another country, ensuring that this drought of knowledge continues, that our identity becomes diluted even further as a region of their isolated state.

‘ How splendid his Majesty looks in his new clothes, and how well they fit’ everyone cried out.

Junket v Juncker

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What next, I wonder, will Theresa May do to try and bend the unbendable and bewildered EU leadership to Great Britain’s arrogant will?

Monsieur Juncker and his aides were at Downing Street for dinner months ago, and during an evening where the robotic spouter of ‘that is what I’m in this for’ and ‘ I’m so strong and secure’ that I should be kept in a strong secure room utilised her dazzling charm to such a dazzling extent over the overcooked roast beef, burnt Auntie Bessie’s and Spotted Dick, that the EU party left the building sniggering and shaking their heads, and Monsieur Juncker got on the mobile from central London to Berlin to tell Angela Merkel that clearly the British Prime Minister is aff her nut delusional.

Then the bold Theresa sets up a press conference in Florence, taking half the cabinet and their water carriers with her, to make a speech to a room full of chaps and chappesses from the Daily Mail and Express about Brexit and Britain’s relationship with the EU, with not at a soul from the EU actually there.

Now, she suddenly rushes off to Brussels with that well known anchor around anyone’s neck, David Davis, for a 90 minutes dinner with poor old long suffering Monsieur Juncker again, her telling the press that this was a scheduled working dinner that’s been in the diary for months, and him saying that the mysterious dinner date is a bit short notice and inconvenient, Monday nights being the night he usually play darts and washes his hair.

Anyway, the outcome of this intrusion upon a night of Vosene pleasure is a that apparently they’ve agreed that the pace of negotiations will now be speeded up, from dead stop to a snails pace. In preparation the EU negotiation team have been instructed overnight in how to say the word ‘Non’ very fast so that they are ready for this new initiative.

All of this farcical behaviour by May is simply for the benefit of Tory and Brexit supporters. To look like she’s doing something constructive, when clearly there is no plan (apart from skimreading some research Tory central office has quietly commissioned that apparently shows that Scotland and the north of England will be shafted the worst come that fateful day when they walk away into the glorious red, white and blue sunset, free of the burden of internationalism. Oh well that’s all right then).

The EU are not going to budge an inch or even a centimetre on any imagined or wished for deals coming out of London until the three issues (the divorce bill, mutual treatment of citizens and the Irish border) are negotiated and settled.

Downing Street can posture, and Theresa May can parade around like a peacock all she likes, feigning some form of control. Nobody is fooled by such nonsense. At some point the UK government are going to have to take their fingers out of their waxy lug holes and talk about the hard questions.

Mind you it’s not beyond them to wheel out the Golden Hat brigade for a red carpet steak pie Do. Watch out Monsieur, Windsor Castle might be listed in your diary soon. Oh look, a Red Arrow!

Disappointing

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Jim Sillars can say what he wants. It’s a free country, kind of. He’s earned it. He has done his bit.

Many of us don’t agree in the slightest with much that he opined in the media yesterday, I certainly don’t, and aren’t the likes of the Hootsmon having a real gala day at our expense as they portray an SNP grandee sticking a skean dhu atween the First Minister’s shooder blades? But so what, we’ll live.

He’s 80 years auld. It’s good to see that he is in good health and still as articulate as he ever was. However it is disappointing that such a figure, husband of the late great Margo MacDonald can be used, and let himself be used, in such a way to try and damage the independence movement.

Having said that, any movement for change of the magnitude we hope to achieve for Scotland requires the input and acceptance of critical friends. We don’t all think the same way, we don’t all agree on the likes of fracking or the EU, or when a second referendum should be considered.

It would have been useful though if he’d directed his ‘constructive’ criticism to those he was criticising personally other than via the unionist media. If anybody should know how comments in the media can be used as negative propaganda against the cause of Scottish independence it’s him.

I don’t know what his relationship with the current leadership of the SNP is but he walked right into the trap on the question of Nicola Sturgeon, purposely or otherwise.

