A selective Commonwealth

This does not refer to the Common Weal issue being highlighted by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, but to the Royal and Ancient Commonwealth of the former nations usurped by the British Empire – well ancient in the sense that the United Kingdom lost an Empire, but translated it into a Commonwealth, since it consist of some 54 countries which have mainly become independent since the Second World War.  Please note that this group does not include the United States of America or the Republic of Ireland, both countries which gained their independence after taking up arms against the British state.


We have now been informed by Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma of the Commonwealth that Scotland will not automatically be a member but will have to apply and that all 54 countries will have a say on our application.   The inference is that we are not welcome – Better Together , but not for Scotland in the Common wealth.  The Secretary General used a word I have never come across before – automaticity;  I looked it up on Google – (the nearest my somewhat ancient (pre Commonwealth) Oxford dictionary could come up with was automaton).  It was defined as : “having the capability of starting, operating, moving, etc., independently: an automatic sprinkler system; an automatic car wash.”


So Scotland is going to be barred from the EU, NATO, and now not allowed near the car wash!  I jest, but quite frankly is there no end to the organisations which are planning to reject a country for having the temerity to democratically decide to be independent and run its own affairs.  And this comes from an association of independent  countries, not all of whom are as democratic as Scotland ………………



Moridura and 15 Questions

I was first intrigued and then heartened by the 15 questions responded to by First Minister Alex Salmond, and published by Moridura on its website.

These can be accessed at http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/15-key-questions-on-independence.html

This is very much worth listening to.



Extract from August Issue of the Scots Independent

* Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.


Timescale for additional powers.

James Aitken


I  have been asked a number of times recently to comment on a likely timescale for additional tax and fiscal powers if Scotland votes ‘NO’ in September 2014.

Estimating a likely timescale is not that difficult a task.  It may though be a pointless task if as is likely this issue is for all intents and purposes ignored by Westminster.

Recent delays to the devolving of additional fiscal powers to both Northern Ireland and Wales give an indication of the sense of priority these matters even now are given at Westminster. Add to this the background of the 2015 UK General Election and the debate surrounding the UK’s membership of the European Union.  The likelihood of Westminster devoting time and effort to yet another debate on which tax and fiscal powers to devolve to the Scottish Parliament cannot be high.

That said, one recent example does give us some idea of how long these things take.

December 2007 – Calman Commission set up.

December 2008 – Interim report published.

June 2009   –  Main report published.

May 2010 –  General Election and change of government resulted in a review of the matter

May 2012 –  Scotland Act .

April 2015 and 2016 – Powers to be devolved.

So 8 or 9 years and that is when very few powers are being devolved and there is a large amount of consensus between the main UK parties.


Adapted from Legal Knowledge blog 21 Jul 13

* “I fear the Greeks  even when bearing gifts”.  According to Aeneid spoken by a priest of Troy when the Greeks left the Trojan Horse as a gift.


Jimmy Halliday’s contributions to the Cause

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 – 60;  in 1956 the entire SNP Conference delegates were photographed on the steps of the Allan Water Hotel, Bridge of Allan.
We are 13 months from a Referendum on Scottish Independence, which was unthinkable in 1955;  Jimmy died on 3rd January 2013 at the age of 85.  We intend to publish all Jimmy’s articles in the Scots Independent from August 2004 up to 2011, all the ones we have electronic input for.  It is anticipated we will publish a book on Jimmy’s contributions over many years, but this will have to wait until after the Referendum.


Wilderness years – again!  – March 2005

AS in 1942 so again in 1955 the SNP was weakened by the defection of dissatisfied members. The ‘55 Group’, re-branded as the ‘Nationalist Party of Scotland’ sought support for a programme summarised in its literature as ‘Bombs, Bricks and Paint -and the Fight is On.’ As the plodding SNP could offer no such excitement, the original defectors had sympathisers lurking, even swaggering, in most sectors of the Party.

Deficient in heroics, the new National Executive sought to re-establish unity through direct personal contact in a sustained programme of visits, either to try to form new branches or to inspire the commitment of those already existing. It was slow work. For instance, a bus journey from Glasgow to Crieff,  travel sick as usual, was rewarded by an audience of one. Though a better response was sometimes encountered, our impatient members considered, so we are told, that we were merely drifting. The sad truth was that no one was listening.

In existing branches most members remained loyal, but others had become disheartened and bereft of purpose. One Glasgow member denounced the NEC for its failure to call upon the soldiers from Maryhill Barracks. Another meeting passed pleasantly in the selection of the first Cabinet of a free Scotland. Dr McIntyre was to be Minister of Health while more prestigious posts were reserved for his enemies. My attention was drawn thus early to the tendency of good and strong branches to carry our message to the people at large, while weak branches can be identified by the priority which they give to internal Party affairs.

The 1955 disharmony was no doubt to blame for a renewed display of an attitude which John MacCormick had encountered twenty years earlier – a swift readiness to assume that office-bearers have been rendered arrogant by their election and must be taken down a peg as a matter of course.

In contrast, any new arrival tended to be received with awe and deference. Anyone from outside must be politically smarter than ourselves so let us revere and rejoice at having at last the bearer of answers to our prayers and solutions to our problems.

In due course these two weaknesses struck at once. A bright, alert and, as it proved, ambitious journalist came forward to join in Party work in Glasgow, being active in fund-raising and in organising the year’s municipal campaign. Unfortunately he had decided to prosper as chief spokesman for all who despised the wretched NEC. One instance of that body’s alleged failure was its decision not to contest a by-election in Kelvingrove. In full disregard of the decision and of the reasons for taking it, several members followed their leader into joining publicly in the Liberal Party’s campaign.

No party can allow members to ignore or defy properly taken decisions, and so those concerned lost their membership. Another lesson in political maturity had been given and learned, and a necessary precedent set. Some years later the ringleader told me that he had never had any respect for the SNP precisely because it had welcomed and advanced him with no knowledge of his motives or purposes.

By 1960, despite these difficulties, the Party could show progress. We had more members, more branches, more money and (in 1959) more Parliamentary candidates -only five but still better than 1955’s two. Most significant was its status as the one Nationalist champion left standing, having seen off challenges from consensus-seekers on the one hand and verbal insurrectionists on the other. The now growing Party required in effect full-time leadership and so at the 1960 Conference I resigned as the last part-time Chairman of the SNP.