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

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Words that inspire a nation … update for NATO

I first put this piece up about a year ago. It seems it needs updating -

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE – SCOTTISH VERSION

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. But then again, perhaps they would prefer full fiscal autonomy rather than dissolve the political bands, and let’s face it, we’ll still be British – Long Live Queen Elizabeth and her successors in perpetuity, of course

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – but sometimes they’d rather have devo max, and a kind of independence lite – and we know that Civic Scotland and a whole host of organisations who are essentially undemocratic and don’t like the sound of the voice of the electorate also like that kind of thing …

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security – or if that seems too extreme, perhaps we should go for full fiscal autonomy and leave them in charge of the vital things, like nuclear weapons, and the God-given right of the British empire (sorry, UK) to rain destruction on foreign countries to protect them –well us – well, really the United States from – er, well you know the kind of thing – terrorists, that sort of thing

My apologies to the Founding Fathers of a great independent nation, the United States of America and their unanimous declaration of independence, July 4th, 1776

 

BRUCE’S ADDRESS TO HIS CAPTAIN’S BEFORE BANNOCKBURN – 2014 VERSION

And certis me think well that ye
Forout abasing aucht to be
Worthy and of gret vasselagis
For we haff thre gret avantagis
The fyrst is that we haf the rycht
And for the rycht ay God will fycht.
The tother is that thai cummyn ar
For lyppynyng off thar gret powar
To sek us in our awne land,
And has brocht her rycht till our hand

but then again, maybe we should settle for full fiscal autonomy, sterling, the Bank of England, the English monarchy, Britishness – and we’ll be a member of NATO, a nuclear defence alliance, but only if they disarm

 

LIBERATION ARMY LEADER,  IN THE LAST STAGES OF THE LIBYAN OR SYRIAN FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (SCOTTISH VERSION)

Maybe we should settle for full fiscal autonomy, guys – a kind of freedom-lite. Let’s see what the freedom fighters think, shall we? Maybe Gadaffi and Assad will be OK with it … We can have a constitutional dictator and a central bank – and after all, we all still feel Arab don’t we?

 

WILLIAM WALLACE, HANGED, CUT DOWN AND BEING DISEMBOWELLED, 2014

“Full fiscal autonomy, the Queen – and NATO!”

SUMMARY

I offer these alternatives to great historical events in the birth of nations as inspirational slogans to nationalist Scots, young and old, as they fight for hearts and minds of their fellow Scots in the lead-up to the Referendum on their freedom  and independence – well, maybe not quite freedom, perhaps full fiscal autonomy. (What’s the Gaelic for full fiscal autonomy?)

Yes, yes, I know Westminster would still be in charge, still sovereign, still free to **** up the economy, engage in foreign wars, kill our young servicemen and women, keep obscene weapons of mass destruction in our country, enrich the South East of England, etc.

For God’s sake, what’s your problem? Politics is the art of the possible! Look at the polls – the Scottish people are feart – let’s reassure them that nothing is really going to change. What’s wrong with going into battle with a banner that says Independence Lite – it has a kind of resonance, don’t you think? Devo Max? How about that, then?

But anyway we might actually win and get a YES, and then we can change anything, repudiate all treaties, renege on all promises – we can have referendums on everything. Just you tell me what you want a referendum on and you can have it – the currency, the monarchy, NATO, Britishness, the BBC, the Beano, the Dandy, The Sunday Post ... Look, see my magic wand – it’s got independence written on it. But I’ve still got the devo max one, not quite in the Harry Potter league.

A vision for Scottish society? Ah, well, that’s a hard one – maybe we should have a free and open debate on that at the next party conference – I’ll listen to all you have to say, then tell you where you’re wrong.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

“The overwhelming opinion in Scotland”–two versions in the education debate 2nd Feb 2012

It gets interesting at the 13.40 minute mark.

“That dreadful, anti-Scottish, anti-education  trap” is an accurate description of  the Tories/LibDem Coalition, and their Scottish puppets, Labour are edging towards it – let’s not be afraid to say it …

Say it again and louder.














Monday, 2 January 2012

Nuclear bases, nuclear subs and Trident–a complex defence question for independence

The Today programme of Friday 30th December 2011, focusing on the defence implications of independence, with contributions by Lord Forsyth, Lord West, First Sea Lord and Angus Robertson MP seems to me a highly significant marker on the course to Scotland’s independence.

It illustrates how media works in this new media age, and Marshall McLuhan’s prescient words of over half a century ago acquire new force every day.  The Today programme on BBC Radio Four goes out in the early morning. It catches the early morning commuters who listen to something important in the morning than the turgid sea of mediocre to awful pop groups that seems to obsess so many young to not-so-young professionals (if Twitter is anything to go by) who should have developed better taste by this time.

I tend to miss it, because when I listen to radio at that time, it tends to be BBC Radio Scotland. I was alerted to this broadcast on the iPlayer by Twitter. I replayed it on the iPlayer and it seemed fairly interesting to me, but it was clearly necessary to isolate the three contributions from the totality of the three hour programme, scattered like currents in a dumpling as they were, and group them as a single sound clip for comparison purposes. This forced me to listen again, and I found new aspects second time around. I then prepared them as a YouTube sound clip, which involved another listening, and a third level of understanding.

I decided to then isolate the Angus Robertson contribution to permit rapid access for those who only wanted to hear the SNP position, and this fourth listening revealed new nuances.

This then led me to transcribing the broadcast clips for the purpose of commenting in my blog, and this slow process involved yet another level of understanding.

So what started out as a series of radio studio comments early in the morning – one medium, the broadcast spoken word became a second medium, the repeat on iPlayer, a third medium, the YouTube sound clips and a fourth medium, good old fashioned text – the written word.

The kernel of the broadcast for me was the nuclear issue – in more ways than one – because it matters fundamentally to me, and bluntly, to the world. It again clarified in my mind the vital distinction between nuclear-powered submarines not carrying WMDs and those that do – the delivery system for the obscene Trident weapons system.

Cutting through all the sentimental crap about Britishness and British identity, about fiscal and financial matters, this is what matters to the British Establishment – their nukes, the badge of their power, their claim to being a global power, and frankly, a money machine for the whole sordid apparatus of Westminster, the M.O.D. and the military/industrial complex. Trident is the ultimate symbol of the deliberately paranoia-inducing Unionist state, the state with its operating principle as perpetual war, perpetual fear of a nameless aggressor. This is what they fear losing, this is why Scotland’s independence strikes terror in their hearts.

