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Showing posts with label Scottish Tories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scottish Tories. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A couple of my comments on


The oft-repeated statement that there is a lack of information about independence, when it is not politically motivated, often comes from those who have made no real effort to find it, or prefer to ignore it when confronted with it.

There is more information about the independence choice available than has ever been available to electors and business in any political decision taken in centuries. Many calling for information are in fact seeking certainties about aspects of legislation, finance and banking that are not available in the UK as presently constituted, in a time of unprecedented global economic and social turmoil, never mind in 2016, after eighteen months of complex and wide-ranging negotiation between Scotland and rUK.

Leaving aside the fact that is obvious to professional negotiators such as myself, namely that the opposing parties in the referendum debate are not going to blow their respective strategies in advance of the Referendum vote in 2014 and before sitting round the table, the UK Government and notably the Ministry of Defence seem to be in a state of denial about the realities facing them if Scotland votes YES. They are terrified that an adult dialogue of key issues might imply acceptance of Scotland as an independent state with diplomatic autonomy.

The Scottish Government White Paper, due in late Oct/Nov will set out a clear prospectus for an independent Scotland, and will be met a massive hostile response from the full resources of the UK civil service and defence apparatus. Meanwhile, across Scotland, more and more ordinary Scots voters are informing themselves, with the help of complex online networks, active groups covering every profession, ethnic group and the Arts, and a countrywide series of events mounted by YES Scotland.

No electorate has ever been better informed, and by the end of the campaign, the Scottish electorate will be one of the most sophisticated in the world.

Unless some businesses break out of their complacent status quo bubble, they will find themselves competitively disadvantaged in the new reality of independent Scotland and rUK.

I have spent my life in business, working for multi-national companies both in senior management and as an external consultant. Much of what is said by the C.B.I. Scotland is partisan political posturing on behalf of that lazy – and unrepresentative – status quo, and is seen as such by the key movers and shakers in Scotland and internationally.


Ruth Davidson says “Alex Salmond doesn’t speak for a majority of Scots. In fact, he never has..” Alex Salmond speaks for all Scots because he was democratically elected with an overall majority in 2011 to do just that.

In 1997, Scotland was a Tory-free zone as far as Westminster MPs: now they have one – just one – MP. That was in part because Scottish Tories opposed devolution and a Scottish Parliament with ever fibre of their being.

Since 1945, Scottish Tories have only returned more MPs to Westminster than Labour once, in 1955 – 36 to 34, with the number declining inexorably since. Since then, the number of Tory MPs has steadily declined to its present parlous state of one MP.

Only once, in 1955 have they had a majority share of the Westminster vote – 50.1%. Despite Scotland voting for a Labour Government in every general election since 1945, with the exception of 1955 – Scotland has only had the UK/Westminster government it voted for in a minority of general elections.

Scotland elected its first SNP devolved Government in 2007 and in 2011 returned them with a massive majority – an overall majority of seats. Only proportional representation gives the Tories any real presence in the Scottish Parliament.

The Tories are almost moribund as a party in Scotland, yet Tory Governments in the UK destroyed Scottish industry and piloted the hated Poll Tax in Scotland, and are now engaged in an assault on the poor and vulnerable in Scotland. Scottish oil revenues since 1979 saved the Thatcher Government and the English economy, and bankrolled three foreign wars – Falklands, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ruth Davidson is accurate in one respect only – the Tories are the only party to have had a majority share of the Westminster vote in Scotland. That was 58 years ago. Since then, the Scottish electorate have seen through the Tories, but the structure of UK has prevented them from acting on it to dump them.

Only full independence for Scotland in 2016 will end this democratic deficit between two nations, and Scots will vote for that in 2014.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ruth Davidson U-turns and pumps out more nonsense on devolution.

Ruth Davidson talking legal, political and constitutional nonsense last night on devolution to Gordon Brewer. An intellectual miasma rises from her. Alex Massie and David Torrance, right-wing contributors to right-wing Think-Scotland.crap scrabble for something intelligent to say on Ruth.

Ruth Davidson says that Tories were "on the wrong side of history". Now all she has to say is they're usually on the wrong side of humanity.

An angler gives the fish more line to tire it out and give an illusion of freedom, then reels it in and gaffs it. This is essentially the Tory/UK strategy on devolution. But Lord Forsyth rather inconveniently blows the gaffe on the real Tory grandees view of devolution - - that it was a mistake, should never have happened and ideally should be reversed, a view shared by a large sector of the English Tory Party.

But there is need from much greater clarity from YES campaign politicians, who far from clearing the confusion in many voters minds about the distinction between devolution and independence, are deepening the fog by sloppy thinking and quotes.

Devolution definition: transfer or delegation of powers to a lower level especially by central government. Indy politicians, MPs and MSPs need to get a grip of terms.

Today, David Cameron, the failing PM of a failing Government, failing economy, at war with its LibDem partners AND his own party, supports Ruth on devolution !!!

Devolution is NOT independence - it is a grace-and-favour concession by the ruling government to a subject province, and can be clawed back piece by piece  - or abandoned outright - at any time under the Scotland Act.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The New Right in Scotland? Brian Monteith, the Scottish Tories and C-PAC

Brian Monteith had an article in the Scotsman yesterday entitled Scottish slant on US group could fill Tory gap

My resp0nse is in a letter published in the Scotsman today - New Right Fears  (By the way, I should have said Rush Limbaugh, not Ross Limbaugh – typo!)

If you want to know what the group that Brian Monteith is touting as a model for the Scottish Right - C-PAC – stands for, try Conservative Political Action Conference

Here is what I said about Brian Monteith, his think tanks and his thoughts on Scottish Conservatism back in October last year – worth another look -


I had something to say about Brian Monteith and ThinkScotland back in July

Brian Monteith - ThinkScotland July 2011 and here we are again today...

Calling something a think tank is intended to give it an air of responsibility, conjuring up images of learned, objective academics, highly qualified in their fields, detached and disinterested, considering great problems, offering their pearls of wisdom to the people.

