The times they are a changin’

There was I, sitting on my bed in Aberdeen Royal after my latest cancer surgery, happily extolling the virtues of the Scottish Government and its stability compared to the never ending chaos in London when one of my fellow patients bursts in to say “Aye well but who’s going to replace Nicola now”? Talk about pulling the rug….

It’s sad to see Nicola and now John stand down after so many years of unstinting service but at least we now have the opportunity to blood a new FM and their team before going to the polls again. Like the vast majority of folk I’m enormously grateful to both for years of unswerving service to Nation and Party. Have a good rest, rediscover normal life and hopefully come back ‘ere too long. There’s going to be a YES campaign which needs running!

One of the other discussions we were having in the ward was around the DRS scheme. I’ve been an enthusiast since visiting Norway some years ago and seeing just how much of a difference it made when there were no empty bottles etc lying around. Any which had been put into waste bins etc were rapidly taken by the unfortunate down and outs or kids and there was not a sign of broken glass either.

One of the other patients ran a small local grocery shop, part of a well known chain. He was a supporter in principle of DRS but was daunted by the costs and complexity of making it work. He reckoned it would cost approx. £15,000 to install the equipment not to mention the reduction in space he would have, then he would have to pay for the bottles to be taken away and he had no guarantee that the returns would even have been bought in his shop or used to make another purchase there. He didn’t know that he could operate the scheme manually or rent the equipment to see what he actually needed. 

It’s possible to say that he should have been aware but given the day to day issues of running the shop and fighting the illness which had brought us into contact, I have a lot of sympathy. Full disclosure, I wasn’t aware of most of the detail till my friend Angus MacDonald pointed me in the right direction.

Click Deposit Return Scheme for more info.

My bigger question is how and why have we got to this stage in the introduction of DRS without a decent communication strategy being in place for both shopkeepers and the public. It certainly seems that Lorna Slater has been seriously missing in action when it comes to fronting the scheme and explaining its function and benefits. That, from what I can see is not exactly novel. The Greens are more than capable of issuing demands and ultimatums but less than competent when it comes to governing and even more so when the heat gets turned up. As one friend put it “the Greens aren’t fit to run a bath far less a government”. If Lorna Slater is not capable of fronting this scheme, and that certainly appears to be the case, then the answer is not to delay its introduction, it’s to put someone competent in administration and communication in charge! The scheme has been making its way through Parliament for at least 5 years, 12 if you take it back to the 2011 Green Strategy Paper. 

We know business doesn’t like change and this is a classic case of foot dragging by some in business. What’s so hard about putting a bar code on a bottle label?  Do people seriously suggest that there will be hoards of folk heading north with a bag of empties to collect 20ps? These details and problems should have been resolved months, if not years, ago but when the Ministerial lead is missing then nothing happens.

On a final note, I hope that when the Greens are issuing these ultimatums around Section 35 and possibly pulling out of the deal they signed just 2 years ago, that they bear in mind how many SNP supporters gave them their 2nd votes. Bring down an SNP Government and that support might not be there next time. Gone might be not just the Ministerial car etc but also the Parliamentary seat!

As we enter the final stages of the Leadership race it seems that the elephant in the room is being ignored. We hear various strategies for negotiating without accepting that the Unionists simply don’t want to negotiate! The Tories regard themselves as the party of the Union and don’t want to break it up, despite despising everything Scottish, especially their colleagues from constituencies in Scotland. Labour know that without Scottish (and Welsh) seats they’re never going to get near power in England. And above all it’s power in England they want, so they’re not going to negotiate either. If at this point you think I’m going to “recommend” or “advise” on who should be leader, think again. If you’re reading The Flag, you are more than capable of making up your own mind!

We need some fresh and creative thinking and strategies to drive forward but unless we accept that Unionism is merely playing the same tune over and over again, we ain’t going to change the outcomes. All the indy conventions, cross party agreements etc won’t bring them to the table.

As a starter, can I suggest that a campaign which highlights the practical economic and social harms caused by being in the Union. A good example would be the price of electricity in Scotland being up to £1000 pa dearer than in England. Just think of some of the Scotland’s Oil posters and leaflets being updated!   Remember the It’s Her Oil poster with the poor old pensioner image, think of it with;

No wonder she’s cold and hungry!

Scots pay £1000 a year more for energy bills.

If people are emotionally attached to the idea of the union, maybe their purse or wallet can change their mind.


  1. This is the first time I have read this blog.
    I shall have a wee read of some of your other posts before I decide how interesting and thought provoking you are. I’m at the curious stage. Hope to comment again. Thanks for your insights.

  2. Glad that you want to take an interest. Comments and constructive criticism always welcome.
    There are also several other contributors and I’m sure they feel the same.
    Hope to hear from you again.

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