And that is why Scotland must lose its WMDs – its nuclear bases. But –the picture is not a simple one. I have reprinted below my September blog on the nuclear-powered subs vs nuclear-powered subs carrying missiles aspect of this debate, crucial to the UK, to the US, to NATO and crucial to Scotland.

 

NUCLEAR (My blog of 22nd September 2011)

The nuclear lobby has been lying low since Fukushima, after an initial bout of futile propaganda, but they’ve crept out of their nuclear shelters since then, and are beginning the insidious fightback – radiation’s not so bad really, it may even be good for you, the real threat to humanity is wind farms polluting the landscape, alternative energy will never work, the wind doesn’t always blow, the waves don’t always wave, etc.

The symbiotic twin of nuclear energy, the WMD industry, is also out and about, alarmed at the prospect of losing their WMD dumping ground, Scotland, and the vital submarine bases. I was more than disturbed that the SNP government seems to be rather less hostile to nuclear submarines and appeared to be welcoming the retention of nuclear submarine bases in Scotland as part of the defence-as-job-creation scheme thinking that regularly pollutes and distorts rational debate of defence matters.

Now I accept that there are difficult moral questions when one comes to weaponry, because it is designed to kill and maim other human beings, and the scale of horror from, say, the flamethrower, designed to burn alive another human to the baton, designed to inflict a sore head, involves moral dilemmas and choices even in individual cases. Unless one rejects all defence concepts for a nation and all conventional weaponry – I don’t – choices have to be made.

When one comes to the incinerations of millions and the pollution of the planet, human imagination quails, and human morality often fails. I am become Death – the destroyer of worlds.” The Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Robert Oppenheimer as the full horror of what the implications of his work dawned on him as he observed the first nuclear explosion. This choice should be simple, and for me and many others, it is – starkly simple.

But as a nuclear-powered submarine is not a weapon in itself – it is the carrier of a weapon or weapons system, and the nuclear reactor that powers it is not a weapon – why should we object to it, especially if it provides jobs?

Well firstly, I reject the defence as job creation scheme argument, and believe that defence policy and expenditure should be based solely on defence considerations. But the UK is deeply in the grip of the military/industrial complex and the armaments industry, and all our politicians are infected by this kind of thinking. It is the kind of thinking that powers graft and corruption wherever and whenever it occurs.

Secondly, I believe the retention of nuclear-power submarines in Scotland is the thin edge of a nuclear wedge – it compromises the SNP’s position on nuclear power and WMDs.

Nuclear power is unacceptably dangerous. A young serviceman, armed and drunk, attacked his shipmates and killed his officer on a nuclear submarine recently. He has just been sentenced to 25 years for this crime. A recent television documentary on nuclear subs showed a crew member being disciplined for drunkenness on board the the sub. It’s not so long ago since two armed nuclear subs crashed into each other on the high seas.

This is the nuclear reality that nuclear proponents would like to slide over, with their emphasis on the safety of the systems and procedures. No system is safe against human fallibility, against human error, not to mention human greed and corruption in defence and civil nuclear contracts in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment. The nuclear error is one that humanity cannot afford to make – other errors pale into insignificance beside it. But we have politicians who are the moral and intellectual equivalent of a five-year old playing with a loaded gun or a live grenade.

Keep nuclear, in all its manifestation, out of our new Scotland.




Thursday, 22 September 2011

Racism, music – and the nuclear submarines in Scotland.

Racism is an odd beast – laughable in its atavistic – and usually illiterate – certainties, but frightening in its possibilities. I’ve dealt with two examples in the last 24 hours, one from a ScotNat, the kind of supporter my party, or indeed any party can do without. The other was a strange one -

I went into GuitarGuitar at Corstorphine yesterday, and my eye was caught by a bangitar – a hybrid instrument, consisting of a banjo body and resonator affixed to a guitar neck, with six strings, unlike the banjo’s four or five. It is tuned like a guitar, and offers guitarists the opportunity to instantly play the banjo with guitar fingering – or so it would seem. I have a five string banjo (both my guitar and banjo skills are rudimentary), but I was in enough trouble with the guitar, as a sax and clarinet player, so I gave up on banjo stringing and tuning, took off the fifth string, and retuned as the top four strings of the guitar. This works reasonably well for me, but it’s definitely not right …

So I went on to YouTube in search of banjitar advice, most of which was either sales pitches from manufacturers, or enthusiastic new purchasers, “I’ve just bought my banjitar and it’s great!” etc. But one site – I won’t identify it – offered bangitar lessons, the guy was knowledgeable, and he offered the insight I needed – that the bangitar, played as a guitar, sounded crap, and the only way to make it sound good was to master banjo picking and strumming styles. He was right, and I was grateful, but there was a jarring note. He said “The banjitar is a kinda half-bred thing – a bit like Obama!” and he laughed. I offered the comment that it was a pity he had made such a racist remark, and asked if it was really necessary. This produced a torrent of abuse, and the information that I was blocked. He followed up this morning with another, even more abusive comment on my YouTube profile. (He is now blocked by me.) Ah, the American Deep South Republican Right – good ole boys – a pickin’, a pluckin’ and a lynchin’.

 

NUCLEAR

The nuclear lobby has been lying low since Fukushima, after an initial bout of futile propaganda, but they’ve crept out of their nuclear shelters since then, and are beginning the insidious fightback – radiation’s not so bad really, it may even be good for you, the real threat to humanity is wind farms polluting the landscape, alternative energy will never work, the wind doesn’t always blow, the waves don’t always wave, etc.

The symbiotic twin of nuclear energy, the WMD industry, is also out and about, alarmed at the prospect of losing their WMD dumping ground, Scotland, and the vital submarine bases. I was more than disturbed that the SNP government seems to be rather less hostile to nuclear submarines and appeared to be welcoming the retention of nuclear submarine bases in Scotland as part of the defence-as-job-creation scheme thinking that regularly pollutes and distorts rational debate of defence matters.

Now I accept that there are difficult moral questions when one comes to weaponry, because it is designed to kill and maim other human beings, and the scale of horror from, say, the flamethrower, designed to burn alive another human to the baton, designed to inflict a sore head, involves moral dilemmas and choices even in individual cases. Unless one rejects all defence concepts for a nation and all conventional weaponry – I don’t – choices have to be made.

When one comes to the incinerations of millions and the pollution of the planet, human imagination quails, and human morality often fails. I am become Death – the destroyer of worlds.” The Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Robert Oppenheimer as the full horror of what the implications of his work dawned on him as he observed the first nuclear explosion. This choice should be simple, and for me and many others, it is – starkly simple.

