We Get It!

The Better Together Campaign just can’t get it, but the Yes campaign obviously does. It’s better to campaign together when groups from different political and social backgrounds in society all believe in one common idea…………….that Scotland could be so much better as an Independent country in so many ways. Does it matter that we stand behind a banner of a group we are not a member of if we all share the big idea?

http://wingsoverscotland.com/a-dangerously-radical-idea/#more-38446 is a piece by Labour members in the Labour Voters for Scottish Independence group addressing the weekend’s accusations.

Even Annie Lennox gets it. I had long despaired that Annie just could not see the wood for the trees (I am a fan of her work, hence my disappointment). Last week, however, the mist finally cleared for her. Taken from an article in the Scotsman (please forgive me)

Speaking ahead of her appearance at this year’s Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament, she said: “You know when the first idea of Scotland being independent came to people’s ears, in the late 1960s early 1970s, and I was living in Scotland then, it seemed very eccentric at the time. You know, why? What do you need that for? Is not this some sort of very sentimental view where we are looking inwards rather than outwards?

“But, as time has gone on, I think I can see some benefits to Scotland in a certain kind of way.”

She went on: “I wouldn’t like to see Scotland missing out on the bigger picture, but at the same time I think Scotland has missed out on things as a country.

“I think Scotland could take a stand in a wonderful way, ecologically and morally and ethically. Scotland could stand for something in the way that Norway has done historically. We could say, this will be a country which is a nuclear-free zone and this will be a country which will tackle the issues like the depletion of the environment around the coastline, for example, and our fishing stocks are so depleted now we are going to have a no-take zone; this type of thing. I would love to see those things, the visionary things, in Scotland.”

For me, the first sentence of the 4th paragraph says all that I want to see in Scotland. Sceptics will say I am dreaming and that this is not achievable. I am normally very sceptical about everything but if the time the SNP has spent in government has taught us anything, it should be that anything is possible and that there is always a different way to run things. “This is how we have always done it” should be a phrase that is outlawed. There are fairer ways of doing things so that everyone benefits and not just the cheating, criminal fat cats.

All summer long the Yes teams have been out at community events and in the main streets smiling, chatting, handing out flags, taking photos and signing people up to the campaign. Thanks to social media sites we have also been seeing the Better Together stalls, albeit a little thinner on the ground. Some of our campaigners have been driven to cross over and chat with them so they don’t feel quite as lonely since the crowds were not so keen to be seen chatting to them.

Not only is the ordinary activist busy campaigning but so are our elected members who now have a little free time in the parliamentary recess to support good causes in their constituencies. Here we have our very own finance secretary making jam for the world jam making contest hosted in his own Blairgowrie.

Who says our cabinet secretaries don’t know about real life


From the August issue of the Scots Independent

The cat is out of the bag

Stephen Gethins

Last year Foreign Direct Investment in Scotland rose by 49% .

The cat is out of the bag, after months of accusing the Scottish Government of putting off investors because of its plans to deliver the normal powers of Independence for our country, even the most pro-Union of parties is sending its people North to learn from what has been achieved here.

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Adonis who is leading a review by the Labour Party into how to generate growth and kick start the economy has been in Scotland. Before starting his visit he said – “I am going to be visiting Scotland to learn more than propose. I particularly want to learn from Scotland’s record in serious economic promotion” and in terms of investment went on “England should be learning from what Scotland does abroad.”

He might just be on to something, a Government that is closer to the people it serves use its powers more effectively than one that is remote. A recent report for Ernst and Young showed that last year Foreign Direct Investment in Scotland rose by 49% and sits at a 15 year high. In particular Scotland seemed to be successful in attracting investment from the USA, France, Sweden and Norway among others. Just some examples of the investment that took place last year include Mitsubishi’s £125 million investment in our offshore renewables sector and Chanel’s investment in Borders knitwear.

Scots have never been shy of making their way in the world and doing business internationally. That long tradition of global entrepreneurialism has led Scots to work across the world as well as helping bring business to our shores.

Scotland has a large number of major international industries spread across the country such as the financial services sector in Edinburgh and Glasgow, hydrocarbons in the North East and Food and Drink across the country. The oil and gas industry is international by its very nature and we are continuing to see major investments in our economy with a recent report showing Capital Investment in the industry at an all time high. The North Sea oil and gas industry employs hundreds of thousands and even the UK Government concedes that it will be producing for decades to come.

And we are seeing exciting developments in others industries. Scotland’s food and drink industry built on Scotland’s natural larder continues to go from strength to strength. Our whisky, sea foods and other food and drink products are providing jobs across the country, attracting investment and boosting our exports. Our renewables sector is also growing and provides much direct foreign investment. With the European Union’s best renewables resources (with a quarter of its wind and tidal power and a tenth of the wave power) as well as a legacy of expertise in the broader energy industry Scotland is seen as the place to be for this fast growing sector.

