Why I will be voting Yes on Thursday September 18th


The recent past has been the most enlightening time of my life. It’s been like a second adolescence; enlightening because it has taught me an entire new language and has forced me to decide what is most important to me in a democracy; a second adolescence because it’s as if I have escaped childhood and been forced to understand what the impact of big grown up things might mean for the rest of my, and my family’s, life.

I don’t consider myself politically knowledgeable; sure I can spout left wing or right wing bluster same as most of us, but until now it has been no more than that.

I’m a political minestrone: I like a bit of left wing this, some centrist that and quite a lot of right wing garnish too. Maybe that’s why I’ve considered myself a Liberal for most of my voting life.

But the Scottish Independence Referendum has no room for minestrone.

It’s in. Or it’s out.

I’ve said for a long time now that the Independence vote is not a political decision, many passionate Scottish writers say this too. It’s a decision about self determination; not a political commitment.

But that’s not true. Is it.?

How can it be in the current UK political paradigm that is so sick, so indulgent, so misguided; in so many ways?

Yes, the outcome will be self-determination for Scots and the main benefit will be self-determination and the ability to make our own decisions for ever more; good or bad as they may be. But the decision-making crux, for me, has nevertheless been very, very political.

I was never a Nationalist, and certainly not a Separatist, when I was younger. I was proud to call myself British (indeed my mother called it crass to write ‘Scottish’ in the box on a form that asked your nationality).

I was too young to vote in the 1979 referendum – I was still an adolescent – but had I been able, peer pressure would no doubt have pushed me into voting a resounding No!

But 1979 was a very different time.

In 1979 Labour was left wing and Conservative was on the cusp of Thatcherism. The UK was about to change forever and that, fundamentally, is why I am voting Yes on Thursday – because the resultant and consequent change has become intolerable.

In some ways we can look back on Thatcherism as a unique period in our times. David Peace captures it magnificently in his miner’s strike novel, 1984, with stunning venom. But it’s not. Today we are mired in Thatcherite legacy like nobody could ever have imagined. We now live in a neo-liberal state that appals me.

In the great chess game that is British politics every move has to be anticipated and countered. Pre-Thatcher the game wasn’t chess it was draughts.

Black versus white, right versus wrong.

Only one direction of travel and an opposing one at almost every move.

Now, however, the battle lines have become so confused it’s as if there is no overall goal. No black and white. 50 shades of grey. Politics is no longer about winning, it’s about taking part. Staying in the game.

And that blurring of distinction, in which Liberal and Labour alike have had to secede principle in search of staying in the game has resulted, firstly, in New Labour in 1994 and secondly a Con/Lib coalition in 2010.

Where next? I shudder to think.

The two main opposition parties have become pale imitations of the enemy they despise. And the result is a neo-liberal blancmange that Westminster simply cannot escape.

Give me minestrone over blancmange any day.

As part of my decision making process I read Stephen Maxwell’s excellent Arguing for Independence: Evidence, Risks and Wicked Issues, the absurdly unwise Scottish Government manifesto White Paper, Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence (superb), Wings Over Scotland, many, many blog posts including two in particular that stood out; Bella Caledonia and Business For Scotland. Whilst these undoubtedly had a nationalist bias most were backed by credible sources and most acknowledged the inherent risks of separatism.

I also had the great privilege of attending hustings and debates with all sides of the debate represented. I went out of my way to take in the Orange Order’s Grand March through Edinburgh and enjoyed a soupcon of Trotskyism in the form of Tommy Sheridan’s brilliant Hope over Fear tour.

So I consider my decision reasonably well informed.

Of course we’ve had the official campaigns to ponder over too. The Yes campaign has been positive and enjoyable (if light on facts) and the No campaign a horseradish bitter tirade of disingenuity and hopeless rhetoric.

I come back then, on the eve of voting, to what has swayed my decision.

Certainly it was not the official campaigns; either of them. Nor my reading, although that helped inform me. No, what did it for me was under the bluster, the ridiculous rhetoric and the lampooning of Westminster that made up Tommy Sheridan’s sometimes pantomime posturing lay a truth that I cannot avoid. A truth that will probably cost me money as I look left, not right.

But then, a principle’s not a principle until it costs you money I was told.

What Tommy Sheridan laid bare for me was the hopelessness that neo-Liberal governance is creating. No-one benefits from this. Least of all the under-privileged.

I’m not going all Socialist Worker on you here. All I’m saying is that Tommy articulated a truth that I truly believe in. That Westminster politics is no longer fit for the purpose of governing Scotland

In an independent Scotland I look forward to a political landscape (left wing dominated but with a vocal and electable right) that rids us of neo-liberal posturing; that opens the door of the debating chamber to well argued and intensely held beliefs, that socialism and conservatism both have good things to offer, that liberalism steers a course through the middle and that the decisions that come out of that chamber are argued with focus and relevance to the people that live within its range. The people of an independent Scotland.

I’m sorry I have bombarded you with months of social media postings. But that’s what the un-friend button is for my friends.

Oh my. It seems women have “the vote” nowadays.

How could womens’ tiny minds cope with deciding the future of our nation in between all that child rearing, ironing and tea-making?  Gosh, it must be tremendously difficult don’t you think?

I mean, they only have two minutes in a day to consider difficult things like the self determination of their nationhood, the economic viability of Scotland’s oilfields, the sustainability of the NHS, the economic pros and cons of a fiscal union.