There are probably a few think tanks internationally that more or less conform to that ideal, but many are front organisations for shadowy interests, such as the kind of things American neocons sponsor quietly. The religious right is fond of them too, and these types of think tanks offer lucrative lecture tours and sponsorships for academics and experts who display the correct political orientation, or who are happy to faithfully reflect a line, and compromise their academic integrity for the goodies they receive.

Some of the even manage to fool the charity commissioners and are set up as non-profit organisations – non-profit until you consider the substantial gain to individuals involved in them in fees, lecture tours, expenses, global travel, etc. Indeed we have a recent egregious example that brought down a cabinet minister in the UK.

Think Scotland, however, is not one of the above types, and as my July blog – linked above – shows, there is nothing secretive about them, in who their founder and funder is, and what their politics are – it’s all up there for inspection if you take the trouble to visit their website - ThinkScotland - about us

What they most certainly are not is objective about Scotland, Scottish politics or the Union. And as far as the elected Government of Scotland are concerned, well, this can be judged from today’s effusion from Brian Monteith in the Scotsman – where else – entitled

 Sinister centralism at home in SNP. Monteith's Scotsman article 31 October 2011

In his second column, para 4, Brian Monteith makes the following complaint, after asserting that anyone that is not one of us (i.e.) the SNP) … “will be ridiculed, pilloried or marginalised”.

“ … cybernat bloggers consistently play the man and not the ball when posting comments on”

He goes on to say “Sadly this style on intimidation is something that one has come to expect from the SNP.”

Of course Brian does not ridicule, pillory, or play the man, not the ball. (He can hardly marginalise the Government of Scotland, elected by a landslide majority.) The full text is linked above, so you can read it all for yourselves. But here is a flavour of Brian heroically resisting the tendency to ridicule, pillory and play the man – and woman – not the ball …


“There is a repugnant, sinister centralism in the SNP government’s behaviour …”

“All politicians suffer from hubris and Alex Salmond reveals it with alarming regularity, but what appears to be a bullying nature and a fear of losing control are now coming to the fore.”

“If this type of spinning and subterfuge continues, last week’s apology may not be the last Alex Salmond has to make.”

“Sadly, this style of intimidation is something one has come to expect from the SNP; it betrays an ugly side to nationalism that is as abusively sectarian as anything said at an Old Firm match – “

“Even the nice Mr Swinney has shown bullying tendencies that cannot be dismissed as mere political arm-twisting …”

“Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon will reintroduce her policy of minimum pricing of alcohol despite the evidence debunking the claim that price is the main factor leading to alcohol abuse. Her bullying of smokers will continue unabated …”

“In education, we can see an impatient if not arrogant Michael Russell dropping the arms-length principle; threatening the independent appointment of university principals and condoning the “merger by fax” of Dundee and Abertay universities …”

Russell’s central diktat …”

“Whichever way we look, Scotland under the SNP is becoming centralised, censored or bullied. Is it any wonder so many question privately what independence would be like under an imperious Premier Salmond?”


The above is the language of a right-wing think tank, representative of nobody but the individual who funds it and the handful of people who contribute to its ‘thoughts’. In it, I hear the authentic echoes of Fox News and Ross Limbaugh. It uses highly coloured terms, expresses contempt for individual politicians by the use of these terms, and attempts to engender an air of conspiracy and paranoia around the sober business of government, in a highly challenging time for the Scottish economy and the Scottish people, when the global economy is extremely fragile.

If this kind of journalism is what ThinkScotland produces – and what the Scotsman thinks deserves a platform - I think Scotland can do without its thoughts, and the Scotsman has to reflect on its editorial judgement. Of course, Brian Monteith can dismiss me as a cybernat blogger, part of the great SNP conspiracy and sinister centralism.

And of course he can also say that I am playing the man, not the ball.

Well, this man has no ball, so what’s left for me – or anyone – to play?

Monday, 17 October 2011

Tories – does Scotland need them?

The Scottish Tories, by any criteria, are in deep trouble. They have one MP at Westminster, and his seat is now set to disappear. Without proportional representation in Scotland – which their Westminster party has recently venomously and successfully opposed for the UK – they would be in an even worse state, and Annabel Goldie wouldn’t have been their last leader. The party only has a UK Prime Minister courtesy of the LibDems, who are in worse trouble nationally than the Tories. David Cameron has suffered two major scandals in his year and a half in office, and has lost one key adviser and one minister.

Almost six months after the May 5th Holyrood election, they have still not managed to elect a new Scottish leader, are unable to reach a consensus on what party exactly it is that he or she will lead, and the campaign is dissolving into acrimonious anarchy and bitter recrimination. As Margaret Mitchell said recently in a televised campaign speech, they’re “down to the bare rump”. If they’re not careful they will also be gone with the wind. Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

A party that likes to think that its defining qualities are loyalty and leadership is strikingly deficient in both. The Scottish Tories are in the shit, the merde, the deep, deep doo doo.

I don’t like the Tory Party or what they stand for, I have never voted Tory in my life, so I should rejoice. My schadenfreude should be unbridled – but it’s not. This has baffled some of my SNP contacts, who, in common with many Labour supporters (who knows what the LibDems think about anything these days?) look forward eagerly to the extinction of this endangered species, the Dodo of Scottish politics.

I must say that the unfolding Fox-Werrity scandal, as well as confirming all my worst fears about the corrupt nature of the UK Establishment, the military/industrial complex and the M.O.D. (covered at length in my blogs on defence) gave me cause to think that perhaps the UK and Scotland would be better off if this pernicious creed ended, not with a bang, but a whimper.

But I still think that Scotland – and England and Wales and Northern Ireland – needs a party of the centre right – and here is why I think that …


The answer to my question – The Tories – does Scotland need them? – is answered in part by saying Scotland already has them, some 420,000 of them, perhaps even half a million. That is about the number of voters who voted for them. They voted for a party that espouses centre right values and a centre right programme. And the result is that in Scotland, they are almost disenfranchised.

Where exactly do those who look forward to the extinction of the Tory Party in Scotland think these voters are going to go, in the absence of a party to vote for that reflects their political views?

The answer is clear enough from politics in any country in the world – they will either go to parties with more extreme right wing views and programmes, or they will embrace non-democratic solutions, and there will be no shortage of these on offer.

