Tag Archives: Scotland

Hard border mainland UK

Borders, NoB orders and Brexit

Hard borders, soft borders, no borders, we’ve heard it all. There has been much debate about which type of border would exist between a post Brexit Scotland and England in the event of Scotland being able to avoid sinking, along with the rest of the UK, into an insular little xenophobic fug with post-imperialistic tendencies. There are various permutations of the argument but we know that the British parties and their “Scottish” stooges will always plum for the most extreme variation in order to scare people into complying with their way of thinking. So lets take a look at that extreme option.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a hefty margin, of course the democratic will of the Scottish people matters naught to the British Fundamentalist so they insist that Scotland retains its chains to the sinking ship Britannia and we’ll all sing Jerusalem as we descend to the bottom of the North Sea amid glorious waves of red, white and blue. But let’s assume that Scotland somehow manages to retain her full EU membership (or something very close to it). This option could probably only be achieved with full independence since there is no political will on the part of the British Fundamentalists to do otherwise. They know best you see, just get back into your tartan shortbread tin Scotland.

The British Fundamentalists tell us that a hard border would exist between Scotland and England so we would should really understand what a hard border looks like. First up is the Irish border as it used to look during the euphemistically named “troubles”.

A watchtower on the Irish border

A watchtower on the Irish border

The border itself was very porous with no actual fence or wall dividing Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland. There were roadblocks and checkpoints, watchtowers positioned at strategic points and armed soldiers manning them all. This was a hard border. It existed between two EU member states. It blocked the movement of goods, people and services and damaged both countries economies.

The next border is another hard border, more extreme than the last one. It is the former Inner German Border which used to exist back in the days of the Cold War. I used to patrol it and it was scary, it looked like this:

Inner German border

Inner German border

There were walls, anti-vehicle ditches, mine fields (the ploughed strip above), fences, war dogs on running leashes, watch towers, armed troops and all manner of listening and observation devices. The main difference between this border and the former Irish border was that this one was designed to keep people in, not out. I like to think that this would be the type of border that would exist between England and Scotland, one which is designed to keep the poor little Englanders in since they all aspire to get into the prosperous Scotland which stayed in the EU, well maybe not.

The fact is that all borders are artificial constructs, animals and birds do not respect borders. They are by human beings, for human beings. Designed to keep human beings on one side or the other. They exist only by the will of man.

So would this type of border exist between a post Brexit England and an European Scotland? If it did it would be an extension of the English southern border. It would be an English construct since Scotland neither needs nor wants one. The only people who would want one are the UKIPpers and their Daily Express reading followers who have been fed a constant diet of the dangerous migrants and glorious Britain with its smashing Empire. It would be the border between what remains of the UK and the EU/EEA. If rUK made it difficult at one point the EU would make it difficult at all points.  If rUK made it difficult to cross from Scotland within the EU/EEA into rUK then the EU would make it difficult to cross from all EU ports into rUK. For this reason sanity dictates that it would never happen (assuming some sanity still exists in this world).

Now our Tory Brexiteers insist that there would not be a hard border between a post Brexit Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. No real border exists there now and that’s the way that most people on the emerald isle want it to stay. So how can that be? How can Northern Ireland remain within the UK and have no borders with the Republic of Ireland? Well here’s how:

Hard border mainland UK

Hard border mainland UK

The border would exist around mainland UK! Taking us back to dark days of WWII. If you want to travel around the UK you will have to show your papers. Fancy jumping on a ferry to Larne? You’re going to need your passport. Live in Belfast and want to sell those goods to mainland UK? You’re going to have to pay customs duties and fill in lots of paperwork. This is the reality which awaits Northern Ireland and its soft border with the Republic of Ireland, the hard border will exist but it will be on the mainland.

