The Olympian illusion

Being of sound mind – well sometimes – I did not watch any of the fanfare of the opening of the Olympic Games, but the newspaper reports  reminded of a famous Scots quote of yesteryear, no doubt apochryphal: “Ah dinna ken if it was a wedding or a funeral – but it was a grand affair”.

The other quote which sprang to mind, possibly more apt, was from the journalist Chris Baur  after the 1979 Referendum.  He said it was “the last kick of the dying horse”, a quote which will go down with Lord George Robertson’s one that a Scottish Parliament would “kill Scottish nationalism stone dead”.

I am sure that you all wonder, as I did, at the expenditure of £27 million on the Grand Opening ceremony, including the spectacle of Her Maj being parachuted into the “Better Together” campaign – sorry, I actually meant the Olympic arena.  The ceremony was beamed around the world so that a billion viewers, or so we have heard could Ooh and Aah at how “Great” Britain was, and say “We heard Great Britain was a busted flush, and look at how beautifully and lavishly they spent all that Lottery money.”  I am also sure that 99.9% of them, including Brits, are totally unaware that Great Britain is a geographical term and has nothing to do with her self assumed place in the world.

While there has been some correspondence, at least in the Herald, as to the correct name for the British athletes, which many feel should have been Team UK, the use of GB meant  they could call themselves “Great” again.  Perhaps also, as Gordon Brown was Prime Minister when the planning started he maybe thought it was a personal compliment.

In any event I was disappointed that the procession was not led by a Trident submarine, on castors of course, pulled by the athletes, as a further example of the might of “Great” Britain, and a declaration that this bankrupt United Kingdom still has clout in the world, so forget about the BRIC countries, we are superior people.  The fact that Brazil, Russia, India and China are so much bigger, and their economies are growing, puts the UK gas at a wee peep.

Yes, it was a grand affair, and a magnificent memento of the sun finally setting on the British Empire –  the last kick of the dying horse?


Yes Campaign

It is difficult to know what to make of the initial stage of the Campaign for Independence, but one thing is abundantly clear – this is not a sprint, it is a marathon combined with an obstacle race.

So far we have had smoke and mirrors from the No campaign;  they urge people to stay with the trusted, bankrupt UK and they will give us something better.  What that something is they are remarkably coy about specifying; they demand the Yes campaign produce a fully costed detailed plan for an independent Scotland – just like that – but only say that they are prepared to look at more powers if the people vote NO!


I know that rather a lot of voters were not even born in 1979; it is 23 years ago so people who have been born since and anyone under the age of 16 in 1979 may only have a hazy notion of what happened, but we are talking of those in the 18-39 year bracket – a sizeable chunk of the electorate.    In any event, Labour’s plan for a Scottish Assembly was very divisive  in the Labour Party itself, and an amendment by George Cunningham, a Scot, but Labour MP for Islington North stated that the Assembly could only come into being if 40% of those on the voters’ roll voted Yes.   This amendment was accepted, so anyone who did not vote was counted as a No, even if they were dead!  Sounds suitably Kafkaesque, does it not?

Labour had become exceedingly unpopular, the winter of discontent etc, and the Tories were riding high.  Lord Home of the Hirsel, a person trusted by many Scots, said publicly that if Scotland voted No, the Tories would give them something much better.  Well, Scotland actually voted Yes, but did not pass the 40% mark.

The Tories under Margaret Thatcher came into power shortly after, and the Scotland Bill was junked – no ifs, no buts, no maybes, and no discussion.

“Trust me – I’m a Tory”, but my “Better Together” is run by a Labour figurehead, one Alistair Darling MP, who helped pilot the good ship UK on to the Northern Rock.

You couldn’t make it up.


Odd points

The Saltire Society is to award Dolina MacLennan the Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun award for 2012.  The presentation will be at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on 30 August.



I suppose I know what this means, but it clashes somewhat with the touchy feely brigade!