That’s my view and that’s my answer, and it encapsulates my fears. But there is another answer, another scenario, and it is worth setting out.


Many SNP supporters and many Labour supporters dream the impossible dream – a Tory-free Scotland. They share this dream, as indeed they share almost all of their core social democratic, egalitarian values.

The only worm in the apple, a worm on the scale of The Lambton Worm of Penshaw Hill is the Labour Party’s doomed commitment to the Union – the great irony of an internationalist party of the common people locked into the rump of a faded colonial empire, one that ruthlessly exploited the peoples of the world, and in its death throes, continues to oppress them.

But if the Scottish Labour Party (and the English and the Welsh and the Northern Irish) manage to slay this worm, the shared dream would become a reality, in this scenario.

In a Tory party-free Scotland, the political spectrum would range from the SNP to the Labour Party, with perhaps token spear carrier roles for a tiny number of Greens and LibDems, squeaking entertainingly at the sides of the stage. There would be policy differences, but within a core social democratic consensus: no one party would dominate, although one might be the government, or there would be semi-permanent coalition government.

This impossible dream, this Utopian vision is attractive to me also, in the way that being thirty years younger, five inches taller, better looking and richer is attractive to me. But it’s no gonnae happen …

It also carries the very real danger of a drift to a one-party state, something I am diametrically opposed to.

The 420,000 centre right voters with nowhere to go are not going to suddenly see the light and vote SNP or Labour. They are not the Scottish Socialist parties – tiny, heroic and almost irrelevant. The centre right will demand a voice, demand that someone speak for them. In a democracy, they have a right to that. Deny them it, and the Scottish body politic will have potentially something malignant at its heart.

So I say to my SNP contacts – and to my Labour contacts – look around you at the people you know. Unless you are living in a sanitised bubble, a cult-like social enclave, you have family, friends, social contacts, business contacts, neighbours, and political opponent who have centre right views, are probably dispirited Tory voters – and are also decent, caring human beings who want the best for the families, their children and for Scotland.

Don’t deny them their political voice. If you do, then your ideals, SNP or Labour, are hollow and worthless.

I will continue to bait the Tory Party, to dislike its policies and its behaviour – but I make a sharp distinction between a political party machine, whether it is an SNP, Tory, Labour or LibDem machine, and the real people that offer it their often shifting and temporary allegiance.

And I say to those real people that their hopes of having their centre right voice and their values reflected in the new Scotland, in the best way possible, lie with Murdo Fraser and his vision, not with the three candidates who collectively represent the past. I only hope that my endorsement doesn’t weaken his case!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Fox/Werrity affair

Liam Fox must be as lonely as a kitten in a wash-house copper with the lid on this weekend, perhaps reflecting that it is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations. Or he might think that charity begins at home but justice begins next door.

What’s with the Dickensian quotations, you make ask? Well, no good reason other than the Werrity, a surname I’ve never come across before, sounds Pickwickian  to me – a Sam Weller pronunciation of verity, perhaps – and verity means a true statement, especially one of fundamental import.

I don’t like Liam Fox, for a variety of reasons, other than the fact that he’s a Tory (some of my best friends are Tories – I’ve even had relatives who were Tories) but certainly including the fact that he is a high-road-to-England Scot who followed the heat-seeking missile route to defence that ambitious Scots, often Labour politicians, have blazed the trail for, because of certain well-known advantages that it confers it those who wish to have a secure financial base to their political career, as I observed in recent blogs.

I don’t like him because he is a medical doctor by profession who is an enthusiast for weapons of mass destruction capable of killing and maiming millions and blighting the planet for centuries, maybe forever.

And I don’t like him because he loses no opportunity, and spurns no platform where he may profess his undying support for the Union, something that I wholly irrationally don’t like to hear from an East Kilbride boy and graduate of Glasgow University.

And I do not like him for the same reasons as an ancient Roman once set out -

Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;

Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te

or in a late 17th century version, familiar to me as a child’s rhyme since primary school

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why - I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

My distaste for the man, however, does not make him guilty of anything, and we await the results of the enquiry.

The facts, as far as they are known, have been set out by the press, and despite being wary of trial by media, they seems pretty strange to me. Some of them, e.g. the trips, the access, the business cards, the two incarnations of a right-wing charity set up to celebrate the Thatcher-Reagan eraAtlantic Bridge - and which some interest groups seems to have been almost indecently enthusiastic about financing – seems to speak for themselves, and they don’t tell a tale I would like to be associated with, but who knows?

(Other speculations about the exact nature of the relationship between Doctor Fox and his friend I will leave to those who trawl in such waters.)

He has the full support of David Cameron, rather as Andy Coulson had, and that should be enough to send a chill down the good doctor’s spine. If in a few months the question is Doctor who? we may be assured that the post will be filled by yet another career politician, party immaterial, since politicians are not at all doctrinaire when it comes to the Great Honeypot and the military/industrial complex.

Perhaps the Coalition can make him a Lord – that path is well-blazed, and well-greased as well.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Scottish Tories wait nervously for the Great Schism – but hyphens could help …

What the Tories in Scotland - and this contest - need is more hyphenated surnames. A Tory without a hyphen is not a real Tory. But there's a hyphen on this panel, and one lady who sounds posh enough to have a hyphen but hasn't.

My suggestion is Murdo Fras-Er, Jackson Car-Law, Ruth David-Son, etc. - like Sir Malcolm Rif-Kind.

You'll never manage without a hyphen, Ruth ...

And David, it's not enough to put the stress on the last syllable of Mundell - it has to be Mun-Dell.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Clout, corruption, Capone – and the Neo-Scottish Unionists …

When I was a child in Glasgow, a clout was something I was regularly threatened with, and often received. Never from my parent or relatives, but often from teachers, the polis and sundry friends, enemies and the occasional gang member. A cloutie was a cloth, especially the one used to warp the wonderful cloutie dumplings that were a feature of Christmas, stuffed with silver threepennies and sixpences wrapped in greaseproof paper. We pronounced the slap around the heid as clowt, and the dumpling version as clootie, effortlessly and unknowingly distinguishing between the ancient origins of the word – the Old English clut and  and Old Norman or Frisian klut. The word was also used in archery in archaic form as a piece of cloth stretched over a frame, and in joinery to describe a large, flat-headed nail.