Better Together has captured this moment of cranial machination in the beautifully titled Referendum Broadcast “The woman who made up her mind”.  Yes.  That really is what it’s called.

My, my.  There is one then – a (the) woman who can make her mind up and decide something as difficult as how to vote in the referendum.  (Without “her Paul” making her mind up for her that is.)  

What a clever old clogs she is .  (“Hey, enough of the old”.  Ed.)

“There’s one thing I do know (that’s great hen, well done) I’m not going to gamble with my children’s future.” says she triumphantly having worked it all out.

So, that’s the key behavioural lever that Better Together has identified in its research groups. It doesn’t really matter what you think because actually it’s all a massive gamble.  It’s your kids that are the stake and gambling is inherently risky (no-one ever won a bet did they) and therefore evil and so you’d be evil to gamble with your children’s future (not like you can change your mind in 4 years time is it.)

Put all this it in the mouth of a typical Scottish housewife and the logic is unarguable.  

The trouble is it’s all a lot of patronising shit.  

Better Together says there are no answers, no facts and it’s not worth the risk/gamble because you don’t know what lies ahead.

I didn’t know what lay ahead when I backed Germany to win the World Cup, but they did.

No-one knows what lies ahead in this instance but we can make our own informed choices by listening to “that man on the telly”  or reading around the subject (if only we had the time).

But, most importantly, we can consider the fact that right now we get back less than we put in to our economy, the decisions that affect our fundamental standing in this world are made 400 miles away in a hotbed of right wing policy making by three parties that don’t remember where they came from or know where they are going and are only interested in one city.  London.

Stick that in your fruit scone and eat it hen – while you think (for two minutes) about what “your Paul” might think.

As September 18th approaches I draw inspiration from the great bard himself
August 26, 2014, 11:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tae a Union

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be loathe to run an’ chase thee
Wi’ murderin’ prattle 

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Is feart tae break this awful union,
An’ listens tae that ill opinion,
Which makes me startle
At thee, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal! 

I have nae doubt, but thou may thieve;
But then? Poor beastie, you have tae live!
A drap o’ tax frae an oilfield
It’s a sma’ request;
We’re still blessed wi’ the main yeild,
An’ never miss it! 

Thy massive housie in ruin!
It’s silly walls the winds are blowin!
An’ naething, now, to build a new one,
Oh! nothing green!
An’ bleak October’s winds ensuin’,
Both bleak an’ keen! 

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin’ fast,
An’ cozy here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell
Till crash! Independence passed
Right through your hell. 

That wee bit heap o’ Jocks, all trouble,
Has sent thee many a weary quibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for all thy trouble,
With broken hame,
To last the winter’s sleety dribble,
And icy realm! 

But London, thou art not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ leave us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy! 

So we art blest, compared wi’ thee;
The present only toucheth me:
But ouch! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects drearier!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess but withoot fear!

Welcome to Glasgow. UK Border Force style.
July 25, 2014, 9:24 am
Filed under: life, politics, Rants, Scotland, stories | Tags: , ,


As Glasgow does its very best to embrace the world, through its hosting of the XXth Commonwealth Games, with great success so far, spare a though for seven American teenagers who arrived at Glasgow Airport last night to help a friend of mine who has, for many years, run a youth Summer activities camp on the shores of Loch Lomond.

These seven volunteers had obtained their Visas in plenty of time and two were already on Scottish soil, through the barriers, when the third innocently replied, when asked the purpose of her visit by UK Border Force “Oh, we’re here to help out at a summer camp, as volunteers.”

Cue flashing of red lights, extreme “computer says no” warnings and loud cries of “you’re fucking nicked”.

The two despots on UK soil were immediately returned to the cattle pen that is UK Border Control and were summarily despatched back to the land of opportunity at 9am this morning.

The reason?

Volunteering is considered to be ‘working’ and they didn’t have Work Visas, they had Tourist Visas.

We’ve had a look at the US Visa website and can find no mention of this (apparently it’s a recently introduced ruling).

UK Border Force.  I hope you’re feeling good about yourselves.

Brilliant attention to technical detail.

Well done on stopping what could possibly have been a massive terrorist invasion.

Or a complete destruction of the UK Economy.

Alex Salmond will no doubt point out that this was UK Border Force, not Glasgow Airport or anything Scottish whatsoever.

As for the poor kids at summer camp who are now seven organisers short.  Send UK Border Force a postcard from Loch Lomond, eh?  They probably don’t get many good wishes.


It’s nearly 20 years since the legend that was 1576 started
July 23, 2014, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Wanna join us?

The only criterion is that you were staff, supplier or client.  But friends will be welcome too.

1576_XX copy

Sign up here or email me.  You should know my email.  Or comment below.

The ultimate dilemna?


(Source:  Spotted by Fraser McBlane)

Pope Ratzenberger:  “Oh Lord and Father please let Mein Germans lift der World Cup tonight.  I am your loyal and ever faithful servant.”

Pope Francis:  “Oh Lord and father, seeing as your previous loyal and ever faithful servant didn’t quite deliver on that front please let the Argentina lift the world cup tonight.”

Mark Gorman: “Oh Lord and Father if it helps I have £10 on Germany at 6/1 and a tenner on Thomas Muller for top scorer at 20/1.”

July 5, 2014, 12:42 pm
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The famous Dakota roast shellfish as modelled by Amy Gorman

The famous Dakota roast shellfish as modelled by Amy Gorman


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