This is a 20-minute podcast between independence activist Leah Gunn Burnett and the Scots-born Swiss resident, chartered accountant Henry Feguson.
Scots take a lot of racist nonsense about having ‘had a reverendum’ on democracy – as our oppressors continually aver imply people are allowed to vote once on anything – and yet Switzerland hold referenda regularly on this or that issue in their ‘Cantons’.
Scots have had the English form of parliamentary democracy forced on us since 1707, and as a resilt, are finding it nigh impossible to shake off colonial rule because of the severe constraints placed on its parliament by its English political wranglers. Returning to full self-governance allows Scots to throw off all that is anti-democratic and morally offensive if the people are willing to take back their sovereignty.
Animal rights activists hang stuffed animals outside Downing Street. Photo: Vuk Valcic
Politicians have always been known as practiced liars. For a lot of the time they will tell us half-truths, either because it suits their policies or their career, or both.They are adept an being ‘economical’ with truth. For a time it was hard to tell if a Scottish National MSP promising a referendum at an allotted time – usually as an election was on the horizon – until they refused to guarantee it will happen?As each date was past, the same MSP would promise a new chance to win back our self-governance and pride, onlt for that to melt like snow.When policians lie, they chip another piece off our trust in democracy, causing some of us to turn to dictatators or neofascists to help get things done.
In this generation, Boris and his cartel pretty well destroyed any belief in Westminster as the centre of the democratic process. His unremitting fabrications became the stuff of legend, that is, until Donald Trump appeared on the world’s stage. That was when we discovered our own are as untrustworthy and unreliable as any other.
Peter Oborn used to have a regular column in the Telegraph, ususual right-wing opinion but of the old school conservative kind, it exhibited a conscience.Then he resigned in spectacular fashion. He had gotten hold of a story of corruption carried out by theHSBC bank only to see it spiked by his editor because the bank was a generous advertising client. Oborn learned the hard way, the right is corrupt by nature and from birth. The left gets temped by the wealth of the right and so it too betrays the democratic process.
Oborne claimed the paper deliberately suppressed stories about the banking giant, including that its Swiss subsidiary helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars in assets, in order for the Telegraph to keep its valuable advertising account. Oborne desvcribed the action as ‘sinister’.He then began to keep notes of what his Tory peers were saying and promising, but actually doing. It made for depressing reading. Ever since he has published his findings in his blog and in the press.
The Tory party of England are the people who rule Scotland. All of us in every way possible. They were never elected to rule Scotland. They can insult Scots as much as they like, and do often, yet receive no retribution in response. To keep Scotland nailed down and steal our wealth they tell us any old crap that we are powerless to throw off.Boris gave way to little Sunak. Is there a refreshing return to honesty and trust? No.While Oborne is not that much concerned about Scotland, he does feel Westminster has become a repository of falsehoods, and the word repository has Tory in it. Here is his latest blog.
IN THE MOULD OF BORIS
by Peter Oborne
For all Rishi Sunak’s claims to be a trustworthy prime minister, he is, in fact, in the mould of Boris Johnson. He has made misleading claims from the start of his premiership, and continues to do so. Take his first prime minister’s questions on 26 October last year. To murmurs of approval from Conservative MPs, he told Labour’s Richard Burgon: “We will always support our hardworking nurses.”
To drive home his support, Sunak added: “That is why, when I was chancellor, we reintroduced the nurses’ bursary.” This was a misleading claim, as the new prime minister would have been well aware. It is true that, as chancellor, Sunak offered a new educational grant of £5,000 a year (increasing to £8,000 in some cases) for all nursing students on courses from September 2020. However, this fell significantly short of the bursary system, which had earlier been scrapped by the Conservative government.
It then got worse. In the same PMQs, Sunak told MPs that there had been “a record number of new homesbuilt in the last year”. This claim was false. As a report by the due diligence website Full Fact later concluded: “The most recent published data shows 173,520 new homes were completed in England in the year to June 2022, slightly down on the previous year.”
This false claim quickly became an important test for Sunak. His predecessor, Boris Johnson, made scores of such boasts, leaving them on the Hansard record even after they’d been exposed as false. Had Sunak corrected his relatively minor mistakes, as both parliamentary convention and the ministerial code demands, he could have sent a powerful signal. By choosing not to do so, he begs the question: does he share Johnson’s contempt for integrity, even as he claims to lead a government of “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”?
In fact, the UK’s vaccines were procuredwhile still a member of the single market and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Further, the UK’s early rollout was secured by the use of regulation 174, an EU provision allowing member states to bypass the authorisation of the EMA and issue their own medicines.
Sunak entered Downing Street on the back of a promise to bring an end to the apparent disregard for the truth that was a defining feature of the Johnson and Truss premierships. He launched his campaign for the Tory leadership with a pledge to “restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country”. But his claims regarding the truth do not bear serious interrogation.
I assert this with confidence because I have been keeping a record of false claims uttered by British prime ministers ever since the Iraq war began in 2003. My file indicated that Tony Blair’s successors, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May, were relatively honest. This is not to say they were perfect. But they were certainly not habitual and shameless liars. All this changed the moment Boris Johnson walked into Downing Street in July 2019.
Sunak has surprised me. In common with almost everyone else, I thought he would represent a reversion to traditional politics after the malign chaos of Johnson and Truss. But that has not been the case. Take the promise to “reduce debt”, one of Sunak’s five pledges at the start of 2023. Neither Sunak nor his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, plan to reduce debt, as the March budget statement made explicit. On the contrary, it appears they mean to increase it substantially, while telling voters the opposite. According to the latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility, net debt stood at £2.5tn at the time of the budget, and is projected to rise every year till 2028, by which time it will have advanced to £2.9tn. Sunak should be all too familiar with these numbers. One former Conservative party communications expert told me that reducing debt “sounded better to voters”.
Sunak’s apparent readiness to mislead on such issues could send a message to cabinet subordinates to follow suit. The biggest culprit is the home secretary, Suella Braverman, who seems to operate in a post-truth world: denying that Brexit is to blame for Dover delays, and making inflammatory claims about Pakistani “grooming gangs” that have been proved false by her own officials. The controversy over her speeding fine is the latest test of Sunak’s frequently broken promise to bring integrity back to government.
At the G20 summit in Bali, Sunak was asked whether leaving the EU had contributed to Britain’s economic woes. The prime minister responded by talking about the global context, Covid and the war in Ukraine, but not Brexit. This strategy is known to lawyers as suppressio veri (the misrepresenting of the truth by withholding of relevant facts). During international trade week last November, Michael Gove boasted on Twitter: “We’ve secured new free trade deals with over 70 countries since 2016. That’s over £800bn worth of new global trade.” His statement was not correct. Robert Chote, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, has since stated that “it is misleading to describe the £800bn figure as a measure of ‘new global trade’ resulting from the recent deals.”
The health secretary, Steve Barclay, is one of a number of ministers who have made the wild claim that accepting public sector pay demands would cost £1,000 per household. Leading the way in this was Sunak, who appeared in front of an RAF base in Lincolnshire to announce: “What I’m not going to do is ask ordinary families up and down the country to pay an extra £1,000 a year to meet the pay demands of the union bosses.” This prime ministerial claptrap has since been magisterially demolished by Chote.
It’s as if Sunak and his ministers don’t respect facts at all.
Or take the environment. Sunak said that “I care about the climate and the environment I’m leaving [my daughters].” His Downing Street spokesman insisted that Britain is “committed to net zero”. Yet as prime minister he has ejected the Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, and the climate minister, Graham Stuart, from the cabinet. He almost did not attend Cop27 and advised King Charles against attending. He is pressing ahead with the opening of a new coalmine in Cumbria.