But as a nuclear-powered submarine is not a weapon in itself – it is the carrier of a weapon or weapons system, and the nuclear reactor that powers it is not a weapon – why should we object to it, especially if it provides jobs?

Well firstly, I reject the defence as job creation scheme argument, and believe that defence policy and expenditure should be based solely on defence considerations. But the UK is deeply in the grip of the military/industrial complex and the armaments industry, and all our politicians are infected by this kind of thinking. It is the kind of thinking that powers graft and corruption wherever and whenever it occurs.

Secondly, I believe the retention of nuclear-power submarines in Scotland is the thin edge of a nuclear wedge – it compromises the SNP’s position on nuclear power and WMDs.

Nuclear power is unacceptably dangerous. A young serviceman, armed and drunk, attacked his shipmates and killed his officer on a nuclear submarine recently. He has just been sentenced to 25 years for this crime. A recent television documentary on nuclear subs showed a crew member being disciplined for drunkenness on board the the sub. It’s not so long ago since two armed nuclear subs crashed into each other on the high seas.

This is the nuclear reality that nuclear proponents would like to slide over, with their emphasis on the safety of the systems and procedures. No system is safe against human fallibility, against human error, not to mention human greed and corruption in defence and civil nuclear contracts in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment. The nuclear error is one that humanity cannot afford to make – other errors pale into insignificance beside it. But we have politicians who are the moral and intellectual equivalent of a five-year old playing with a loaded gun or a live grenade.

Keep nuclear, in all its manifestation, out of our new Scotland.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Making political capital out of …

The following tweet yesterday provoked a little exchange between Angus Macleod and me, and an ironic reference by  Rolf Rae-Hansen to Angus’s proclivity for referring to ‘cybernats’ …

Angus Macleod

AMacleodTimes Angus Macleod

What I cannot fathom is why some people think it is so vital to refer to English,rather than UK, riots .

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@AMacleodTimes Because riots don't take place in a state, Angus - they happen in a city, or cities or a country. Info: four countries in UK

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@AMacleodTimes Of the 4 countries in the UK, only one has had riots so far - England. Useful to tourists headed for one of the other three?

Rolf Rae-Hansen

rolfraehansen Rolf Rae-Hansen

@moridura Don't worry, I think @AMacleodTimes understands full well, he is just one of those CyberUnionist wind up merchants. :)

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@rolfraehansen @AMacleodTimes I thought there was a little faux naivety in his question - he fathoms, all right - and so do I ...

Since then, of course, Alex Salmond made his statement, the BBC mended its ways, and started referring correctly to English riots, and a wave of unionist - and it is unionist - protest came, accusing the First Minister of ‘playing politics’ with the riots, with the Scotsman feeling that it warranted the front page and most of page two.


The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, has stated, as civil order crumbles in English cities, that the riots are “criminality, pure and simple.” The riots of course, are neither pure nor simple - they are a deeply debased manifestation of what has gone wrong with the society created by Thatcher, Blair, Brown, Mandelson, whose gross political errors are now being fatally compounded by Cameron and Clegg and their benighted coalition.

The situation is political, because every manifestation of our society stems from either political action or inaction. Life is politics, and no amount of moralising, demanding that parents behave responsibly, advocating a return to traditional values, etc. will make a blind bit of difference - they are a smokescreen thrown up in a vain attempt to conceal the poverty of idea and vision of our leaders, and to try to cover their tracks and evade responsibility for what they have done for the last thirty years.

And what they have done for the last thirty years has been done by Westminster, in the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,  the failing, crumbling, stitched together political state called the UK, the rump of a failed empire.

Every word that has been uttered by politicians, and by their creatures in the media since the Tottenham riots has been political - by the Government in an attempt to defend themselves, by the Labour Party in an attempt both to evade blame for their 13-year role in creating the social mess, and to make expedient political capital over the Coalition’s misfortune. Every word from politicians in Scotland has been political, and the comment has divided sharply and entirely predictably along the Scottish San Andreas fault line of unionist/nationalist sympathies and political philosophies.

Of course it’s political - politics created this bloody (literally) mess, and only politics and political action will get us out of it. Scotland must help the English people in any way they can, with understanding, with deep respect, and with resources and practical help, of which the police resource is only one immediate example.

Scotland must listen to the voice of the English people, in all its ethnic, cultural and class diversity, to its young people, to its academics - such as Dr. Clifford Stott (see clip below) - when they have something pertinent and helpful to say.



But we must distinguish sharply between the country of England and its people - our neighbours, friends, colleagues and relatives, to whom we are linked by a shared language, a shared history and a shared archipelago - and the failed State of the UK, which is the root cause of the troubles of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Only the independence of Scotland will solve the problems of Scotland, and in the process, lead towards the necessary independence of England and the people of England. Scotland is different - we know it, and our English neighbours know it. Neither country should shrink from recognising these difference, nor from examining them.

The fundamental difference is that Scotland is committed to a social democracy that cares for all of its people, especially its vulnerable people, and every political argument nationalist Scots have with unionist Scots and with Westminster politicians centres around that fact.

So when you hear a unionist politician or media sympathiser, especially a Scottish unionist politician or media sympathiser say “stop playing politics” with this or that burning issue, remember that what they are doing is playing politics - unionist politics - and what they are saying, with increasing desperation is Don’t call attention to anything that reveals the progressive failure of the UK, the Westminster Government, and the greedy, amoral conspiracy against the people of these Isles called the British Establishment, a conspiracy of inherited or ruthlessly acquired wealth, power and privilege, totally undemocratic, self-serving, amoral, and utterly opposed to the independence of Scotland, the independence of England and the independence of Wales.

Perhaps the new Jimmy Reid Foundation can ask themselves some searching questions as they try to give a voice to the Left in Scottish politics. First among them should be -

1. What made Jimmy Reid, a lifelong Socialist and internationalist, become a nationalist in the last years of his life?

2. Where does the ‘new’ Scottish Left stand on the nuclear deterrent and nuclear power?

3. Where does the new Scottish Left stand in the independence of Scotland?

If they duck these questions, or put them on the back burner because they are too controversial, then they will, of course, become yet another irrelevant talking shop of old lefties, mildly amusing and good chat show sofa material.

