INDEPENDENCE An argument for Home Rule by Alasdair Gray

 Independence cover

INDEPENDENCE An argument for Home Rule by Alasdair Gray was published in 2014, so before the Independence referendum of 2014 and it contains eleven chapters and a postscript.

It was Jack who gave me this one to read and you can read his thoughts on it here.

The book begins with Alasdair Gray’s prologue in which he writes: This book is written for Scots, by whom I mean anyone in Scotland who will vote in the September referendum to make Scotland a more or less independent nation.

The chapter titles include:
National Geology – How Lands Make People Behave

Anglo-Scots Differences

Old and New Corruption 1800 – 1976

UK Parliament, North Sea Oil A New Chapter in Old Corruption

Settlers and Colonists A Controversial Topic

A Small Stir of Correspondence More Controversial Matter

In Settlers and Colonists he writes about being asked to write an article on the subject and the result of that was that he was called a racist by people who had never even read the article and questions were asked in the Scottish Parliament. In this chapter he clarifies the situation, explaining the differences between the two. Basically Settlers are people who arrive in Scotland from another country but are happy to embrace the place, people and culture – in my experience these people often cheerfully end up becoming more Scots than the native Scots.

Colonists move to Scotland as a sort of smash and grab raid, often being given high profile jobs in Scottish culture, knowing nothing about the subject, but for them it’s a stepping stone to getting a similar position in England, they usually stay a very short time. In my experience these people usually come to Scotland and grouse about everything – declaring loudly how much better everything is elsewhere – in their opinion. Not the way to win friends and influence people.

The next chapter – A Small Stir of Correspondence was the upshot of Gray mentioning the difference between Settlers and Colonists. Pete Selman who was the Director of Properties and Visitor Services at the National Trust for Scotland and took umbrage at what Gray had said at something he was invited to. It’s a bullying letter from him demanding an apology from Gray and threatening to remove his books from the National Trust shelves because as far as he knew they weren’t selling any of his books anyway.

Alasdair Gray’s reply to Selman is a cracker, needless to say that he didn’t get a reply to it. Among many things Gray pointed out that his mother’s parents were both English and he has never had any problem with English people choosing to live in Scotland or indeed the many Scots who live in other parts of the world – only the carpetbaggers.

It’s all about peoples’ attitude to others or as one of our English friends says – some English people come to Scotland and ‘do the English thing’ – by which he meant they throw their weight about.

This is an interesting read, and what with all this Brexit chaos it highlights the differences between the two so-called united kingdoms. If Scots had known that Brexit would become UK Government policy within two years the outcome of the 2014 Independence Referendum might have been very different.

Scottish Independence and Trident

Scottish referendum photo

As you can see from the photo above, the empty shop which was taken over by the NO campaign for their HQ has an upstairs neighbour who is very definite that they are voting YES. I found it amusing anyway but I don’t suppose the NO people are too chuffed about it.

Last night we had the second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling on TV. I watched it even although I’m getting fed up with the whole thing, it has been such a long campaign. I think Salmond won the debate easily but I have heard others say the opposite, there’s no accounting for people’s perceptions I suppose.

Anyway the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins has been writing about the referendum here. The article is specifically about Trident and what would happen to it if Scotland votes YES for independence.

I grew up just a stone’s throw away from Faslane and Coulport and at one point my father even worked at Coulport, but it’s always been a place I’ve hated, the very existence of nuclear weapons is abhorrent but when they are on your doorstep it sort of concentrates the mind. Apart from anything else the Gare Loch, where the Trident submarines are based is such a place of beauty, well it would be if it didn’t have miles and miles of razor wire circling it.

I’ve always wanted to sweep the weapons of mass destruction away and replace them with tourists and holidaymakers. It would be superior to anything in the Lake District, there could be the usual outdoor activities, such as sailing and scuba diving, no noisy speed boats or jet skis please!

I’ve actually had the unnerving experience of being on an enjoyable hill walk when I stumbled across an ominous looking air vent in the hillside. Because those hills have been hollowed out to allow for storage of nuclear weapons!