But for fifty years now it has increasingly come to mean influence, power of effective action, especially political  - Concise Oxford Dictionary.

This usage is now dominant, but was never used, to my knowledge, before the late 1950s. So where did it originate? Well, as far as I can determine, it was a Chicago word, describing the power of gangsters over politicians and police, and of the power of the politicos themselves, some of whom were also gangsters. It was probably confined to Chicago throughout the Capone era, which ended with Capone’s imprisonment on tax charges in the early 1930s. Capone, after his release, lived well into the post-war period and died a rich man, at home, in his bed, just as I was going to St. Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow.

But the first recorded example in print seems to have been an article in the Chicago Tribune in early 1960, as part of a four-page spread on corruption and crime in Chicago, in an article by Wayne Thomas – MOB WIELDS CLOUT THROUGH POLITICIANS, prompted by the murder of Roger ‘The Terrible’ Touhy by gunmen in broad daylight in front of witnesses in a Chicago Street.

Since then, the word increasingly entered the vocabulary of the British chattering classes, ever anxious to be up-to-date with American political jargon, without the faintest idea of where the word or phrase had come from, e.g. step up to the plate, what’s your take on this issue, the Commander-in-Chief, etc.

The UK’s web of corruption is of course much more subtle, of course, as befits an ancient empire that has been exploiting the people for centuries, and the commissioners of violence usually carry a title, or have a few letters after their names that almost always include BE – or they wear the ermine. They are distanced at several levels from those who carry out the killings, and unlike the brash gangsters of old, rarely kill each other, but target the innocent, the vulnerable, usually in another country, ideally of another race and religion. When they kill someone at home, it is usually someone outspoken who has got too close to the truth, and they are too fastidious to have them gunned down in broad daylight – the intelligence services have long experience of doing these things quietly, with minimum fuss. The UK has exploitation of booze as a nice little earner on the side – witness The Beerage – but the main honeypot is the military/industrial complex and political, Eisenhower’s nightmare forecast come true.

And now for something completely different …


An interesting day in our two national dailies, The Herald and The Scotsman.

The Letters page of both newspapers are often a better sample of the true mood of Scotland than the news, comment and editorial comment, especially in The Herald Letters page. But the Scotsman increasingly, and I hope not reluctantly, gives a platform to a wider range of views than Blackett Place, New Cutt Rigg or sundry nimby’s and landowners fulminating against wind farms from the remote airts and pairts, and today we have Ruth Marr, a regular and mordant contributor to The Herald, but more rarely appearing in The Scotsman.

I hope Ruth and The Scotsman will forgive me for picking quotes, but -

On the Labour and Tory name changes -

I’d always thought changing your name was something you did when you were fleeing from justice …”

On the newly-discovered Scottishness of the Tories and Labour -

Are we witnessing expressions of sincere patriotism or political expediency?”

Gaun yersel’ Ruth …

Joyce McMillan always has something relevant to say, Ultimate Westminster bubble boy e.g. this paragraph -

The decline of the Labour Party as a grass-roots movement, the old Blairite obsession with severing trade union links, the growing separation of the leadership from the nuts-and-bolts organisation on the ground, and (sic) makes true radicalism possible; all of this has produced a generation of young would-be leaders with only a vague focus-group image of the society they would lead, and often no knowledge at all of its rich pattern of popular and local culture, and of how those cultures interact with the task of political organisation

The above paragraph is worth more than the Collected ‘What Labour Must Do’ Essays of John McTernan to Labour, but they cannot confront the Blair Portrait in the Attic – it’s too horrible to contemplate.

Ewan Crawford offers a challenging piece SNP show the way when it gets down to business that includes this telling sentence in his closing paragraph -

“Since the SNP’s election victory, a curious phenomenon has taken place: the government and Alex Salmond have been assailed on a range of issues, but the SNP’s poll ratings have hit record highs.”

Ewan also refers to the blatant misrepresentation of John Swinney’s budget, and the notorious CPPR £850m figure, seized upon by The Scotsman among others with an agenda, although Ewan is too polite to say so. This hasn’t stopped The Scotsman and other continuing to trot the figure out, including today. A good lie is worth too much to let it die quietly. The CPPR didn’t lie of course – they were misunderstood and misquoted, poor dears.  Aye, right then …

The Great British Public think Ed Miliband is ‘weird’, rather as they thought John Redwood, a rising Tory star was weird, especially after his rendition of the Welsh national anthem. I can’t think what gives people these ideas. John Redwood at least had the popular kudos of looking liking a Vulcan whose starship was about to be vapourised by Captain Kirk. Ed Miliband? The closest I can come is a young Raymond Burr, in his nascent phase as a sinister villain, before he lost his power of movement and became Ironside.

But let me close on an optimistic note – American movies at the close of the Capone era, the beginning of the talkies, and in the early stages of the Great Depression that followed the Wall Street Crash. Will movies – and our society, ever recover this vitality, this visual flair, this great music? In this era, when pop musicians are stressed if the vocal range leaves the diatonic scale and spans an octave, if more than four primitive harmonic changes are quite impossible, and where a key change or a modulation in unthinkable, indeed literally inconceivable, it seems unlikely.

No, we must be content with the soft porn and relentless sniggering sexual innuendo of Strictly Come Dancing and, God help us all, The X-Factor. But surely if the people must have bread and circuses, we could give them quality instead of this pap to divert them from the economic horrors that await if we stay in the UK.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Union and Kenny Farquarson

Kenneth Farquarson – now there’s a resounding Scottish name.  Kenneth, a  Pictish forename (Cinoid) linked to the Goidelic Cináed, meaning firehead or born of fire. And Farquarson – son of Farquar, the dear one.

The Farquarson clan were Jacobites, staunch supporters of the Stuarts, and fought in many battles against the British state, including  Culloden.

One might expect that those bearing this great name might put Scotland first, but strange things happened after the Union, especially among the High Heid Yins of the clans.