They might also ask themselves why the Scottish Left ignored and betrayed the people of Dalmarnock, as the Games juggernaut rolled over their lives …

Saor Alba!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Brian Monteith and ThinkScotland.org

Brian Monteith makes one of his regular appearances in the columns of The Scotsman today, with a piece entitled Playing the name game could help the LibDems, one of a series of articles from Brian and others that have appeared since the SNP’s electoral victory in May, all of them designed to offer one form or another of artificial resuscitation to the parties so decisively rejected by the Scottish electorate.

Since Brian Monteith is a Tory, and ThinkScotland.org is a Tory thinktank (I will defend that assertion shortly) - although it doesn’t fly under Tory colours - this is rather like one corpse trying to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to another- a grisly spectacle, not for the faint-hearted.

All of the articles of this type are characterised by loathing for the SNP, the democratic choice of the people of Scotland in two elections, who presumably ‘thought Scotland’ when they made their choice so decisively at the ballot box.

I quote -

While the SNP delays and dodges tough decisions …”

The LibDems are at a very low ebb in Scotland and it is no surprise that the SNP is mischievously  suggesting members and politicians leave the party to join them. Leaving aside the notion that true liberals would wish to join a party that has some of the most illiberal Tartan Taleban within its midst …”

What is Brian - and ThinkScotland’s - grand plan for the LibDems?

Leave big business to the Tories, and leave  the unions to Labour for now - the Liberals can give a voice to the articulate and moderate professional classes that is warm and reassuring to voters about what independence might mean.”

In spite of the above, he closes by advising the Liberals to return “to their radical Scottish roots”.

By abandoning big business to the venal and values-free Tories and the unions to the equally venal and values-free Scottish Labour Party? How radical is that, guys?

Become the Valium Party for those timid professional classes to scared to stand for anything, desperate for reassurance, and let the Tories and Labour continue unchallenged with their rapine and exploitation of the people?

ThinkScotland

Here is the link to ThinkScotland - About us - go the the team for more information.

It was founded by Robert Kilgour and the organisation is wholly funded by him. He is a Scottish entrepreneur, international investor and property developer working out of London.  He stood as a Tory in Hamilton South in 1997.

ThinkScotland states that it “is not aligned to any political party and welcomes diverse contributions and debate.”

It looks to me like a Tory thinktank, but judge for yourself by its team of advisors -

Phil Gallie (deceased) was one - a former Scottish Tory MP and MSP

Elena Kachkova -Parliamentary Adviser to Struan Stevenson MEP at the Scottish Conservatives Central Office (1999 - 2002). She moved to South Africa in 2002 where she continues a successful career as a Consultant on matters relating to the former Soviet Socialist Republics, and political affairs in South Africa.

Richard Cook - Director of an export company in the environmental waste management and recycling industry. A former Vice Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party.

Struan Stevenson became a Conservative MEP in 1999. He is currently the Conservative’s Front-Bench Spokesman on Fisheries and Deputy Spokesman on Agriculture.

Shailesh Vara was elected as the Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire in May 2005. He is currently Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

Margaret Mitchell was elected as the Conservative List MSP for Central Scotland in 2003.

There are other advisors whose political affiliation is not stated. They are -

Bob Leitch - Chief Executive of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry

John McGlynn - founded the Airlink group with interests in car parking, property development, document storage and venture capital. In 2005, he founded Scotland House to promote business links between Scotland and Estonia

Paul Holleran - National Organiser for the National Union of Journalists.

Tino Nombro - of Ambergreen - an early pioneer of search marketing delivering cutting edge search strategies for forward thinking bluechip brands, including My Travel, Marks & Spencer Money and Carphone Warehouse.

Charles Ferguson - a Solicitor Advocate based in Hamilton - specialises in criminal matters.

Jackie Anderson - retail experience at Mark & Spencers' store at the Gyle, Edinburgh, “before deciding to travel the world and write - bringing her down-to-earth, provocative and humorous take on life to ThinkScotland. “

CONCLUSION

Lastly, let me address Brian Monteith’s shabby attack on the SNP.

Yes, Brian - there are those in the online community who express extreme views in favour of Scotland’s independence. Like the sectarian ranters of Scottish football, they are matched by equally extreme views from the Tory extreme right and the Labour extreme left.

But there is a difference, and one that the Scottish Tories and LibDems would do well to consider carefully, and that is that the Scottish National Party is not afraid to reach out to the deprived and underprivileged in Scottish society - the people who have been betrayed over generation by Scottish Tories and Scottish Labour. These Scots - often young Scots - have been deprived educationally and socially, and their political views are often inchoate, and expressed in primitive and sometimes extreme language.

But they are learning and learning fast, and they know who is on their side and who is not. It once was the Labour Party - it was never the Tory Party - it is now the Scottish National Party.

 

Monday, 18 July 2011

The UK - and a word from a great Englishman …

Shakespeare, a great Englishman, some say the greatest, although my affections lie with Geoffrey Chaucer, put the following words in the mouth of Hamlet, who was deeply unhappy about his nation and what it had come to -

Fie on't! ah, fie! 'tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely.

and Marcellus later observes that

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

If Shakespeare and Chaucer were alive today, I feel that they both would feel the same about the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, that it has become an unweeded garden, possessed by things rank and gross in nature, and that something was rotten in it. But they would take heart from the signs all around them that the English people were beginning to assert themselves against this endemic corruption of their institutions, and they would recognise that in part, this was prompted by the Scots attempting to free themselves from the UK’s clammy embrace, while retaining their respect and ancient ties of blood, friendship and common interest with their English brothers and sisters.

The conspiracy of hereditary privilege, the unelected power of the British aristocracy and Establishment and the military/industrial complex seemed to have an iron grip of the peoples of these islands of Britain, a grip secured by control of media and patronage and, through them, the exploitation of myths of imperial glory and a romanticised ideal of Great Britain that has always been far removed from the lives of the people.

But this rickety remnant of a global empire has badly over-extended itself, and the rapaciousness and greed of its ruling class has peaked at the same time, in an unfortunate confluence of events that resulted in the Parliamentary expenses scandal, the collapse of the banks, the incompetence of the Ministry of Defence allied to the greed of those who profit from it, the failed and failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the spectacular collapse of the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, an empire that has corrupted the highest levels of government and the Metropolitan Police.

Private Eye has been chronicling for decades the financial and municipal corruption of the powerful in the centre of UK power, the South East of England, and the associated incompetence of the regulatory and legal bodies that have been so spectacularly - and in some cases, suspiciously - unable to check it.

