Monday, 30 September 2013

What on Earth was the Brass Thinking?

Call me old fashioned, and I speak as a former Army and RAF officer, but I think both the British and the Scottish Public like to see their Armed Forces parading in public in a disciplined, smart and soldier-like fashion.  We rightly abhor the thought of our Servicemen and women appearing at political events.

Ibrox BA officers
Brass and Bag Carriers in the Directors' Box at Ibrox.
One has to question the judgement of the Flag Officer Scotland & Northern Ireland, GOC Scotland and Air Officer Scotland in allowing the participation of over 400 Armed forces personnel in the Ibrox Armed Forces Day event on Saturday at all.  We have a national Armed Forces day in June each year. Rangers Football Club only wishes to lionise the Armed Forces to lend a respectability to the ugly, British Nationalist, SDL-style unionist sectarianism of the Neanderthal element among their supporters.

What possible positive PR did the Brass hope to gain from parading over 400 troops at the most sectarian club in Scotland? I'm at a total loss.  Thankfully for them the shameful scenes have been edited out by the mainstream media.  This piece for STV News appears to have been written before the event. The Daily Record's match report merely mentions the participation of over 400 Armed Forces personnel. Only Roy Greenslade in the Guardian Blog covers the story. Has a D-Notice been slapped on reporting of the event?

It surprised some folk when I argued against the participation of uniformed Armed Forces personnel in Gay Pride marches.  I thought I was stretching the argument to its limits when I made the point that, if personnel were to participate in uniform at Gay Pride parades, what would there be to stop a soldier who wished to take part in an Orange March in uniform, orange sash and all? I never dreamed we would see sickening sights like these (videos are dropping off YouTube like flies, the first video has been replaced):

Even if one accepts the decision by the Brass to participate in this event at some considerable cost to the public purse for no conceivable PR gain; why on earth were the troops not paraded onto the field in 3 ranks and paraded off again in 3 ranks?  At least taxpayers would have been spared the sickening sight of an ill-disciplined rabble of troops cavorting, clapping and cheering songs and chants including UDA, UVF and references to dead hunger striker Bobby Sands MP.

All this came less than a fortnight after a Celtic fan was convicted of “sectarian and offensive conduct” during Dundee United’s Scottish Premier League match with Celtic in November last year for singing the H-Blocks Hunger Strikers song, Roll of Honour.

BVWP5CxIcAA_-PH.jpg large

Quite apart from the bad PR in Scotland, this PR disaster for the Armed Forces is even worse in Northern Ireland.  Let's hope this is the last time we see British or Scottish troops participate in anything like this.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am neither a Roman Catholic (I am an atheist) nor a Celtic fan, indeed the only football team I support is Scotland.

See also:

Bella Caledonia: On Parade.
Newsnet Scotland: Journalist questions media silence after military day 'sectarian chanting' at Rangers game.

Update: Alex Thomson at Channel 4 News has picked up the story and is questioning the MoD: Armed forces’ involvement in a sectarian Rangers ‘party’ a PR disaster.

Update 18:45: Not quite last with the news, The Hootsmon has picked up the story and the BBC has risked the Union by broadcasting anodyne footage of the march-on and abseiling with the MoD's statement that the matter was under investigation and troops found to have engaged in sectarian behaviour would face disciplinary and police action. Comment: Forget the troops, some will be Rangers fans, some will be BritNat or 'Proddy' heidbangers. That's not the problem - what they support or do in their own time is their business. The problem is that they were allowed by their officers to get involved in this sickening sectarianism in the first place. Could or would the MoD supply half time spectacles at every other football club? Of course they couldn't. Therefore this should be the last time the MoD supplies troops for this sectarian BritNat fest at Ibrox.

Update 19:30:  This is a better video with better sound, it also shows that I overstated the case in referring to a "march-on". It's no wonder that the troops had to amble on, given that you couldn't call the Army Pipe & Drum Ensemble a band after years of MODUK cuts. I'll bet only the first 20 files could hear them.

See Also:

Slugger O'Toole: Rangers’ Armed Services Day descends into an undisciplined act of self undoing.
Scots Law Thoughts: Rangers and Armed Forces Day – Whataboutery and Bad Judgement.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre to debate with Salmond

Following David Cameron's intimation yesterday that he was too feart or just couldn't be arsed to "fight with every fibre of his being" to defend the union, the UK Government and Better Together have been thrashing around trying to find an appropriate debating opponent in a head-to-head televised debate with First Minister, Alec Samond.

Their first choice, serial expenses cheat and washed-up, opposition backbencher Alistair Darling, was rejected by the First Minister on grounds too numerous to mention. However, self-styled Project Fear Chief Executive Blair MacDougall may have saved the day. 

Recalling a corporate training video made for Project Fear, he has approached The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre to replace the UK Prime Minister. "At least the Socks are Scottish." said MacDougall. He continued: "It was absolutely ludicrous to suggest that a third-generation Englishman of Scots descent should defend the union just because he happens to be the UK Prime Minister." 

The First Minister's spokesman hasn't dismissed this suggested opponent outright: "At least there's no record of The Socks having defrauded the public purse, accepted £500K from the boss of a company which paid $1M to a Serbian war criminal, failed to turn up in Parliament while drawing a full salary, allowances and expenses or taken £12,240 dinner-speaking gigs for healthcare privatisation companies." He continued: "The Socks are fairly highly respected in Scotland and therefore it may not be infra dig for the First Minister to engage with them."

Yes Scotland Chairman Denis Canavan, the actual appropriate debating opponent for Project Fear Chairman Alistair Darling, hasn't yet said whether he would be prepared to appear in the same programme as Darling. He is understood to have reservations about appearing with such an obvious Tory Sock-Puppet.