So to sum up, no hard border will exist between Scotland and England whether or not Scotland retains EU membership or not. If NI remains part of UK it will have a hard border at the UK mainland and no border to speak of with the Republic of Ireland, but if NI remains within the EU it won’t have a border at all. Got it?

shovel-faced lesbian

sorry but i’m a jock
it won’t be much of a shock
that i want to break holyrood
and steal power back for good

once i get my orders from may
i execute them without delay
my words and fundamentalism
spread by organs of imperialism

keeping the rich nests feathered
is the reason i am bothered
hopefully an ermine coat
can clothe this unworthy scot

i can lie to order
knowing the media won’t bother
chastising my deceit
i’m just protecting the elite

the will of the people means nothing
when we have migrants needing expelling
human rights will be eviscerated
once we have brexited

i tell you what to do without mandate
while my chums pollute and rape
the country into which i was born
your criticism only brings scorn

you won’t be getting a referendum
the thought makes snackbeard glum
you’d only vote yes, that’s true
then i’d have to wear flat shoes

Respect democracy

It’s the phrase of choice for British Nationalists, isn’t it? They’re always telling us that we need to respect the result of our independence referendum. They use this phrase as a shield to deflect any and all criticisms of the UK, the stock phrase being “well you voted for it.” And they’re quite correct.

We voted for the status quo, we voted to remain the junior partner in a UK which was a member of the EU. Indeed we were told that the only way to preserve EU membership was to vote No in our referendum. We were promised other things if we voted to continue to be subservient to our London government, but they were more threats than promises. They were threats about HMRC jobs, threats about Royal Navy ships built on the Clyde, threats about our economy and it’s reliance on oil. But one of the biggest threats was the one about our membership of the EU. The architect of this programme of fear mongering dubbed it Project Fear.

It must be some quirk of fate then which moved the HMRC jobs to England, delayed the building of Type 26 frigates indefinitely and drove the price of oil to sustained lows. It must be a pure coincidence that we now find ourselves heading for the EU’s exit door (the one which confounded Nigel Farage). In fact it must just be a fluke that all of the British Nationalists’ threats have come to pass.

But we have to respect democracy, don’t we? We have to respect the fact that 55% of Scots voted to remain a part of one of the most corrupt states on the planet based upon the threats and promises of the serried ranks of corporations, politicians, media and monarchs. Forget the 45% that voted to jettison a 300 year old union which has extracted so much from Scotland that our economy can’t sustain itself. We don’t count because we didn’t win.

We have more democracy to respect now in the shape of the EU referendum. In reality it was more like a Nuremberg rally than an exercise in democracy. Project Fear took time out from demonising the Scottish independence movement and it focused it’s dull gaze, Theresa May like, on “immigrants”.

Theresa May

Theresa May

If anybody doubts that propaganda works, witness the sharp increase in racist attacks since the result of the EU referendum was announced. I hear that the Brexiteers are to rename England to Xenophobia.

But forget how the campaign was won. After all it’s not the means which counts in a referendum, it’s the result which matters. Slim as it was it was the result was still a majority for leaving the EU. That’s cool, I respect that. I respect the fact that the UK as a whole wishes to turn insular and cut itself off from the rest of the world. I respect the fact that the UK wishes to cancel all of the trade deals which currently exist between the EU and the rest of the world.

However, respect is a two-way street. So now that I have proclaimed my respect for the result, so must the British Nationalists. They must respect the fact that an overwhelming majority of Scots voted to remain within the EU, as did the people of Northern Ireland. I doubt that they will, after all we are the losers again. The British Nationalist will not respect our vote in the EU referendum just like they will not respect our qualified vote in the independence referendum. So why on earth should we respect the result of either referendum?

As far as I am concerned all bets are off. We voted to stay in this toxic union called the UK on condition that we retained our EU membership. Now that we are to be torn out of the EU by the votes of another country why should we stay in the UK?

What is to come is one of the most uncertain periods our country has ever faced. We will face massive upheaval, economic shocks and political mismanagement on an unprecedented scale. Given that we can clearly see our fate, how can we best navigate our way safely through its turbulent waters? To which ship should we pin our colours to? Should it be the slave ship Xenophobia with its crew of 65 million (foreigners not welcome), or should it be the cruise liner Europe with its crew of 742.5 million? My money, and most of the rest of the world’s money, is on the EU.

The only way that this can be achieved is for Scotland to become an independent nation once more. For that to happen we will need to hold and win a second independence referendum, we don’t have much time but the broad Yes movement is still with us. Let’s get going. The British Nationalists have already begun, but now their arguments ring hollow and we are no longer afraid. Saor Alba

More job opportunities - Better Together

Tata Scottish steel

As expected, Tata Steel announced that it would be mothballing the 2 remaining steel plate mills in Scotland with the sad loss of 270 jobs. Let’s not forget the even bigger blow to Scunthorpe which is set to lose 900 jobs. These job losses bring the total in the UK to around 4500, or 15%, this year and it looks likely that more will go too. This announcement brings the Scottish steel industry to an end.