From the Inland Revenue through the Serious Fraud Office, the Department of Public Prosecutions, the Metropolitan Police, various supine financial regulatory authorities to the pathetic and supine Press Complaints Commission, the sordid record has been detailed by Private Eye, a publication that has been unafraid of the powerful, both their blandishments and their legal bludgeons, while the mainstream media has been muzzled and trivialised, with honourable exceptions such as the Telegraph in the MPs expenses scandal, the Guardian in the phone hacking conspiracy, and Channel Four News.

But the pressure of the new media, social networking and Wikileaks has fractured the the wall of complicit silence, a pressure powerful enough to trigger the Arab Spring and global events of incalculable significance.

Here in Scotland, we have had our own little Celtic Spring, in the May election of the Scottish National Party for a historic second term. And the summer of independence beckons …




POSTSCRIPT
Sir Paul Stephenson, Head of the Met, resigns, and says he "will not lose sleep over his personal integrity". Clearly, he never has in the past - but the rest of us have, especially the victims of phone hacking. David Cameron appears not to be losing sleep over his personal integrity either, but then Old Etonians never do ...

But Nick Clegg may well lose sleep over the loss of his party's integrity. But not enough to resign and bring down this benighted Coalition ...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

“Independence was sleepwalking towards independence”. Aye, right, Alan …

ALAN COCHRANE: I found this the most incredible intervention in recent years - months ... For John Major to say this is absolute havering. I mean, this was the man who said independence (sic) was sleepwalking towards independence - and now he's saying 'huv the whole lot, let's go the whole way’. I can't understand what he's playing at, quite frankly. Unless he's, like a lot of English Tories, completely sick of us."

Aye right, Alan - " independence (sic) was sleepwalking towards independence"

Well, you could say that - except the Nationalists have their eyes wide open - it's you and your ilk, Alan, who have been sleepwalking, in the death sleep of the Union. Scotland has been completely sick of it for a long time - and of its defenders in the Press.


Sunday, 10 July 2011

An antidote to the ‘Britishness’ nonsense talked in the Newsnight special

Rory Stewart OBE, Tory MP (born in Hong Kong, raised in Malaysia, education Dragon school, Eton and Balliol college, Oxford - Deputy Governor in two Iraq provinces for the armed US/UK Coalition that illegally invaded  Iraq. He served briefly in the Black Watch. His family originates from Crieff in Perthshire).

Asked if the break-up of the Union, compared by Paxman to a marriage, matters -

I think it matters very deeply, I think we’ll miss it terribly. It is something it is very easy to imagine you can tear apart, by I think like any relationship - any intertwined thing - once it’s gone, we’ll miss it and we will never forgive the government that tore it apart.”

This is emotional nonsense, with highly coloured, pejorative terms, delivered by a privileged product of the British Establishment, colonialism and Empire. He believes what he says - why wouldn’t he, with that background? He talks of the voluntary ending of a 300 year-old political treaty by democratic means and negotiation as a tearing apart, and the we he refers to, although he the thinks of it as the people of the UK , is in fact his own tiny, powerful, privileged class.

That class will miss the Union - you’d better believe they will!  They owe all they have to it - it has delivered for them, while marginalising, impoverishing and killing the rest of us in large numbers, especially the Scots.

And never forget, that historically, that class has always included Scots who were willing, indeed enthusiastic agents of British imperialism and the betrayal of the economic and social interests of their own people. And they’re still around …

Asked pointedly by Paxman what ‘we’ would lose, he replies

I think it’s a mistake to think we would lose economics (sic) - you can make economic arguments, you can make political arguments - you lose an idea: an idea of union, an idea of what was great about Britain - of England, of Scotland. And those are things that all of us feel.”

In the turgid emotional and now stagnant pool that is the unionist mind Britain, instead of being a geographical term for an archipelago - a group of islands - is conflated with a political entity, one that didn’t exist when the union with Scotland - a political and economic union - took place. He’s right - Great Britain is an idea, and its time is ending. If it’s any comfort to the Rory’s of this world, the Union of the Crowns - a much older pragmatic idea - looks set to continue.

Joan McAlpine, talking hard sense, leavened with humanity as usual, attempts to reassure those about to cry in their warm ale over the impending ‘loss’. Peter Davies, an English Democrat would like to return to the status quo ante, i.e. reverse the devolution process, rightly pointing out the self-serving political motives of Labour in using it to consolidate their Scottish hegemony (it didnae work, Tony!) but he is a realist, albeit a disgruntled one, about where we now are, and wants out.

Prompted by Joan McAlpine’s analysis of the real reason for devolution, Rory Stewart reluctantly concedes that “probably, in the end, it reflected the desires of the Scottish people. I think it would have been dangerous to fight it forever. But I think at the same time, Scotland and England can be independent … and Scotland is more independent in the Union than out of it.”

He goes on, however, that it is “reckless and unnecessary …” He is interrupted at this point by Paxman saying that it can be done. Rory acknowledges that it would not be a cataclysm, but “a crying shame …”

Faced with the English Democrat asking why the English are being discriminated against in the devolution settlements - as they are, in my view - he patronisingly tells his countryman (in Rory’s English persona) that he is “falling into the trap that the Scottish nationalists are setting - they are trying to make you feel that you are being discriminated against” to which he receives the robust rejoinder from Peter Davies “We are!”.

“Everything that they are doing is designed to try to make you feel resentful - you don’t need to …” This is half-Scot Rory talking about a large number of his countrymen and the elected Government of Scotland. Peter Davies rejoins that he is not resentful, but old Etonian Rory is in full patrician mode now.

You can be confident and proud of being British.”

Peter Davies, an Englishman, is more practical, and rejects the patronising tone. “I want what they’ve got - that’s not resentful.”

Gaun yersel, Peter, I say, endorsing his feeling that he is being discriminated against, because he is. Tam Dalziel said so, and since I am now from West Lothian, I support that other product of empire and privilege, the Laird of the Binns. At this point, Joan McAlpine made more relevant, hard economic and legal points, but Paxman prefers to stay with the emotion and the discrimination issue.

He questions the audience - do they feel discriminated against? He raises the nonsensical proposition that the English should be allowed a voice in the referendum, which some of the audience do. Could the English force the Scots to stay, even if they wanted to leave? This leaves the unfortunate audience member being prompted by Paxman looking confused, as well he might be, and asking that the question be repeated.

But Paxman gets little comfort - good old, English common-sense is prevailing. One of them recognises that some Scots actually may have more reservations about independence than the English.

Paxman seeks for Scots to answer his question, but yet again gets a robust answer from an Englishman, that it is a matter for Scots, not for them. Paxman then finds a straight-talking Scot, who says that all that will happen is that the English will lose a few more Labour MPs, and is sanguine about Scots continuing to get on well with the English, since they do so under “the pseudo independence we’ve got now.”