The present chieftain of the Clan Farquarson is Alwyne Farquharson of Invercauld, and sports a nice coat of arms with heraldic lions, a couple of daggers and two coniferous trees. But where is his seat – the seat of the clan chief? Why, it’s Valley Farm, Norfolk!

But he has a nice little business in Invercauld, one that the family have owned since before 1432 – a sporting estate in the Cairngorms, with all the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ and holiday cottages and properties for sale and rent. Chief Alwyne was educated at Eton and Magdalen College Oxford, served in the Royal Scots Greys. He has been around a long time, born in 1919. He is on Person page 8051 of Burke’s Peerage.

With that pedigree, my guess is that he is not a supporter of Scotland’s independence, but it’s only a guess …

Coming right up to date, our very own Kenneth Farquarson, Deputy Editor of Scotland on Sunday is not a supporter of independence either. He is a Unionist, and here, I don’t have to guess, since Kenny amiably and articulately argues his case for the Union in trenchant articles in SoS, and on Twitter. He is the kind of unionist one can have a rational debate with, one without acrimony, but vigorous nonetheless. I think, despite our political difference, that the New Scotland needs people like Kenny – so there …

I’m sure Kenny did not become a Unionist because of his clan chief – he is not fond of all that old emotional history stuff, and neither am I. If Scots followed their clan chiefs’ politics these days, the Tories, not the SNP would be in power, and Annabel Goldie would be well on her way to being a Baroness, or maybe a Dame – there is nothin’ like a dame!

Why do I cover this ground before coming to Kenny’s article in SoS last Sunday – Why Union’s fate depends on Fraser ?

Because the opposition to Scotland’s independence can only be understood when one looks squarely at that powerful, entrenched bastion of privilege, unelected and undemocratic – the British Establishment – and the Scottish dimension to it, to fully appreciate the forces that have everything to lose and nothing to gain from independence.

The Scotland on Sunday article

Kenny proposes that the fate of the Union hinges on whether Murdo Fraser gets elected as the new ‘Tory’ leader or not, a proposition that he recognises will be greeted with scepticism, if not derision, by many. Well, not by me …

I think that Murdo’s decision to face facts about the Tory Party and the future of the centre right in Scottish politics was brave and principled. A politician who does not take big risks when the game demands it is no politician at all. I hope he wins, because I think it is unhealthy for the centre right not to have a significant voice in Scotland, because without that voice, we head for the extreme right and neo-fascism.

I also understand and agree with most of Kenny’s analysis of the situation, with qualifications. The unionist parties are moving inexorably towards devo max – greater autonomy from the UK, both in constitutional and party terms, with a greater focus on Scotland and Scottishness. Labour, of course, is moving more slowly than the Murdo camp, but if we listen to Tom Harris, they’re pretty well there too.

Kenny says that the election of Murdo Fraser would recalibrate Scottish politics, a phrase that exactly captures what the consequences would be. The LibDems don’t really matter much, but to the degree that they do, they are a federalist party, so they are basically devo max as well.

KF says that his friends in the SNP (by that I assume he means MSPs or party insiders) assure him that Alex Salmond is still determined to offer voters three options – independence, devo max or status quo. Since I have no insider information (the party are wary of independent bloggers) I can only take what he says at face value.

So it seems assured that Scotland will – at the very least – get devolution max, with the enthusiastic cooperation of all parties. What is devolution max and how does it differ from full independence?

These are easy questions to answer for a supporter of full independence, or for a supporter of the Union, but not only do unionists not answer it, they carefully avoid the question. Home Rule, an ancient phrase from my childhood, now is in vogue again, to deflect attention from this real, crucial difference.

And Kenny is no different – nowhere in his article does he say just what it is he and other unionists are trying to preserve after devo max, not because he doesn’t know, but because it starkly exposes what the Great Game is all about.

It’s essentially defence and foreign policy – the ability to send Scots to war and to die without the consent of their devo max Parliament, or their first Minister, or Scottish voters, or Scottish mothers and fathers.

It’s the ability to make war with weapons of mass destruction called the ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent, one that is patently not independent, since we need the instruction and consent of the US to launch it.

It’s the ability to continue with a Ministry of Defence where incompetence often cloaks corruption, one that enriches favoured politicians and armaments manufacturers, the merchants of death,  a Ministry with a revolving door to lucrative directorships and advisory consulting posts for some of its salaried officials.

It’s the ability to allow political mediocrities to strut on a global stage, to interfere in the affairs of nations far from the UK, and to become obscenely rich in the process, while the democracy that elected them goes to the dogs.

This is the unionist vision, masked by sentimental nonsense about Britishness and shared values. This is the ugly, lethal, venal, inhuman heart of the Union that’s left after devo max. This is what those who profit from it will defend to the death – someone else’s death, preferably a Scottish soldier.

I want no part of it – I want to live in a truly independent Scotland, one where the SNP, the Scottish Labour Party, the Murdo Centre Right Party, the Scottish Greens, and the Scottish minority parties are all Scottish parties, with only the interests of the Scottish people as their primary focus, but a Scotland that cooperates in fully and intimately with its newly free neighbours, the great nations of England, Wales and Ireland, and exercises its international responsibilities through free association with the free nations of Europe and the world.

That’s the Scotland I want to see – that’s the Scotland I will vote for. I hope enough of my fellow Scots agree with me to make it happen.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The new Tories and the Centre Left – but what’s Left of Labour?

The Scotsman cheered me up briefly this morning – House prices in Lothians fall by up to 5.3%

I live in the Lothians, so why the glee? Ah, well I live in West Lothian, which has bucked the trend of the last three months and is up by 7.5%. I examine The Scotsman’s little coloured tabulation of stats, but – what’s this? It refers to Jun-Aug 2001. Have I lost a decade? On the upside, am I ten years younger? Alas, no – it’s a typo, one that shouldn’t occur in a reputable newspaper. But no harm done. Naughty Scotsman!


Twitter brought this to my attention The Way of All Tory Flesh by Alex Massie in The Spectator – well worth a read. A few quotes caught my eye -

“… the party has spent thirty years saying No to everything at a time when Scotland has been minded to say Yes.”