There’s a further category of misleading or false comments from Sunak: tactical. The Tories are determined to turn Keir Starmer’s role as lieutenant to Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 general election into a liability. This may explain why the prime minister asserted during PMQs late last year that Corbyn’s national security agenda involved “abolishing our armed forces, scrapping the nuclear deterrent, withdrawing from Nato, voting against every single anti-terror law we tried, and befriending Hamas and Hezbollah”. Labour’s 2019 election manifesto proposed none of the above. Sunak has not corrected these false statements, despite being asked to do so by Jeremy Corbyn. Note, however, that Starmer also emerges poorly from this exchange: the opposition leader did not correct Sunak.
Britain therefore has a monstrous problem. Before Sunak turned up in Downing Street, it was just about possible to explain the collapse of integrity after 2019 in terms of Johnson’s incorrigible personal dishonesty. But Sunak appears to be yet another compulsively dishonest prime minister. This suggests a deep-rooted structural problem not just in the Conservative party but also in the House of Commons.
Hence the importance of the ongoing House of Commons privileges committee investigation into allegations that Boris Johnson misled parliament about parties held in Downing Street during lockdown. The committee cannot reach a conclusion about Johnson without making a wider judgment about whether a prime minister should be permitted to mislead the Commons. So the question will arise: what about Sunak?
Sunak’s pledge to bring back trust in British politics, reasserted so many times, appears itself to be insincere. This brings personal discredit, makes good government impossible and demonstrates how deeply political deceit has become embedded in our national life. Something has gone horribly wrong with the British system of government.
Peter Oborne is a journalist and the author of ‘Assault on Truth’.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has been accused of lying to a Commons committee over the information provided between Scotland’s two governments over the troubled deposit return scheme (DRS). At yesterday’s Scottish Affairs Committee, Jack claimed that he has not received “proper grown-up assessments” from the Scottish Government that would allow him to determine whether an exemption under the UK Internal Market Act would be appropriate for the DRS, as requested by Holyrood. Jack said: “I haven’t seen those proper impact assessments yet, and I can’t come to a decision on an exemption until I see proper impact assessments, so we know we are making the right decision and not causing unnecessary consequences.”
But the Greens minister responsible for the Scottish Government policy, Lorna Slater, told MSPs that all the information was provided on time. She added that her account is backed up by Jack’s ministerial colleague Michael Gove, who wrote to Deputy First Minister Shona Robison this morning, thanking the SNP for the information they have handed over. UK Government claims the Scottish Government has not supplied sufficient evidence or assessments on what impact the policy will have on the UK-wide market and what the DRS will mean for businesses and consumers on each side of the Border.
An overheating market has pushed land prices to new levelsPhoto:Murdo MacLeod
Internal colonialism is a scourge. If the nation is not on guard, or has implemented laws to protect land ownership, (the subject of this article) people will wake up one day to discover Scotland belongs to individuals and companies who do not live here and have no interest in Scotland other than a source of income.
One of the big disappointments of the SNP administration under Sturgeon (and there were many) is how little her party did to reform land ownership and use. One of the hallmarks of the party’s manifestos down the decades was to bring land into public ownership.Once in office, the SNP lost momentum on this issue for lots of reasons.
Once elected to govern, landowners, usually supporters of our invader, the Tory Party, ganged together and began an organised campaign of resistance against SNP policies. (The organisation still exists: Scottish Land and Estates.) In one development a landowner took a teanant to court over the right to farm as heritage. The tenant lost, and he lost of the basis that if he wanted to till the ground and keep cattle on it, he had to pay the going rate and buy it.The original lease had been with his father; the court determined the son and his family had no right to remain working the farm because just because it had been left to him by his father after his father’s death.The price of land is, however, the bugbear. Who controls it? If not the government of the day, who?
This kind of court battle seemed to make the SNP nervous over creating laws protecing ownership and its use. Handing a chunk of Aberdeenshire to the thumping liar called Trump was another crushing event that helped to diminish the party’s reputation as guardian of the natural resources. Some faith was placed in the Greens MSP Andy Wightman to imbue the SNP with land reform vigour, author of ‘The Poor Had No Lawyers‘. The study is regarded as a seminal analysis of how land was taken from those who had tilled it down the generations, proletarian our opppressors hate us discussing, the very ‘blood and soil’ of Scotland our enemies besmirch. But Wightman fell out with his party and lost his seat, his early dynamism diluted.
Add to all of that handing largesse to incomers and settlers who have taken over islands, swathes of investment in new forestry planted on land once used for cattle or crops, wealthy landowners selling acres at premium rates to locals, and we can see Scotland has a bigger problem than before. Now a new study reports that land ownership in Scotland is at risk of becoming more elitist and unequal because wealthy corporations and forestry companies are dramatically driving up land prices, a new study has warned. Here is a recent Guardian articleon the subject.
A report from the Scottish Land Commission found that a significant number of Highland estates and hill farms were sought by corporations last year (2022) as an investment or as sites for planting new conifer plantations.
Their purchases added to an overheating land market in Scotland that has driven prices to record levels, the commission said. Financial investors, foresters, farmers and wealthy conservationists are chasing the same estates and farms once they go on sale. This adds to Scotland’s very concentrated pattern of land ownership, it said, by making it harder for younger farmers, environmental groups, local communities and less-wealthy buyers to afford the higher prices.
Called “green lairds” by some critics, those buyers were keen on projects to restore peatland, create new forests and enhance nature conservation as climate-friendly ways of storing CO2 and increasing biodiversity. College (SRUC) with dozens of estate agents and experts, found the interest among natural capital buyers waned last year, with a shift towards companies seeing land as a purely financial or commercial asset.
As in 2020 and 2021, those firms have tended to be absentee owners. They may have little interest in changing what the land is used for, which leads to stability for tenants and estate staff, but it means the land is not used for more beneficial purposes.
Andrew Thin, the commission’s chair, said these trends risked reinforcing existing inequalities. Scotland has one of the least-regulated land markets in Europe; comparable countries in western and northern Europe limit the size of estates and have strict residency rules.
“A smaller pool of well-resourced purchasers were the most active in the market, whether these be large-scale forestry interests, expansionist agricultural businesses, institutional or corporate investors, or wealthy individuals.”
The commission’s study also identified important contradictions between different government policy priorities. In some cases, forestry companies bought cattle and sheep farms to grow timber. Replacing cattle with trees means carbon emissions from farming will fall while carbon sequestration by trees will increase.
As Scotland has failed to cut carbon emissions from farming and is forecast to miss its tough targets to cut CO2 emissions by 70% by 2030, that is a policy benefit. Conversely, the higher prices and growth in commercial forests undermine policies to increase nature diversity and economic diversity in rural areas.
Hamish Trench, the commission’s chief executive, said that added to the pressure on the Scottish government to intervene in a new land reform bill due to be tabled later this year. He said that could include new public interest tests on companies seeking state subsidies for tree-growing or nature conservation, and new requirements for absentee owners to involve local communities in their estates, such as shared-ownership models or leasing their land.
Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, the umbrella body for landowners, said it “fundamentally disagreed” with the commission’s conclusions. She said government data showed a surge in community ownership in Scotland. “Where there is a genuine desire by communities to own land, legislation already exists to make that happen,” she said. (She did not detail who owns the ‘communities’ to which she refers. Editor)
Laing said the government itself was Scotland’s largest landowner, and large-scale operations were often very effective. “Purchases of large-scale landholdings do create opportunities for other businesses, enterprises and communities to benefit.”