Onwards and upwards. Let’s get on with growing and building the broad base for independence, step by step, Nobody will do it for us.

If we do that well eventually the propaganda machine won’t matter too much.

The price of a good lightbulb

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A wee appeal here to you my fellow Scots for just a few minutes of your time. Reasonable, fair minded, balanced human beings. Not affected by any historic bias, not carrying baggage of a religious or cultural nature, just ordinary folk going about your lives, striving to get by, and trying to do your best for yourself and your family without doing anyone else any harm if you can help it.

I have two questions I would like to ask you. Here they are. Do you believe that the media in your country is impartial and balanced? Do you believe that the media in your country is not biased against any group whose aim it is to take the government of your country away from London control and into Scotland’s hands?

I’ll lay out my position up front. I passionately believe that Scotland has the necessary people, skills, drive, resources, potential and ability to be a successful independent country whose citizens will benefit greatly by being in charge of their own destiny. I write a regular blog supporting that viewpoint. I am biased towards that viewpoint. I do not hide that.

One of the main reasons I started writing a blog was because, during the run up to the 2014 Scottish referendum on sovereignty, I felt, in my opinion, that what I could see was a grossly unfair and unbalanced debate, where the mainstream media of both the UK and Scotland itself, apart from in the last weeks of the campaign when one Sunday newspaper came out in support of an independent Scotland, clearly were strongly in favour of Scotland remaining as part of the UK, and did their utmost to ensure that they influenced public opinion enough to support that outcome.

Again, in my opinion, that media behaviour still continues today. Apart from the launch of “ The National” newspaper and the continuing growth of online alternative media supporting self-government the mainstream media in both the UK and Scotland itself takes every opportunity, doing what it can, to discredit any notion of self-determination for Scotland, and promoting the view that Scotland must remain in a Union which sees it governed from London.

Now, you’ll have heard people like me, nasty folk that we are, described by the media as “separatists’ or ‘nationalists’ (an attempt to try to make some loose tenuous and entirely wrong connection between what we believe in, inclusion, social justice and self-government, with the negative horrible right wing, fascist elements of nationalism seen elsewhere in the world). That is a deliberate ploy, again in my opinion, by the media, to discredit and to sway, or even manipulate, your opinion. You also may have heard us described as continually having a “grievance” or that we are paranoid because we think that the UK media is anything other than fair or balanced, because after all we are British, and that’s what Britain stands for, right.

The reason I write on this day in particular is because I want to draw your attention to one example of what I consider bias, an example I would like you to consider.

Yesterday Scottish Television’s online news service tweeted a story with the heading “Minister takes four pounds sixty-eight taxi to physical activity speech.”

This was a story about Scottish Government Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt, who just happens to be 66 and asthmatic, legitimately, and all above board, using taxpayers funds whilst carrying out the duties of her government position to travel just short of a mile to carry out a speech in May this year promoting the benefits of active learning through physical activity for people with learning difficulties. The STV report, critical of Maureen Watts actions, ends with a quote from the Scottish Conservative Shadow Health Secretary saying “This is another classic example of SNP hypocrisy.”

Ladies and gentlemen the report in question is about spending tax payers money to the tune of four pounds sixty-eight pence, around about the price of a 770 gram pack of Frozen Crispy Chicken Dippers from a well-known supermarket.

Let’s look a bit closer. A couple of weeks ago the Prime Minister of the UK, embroiled in protracted negotiations with EU Commissioners over Britain’s divorce from Europe, decided to hire the use of a palatial venue and fly half of her Cabinet team plus their entourages , and her media team, to the Italian city of Florence. This was to make a pre-written announcement in front of a room full of the British media, with no representatives of the EU states whom her speech was aimed at actually in the room, or even in Florence at the time. All paid for by UK taxpayers. This speech could have been made from her office in Downing Street or her living room. Did you hear much about that? No, but you’ve heard about a Scottish politician from a party who supports self-government lawfully using tax funds equivalent to the price of a 20 pack of Gillette disposable razors from that well-known supermarket.