But Rory will have none of it - we are “in danger of turning friends into competitors, and opening up rivalries and crises of identity that none of us need or want.” He remains oblivious to the fact that this exists only in his mind and the minds of his narrow privileged class, not among the ordinary people, who recognise that the UK and the Union are not operating in their interests, but in the interests of Rory’s class - the British Establishment.

The Scottish audience member who spoke earlier points out gently to Rory, and cites former British empire members Canada, Australia and Ireland, where contacts, family ties and social relationships and economic ties are just fine.

Rory ignores this courteously stated point, and falls back on his Dad in Crieff, who is proud to be Scottish and British, and claims, with no evidence, that this represents more people in Scotland than the audience member represents, a discourteous, impertinent and unsupported statement.

I have little to say about the last few minutes of the discussion - it’s all there in the clip for those who want to analyse it.

I leave the last word on the UK and the Union to the distinguished historian, Norman Davies, on pages 870 and 871 of his magisterial work The Isles. I have selected quotes that seem highly relevant to me.

EXTRACT

(1) The United Kingdom is not, and never has been, a nation-state.

……

By the terms of its inception in 1707, The United Kingdom has been prevented from developing either the federal or the unitary structures which have elsewhere fostered homogeneity.

……

It is essentially a dynastic conglomerate, which could never equalise the functions of its four constituent parts, and which, as a result, could never fully harmonise the identities of the national communities within its borders. The UK, for example, has no one established Church. (It has two of them.) It has no unified legal system, no centralised education system, no common cultural policy, no common history - none of the institutional foundations, in other words, on which nations states are built.

……

Like all ruling elites who wanted their citizens to form a coherent national community and to identify themselves with the interests of the state, the British establishment deliberately confused the concepts of citizenship and nationality. Indeed, in British usage, citizenship actually came to be called ‘nationality’, whilst citizens - or rather subjects - were called ‘nationals’. This linguistic manoeuvre did much to create the false impression that everyone who carried a British passport was automatically identified with the same national group.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The unionists share their identity crisis …

Billy Connolly may be an odd sort of Scot for a Scottish nationalist to quote, given his infamous “little pretendy Parliament” remark of yore, but I admire the man as a comic genius, with an ability to elevate the commonplaces of a Scottish working class life into high art.

Here is my recollection of one of his joke routines about his time in the shipyards, when the foremen were required to wear hard hats with their names on them. One such personage caught Billy and his mate skiving, and they gave him some cheek when he challenged them. “Do you know who I am?” asked the foreman, puffed up with self-importance.

Connolly and friend looked at each other in mock incredulity. “Here’s a guy wi’ his name oan his hat and he disnae know who he is!”

Much press and media coverage has been devoted since the Scottish Parliamentary election earthquake to the Scottish Labour Party’s loss of identity and confusion about who they are, and what they might do about it. The Scottish LibDems and Tories are regarded as already dead by the media, their corpses are therefore treated with patronising respect, and nobody wastes much time on thoughts of how they might be brought to life again. All that is asked of them is that they don’t smell too badly before being consigned to the flames of history.

The other dominant strand that has emerged from the profound emotional shock to the unionist mindset of the SNP's decisive electoral victory is an increasingly desperate attempt to define Britishness in the context of Scottishness. Only ‘British’ Scots appear to have this identity crisis, which they now want to foist on the rest of us: the English always knew that Britain meant England, and Britishness meant Englishness. And the English are right in this, and right to feel this way. Only in comparatively recent times has England feared to speak its name. Anyone who reads anything published before the Second World War (and quite a lot since) will realise that England was the Empire and Englishness was the nationality that defined it.

The kind of case being put for this, and for ‘Britain’ (for Britain read British Empire) is buried in gross sentimentality, as the vapourings of Rory Stewart and Michael Portillo on this week’s Newsnight Special so nauseatingly revealed.

Of course, sentimentality was the keynote of Empire while it was engaged in its worst colonial excesses: sentimentality is the cloying sugar coating on the deadly pill of exploitation and brutality, as history shows.

Heinrich Heine has devastatingly explored the link between sentimentality and brutality, as have others.

“Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment.”  Norman Mailer

"Think of the lamentable role of popular sentiment in wartime! Think of our so-called humanitarianism! The psychiatrist knows only too well how each of us becomes the helpless but not pitiable victim of his own sentiments. Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality…”  Carl Jung

THE SCOTSMAN NEWSPAPER

The Scotsman should,  in my view, change its title and its masthead to The Scotsman? or perhaps even to TheScotBrit, although that doesn’t really fit well with a quality newspaper, since the term Brit has come to be associated with the worst tabloid excesses, brutality, jingoism - and sentimentality.

The newspaper is all over the place politically these days, reflecting the same confusion of identity that has paralysed the Scottish Labour Party (insofar as such a thing exists) - and the Labour Party at Westminster, and it gives space regularly to commentators who exemplify this confusion - Allan Massie, Michael Kelly, John McTernan et al.

The first two on that list are featured today, and just in case the unionist message gets missed, we have an attack on the SNP by one Tom Miers, who is described as an independent public policy consultant, entitled ‘Fiddling while Scotland burns’, which in essence is the cry raised against the independence issue and the referendum before May 2011, that it was a deflection from managing the economy.

This of course rapidly changed to a demand that a referendum should be held immediately, after the unionists realised the scale of their defeat, while Alex Salmond calmly reiterated his manifesto commitment to a referendum mid-term so that he could concentrate on trying to limit the damage caused by the outgoing Labour Government and now being compounded by the shambolic ConLib Coalition.

To be fair, The Scotsman - or perhaps another title, The Occasional Scotsman but I’m also a Brit, does give regular space to Joan McAlpine, who is not at all confused about her identity and is an infinitely better journalist than any of the others, so there is some kind of balance, albeit a little lopsided.

Meanwhile, we must put up with articles such as Proud to Scottish … and English from John McTernan, former Labour Party adviser to Tony Blair, a Prime Minister easily moved to tears and deeply sentimental, one who launched an illegal and horrific war in Iraq, responsible for the violent death and mutilation of countless thousands of innocent men, women and children, and the involvement of the UK in the misconceived, decade-long and utterly pointless war in Afghanistan.