The reasons cited by Tata Steel for the closures are the strength of the Pound, the cost of energy and the depressed cost of steel caused by China dumping their subsidised steel onto the global market. Let’s take a look at each one of these factors individually.

Strength of the Pound Sterling

The Pound has been appreciating in strength for some time now and it seems to be set to continue. But the pound is not appreciating against the USD, it is mainly appreciating against Asian currencies. The main reason for this increase in the strength of the Pound is:

“UK economic data continues to improve, particularly with respect to consumption, wage growth and core inflation, while foreign inflows remains supportive,” say Standard Chartered. Against this backdrop, it is believed that the BoE is likely to hike interest rates early next year, ahead of what markets currently expect.”

So the UK economy is growing. That’s a good thing, right?

UK GDP growth

UK GDP growth

GINI Inequality index UK

GINI Inequality index UK

Well it would be if the benefits of this growth were shared equally, but as the second chart shows that is not the case. For in the UK it is the rich who benefit the most from growth, the rest of us don’t get a look in.

Income growth at the top http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/#Database:

Income growth at the top http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/#Database

Of course a strong Pound decreases the costs of imports, which makes us consume more, and gives our wonderful Chancellor of the Exchequer a chance to crow about his achievements. But the reality is that our current account deficit is the worst it’s ever been.

UK current account defecit

UK current account deficit

So that means that inflation is bound to rise. All that free money sloshing around the world due to quantitative easing has to find a home somewhere, and the scent of higher interest rates here in the UK is sucking it in. In short, the prevailing conditions are not going to change any time soon so we can expect more of our manufacturing base to suffer.

Cost of energy

As we already know, Scotland pays the highest prices for electricity in the UK. In fact the further you are away from London and the SE England, the more you will pay. This is because of the transmission rates which are set by the monopoly of National Grid. So it’s no surprise that the steel mills in the North of England and Scotland pay through the nose for electricity. Something which OFGEM has deemed acceptable for years.

Cheap steel from China

Weak demand and over production has left China with a glut of steel. Although the Chinese government has ordered various steel mills to close they continue to operate, often at a loss. But this keeps the jobs in China, for once a steel mill closes it is very difficult to restart it. Which means that the worlds biggest steel producer keeps pumping the stuff out. Ukraine and Russia are also dumping steel onto the market for the same reasons. So three of the top 4 steel producing nations are preserving their production capacity and destroying the rest of the world’s capacity. But that’s OK isn’t it? We can buy steel cheap and so keep costs down?

Steel is a commodity which is strategic by its very nature because it is required if you want to make things like tanks, guns and ships. If a country can lay its hands on the stuff easily it can therefore defend itself easily. But what if the UK has a bit of a tiff with the major steel producing nations, say a small spat over something like Syria? Then they could just say, “No steel for you.” Then where would we be?

Other countries within the EU manage to preserve their steel industries, but here in the UK they are to be sacrificed on the neoliberal altar of the market. Without any strategic vision on the part of our government.

As we would expect our politicians, elected and wannabe, are making hay from these job losses and steel plant closures:

Kezia Dugdale steel tweet

Labour’s Kezia Dugdale steel tweet

Justine steel tweets

Lib Dem’s Justine steel tweets

Unusually, there has been no response from the Conservative and Unionist Party. I wonder why? But it just goes to show that the Unionist parties will use anything as a cosh to try to bash the SNP. Even when the fault lies squarely at the door of No.11 Downing Street.

But I thought that we were Better Together?

More job opportunities - Better Together

More job opportunities – Better Together

The jobs are in China and the powers are in Westminster.

 

 

Longannet shut

Smashing the monopoly of National Grid

The National Grid holds a monopoly on the operation of the high voltage electricity transmission network within the UK. They have done so since Margret Thatcher sold off the nationalised Central Electricity Generating Board in 1990. They also own the high voltage electricity distribution network in England and Wales, but the grid in Scotland is  owned by Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Electric (SSE). Last year National Grid made £3863000000 profit (that’s almost £4bn) and disbursed £1614484200 (£1.6bn) in dividends to its shareholders. Since it was created the share price has trebled. All this just goes to show how profitable an enterprise this is.