The implementation of Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing

Start date 03/08/2012 – End date 28/09/2012

This consultation seeks views on the implementation of EU Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at time of killing, which will come into effect on 1 January 2013. Regulation 1099/2009 permits Member States to maintain national rules and adopt stricter national rules in certain areas.

I see the Taxpayers Alliance,( who they?) are having a go at East Dunbartonshire Council (Labour/Tory/Lib Dem administration) for spending £21,000 on chairs for new premises.  As my wife and I have been currently looking at chairs I would recommend the TA to do the same, or perhaps they are not concerned with modern prices?


Glaschu Nàiseantach

Calum MacEacharna

Tha aon duais gasta ri fhaotainn anns na taghaidhean comhairle a tha fa-near dhuinn – Glaschu. Rè mo bheatha agus beathannan mo phàrant is am pàrant tha am baile air a bhith na àite daingeann a’ Phàrtaidh Làboraich agus gun teagamh thàinig iomadh Sòisealtach ainmeil mar Jimmy Reid à sgìrean mar Baile Ghobhainn. A dh’aindeoin sin thòisich Reid air taic a thoirt don SNP, a’ faicinn buannachdan neo-eisimeileachd mar a tha iomadh neach-leantail dualchasach a’ Phàrtaidh Làboraich. A rèir coltais tha na lathaichean a’ tighinn gu crìch mu dheireadh thall far am b’ urrainn do “muncaidh le suaicheantas dearg” cathair a bhuannach sa chomhairle, mar a tha na taghaidhean-Pàrlamaid mu dheireadh a’ sealltainn.

Chan eil mise air a bhith a’ fantail ann an Glaschu ach bliadhna ach tha mi air atharrachadh ann am beachdan poileataiceach dhaoine a mhothachadh, fiù’s san ùine sin. Thathar a’ faicinn nam Làborach mar Phàrtaidh às-aimsireil, iomallach, socrach agus àicheil, a’ leantail gu h-èiginneach soirbheas a dh’fhalbh. A bharrachd, cha bhi iad a’ tairgsinn lèirmheas sam bith son an àm ri teachd – dìreach dùbhlan a bhith dùbhlanach. Fo cheannardan eadar-dhealaichte a’ toirt a-staigh Johann Lamont chan eil a’ bhuidheann fiù’s na bàta a’ dol a dhol fodha ach tha i air a dhol fodha cheana agus air an rathad do ghrùnnd na fairge.

Nuair a bhios pàrtaidh a’ crìonadh tachraidh strì. An dèidh do Làbor a’ tuiteadh às-a-chèile sa choinneimh-iomhais sa Ghearran tha seann chomhairlichean Làborach mì-chaidreach air dealachadh bhon phàrtaidh gus fear ùr a stèidheachadh, Glasgow First. Chunnaic na daoine sin muinntir Lunnainn a’ dèanamh measadh connspaideach a dh’fhàg 17 à 47 comhairlichean leis a’ bhreith gun robh iad claoidhte agus cha robh iad math gu leòr a sheasamh a-rithist. Nan robh dearbhadh ann riamh gun robh reachd ann an Lunnainn nach robh eòlach air Alba no Glaschu b’ e seo e.  ‘S dòcha gun dùisg cuid eile a-nis. ‘S e fear de na rudan as cudtromaiche do Glasgow First ath-fhasdachadh le taghadairean mi-shona leis a’ Phàrtaidh Làborach sa bhaile-mhòr – rudeigin nach bi doirbh. Cuiridh e ri trioblaidean Lamont gu bheil cuid de na comhairlichean ceannarcach a’ riochdachadh roinnean-taghaidh ann am Pollock, an sgìre-pàrlamaid aice. Faighnichidh iomadh taghadair “mura tèid aice air dèiligeadh ri muinntir a pàrtaidh fhèin san sgìre aice fhèin, ciamar fo shealladh a dhèiligeadh a pàrtaidh leis a’ bhaile agus an dùthaich?” Ma bhuannaicheas an SNP bidh neo-eisimeileachd nas fhaisge.