That same Prime Minister, who is often quoted, when asked why the NHS in England is underfunded, as saying that she doesn’t have a “magical money tree” upon finding out that the disastrous snap General Election that she had called had resulted in her electoral majority being in tatters, suddenly found, in order to form a working government, over a billion pounds of taxpayers money, a regional payment from the blue, to sweet talk the extremist DUP of Northern Ireland into providing their voting support at Westminster. Did you catch much about that? No. The Scottish/ British media would prefer to tell you about a 66 year old Scottish politician with asthma choosing to spend the monetary equivalent of a box of 22packs of Walkers Crisps (Classic variety) on a taxi rather than walk around a mile.

How about the global visits of London’s man in Scotland, the Secretary of State for Scotland ( a role which since devolution really isn’t necessary, yet more wasted tax payers money). In recent months ostensibly promoting trade, David Mundell has had tax payer funded trips to Myanmar, formerly Burma, to make a speech telling Myanmar workers that the Scottish people do not want a second referendum, and South America, to tell a bewildered and confused audience of Paraguayan locals that when he originally said that Scotland would be lavished in new powers returning from Europe, as a result of the UK leaving the EU, what he really meant was that London would look after these returned powers for us. Both of these trips were fully tax payer funded. Both of these trips resulted in the UK media reporting or writing articles promoting unionism and decrying self-government for Scotland. Did you hear much about that use of tax payers money? No, but you’ve heard about an SNP politician ,within the law, spending the equivalent of the price of a 500 ml bottle of Extra Virgin Oil in that supermarket I mentioned earlier.

Then we have the House of Lords, that fine establishment of the rich, the hereditary rich, the famous and former Labour, Tory and Liberal politicians. Currently enjoying one of its highest memberships ever, this chamber full of worthies, none of whom were democratically elected by voters/ tax payers lounge comfortably on the red benches picking up a healthy sum of three hundred pounds of tax payers money each day that they attend. Even if they just sign in, nod off for a bit and then head off for lunch at their favourite club they pocket three hundred pounds every day of your money. Do you read much about that in the Daily Mail or Express or hear much on the BBC? No, but you’ll hear about a politician who strongly believes that Scotland has the ability to govern itself spending the price of a box of Whiskas Dry Cat Food, or even an LED classic 60 watt bayonet cap lightbulb legitimately whilst carrying out her ministerial duties.

Just something for you to think about.

Many years ago I used to firmly believe that the British (and Scottish) broadcasting news and current affairs media were up there, probably as good as any in terms of fairness and impartiality. I most definitely do not think that now.

The day job

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I believe Scotland is a very lucky country. It is a lucky country to have Nicola Sturgeon.

I don’t gush or fawn over politicians. I tend to treat them all with a hint of suspicion, absorbing their every utterance with a huge spoonful of salt. I’m quick to express an opinion where I think political figures have it wrong, but sometimes, just sometimes the right people happen along at the right time for a difficult job, and Nicola Sturgeon is the right person for the job of looking after the interests of the people of Scotland.

In a period of chaos, (where the government arm of the British state is in the middle of a self-inflicted Machiavellian drama, many publicly supporting their embarrassingly incompetent lame duck leader whilst privately plotting who will replace her, a government which has by their own actions painted themselves so far into a corner with regards to their dissolving relationship with the largest single market trading bloc on the planet that their only strategy now is to feign insult and storm out of negotiations in the huff in the vain hope that the British public will support them, invoking the Dunkirk spirit, which somehow they think will result in the European Union coming begging them for a trading deal which gives the UK preferential treatment) the First Minister of Scotland stands head and shoulders above any of her peers in terms of competence, credibility and trust.