The Green Investment Bank even announced its first investment in Scotland in July bringing together both of these industries by recently announcing an investment of almost £600,000 for a biomass boiler at the Tomatin whisky distillery.

There is no question that the past few years have been tough, but it is clear that the Scottish Government is creating an environment to help business to bring in jobs and investment to communities the length and breadth of Scotland. It is also clear that any scare stories about Independence have been found to be absolutely untrue. In fact the same Ernst and Young report that found that Scotland was benefitting from increased Foreign Direct Investment also found that there were “no signs of investors being deterred from coming to Scotland, if anything, the reverse appears to be true”.

An SNP Government has done everything in its power to tackle the impact of the economic down turn in Scotland. Yet the reality is that it is doing so with both arms tied behind its back. Even under the proposals announced by the Scotland Act Scotland would have minimum financial powers and would continue to rely on a South East of England focused UK Government to make most of its economic decisions.

As Scotland continues to recover and we seek to build sustainable and fair economy we need to have the normal powers of Independence to achieve that. For although Scotland has been remarkably successful in attracting investment others will be doing all they can as well. Our partners are also our competitors. Similar sized countries to Scotland such as Ireland, Finland, Denmark and others across the EU and beyond will be doing all they can to build prosperity. Yet they are doing so with all the normal powers that Independence brings.

We have been successful but in order to build a sustainable recovery, Scotland desperately needs Independence.


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 15 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.


Co-operation, Covenant and disunity Jan 2005

AFTER 1942 anyone wishing to work for Scottish Home Rule had to make a choice between Scottish Convention and the SNP. I chose, with neither doubt nor delay, the SNP, being not at all impressed by any claim that support for Independence could be fully expected from anyone retaining ties to a British political party. Many persons have claimed to be capable of such breadth of fervour but they are deceiving first themselves and then the rest of us.

Of course, on occasion, parties can properly co-operate, especially when choice of government is not the purpose of the co-operation. One such opportunity presented itself in 1950 to the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association. GUSNA had played a role in the formation of the Party, but in 1948 only two of us were Party members. Others identified themselves as Liberals, whatever they understood that term to mean. Most were either indifferent or actually hostile towards the Party, and took positive pride in not belonging. Perhaps a preference for Convention prompted them, but a more likely motive was the sadly familiar adolescent hostility to organisation, displayed by those still young enough to be fascinated by their own perceptiveness and originality.

However, any success by either Convention or Party would benefit both in the eyes of the public, and in 1950 GUSNA joined with two other clubs first to nominate and then to elect John MacCormick as Lord Rector of their university. Party man though I was, as joint convener of his campaign committee no one was happier than I.

This successful campaign had several consequences. Ian Hamilton, largely responsible for campaign literature, had – as became clear – been planning the most effective publicity stroke in half a century in retrieving the Stone of Destiny.

Scotland rejoiced, and many tried to look guilty, brushing imaginary stone dust from their jumpers. Instinct told the authorities that ‘extremists’ would be the culprits. Oliver Brown was prompted to open a meeting by expressing his pleasure at seeing the crowd mingle with the detectives. In fact the enterprise was the work of the moderates of the Covenant Association.

While the Stone remained hidden and Scots enjoyed the situation, a nation-wide Covenant programme of public meetings began. Someone somewhere brought the singing of the 23rd Psalm into the ceremony, and here came the first slight setback to prevailing unity. At a meeting of the Covenant’s National Committee opposition to the psalmody was expressed by John Bayne and John J. Campbell, who felt that their fellow-Catholics were likely to be resentful of this whiff of Presbyterianism on display.

Further indications of disunity were revealed during a Rally in St Andrew’s Hall in Glasgow. Speakers were at pains to refer to their own party loyalties while emphasising that these loyalties had been wholly set aside. Frankness however overcame some. John Bayne made a passing, almost jocular, remark indicating that he felt no great regard for the Conservative Party. Professor Dewar Gibb entered into the spirit of the thing. Alluding to Labour’s tradition of pacifism and sometime conscientious objection he reflected upon the number of Labour politicians who had spent some years during two world wars, as he put it, ‘skulking behind prison bars’.

Audience participation followed. Irish neutrality and U-Boats in Irish harbours were loudly discussed. The Duke of Montrose was brought forward to restore a measure of calm and to invite those present to buy Covenant Bonds, redeemable by a future Scottish Treasury.

As my old and dear GUSNA colleague, the late Jarvis Scott, put it, “Scots Home Rulers unite! You have nothing to lose but your bonds.”