Crown Estates: the body that manages land and seabed (once thought owned by British monarchs) but always by Scots, could help buy large Highland estates and then sell them back to local communities. Crown Estate Scotland has agreed to support a radical agenda being pushed through by Scottish ministers to increase community ownership of large estates, in an agreement struck with the Scottish Land Commission. With Scottish country estate and farm prices soaring to record levels, it is thought the organisation’s wealth and expertise could help communities buy land they might otherwise have been unable to bid for.
Ministers in Edinburgh are also planning to push state-owned bodies that own large amounts of land, including forests, crofting estates and islands such as Rum, to sell off more of their estates to community groups. Mairi Gougeon, the Scottish cabinet secretary for rural affairs, land reform and islands, said on Wednesday that the Scottish land fund, which finances community buyouts, would be getting an extra £1m a year to support buyout bids.By 2026, the fund’s annual budget should increase to £20m, she confirmed. But land reform campaigners and the Scottish Land Commission believe much more money is needed to allow significant transfers of land and property to community ownership.
Crown Estate Scotland is one of the country’s largest and most powerful property owners, holding buildings and 35,000 hectares (86,500 acres) of land worth nearly £560m, as well as controlling the lucrative licensing of seabed for offshore windfarms. How ScotGov can aid Indigenous people to own land they can use, when ScotGov’s budget is so tight, it a debateable point.
A ferry still under construction at Ferguson Marine shipyardPhoto: Chris Brindle
Businessman Jim McColl has offered to buy back his old Ferguson shipyard from the Scottish Government for the sum of £1. Once you stop chuckling at the cheek, you wonder what he might be up to. What does he have in mind rescuing the yard for a second time? Could he have a plan to take up Stuart Ballantyne’s offer to build Ballantyne’s catamaran designs, his cheaper, more efficient ferries than any single-hull vessel?
McColl was in fine eye-poking mood this week. He also said the second of two overbudget CalMac ferries being built at the Port Glasgow site should have been scrapped four years ago. He blames a flawed concept design and interference by state-owned ferries agency CMAL for delays and extra costs. In the continuing tit-for-tat blaming ceremony, CMAL has insisted the problems stem from “catastrophic contractor failure” during Mr McColl’s time in charge.
And to have readers chuckling again at the kindergarten antics, the Scottish government revealed it would be cheaper to order a new ferry elsewhere rather than complete Hull 802 at the nationalised shipyard, At least someone was thinking about the spiraling costs.
Welbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray has given a ministerial instruction to continue funding, because “the alternative would mean further delays to securing extra ferry capacity”. McColl, who rescued the Ferguson shipyard from administration in 2014, said it was the right decision from “a moral standpoint” because it protected the workforce, but from a commercial perspective it made no sense. He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime‘s John Beattie: “They’ve really dug a big hole for themselves. They’ve messed up big time since they took that yard over – and the innocent victims here are the workforce. Commercially it’s absolutely the wrong decision but it’s a tough one because of the human cost involved. But they’ve created the problem with the human cost and they are going to have to fix it.”
The Scottish government took Fergusons into public ownership in 2019 “to ensure the delivery of 801 and 802 and to secure the future of the yard and its workforce.” ScotGov omits to say the then first minister Nicola Sturgeon took the credit, but ever since has not taken any blame for the disaster that followed.One aspect no one will admit to is the question of the commission being a ‘fixed price’ contract. ScotGov says it is.Here is McColl’s response to Audit Scotland’s committee:
“Please find attached the response of the former Senior Management Team of Ferguson Marine Engineering limited (FMEL) to the Public Audit Committee on their Report dated 23rd March 2023. Under the heading “Background to the Project” in paragraph 28, the Public Audit Committee repeats a false statement made by you. “Each contract was for a fixed price of £48.5m”. This is untrue. The contract is a Bimco standard new building contract which allows for adjustments to the contract price. It is not a fixed price contract. Nowhere does it say that it is a fixed price contract.“
ScotGov refuses to do anything about CMAL or on ordering catamarans; they are giving another £60m to FMPG to finish off the second boat. They could have bought 3 x 100-car cats for £60m.
What does our maritime expert think of the burach? Professor Alfred Baird, who together with Stuart Ballantyne proposed catamarans around the time of Noah, adds his coda to the debacle.
By Professor Alfred Baird
On the implications of building excessive ferry superstructure and its effects, this was noted in a response I sent to the 2020 Holyrood committee investigating the cost overruns on the two CMAL designed ferries building at Fergusons. With naval architect Stuart Ballantyne’s costed inputs, our suggestions back in January 2020 were to either: (1) scrap both 801/02 or; (2) re-design superstructure on both boats to only 400-450 passengers (from the unnecessary 1,000 passengers) and reduce crew accommodation. The cost escalation since then has risen to over £350 million today for these two as yet still unfinished vessels.
My recommendation in 2020:
“The review board’s estimated added cost of £110m (in 2019) required to complete the two CMAL ferries brings their total cost to some £210m, equivalent to an average of £105m per ferry. Pentland Ferries similar capacity (98-cars) ferry cost just £15m. This implies that a commercial operator could have built 14 such ferries for £210m, enough to replace the entire CalMac ‘major’ ship fleet, and more. This represents the ‘opportunity cost’ of inferior state ferry specification and procurement decisions, with many island communities now waiting longer on new ferries.
Even completing the two CMAL ferries represents an enormous added waste of public money and with an expectation that costs will rise even further. Moreover, the two ferries when completed may still not be acceptable to the owner/operator (with doubts that they will meet required speed, deadweight etc.).
Reflecting the acknowledged lack of global ferry industry experience of the review board, it is understandable that there are other strategic options here which they have not considered in their recommendations, for instance:
(1) The two ferries could be redesigned offering a more appropriate industry standard (i.e. reduced) passenger:car ratio of say 5:1, plus reduced crew accommodation (i.e. less decks) which would also assist speed and deadweight, and this could be done (according to leading naval architect Sea Transport Solutions) at a cost of between £50-60m;
(2) A further option would be to dispose of or scrap the two partially constructed ferries and use the £110m added investment instead for FMEL to build 4 x 100-car standard proven ferries similar to Pentland Ferries new vessel.
It should be noted that new, standard, proven, and hence lower powered ferries offer a better fit for battery-hybrid operation which, environmentally, would be far superior to the LNG operation specified for the current two ships at FMEL. The choice is therefore to complete as proposed by the ‘turnaround director’ the two unproven over-specified higher power LNG boats which will operate on fossil fuels for 25-30 years or to build four standard, proven, lower-power boats (each with similar vehicle capacity and speed as 801/02) and incorporating lower emission battery-hybrid solutions. A further compromise option here would be to complete the two LNG boats to a much reduced (i.e. more appropriate industry standard) re-designed specification AND build two lower cost standard proven design of ferries (i.e. 4 boats in all), which can similarly be achieved for £110m.”
Unfortunately that recommendation to either dispose of or scrap the two vessels in 2020 or re-design the superstructure at an estimated cost of between £50-60m, and to build lower cost catamarans for less than half the price of monohulls, was ignored by the Scottish Government.
And now to confirm the validity of that recommendation, CalMac has just chartered Pentland Ferries 100 car-capacity catamaran MV Alfred – a vessel which cost just £15m to build! Which also begs the question, if we can acquire a 100-car ferry for £15m, why are we now spending £200m on 4 x 100-car ferries (£50m each) in Turkey, in addition to £360m on two similar capacity and highly problematic ferries at Fergusons?
Glasgow march for a Scotland free Photo: David Cheskin
While staunch unionists carrying base drums up their jersey, colonial watchmen, and imperious Tory politicians berate us for being, well, us, on top of the Scottish National Party’s woes swirling around like coal dust blown from a bing, the number and category of individuals supporting the reinstatement of Scotland’s self-governance steadily increases. One can hear the squeals of pain from the people who make vast profits from a Scotland corralled by Westminster.