“But a modern and mature Unionism need not be afraid of nationalism. Nor must it continually pretend that independence is an impossible or lunatic dream.”

“It is hard to think of a successful right-of-centre party in Europe that is not in some way identified as the patriotic party. The Scottish Tories have lost the ability to make that claim or be identified with the national interest.”

“At present why should any young, ambitious right-of-centre would-be politician join the Tories? Why not join the SNP and work for centre-right policies from within the SNP's capacious tent?”

Another Massie, Alan Massie of The Scotsman, whose nostalgic Britishness and anti-independence articles usually have little to offer me, offers comments on The Wee Laird o’ Drumlean, Michael Forsyth, who opposes Murdo Fraser’s plans for the Scottish Tories, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG, QC, MP and Tory grandee - he of the strange, tortured accent, failed Scottish politician, a former Colonial Governor – sorry, Scottish Secretary of State – who supports the Murdo Plan.

“Tory former Secretaries of state are divided. Sir Malcolm Rifkind now (safely) MP for Kensington, is in the Fraser camp. Michael Forsyth, now (safely) in the Lords, is against him. Nothing surprising there. Lord Forsyth has always been a last ditcher, while Sir Malcolm has always been a Vicar of Bray : pro-devolution, anti-devolution, pro-devolution again.”

The decimated ranks of the Unionist Opposition in Holyrood today face a strong, confident SNP Government as it “unveils a record 16 bills”, to quote The Herald. Gone are the heady days of the SNP’s vulnerability, as a minority government, to the collective dead hand of Tories, Labour and LibDems as they blocked the SNP’s attempts to actually tackle the endemic problems of Scotland, e.g. minimum pricing for alcohol. Now they are reduced to squeaking plaintively, as Willie Rennie does on behalf of his massed ranks of five MSPs – “I hope that the SNP show today that they are the listening government that they make themselves out to be and make sure that the bulldozer is left in the garage.”

They are listening, Willie – to the people of Scotland who elected them, and to the voice of reason coming from the NHS, the Police, the nurses, the BMA – need I go on?

The CBI and various UK government spokesperson went on at length last week about the need to maintain ‘critical mass’, i.e. the Union, reflecting their blind panic at the prospect of losing Scottish revenues, taxes, a third of the UK landmass and 69% of the UK coastline. (I am indebted to Bruce Moglia of Kilmacolm in todays Herald Letters for reminding me of these crucial statistics.)

Critical mass is a term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system to make it self-sustaining and creates  growth.

It is also a term in physics, where it describes the smallest amount of fissile material necessary for a nuclear reaction, i.e. in a nuclear weapon of mass destruction such as the Trident weapons system, currently based in Scotland.

And be in no doubt, it is the loss of this critical mass when Scotland achieves its independence that bothers the UK and the military/industrial complex.


John McTernan continues his work at the seam of What the ****’s to be done about Scottish Labour?, a nice little earner for him. Today, he poses one of the great questions of the age -

Have we really reached the stage in Scottish politics where the Tories are more interesting than Labour?”

Yes, we have, John. Murdo Fraser has made a courageous decision to risk all on recognising the reality of the way things are in his native land, and try to provide a party that really speaks for 450,000 or so Scottish voters who hold centre-right values. The Centre Left now belongs to the SNP, and Labour is a discredited, failed centre right party that is has always been anathema to Scottish Tories, and is rapidly in the process of becoming anathema to the Scottish Left.

What is Scottish Labour for, John? What is Labour for? Keep on asking, John – there’s a good living in it, even if you are out in the cold politically.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Glasgow, Labour, the SNP, and carpetbaggers …

I have had my moments with Gerry Braiden of the Herald, mainly over the reporting of the Dalmarnock outrages directed against the Jaconellis and other families, businesses and of course the shocking callousness of Glasgow City Council over the closure of the Accord Centre for disabled children.

But I believe in crediting good, objective journalism when it makes its rare appearances in the Scottish Press, and Gerry Braiden’s exclusive yesterday – Labour axes ‘old guard’ – was an example of that.

It reflects the inchoate panic of Glasgow Labour as it faces the terrible prospect of its control of Glasgow City Council being wrested away from them in next year's local elections, a fear that must be exacerbated by  the recent Ipsos MORI poll on Scottish Public Opinion and voting intentions.

However, Labour might take a crumb of comfort from alleged infighting among SNP Glasgow councillors, if Tom Gordon’s piece Fresh blow for SNP bid to take over Glasgow in today’s New Sunday Herald is accurate.

I can forgive my party many things, but if they blow their chances to remove Labour from the GCC, and wreck the last best hope of the people of Glasgow, I will find it hard to swallow. Maybe someone will reassure me …


I have had some fun on Twitter over Murdo Fraser’s plan for a new Scottish Greed and Privilege party -

moridura Peter Curran

Murdo Fraser's New Unionism sounds a bit New Labour-ish. Could he not have called it New Imperialism? New Jingoism? NeoConism? Naechanceism?

moridura Peter Curran

Murdo Fraser will outline plans to "kill independence" and "break the SNP" at his campaign launch next week. Who, the Tories? Aye, right …


However, Rosanna Cunningham calls for due seriousness, in case he is on the ‘right’ lines, to coin a phrase. David Mundel, on BBC News today, looking even more rabbit-in-the-headlights than usual over a grainy, out of synch link from Skype, clearly doesn’t like Murdo’s big idea. The virtual death of his party is as nothing to him compared to the fact that, as the sole Scottish Tory MP in Westminster from a party contemptuously rejected by Scots, he nonetheless is taken seriously by the big boys, and thinks he plays a significant role in government.

I have always found David Mundel to be faintly risible, and he did nothing to dispel this today. Quotes -

Membership of the Union ---- is a very strong suit in our armour ---“

A new party is not a silver bullet that turns the problems round …”

Wearing a suit under your armour is not to be recommended, David, although if anyone can carry it off, you could. Silver bullets are for killing werewolves, and they were used to great effect in recent years at the ballot box to kill off a great threat to the Scottish people, namely, the Scottish Tories.

