Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Union: an historical perspective - is it Better Together or is Independence the answer?

The University of Edinburgh has published the video of Prof. Tom Devine's lecture "In bed with an elephant: why has the Union survived for over three centuries?" and the subsequent panel discussion which I reported on last Sunday in Harmony in Chaos.

• Willie Rennie (Scottish Lib Dem Leader)
• Professor Tom Devine
• Ruth Davidson (Scottish Conservative Leader)
• Professor Charlie Jeffery (acting as chair)
• Blair Jenkins OBE (Chief Executive of Yes Scotland)
• Dr Nicola McEwen
• Margo MacDonald (Independent MSP)

If you don't have the time to watch the whole thing, I would certainly recommend you watch Tom Devine's lecture, which lasts for the first 32 minutes of the video.

Willie Rennie's shooting himself in the foot occurs at 1 hr 15 mins. 
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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Spinning the Spending Review - BBC Scotland Newspeak Style

Wahey! Look at that headline! The Benificent Union is boosting Scottish capital expenditure by £296M while it slashes and burns the rest of UK spending, except intelligence & security and international development (bungs to third world dictators for buying British arms) in 2015-16.

Are we not indeed Better Together? Hang on a minute, read the small print and the Scottish Government's annual budget will be cut in real terms by 1.9% which works out at £488.3M to £25.7Bn, while it will be given the power to borrow £296M for capital spending.

BBC Scotland, taking Newspeak to new levels of doublethink. I imagine their masters are happy.

BBC Scotland reminds me of the Tannoy in an 'End of the Soviet Era' Russian joke which likened the Russian People to passengers on a train. 

Essentially Lenin had exhorted the passengers to collect coal and water and the train chuffed along nicely. When the train ground to a halt, Stalin flogged the passengers until they had collected enough coal, wood and water to keep the train moving. Eventually Gorbachev came along, opened the curtains of the carriage and saw that the train wasn't actually moving and hadn't moved for some considerable time.
He went up to the rusting hulk of the locomotive and found the corpses of Kruschev, Brezhnev and Andropov sprawled round an old drum kit and microphone linked to the train's tannoy with Chernyenko feebly tapping out Rat-a-Tat-Tat, Rat-a-Tat-Tat.

Let's be thankful that Scots have the ability to get off the UK's train now that the undifferentiable Camosbmilliballs has the drumsticks.

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Trench Foot in Mouth - The First Casualty of the WW1 Commemorations?

I don't know if it was the "F Whizzbang" in the title or a desire to find out what the AB was, but the previous article Sorry, But This Takes the Fucking Biscuit AB has been the runaway most read article in this rather young blog (I started it on 6 May 2013).  I realised I had been remiss in not including a link to an open letter I had signed calling on the UK Government to use the anniversary (and presumably a majority of the £55M budget) for the promotion of peace and international co-operation.

I set about Google to find the site for the open letter and alighted on Matthew Norman's article from 11th June 2013 on The Independent website It's time to commemorate the First World War, but don't let's be beastly to the Germans, says Ms Miller. The article is worth a read but I'll quote what's of relevance to my point here: 
"As skirmishing over the approaching centenary of the First World War begins, we turn for guidance to the leading British historian of the day. I refer not to Dr David Starkey, the headline-grabbing Niall Ferguson, or the KFC heir Andrew Roberts. Splendid as the above are, none compares in scholarship and intellect to Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
"Ms Miller may have no interest in culture, know little of the workings of the media, and not be especially interested in sport. We all have our blind spots, and Ms Miller’s should be set against the brilliance of her insight into the First World War, the commemoration of which she will oversee if she somehow survives the next reshuffle.
"The thing about the war that ravaged this continent from 1914-1918, she observed this week with the sort of carefully weighted analysis to which Twitter is so ideally suited, is that it “ensured Europe could continue to be a set of countries which were strong”."
I had missed the edition of the Today programme on which she said this, but Andy McSmith's Diary, once again in The Independent, furnished more details.
"The Government wants to honour those who died in the conflict without making a judgement on why that war began – which meant that the minister had to improvise when asked about what it was all about. “At that point in Britain’s history,” she said, “it was important that there was a war that ensured that Europe could continue to be a set of countries which were strong and which could be working together."

"Oh dear! Does she really think the Third Reich, the USSR, and the other products of the great war were being strong and “working together”?"
As most of her functions in the UK Government are devolved, I'd taken no previous interest in Maria Miller, or her UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Going by the middle paragraph on the quote from Matthew Norman above, it would seem she has not been universally respected in her role.

If she is indeed struggling with her briefs of culture, media and sport, one can understand her being a tad flustered on BBC Radio 4's early morning flagship radio programme when being confronted with history and war.  That she should fall back on the language of her initial brief on being appointed to head up the WW1 commemorations is entirely understandable on being asked "What's it all about?".