Support is all the moreremarkable considering the daily battering Scotland and Indigenous Scots take in the form of torrential racist gibes and defamation from official government quarters.So, who is on the side of democracy? A huge proportion of young Scots are for this nation’s liberty – as ever, the new generation of youth is not burdened by threadbare loyalties or myths.
To lift spirits more, English folk are now more openly voluable about Scottish independence, 13% supporting a new relationship. Though the article was publish some months ago, recent flow charts show backing has barely altered, underlining support constant, (a fact bolstered by the Yes movement) hence this part-republication, the original of which which was motivated by Wales’ situation. Of the others, the unconvinced, there is a mixture of Tory hardliners, and a large group who don’t care. They feel the same of Wales, although less so, Wales being geographically closer to London and the Home Counties, as BBC Radio use to describe it.
This is an article from the New Statesman mainly about Wales. As with all English-orientated periodicals, it contains some inaccuraces, such as ‘Truthie’ Davidson being a siren to Edinburgh voters, she ‘making a break-through’ for the Tories. Lazy by nature, she was rarely seen in her constituency office. Then she got above herself by denouncing Boris as a potential leader only to see him elected as leader. Her one pronounced skill was taught to her when working for the BBC – voice projection together with a fiery look of sincerity. But her honesty took a dive, blown apart when she threw a pencil down theatrically onto her desk in mock anger, hestitating halfway to work out how to make it look like the wrathof God. You can fool some people some of the time, but not all….. et cetera.She has since chased the colonial trough and ermine rather than voters.
Anyhow, the thing to keep in mind is this: the shift in favour of the Yes side is now the most prolonged in polling history, in Scotland and Wales The SNP will take solace from it, as will the ALBA Party, ISP, and the Yes Movement.Independence is more than the fortunes of the SNP. They appear about to lose seats in the next general election, while independence remains strong.
Harold Wilson said a week is a long time in politics, and he was right. With about 18 months to go before another general election, if Sunak doesn’t lose his nerve and call one earlier, we might see a falling away of support, the SNP’s misfortunes the cause. But a recent Yes march through Glasgow was attended by an estimated 20,000 or more. Determination has not been dented by colonial attacks. Maybe now, people are realising Scotland really is a colonised country.This is a message we must drum home, like the Orange Lodge marches, no pretenders!
YOUNG SCOTS NOW BACK INDEPENDENCE
by Ben Walker
While the Conservatives reign supreme in England, in Scotland antipathy towards Westminster and a dearth of effective opposition at home has resulted not only in a consistent poll lead for the SNP, but also in rising support for secession. And Wales, too, is now entertaining the prospect of leaving the UK, new polling shows.
A survey by YouGov, carried out last month, found 52 per cent of Welsh voters would choose No (to independence) in a hypothetical referendum, while 25 per cent would opt for Yes – up from 21 per cent in January. This four-point increase since the start of the year puts the Yes vote at an all-time high. Delving into the sub-samples, it’s interesting to note that more than double the proportion of women (23 per cent) as men (10 per cent) class themselves as “undecided”.
But the prospect of a break-up of the Union is not something English adults seem to consider as likely as polls suggest. English voters are slightly more reticent about the prospect of Welsh independence than they are about Scottish independence, with 6 per cent saying Wales should leave, and 51 per cent saying it should stay. On Scottish independence, English voters are more supportive, 13 per cent voicing enthusiasm.
Though the YouGov poll puts support for Welsh independence at an all-time high, readers should not get too excited (or disheartened). Prospective Yes voters are still in a significant minority and in a referendum would face a resounding defeat. Nonetheless, what we are seeing, as psephologist Roger Scully writes on his blog, is that independence for Wales is “no longer the preserve of a tiny group on the fringes of Welsh politics”.
It is a different story in Scotland, where support for independence has been the majority view for much of 2020 to this time. The Britain Elects poll tracker puts support among Scots for ending the Union at 53 per cent, an increase of eight points on the 2014 referendum result. Not one poll since March has found a majority among Scots for remaining in the UK.
This shift in favour of Scottish independence is now the most prolonged in polling history. In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum, support for independence eclipsed opposition but only for a few weeks.
The drivers of this sustained shift to Yes can be divided into three groups. The first is the pro-independence side’s apparent success in neutralising one of the key arguments of 2014: whether an independent Holyrood administration can perform competently when faced with a crisis.
The approval of 78 per cent of Scots for the Scottish government’s handling of the pandemic contrasts with the disapproval of a majority of Brits of the UK government’s performance. Stoking anxiety about competence – suggesting Scotland needs the Union to weather financial and geopolitical crises – has been a key unionist strategy, and convinced many waverers to back No in the final few days of the 2014 referendum campaign.
Unionists south and, indeed, north of the border haven’t been doing much to help their side either, which brings us to the second set of factors. Scots continue to regard the opposition party leaders with mild dissatisfaction at best, and total disregard at worst. Not since former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s breakout performance in 2016 have Scottish voters looked to the leaders of the three unionist parties with any warmth – or even much recognition.
The third, and perhaps least manageable, set of reasons revolve around the demographic timebomb that is young voters. An analysis of all the latest polls suggests that those aged 16-34 overwhelmingly support independence, with some polls putting the support for Yes as nearly three in every four. By contrast, those aged over 55 split three to four against.
A reliance on the past assumption that young people don’t turn out to vote on the scale as older voters is understandable; but that assumption is by and large already factored into most polls. What’s more, turnout rates in 2014 among the young, even those aged 16 and 17, were remarkably high. In any case, those aged between 35-54 are also enthusiastic for independence, suggesting the current surge is not just driven by the “unreliable” young, but by working-age adults generally.
While much of the new majority for Yes appears to consist of those who didn’t vote at all in 2014, the number of switchers from No to Yes should not be discounted. More than one in five of those that voted No in 2014 now tell pollsters they’ll be voting Yes. The figure has only grown since the start of the year.
Without combative and effective leadership in the face of a popular incumbent government, the challenge for pro-Union politicians – both Labour and Conservative, north and south of Berwick – is undoubtedly an epic one. Ruth Davidson’s successes show there are, perhaps, votes to be won: her absence now merely highlights the lack of alternative unionists of similar stature.
Those opposed to the break-up of the Union might need new figureheads, as well as more convincing arguments, if they want to turn back the independence tide.
NOTES: Ben Walker is a senior data journalist at the New Statesman. He writes extensively about elections and UK public opinion. He is the co-founder of poll aggregator Britain Elects.The piece was publish 2022.
Who knew Purgatory is a branch of the British State?
From Nicola Sturgeon annointing a KC to the position of Lord Advocate, the poor woman so badly schooled in Scottish constitutional law she admitted she did not know whether Scotland can hold a referendum on anything, including which slice of bread jam should sit, to the curious delay of two weeks before a warrant was granted for a house raid, Scottish justice looked decidedly iffy.
The delay saw the ‘totally committed’ to his job, Sir Iain Livingstone, Police Scotland chief, exit early and quietly, crept away, a more accurate term, leaving first minister Sturgeon holding court to the world’s press, resigning on her terms. And of course, the election of a new SNP leader was left to run its course, putting the Murrell’s man, Humza Yousaf, in first place.
One can sum up this particular issue in the phrase, ‘Cut us some slack’.
Her hsband Peter Murrell, CEO of the SNP, followed her into Purgatory just before the raid on their home and he arrested, somewhere in lovely downtown Suburbanville, their lives seemingly mirroring a manipulated media reality series as part of a movie, their hidden getaway campervan parked too far off to be used, duly dragged back into the developing story. It all looks suspiciously orchestrated.ALBA MP Kenny MacAskill agrees.