Or Allan Massie, with his article Labour must be bold and give Gray a second chance, with advice such as

“Instead Labour has to be true to itself, to assert that independence is unnecessary as well as undesirable, to say the Scottishness is compatible with Britishness, to insist that its values are shared by millions of people in other constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It should be unashamedly and indeed proudly Unionist, arguing that the continuation of the Union is in the best interests of the Scottish people, and defending the devolution arrangements as a settlement, not as a process of gradual disengagement.”

Wrong on every count, Allan Massie.

Independence is necessary, desirable and vital to Scotland.

There is no such things as ‘Britishness’, or ‘British values’ - they are false constructs designed to support an empire that has long since died.

The very reason that Labour is dying in Scotland is that it is “unashamedly and indeed proudly Unionist” and the Scottish electorate have recognised that at last, realised that it is incompatible with the interests of Scots, their ancient identity, their pride as a nation, and their common humanity.

That is why they rejected Labour and the other Unionist parties and embraced their ain folk on May 5th 2011.

No amount of jingoistic sentimentality, cloaking the essential amorality, corruption, brutality  and incompetence of the UK Establishment and its successive puppet governments, currently on blatant display in the News of the World debacle, and the deeply questionable links, at the highest levels, of successive governments and the police to an unscrupulous and possibly criminal newspaper and media monolith, News International, can conceal that something is rotten in the state of the UK, and has been for a very, very long time.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Scotland’s First Minister–The Politics Show–and nuclear aspects of independence

The London media village, Westminster-obsessed, has abruptly discovered Scotland.

Alex Salmond tells Jon Sopel patiently how many beans make five.

Scotland watches proudly - and affectionately - as their First Minister courteously answers questions drawn from The Ladybird Book of Politics, which is as far as most UK media interviewers have got so far.



NUCLEAR BASES – TRIDENT

The First Minister says clearly that an independent Scotland would have the ultimate decision on when to go to war, i.e sacrifice the lives of Scottish servicemen and women – and would not, for example, have supported the invasion of Iraq.

He also says there could be some sensible sharing of military bases. But if that were to extend, for example, to leasing the Trident nuclear bases to UK Minus (The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) after Scotland has achieved independence, then the Scottish Government would have to have a veto on when nuclear weapons were used from its waters, or from a submarine in international waters that was based in Scottish waters.

Since Scotland does not support the use of nuclear weapons or WMDs in any circumstances, UK  Minus (effectively the US) would be leasing bases and owning weapons of mass destruction, e.g. Trident submarines that could never be used.

This would be untenable, therefore Scotland can never lease the nuclear bases to UK Minus.

Or that’s my logic. It’s also the deal breaker that I’ll go the barricades on, if needs must. And I’ll have company …

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Scotland's First Minister, relaxed, confident - and he's ours!

Scottish Labour and the 'intellectual chasm' - Ken dives in head first

Professor Tom Devine advocates soul searching and radical reappraisal for Scottish Labour, and talks of the intellectual chasm.

All of this escapes Ken Macintosh, Labour smoothie, touted as replacement for Iain Gray. "Your front bench team were constantly outclassed by the SNP team ..." ISABEL FRASER

KEN MACINTOSH: "... over the last four years...in most of the Holyrood debates, the intellectual argument was nearly always won by Labour."



Ken wonders how many members of the public "actually watched" these debates. Well, I watched all of them, Ken (and have most of them on disk) but I wonder if you "actually watched" them, or if you were present, actually listened to them?

Ken exemplifies the blinkered, amnesiac denial of reality by the Labour Party, especially in Scotland. They cannot confront the chasm (two chasms, in fact - one intellectual, the other moral) so they dive in head first, hoping to learn to fly on the way down.

Ken, your mackintosh is not just keeping the rain out, it is also excluding reality. The eponymous inventor of rubber-proofing of cloth and of the mackintosh (born and brought up near my birthplace in Dennistoun) died of suffocation in his own coat on a hot day.

If the Scottish Labour Party elects you as its next leader, it is liable to do the same ...

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Parrot Cry – Hugh MacDiarmid

My thanks to my friend Gordon Cowell for bringing this MacDiarmid poem to my attention. An extract …

England, frae whom a' blessings flow

What could we dae withoot ye?

Then dinna threep it doon oor throats

As gin we e'er could doot ye!

My feelings lang wi' gratitude

Ha'e been sae sairly harrowed

That dod! I think it's time

The claith was owre the parrot!

The Parrot Cry

by Hugh MacDiarmid (1892 – 1978)

Saor Alba!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Labour MPs in the dock again - Phil Woolas

Exploiting racism to get re-elected - this used to be the Tories' schtick. Labour is regularly, one might say almost monotonously exposed for what it is.

You're appealing Phil - but you don't appeal to me, nor does your values-free, morally bankrupt party.

God help English voters, with only this or the ConLib con to choose from.

But Scotland has a choice - a real, ethical choice. Choose Scotland - choose the SNP on 2011.

Saor Alba!


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Scotland and Donald Trump

I’ve pulled these comments out on to the main blog page because both viewpoints deserve an airing.

cynicalHighlander said...

You are completely wrong on Trump and obviously have no idea on the natural environment and treat one area the same as any other area.
Trump is an arrogant wealthy bullyboy full of his own self importance. He thinks he knows better than nature in stopping naturally shifting/living sand dunes from continuing there natural flow. Can you please enlighten me to the economic benefits other than filling real estate developers pockets with taxpayers cash. The local taxpayers will end up paying for all the infrastructure needed to service this real estate development to satisfy this man's ego. A blight on Scotland.
As to the lady in Glasgow I believe that this has been ongoing for over a decade and cannot comment on her plight.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Delete

Blogger Moridura said...

Thanks for posting, cynicalhighlander - now try hard to be realistic highlander.
Donald Trump is a hard-headed American businessman who is bringing jobs and tourism to an area that desperately needs it. Instead of sentimentalism about sand dunes, start thinking about jobs and economic activity. We've never needed them more than today.
I worked for an American company for 14 years, Goodyear. It was part of what used to be the Scottish car industry, now vanished like snaw aff a dyke. There were many complex reasons for that, but among them was a complete dissociation from reality by many Scots and some trades unions.
Scots need to wake up to the real needs of this country, and sentimental longings won't cut it. Neither will this poisoned United Kingdom, which sucks all power south.
Saor Alba!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Scotland treated with contempt by Cameron and Blunkett at PMQs



Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): In a few weeks’ time, the Prime Minister will decide whether he will close RAF Lossiemouth, in addition to closing RAF Kinloss, which would lead to the biggest loss of jobs in Scotland since the Tories closed manufacturing industry in the 1980s. As a consequence, that would mean that Scotland would have fewer service personnel, fewer military bases, aircraft, vessels and Army battalions and less defence spending than all our independent Scandinavian neighbours of comparable size. Will the Prime Minister explain why he is concentrating defence spending in the south and cutting defence spending disproportionately in Scotland?