Contrast the shambles of the robotic party sound bite, and at one point Aaron Sorkin plagiarised, keynote speech of the Prime Minister of the British government at her party conference last week with yesterday’s Glasgow address to the SNP conference of the First Minister of Scotland. On one side droning mind numbing empty rhetoric apparently designed only to shore up weakness, rouse British nationalism, and counter disharmony amongst those with metaphoric long knives and constituencies in the Home Counties ( it didn’t go well). On the other, real government, announcements of real changes to policy, real initiatives to help significantly change the lives of the people of Scotland for the better.

The creation of a publicly owned energy company whose function is to harness mainly renewable energy sources to sell electricity and gas to the Scottish public at as low a price to cost price as possible, not beholden to shareholders, not obliged to make profits, there solely for the benefit of consumers, is an excellent prospect. The doubling of state early years child care provision in Scotland, saving Scottish parents of young families on average over three hundred pounds a month, another noble and practical step to improve lives. Clear signs of a government doing what their vacuous unionist opponents are always bleating on about whilst they obsess about the time that’s coming, when their sponsors grip will be prised from the throat of Scotland, the “day job.”

Yes, the day job, a commitment to delivering a much needed 50,000 affordable homes over the life of the current Parliament, in full reversal of the days where the right to buy ultimately promoted yet more concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and encouraged financial exploitation due to the scarcity of suitable accommodation, and mindful of the increasing problem of an ageing population, putting in place steps to protect vital workers resident in Scotland who are EU citizens should London decide to start inflicting charges on this group for the privilege of settled status in the UK. The day job.

All of these initiatives, and more, along with the recently rolled out new programme for government, aimed at growing the Scottish economy and supporting public services, with the significant announcement of the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank to support infrastructure investment, help businesses and create jobs, are evidence of a government of a country, limited in their powers as they may be, and hamstrung by the main financial levers of power being retained by men in suits in London, doing the day job, being in the driving seat, and working for the people who elected them.

Nicola Sturgeon is constantly under attack from the media, and unionist politicians, none of whom come anywhere near the mark in terms of their capabilities to do her job. Brash bullying semi-telly celebrities like Ruth Davidson, are strictly one trick ponies, as is evidenced in recent polling in Scotland. Now that the General Election is in the past, and she can’t get away with just warbling on about an independence referendum 24 hours a day, with nothing to say on policy that doesn’t make her look as bad as her governors down south, amidst regular revelations coming before the Scottish public of the unwholesome nature of some of her party’s elected representatives around the country, her party has dropped back to third in the hit parade. All of that Rule Britannia euphoric nonsense about coming for the First Minister’s job didn’t last long, did it? That is the fact of the matter, although you wouldn’t think that if you watch Andrew Marr or any mainstream UK news media, perhaps occasionally with the exception of Channel 4.

A casual visitor to our shores from abroad, subjected to a month of Scottish TV news and current affairs reporting surely would be bewildered as to why it is that the Scotland manages to survive without sinking into a mire of disaster, our devolved government being so bad.

Theresa May’s wee attack dog, the Secretary of State Against Scotland, is another one who constantly puts the boot in. Has anybody actually worked out yet what his function is, apart from being snidey about the country he was born in’s chances of being successful at anything? What’s he for?

The thing is, unionist politicians and the state sponsored media also see what we see when we observe Nicola Sturgeon going about the day job, but unlike us, advocates of an independent self-governing Scotland, they do not embrace what they see, they fear it. They know what is coming, they’ll fight it until the end, but they know they will ultimately lose.

As each month passes, as each new initiative and policy based on what a government should concentrate on, the benefit and wellbeing of its people, all of them, is put into place in Scotland, step by step incrementally diverting the future path of our country away from the basket-case of what the UK has become, and worse, what it is transforming into, a future where Scotland, with social justice at its core, will shine, eventually the differences will become so apparent, self-government will be considered so normal a proposition, that to convince our country-folk to take that final step will become less of a chore and more a confirmation.

I believe Scotland is a very lucky country. It is a lucky country to have Nicola Sturgeon.