The Commonwealth games have arrived in Glasgow. Whether you think it’s good or bad, it’s a time to put Glasgow and Scotland on the international map. With trepidation we turned on the t.v. to watch the opening ceremony. John Barrowman………………not exactly our cup of tea but we know he is in huge demand for pantomime. Is this boding well we ask ourselves? Karen Dunbar, a bit “in your face” but like some of her stuff. Needn’t have worried really. The ordinary people from various community groups in Scotland stole the show, along with the humour which was definitely Scottish. Good use was made of the very large screen. The people involved in the games were the story. From the community groups and volunteers, to the athletes from around the world. John and Karen’s involvement became all too clear in that one kiss. Tolerance and acceptance was the message of the “friendly games”. This was to be topped by the impressive fundraising theme running through the night. Scotland succeeded in bringing the sport back where it belongs, part of the community.
Then the games began. All pretence of the games being in Scotland disappeared. On came BBC England. It is incredible the amount of people they have shipped up here at the license payer’s expense to make sure the games are decipherable to mother England. Hazel Irvine was relegated to the spot of “explain all things Scottish to the rest of the U.K.”. We really couldn’t believe our ears when Claire Balding and her fellow commentators asked each other what it was the medallists were being given along with the medal. They could be forgiven for not knowing what it was (being from a foreign country) but what beggared belief was that they then went on to humiliate themselves rather than google what a Quaich was on the many mobile devices they were all playing on.
I sincerely hope that the rest of the world were listening to their own broadcasters rather than the BBC as they have been a complete embarrassment, not to mention biased towards the English athletes at times.
More positively the Yes campaign rolls on. I believe (according to hubby’s facebook page) a cabinet secretary has even been converting people in the north of Norway. Nearer home our activists are tirelessly working whether at work or play. We are being fed canvass returns that show a decrease in the amount of No voters. While this is encouraging, the undecided remain somewhere in the thirties percentage wise. Our job continues until the end of voting on the 18th September. We have had some time off due to family stuff but the 6,000 brochures in our garage will be going through the doors of our area very shortly. We were out today leafleting about a public meeting in Rosehearty and delivering the brochure. There were so many of us that we did the next community along the coast with the brochure. We had great banter in the sunshine. It has been fun meeting these new people who are not “political” as in developing policy and wrangling for positions and titles. They are, however, very political in the view that Scotland is grown up enough to be in control of its own assets and negotiate with other governments what is best for its own people.
I saw a comment on facebook today from someone who had had a discussion with his family about the U.K. government bringing in conscription. He had nothing against conscription per say but would rather his sons did this in a Scotland that was part of the world’s peace keeping force than in a U.K. that went looking for wars in other peoples countries.
While the Scottish Government continues to work on our behalf it is the summer holidays and all eyes that aren’t away are on the games. You might be interested in Scottish Government’s blog of the games http://blogs.scotland.gov.uk/glasgow2014
I had a call from the editor today……………… This was published in the Scots Independent in March 2013. As the much heralded debate between Mr Darling and First Minister Alex Salmond approaches we felt it timely to remind readers of Mr Darling’s past transgressions.
Alastair is not my Darling!
Charged the taxpayer for the cost of working out his financial affairs
“The theft of public money by members of parliament, including government ministers, has given Britons a rare glimpse inside the tent of power and privilege.
“It is rare because not one political reporter or commentator, those who fill tombstones of column inches and dominate broadcast journalism, revealed a shred of this scandal. It was left to a public relations man to sell the “leak”. Why?”
This was the question posed by political commentator John Pilger back in 2009 in the wake of the Westminster expenses scandal.
Four years on and the only thing that’s changed is that the Lib Dems have joined the ménage-a –trois that is the Better Together unholy trinity.
The journalists and editors, who Pilger branded ‘accomplices’ in the whole expenses debacle, appear to have learned nothing. By wilfully ‘playing the game’ they helped to delude the public of the deeper corruption that tales of tax evasion and phantom mortgages touched upon, but also concealed.
One of those who played the game so skilfully is now heading up the Better Together campaign – none other than Alastair Darling, former UK chancellor, who presided over the most catastrophic financial crash in generations.
It was only after the 2009 ‘leak’, the Daily Telegraph revealed the enormity of the Westminster expenses scandal, needing a 64-page tabloid magazine to catalogue the extent to which Westminster politicians used the system for their own personal gain.
This was what they had to say on Darling:
A classic ‘flipper’ Darling made four separate second home designations covering three different properties in the space of as many years. This meant that when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2007 (salary £141,837) and moved into a grace and favour flat in Downing Street, he did not miss out on lucrative, taxpayer- funded second home allowances.
The biggest shock came two weeks into the expenses scandal when it emerged that Darling had charged the taxpayer for the cost of working out his complicated financial affairs, putting his accountant’s fees on his office allowances.