The Prime Minister: We are going ahead with the aircraft carriers, which are being built in Scotland. I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that if we had an independent Scotland, he would not be flying planes but flying by the seat of his pants.
(My thanks to Conan the Librarian for the Hansard text, not quite verbatim, as Conan pointed out.)

Note the glib, contemptuous, Oxbridge-debating society style with which this rich Tory dismisses a serious, well-formulated question that affects the lives of thousands of Scots.

Scots, for God's sake, get your hands off your forelocks, and recognise that Westminster and the UK don't give a damn about Scotland. The Unionists parties (Labour, Tories, LibDems) can't and won't help you - only the Scottish National Party has your real interests at heart

Vote for Scotland - vote for your ain folk - vote for independence - vote SNP.



A former Labour minister attacks the Scottish and Welsh settlement at PMQs and compares them with Yorkshire. That's what Scotland is to the London-based parties - just another subordinate region of the UK, to be treated with either envy or contempt as the mood takes them.

But they can't win -

Blunkett achieves the triple whammy of upsetting the Scots, the Welsh and the English in one ill-considered question, reinforcing the belief of the Scots and the Welsh that they should be fully independent, and making the English feel that they too should have their own Parliament and recover their country from this poisoned Union, and stand again proudly as England - an ancient, proud nation.

Vote in May 2011 for Scotland - vote for your ain folk - vote for the only party that can deliver what Scotland needs - the Scottish National Party. Vote SNP.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Chilcot Enquiry - criticisms

There has been a barrage of criticism directed at the Chilcot Enquiry, ranging from its terms of reference to its composition and its approach and style in interviewing witnesses. The background and objectivity of its members has come under merciless scrutiny, and it has been branded as an establishment stitch up and whitewash before it even started. The lack of someone with a legal and inquisitorial experience and qualifications among its members has repeatedly been advanced as a weakness.

Whatever the secret intent of those in Government who set it up - and we can hardly be surprised at their behaviour - it is what it is, and we must judge its performance against the constraints it operates under. It has no power to compel witnesses to attend, evidence is not given under oath, and there is no remit to place blame, only to "learn lessons", that most abused of phrases by those desperate to avoid accountability.

Within that context, I don't share the view expressed by many that it is doing a bad job, and I think that when the final report is published, Sir John and his team may surprise us all.

Like most commentators, I feel that Sir Roderic Lyne is the most effective member of the team, and no one should be misled by his polite, gentlemanly style into thinking that he has not secured vital admissions from some witnesses, and perhaps more importantly, nakedly exposed the evasions that perhaps said more than the answers given.

We'll just have to wait and see ...

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The two-paper referendum ballot – choices re-examined

I thought my analysis had perhaps over-complicated a simple choice, but more correspondence suggests that my analysis – and dismissal - of voter types Three and Four did not go far enough, and that I should leave such arcane speculation to psephologists. I accept the criticism, but reject the advice.

Ordinary voters are faced with this analysis and these choices, and need help in thinking it through. Who will offer that help?

The point has been made that Voter type Three has a more complex choice to make than I had originally stated, and that the option of disregarding one of the ballot papers is a valid option for him/her, and  requires more analysis. Let’s look again …

Voter Three believes that more devolved powers are a waste of time – what is required is full independence.

Ignoring Ballot Paper One and voting YES, I AGREE on Ballot Paper Two rejects more devolved powers but endorses independence, but it risks losing the chance of influencing devolved powers as a fallback if the overall independence vote fails to secure a majority.

However, voting YES, I AGREE on both ballot papers runs the risk that if the total number of votes cast for more devolved powers exceeds the votes for independence, opponents of independence can argue that one outweighs the other, and the electorate prefers the devolution option. (However, a simple majority for independence would still trump devolution – see below.)

Voter Four believes that more devolved powers are the right way to go, but believes that a vote on independence should not have been offered and is a waste of time.

Voting YES, I AGREE to more devolved powers on Ballot Paper One but ignoring Ballot Paper Two loses the opportunity to influence a rejection on independence, and is a far more risky option than ignoring Ballot Paper One, with much more significant implications.

Voting YES, I AGREE to more devolved powers on Ballot Paper One and NO, I DISAGREE on Ballot Paper 2 can only help his/her position, and runs no risk equivalent to Voter Three’s more complex choices.

The difficulty with the above analysis is that if a simple 51% majority determines the outcome, independence trumps devolution. If, say, 60% of the votes cast were for devolution and 51% for independence, an independent Scotland would still be the outcome.

More devolution is a fallback position for supporters of independence, but independence is not a fallback option for opponents of independence.

EXAMINING SOME POSSIBLE OUTCOMES

Outcome One:

49% vote for devolution option, 49% vote for independence.

Voter Three: By ignoring the devolution ballot paper, he/she has contributed to a no change outcome, and may have missed the chance of devolution max – surely a better outcome than no change?

Outcome Two:

90% vote for devolution. 51% vote for independence.

Voter Four: By ignoring the independence ballot paper, he/she has missed a chance to contributing to a defeat of the independence vote.

Although this should be a clear win for independence under the 51% rule, unionists might mount a challenge to the validity of an independence outcome, on the basis that a massive majority of voters preferred devolution extension to independence.

Although such a challenge ought to be invalid under the rules, and on the challengers’ unsubstantiated conclusion drawn from the outcome, don’t think that the unionist opposition parties wouldn’t use it, and don’t think it wouldn’t be a major negative factor in the Scottish Government’s attempts to negotiate the terms of the independence settlement.

Remember, a referendum ballot majority for independence doesn’t bind the UK government to grant it, and Westminster would use an outcome similar to Outcome Two to deny it.

POSTSCRIPT

I readily admit that I am finding difficulty in getting my thinking straight on the voting options, and I am open to any help I can get. My wee heid is hurting …

More pragmatic political animals might argue that all such tactical consideration should be ignored, and that everyone should vote on both papers for what option they believe in. They may be right …

But I fear that some confusion will reign in the polling booth unless some objective guidance is given. In a situation where unionists have no interest at all in the existence of an well-informed, politically-aware Scottish electorate, the default position will be emotional unionist rhetoric rather than objectivity.

The SNP, of course, will be on the side of the angels and will avoid such populism. Well, I can hope, can’t I?