If I had my way those hollow hills could be used for all sorts of peaceful activities. Indoor climbing could take place and all sorts of games and entertainments. It would be a great place to shelter when the weather was bad, or the midges were too annoying.

Trident is the reason that President Obama changed his mind on the Scottish Independence referendum. Originally he said that it was up to the people of Scotland to decide. Then obviously his advisers got to him and explained that Scotland was the home of the Trident missiles, the only ones in Europe and as such apparently required for the ‘safety’ of the world!

I would just get rid of the lot of them but seemingly that would not be on the cards. It has been suggested that the base could be moved to Portsmouth. I wonder how the good people of Portsmouth would feel about that. Apparently there are about 260,000 people living around that area, including Devon, it’s presumably more than that, but still not close to the much larger amount of people living near the Scottish bases.

Simon Jenkins mentions: Where will the submarines and their warheads go if not in Scotland? The wild, unpopulated Scottish lochs are not easy to replicate in England or Wales. Honestly, I had to laugh when I read that. The loch which is home to Trident is a very short distance from Glasgow, one hour by road – at the most. As Glasgow is the biggest centre of population in Scotland at over 600,000 people in the city itself and there are plenty of medium sized towns in the area too it can hardly be described as a ‘wild and unpopulated area.’ Maybe Simon Jenkins should have a look at places before he writes articles about them, then he would have more of an idea of their ‘wildness’ or otherwise.

Scottish Independence

The Scottish Independence campaign is really heating up now, with our inglorious leader Cameron urging people in England to persuade their Scottish inhabiting friends and family to vote for the union. You have to admit it – those Tories certainly know how to antagonise people. I think I’m what is called a floating voter as I was of the opinion that I probably wouldn’t have made up my mind one way or the other before I even reached the voting booth, but much more of the silly nonsense which has been coming our way in Scotland and I’ll be leaning towards the ‘go it alone’ side long before we reach the 18th of September.

Even the European Union President has reared his ugly head and joined the fray. Apparently it’s his opinion that Scotland wouldn’t be part of the European Union if we become independent. It’s really funny but I can’t recall there being one squeak of complaint when the whole of East Germany was brought into the European Union on the amalgmation of East and West Germany. Of course the EU president just happens to be Portuguese and has a vested interest in not giving hope to the two parts of neighbouring Spain which want to break away and become independent. People in Scotland are happy in the EU but the same can’t be said for folks in England and it looks like the best way for Scotland to stay in EU would be to vote for independence, as a referendum about leaving the EU would almost certainly end up with the UK having to leave, including Scotland of course – against our wishes.

Did you know that we’re all doomed here in the North of Britain?! Aye, doomed!! Well we certainly are if you believe all of the talking heads who have made their way up here to tell us just that. We won’t be able to cope on our own and we certainly can’t keep using the British pound. They are going out of their way to tell us what a disadvantage it is to have oil. I’ve never heard that before – have you? That oil has been used to keep Britain afloat since the 1970s and it has just been squandered. I’ll never forget watching the TV news when the first test tube of oil was wheeched down to London, it struck me then that there was something very wrong with that!

I could go on for a long time in the same vein, but it was when English friends of ours (who now live in Scotland on a temporary permanent basis – so have votes in the referendum) told us that they would be voting for the Union just because they worried about England being forever engulfed by Conservative governments without all the Scottish Labour MPs who even things out at the moment that I began to lean towards a yes vote. Of course it’s those Scottish Labour MPs who are most aggressively against Independence, well turkeys wouldn’t vote for Christmas would they, and those MPs know that they would all be on the dole without Westminster.

The real trouble is that England is in such a bad way. London is over-heated economically beyond belief, it’s impossible to live decently in the place if you aren’t a millionaire. The north of England has always been like a completely different country compared with the south, the North is a nicer country admittedly but it’s also mainly poverty stricken because London gets such a big share of the available money.

Earlier this week there was a UK Cabinet Meeting in Aberdeen, the first one which had been held in Scotland since 1921 – and that says it all.