As regular readers will know, Scottish consumers pay more for their electricity than our cousins in England. We also pay more to connect a generator to the grid, which is why Longannet is closing. If it was located in the SE England then it would be paid for generating electricity. From an environmental perspective, the closure of Longannet’s dirty, coal-fired, furnaces would be a good thing. However lots of jobs depend upon it and it would leave Scotland a net importer of electricity from our cousins down south. Which would cost more than generating it here of course.

The logic behind the closure of Langannet goes like this: generators which are far from London must pay more to connect to the grid because it costs more to transmit the power over longer distances (Edinburgh and Glasgow don’t count as major population centres). In a lovely piece of Joseph Heller style logic remote communities, which are far from power generators, must pay more for their electricity for the same reason. So Scotland not only pays more to consume electricity, our generators also have to pay more to connect to the grid. All this money flows into the energy companies pockets.

So what’s the solution? It’s called the Micro Grid. This is where a community, or even a group of houses or an industrial estate, have their own electricity generator which supplies most of their needs. This generator can be anything, but let’s think of the environment so it should be a combination of renewable energy technologies like solar, wind and some biomass. The generators will be able to power the needs of the community for most, if not all, of the time. There could also be a grid connection, but crucially, the generators will not export to the grid so no connection charges are required. If the community shared a meter then there would only be one consumer connection charge. The grid connection would just cover the shortfall of the generator during high demand periods.

But energy policy is reserved to Westminster, so how can this be achieved? Well the Scottish Government controls the planning system. They could make it a planning policy for all new developments which would free the lucky people who live and/or work there from the extortion of the energy companies. They would be masters of their own power. Eventually, when energy policy becomes more enlightened, all those wee grids could be connected together into the Scottish National Grid.

Existing communities could be encouraged, through grants and planning policies, to create their own micro grids. Through these small steps we can be free of the oppressive pricing regime that currently exists for our electricity, free from the monopoly of the National Grid.

Ellon hustings 17 April 2015

An evening with Justine, Part 3

On to the next question which is about salmon netting at the Ythan estuary.

Clark is first up and he doesn’t support it. He then goes on to attack land reform calling it class war. Here’s their website for reference. I couldn’t find any reference to land reform on there. Braden is against but he doesn’t seem to know too much about it (to give him his due neither did I until I got handed a flyer on the way in). He magnanimously agreed to support the case against. Justine doesn’t say very much about it, WeeEck says that the people who are netting have a heritable right to do it which is why we need land reform. That was news to me too. Clark hits back in his rebuttal, he makes the point that farmers do what they do so that they can pass on their farms to the next generation, land reform would stop that. WeeEck says that’s rubbish. Some guy cuts this one-off, which I was disappointed about.

I know that land reform worries the farmers around me, they will not rent any land out because the renter will end up with a right to buy the land. That doesn’t seem right to me, it also acts as a block to new entrants to the farming industry, something which it sorely needs. Here’s an interesting fact for you, there is only 3 days food supply in the shops at any one time. Any interruption to the supply and we all starve. The next time you take a drive through the countryside, take a look around you. All that stuff in the fields is our food, and there isn’t enough of it to feed us all. Farmers invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in growing crops, the value of which they cannot know until it’s time to sell it. Very often they sell at a loss and the only reason that they survive is through the subsidies.

Some guy gives us the nest question which is about Donald Trump, his golf course and the offshore wind farm in Aberdeen Bay. This one is a potential banana skin for WeeEck and he’s first up. WeeEck backs any development which creates jobs and he backs the Trump development, he also backs the wind farm (although it is an experimental project not a wind farm apparently) because they both create jobs. Justine agrees with WeeEck (michty) but accuses him of riding roughshod over the local cooncilors by calling it in when he was First Minister. Braden is particularly weak on this one, that’s what happens when you get parachuted in I guess. Clark claims that 70% of the money which is paid to wind farms by way of subsidies goes to foreign companies and tax exiles, although he backs farmers having them. This smacks of hypocrisy to me, tories decrying tax exiles. He also backs centralised strategic planning for wind farms.