Although I'm only an avid reader of history, I'm at a loss from my reading on the First World War and the consequential Russian Revolution, Second World War, Soviet Union and Cold War to think where she might have come across notions of Strength and Togetherness as being the central themes.  

I wonder what briefing she might have been given as to "What's it all about?" that made her answer with  "countries which were strong and which could be working together" in defending the UK's first ever major commemoration of the start of a war?

The link to the open letter I referred to at the start of this article is here if you wish to append your signature.

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Sorry, But This Takes The Fucking Biscuit AB

I'll explain at the start that Biscuits AB, officially Biscuits Vitamins A&B, but since time immemorial colloquially known as Biscuits Arse Blocking because of their eponymous side effect, are the biscuits that for as long as I, my father and probably my Grampa could remember, are the hard-tack biscuits that take the place of bread in British Army Compo rations.

I'm also not accustomed to apologising at the outset of a post and since all my friends know me as a big, soft shyte I also very rarely get angry. However I am angry, very angry and this post will be written in demotic Jockinese, the language of a (former) Scottish soldier and officer. It may well not be a post you would wish your maiden aunt to read, and if you are a maiden aunt, I'd look away now.

From the start, I had my doubts about that wankstain Cameron's plans for the first time in history to commemorate the start of a war. And not just any war, the greatest clusterfuck ever to befall Europe and the World, for not only was it the great obscenity that was the Great War, but without it the even greater calamity of the Second World War would probably never have happened.

I was even resigned when I read the arsehole's plans, introduced in the following terms:
"Our ambition is a truly national commemoration worthy of this historic centenary. A commemoration that captures our national spirit in every corner of the country, from our schools and workplaces, to our town halls and local communities.

"A commemoration that, like the diamond jubilee celebrations this year, says something about who [we] are as a people."

It really was blindingly obvious that what he envisaged is a jingoistic Britfest to coincide with the Referendum on Scottish independence, why else would we be not commemorating, but celebrating for the first time ever, the start and not the end of a war.  However, I was prepared to write it off as the arsehole having perhaps just said the wrong thing.  After all, to that twat 303 would be a slightly late afternoon tea, SLR a fancy camera and Gimpy merely a description of the boudoir accoutrements of one or more of his MPs.

I only saw the following quote from the the character Guy from The Quarry, the last novel by the late Iain Banks last week and regular readers will know that it was just the kind superficial Sleb nonsense he refers to that kicked off this blog. 

It will therefore come as no surprise that the plans to hold a Sleb football match between England and Germany, including the archetypal Vacuous Sleb - David Beckham - have me bealin' and left in no doubt whatsoever that what is planned for 2014 is indeed a jingoistic Britfest celebration of the start of the Great War.

Organisers hope the star will add his firepower to a recreation of the England-Germany match in no man’s land.
DAVID BECKHAM is to be called out of retirement to lead England in a final game against Germany — but this time in the name of reconciliation.”
Sorry, recreation of the England - Germany match in no man's land?  Were not the Generals shitting themselves because just about every front-line swinging dick (Officers & Men, German and British Empire) not involved in burying the dead on 25 Dec 1914 was singing, pissing it up and playing football?

As if that wasn't bad enough, a few token people from the "home countries" (Jocks, Taffs and Micks), Blacks, Asians and even current Servicemen may be invited to join the England team. How jolly fucking condescendingly decent of them. No mention of Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders or the many other British & French Empire troops that took part. 

To top it off, they want to spunk away £1.25M on a football pitch and stadium on the Flanders Peace Field near Messines on which to stage the tasteless match. Fuck it! Why not go the whole hog and let Stuart Hall out of fucking jail to compère a Jeux Sans Frontieres / It's a Fucking Knockout-Style  Corpse-Burying Competition? A shitload more of that happened on 25 December 1914 than playing of football.

The rationale for this crass circus? 
"Beckham, who with Prince William and David Cameron led a bid to bring the 2018 World Cup to England, could ensure that the commemorations will involve people who might be unmoved by memorials to bloody battles."
Of the 557,000 Scots who enlisted in all Services in WW1, 26.4 percent were killed. This compares with an average death rate of 11.8 percent for the rest of the British Army between 1914 and 1918. Of all the combatant nations, only the Serbs and the Turks had higher per capita mortality rates, but this was primarily because of disease in the trenches rather than a direct result of losses in battle. The main reason for the higher than average casualties among the Scottish soldiers was that they were regarded as excellent, aggressive shock troops who could be depended upon to lead the line in the first hours of battle. No great mischief indeed.

World War One only ended 95 years ago. My Grampa fought in it and I'm not particularly ancient. I would be hard pressed to think that any family in Scotland has an adult in it that did not either know a combatant directly, or whose parents did not know a combatant or a relative who lost someone dear to them. The notion that anyone could not be moved by a simple commemoration service or ceremony of such slaughter is beyond me.  The notion that we should even consider pandering to the needs of any such insensitive soul by staging a crass, celebrity circus is even further beyond my comprehension.
I've had cause to say it once before in this blog, and then in an article about the death of a soldier.  But that this proposal is even being entertained in Westminster shows that we in Scotland now really are another country. I can only hope that any Scots, Welsh, Irish, Commonwealth and indeed German footballers who are invited to take part in this crass Slebfest have the dignity to decline.

