Yes 69 – No 59

The die has been cast: on Tuesday 28th March the Scottish Parliament voted to ask Westminster for the authority to hold a Referendum.

The SNP had 64 votes and the Greens cast their 5; the other parties had 59 votes.  I knew the Greens were going to support the SNP, but  there can be many a slip between cup and lip, and the Greens main plank is the environment, not independence.  Nevertheless they were  true to their word.  Ruth Davidson bleated protest in a quickfire fashion, I did not see Kezia Dugdale nor Willie Rennie. David Mundell burbled away as Theresa May’s stooge – nothing unusual there – but The Scottish Parliament will now make the formal request


Avoiding the Trap

I am becoming increasingly nervous at the direction of travel of the Party.

We are being bound by a Conference decision made in October 2016, in the heat of Brexit.

The presence of 38% of the electorate who voted Leave in 2016 is being ignored, and we continue to ignore this at our peril.  The shape of the EU is changing as I write and we know not where it will end up.

I have no argument with the call for a referendum based on the SNP Manifesto, as this was made in  good faith, but this has served its time.  We will get our referendum- Deus vult- but this was only the opening salvo.  It has been traditionally, but correctly, expected that once we get independence, Scotland can decide what policies they wish to promote and implement.  This applied to the EU, Royalty or currency, to name but a few, and while individual parties may back different horses present policies are not sacrosanct.

There is an amount of hubris within the SNP at present that the Scottish public will accept what we decide, and this is not so.

I liked one letter in The Herald which made the point “Brexit is only the catalyst”.

So my suggestion is that we amend our policy towards the EU to soften our approach;  instead of recommending membership of the EU we should state “Whatever, if any, agreements with other countries we enter into, we reserve the right to whichever is the most appropriate and desirable for Scotland at that time.”  Job done.

I myself have no power to create this resolution;  I left the Branch I had been a member of for 45 years and became a Headquarters member, as I was appalled by the branch executive’s decision to deselect a sitting MSP, and ashamed  at the methods used.  We lost the seat to the Liberals;  the SNP also lost its majority  At my age, 82, I have no political ambitions?


Pensioners for independence

I have taken the first tentative steps to joining Pensioners for independence; I realise that age and infirmity preclude me from being very active.  Many years ago, the late Christie Grahame* attempted to form a Nationalist pensioners’ forum, but did not make much of an advance as pensioners were also being courted by Labour who were very much stronger then.

*Chris was the father of Christine Grahame MSP, Tony Grahame SI photographer, and Fiona Grahame, of the Orkney Four, so has left a contribution to the cause.

I am interested in the Pensioners as this is the vote we have to convert.  I am of the National Service Generation which left many with a false impression of our place in the world. It was always stated that every infantryman required a support staff of 8;  I counted up my friends and acquaintances and came up with the following:  1 RASC, 1 RAOC, 2 RAF, 1 RE, 2 REME, 1 Signals, 1 Pay Corps, 1 Medical Corps(he became a Labour Councillor).  Quite a few have died, but none of them voted SNP; as a corollary I was an infantryman in a Highland Regiment, The Black Watch, from 1953 to 1955. (I was not a very good soldier).

There was no choice with National Service. They asked where were you from, and I replied “Dundee”  = Right – Black Watch!

I joined the SNP in 1966.

My contacts so far are Gordon Smith from Aberdeenshire – Gordon Smith: himself and Peter Swain from Dunbar, Peter


The website is


Only the UK is big-hearted with the oil companies

Interesting article from Gordon McIntyre-Kemp in The National last Friday (24 March).

Oil prices fell by 55%, but production was up by 16%.  Norway has the equivalent resources as the UK, and they were discovered at the same time.  UK revenues fell by 99%, but Norway’s only by 40%.  George Osborne commented that Norway had done well but she only had 4 million inhabitants whereas Britain had 65 million – this joke was repeated by David Cameron on the Andrew Marr Show, rather unwisely as Norway’s population is 5.258 million, roughly the same as Scotland’s.

Think tax breaks; in the 24 countries where Shell extracts oil and gas  all of them barring Britain, took money from Shell  – Britain gave them £80 million in tax rebates, Shell paid Norway £2.7 billion!  In BP’s case UK taxpayers shelled out (awful pun) £202 million in tax rebates – all of the other 23 countries charged cash to the oil companies.

We don’t know how Shell sells themselves to the UK Treasury – in 2015 Shell paid £7.9 billion in dividends to shareholders; 2016 it was £11.1 billion  to the same shareholders.  Gordon  reminded us that when Aberdeen and that region asked for £2.9 billion for economic support, David Cameron announced that Westminster could only offer £125 million.  Cameron said that Scotland had to rely on the broad shoulders and deep pockets of the UK.

As Gordon McIntyre-Kemp put it “Westminster’s policy was to protect corporations and their shareholders dividends – but not workers jobs, Scotland’s economy or its revenues.”

WE will remember this little lot when the Referendum comes – well, some of us will – “Facts are chiels that winna ding”.