In June 2000, the Scots Independent had a dilemma; as a monthly publication, which had served very well since 1926, the unexpected advent of a Scottish Parliament meant a change of pace was required, as Scottish issues came to the fore in a way undreamed of. The paper had been a weekly when I joined the SNP in 1966 and circulated almost completely through SNP branches; I lived in Peterhead at the time and every week we had copies of the SI delivered to every barber’s, doctor’s surgery, dentist’s surgery and the bus station – the railway had long gone by that time! The fact that East Aberdeenshire became SNP heartland is surely just coincidental; it is now known as Banff and Buchan.
As years progressed we fell victim to the splits affecting the SNP, not a nice time at all, and Branches were not encouraged to take the paper and we had to revert to monthly, but the distribution method was largely gone.
So much for history; in 2000 there was a new medium, the Internet, and with the assistance of Alastair McIntyre of Electric Scotland, based in Grangemouth, we launched the Flag in the Wind. Alastair said at the time that to be consistent we had to publish every week – many sites were launched, but faded after a few weeks or months. In any event, thanks to a dedicated but changing, band of compilers we are now at Issue No 733 – 14 years on, and we have published every week.
Events and developments have overtaken us, mainly I believe through not taking comments; every time we looked at this we came up with the requirement of policing it. Certainly in the early days we got vicious anti Scottish attacks, which we did not respond to, and thus we denied them the oxygen of publicity.
What Newsnet Scotland does now is what we set out to do all these years ago, and their moderating of comment is excellent.
And this leads to…..
In all the fuss and hoohah about cybers, the calm voice of logic does not seem to have come up with the following observations: if a cyber attack on a famous person is made, as sure as night follows day there will be more damage to the cause the cyber attacker allegedly supports. Indignation, shock, horror, dismay and sympathy flood through the cybersphere, latched on to by the media.
In my time in politics I have known a few strange people, but I cannot conceive even the strangest of them going down this road. It follows that the most virulent cyber attackers are flying under another flag to create as much animosity and problems for the cause they purport to back. I believe the so-called “cybernats” are mainly Better Together trolls, gleefully doing their masters’ bidding, secure that their green ink offences will never be found out. It only remains a matter of time before a draconian law is passed to outlaw these people; I would not wholly agree with that but it would be only fair to have them give their names and addresses, as newspapers always demand. Publishing their names would clear this problem at a stroke.
First Minister’s Questions
I do not know what I was expecting to come up at First Minister’s Questions last week, but in a close fought Referendum situation with welfare cuts, food banks and the bedroom tax I was sure that Labour would come up with some issue of socialist principles. Silly me. Ms Lamont chose to mount a vitriolic attack on a well known and well liked former political journalist, and demand his resignation. Ms Davidson, for the Tories, asked the selfsame question, which had been adequately and comprehensively answered by the First Minister; both of these ladies had their previous words of warm praise and deepest regard for Campbell Gunn read out by Mr Salmond. And then, help ma boab, Willie Rennie of the serious concerned face, asked the questioin again! There must have been a few things happening in Scotland last week to which they took exception but their effect and problems were blithely ignored in a concentrated effort to wound the First Minister, with Campbell Gunn as collateral damage. What they did allow was for the subject of their complaint to be mentioned again and again as a member of Labour’s shadow cabinet.
And we can all picture this unholy trio looking Campbell Gunn in the eye, in their normal simpering fashion – it’s all just politics, as they did their damnedest to have him sacked and destroy his good name.
There are decent MSPs in the opposition ranks; they must have been squirming at this charade.
And as we watch the steady advance of the Yes campaign, particularly in Labour ranks, we wonder how long it will be before some of these elected politicians move over; they must be chewing their fingernails as their leaders dig them further into the swamp. They are looking forward with trepidation to 19th September.
One would have been astonished if Mr Obama had come out with support for Scottish Independence, but he also might have been a bit more circumspect in his support for the Union. His country only exists because they rebelled against a greedy aggressive country in the first place, the very same entity Scotland wants to be independent of.
However, one thing Mr Obama cannot be accused of, and that is neglecting America’s interests. His concern is for Trident, based, at American insistence within 20 miles of Glasgow, and which cannot be used except by him. Yes, to use a pejorative word, the UK, the Yankee poodle not so dandy, harbours the boats, pays for them, crews them and takes the risks, which are myriad, and America controls them. Surely they should have the title USS, but that would remove the convenient shield, and perhaps take their poodle off the UN Security Council?
Better Together cheer leaders
Among the international figures apparently supporting the Union, they have put the Pope in this category. He was asked a question, in Spain, and according to the translation he said “You must take this with a lot of salt”. Paul Kavanagh, a linguist who has lived in Spain for a number of years, wrote on Newsnet Scotland, that the Pope actually said the equivalent of “You must handle this with kid gloves” far removed from the media interpretation. It should also be noted that Scotland is not a part of England as far as the Vatican is concerned but a separate entity. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s writ does not run here.
The position of the Chinese Premier is somewhat different, especially as we note that China is not a democracy. Don’t know what he is up to.
Not sure where Mr Putin is just now; David Cameron asked for his backing against Scotland, but has been noticeably silent since the Ukraine.
Flank (or should it be Flunk) move
Having steadfastly ruled out a Devomax question on the Referendum Ballot Paper, the Better Together mob have now taken the stance and make the promises that they will introduce this if only the people vote “No”. It would seem that there is an opinion poll somewhere saying that 50% of Scots would vote “No” to get Devomax!
Some memories are short; in 1979 Sir Alex Douglas Hume said “Vote No and we will give you something better”. They did give us something better – for them – Margaret Thatcher.
