Happy St Andrew’s Day

As I am starting to write this on Monday 30th November I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy St Andrew’s Day – I am a slow writer at the best of times.

SNP Conference

The SNP Conference is on at present, and I have it on Zoom, but I am not able to watch and write The Flag at the same time.

However I did go through to the next room to watch Nicola’s Speech, which I followed avidly, and one part jumped out – £500 for every member of the NHS payable in this financial year. The master stroke is that she requested the English Prime Minister not to tax it; she hit the right note for me and also put pressure on the Tory Prime Minister. To paraphrase “The Lord giveth, and the Tories taketh away”.
I have not picked up on any specials strands but note Joanna Cherry MP has taken issue with Alyn Smith MP; I am not sure of what the issue is, but I would generally support Joanna Cherry.

Scanning the papers I recall the poet’s lines on The Solitary Reaper by Wordsworth:
“Will someone tell me what she sings, Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow, Of old unhappy far off things and battles long ago. Or is it some more humble lay, familiar matter of today,
Some joy or sorrow , laugh or pain, which comes now and will come again.”

Well roughly these words, but I just remember then from my schooldays.

Alex Salmond

Readers may recall that when Alex Salmond was first accused of sexual abuse he set up a Crowd Funder to pay for his defence. I decided to contribute to this so took the relevant action. To my surprise my payment was rejected – not something that had happened to me before. I re input the details and it happened again.
About 5 minutes later I had a telephone call from an Electronic wifie at the Bank of Scotland asking me what I was doing; this was disconcerting but one cannot argue with Bank of Scotland wifies never mind electronic ones. She gave me a number to call which I ignored.

I let the matter rest but next day I phoned the Bank of Scotland via the number on my Visa card. They stated that the call was not a scam, but a procedure they used when things looked doubtful. By the time I got that sorted Alex’s Crowdfunder had reached its target.

What bothered me was that this was about Alex Salmond.

A long time ago, 1982, Gordon Wilson put through a resolution at the Annual Conference in Ayr to ban all groups, the main target being the 79 Group, a left wing organisation which was causing a great deal of dissension within the SNP and delighting our opponents. When Conference passed this resolution overwhelmingly, the 79 group members staged a walkout. As a wee note on this one of my associates told me he used the walkout to get to the toilet.

All those expelled appealed against, and Alex Salmond brought his lawyer with him. I was told this by one of my friends, the late Christie Grahame (Father of the Deputy Presiding Officer, Christine Grahame MSP, Tony Grahame Election Agent Extraordinaire, Fiona Grahame of the “get Alastair Carmichael, Liberal Minister, fired,” and two other daughters). Chris never disclosed what any appellant said.

At a National Council in late 1982, a resolution from Professor Neil MacCormack was passed taking the errants back into the SNP – this cleared the decks before the 1983 General Election.

Alex is back in the headlines again; he was cleared by Jury, but is now seeking the hows and whys he was charged in the first place. I do not know if he will try another Crowd Funder, but I want no more contact with the Electronic Wifie!


When the news of Diego Maradona’s death hit the TV screens last week I was sure that I had seen him at Hampden and when I checked with my eldest son he confirmed this; later my youngest son confirmed he had also been there; I cannot remember where and how I got the tickets. Maradona was some player, so I am glad they had the privilege of seeing him – they can tell their grandchildren!


The slaughter that was Lockerbie has reared its head again this week, with a futher appeal from Megrahi’s family. I remember that night well; I was the Accountant and Deputy General Manager of Livingston’s Tesco Dept at that time. We ran 50 trunks per night between Middleton Manchester and Livingston. The Duty Transport Supervisor phoned me to tell me a plane had come down on the road; I assumed that it was a small plane so I asked him if the trunks would be affected – this was just before Christmas, a peak time. He said No, and it was the next morning before I became aware that was an airliner with 270 people onboard, and I felt guilty at treating it as little effect but I did not know.

As time went by and investigations were made, Abdelbaset al Megrahi a Libyan was convicted.

There were some questions but he was convicted on his identification by a Maltese shop keeper, Gauchi. One of our members at the Scots Independent, David Rollo, followed all the evidence, going as far as to make contact with relations of those killed. As part of his enquiries he went to Malta and visited the shop where Gauchi worked; there was a discrepancy in the description between Megrahi, and the actual person he described. Gauchi ran a mens clothing shop, David Rollo went to the shop and asked for a pair of underpants, deliberately asking for a wrong size; Gauchi said No you are a 40 or 42.
He just glanced at David Rollo, who felt he knew his job and had been paid to identify Megrahi.
When David visited the shop the next day there was another man there blocking any converse.
David wrote a book on this, which I have upstairs, but I only got an additional Zimmer this very day so have not been able to access it.

David was a very interesting character; he was an electrical engineer and was a paratrooper during the War. He maintained he was 34 years old before he discovered “Bloody Accountant” was two words; I was an Accountant!
He was involved with Gordon Wilson in Radio Free Scotland – RUFUS, as Gordon styled it. This was a programme set up which picked up the
closing of BBC TV and used the airwaves. I had never heard it because the coverage did not stretch to Peterhead; I did not have a TV anyway (Could not afford one.) Gordon brought out a book “Pirates of the Air” – I have a copy of that upstairs as well.( Looking forward to getting upstairs with my new Zimmer!)

These tales of yesteryear are worth recounting, Yes did not pop up in 2014, there was a long history of activity, mainly on the ground, of leafletting and canvassing, public meetings and Branch and Constituency meetings, the backdrop to Yes.

We won the 1979 Referendum, but a 40% rule was put in by a Labour MP for Islington; Jim Callaghan at that time Labour Prime Minister – it was a Labour Referendum – their policy, and he could have knocked out that 40% Rule, never used in any Referendum in the World before nor since.
It was a hard campaign – at that time I was the Parlamentary Candidate for Central Fife (now Glenrothes)

Labour’s failure brought in Margaret Thatcher.

Donald Trump

Mr Trump lost the American Election, but has not accepted that and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the White House. The incoming President, Joe Biden, is a completely different kettle of fish. Boris Johnston’s Cavalier attitude to Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement cannot be dismissed out of hand; Mr Biden is of Irish stock.

Brexit grinds on, without much sign of good things to come. Maybe some in the Tory Party are beginning to get an inkling!

And as a postscript I see Tom Harris of the Labour Party has accused Nicola Sturgeon of a “Bung” to NHS workers; it’s a long time since I read anything by Tom Harris .