I apologise once again for swearing like a Trooper, but perhaps that may make the message hit home. Honestly, do the arseholes in Whitehall nowadays not understand that Oh! What a Lovely War was cutting satire and not just a jolly jape musical?

 See also: Trench Foot in Mouth - The First Casualty of the WW1 Commemorations?

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Harmony in Chaos

They're planning for indifference,
They're talking their own version of the tune.
Standing round in silent queues,
We're fighting for your freedom too,
Because everyone's expecting to be led.
Just close the doors and windows and listen to them argue in your head.
They won't even hear it, harmony's in chaos once again.

                                                                             - Bobby Nicholson

Yesterday I attended the Edinburgh University event at the MacEwan Hall, "The Union: an Historical Perspective - Is it Better Together or Should Scotland say Yes to Independence". The format was a lecture by Prof Tom Devine followed by a panel discussion. The lecture was essentially a distillation of his Emden Lecture [click link for video] given at Oxford University on 11 June, weighted to examining how the Union had survived for 300+ years.

The panel was as interesting for who wasn't there as to who was.  The Yes camp was represented by Blair Jenkins, chairman of Yes Scotland and Margo McDonald MSP, the independent former SNP politician.  The No camp was represented by Ruth Davidson MSP, Scottish Conservative leader and Willie Rennie, Scottish Lib-Dem leader. 

That there was no SNP representation I think was a deliberate, strategic move by Yes Scotland to see the SNP take a back seat for a while. Indeed, Margo hammered home the point that the referendum was not about parties but the people, and that if we voted Yes, it would be up to us to shape the independent Scotland we wish to see.  However, the absence of any Labour representation was rather less explicable.  It was left to Tom Devine to reveal that apparently the former Prime Mentalist, Gordon Brown is trying to hash together some Mega Devo Plus rabbit which he plans to pull from the hat in a few months.

The moderator invited Margo and Blair to outline their vision for an independent Scotland and Ruthie and Willie to outline their positive case for the union. Ruthie chose to wax lyrical about the British Army, harking back to her trip to Kosovo as a 21 year old trainee journalist, but carefully avoiding comment on the more recent misadventures of the British Armed Forces.  Both Wee Ruthie and Willie harped on about size and strength, punching above our weight, seats on the UNSC, G8, power and influence in the world. I really am not turned on by those arguments as I have no wish to punch anyone, above or below my weight.

In terms of Vision looking forward, Willie Rennie wholly voluntarily and without prompting, live on stage, metaphorically took out his Browning 9mm, deliberately took aim at his left foot and fired.  He informed the audience that he wanted to see the Scottish Parliament made permanent, as it is currently a temporary institution voted into existence by Westminster which could just as easily be voted out of existence by Westminster. It seems that in his own time as a one-term wonder in Westminster, he did not learn that there is no constitutional mechanism in the UK to legislate Holyrood into permanence as sovereignty rests with the Crown in Parliament and that sovereignty is absolute. Any future Westminster parliament has the power to do as it damned well pleases, untramelled by putative, previous Lib Dem legislation.

The acoustics were not great and I missed what Ruthie mumbled when asked by the moderator what progress had been made by her Tory Constitutional Commission.  It was Tom Devine who pointed out in no uncertain terms (and I'm paraphrasing here) that if Scotland votes No without any cast-iron guarantees from the unionist parties, Scotland is royally stuffed.  However, in my view, since such 'guarantees' of Jam Tomorrow are worthless no matter how apparently 'cast iron' a politician may make them out to be, Scotland will be stuffed if she votes no. Both Ruthie and the former Prime Mentalist are on a hiding to nothing. If they were really offering the people of Scotland a Jam Tomorrow Devo-Max option, why were they so keen to have it removed from the ballot paper? Because they have no intention whatsoever of delivering.

In terms of prognostication, the rise of English right-wing nationalism, as evidenced by the swivel-eyed loons of UKIP gaining 25% of the votes, and particularly how they fare in the European Parliamentary elections in 2014 was seen as potentially having a major effect on the referendum result as England and Scotland diverge politically.

Margo had made the point right at the start that the referendum and the future of Scotland was a matter for us, the people of Scotland, not the political parties. I was therefore somewhat disappointed that when, at the end of the discussion, the moderator asked for a show of hands: "Do you feel you've been given enough information to come to a decision?" around 2/3rds of the audience raised their hands to the negative iteration of the question.   As well as looking at the raised hands, I scanned some of the faces.  There was almost an accusatory expression directed at the politicians on the panel.  Given the venue and the hosting institution, this was apparently an audience of some intellect and this is the internet age. However, it appeared a lot of people are still looking to politicians for leadership and guidance on this issue.  I find it hard to understand how, after all we've been through, people look to these same Politicians who are among the least trusted professionals in the country for leadership and guidance.