Back to Scottish Labour, who, if the Glasgow SNP can get their act together, will face a hail of silver bullets at the 2012 local elections. Murdo Fraser’s New Unionism leaves the way clear for Scottish Labour to re-brand itself as The Scottish Labour and Unionist Party, under the leadership of one or another of the carpetbagging hacks from Westminster. The name change would simply formalise things, for this is what they have been for some time now.

For those not versed in American history, the carpetbaggers were cynical and opportunistic politicians who move from the North to exploit the South. Labour is busy reversing the compass in this respect.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Latest Brad Pitt blockbuster–“Last Tram to Hell”

If you were a zombie extra in Glasgow recently, and are wondering where your career will take you next, look east, and shamble off to Edinburgh, where the new Brad Pitt movie blockbuster is scheduled to start soon.

Last Tram to Hellthe story of a great city destroyed by tramcars.

The only qualification for a zombie extra is allegiance to either the Labour, LibDem or Tory clans. Anyone supporting the SNP clan will be disqualified, since they have opposed the project since its inception. Glasgow zombies who support Glasgow City Council will be regarded as automatically qualified because of their previous zombie extra experience.

Brian Adcock - "I see the Glasgow Labour vote is turning out" Labour zombies

Friday, 15 July 2011

Racial profiling and Hamira Khan

Yesterday’s Herald online carried a piece by Hamira Khan with the title - I’m a Glasgow-based Muslim and ethnic minorities should stop moaning about extra airport checks.

For once, the Herald has carried a headline that exactly reflects the content below it - it encapsulates Hamira Khan’s message to all ethnic minorities, not just her own Asian ethnic minority, namely, accept racial profiling by the police and security authorities.

(Hamira gets the term ethnic minority right in the headline, but gets confused in her penultimate paragraph, saying that “Scotland has a large ethnic population”. Scotland’s entire population is ethnic, Hamira - what you presumably meant to say was that Scotland has a large number of ethnic minorities who form a significant part of the population.)

Before I address her position on racial profiling, it is important to know a bit more about Hamira, because she is in some respects a public figure, and her words therefore have a resonance beyond that of an ordinary citizen. Because of this, one would expect her to consider carefully the impact of what she has chosen to say publicly.

Here’s what she says about herself on her website Hamira Khan - Profile

She is a prominent Scottish Tory, and was chosen to fight Glasgow East at the 2010 general election. She is also the chief officer of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Hamira opens her piece with a simplistic and inaccurate generalisation -

“Until Saturday 30 June 2007, al-Qaeda threats, extremists and war on terror were simply words to us in Scotland.

We all did - and still do have - our own interpretation of what these words mean, however the mutual factor which historically brought us together was that these problems were elsewhere and didn’t really affect us in Scotland.”

I don’t know where Hamira was on the 9th of September 2001, or when the US and the UK  occupied Afghanistan  0r when the illegal Iraq invasion commenced in 2003, but to a helluva lot of people in Scotland, including me, these problems, and the reality of Al Quaeda were not “elsewhere and didn’t really affect us” - they were a deeply disturbing political development that threatened world peace and was sucking the UK - and Scotland with it - into the cycle of death and destruction that it produced, including the inevitable consequence of terrorism being brought to our doorstep, as it was with 7/7 and our own incident in Glasgow Airport.

Hamira Khan homes in on Kenny MacAskill, who has little experience of the world of motivational consultancy in Dubai, but a deep knowledge of Scottish law, derived from practice as a senior partner in a law firm, and as Scotland’s Justice Minister, about the justice system, the police, and their impact on crime and intelligence gathering in Scotland.

But to Hamira, when the Justice Minister tells an audience in Pollokshields Burgh Hall with concerns about apparent racial profiling by the police, that he will attempt to find out exactly how much counter intelligence has been delivered by such methods, he is not investigating a notoriously unreliable technique of policing - illegal in some countries - but trying to make pleasing comments to a possibly hostile audience.

Hamira is entirely happy with racial profiling, however, and uses her credentials as a member of an ethnic minority to give credibility to her support. In essence, she says that she and her husband are Asians, and are happy to be singled out from the mass of travellers in Glasgow Airport because of that fact and that fact alone. Ergo, it must be OK, and other ethnic minorities should just stop moaning and accept it.

She asks a question that deserves an answer - “However you tell me which country in the world does not practise racial profiling?”

A definition: Racial profiling refers to the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement.

In the US, racial profiling is an infringement of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the bedrock of civil rights in America. President George W. Bush - not everyone’s idea of a prominent defender of human rights said to Congress in 2001 that racial profiling was “ … wrong, and we will end it in America. In so doing, we will not hinder the work of our nation's brave police officers. They protect us every day -- often at great risk. But by stopping the abuses of a few, we will add to the public confidence our police officers earn and deserve."

In 2002, well after 9/11 and after the invasion of Afghanistan, the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft said "This administration... has been opposed to racial profiling and has done more to indicate its opposition than ever in history. The President said it’s wrong and we’ll end it in America, and I subscribe to that. Using race… as a proxy for potential criminal behavior is unconstitutional, and it undermines law enforcement undermining the confidence that people can have in law enforcement."

In 2003, months after the invasion of Iraq, the US Department of Justice forbade the use of racial profiling by Federal law enforcement agencies. Many US states require special statistics to be gathered on all stop and search procedures to monitor the possibility of racial profiling being applied.

American television drama series, such as the acclaimed Law and Order series, have dramatised the dangers of racial profiling.

The ACLU, the American Council for Civil Liberties is opposed to racial profiling, drawing from their deep and painful experience of racial discrimination against American blacks.

But Hamira might find some support for her position in Canada, where there is a growing concern among ethnic minorities over apparent racial profiling of black aboriginals.

In Europe in 1992, one Rosalind Williams, an African-American by ethnic group and a naturalised Spanish citizen had her identity document demanded of her by a police officer, who when challenged, said he was following orders - he has stopped her solely because of the colour of her skin. It took Roslalind 18 years to get a landmark ruling from the United Nations Human rights committee Open Society Justice Initiative in 2009, but she still has not received an apology from the Spanish Government.