We have an exclusive clip from the training video:

The Socks demonstrate their unionist credentials:

Friday, 27 September 2013

Cameron: "I'll run away with every fibre of my being"

I've explained before why there is only one person Alec Salmond could go head-to-head with in a televised debate on the independence referendum, but I'll summarise the main reason here.

1.   Who's who. In my book, folk should debate their opposite numbers. Therefore the debating opponents should be:

Office Scotland / Yes Scotland UK / Better Together
Head of Government Alec Salmond David Cameron
Referendum Lead in Governing Party Nicola Sturgeon George Osborne
Chair of Campaign Denis Canavan Alistair Darling
Chief Executive of Campaign Blair Jenkins Blair McDougall

2.   Who he?  What possible weight could a washed-up, opposition backbench MP, a serial expenses cheat and house flipper who rarely bothers his backside to attend parliament preferring to trough it with Health Privatisation Companies at £12,240 a time like Alistair Darling carry with the electorate of Scotland?

David Cameron has now written to the Scottish Government that he will not engage in a head-to-head debate with Alec Salmond, despite previously having vowed to fight to preserve the Union "with every fibre of my being". He doesn't have the heid, hairt or hingers for the fight. Click that last link - you'll laugh your socks off. Is Cameron a coward or just incompetent and lazy? All three I'd say.

Derek Bateman (my new favourite #indyref blogger) covers Cameron's cowardice expertly in Who will fill a coward's grave. He recommends that Salmond should now debate Darling. While I have no doubt whatsoever that Salmond would wipe the floor with Darling, even before being able to pray in aid the points thrown up by Cameron's cowardice that Derek Bateman enumerates, I hae ma doubts that it would be a good idea.  

Salmond tries desperately not to laugh as he runs rings round Cameron at every turn.

Appearances are important and Alec Salmond needs to show that Scotland can be a mature, independent democracy. The Head of the Scottish Government engaging with a non-entity like Darling would be like a Heidmaister kicking seven colours of shyte out of the school bully in the playground.  However satisfying it would be to watch at the time, the after-taste left behind would be by no means edifying for the Heidmaister.

In my book, Alec Salmond either debates his opposite number or no-one. I have little doubt that Denis Canavan could deal more than adequately with the flea on the back of the Tory organ grinder's monkey that is Alistair Darling.

The Fear Factor Episode 4 of 6: Mean Scotland Syndrome

Scared at the prospect of running your own country? Terrified about what the future holds? Haunted by nightmarish visions of deep uncertainty? The Fear Factor is a series of short films looking at why Scottish people are afraid, very afraid, about what's in store for their poor wee country...

The Fear Factor Episode 4: Mean Scotland Syndrome. Journalists or Churnalists? Make up your own mind.

Missed the previous episodes? Fear Not! You can watch them right here with the Logic's Rock Catch-up service.

The Fear Factor Episode 3: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth.

The Fear Factor Episode 2: Part of the Union.

The Fear Factor Episode 1: This is the Fear Factor.

Got any questions about Scottish independence? You can either find the answers on Yes Scotland's Questions Page, or if you can't find an answer there's a wee form so you can ask your own question and get an answer.

Films by Rough Justice Films: Jack Foster & Chris Silver.

#Indyref #YesScotland #ProjectFear

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Heirs and Graces

As t'interweb dissolves in faux outrage over Yes Scotland campaigners turning Typhoid Johann (or Joanne as Ed Milliband called her in his speech) Lamont's disgraceful "Independence is a Virus" on it's head and proudly proclaiming their TSV+ status (The Scottish Virus Positive), it's time to take a chill pill and leave the politics aside.

I have the breaking strain of a KitKat. A couple of messages from friends raving about Adam Holmes And The Embers' debut album Heirs and Graces and, despite having pre-ordered the CD, I couldn't resist downloading it from iTunes.  Well, he's in Austria or somesuch place and there's no way I could hold out till he gets back. It was well worth it. 

Scotland has produced many good musicians, songwriters and singers and a fair few great ones. Once in a blue moon we are privileged to be around on this Earth when a true genius comes along and Adam Holmes is just that. To get that musical and lyrical talent in one person together with the delicious timbre of his voice is a rarity indeed. His dry, smoky voice is so understated you don't really understand why it captivates you so much until you really listen and discover a vocal range and dexterity of technique that is quite simply amazing.

Though only in his early twenties, Adam writes and performs with a maturity and depth way beyond his years. Musically, the arrangements are sublime. There is a rare economy in the arrangements and he knows just how long to suspend a note for maximum effect, though nothing comes across as contrived.

If you like your music honest and your songs heartfelt, you'll enjoy this album which would sit seamlessly in a playlist alongside John Martyn. Hey, don't take my word for it. Just look at the line-up that were keen to contribute to this debut album: 

Produced by John Wood (Fairport, Nick Drake, John Martyn)
Mastered by Simon Heyworth (Mike Oldfield, George Harrison)


Adam Holmes - Guitar, Accordion and Vocals
Kris Drever - Guitar, Harmonium and Vocals
Steven Blake - Keyboards
Alex Hunter - Bass
Calum McIntyre - Drums, Percussion and Vibes
Ciarán Ryan - Fiddle
Stuart Goodall - Guitar and Vocals
Alan Train - Pedal Steel.
Hannah Beaton - Vocals.
Simon Walker - Drums. 

You'll get an idea from these BBC recordings of their live performance at the Brew at the Bog Festival.