Tom Devine's main point about how the Union had survived was that Scotland survived being in bed with an elephant because the elephant stayed on her side of the bed and Scotland had largely governed herself through institutions like local government and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from the 1750s to the 1970s. It was the rampaging she-elephant that crossed to our side of the bed in the 1980s that was possibly the beginning of the end for the union.

Although Tom Devine didn't mention it, to me the interesting survivor of our time in bed with the elephant has been the principle in Scots Constitutional Law, famously iterated by the Lord President in Ian Hamilton and John MacCormick v. Lord Advocate (1953), that:
“the principle of unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle and has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law”.
The referendum is about creating our nation built on that principle where We are sovereign, not the politicians. Unlike the Westminster tradition of elective dictatorship parliamentary sovereignty with no written constitution, we will have a written constitution, our contract with our politicians setting out what powers we are prepared to delegate to them and in what circumstances they may use them.  With that sovereignty comes a responsibility not to wait to be spoon fed by politicians, but to educate ourselves so that we are fit to exercise that sovereignty. In the internet age and with our thankfully still existing library services, there really is no excuse.  All you'll get from the politicians will be harmony in chaos.

I'll leave you with Bobby Nicholson's video of his song Harmony in Chaos.

 Edit 29 Jun 2013: Edinburgh University has now published the video of the event. You can view it here.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

The "Death" and Reinvention of Scotland by Professor Tom Devine

This Emden Lecture given at St Edmund's Hall, Oxford by Prof Tom Devine of the University of Edinburgh on 11 June 2013 could be the prologue to Iain McWhirter's Road to Referendum. It covers the period 1707 to the mid 20th Century. If you have a spare hour, whatever your view on the independence referendum and indeed whether you are Scots or not, you could do far worse than spend it watching this lecture.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Baffled Mr Hague

So, foreign nations find Scotland's desire for independence,  the natural state of all nations "baffling" according to Mr Hague?  Perhaps Mr Hague would disclose which of the nations appended at the bottom of this article with the dates of their independence from Wasteminster are baffled and which ones have decided to resolve their bafflement by applying for a resumption of rule from Wasteminster? I imagine the figure in both cases is a very round figure.

So, it'll cost a fortune to set up Scottish diplomatic missions and intelligence and security infrastructure:

"That, he says, will place a “huge burden” on the Scottish taxpayer as the new country would be required to build up its security and diplomatic infrastructure in order to defend and promote its interests across the world."

Strange that the very same Mr Hague is content to share embassies with Canada (and he hopes Australia and New Zealand), but apparently not with an Independent Scotland which already owns 8.4% of all FCO property worldwide. Doesn't Mr Hague make you feel loved as a Scottish person in the union that he's prepared to share with Canadians, Aussies and New Zealanders, but not with Scots who already own the infrastructure?

As to Intelligence & Security, most Western intelligence is already shared between the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. If, while Scotland is getting its Int & Sy infrastructure set up, intelligence pointing to a threat to Scotland were to emerge, even if Mr Hague would be content to see Scots killed or maimed in a fit of pique, I'm sure our American, Canadian or Australian allies (many of whom are of Scots descent) would tip us the wink.

In any event, as we don't intend indulging in Wasteminster's sport of invading other folks' countries, the conventional and terrorist threat to Scotland will be far less than to the UK.  Anyway, I though Mr Hague was busy trying to get us embroiled in a war in Syria having just made another 7,000 troops redundant this month. I suggest he calls on Action Man to fight it.

There's more wittering about the G8 and punching above our weight as part of the UK.  Oddly enough, not only do I not want to punch above my weight, I don't particularly want to punch anyone at all. Neither do most Scots.

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United States of America 1776
Canada 1867
Australia 1901
South Africa 1910
Afghanistan 1919
Egypt 1922
Ireland 1922
Iraq 1932
Jordan 1946
Bangladesh 1947
India 1947
New Zealand 1947
Pakistan 1947
Israel 1948
Myanmar 1948
Sri Lanka 1948
Libya 1951
Sudan 1956
Ghana 1957
Cyprus 1960
Nigeria 1960
Somalia 1960
Cameroon 1961
Kuwait 1961
Sierra Leone 1961
Tanzania 1961
Jamaica 1962
Trinidad  & Tobago 1962
Uganda 1962
Kenya 1963
Malaysia 1963
Singapore 1963
Malawi 1964
Malta 1964
Zambia 1964
Gambia 1965
Barbados 1966
Botswana 1966
Guyana 1966
Lesotho 1966
Swaziland 1966
Maldives 1968
Mauritius 1968
South Yemen 1969
Fiji 1970
Bahrain 1971
Kiribati 1971
Qatar 1971
United Arab Emirates 1971
Bahamas 1973
Grenada 1974
Seychelles 1976
Dominica 1978
Solomon Islands 1978
Tuvalu 1978
Brunei 1979
Saint Lucia 1979
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines 1979
Vanuatu 1980
Zimbabwe 1980
Antigua & Barbuda 1981
Belize 1981
Saint Kitts & Nevis 1983