Wind turbines are an emotive issue for me, for it is because of them that I ended up in local politics. We used to have a really picturesque view of Glen Ythan, but now it is corrupted by 20 wind turbines which are all different sizes and haphazardly arranged about the place almost always in the most prominent spots. All of these turbines are owned by local farmers. Why are we spoiling our countryside with these ugly machines?

Next up was a question from a young loon who I was very impressed with: how would you connect with the electorate?

Clark is first to go, he tells us all about himself and his family. It seemed like a load of waffle to me. Braden waffles on too, mentions social media and Twitter. But hang on Braden, you blocked me on Twitter, remember? How is that connecting with the electorate? Justine knows the questioner, she goes on to talk about going to community council meetings and surgeries on the weekends when she’s not in London. WeeEck mentions social media and his office in Inverurie.

The final question was about unpaid carers. By this time we had all pretty much had enough and so on to the closing speeches.

Clark goes first since he was last for the opening speeches. He says that the tories are committed to saving the NHS, but he doesn’t say how (privatisation perhaps?). He says that the Gordon constituency is conservative with a small ‘c’ (I don’t know how he works that one out). He harks back to the referendum and asks to be judged on the tories track record (aye we will). There follows an attack on the Lib Dems and Labour, only the tories stand up for the worker apparently. Eh? He then says that this election is a choice between Ed or Dave (that’s a lie right there Clark, there are 5 PPCs standing in Gordon). He gets a wee cheer and sits down again.

Braden tells us that he supports Ed, fancy that. He wants an end to exploitative zero hours contracts, but doesn’t tell us what the definition of exploitative is. He then comes out with the best joke of the night. “I may not drink with Donald Trump (a reference to WeeEck) or own a multi million pound business or…be a Lib Dem.” It was genuinely funny and a great dig at Justine, you could see her ire rising. He gets a wee cheer.

Then Justine is up, she was angling for a supporting role in Ed’s government> Claims that Lib Dems were a moderating influence on the tories (yawn). Invest in health. Aim high and dream big, she then goes on to tell us about her working class roots (which probably means that she is not working class) She gets herself worked up into a frenzy, getting the whip oot again and lashing it all ower like she’s some king of sadistic dominatrix. She takes credit for the Smith Commission (I’m not sure that’s a good idea) and finishes off with a final flourish of the whip, “I will be scary.” I agree. She gets a decent cheer.

WeeEck then gets up and immediately sticks a chib intae Justine ower tuition fees then moves on to austerity and how it is killing this country. He makes the point that all three of the other parties present want to increase spending and increase cuts. He says the SNP want to end austerity and have a moderate increase in spending. He also wants the vow to be honoured and he is the man to do it. I totally agree. He gets the biggest cheer of the night.

In conclusion, I thought Clark was too far up himself. He tried to connect with the common man but at the end of the day he is a tory who is only interested in profit. Braden is like a fish out of water whenever he is beyond tha party dogma, very weak on local issues. WeeEck was exactly as you would expect, rambunctious and a formidable opponent. He knew his stuff, from the geopolitical to the local.

Then there’s Justine. She is the unionists’ great hope to defeat WeeEck. My impression of her is that she is a dominatrix, she flails the whip around and lectures her audience. She spent time defending the indefensible i.e. tuition fees. She wants an end to the bedroom tax, but Malcolm Bruce voted for it! Her hypocrisy knows no bounds. She is also weak on local issues, but then she said that she wanted to go to London from where she can board the gravy train like her predecessor rode for 31 years.

All in all I enjoyed our date Justine, I only hope that we don’t have another one anytime soon.

Ellon hustings 17 April 2015

An evening with Justine, Part 2

“So the question was: How do you plan to improve support services?

Clarke’s first up, he says the councils are very hard up because of the council tax freeze and he would like to get rid of it and raise council tax. Is that a vote winner? Braden wants all carers to be paid the living wage, scrap the bedroom tax and pause the roll out of Universal Credit. Fair enough I suppose. Justine wants to devolve funding down to the lowest level, she is against centralisation. She appears to be offering more of the last 5 years but decides now is the time to pull the rabbit from the hat, “I’ll gie ya £800m for your NHS Scotland.” That’s a fat rabbit, but the LibDems voted with the tories for £30bn cuts. Where’s this cash coming from? WeeEck sets aboot defending the council tax freeze, he says abody’s benefited fae the freeze, afore it was frozen cooncil tax had shot up faster than a squib on bonfire nicht. A the auld folks had benefited too and a the cooncils hid been fully funded.