If witnesses to a crime attested that it had been committed by a red-haired man who had fled the scene, police conducting a search in the vicinity might have reasonable grounds for stopping red-haired men and questioning them. However, if a series of crimes had been committed by red-haired men at different times and in different place (as doubtless happens every day, together with crimes committed by red-haired women, blondes brunettes, albinos and totally bald persons), it would be extraordinary if police were legally empowered to stop, question and search all red-haired men wherever they were to found - in airports, lurking near public buildings, using cameras near power stations or near military installations, etc.

Hamira’s reasoning, which seems to run something like “terrorists were involved in a single incident in Glasgow Airport were Muslims and Asians, so all Asians or those of Asian appearance must be assumed to be Muslims and therefore potential terrorists” is deeply flawed, and her defence of racial profiling on that basis is, bluntly, dangerous and demeaning not only to her own ethnic group and to a religious affiliation that is not bounded by race of ethnic grouping or nationality, but to all ethnic minorities, and let’s face it, to any ethnic minority who may be pigeonholed and stereotyped by the colour of their skin and/or their mode of dress.

Hamira Khan is a motivational consultant, a PR consultant and “a communications specialist”. Her communication in this instance has motivated me to an extended blog, and frankly, a feeling of revulsion at her views, which, of course she has a right to hold and express.

She is also a prominent Scottish Tory. Although such views have always represented a segment of Tory opinion, I had hoped Scottish Tories might be free of them. If their electoral fortunes are to revive in Scotland, they must repudiate them. And for the record, I think the Scottish Youth Parliament should express a view on them, coming as they do, albeit in a private capacity, from its Chief Operating Officer.

I took Hamira Khan's version of event at Pollokshields Burgh Hall as accurate - I shouldn't have. Here is Aamer Anwar's version of events, as quoted in the Herald online comment on Hamira's piece -

Aamer Anwar: "It would help if Hamira had her facts right, firstly Kenny Mackaskill did no such thing but said we needed the terror laws for a reason and it was unfortunate if there were instances of people being abused, but we had to strike the right balance.It was in fact myself that robustly challenged the police to produce statistics. "

Sunday, 8 May 2011

That referendum - 'Bring it on' - the Stupid Party's view

Liz Smith demands that Alex Salmond calls the referendum now, and threatens UK implementation. Bring it on, says Wendy Mark II, to the incredulity and thinly-concealed derision of Brian Taylor.

The Tory Party in Westminster is known as The Stupid Party - and lately The Nasty Party. I had hoped that Scottish Tories were neither. Liz Smith certainly isn't nasty nor is she stupid - normally - but on this showing, she is demonstrating zero political nous, and appears ignorant of the fact that her London bosses have already ruled out the mad Forsythian idea of the UK government calling the Scottish referendum.

Get a grip, Liz ... You mustn't listen to the wee Laird o' Drumlean - he's yesterday's man.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Annabel Goldie – evasive and confused on Newsnight. Gordon Brewer wields the scalpel

Annabel Goldie - self-proclaimed straight talker, and claims to tell it like it is. But not much evidence of that in this evasive and confused performance. Another fine dissection by Gordon Brewer on Newsnight Scotland. There is some very muddy thinking at the heart of Tory policy, rivalling Labour for incoherence – and that’s saying something …

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tonight’s tweet for non-Twitterers

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

If you're member of Scottish CND, why vote for the nuclear bombing parties - Labour, Tories, LibDems? Only one party is opposed - the SNP.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

The Greens have two heads in Holyrood. Anything to do with their support for the nuclear bombing parties this week? Get the Geiger out!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Where is the voice of Celtic Football Club in the Margaret Jaconelli case? The club was founded for the people of Glasgow East - help now!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Five ordinary Glasgow people could have a Christmas free of worry at last if they are supported by their ain folk, Holyrood and the Law.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

A message to the SNP about Margaret Jaconelli - you've done something to help, you've listened, but this is the big push - do more, please!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Lord Sanderson - help five ordinary people in Dalmarnock whose lives are being blighted - stand up for ordinary Scots and revive the Tories!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Iain Gray - lean on your Labour Glasgow councillors about Margaret Jaconelli, and have a word with the Herald - they might listen to you ...

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Perhaps Goldie, Gray and Scott, superhero champions of cheap supermarket booze, the UK, WMDs and nuclear lochs, will help Margaret Jaconelli

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Will Glasgow Labour politicians, fearless champions of the people, ease up on expense-paid trips long enough to help Margaret Jaconelli?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran


@itsBronagh That is grossly unfair to anuses everywhere.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Will the Commonwealth Games Athlete's Village and GCC/Labour crush the lives of five ordinary Glasgow people, or will the Law bring justice?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Hopes of this weekend's paper - Express, Sun, Sunday Post - covering Jaconelli case. But the Herald? Do they need GCC/Labour's approval?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

At last the Scottish Press are interested in Margaret Jaconelli - the Express, the Sun, the Sunday Post - but what about the Herald?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Margaret Jaconelli's legal appeal against Glasgow Council over her compulsory purchase order comes up on 20th December. Justice at last?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran


@bcnsco Scots should visit, and marvel at what they were, and what they will be again, once they recover their lost independence. Saor Alba!

42 minutes ago Favorite Reply Delete


Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

When Scotland is independent, which Party will scamper for a place in the new Holyrood? Why the Tories, of course! And Labour and LibDems ..

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Which influential Tory under Thatcher was - and still is - totally opposed to Scottish devolution, Lord Sanderson? Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Which party before 1999 was implacably opposed to devolution, to a Scottish Parliament? Could it have been the Tories, my Lord Sanderson?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Of what nation are you a Lord, my Lord Sanderson? Could it be of the United Kingdom? Who ennobled you? The Scottish people? Please remind us

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Sanderson says the electorate 'thinks' the Scottish Tories are anti-Scottish. But they are, my Lord, and are especially anti-ordinary Scots.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Sanderson says the electorate don't understand what the Scottish Tories stand for. But they do my Lord - that's why they don't vote for them

1 hour ago Favorite Reply