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Musical Indyref

OK, so we're nowhere near the Civil Rights Movement in terms of musical accompaniment for the campaign for Scottish Independence so far.  However, I thought I'd collect together some of the offerings of our musical fraternity about the Indyref.  The top one, Dick Gaughan's Both Sides of the Tweed was originally written after the 1979 referendum for a Scottish Parliament was gerrymandered into failure by the UK Government. However, it's as relevant to the Indyref as the day it was written, especially as Fettered Together try to paint post-independence rUK Citizens as "Foreigners" (as if that was something derogatory). If anyone comes across any more, please let me know and I'll add them.

Dick Gaughan (with Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham) - Both Sides of the Tweed

Stanley Odd - Marriage Counselling (YouTube)


Citizen Smart - I Heard Aboot it on The BBC (YouTube)


Steve Byrne & The World's Room Audience - Lament on the predicament of the Member of the European Parliament for South East England (Soundcloud)


Tony "T Bone" Duffy - Country of the Blind (YouTube)

Yew Choob - Carmichael's Lament

If anyone comes across any more, please put a link in the comments and I'll incorporate them.

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

BBC Question Time Loses The Plot

It was originally an interesting idea. 16 & 17 year olds are to be given the vote in the Independence referendum, so tonight's audience in Edinburgh (one of only 3 annual forays the show makes over the border) is to be made up entirely of 16 and 17 year olds and the independence referendum was to feature highly.

The Original panel, announced yesterday, was bad enough. Nearly 50% of the votes cast at the last Scottish Parliamentary General Election were for pro-independence parties. However, Angus Robertson (SNP Leader at Wasteminster) was to be the sole pro-independence voice ranged against Ruth Davidson (Scottish Tory Leader), Anas Sarwar (Hereditary Labour MP for Glasgow Govan),  George Galloway (Respect MP for somewhere in England and Rabid Unionist) and Lesley Riddoch (Hootsmon Journalist and BBC Broadcaster).

Not a Green, a Scottish Socialist, a Labour for Indy or Lib Dem for Indy representative in sight as that helps the BBC with its party line that independence is purely an SNP affair.  Some called for a bigger panel (as has been done before) to better reflect the spread of opinion and balance the panel.

Probably feart of a ratings bomb South of the Border, what do the BBC do?  Add Nigel Farage, UKIP leader to the panel!  As the New Statesman points out, this will be his 14th appearance on the show since 2009. Ye couldnae mak it up!

So from an original idea of an edifying programme which would not only inform the youth of today about politics, but would be interesting for those of us for whom youth is but a distant memory to see the politics of the youth of today, we've gone to nothing more than a ratings-chasing bun fight between two nut-jobs, neither of whom have any representation at all in Scotland.

This has to be an all-time low for both the BBC and for Question Time. However, one should always try to look to the positive. An unedifying English ratings-chasing bun fight between two nut-jobs will probably turn many middle of the road undecided Scots onto independence and I suppose we should at least be thankful that the ubiquitous and unfunny Susan Calman wasn't wheeled out.

Come to think of it, I'm surprised the BBC didn't go the whole hog and transfer the nut-job bunfight to CBeebies complete with gunge tanks.  It would be a huge boost to the perceived dignity of Scottish Youth if the studio audience boycotted the planned puerile bunfight en masse.

See Also: STV News - Protest over UKIP leader Nigel Farage's BBC Question Time appearance.

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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Better Together: You Scots are as Thick as Mince & We Harbour a Special Loathing For You

OK, so I'm learning from The Hootsmon here. The headline is not a quote but unlike as is often not the case in The Hootsmon, the headline does actually bear some resemblance to the content of the article. Whilst it is not a quote, it is a more than fair inference from the fount of baseless scaremongering that is Better Together's sole contribution to the referendum debate.

Scots as thick as mince? Better Together, its constituent parties and its willing army of Churnalists  in the mainstream media unquestioningly churning and regurgitating the ludicrous scare stories must think that we Scots are indeed as thick as mince. 

A special loathing for Scots? 63 of the 193 member states of the UN have shaken off rule from Wasteminster. Some, like Ireland even had to fight and kill British soldiers for their independence. However, despite being shareholders in the UK state and the only casualty in the history of the Scottish Independence Movement having been my local pillar box in 1953 (it wisnae me!), the sanctions allegedly to be applied to Scots far outstrip anything in the history of end of the British Empire. Even at the height of its international apartheid opprobrium, the British Government was fighting the rest of the Commonwealth to stop sanctions against and maintain relations with South Africa.