You can download Heirs and Graces by Adam Holmes and the Embers on iTunes or at Amazon for only £6.90. I thoroughly recommend it.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Snake Oil & Something for Nothing

Better Together are offering "free" 'limited edition' T-shirts to those who "donate" £10 or more to their campaign, with the slogan "We're not asking for the shirt off your back". So in any normal person's logic they are selling T-shirts for £10.

Just as the Lamentable Johann Lamont's "Something for Nothing Society" and talk of abolishing "free" prescriptions, "free" personal care for the elderly, "free" higher education, and "free" bus passes for pensioners is also tosh. None of these things are free. It's just that we Scots would rather spend our taxes on them than functionally useless £120Bn Trident penis extensions for politicians, illegal wars, punching folk above or below our weight, socialising private losses while privatising social profits like the Royal Mail and the NHS or feeding the bloated Westminster and Whitehall bureacracy.

Serious bit aside, you've got to wonder why they think the self-styled Project Fear's Chief Exec Blair McDougall is worth £100K a year when he chooses both the typography and layouts straight from a Victorian Snake Oil bottle to sell his message. If it looks like Snake Oil Better Together are selling ...

Hat tip to Allan Hunter for bringing this to my attention.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Aye, Have a Dream

My favourite placard of the day.
Photo: Simon Thoumire.
Yours truly.
Photo: Archie MacFarlane.
It was a truly inspiring day yesterday from forming up on the High Street to the Rally for Independence on Calton Hill.  The musicians and singers of #TradYes did our bit in our first public outing. I managed to say hello and march a wee bit with Veterans for Independence but once on the hill we were coralled backstage so I didn't manage to catch up with #YesLGBT or the Wings over Scotland crew.

Even our favourite Unionist, holidaying in France, managed to tweet support:

Here's some more photos and videos from the day.

#TradYes on the march.
Photo: Mhairi Law.

The magnificent view from the stage. 

The TradYES Musicians.

TradYES Singers: Freedom Come All Ye.

TradYES Singers: A Man's A Man For a' That
led by Sheena Wellington.

The #TradYes singers group photo.
Photo: Archie MacFarlane.

The #TradYes musicians group photo.
Our newest recruit! Photo: Steve Byrne.

A contemplative Ailean Dòmhnullach listens to the FM on the big screen.

I promised this rather gorgeous Yes Supporter she'd be able to copy this photo from the blog!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Fear Factor Part 3 of 6: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

Scared at the prospect of running your own country? Terrified about what the future holds? Haunted by nightmarish visions of deep uncertainty? The Fear Factor is a series of short films looking at why Scottish people are afraid, very afraid, about what's in store for their poor wee country... 

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth: If only we could have an honest debate! In this film we look at why this simply isn't going to happen. For starters an honest, rational conversation would make it impossible for fear, negativity and smears to remain the only subjects that get coverage (even when they didn't exist in the first place).

Missed the previous episodes? Fear Not! You can watch them here.

The Fear Factor Part 2: Part of the Union.

The Fear Factor Part 1: This is the Fear Factor.

Got any questions about Scottish independence? You can either find the answers on Yes Scotland's Questions Page, or if you can't find an answer there's a wee form so you can ask your own question and get an answer.

Films by Rough Justice Films: Jack Foster & Chris Silver.

#Indyref #YesScotland #ProjectFear

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Here's to voting to ditch the troughers in Westminster, Commons and Lords, in 1 year's time. Tell them where to stick their privatised NHS and privatised mail, their ATOS, their public debt for private losses, their bedroom tax, their wars, their functionally useless Trident £120Bn penis extensions, their obscene expenses, their sense of entitlement, their 'strength' and their overweening wish to punch folk above or below their weight. We can get by quite merrily with our own Parliament concentrating on making life better for all of us who live here. Great song Amy Macdonald and great video Equality Network!


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Flea on the Back of The Organ Grinder's Monkey

In today's Herald, Alistair Darling bombastically declares that "I speak for Scotland" and claims David Cameron is irrelevant to the ­Scottish independence debate.

He even has the gall to say that: "The Better Together campaign leader accuses Alex Salmond of putting his ego before Scotland's interests and says the First Minister would have had to resign over the EU legal advice row if he had been at Westminster, saying: "He'd have gone. Down here, you would never have got away with that."

Let's just savour that for a moment: The expenses cheat and serial house flipper who, had he been in any part of the public service other than being an MP would not have had a tap on the wrist, nor been given the opportunity to resign, let alone be invited to pay a wee bit of the money back and be told we'll forget all about it, but would have been prosecuted for fraud has the gall to say that Alec Salmond, in following the UK Ministerial Code and refusing to disclose Government legal advice, would have had to resign "down here".

It is a mark of Alec Salmond's probity that, long after the Scottish electorate have been bored to tears by the EU legal advice canard, Darling is still reduced to trotting it out.  However, his attempt at smearing the First Minister backfires. Note Darling doesn't say Salmond would have had to resign "down there": The man who purportedly speaks for Scotland shows that his heart is where his trough is. Presumably Scotland is "up there" in his lexicon. Not "right here" as it is for the people of Scotland.

Darling claims that "Mr Salmond is all about personal status but is now "struggling" because people are increasingly unwilling to accept his bold claims as they once did." He goes on:
With Scottish Labour having denounced Mr Salmond for implying Mr Darling was the "monkey" to Mr Cameron's "organ grinder", the No campaign leader suggests his opponent is focusing on the Prime Minister to distract voters away from the core issues of the campaign.
He says: "He wants (to debate with) Cameron because that's purely an act of displacement, a distraction because he wants to make it a Scotland-England contest. "There is a lot of evidence now that a majority of people in Scotland think Salmond is putting his own political interests above those of Scotland and that is something he should reflect on." 
But asked if the Conservative leader was a help or a hindrance to the No campaign, Mr Darling replies: "Neither. Cameron himself said he would prefer the Union to continue but it's a matter for Scotland and he's dead right." He then adds: "Cameron, for this argument, is neither here nor there. This is an argument we have to have out in Scotland."
Let's go through that. It is Darling who is concerned about his status. On 18 September 2014 the Scottish People will be asked which of two polities they wish to govern Scotland. It's not quite as simple as to say "be governed by."