If Devomax was such a good idea why wait until now before mentioning it; it will not be on the Ballot Paper.
However, it is not within the gift of those making the promises to deliver them. Scottish MPs are outnumbered by 10 to 1 in the Westminster elected parliament
( don’t know how many there are amongst the 850 members of the unelected House of Lords), and we can rest assured that England will definitely say No. The new players on the block are UKIP, whose aim is to abolish the Scottish Parliament. Think on this; we currently have 1 Tory MP in Scotland – we have 2 Pandas – yet Scotland is ruled by the Tory Party, bolstered by a sad bunch of Liberals. The latter have fallen from favour, losing all but one of their MEPs. To assist your memory, in the 2014 European Election for England and Wales the results were: UKIP 23, Labour 18, Tory 18, Green 3 and Liberal 1. On this basis we could have a Tory / UKIP coalition, or a Labour / UKIP coalition, with no place for Scotland. Or we could have Prime Minister Nigel Farage, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Johnson – or Ed Miliband!
All of these are possible, some might even say probable.
Jimmy Halliday’s contributions to the Cause
Jimmy Halliday – lifetime Nationalist
To put matters into context, in 1955 the SNP contested only two Parliamentary seats in Scotland. Dr Robert McIntyre fought Perth and East Perthshire and Jimmy Halliday fought Stirling and Falkirk Burghs. Jimmy then became the youngest ever SNP Chairman and served 1956-70; in 1956 the entire SNP Conference delegates were photographed on the steps of the Allan Water Hotel, Bridge of Allan.
There will be a Referendum for Scottish Independence this year, which was unthinkable in the dark days of 1955. Jimmy died on 3rd January 2013 at the age of 85, and we will be publishing all his articles in the Scots Independent, all those we have electronic input for. It is anticipated we will publish a book with all his contributions over many years but this will have to wait until after the Referendum.
Diomhair (Secret) – not any longer!
All this – and no Unionist politician felt prompted to protest.
The Inverness Conference was, above all, workmanlike and good-humoured. Unity seemed not a pretence to secure political advantage but rather the result of a spontaneous and genuine shared feeling. Everyone sought to be helpful in pursuing our objectives.
No doubt the very competence and harmony which were so apparent left ill-wishers in the media frustrated and therefore inventive. From some–especially Murdoch columnists–we knew what to expect, even from those whose political allegiances are not on public record. But even less vindictive persons jollied viewers along with their insistence that the SNP were really wanting a Tory government in London, and they hammered away at this infantile rubbish until they ran out of time. Another favourite was to cast repeated doubt on the genuineness of the Party’s commitment to independence. Somehow the Unionist mind suspects that we are trying to evade, cover up or somehow conceal our essential inescapable belief that independence is at once a right and an opportunity. They should ask why on earth we would seek to conceal our very purpose.
Fortunately this kind of reportage did not obscure the better aspects of these four days in Inverness. We of the SI take particular pride in our participation and contribution. Our Conference stall was a stopping point for a gratifying number of friends. Our sponsorship of Gordon Wilson’s book proved a feather in our cap and in his signing sessions we basked in reflected glory! His Donaldson Lecture proved a stimulus to renewed enthusiasm, and another wave of potential readers hit the stall.
Finally, the SI reception on Friday evening, attended by 100 or so delegates, proved to be an experience memorable for all who attended. On the front page of the October edition of the paper were presented the researches and findings by George Rosie which recently formed the subject matter of BBC Alba’s Diomhair (Secret) programme. We were enormously fortunate to have a copy of the film made available to us, and were further privileged to have on our platform Les Wilson, the mastermind responsible for the original film. Those of us old enough to remember the events covered knew what to expect. We had, after all, long observed the cynical malice of Britain’s rulers. But how would it strike younger viewers?
It came as music to the ears to hear the involuntary gasps of shock from all corners of the room as one outrageous revelation followed another, making viewers aware of the wickedness of which their own beastly rulers were capable. Scotland’s suppression has been carried out not by Gauleiters or Commissars but by British statesmen thought to be perfectly respectable and unremarkable The deceitful exploitation of Scottish resources, making the story of Scotland’s Oil our great modern tragedy, was dictated by such eminent politicians as Healey and Crosland to name only two who gave the necessary instructions to the senior civil servants who willingly did the actual dirty work. These are the men who denied Scots a once-in-centuries opportunity to change the fate of their nation, and as a result condemned us to decline and poverty. They muzzled discussion and explanation. They lied about the facts and they slaved to distort public understanding. These men were not just politicians who didn’t like our opinions; they were functionaries of the British state treating Scotland as an economic asset which must on no account be surrendered. A colony in other words, though for decades we have been told we must never dream of using that term. Having manipulated minds they then manipulated boundaries creating for Britain a new region called the North Sea Shelf, which lay entirely under water but had its own balance sheet. The boundaries of that region were then re-arranged to place oilfields outwith the scope of any Scottish claim. All this, and no Unionist politician felt prompted to protest.
“What will you do when England says No?” The film gives us our answer. They will never say No and we have no power to force an answer from them. They will say nothing. They will just act as they think fit.
We now have the task of bringing these revelations to the attention of as many Scots as possible especially all in public life. We hope to start with MSPs. We cannot assume, unfortunately, that they read our current edition, and only two were at the film showing so lets bring the evidence to them. Important as it is that our own Party learns these truths let us try also to inform our adversaries. What a pleasure it would be if all three Unionist front benches had to sit through these home truths. What possible defence could they offer? To complete our happiness could we be allowed to watch them while they watch the film?