I've developed the Hoots! Factor scale named after The Hootsmon which seems to have developed its own vocabulary and scale of utterly baseless scariness, closely followed by the rest of the Mainstream Media:

Top of the list comes "risk". A search of their site today renders 6,868 articles where the words risk and independence / independent appear together. Anyone gullible with an IQ under about 90 might  believe and just be scared by a Hoots! Factor 1 Risk story.

Next down the list, but by far the most popular formulation comes "might" or "could", this appears 73,258 times. Anyone with an IQ under about 70 and chronic anxiety might actually get scared by a Hoots! Factor 2 Might or Could story.

At Hoots! Factor 2.5 we have "warned" with 9,176 results in conjunction with "independence". Warned is generally, but not exclusively, reserved for non-UK politicians (who often said nothing of the sort), foreign diplomats, businesses, consultancies, QUANGOs, thinktanks, charities and folk with a conference, book, film or record to promote and who want to get their name in the papers and have worked out that the easiest way to do it at the moment is to make some dire prediction about independence.  Only slightly more believable than Hoots! Factor 3 stories, these can usually be debunked within a day or, indeed, the foreign politician or diplomat usually denies within a day that they had meant any such dire warning. A Hoots! Factor 2.5 Warned story may may cause anyone with an IQ under about 70 and chronic anxiety to become slightly agitated.

Surprisingly, despite its apparent definitiveness, next down the list comes "will". It's too common a word to search for meaningfully but this is reserved for direct reporting of scary pronouncements from some Red, Blue or Yellow Tory Unionist Bigwig where said Bigwig has stuck his neck on the line and said Independence will result in [anything from losing a post office to being nuked by North Korea]. Just as intelligence agencies grade intelligence on both the quality of the information itself and the reliability of the source, it is precisely the unreliability of the source that means that we're now down to folk with an IQ under about 60 with chronic anxiety who might be scared by a Hoots! Factor 3 Will story.

Today I had to invent Hoots! Factor 4 as a whole new construction appeared with Scottish independence: UK passport loss indication. "Indication" appears to be reserved for scare stories where even a Hootsmon churnalist so desperate for advancement that he might be known to suck up to Tom Peterkin by comparing his piping favourably to that of Allan MacDonald, but can't bring himself to use a Hoots! Factor 3 formulation because he doesn't even believe the scare story himself.  Someone with an IQ well down in the Learning Difficulties area and chronic anxiety might just be mildly perturbed by a Hoots! Factor 4 Indication story long enough till they get a responsible adult to search the UK Border Agency website to find UK Policy on Dual Nationality.

I look forward to this bombardment with the politics of fear backfiring on Better Together as they cry wolf so many times that by September 2014 even the most retarded Scotsman and woman will regard them as they would someone howling at the moon.

See also Wings Over Scotland Nationality for Nationalists, Just Who Hates the English? here on Logic's Rock for disproving some previous baseless scare stories and, of course, Jack Foster's masterly Top Ten Unionist Myths Debunked:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Parliament of Whores

I'm not quite sure what's meant to be portrayed by Alex Salmond's unique representation in this video by Glasgow-based band Sparrow and the Workshop of their track The Faster You Spin, but he does seem to be treated differently to all the other politicians in the video.  Answers on a postcard (or the comments bit below). 

Hat tip to Guido Fawkes.

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No Prisoners! No Prisoners!

Regular readers may be surprised that this entry has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.  There's more to life than politics and we all deserve a break.  It's just about one of those bizarre situations you find yourself in when you least expect it. It's not as if we hadn't been warned. Well, come to think of it, I had been warned but had failed to pass the warning on to my companion; so perhaps a tinge of guilt and the emotion of the day colours the story.

His family and Scotland's musical fraternity said goodbye yesterday to the wonderful Nick Keir, a truly gentle man.  There was a beautiful service at St Peter's in Lutton Place, followed by lunch and catching up with musical folk (who, as the great Alastair McDonald remarked,  only seem to meet in daylight at weddings and funerals) in the Church Hall.  This was followed by a traditional afternoon session in the bar of The Queen's Hall.  Generally nothing beats the sound of Scotland's folkies saying goodbye to one of their own. However, on this occasion it was as if one light having been extinguished, another was flickering into life as Nick's oldest friend's young stepson twice blew the roof off the place with his exquisite talent.  We will be hearing a lot more of him, I'm sure.

Anyhoo, back to the story.  After the session, a hardcore repaired to that temple of traditional music, Sandy Bell's Bar.  Monday not being a night we're usually out on the spree, we'd forgotten that early evening in Bell's on a Monday is training night and the fiddle learners' session was in full swing.  OK so it's not Paganini, but there's something truly uplifting in hearing novice fiddlers of all ages determinedly bowing out the great Scottish tunes and the fact that it happens every Monday in a place like Bell's really lifts the soul, it's the Carrying Stream in full flow.  It having been a long day, my companion took a load off on the periphery of the musicians and was happily listening and nursing her wine.