If Scotland votes Yes, the supreme sovereign authority in Scots Constitutional Law is the Sovereign Scottish People. In a written constitution we will delegate powers to a Scottish Government drawn from an elected Holyrood Parliament and both Government and Parliament are bound by that constitution.

Standing that the Scottish People did not elect the current UK Government or many of its predecessors, if Scotland votes No, the supreme and unlimited sovereign authority in UK Constitutional Law remains the The Crown in Parliament. There is no written constitution, no parliament is bound by its predecessor parliaments, there is no 'higher authority' ultimately to hold the Westminster Parliament or the UK Government to account and they can by and large make up the constitution as they go along.

Therefore the correct persons to debate those competing polities are their leaders: Alec Salmond and David Cameron.  This is a debate about the future: What possible assurances about the future can a washed-up, has-been, backbench, opposition MP who deigns to turn up at Westminster occasionally [Note 1] while earning a fortune elsewhere [Note 2] and is lucky not to be in jail like Darling give the Scottish people that would carry any weight whatsoever?  The only person who could remotely debate the First Minister of Scotland is the leader of the polity competing for the votes of the Scottish people, namely the Prime Minister of the UK, not of England as Darling childishly calls Cameron, trying to bring an anti-English element into the debate.

As for shaking off slurs of Darling being the "monkey" to Cameron's "organ grinder", yet again Darling shows delusions of adequacy. It is well reported that the real head of the UK Government's effort to keep the Scotland and its assets subsidising the Westminster / Whitehall / Canary Wharf Trough is George Osborne. Given that a major attraction for many in shaking off rule from Westminster is the fact that successive corrupt London governments have shown themselves to be bought and paid for by the interests of The City, it is plain that in reality the UK Prime Minister is the "monkey". So I am really overestimating Darling's authority by calling him the flea on the back of the organ grinder's monkey.

The correct debating opponents are therefore:

Office Scotland / Yes Scotland UK / Better Together
Head of Government Alec Salmond David Cameron
Referendum Lead in Governing Party Nicola Sturgeon George Osborne
Chair of Campaign Denis Canavan Alistair Darling
Chief Executive of Campaign Blair Jenkins Blair McDougall

Darling goes on to witter on about unanswered questions etc when in fact the only question before the Scottish People on 18 September 2014 is "Should Scotland be an independent country?".  I would far rather trust the Scottish Parliament to manage the details of setting up the far cheaper institutions we will require to cover the few areas of Government that are currently discharged by Whitehall, than the nigh-on criminal part-time fraudsters in Westminster such as Alistair Darling (see notes below).

Note 1

According to They Work for You Darling has spoken in only 8 debates and voted in only 46.92% of votes in this parliament.

Note 2

One can gain an insight into what Darling has been up to from the Register of Members' Interests (to May 2013 - see below). Obviously, globetrotting and troughing at dinners for the likes of Healthcare Privatisation companies are far more profitable than representing his constituents "up there" in Edinburgh South West. However, I dare say he still draws a full MP's salary, housing allowances and other expenses.

DARLING, Rt. Hon. Alistair (Edinburgh South West)

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.  Contract with Atlantic Books, Ormond House, 26/27 Boswell street, London WC1N 3JW for publication of book. The contract provides for a total advance payment of £75,000 prior to publication.

10 May 2012, I received a payment of £23,879.28 in respect of royalties from the sale of my book. No additional hours worked. (Registered 30 May 2012)

14 June 2012, I received a payment of £4,775.86 in respect of VAT due on royalties from book sales, registered on 30 May 2012. No additional hours worked. (Registered 21 June 2012)

In respect of the contract with Atlantic Books I have attended the following events. No fee was paid to me but transport and accommodation costs were met as follows:

9 June 2012, Hay Book Festival, 25 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye; hotel accommodation for me and my wife; cost £225, and our return flights from Edinburgh to Birmingham; cost £259.62, were paid for by Atlantic Books. Car transport from Birmingham to Hay-on-Wye; cost £400 return, was paid by festival organisers. Hours: 2 hrs plus travel. (Registered 21 June 2012)

15 June 2012, Althorpe Book Festival; transport costs from London to the festival and on to Edinburgh for me and my wife; cost £359.68, were paid by Atlantic Books. Hours: 2 hrs plus travel. (Registered 21 June 2012)

Fees for speeches paid by JLA Associates, 80 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7NW:

20 April 2012, I received a payment of £20,400 for speaking at a conference in Dubai. Transport costs of £2,669.82 and hotel accommodation at a cost of £326.07 were paid by the organisers, Falcon Group Administrative Services (UK) Ltd, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 9BF. Hours: approx 2.5 days including travel time. (Registered 2 May 2012)

8 June 2012, I received a payment of £12,750 for speaking at an event organised by JC Flowers & Co UK Ltd. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 21 June 2012)

19 July 2012, I received a payment of £12,240 for speaking at an event organised by Emap/Retail Week in London. Hours: approx 3 hrs. (Registered 24 July 2012)

6 September 2012, I received a fee of £10,200 for speaking at a conference organised by Aberdeen Asset Management. Hours: approx 3 hours, plus travelling time. (Registered 18 September 2012)