A this chat fae WeeEck fair winds up Justine. She his a go at the tories’ cuts, but yon Malcolm Bruce voted for all of them. The irony is lost on her. Noo she’s wanting to bin cooncil tax a thigethir, but she wid gie us a new local income tax. By this time she’s up tae high doe, ranting aboot the bedroom tax (irony again?). It seemed to me that WeeEck had pressed a button and set Justine off. Braden agrees with WeeEck about bedroom tax. Clark says zero hour contracts are magic, because without them some people wouldn’t have a job. He makes a pre prepared Freudian slip and calls the LibDems the Labour Democrats. It fell pretty flat.

For me I would like to see a local income tax, it would make the councils directly responsible to the electorate. I always thought that council tax was unfair.

Some bloke serves another course: When will we see home rule or devo max?

WeeEck’s got fire in his belly, gies us a stirring speech aboot vows and pledges beein honoured. “Send me tae Westminster an, wi ma pals, we’ll mak sure Scotland gets fit it was promised,” sort ae stuff. That went down well (with me anyway). Justine gies us a history lesson that  must hae been written by her pal @historywoman (get the tag right, all lower case). Then she says she wants Federalism within the UK. Braden gives WeeEck a dressing down about the costs of Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA), he says we would end up with all of the costs of independence but none of the benefits (Wow, a Labour PPC admitting that there would be benefits to independence. He’s gone off message there.) Clark decides to have a go at Justine’s claim, “I’m not a Unionist.” That’s right, Justine claims to not be a unionist, “I’m a federalist,” she says. But I remember her dedication to the Union during the independence campaign. She stood shoulder to shoulder with the tories in defence of the union, but she’s not a Unionist? Come on. She even tried to deny that she had said any such thing, but all of the other panelists told her that they remember her saying it. Oh dear, sometimes it’s best to just stop digging.

ae finish aff this wee spell WeeEck cracks a joke, “The Smith Commission had to go at the speed of the slowest boat in the convoy, and with Conservatives, Labour and LibDems there were lots of slow boats.” It had me laughing. Then he said that Smith doesn’t come close to devo max. I couldn’t agree more, Smith was a giant fudge with every aspect of it reduced to the lowest common denominator. If we allow it, we won’t even get the powers in the Smith recommendations.

I’ll finish this one here, watch out for Part 3 soon.

Wheelie Bins for Yes

Referendum Recollections

According to the unionist press the dream of independence split the nation. Is this true? In a way I suppose it could be said that it was. Some voted that Scotland should be an independent country while others voted to remain under the heel of the Westminster system. Indeed the September 18th result was obviously the focal point for the British Nationalists, as was demonstrated by the George Square Riots.

After a day of being a sovereign country, we were returned to colonial rule. This begs the question of who was really trying to divide Scotland and whether they were successful? Was it the positive and inclusive grassroots YES campaign organised by the people of Scotland? Or was it the AstroTurf Project Fear; a scare and intimidation campaign run and funded by a Westminster government who became increasingly desperate to hold onto the revenues from our nation in order to prevent the inevitable bankruptcy of the rest of the UK.

For the people of Scotland I believe the lead up to the big day was actually way more important. Far from the hatred and division portrayed in the unionist controlled main stream media the residents of this country actually experienced a reawakening of a sense of community and compassion. For perhaps the first time in their lives the voiceless had a voice and the nation was gifted with a sense of hope.

Contrary to the reports of violent division before and since September, my personal experience was, and indeed continues to be, that of a coming together of people from diverse backgrounds. It has become irrelevant which social class you come from, what race or religion you happen to belong to, which sex you are, or even which country you were born in. People came together then and continue to work for a common cause. Perhaps for the first time politics was being openly discussed in homes, workplaces, pubs and public meetings the length and breadth of the land.

New phrases, such as social justice, flooded social media sites. People who had previously been unaware of just how large the gaps between the well off and the poor had become joined forces to attempt to redress the balance. Food banks became headline news and the levels of poverty, which had been at best ignored and at worst deliberately hidden, were thrust into the spotlight. The people were coming together to help those most in need in our society and continue to do so.