Come about quarter past seven, an odd collection of generally wee, older folk carrying an assortment of funny wee cases started to drift into the bar and 'hover' separately.  I was reminded of the funny wee men with funny wee cases I used to see loitering furtively outside Belfast Freemasons' Hall, all pretending not to know each other, until the doors opened when they all rushed in hoping no-one else had seen them.

It was at this point I received the warning from a friend who is a regular 'after work', early evening Bell's punter.  It went along the lines of: Make sure you're not out for a fag at half past seven, you've got to see this.

In the end, we were so deep in conversation I nearly missed it. In a feat of musical timing that would be the envy of many a West End musical director, the last tune came abruptly but perfectly to a halt bang on half past seven. With an obviously well-practiced dexterity, the fiddlers had their fiddles and bows in their cases before the strings had stopped ringing and were vacating the session table as if a tiger had just appeared from the ladies' loo.

In the blink of an eye, the eight or so fiddlers and their guitarist were replaced by no less than fourteen sexagenarian moothie players.  Unfortunately, my companion was caught completely unawares by the onslaught.  First came the squeak, then came the unmistakeable tones of my 'black affronted' companion. Nobody does black affronted like my companion after a couple of glasses of red wine. I turned round to find she had been unceremoniously shunted off her seat by a harmonica-playing harridan and I found myself having to physically shield her from the remonstrations of a couple of them for her temerity in not being out of her seat like Lynford Christie out of the starting blocks.

I was immediately reminded of a scene from Lawrence of Arabia.  If you're ever at a loss for something to do in Edinburgh on a Monday night and can stomach the carnage of seeing the No Prisoners! scene re-enacted in milliseconds, head up to Sandy Bell's for 7:30. I'd suggest the bar stool by the coffee machine would give the best vantage point, while the pillar of the central arch affords some protection from the onslaught.

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Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Unst Christmas Panto Drew A Bigger Crowd

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sallied North to address his loyal following in Scotland (both Blue and Red Tories thanks to Captain Darling).  However, he got a severe kicking in the Hootsmon on Sunday from their perfectly frightful resident swivel-eyed loon, Euan McColm.

From a Yes point of view, Mr Cameron is always welcome in Scotland. Perhaps next time he could bring that nice Mr Osborne and that other Tory front bench - the two Eds, Balls and Milliband. The Scottish people do so love to hear from them all, professing their deep love with gifts like Trident on our doorstep, illegal wars, benefit cuts for the working poor, redundancy notices for the Armed Forces (out this month) and RFA ship orders for Korea.  Mr Farage got a better reception in SoS (though not in the Royal Mile). Perhaps SoS now stands for Swivel on Sunday?

Anyhoo, I digress. I watched some of the TV coverage yesterday while sheltering from the sun in between bouts of hedge trimming and it struck me that the cameras were being awfully careful about their shots of the audience.  It was only on looking at the proud gallery of pictures on the @scottories twitter account that I realised that, in the early 90s, the island of Unst (pop. 1,073) had more bums on seats for the annual Christmas Panto:

The other highlight of yesterday was the much-heralded launch of Forces Together, Captain Darling's elite force of a retired donkey walloper, a dropshort and a chap who did an SSC in the RN whom he's managed to convince will not get their Service pensions in an independent Scotland.  The launch video is thoroughly cringeworthy. When you see what Jack Foster manages on a budget of Irn Bru bottle deposits, Ian Taylor must really be wondering what his dirty money is being spent on.  If you can stand the tedium, you can watch it here.

Better still, if Compo is not just a character in a Yorkshire Dales sitcom to you, log in at Yes Scotland and sign up for Veterans for Independence, also on Facebook.  I know, I'm not really into all this sectional nonsense either. However, if Captain Darling is trying to claim all Veterans are for Fettered Together, we'd better show the Scottish public there are some ex-forces people with functioning synapses.

"They're so thick I just had to tell them they wouldn't get their Service pensions if they vote Yes and they agreed to appear in the film!"

See also Wings Over Scotland Counting Virus Spreads and Some Tickets Still Available and The Herald: Defence of the New Realm.

At least some honesty is creeping in to their tweets:

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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Deep Love? Aye, bend over.

This deserves to have the widest circulation possible. I doubt there could be a better demonstration of why the British establishment just doesn't "get it" than the UK Prime Minister giving an interview to the Daily Mail.

Thank you Mr Cameron from the bottom of my heart.  Please do come as often as you like to Scotland and give interviews like this.  As a member, I'd gladly vote for the Yes Campaign to reimburse your fares, and even put you up in The Balmoral so you could stay overnight and rack us up some more Yes votes the following day. 

Feel free to bring Mr Osborne with you. Indeed, now that you've lost your RedTory virginity and had Mr Darling at your Scottish Conference, why not bring the 2 Eds, Balls & Milliband as well?  While they're learning how to out-swivel your Swivel-eyed Loons on the right, they can be racking us up a few thousand Yes votes as well.