In fact most southern English people wouldn’t dream of visiting THE NORTH, never mind Scotland. It’s a rare English bird which ventures over the Scottish border, in fact when I lived in England for a few years I only met one person who had visited Scotland, and the ignorance is gob-smacking. They often think that it’s possible to ‘do’ Scotland in one day!

And I haven’t even mentioned David Bowie – I’ve always been a fan – but really, what was he thinking of?!

The Scottish Border and Independence

Katrina at border

This was the last photo that we took on our recent trip down south, I haven’t sorted through all the others yet, obviously Jack took it as I’m in it. I’ve got my ‘thumb up’ glad to be back in Scotland. We were on a quiet, small road into Scotland, just at the village of Coldstream, and as you can see there are no flags at this small border crossing, the flags are by the side of the motorway.

Anyway, today David Cameron was in Edinburgh finalising the details of the referendum on Scottish independence. Sixteen and seventeen year olds are going to be allowed to vote in it, that’s a first as eighteen is the normal voting age in Britain, and it’s just going to be a straight yes or no to independence. Some people were hoping there would be a ‘devolution max’ option.

One thing which a lot of people seem to be worried about is whether we would need a passport to travel between Scotland and England. Thankfully the answer to that is NO – and it’s just as well because with the amount of traffic going backwards and forwards between the two countries it would take us forever and a day to make the journey.

If you’re interested in hearing what our two great leaders(!!) said about the historic day you can have a look here.

Scottish Politics, Independence and Energy

You might know that the Scottish Independence campaign seems to have been kicked off in Edinburgh yesterday with both Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown giving speeches on the subject. It isn’t all that often that I dip a toe into politics, usually it’s just when I feel the need to have a wee bit of a rant but James Stafford of Oil Price sent me a copy of an interview with Alex Salmond, and I suppose we should all be gathering as much information as we can, prior to voting for or against Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum. It’s quite a long interview but if you’re interested you can have a look at it here.

I had been intending to do a post on Scottish politics anyway, because Cardinal Wotsisname, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is having what in my family I call a huff-huff in a huff-tree – in other words he isn’t speaking to the Scottish Government at the moment because it’s likely that gay marriage will become law in Scotland at some point in the future.

Actually, despite my having no interest in any religion I do have some sympathy with them, although I understand that under no circumstances would priests, ministers, rabbis and the like be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, I can’t really understand why gay people would WANT to be married in a religious ceremony. It sort of smacks of them poking a big stick at an already sore spot.

Homosexual couples can already become civil partners at a registry office, just as many heterosexual couples have done for years. It’s exactly the same for them all and heterosexual couples don’t go about saying that they had a civil partnership nowadays, it’s just called a wedding or marriage, no matter what it might be officially. I can’t see that what it’s called matters at all, it comes to the same thing, and if they want to break up then they’ll have to get a divorce like anyone else, in fact it seems to me that it’s all just more money for lawyers – as usual! Will getting hitched in a church make any difference? Well it hasn’t done for heterosexual couples.

But, to get back to the cardinal. I know how the next verse of his ‘I’m Not Speaking To You’ song goes, I’m sure everyone else knows too. It’s something like this:

If you don’t do what I want you to do Mr Salmond – then I will tell all of my flock that they must vote against Scottish Independence and the SNP in general. (The tune is Gleeful.)

Given that the turnout for any sort of election is woefully low now, that sort of manipulation could make a big difference. To make matters even more worrying, it’s a well known fact that until very recently the Catholic Church, in common with others was ‘fizzling’ out. They have even closed the seminary because they had no trainee priests. However in recent years they have had a big boost to congregations, due entirely to the eastern European economical migrants who have settled temporarily in Scotland.

The upshot of that is that the whole future of Scotland might be held in the hands of people who have no real interest in the future of the country, because they know that they’ll only be here for a few years, then they’ll go back home again.

It’s those evil twin subjects which should always be avoided in polite company – politics and religion. I know I’m being terribly impolite but it’s a bit of a worry when religious people with power over a lot of voters insist in flexing their muscles.