Divisive? That’s a matter of opinion. I have made a lot of new friends through the YES campaign, both on social media and also locally, nationally and worldwide. People I would never have met or interacted with if not for the referendum. I am not alone in this as the sense of inclusion is repeated hundreds, if not thousands, of times over in Scotland and around the globe as many looked on and stood with us in anticipation of the triumph of hope over fear.

Alastair G Rennie (Wheelie Bins for Yes)

Racist Sign

The vilification of Scotland

The dictionary defines vilification as: “To attack the reputation of (a person or thing) with strong or abusive criticism.” To my mind this is exactly what we have been seeing in the press over the last week or more.

We had Steve Bell’s racist slur cartoon in the Guardian, suggesting that all Scots are incestuous. I won’t bother showing it here. There was much derision at the Scottish outrage with “It’s just a cartoon” being the most common refrain. Yes it was a cartoon, but one carefully calculated to denigrate the Scots.

We also had Alan Massie give us a “Rivers of Blood” monologue in the Daily Heil (English Edition only). To quote him, “To borrow the Roman poet Virgil’s phrase (but intending none of the racist malice Enoch Powell so famously lent it), I don’t say the rivers Thames and Mersey will literally foam with blood – but they might well do so metaphorically.” He may not have intended the racist malice, but the whole piece leans towards it. It stokes anti Scottish hatred just because we may decide to vote for a party which he, and the rest of the Imperial Masters, does not approve of.

Then we had The Sun (English edition) giving our First Minister the Miley Cyrus makeover, portraying her on a wrecking ball wearing nought but a skimpy tartan bikini. The sexism is breathtaking. The picture harks back to the golden age of The Sun. I am reminded of when they covered the Hillsborough Disaster.

The Sun's Front Page after Hillsborough Disaster

The Sun’s Front Page after Hillsborough Disaster

We also had the Tory mock-up of Ed Miliband in the breast pocket of Alex Salmond. At least this one had a point other that to stoke hatred of the Scots. I could go on, that lot is from one week after all. So what’s it all about?

FEAR, that’s what it’s all about. Setting the SNP up as the big bogeyman. Trying to to achieve a number of points:

  1. Scaring the voters away from voting Labour on the off-chance that they may end up in some form of coalition with the SNP in the event of a hung parliament.
  2. Manoeuvering the English electorate into accepting the reasons for EVEL.
  3. Make the Scots appear to be a bunch of ungrateful oiks who are worthy only of derision, ergo their democratically elected representatives (who will be either SNP or Labour) will be unfit for high office.
  4. Working up some English nationalist fervour (shhh, we’re not allowed to call it that) in an effort to counter the rise of UKIP.

The problem with these strategies is that they will inevitably create a backlash against the Scots. We had all the sweet cooing noises during the independence referendum, but now we’re getting the hot tongue and cold shoulder. I fear that it won’t be long before we see signs like these:

Racist Sign

Racist Sign

Great Seal of Irish Free State

Jim Murphy says Independence within our grasp

If Amazon were to call me and say that they have placed my order in a box, would that mean that my order had been delivered? Of course not, the order would only be considered delivered once I had it in my hands. So why is it that the various Unionist parties keep saying that “The Vow” has been delivered?

Even our saviour, Jim Murphy MP, was at it in the Daily Ranger. He wrote, “Home rule for Scotland is now a prize within our grasp. With the delivery of the Vow on more powers for Scotland, we can now leave behind the old divisions of the past and work together for Scotland.”

I’m guessing that the old divisions of the past are between those that vote Labour and those that don’t. But I was intrigued by the Home Rule part, what exactly does Home Rule mean? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as: “The government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens, in particular as advocated for Ireland 1870–1914.” The dictionary goes on to say this about Home Rule:

“The campaign for Irish home rule was one of the dominant forces in British politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in that Irish nationalists frequently held the balance of power in the House of Commons. A Home Rule Act was finally passed in 1914 but was suspended until after the First World War; after the Easter Rising of 1916 and Sinn Fein’s successes in the general election of 1918, southern Ireland became the Irish Free State in 1921.”

Notice that it states that Irish Nationalists frequently held the balance of power. Is that not a possibility for Scottish Nationalists after GE2015? It goes on to say that the Irish Free State was created in 1921. I’m not sure if I believe that history repeats itself, but it would certainly be nice if it did.

Great Seal of Irish Free State

Great Seal of Irish Free State