Deep love?  Aye, bend over ...

Be sure to at least scan the swivel-eyed loonery in the comments below the article as well.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Blue Labour - Because Bollinger Doesn't Buy Itself and the Nanny Doesn't Pay Herself

The 2015 UK election campaign has begun in earnest and Labour is desperate to leapfrog the Tories  in order to capture the votes of  "Middle England" (swivel-eyed loons who do as they're told by the Daily Mail and Daily Express).  After years of policy vacuum, Ed Balls has set out his 'vision'.

The pre-speech pap, dutifully churned out by Churnalists up and down the UK was that the target was to be unsympathetic wealthy pensioners being stripped of their Winter Fuel Allowance.  Despite the seismic move away from the universality principle of some benefits, his paymasters had calculated that in the chorus of "Is that it?" slagging about finally filling the Labour policy vacuum, the meat would be missed.  Meat there certainly was, and Ed likes his steak bleu.

Forget all the rhetoric about austerity being the wrong answer, Ed will stick with Tory cuts and spending plans for at least the first year. Note to Ed: That's not enough to satisfy your paymasters in the City, must do better.

The real meat however, is the cementing of Labour's attitude to the Welfare State as being not the Safety Net insurance system it was created to be, but as a means of having the many subsidise servants for the wealthy.  After all, how can one maintain a Champagne Socialist lifestyle if one is having to pay a living wage to the 'help'?

In the cockeyed world of the London-Centric UK, Margaret Thatcher's economic 'miracle' of destroying British manufacturing and mining and funding the consequent mass unemployment with North Sea oil revenues was topped with the Big Bang and the creation of the honeypot that is London. Gordon Brown's economic 'miracle' was creating a complex system of Tax Credits so that the squeezed middle would fund the Working Poor so that the upper middle classes could have subsidised services without the inconvenience of paying a living wage to their servants, coupled with mass immigration to the honeypot to keep the Working Poor keen.  

Moreover, the squeezed middle wouldn't notice the squeeze because they could borrow Mickey-Mouse money created by the honeypot on the strength of their ever-increasing property values, even though the apparent house price inflation was caused by the flood of Mickey Mouse money in the first place. When it all went to ratshit there was certainly no question of the guilty being punished and the City bond-holders of the lenders being hit. No, The State would create more Mickey Mouse money to bail out the guilty, the innocent and thrifty would pay with below-inflation interest rates on their savings for years and the Bollinger would continue to flow in Wasteminster and Canary Wharf. And all over the Country, a whole generation could forget the notion of home-ownership.

While the Eds sweated over removing Winter Fuel Payments from pensioners, The Tories (the Blue ones, not the Red ones) took pity on  the Banking classes and extended subsidised childcare to those poor people on salaries of up to £60,000 and privatised the English Health Service at huge cost. And the profits rolled in as the squeezed middle resorted to Payday Loans with interest rates of 5,000%.

Now Balls proposes a total abandonment of the notion of the Welfare State being a National safety net by introducing a London Weighting to benefit caps (and cutting caps elsewhere in the Country) to be overseen by the Low Pay Commission so that the rest of the UK may subsidise the Working Poor in the Honeypot rather than have the bankers and politicians pay their nannies, waiters, cooks, carers, bin men, policemen and firefighters a living wage in that environment.

However, The Eds are whistling up a tree.  The House Journals of 'Middle England' - The Mail, Express, Times and Telegraph are already in thrall to UKIP and the most likely UK result in 2015 is a UKIP / Tory coalition.  The only way to convince the swivel-eyed loons of 'Middle England' may be if they replace The Red Flag with The Horst Wessel Lied at their annual conference.  Even then, the basic problem is that neither Ed is remotely electable.

The Independence Referendum in 2014 offers Scots a lifeboat with which to escape the lunacy that is RMS Brittannia on the Brink, holed below the waterline and Captained by either Blue or Red Tories / Red or Blue Labour. You can't put a fag paper between them because they both work for the same boss and it isn't the people of either the UK or Scotland.  It is an irony of the first water that a Labour Heid Trougher is in charge of the Tory / Lib Dem campaign for a No vote and the architect of the ruin of Britain himself is in charge of the Labour Splitters' campaign for unity.

We can return to our traditional notions of thrift, investment in real industry and garnering of our resources for the Common Weal.  We can also escape the idiocy of the last 35 debt-fuelled years in the UK where the answer to the perennial question "Who contributes most to public health, the Bin Man or the Brain Surgeon?" has been "The Banker."

Anyway, to end on a cheery note, from today's Hootsmon, no less (Someone's going to get fired!): Scottish Independence Brings Foreign Investment.

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See also Iain Macwhirter in The Herald 10 Jun 13: Ed's welfare squeeze betrays workers

Wings over Scotland 13 Sep 13: Old Labour, New Labour, Slave Labour.