The former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MP has called for the Scottish Government to establish a judge led inquiry into the role of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) following revelations in the Scottish media that the COPFS may have delayed by up to two weeks the granting of a warrant to carry out a search into the home of the former First Minister, Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP and the SNP Chief Executive Mr Peter Murrellin order to avoid it taking place during the SNP leadership contest.
“These are matters of the utmost gravity and seriousness with huge implications for the functioning of our legal system and our democracy. As Justice Secretary I was involved in changes to expedite the warrant process. Delays then were due to bureaucracy and IT systems. I never envisaged that police investigations might be delayed by what appears to be political considerations.
“That is why I am today calling for a judge led inquiry into the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in order to restore trust and confidence in this vital institution and to reassure the public that the decisions taken by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have not been influenced by political considerations. Furthermore we must have absolute clarity that there has not been and will not be any outside and undue interference in the democratic process.
“Ultimately these matters can best be addressed through the separation of powers between the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service and the Government currently vested in the Lord Advocate. This is something which I have consistently called for, and indeed I led a Debate on this matter, in the House of Commons in July 2021.
“However the public cannot wait for that to happen, which is why we need an inquiry now!”
Kenny MacAskill MP served as the Scottish Justice Secretary between 2007 and 2014.
The root of Scotland’s malady, a nationalist party that is colonial minded
Columnist Kevin McKenna here catching the mood of the public over SNP’s deliberate prevariction delaying Scotland’s freedom from grotesque, looting English rule. I get the impression people are tired of the SNP’s claim to be the only party of independence – their sole reason for existing – when the reality is they do not see it as a priority, and each year brings a greater Tory grip on this nation’s progress.T
Aggressive Tories are so cocky, they have stood role of Scottish Secretary on its head. Once upon a time it was esablished to convey Scotland’s needs to the King in London on this or that matter, but now the post is used openly to tell Scots we are simpletons captive forever and we had better eat our oats and be thankful for them.
A ‘clown show of a political party’ says McKenna, ignoring the malignant elements that have encouraged division and delayed independence to the point support fragmented into groups, like once fast ice broken into pieces and melting away.
By Kevin McKenna
The wider Yes movement should be celebrating Joanna Cherry’s victory over The Stand Comedy Club in her fight to be heard. This goes beyond issues around free speech and the cancel culture which has begun to settle – like a blight – upon civic Scotland. Quite simply, the Scottish public need to be reminded that there still exist within the SNP eloquent and grown-up politicians who aren’t in thrall to a mob of misogynists.
Let’s be honest with each other here: The Stand Comedy Club’s decision to cancel Ms Cherry’s Edinburgh Festival gig wasn’t really over concerns some of their staff harboured about what she might say during her appearance on stage.
The Edinburgh South West MP is due to appear with other politicians to discuss a wide range of topics which may or may not include a discussion about gender reform. These reactionaries simply didn’t like the thought of her physical presence at The Stand.
As such, it was a clear and unambiguous breach of her human rights not to suffer discrimination for her reasonable and sincerely-held political and cultural beliefs. As soon as Ms Cherry gave notice of her intention to begin court action against the comedy club in defence of those rights there could only be one winner. That silence of many SNP activists and Ms Cherry’s elected party colleagues in the face of this attack on her protected rights has been as depressing and absurd as The Stand’s original position. Equally so that of some commentators and academics (the term here is applied in its loosest sense).
In a variety of inchoate responses some had argued that Joanna Cherry hadn’t been cancelled at all as she’d used assorted media outlets to defend her position. It’s troubling that some scions of the political elite believe that the existence of a free and independent press somehow permits establishments and institutions to ignore the law. “M’lud, my client pleads not guilty on the basis that a newspaper stood in at the last minute to repair the breach.”
The silence of the SNP’s supine and cowed professional wing ought not to have come as a surprise to those of us who have watched a mutation of this party unfold in the Nicola Sturgeon era. The Stand’s absurd attempt to cancel Joanna Cherry encapsulated the culture that has been permitted to fester inside Scotland’s party of government.
The refusal of those SNP cowards to speak in defence of their colleague has also encouraged a sinister coterie to threaten violence against Ms Cherry. One of them posted the following tweet: “Remember when Salman Rushdie got stabbed got stabbed in the neck. Crazy what can happen on stage these days.”
It had echoes of the violent sexual threats made to Ms Cherry two years ago which resulted in a conviction. Then, too the silence of many of Ms Cherry’s colleagues provided a glimpse of this party’s dark heart. The SNP came to power on waves of optimism that it could liberate the business of democratic engagement from the discredited Westminster model of old-boy politics. In the course of the last eight years though, it has become a secret society, turning in on itself and afflicted by paranoia and suspicion.
It’s now become clear that during this time the needs of the Scottish people were secondary to a desire to retain power and influence at any cost. The Scottish public are now being granted glimpses of the sewer running beneath Nicola Sturgeon’s ruinous reign. Her departure from the political stage as well as those senior lieutenants charged with enforcing her will has allowed a few individuals to reveal some truths about her regime.
Bruce Adamson, Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner, has emerged to accuse Ms Sturgeon of failing Scotland’s children during her nine-year reign as First Minister. He pointed to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which had “a disproportionate impact on those who were already most at risk”. These included “children who were in poverty, disabled children, young carers”.
He cited the “year and a half of prevarication and delay” over the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as the most egregious manifestation of the SNP’s failures to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable young people. In 2021 Holyrood sought to incorporate the UN convention into Scots Law only to encounter a Supreme Court challenge from UK law officers arguing that this would erode Westminster’s ability to make laws for Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s failure to make the necessary amendments to their bill is in contrast to their urgent desire to take Westminster to court over its Section 35 order to block Holyrood’s gender reform legislation. A majority of Scottish people are opposed to the self-ID provisions of GRA, according to polling. And they’re overwhelmingly supportive of incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law. It’s a graphic illustration of the SNP’s instincts to place its own whims above the needs and wishes of the people. They delude themselves into believing that this is ‘progressive’. You’ll see more progressiveness in the ranks of the Royal Company of Archers.
Elsewhere, we’ve seen a former SNP staffer emerge from his nine-year Omerta to accuse the SNP of wrecking the wider Yes movement during the 2014 referendum. Here and there, individuals are popping up to criticise the SNP regime.
Their revelations all chime with the many people in public life I’ve interviewed over the last few years. Almost all of them have expressed horror at self-ID in the gender bill. And then they reach forward and ask you to put away your notebook. “Please don’t quote me on that. They’ll come for me if you do.”
The Stand Comedy Club’s position merely reflected the culture of fear and silence which have long hollowed this clown-show of a political party. A place where originality and smart policy initiatives go to die, and especially if they are espoused by the wrong sort of people.
At Holyrood those, like Ash Regan, who pledged to reform this failed party have been frozen out and shunned by party colleagues. Like the rest of us, they’ve watched in stunned wonder at the gallery of inarticulate and unintelligent drones now occupying the most senior roles in government.
The SNP has betrayed the people of Scotland and we’re long past the stage when they could reasonably deemed fit to govern. A period in opposition is long overdue. It will allow time for the cause of independence to be redeemed.
The author known as Grouse Beater, Gareth WardellPhoto: Barbara Rae
If I were the First Minister of Scotland, my team ready to overthrow colonial power, restore Scotland’s liberty, implement our full civil and constitutional rights, and see people free to build the country they want without interference or intervention from our belligerent neighbour, I would give this speech on my inauguration knowing we are at the start of a great social revolution.
The alternative title of this essay is, ‘Things to do in Scotland before you die’. This list is my personal choice. A problem arises from making a selection of the urgent and the paramount. Too many Scottish politicians do not have the blindest notion, no idea what we face held back by a colonial power ready to stop the creation of a ‘better society’. Good sense is wasted on them.