27 September 2012, I received a fee of £12,240 in respect of speaking at a conference organised by Apollo Management International LLP. Hours: approx 2 hours, including travel time. (Registered 11 October 2012)

19 November 2012, I received a fee of £12,240 for speaking at an event organised by British Property Federation, in London. Hours: approx 4 hrs. (Registered 26 November 2012)

11 December 2012, I received a payment of £12,240 in respect of a fee for speaking at an event organised by Slaughter & May LLP, London. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 20 December 2012)

11 December 2012, I received a payment of £12,240 in respect of a fee for speaking at an event organised by Scor Insurance, London. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 20 December 2012)

25 January 2013, I received a fee of £12,999 which included £249.60 in respect of travel costs for speaking at a seminar organised by Pru Health. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 8 February 2013)

22 March 2013, I received a fee of £12,240 in respect of speaking at an event organised by BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd, in Hampshire. Hours: approx 6 hrs, including travel time. (Registered 28 March 2013)

22 March 2013, I received a fee of £12,240 in respect of speaking at an event organised by the Automotive Fellowship International Ltd, in Buckinghamshire. Hours: approx 6 hrs, including travel time. (Registered 28 March 2013)

28 March 2013, I received a fee of £10,200 in respect of speaking at an event organised by Credit Agricole Group, in London. Hours: approx 4 hrs, including travel time. (Registered 28 March 2013)

8 June 2012, I received a payment of £1,200 from Associated Newspapers Ltd, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry street, London W8 5TT, for an article in the Mail on Sunday. Hours: 4 hrs approx. (Registered 21 June 2012)

Payments from MGN Ltd, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP:

22 June 2012, I received a payment of £720 for an article published in the Sunday Mirror. Hours: approx 3 hrs. (Registered 25 June 2012)

5 September 2012, I received a payment of £600 in respect of an article published by the Daily Mirror. Hours: approx 2 hrs. (Registered 18 September 2012)

Payments from Guardian Newspapers, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GO, for writing articles for the Guardian newspaper:

8 December 2012, I received a payment of £342 Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 20 December 2012)

28 March 2013, I received a payment of £342. Hours: approx 2 hrs. (Registered 28 March 2013)

11. Miscellaneous

Unremunerated Director and Chairman of Better Together 2012 Ltd (from 1 June 2012).

Monday, 16 September 2013

Photo Opps for Lonely People

Well, here it comes: Better Together's much-heralded Big Push to mark 1 year to go to the referendum. Yes Scotland activists have been quaking in their boots since the clarion call went out - will Scotland be swamped with Unionists haranguing the public this week? Fortunately we can predict the assault by using their website. We've just looked at the capital:

A whole 5 events? Wow! Better watch out that grassroots campaign doesn't become a brushfire. Let's have a look at these events:
  • Wed 18 Sep 13 Leafletting at Waverley Station 8am - 9am.
  • Wed 18 Sep 13 Leafletting at Brunstane Station 8am - 9am.
  • Wed 18 Sep 13 Leafletting at Brunstane Station 3pm - 6pm.
  • Wed 18 Sep 13 Leafletting at Haymarket Station 5pm - 6pm.
  • Sat 21 Sep 13 Stall at Edinburgh September Fest, Broughton High School 11am - 4pm.
  • Sat 21 Sep 13 Leafletting at Scotmid, Kingsknowe Road, 11am - 1pm. Top Tips for Better Together Activists: I know Longstone is a bit of a way out from Morningside and you may just have heard of it as a bit of Southwest Edinburgh where the poor people live; however, you'll actually find it here and you won't need your hiking boots and you may be able to purchase a soft drink at the Scotmid rather than drinking water straight from Threipmuir Reservoir.

A lonely BT Activist looks wistfully at the thronging Yes Scotland tent at the Edinburgh Mela.
Baxter Park, Dundee.
    Fife College at Glenrothes.
Dundee & Glenrothes photos from Wings over Scotland.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

David Cameron on Scottish Independence

David Cameron was invited by The Sunday Herald to write a piece defending the Union to sit opposite a piece by Alec Salmond. Both the Prime Minister and the First Minister were allocated the same space.  This is how the facing pages ended up. Cameron submitted 130 words.

You can read Cameron's epic submission here, and the Herald's explanation of the disparity, courtesy of Wings over Scotland.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Fear Factor Part 2 of 6 - Part of the Union

Jack Foster & Chris Silver wax lyrical about the good old union. You can’t beat it. Even when it’s created the 4th  most unequal society in the developed world, a housing crisis, a banking crisis, a decade of war and Margaret Thatcher. An independent Scotland on the other hand …

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth If only we could have an honest debate! In this film we look at why this simply isn't going to happen. For starters an honest, rational conversation would make it impossible for fear, negativity and smears to remain the only subjects that get coverage (even when they didn't exist in the first place). Stay tuned for the next episode will be available next Thursday.

You can view episode 1: This is the Fear Factor here.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wings & Waffle about LGBT Issues.

Wings over Scotland's Rev. Stuart Campbell's (almost) comprehensive fisking of Duncan Hothersall's opening remarks at the Equality Network's debate on Scotland's future last Thursday, entitled Dishonesty and Delusion, is a joy to read.

Hothersall's blog is subtitled "Thoughts from an Edinburgh Labour Activist", though like his far more revealing Twitter account, it is utterly devoid of original thought and is more akin to the Sheep of Orwell's Animal Farm repetitively bleating Napoleon's latest pronouncements.

