Search topics on this blog

Google+ Badge

Showing posts with label Edinburgh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edinburgh. Show all posts

Monday, 25 August 2014

John Swinney’s 10 Key Strengths on which independent Scotland can build

Ten economic strengths on which an independent Scotland can build:

‪Scotland’s Food and drink industry has a turnover of £13 billion a year

‪Our tourism industry generates more than £6 billion a year

‪We have more than 20% of Europe’s fisheries catch

‪Exports, from manufacturing alone, are worth around £15 billion a year

‪Life Sciences employ 16,000 people and turns over £1.9 billion

‪Our Creative Industries generate more than £5 billion a year

‪We have more universities, per head in the world’s top 200 than any other country

Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal potential

‪Scotland’s ICT sector contributes around £3.6 billion annually to the economy

‪Inward investment from overseas is at a 16-year high

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Scottish voices in US press

Here’s my response to Denise Mina, who wrote an odd little article for The New York Times, reprinted on Scotland-US today

I’ll pick up Denise Mina’s odd little phrase “without unpacking the issues”, because it encapsulates her approach, and that of some who claim to be undecided. She seems ‘undecided’, not as many genuinely are, because they are struggling to evaluate the arguments, but because she doesn’t want to be confused by the facts – and there is an abundance of facts available on the reasons why Scotland should be independent, and precious few arguments on why it should stay with the UK.

  • Here are a few of them -

    1. The United Kingdom, described by one eminent British historian as a “dysfunctional dynastic conglomerate” is an anachronism in the modern world, where independent nations are the norm, not the exception. It is the rapidly failing rump of The British Empire, which having lost all its subject countries except Wales and Scotland (Northern Ireland is not a country but a province)now desperately seeks to posture on the international stage by maintaining the 4th largest defence budget in the world and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (based in Scotland, within 20 miles of the country’s largest sector of population, against the will of the people of Scotland)and involving itself in ruinous foreign wars – one illegal (Iraq)and one profoundly misconceived (Afghanistan)

    2. The UK, far from being “the most successful political union the world has seen”, the phrase used by its defenders, has been a brutal, exploitative colonial empire abroad, and a grossly unequal society at home – currently the 4th most unequal country in the Western world in its wealth distribution.

    3. Scotland has rarely had the governments it voted for over the last sixty years – the so-called democratic deficit, and when it got a Labour Government for 13 years, they wrecked the economy,a process now being compounded by an inept right-wing coalition

    4. The UK currently has a critical problem of child poverty and food banks – the shameful 2013 equivalent of the soup kitchens of the US in the 1930s – are growing across the country, as are the queues of people waiting for handouts to feed their families.

    5. Scotland, resource-rich- would be the 8th wealthiest country in the world if independent.

    6. For every one of the last 30 years,Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK as a whole.

    7. Scotland contributes more to UK in tax revenues than it receives back from UK.

    8. Scotland has 25% of Europe’s off shore tidal and wind energy potential.

    9. Scotland has the largest oil and gas reserves in the UK. Despite that, our oil revenues have been stolen from us since 1979 by UK, and used to bail out Thatcher’s failing economy, to build the M25 motorway around the city state of London, to fund the Falkland’s War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and to fatten the already bloated bank balances of the powerful in the South East of England.

    10. The UK Coalition Government is currently engaged in a domestic war on the poor, sick and vulnerable of the United Kingdom, blaming them for the gross economic mismanagement of the UK economy for the last 30 years. It is drifting steadily to the right, and the electorate of England and Wales despair, because all three major parties seem committed to the same right-wing agenda. Democratic values are under attack daily, and a new populist party of the Right, racist and insular, UKIP, seeks to isolate UK from Europe and attempts to demonise immigrants. UKIP in contrast has been comprehensively rejected in disgust by the Scottish people, and its leader sent packing in ignominy when he peddled his wares in Scotland.

    I suggest Denise Mina tries to understand the passion for justice and equity that is gripping the people of Scotland, gets to grip with some facts, evaluates the arguments and decides where she stands – or alternatively, gets out of the way of those who are intent on transforming Scotland into a modern 21st century socially democratic independent nation.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Cameron, porridge and the Forth Bridge

Vini, vidi, vici said Julius Caesar – or so they say he said – of his landing in Britain. (My Latin teacher, Mr. Bland, insisted that this was probably pronounced Weeny, weedy, weechy, which he delivered in the extravagant tones of an Italian politician, with much gesturing.) Julius came, he saw, he conquered – but not Scotland. Some say he lost a legion there.

David Cameron came, he ate porridge (with marked reluctance Porridge), he posed ostentatiously against backdrops of the Forth Bridge and Edinburgh Castle. So his words might have been I came, I posed, I sentimentalised. But it seems to have worked for some, and Joyce McMillan came over all gooey about it on Newsnicht and again today in print. I had to reach for the antidote of Lesley Riddoch to get that cloying sweetness out of my mouth.

The metropolitan media were forced to notice all this, and somehow managed to work in an item about Brigadoon as a classic movie. Brigadoon for me was one of the most cringe-making movies of all time – classic move my **** -but it had a couple of great songs, the most notable from a jazz musician’s standpoint being Almost Like Being in Love.



BBC Scotland News and Newsnicht comes to resemble a tiny seaside repertory company more each day, with the same actors, i.e. panellists and commentators, appearing over and over again. Once in a while they trot out an obscure academic from an even more obscure Scottish institution, and having demanded diversity, I find myself crying for the old troopers again.

I had to reach back to yesterday’s Guardian to find an insult that fitted David Cameron’s speech, and since no one delivers an insult better than an old American professor, I am happy to quote  Noam Chomsky, a man for whom I have unbounded admiration and respect.

Chomsky, responding in the Guardian letters page to a critic, says -

The stunning irrationality of his inferences renders comment superfluous.

Media people addressing the subject of negotiation, talk greater nonsense than usual about Scottish politics, but I’ll leave that analysis till later today. I have other fish to fry …




Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Alex Salmond launches referendum consultation in Holyrood - Burns Day 2012

Sorry about the glitch around four-minute mark. I started recording on BBC1 Scotland  News by mistake, and had to shift rapidly to BBC News 24 (Ch81) quickly. The break - which lasted about 40/50 secs - will be evident. I don't know what was lost - resumes again on voting rights for 16-17 year olds.


Doubtless conspiracy theorists will accuse me of Machiavellian editing. You'll find a continuous version somewhere, I'm sure.

Saor Alba!