They would not know where to start, or what is screaming out for radical change. This is a product of the colonial agenda, co-opt the best for jobs in national supervision and reward them for accepting colonial values, leaving the second-best to run things locally. In that way people point to those in local authority and feel Scots really are useless. Scotland must have the only national party that announced prior to a general election “A vote for the SNP is not a vote for independence.”
When Independence Day arrives it presupposes it was secured by an administration capable of blazing statemanship. We hope they have courage and are without self-regard, and if they lack those qualities, they are humble enough to resign and pass the job to someone better equipped.
I marvel at how little the average member of the Scottish parliament (MSP) actually understands of colonial governance. A dominant national party in power too long without causing disruption to its oppressors is one that has come to an amicable understanding with the colonial power, deceiving the people that elected the party to attain one single goal – liberty.
The old joke springs to mind: ‘They had one job’.
Asked in an interview what structures I’d like to see, I answered ‘the means of attainting happiness’, but without the time to expand what I meant by that remark. I would love to find a way to lead a life without daily fear, for fear is slavish and it saps energy and closes ambition.
To create a joyous society there has to be a renaissance in Scottish art, music and filmed drama that brings with it involvement in achievement at all levels of society. We have been promised a kingdom by ministers and priests and rabbis for thousands of years. How pleasant is the thought of a kingdoms realised in Scotland while we live. What an example to the people of other nations. We have it all, natural resources, wealth, an inventive people, resolve and a sense of justice. But we are told daily we are a small-minded, impoverished country.
Humans need few things in life to be happy. All the materialistic paraphernalia we acquire is superfluous, the things a capitalist consumer society sells to us that we really do not need. Happiness is derived from feeling one is a valued part of a community, and that you can participate in the system of governance, locally and nationally.
What I failed to say in my answer to the interviewer is how Scotland should be restructured to face the modern world. We should be living in ideal times, history tells us how to do it, but we live in a confluence of crisis, our chances of creating a truly democratic society faced by the tyranny of our colonial neighbour, and the onset of disastrous climate change and pandemics and wars. I fear for what kind of world we are bequeathing to our children, but I know it will be an immense challenge to see it righted, a fairer place, not one beset by hunger, pestilence and conflict.
The impending destruction of life on Earth is the most urgent task for nations to tackle as a matter of profound urgency. We have the solutions to alter things now, if we have a mind to do it. If we do nothing, quite frankly, we are history, except there will be nobody around to read it.
Humankind is well on its way to extinguishing itself and the flora and fauna on the planet, living things that have had nothing to do with nuclear war, mass pollution or genocide. There are people among us who hate their fellow humans to such an extent that they do not care about the loss of human life, bar their own, of course.
I cannot bear to contemplate the destruction of the wonderful things humankind has produced, great art that lifts the human spirit, in my homeland the narrative creativity of R.L. Stevenson or Frederic Lindsay, the poetry of Robert Burns and Sorley MacLean, the art of Allan Ramsay or Will Maclean. Hope for Scotland’s future is in our hands or at least in the hands of the young, should the elderly feel too fatigued to carry the torch of freedom for the next generation.
We are commanded by self-preservation of our species to use some of our wealth to protect the land we live in, therefore readers will forgive me if I first concentrate on that thing we call filthy lucre but we rely upon to exist. Finance is critical.
The removal of bank regulation was the worst thing to happen to western economies, the result of a deeply flawed neo-liberal, half-baked ideology that grew out of capitalist’s alarm at seeing the rise of unionism and socialism, creeds enthusiastic to redistribute wealth. Now there are moves afoot to free bankers to repeat their grand theft larceny. The crisis is tossed at Scotland as false evidence we need a shoulder to lean on.
Libertarianism US style is a nasty potage of pseudo philosophy and counter-intuitive economic theory. After twisting the theories of the Scots economist Adam Smith to suit their doctrine, the group Businessmen of America cobbled together a quasi-religion to justify their plan to take back wealth and suppress the masses. A mad woman called Ayn Rand wrote some nonsense about greed being good for humanity, and bits of her lunacy was woven into the story of false gods we should worship. So far, it has worked well. The greatest part of wealth has been sucked upwards. The credo of the far-right is, the poor are too rich and the rich are not rich enough.
The religion’s genesis began in Europe issuing from the theories of Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian-British economist, later refined and led by the likes of the over-confident American economist Milton Friedman and his free market economy, a faith based superstition claiming, no matter what crises arise, an unregulated Market will always be a safety net for a health economy. We know this to be the law of the jungle. It takes no account of the venality of men. In 1981 Friedman published a paper, an extremely influential document in which he opines that ‘the sole purpose of corporations is to enrich themselves’, not the population. In a phrase: greed is good.
Unfortunately Friedman’s wobbly, self-centred theory was given credence by a Nobel Prize for his “achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy”. His ideas depend on their existing very little competition between large corporations. They do free trade deals that are mutually beneficial. Monopolies rule.
In my Scotland severe restrictions on what banks can do with ordinary savers’ money and pension funds woul be absolutely necessary in a small country. The bank crisis of 2008 took decades of taxpayer money because they were ‘too big to fail’, their employees pocketing massive amounts of cash even as their companies rushed toward Death Row.
We bailed out corrupt and inefficient banks, allowed them to carry on as before. Instead of protecting the profitable departments and letting fail the corrupt sections we saved the whole rotten pile of crooks. There is every sign they have not altered their ways. Banks should be owned by the people and that’s what I want to see in my Scotland.
Corporations and the Bonus Culture
When there is competition, big companies gobble up small companies until they become giant conglomerates more powerful than democracies. They bribe politicians to approve changes in protective laws; they give companies human rights.
Overnight they can shift money out of people’s hands and banks to places where it cannot be taxed or subject to socialist principles. Moreover, the bonus culture is corrosive. It encourages greed where those who get paid the most gain the greatest status in the community.
My youth’s guardian would have been shocked to learn you can sell anything in a contemporary economy, from your place in a queue for tickets to an event, to your own child for sexual exploitation. Everything has been given a monetary value.
The enemy of extreme capitalism is socialism. Those who dismiss socialism have never seen it operate successfully because there have only been half-hearted attempts to try it in full invariably crushed by the forces of capitalism and coups to overthrow elected governments. A country tied to the off-shore tax havens of global entities will never be free to serve the people.
Tax havens bleed a country of its capital, funds we should have to build hospitals, schools, pay for a sound health service, pave roads and rid us of food banks. Welfare ought to be a right, not selective judgement by bureaucratic officials following political instruction. While mega-corporations and Internet companies exploit tax loopholes, made legal by the very people we elected to protect us, the burden of taxes fall on the mass of the population, us, a burden that increases yearly.
Tax havens are an obscenity. Money secreted to a tax haven should see the miscreant, individual or institution, fined the same amount, and if in business, banned from holding directorships. If the money is lost, squirreled into a maze of offshore accounts, the person or persons involved should be charged with theft from the nation and given a suitable jail sentence.
Scotland has to outlaw tax havens if it is ever to shake off a corrupt UK, a Scotland where workers create wealth and the few who employ them remove it, permanently. The myth that entrepreneurs create wealth is exactly that, a myth. They do not do become a success by their own labours.
Moreover, money granted to a company for start-up reasons or to bolster its existence ought to put the company in the nation’s hands until it pays back the loan. We cannot let it be sold for a £1 to professional asset strippers, taxpayers the losers. What I should prefer is taxing the rich.