He charged the taxpayer for bills relating to his London flat after he had moved out and was renting it to a tenant. The flat had been bought, renovated and furnished with the help of his second-home allowances.
The No man’s labyrinthine living dated back to 2004, when, along with all ministers, he was required by the rules at the time to designate London as his place of residence. He rented a flat in the capital from a former Labour MP who had become a peer, while claiming second-home expenses on the house in his Edinburgh constituency, which he had owned with his wife Maggie, since 1998.
As Transport Secretary in the run-up to the 2005 election, he spent £10,910 in mortgage interest payments on his Scottish property, along with £2,250 for food and £2,556 on council tax and water bills.
Less than a year after the rules were changed, allowing ministers to choose for themselves where they wanted to consider their main residence, he bought a flat near the Oval cricket ground in South London for £226,000. He put the cost of legal fees and stamp duty on the taxpayer. This then became his designated second home, and he began claiming the £900 mortgage interest payments on it. He told the Commons fees office that he wanted the Scottish house to be considered his main residence.
The cost of furnishing and carpeting the flat followed, at a cost to the taxpayer of £950, which he claimed along with a chaise longue, sofa, an oven mitt and other household articles, including an Ikea carrier bag!
After two years, Darling was promoted to Chancellor, a post which comes with a ‘grace and favour’ flat in Downing St, and this became his new second home, while he rented out his own flat.
With most costs of the ‘grace-and-favour’ flat met by the taxpayer, this meant that his expenses were dramatically lower than they had been previously. Then he ‘flipped’ again, designating Downing Street as his main residence, and the Edinburgh house as his second home once again. There he claimed about £950 a month mortgage interest, as well as Council Tax.
Following the expenses furore, Darling agreed to reimburse the public purse for claims which he continued to make on the Kensington flat, meaning that the public had paid up front for a flat where he no longer lived.
Ironically it was the Lib Dem’s Vince Cable who called on Darling to resign, accusing him of having his ‘fingers in the till’.
Cable, it seems, is happy to forgive and forget his No campaign buddy especially now that they are all ‘Better Together’.
Which brings me nicely back to the media and their selective memory.
Not once during the launch of the Better Together campaign, nor since, have I seen any journalist refer to the past transgressions of the ‘No” campaign’s ‘Darling’.
Instead we get fed a daily diet of the SNP’s supposed shortcomings.
Anyone who wants to take a poke at First Minister Alex Salmond is guaranteed a headline – the more inflammatory the better if recent name-calling is anything to go by – ‘Mugabe’, ‘Nazi’, ‘dictator’, ‘Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Idi Amin’ to name but a few.
Yet the same media that are complicit in trying to undermine the SNP on an almost daily basis have proved themselves unwilling to publicise the shortcomings of our political adversaries. The wholly unacceptable behaviour of Labour MPs in the recent section 30 Westminster debate went largely unreported as did Johann Lamont’s reference to the rape trial that never was at First Minister’s Questions.
Amid the justified public anger at Darling’s expenses, Vince Cable’s quote: ‘His moral authority has vanished’ is not just apposite to Darling, it perfectly sums up our spineless Fourth Estate and our lacklustre broadcast media.
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.
We have allowed our ambitions to soar during the past year. We aspired, for a time, to make it possible for every Scottish household to receive a copy of the SI. We did, in a pilot study, place a copy in every household within a chosen constituency. In addition to our regular issues we produced special editions, ten of four pages, one of eight pages, one of twenty pages, and, for our youth organisations, five editions of “Liberate”.
Fortunately we have enjoyed support from our subscribers. Many of them have also chosen to become committed supporters as Fellows. This support has made all these things possible.
We must all have felt elation as we watched the TV colour-coding reveal the barely credible spread of our Party’s victories. We hope you will cherish the souvenir issue of the SI which will show for generations to come the visual proof of Scotland’s greatest political triumph since our political independence was surrendered. Now all voters in Scotland have taken their decision and we must now encourage them to remain firm in their choice.
There is a temptation for all concerned to think of a period of happy relaxation. Perhaps that once was feasible. But now, elections follow one another in quick succession and the days of four to five year build-ups have gone. And, when a referendum comes along we have to express our wishes with all possible vigour and clarity.
Sixty years ago, and over the decades since, the response to our message was, too often, “This is not the time.” I used to ask people who said that just how many elections they could expect to see before they might accept that the time was now, and its obligations were upon us.
We believe the SI can help and we want to help. To do so we have to appeal yet again to all who share our belief and who wish us well in our effort. In whatever way you choose to support us, as Fellows, subscribers, readers and donors, return with us to the task. Whatever resources you entrust to us we will use to the best effect we can.