Not being well versed in LGBT Issues, Stuart Campbell skips over some of Hothersall's waffle about LGBT issues, with the tag [waffle about LGBT issues]. Commenting on Campbell's blog, commenter Triangular Ears says at 10 September, 2013 at 1:15 pm:
[waffle about LGBT issues]” I predict Hothersall will focus only on this excerpt, spinning it furiously into “Rev. Stu says LGBT issues are a lot of “waffle”".
I suspect Campbell fought shy of addressing the LGBT issues because last month some comments by him regarding US Whistleblower Bradley (latterly Chelsea) Manning had led to hysterical accusations of transphobia on his part, largely fuelled by him being quoted out of context. To my mind, a lack of a detailed understanding of Gender Dysphoria does not make one transphobic, it merely puts one on a par with around 98% of the human race. Transsexual folk and their supporters do not advance their cause one iota with sanctimonious, hysterical attacks such as Weekly Wanker.  In fact, all Campbell was saying was that he is quite content for Manning to live and identify as any gender he or she wishes. However, Campbell would personally always regard him as a man. This led to even more hysterical talk by the author of the Weekly Wanker article of the murder of transsexuals, by now we were really flying off into the F'Tang, F'Tang Biscuit Barrel country of manufactured outrage, a theme we will rejoin later.  I dare say Campbell's attitude may change in the future, should he be fortunate enough to meet, chat to and befriend a transgender person, as I was. Wild accusations of transphobia, mysogyny and homophobia will not swing either Campbell or his less enlightened readers on these issues.

It therefore falls to a gay chap to fisk Hothersall's waffle about LGBT issues, and waffle it certainly was.

At this point I should perhaps explain the alphabet soup of LGBT.  It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (or Transsexual). It can get a helluva lot more complex and a whole tin of alphabetti spaghetti can be added to the recipe by the professionally right-on.  Personally, I utterly reject the label; preferring to regard myself as a person who happens to be gay.  Most lesbians I know will quite happily answer "Yes" to the question "Are you gay?", therefore I prefer the non-gendered, collective term Gay Folk.  In fact, I find the LGBT term so utterly Newspeak and abhorrent, I far more readily accept being called a poof by my friends;  However, I much prefer a simple "Roddy".

Why are the transsexual folk lumped in with the gay folk?  It is largely an accident of timing in that both groups reached their Rosa Parks moment at roughly the same time and each decided we'd had enough of sitting at the back of the bus and decided to fight for our respective rights to be ourselves, not to have to hide and not to have to accept second class citizenship in our own country.  Coupled with that was the Freedom Come all Ye attitude prevalent in gay bars: No-one turned a hair if a transgender person, or indeed a transvestite (who tend to be straight men who cross-dress as women) came in.  Even though the law has always treated transgender folk completely differently from gay men (lesbians tended to be ignored by the criminal law, but lumped them in with gay men in discrimination law), there was also a convenience for the establishment in herding all the gender / sexuality 'weirdos' into one amorphous mass with a ridiculous LGBT abbreviation.

I myself did not really get my head around the difference between gender dysphoria and sexuality until I spoke at a social event to a friend and fellow stalwart of Rank Outsiders, the organisation which fought to overturn the bigoted ban on gay folk serving openly in the UK Armed Forces. I asked her "Do you not get pee'd off that we always end up in gay clubs?" knowing her to be single and that she used to be a man. She replied: "No, I used to be a straight man, indeed I was married and I remain attracted to women so am now a lesbian. It was my gender that was wrong so I changed it. My sexuality hasn't changed."  That said of course, not all transgender folk end up being gay once they have acquired their new gender.  The folk who were gay become straight on changing gender, and the ones who were bisexual tend to still be bisexual.

We then come on to the fictional 'LGBT Community'.  This was largely a Labour construct and a means for Labour to garner the votes of gay, bisexual and transgender folk by appearing to sympathise while largely doing bugger all to advance their cause. Indeed, Labour vetoed advances in gay equality 13 times while they were in power and, in the case of gay Servicepeople, actively fought against us in the courts right up until 2007.  All the while, Labour swamped equality organisations such as Stonewall and the like such that they became the Gay Wing of the Labour Party in all but name.  Often funded with obscene amounts of public money, these figleaf organisations attracted the Hothersalls of this world: Citizen Smith types who saw them as a means to get on in the Labour establishment for their own ends and easy pickings after the main fights had been fought.  Of course, the first thing to waste time on was to decide who 'we' were, therefore the wrangling over the LGBT name started. First it was G&L, but then what about the bisexuals and then of course the transexuals? Then the Millie-Tant feminists objected to the G coming before the L and the non-gendered gay (which everyone except Millie was happy to be) was discounted. Thankfully they stopped before the rest of the alphabetti spaghetti was added.

Once this LGBT Constituency (for it was never a community) was constructed, it was to be maintained as a permanent Labour-leaning source of votes, staffed by Labour 'activists' and fed largely on public cash, with a top-up from big businesses who wished to appear right-on to the Labour establishment.  Far from seeking equality and full integration into society, it merely sought to create a politico-legal ghetto out of the commercial ghetto which previously served gay people but which was declining as more gay folk 'came out' and socialised with friends both gay and straight in far better venues.  

We even have an example of our own Duncan Hothersall contributing to an article bemoaning the old ghetto while he was merrily helping construct the new one.  It was to be like a gay version of the multicultural society, the Labour euphemism for the Black and Asian ghettoes of England, where integration was dropped as an aim, despite integration having worked very well in Scotland and indeed very well with previous immigrant influxes in England.  Having finally exited the old criminal legal ghetto, gay folk were to leap merrily into a civil legal ghetto to maintain their separate, victimhood status and therefore look to Labour as their protectors and saviours.  Just as the largely Labour-created underclass and working poor would be kept down and a constant source of votes. Stonewall even all but connived in sabotaging my own attempt to blow the legal ghetto out of the water in the House of Lords, but that's another story.