A Wealth Fund
Scotland can create a Wealth Fund in addition to an Oil Fund. If passed, the tax plan would raise taxes on the country’s highest earners, cut tax benefits for the richest, fight tax evasion, all to offer well-funded welfare system, free higher education, fund libraries properly, and support our health service. We could also add a 10% tax on a myriad other resources that are currently stolen by the English government. I do not see those measures as ‘punishment’ but as spread wealth equitably.
If we do nothing, poverty and suffering remain; an evil status quo becomes normality. Fair taxation is an important conversation in any country – the ideas of equity and progress, the idea that those who have the most have to pay more. These are universal concepts to draw upon.
Mandatory Voting and Referenda
Democracy is the best system we have for the individual not considered a cog in a wheel. Ignore the system, let it fall into disrepair or the wrong hands, and it will grind to a halt and rust, or be stolen and sold by those who prefer a laissez-faire system. Democracy is a bastion against authoritarianism.
I admire the mandatory Australian voting system, you must vote, you must participate, voting is compulsory, by-elections too. Only ill-health or hospitalised precludes voting, that or death! (At the time of writing, twenty countries exercise compulsory voting.) From age 18, all citizens ought to be obliged to vote. This avoids embarrassing outcomes where, in England, for example, less than half the population voted on an advisory referendum that was used by malicious politicians to take the United Kingdom nations out of Europe.
The same should apply to referenda. I have no problem with referenda or multiple plebiscites. The Swiss Cantons – districts – utilise referenda sometimes more than once a year. It need not be a vote for a national question. It can be one pertaining to a local area, votes placed only by those affected.
In addition, a politician can be elevated to lead a party on the basis of a few hundred votes, and an inhumane policy proposed by that leader supported by a few thousand members of that party and adopted. If the party wins an election, even my small majority, it has the authority to put that policy into operation though it might be highly contentious and people suffer from its effects. In Scotland, we saw this with the Tory Poll Tax, (rescinded) and lately, an SNP Hate Crime Bill which effectively criminalises thought. This is not a Scotland we fight to create.
Referenda give the electorate a voice. The anti-democratic argue ‘ordinary’ people are not fit to judge. They will say ‘the issue is complicated’. The children’s author J. K. Rowling said something similar at the start of the 2014 referendum to free Scotland from three hundred years of servitude. She felt the bond Scotland to England too complicate to unravel, as if social justice was an obscure concept.
Icelanders knew what to do. They voted to tell Gordon Brown and his threats over bank debts to go to Hell – earlier they beat Westminster over fishing rights – Iceland was not going to pay for bank losses the people did not cause yet were asked to shoulder for years ahead, money owed to the United Kingdom in dodgy investments.
For the last fifty years or so we have seen a constructive, illiberal assault on our very existence, an attempt to take away our rights and reduce us to nothing more than passive consumers. If Scotland wants to be a place to live and nurture a family it has to protect civil rights.
Ownership of Land and Sea
Like many before me, I believe abolition of the private ownership of land is a necessary step towards an equitable society. To convince landowners to hand land over to the government for the possession of the people we should implement a land tax.
I think of how the clan system cleaved land into segments, and clan fought with clan to take possession of the other‘s territory. On a bigger scale, I think of the Union. Scotland does not want to own part of England, but successive English governments assume they own Scotland. (Wales has the same problem.) Labour and Tory think they own Scotland completely and automatically after a general election even when they lose the vote in Scotland. This is acquisition by power grab.
As for that land covered by salt water – the sea, Scotland owns a large section of the North Sea. By moving maritime boundary lines, Tony Blair stole the oil from Scotland for the sole exploitation of England’s economic agenda, and the Westminster government repeats the offence by taking a large part of North Sea gas without Scotland benefitting. We are truly a colonised country ruled by a tyranny.
Despite an SNP government dedicated to radical land reform, Scotland still lives with the majority of land owned by very few people. In times of crisis, as now, it becomes almost impossible to wrestle land off landowners to use in emergency, although one day climate change may see war laws apply.
Some method has to be found to place land in the hands of the nation. Perhaps one route to take is not allowing land to be sold to anybody other than the government, held on behalf of the people. Taxation can help too. Unexploited land is what we pass to the next generation. The land is our history and our wealth. The few owning so much land is why so many of us are piled high in cities.
Traditional Scottish Names
I admire Iceland enforcing an approved list of traditional names Icelanders must use. People will protest an official list of names is an attack on personal freedoms, when in reality it protects their culture and traditions from dilution and eradication. And they forget that you know a Scotsman or woman because so many of us have a surname beginning with ‘Mac’ or the diminutive ‘Mc’.
It follows that I am addressing first and middle names. I am all for a child given two first names. They can choose which to use when older. Those first names should have a linear, identifiable heritage. It does not matter if the name originated in Ireland, Italy, Norway, Denmark, France or Timbuktu. If a name can be proven to be extant in Scotland for, say, 100 years or more, they should be permissible as a Scottish name. A national register can be augmented year by year, if people wish new names added to the list that are discovered in past records, and that includes their spelling.
I expect this attitude to protecting our heritage the most challenged; such is the belief in the cult of the individual together with deeply ingrained feelings of ‘Britishness’. A national register of Scottish names avoids the schizophrenic disaster of the ‘Amber McClutchie’ sort, or ‘Wayne MacGlinchy’, rapper and basketball cheerleader. Without an Indigenous language we barely exist and we become susceptable to alien vocabularly that determines thought.
The first thing invaders do when taking possession of another’s country is eradicate the local language. You must learn to speak as the colonial speaks. With that history goes indigenous stories, writing, poetry, and song. One of the good things the SNP did under the leadership of first minister Alex Salmond was pass a Bill to add Gaelic names to all signposts and maps. We should add Scots as our first language, and all the names attached to it and teach Scots in schools as a first language.
Caring for the Vulnerable
A nation can be judged by two things, the cleanliness of its public toilets and how it cares for the vulnerable. We know our nation is a wealthy one, always was, hence England holds tight to our taxes and resources. When independent again, some of that wealth ought to be ascribed to a minimum wage as good as any in Europe, and a pension just as equitable.
A Four-Day Working Week
The few limited experiments for a four-day week carried out in countries such as Finland prove to have great benefits for the population’s health and happiness. Not only did their work effort rise knowing they toiled four days a week, but also they had physical energy to expend on work and play. People had more leisure time to spend with their family and in leisure activities. The latter presupposes some trades will not see a shorter working week unless they can afford to rotate staff, such as pubs, restaurants, coffee houses, shops and entertainment establishments.
Happiness finds a balance between work and home life and hobbies. A study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, (CIPD) revealed that sixty percent of UK employees work longer hours than they want, with twenty-four percent overworking by ten hours a week. On the flip side, a huge proportion of employees who work flexible hours believe it has a positive impact on their lives. Longer hours do not necessarily lead to heightened productivity.
In Scotland with our limited summer weather and dark winters, I think a shorter week a boon to better mental health. In Denmark, where workers put in four hours less per week on average than those in the UK, productivity is a quarter higher than in Scotland. More leisure time does not necessarily lead to boredom. For some, voluntary work in the community is the way to fill free time.
There are many more changes I’d like to see. One is following Alex Salmond’s policy of holding parliamentary meetings with voters in different regions of Scotland twice a year, taking power to the electorate. Another is planting forests and woods, evergreen mixed with deciduous trees. Japan planted millions of trees in a ten year span, and found ways to reuse good land left fallow. We could do the same, enriching the soil with the likes of seaweed fertiliser to grow food, and in so doing, include the rebuilding and regeneration of lost villages and help them become self-reliant.
In time the battle between socialism and capitalism will fade away with the old men who argue about it endlessly. Right-wing cranks and capitalist crooks grow old and acquire the distresses of old men, bald heads, fat bellies and enlarged prostates. Then they die.