Nationalist Glasgow

There is one grand prize to be won at the upcoming council elections: Glasgow. Throughout my lifetime and that of my parents and grandparents the city has been a fortified stronghold of the Labour party and indeed many prominent socialist figures such as Jimmy Reid emerged from areas like Govan. Nevertheless Reid came to support the SNP, seeing the virtues of independence as have many traditionalist labour party supporters. The days where “a monkey in a red rosette” could win a seat on the council seem to be finally coming to an end evidenced partly by the last Scottish parliamentary elections.

I have only been resident in Glasgow for just over a year but have noticed, even in that  period of time, a change in people’s political attitudes. Labour are seen by many as an outdated, static, out of touch, negative party desperately clinging on to their past election success. Moreover, they offer no vision for the future – just opposition for opposition’s sake. Under consecutive leaders including Johann Lamont the entire organisation isn’t even a ship about to sink but has sunk and is quickly descending to the bottom of the ocean.

When a party is in decline it descends into internal conflict. After Labour’s meltdown in February’s council budget meeting disaffected former Labour councillors have split creating a new party, Glasgow First. These individuals saw London Labour carry out a controversial vetting process which saw 17 of Labour’s 47 sitting councillors being told they were unfit to stand for re-election and were rejected as “dead wood.” If ever there was an example of a ruling authority in London out of touch with Scotland and Glasgow then that was it. Maybe now others will wake up. A key part of Glasgow First’s pitch will be to reconnect with voters unhappy with Labour in the city – not a difficult task. To add insult to injury for Lamont many of the rebel councillors currently represent wards in her Pollok constituency. Many voters ask the question: if she can’t deal with those elected officials in her own party in her own constituency how on earth could her party run the city and country? With an SNP win  independence will be closer.

Calum Mackechnie


A hauf-wey hoose

Kenneth Fraser

    Hugh MacDiarmid micht hae threipit that he wad hae nae hauf-wey hoose; bit it seems that i the rin up ti the Independence Referendum, the voters o Scotland are ti be shawn a wheen o them. Whuther ony are rael, is anither maitter aathegither.

In parteeclar, the ane that the papers hae taen the maist tent o wes the “Devo Plus” plan, supportit bi MSP’s frae aa fower o the Unionist pairties. It propones that the Scottish Pairlament soud hae pouers owre the hail soum o Income Tax an Corporation Tax, an a dale (foundit on geography) o the stent on ile. The Westminster Pairlament wad kep the lave. This seestem, it is said, wad mean that the Scottish Government wad raise aa it needs frae its ain income.

Are we, than, ti walcum thir Unionist politeecians that back it, as repentant sinners? Weel, we maun tak a closer luik.

On their wabsteid, Devo Plus tell us that the heid an centre o the haill plan is that the Scottish Pairlament sound spend nae mair nor whit it raises itsel. There isnae a hint that Scotland soud hae mair pouers ti mak laws, ainly ti raise taxes. This is whit A caa “Neo-leeberal devolution”: no ti eik Scotland’s pouers, bit ti kep them unner strick owerance.

Nanetheless, it’s no unlikely that the feck o the Scottish voters wad sattle fir sic a schame, gin they haed the chance. Bit wul they ivver git it? No gin the “Devo Plus” curn hae their wey! They dinnae want a saicont quaistion i the Referendum. They wad raither wait till efterhaund, whan, nae dout, they howp the voters wul hae turnit doun independence, an the Westminster Government can forget aboot Scottish maitters agane.

At this pynt, ye hae ti ken that the “Devo Plus” curn haes, in fack, taen the maist pairt o their plan frae an airlier ane pit furrit lest year bi the Reform Scotland think-tank ti the Westminster Pairlament’s comatee on the Scotland Bill. At first sicht it luiks gey lik the Devo Plus plan: bit there is anither pairt o it that somehou gat left aff. Reform Scotland proponit that their schame ocht ti be pit furrit as a saicont quaistion i the referendum. Devo Plus, we may think, haes pickit up the pairt o the plan that they likit the luik o, an said naethin aboot the pairt that they didnae. Nae surprise there!