So, now that we know what LGBT is and some of the history, we can get on to fisking Duncan Hothersall's waffle about LGBT issues that was not dealt with by Stuart Campbell.
"If we disagree on independence, so what? It’s not the most important thing in the world. Human rights - including LGBT rights - matter more."
Human rights are secured in a contract between the citizens and the state. Scotland's legal tradition of the sovereignty of the people is all but meaningless within the UK state.  Only an independent Scotland offers our rights enshrined in a written constitution that doesn't currently exist in the UK. The sovereignty of the UK Parliament means that were a UKIP or UKIP / Tory Coalition to be elected, there would be nothing to stop UKIP's pledge to repeal the UK Human Rights Act 1998 being enacted. Only a Yes vote can secure all our human rights, including those for gay, bisexual and transgender folk.
"There is an argument that a socially progressive Scotland could be an example to the rest of the UK come independence. In my opinion, devolution is a far better place from which to influence the rest of the UK on LGBT equality. The actions of foreign countries have a much weaker influence on us than the actions of parts of our own country."
"And within the UK the influence can go two ways, as witnessed by the distinct whiff of one-upmanship when England and Wales passed equal marriage before we did. The reality is that nothing like the same sort of influence happened when our closest neighbours the Scandic countries did it. Devolution is a far better platform for setting examples."
Well, let's see how that worked in practice with a Labour Government in the UK, from Peter Tatchell, Labour Vetoes Gay Equality 13 Times:
"SECTION 28 - At the same Stonewall meeting [House of Commons, Feb 1997], Straw pledged that Labour would promptly repeal Section 28. But for two and a half years after coming to power, the government refused to say when or how. It was only following the Scottish parliament's announcement of plans to repeal Section 28 that Tony Blair was bounced into following suit. But even then, the repeal Bill was introduced in the Lords, which means that the Lord's vote against abolition cannot be over-ruled by MPs - effectively ending all hope of repeal before the general election."
So even with the Scottish Parliament forcing the agenda, the ever-so-flexible unwritten UK constitution provided the means to appease the swivel-eyed loons of Middle England with a UK general election in the offing and that, not social justice or equality, took priority.

Indeed, the above was the part of Hothersall's waffle that Stuart Campbell did tackle and I agree wholeheartedly. I am gay and I didn't detect any "whiff of one-upmanship" either:
"No supporting evidence is offered for this opinion. It’s hard to see how independence would have hampered the Scottish Government’s ability to lead the rest of the UK on equal marriage, for example. (We’ll pause for a brief moment here to ponder how much it must sting Hothersall that 13 years of Labour government at Westminster and eight at Holyrood saw homosexuals still forbidden the same rights as heterosexuals, and that it took an SNP Scottish Government and a Tory/Lib Dem UK one to actually bring forward legislation. Labour in Scotland in particular would never have dared offend the religious lobby – especially the Catholic one in its west of Scotland heartlands – in such a way.)
"We’ll bow to Duncan’s greater knowledge of the LGBT community here. We didn’t detect any “whiff of one-upmanship” when the UK government actually got its legislation moving slightly ahead of Scotland’s, but maybe we don’t move in the right circles. But once again, we struggle to see how Scottish independence would have held progress back in either jurisdiction." 
By and large, that was it in terms of waffling about LGBT rights, bar one piece of nonsense that I'll leave to the end. The remainder was Hothersall's usual parroting of Better Together slogans and memes which are expertly dealt with by Stuart Campbell and I commend the reader again to his fisking of Hothersall.

Hothersall has a long record of throwing insults, particularly at Stuart Campbell. He also behaves as a typical troll, pretending to engage in debate but then breaking threads, not answering questions and asking others etc. He even selectively quoted from comments below the line of Stuart's article to solicit support. Presumably, because the fisking was so comprehensive that he couldn't fight back against Stuart's article itself.

Which brings us back to the manufactured outrage. One of the comments he selectively tweeted was my own:
Oh, Christ almighty. Can we not even escape the ubiquitous Carmen on WoS? Hothersall’s achievements for alphabet soup (or LGBT) equality are enumerated in a round figure, a very round figure: 0. Likewise, his original contributions to the referendum debate can be similarly counted. Why Carmen? I’ll leave you with one of my #indyrefpoetry contributions: 
Duncan’s barnet has a stamp
A rose, that’s just a wee tad camp.
OK, but who’s he harmin’?
Just about every fan of Carmen.
This led one of his acolytes to accuse me of being a homophobe twice over! I finally managed to elicit that apparently calling a rose in a known gay man's hair "a wee tad camp" is regarded as homophobic by these committee warriors. He never did say what else in the comment was homophobic. He shut up when I suggested he examine his own prejudices, that camp and gay were not synonymous and that I have a straight friend who is as camp as a row of pink fluffy wigwams with glitter balls. Camp has not equated to gay since John Inman last minced up on the telly and announced "I'm free!" Are these folk really stuck in the 1970s?

Thankfully, by 2:1 Hothersall & Co were defeated in the debate. If you're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, think on Labour's record on equality and consider Are you Being Served by these ultra-sensitive, committee warriors who manufacture outrage and see homophobia and transphobia where none exists? If they don't see it they'll merrily quote folk out of context and try to manufacture outrage. Hey, it beats doing any of the real fighting. 

Think on how what has been achieved was really achieved. Bar a few legal battles, the great majority of the advances achieved have been made by ordinary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folk getting out of the ghetto, getting on with life and showing that we're just ordinary folk with the same joys, cares, woes and worries as everyone else and therefore not worthy of the discrimination meted out. The political class need our votes more than we need them.