I want a caring society, for a creed or sentiment is essential for social cohesion. But to be a source of strength it has to be deeply felt by the majority of people, as it once did in the islands and village communities of Scotland’s past. Where this quality is absent, governments may seek to fill the void with censorship and persecution. We must never forget that in Scotland the people are sovereign.
Voltaire’s Candide concludes with an immensely practical precept, “Cela est bien dit, mais il faut cultivar notre jardin”: This is well said, we must cultivate our garden. And I agree wholeheartedly.
I am off to cultivate mine.
NOTES: The article is an extract taken from ESSAYS 3 in the trilogy of publications. Copies can be purchased from Amazon Books, (as well as ESSAYS 1 and ESSAYS 2, or a £25 signed copy commissioned from the author at: email@example.com.
Police arrest a ‘Just Stop’ Oil protester in London on 3 May. Photo: Andy Rain
Draconian new powers allow England’s police to shut down every form of effective protest. London’s Met are the worst offenders, always ready to try-out a new fascist regulation. It’s a green light for even greater abusesand there’s no doubt Tory policing will arrive in Scotland.
THE AUTHORITARIAN POLICE STATE
By George Monbiot
The more unequal a society becomes, the more oppressive its laws must be. This, I think, explains new acts that would not be out of place in a police state. So vague and broad are the powers granted to the police under last year’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act and this year’s Public Order Act that it is no longer clear where their abuse begins and ends.
At two o’clock on the morning of the coronation, the Metropolitan police, using the Police Act, arrested three people in Soho for carrying rape alarms. The police claimed they were acting on intelligence that rape alarms might be used to frighten the horses that would later be parading elsewhere.
The people they arrested were volunteers working for Westminster city council as “Night Stars”, helping to stop the sexual harassment of women. They give rape alarms to women who might need them. The alarms are funded by the Home Office. Night Stars volunteers wear pink tabards emblazoned with the logo of their partner organisation … the Metropolitan police. Yet the three volunteers who were arrested were cuffed for three hours and held for 14 before being released on bail.
Why would the police arrest their own partners? What was the “intelligence” on which they were acting? If they were really worried about rape alarms being misused, why did they not simply confiscate them? It looks to me like the old paso doble between police and press. Two weeks before, the Mail on Sunday had run a front-page story headlined “Extremists’ vile plot to spook King’s horses with rape alarms: Fears protesters planning to sabotage Charles’ Coronation could cause ‘serious injuries or even deaths’ … as eco-zealot groups set to join forces to cause chaos”.
The Mail produced precisely zero evidence that environmental or republican activists were planning such a thing. But if the police wanted to find people carrying these devices, they knew where to go. The arrests were used by the Mail as a vindication of its story. Though Westminster council had explained to the newspaper that those arrested were its volunteers, the Mail described them as “militant activists … arrested over a plot to throw rape alarms at horses during King Charles’s Coronation”.
Were it not for the patient work of the journalist Mic Wright, that’s how the story would have stood. Police and press are two tails of the same beast. The head of media at the Metropolitan police is a former crime reporter at the Daily Mail.
The new laws were also used pre-emptively to arrest campaigners from Republic and Just Stop Oil, and a journalist filming them, to thwart their vile plot to wear dangerous T-shirts and hold seditious placards. For good measure, Animal Rising said the police had rounded up some of its activists at a training session miles away from the coronation. Safer to arrest everyone who might dissent.
These laws have been introduced just as public trust in the police has collapsed. Louise Casey’s report, released in March, found the Metropolitan police to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Yet the police have now been granted discretionary powers so broad that they can shut down any protest, on the vaguest suspicion that it might prove to be “disruptive”. It’s a green light for even greater abuses.
The Police Act 2022 was bad enough, redefining “serious disruption” so widely that it could be applied to almost any situation, greatly increasing the penalties for acts of peaceful protest and creating a new and remarkably vague offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”, with a penalty of up to 12 months in prison. Half the people arrested at or around the coronation were detained on this charge. But the Public Order Act 2023 is much worse.
The new offences it creates have been designed to allow the police to shut down every form of effective protest. If you chain yourself to the railings or attach yourself to anything or anyone else you could be jailed for 51 weeks. If you carry equipment that the police claim could be used for such a purpose, you could also be breaking the law: at the coronation, protesters were arrested for the possession of string and luggage straps.
The act imposes blanket bans on protests against new roads, fracking or any other oil and gas works. If, as the anti-roads protester Swampy famously did, you dig a tunnel – or even enter one – you can be imprisoned for three years.
The act greatly expands the police power of suspicionless stop and search, which has been used to such discriminatory effect against black people. Anyone can now be searched if a police inspector or any other senior officer “reasonably believes” protests might happen somewhere in the area, or that someone somewhere might be carrying a “prohibited object”. If you resist a search, you can be imprisoned for 51 weeks.
The act introduces “serious disruption prevention orders”, whose purpose seems to be to take out what the police call “aggravated activists”: experienced campaigners and organisers, without whom coherent protests don’t happen. The orders impose sweeping restrictions on these people, preventing them from attending or encouraging protests, confining them to particular places, forcing them to report to police stations, prohibiting them from associating with others. They can extend, if the police and courts so choose, effectively to house arrest. They blur the line between civil standards of proof and criminal punishment: an order can be applied on a mere “balance of probabilities”, but if you breach its terms you can be imprisoned for 51 weeks. The order can last for two years, then be renewed for a further two.
The orders are among several forms of pre-emptive control and punishment permitted by the act. It necessitates a great widening of police surveillance, to identify people deemed likely to commit one of the new crimes. It has been introduced while the undercover policing inquiry, which continues to reveal appalling abuses by police spying on peaceful campaigners continues. They can do what they want to us now.
These are the state-of-emergency laws you would expect in the aftermath of a coup. But there is no public order emergency, just an emergency of another kind, that the protesters targeted by this legislation are trying to stop: the collapse of Earth systems. We are being compelled by law to accept the destruction of the living world.
This is a fifteen minute video made by SALVO, an undramatic reading of the Claim of Right, essentially Scotland’s constitution.Readers can choose to listen to it if they’ve other things keeping them occupied. It is a word of mouth presentation and without documentary footage.
The Claim of Right is also published in full in ESSAYS 3 available from Amazon Books. The edition also contains the other mechanisms, rights and measures Scots have to regain the full and comprehensive governance of their own country.
The last thing we need is an all-comers welcome referendum guaranteed to fail, the vote dished out to transitory foreigners, students from other nations, and absent property owners. Why should they be expected to support Scotland’s political and economic need? No country allows incomers a vote of constitutional matters. Had we followed that rule in 2014, Scotland would be a free country again. 53% of indigenous Scots voted YES.
The SALVO organisation is a good example of how people of a like mind get together to protect their civil and constitutional rights when their elected government fail in that task. SALVO was formed to restore Scotland’s Claim of Right. It’s not going to be easy. The power elite are not in any mood to listen let alone respect Scots. We are an ethnic minority in the UK, and life here has always been about England’s interests, and England first. We are up against a powerful and utterly determined British State that will do everything in its power to denigrate the truth about Scotland’s constitution as foolish and divorced from the political reality. But political realities can change.
SALVO needs you to change the political reality and help build an unstoppable liberation movement to restore our ancient and rightful constitution through the Claim of Right.
Join SALVO. Then read more about Scotland’s astonishing history and how the Claim of Right was the culmination of centuries of law that formed our constitution, a constitution kept hidden for over 300 years by the pernicious and forced Union of Scotland and England.
ESSAYS 3 signed, can be purchased from: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just send an email with your address for delivery – the reply will explain the bank transfer details: £25 including first-class postage.
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