But hey, the self-serving has all worked out for Hothersall, he's now Chairman of the Edinburgh South Constituency Labour Party.  Should one kneel or merely kiss hands?

Hothersall's 'Wolfie Smith' attitude is perhaps best displayed by his view on independence getting rid of Trident. He views this as merely expelling it from Scottish waters. He says he does want rid of Trident, but only from the whole UK. The fact that Scots would neither have to pay for its upkeep nor the £120Bn for its replacement is irrelevant to this Britnat.  The fact that, given the Nimby nature of English local politics, Trident might well never find a home when it is evicted South of Carlisle is beyond his limited strategic sense to comprehend. Wolfie needs a barricade to man for the rest of his life, or at least to be on the committee deciding what the barricade is to be called. His call to arms for the "LGBT Community":
But I don’t think we should be sitting back and waiting for it, and moaning when it doesn’t come - I think we should be out fighting for it. All the gains we’ve made as an LGBT community have come from fighting, not sitting back.
I'll leave the response to that to the lyrics of Si Kahn and to Dick Gaughan:
And it's not the fights you dreamed of
But those you really fought

I'll be with the folkies but I look forward to meeting as many Yessers who happen to be gay, trans or bi as possible on 21st September in Edinburgh.

Edit 25 June 2014: I'm amazed at the longstanding popularity of this post. But if you liked this, you'll love today's post over on Wee Ginger DugWe’re here, we’re queer, we’re voting yes.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Psychopathic Delusions of Grandeur

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of the role Scotland, the UK, the Empire, the Commonwealth and our allies played in World War 2.  I'm named after my uncle who was killed when HMS Mounsey was sunk on Arctic Convoy duty on 1st November 1944.

But it takes a special kind of imbecile to claim that England "cleared the European continent of Fascism." To do so in Russia of all places, which lost around 26 million people in World War 2, takes a historical insensitivity worthy of a narcissistic psychopath :

Although this Telegraph video is headed "Cameron defends Britain in Love Actually moment", whatever a "Love Actually moment" is, let's not be under any illusions, the only country name Cameron mentions is England.

Grotesque Chaos in the Bedroom

Perhaps they should play Neil Kinnock's 1985 Bournemouth Labour Conference speech on a loop at the next Scottish Labour conference.

Embarrassed Labour folk have been wittering on in newspaper comments, Twitter etc. about the Tory Bedroom Tax. What's this Tory bedroom tax? The policy was introduced by Labour, the Tories merely extended it from the private rented to the public rented sector. 

UK Labour won't commit to reversing it as Milliband courts the swivel-eyed loons of middle England.
Scottish Labour's great plan? Take £50M from elsewhere in the Scottish budget to pay the rent arrears of those affected by an extension of Labour's own tax! "Grotesque chaos" doesn't even begin to cover it.  Would Scottish Labour continue to advocate this in Scotland if a post 2015 UK Labour Government (fat chance!) continued to impose the tax?
The Bedroom Tax has raised its head after an execrable performance by the Scottish Deputy Labour leader Anas Sarwar in a head-to-head "debate" with SNP Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon on STV.  Well, Sturgeon debated, Sarwar just stuck to his Labour Press Office script, interrupted incessantly and refused to answer any questions, well he did answer one: He promised that if Labour were in office they would repeal the Bedroom Tax. Repeal an extension of their own policy!  Just as over on the BBC Johann Lamont was refusing to make such a commitment and a day after Ed Milliband had refused to be drawn on such a commitment at PMQs.

Sarwar wasn't short on theatrics, though. His first effort was to brandish the long-discredited, manufactured, Mickey Mouse "Top Secret" Scottish Government finance discussion document.

His second even more laughable stunt was to brandish a pen and what purported to be a Bill for Nicola to sign there and then to bring Scottish Labour's grotesque Bedroom Tax mitigation proposal into effect. Was he promoting Ms Sturgeon from Deputy SNP Leader to HM The Queen? Might not the Scottish Parliament wish to at least debate his "Bill" before Queen Nicola gave it the Royal Assent?  Of course not, because there is no such Bill. The Scottish Parliament website lists 16 current proposals for Members' Bills and none of them have anything to do with the Bedroom Tax.  Furthermore, even if it was introduced, such a Bill would cause such a stooshie between Holyrood and Westminster, its passage would be manna from heaven for Yes Scotland.

So now not only do we have a former Labour Prime Mentalist who doesn't understand the Sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament, we have a Deputy Scottish Labour leader who thinks he can appoint Nicola Sturgeon as Queen on a telly programme and invite her to give Royal Assent to a non-existent "Bill"!

So it seems just as Nicola Sturgeon was attacking Sarwar for doing the Tories' dirty work for them, Nicola was doing Johann Lamont's dirty work for her: Johann's rival has made such an arse of himself he is no longer a rival.  So far on Twitter only one Labour colleague has offered anything approaching support to Sarwar after his car crash performance. Sarwar has resorted to doing a Calman and claiming abuse as members of the public question him on Twitter about his lamentable performance. It seems questioning a unionist is the new definition of abuse.
The "debate" is worth watching purely to watch a career crash and burn. I'll leave you with my summing up in the mode of one of the memes of last week #indyrefpoetry:

Last night on STV Govan's hereditary MP With his scripted glossolalia Did more for Free Caledonia Than half of the SNP.

See also:

Wings over Scotland

Errors & Omissions Expected.
One Man and His Props.
159 Seconds in Glasgow.
The Judges' Decision.
Back to the Future.