A rash of irritations


When watching TV I saw the procession at the Durham Miners’ Gala – Len McLuskey was speaking at it, and I recalled a piece on this Gala some years back, in the Observer I think.  I paraphrase; One of the comments was  that this was the greatest democratic demonstration in the world, and the report went on: “ “If you vote Tory up our way, you get a brick through your window” quoth one democratic miner.”


A9 tragedies

I am never surprised by the hypocrisy of our Unionist MSPs;  whenever there is an accident on the A9 involving loss of life you can guarantee there will be at least one of them calling for the immediate dualling of the road.  They suffer from selective amnesia;  in the SNP Manifesto for May 2007 it was promised that a start would be made to the complete dualling using the £500 million already allocated to the Edinburgh Trams.  When this proposal was made in the Scottish Parliament all the Unionists voted against it, and the Edinburgh Trams project, rumbled (or grumbled) on; that was six years ago, and we expect the full cost of the very much shortened project to be at least £1 billion.  The shortfall will be paid for by the citizens of Edinburgh, and I have yet to meet one who thinks it a good idea.

There are hopes  a Public Inquiry might be held into this gross mismanagement of public funds;  one does not expect this will be welcomed by the Unionists, despite their seeming insatiability for Public Inquiries.


Do fat cats slaver?

For many years the Royal Mail ran at a loss, gratefully (?) picked up by the taxpayer.  It has now become profitable so we the taxpayers might expect – or hope- to get some of our money back.  However, our wonderful coalition thinks that now it is making money it should be sold off, so that future profits will be enjoyed by the fat cats.  Labour seem to be comfortable with this situation.

Misguided headline

I saw a headline in the Sunday Post this week, about Salmond being slammed for a golf snub; the piece was concerning his decision not to go to Muirfield, but the “slamming” referred to a brief statement from  Scottish Labour, and 63 words from Alex Johnstone, a Tory MSP.  One might have thought a “slamming” a bit of an over reaction?


Stone thief

This little piece with a picture of Kay Mathieson had a headline “Funeral of Stone thief”; I thought the funeral of Edward I of England had taken place a long, long, time ago, but perhaps nobody told the Sunday Post sub editors.


Referendum over

I see from the Herald that the No Campaign have won the Referendum; voting in September 2014 would appear to be academic as Scotland has already decided they prefer to be ruled by the Tories.  Michty me, I’m sorry I got up this morning.


Any Questions?

12 June 2013

Index Heading: Enterprise & Environment

Willie Rennie (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether the Fiscal Commission Working Group’s work in relation to options and opportunities for a tax system for Scotland includes consideration of the extension of VAT to food and children’s clothing.



Mr John Swinney MSP:

I refer the member to the minutes of the meeting on 7 February 2013 of the Fiscal Commission Working Group. The minutes can be found at:


The Fiscal Commission is considering the principles of taxation not what should be taxed. As the Fiscal Commission Working Group has indicated, a paper will be published in due course.

It will be for all parties in Parliament to set out their plans for taxation in an independent Scotland ahead of the 2016 election.



Mr Rennie followed this up with 12 questions on various aspects  of this Group; he was politely told  12 times to go and read the Minutes. Easy way for a “conscientious” MSP to waste £1200 of taxpayers (our) money.




From the July issue of the Scots Independent

Defence of whose realm?

Paul Henderson Scott


Should we leave Foreign Affairs and Defence to Westminster?

According to many press reports there are many people in Scotland who are in favour of the Scottish Parliament handling all internal matters in Scotland, but they think that we should leave Foreign Affairs and Defence to Westminster. Do they think that those two subjects do not matter very much or, on the contrary, that they are too important to be left to the Scottish Parliament? I suspect that it is the latter. In either case this is a very reckless proposal, because it is precisely these two subjects where control by the Westminster Parliament is very dangerous. This is because British Prime Ministers tend to cling to the notion that Britain is still a Great Power.

That was true from the defeat of France in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the 1914-1918 war, when America came to save Britain from defeat. During the 19th century Britain was certainly a major power in the world with a powerful navy and a great world-wide Empire. Even so America had to come to the aid of Britain in both the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars. Since then Britain has clung to American support on which British nuclear weapons depend. At the end of the last war the British colonies demanded independence and the British Empire no longer exists. I think that it is high time to follow their example. Scotland, after all, is an ancient nation with an impressive record of cultural and scientific achievement.

There is no doubt that the majority of opinions on political events and international issues in Scotland are very different from those in England. This is very clear, for instance, in every UK election. The Conservative vote, which has long been negligible in Scotland, is strong in England. The present Westminster Government where the Conservatives are in power with the Liberal-Democrat support, has only one Conservative MP from Scotland. Now they may be challenged by UKIP who are more extreme Tories with a different name, but so far UKIP have failed to make any impact in Scotland.

The Westminster Parliament has currently 650 MPs, but there are only 59 from Scotland. This means, of course, that on any major issue where majority opinion in Scotland is contrary to the English, the Westminster Parliament will not be deterred by the Scottish view. A recent example of this is the Westminster decision to invade Iraq, although there was clear evidence that Scottish opinion was strongly opposed to it. This is one recent example of the obvious fact that  decisions on Foreign Affairs and Defence can have disastrous consequences.

One important difference between Scottish and English opinion which has been apparent from many opinion polls is that the British parties and English opinion is still in favour of the dangerous and expensive policy of maintaining nuclear weapons, even if they keep them in Scotland. British Governments are unlikely ever to initiate their use; but they are a potential target if any country ever seeks to dominate the world.

Foreign Affairs are the responsibility of the Foreign office which directs the work of the Embassies and Consulates abroad. An independent Scotland would have its own Foreign Office and its own Embassies and Consulates. These would not be on the grandiose scale of the British, which are intended to display those of a Great Power. Those of Scotland would be on a similar scale to those of other European countries of a similar size to Scotland. They would be small but effective and confined to countries with which Scotland has an important relationship in trade or tourism. By concentrating on Scottish interests they would achieve much more satisfactory results for Scotland than the present British establishment which naturally concentrates on our larger neighbour.


Readers of the Flag in the Wind will be aware that Paul Henderson Scott after serving in the British Army during World War II, spent his working life as a diplomat;  he served in  Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, Quebec amongst many others, but probably his most exciting time was in Cuba, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis.  Agreement had been reached between Kruschev and Kennedy;  Russia would remove the missiles, and America would lift the naval blockade.  Castro refused to allow UN observers, but the Americans were not worried as the area was covered by U2 spy planes.  At the time the removal was due the ground was covered by a thick mist, and the Pentagon did not know what was happening, and was exceedingly nervous!  As America had no representation in Cuba, they asked the British Embassy in Washington who sent a cable to Havana;  Paul Scott got in his car and drove round the missile sites, then confirmed that the missiles were indeed being removed.  Paul was told later that his calming report may have averted a nuclear war.

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.




When “Britishness” came close to costing the SNP its very existence – Oct 2004

FOLLOWING the 1934 merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party, the newly formed SNP included in its membership “mere devolutionists and out-and-out separatists” as Roland Muirhead put it (and his choice of the word “mere” gladdens the heart). The disparity of purpose to which he referred proved to be a serious obstacle to the new party’s progress.

In particular, ex-members of the Scottish Party felt no need to observe the rules laid down at the time of the merger. For instance, in 1935 the Party’s President – the Duke of Montrose – announced that he intended to accept the Liberal Party whip in the House of Lords. His shocked colleagues were further staggered when he revealed that he had, until this point, been taking the Conservative whip. So much for the SNP’s status as a party in its own right.

Other defections occurred as various bees in various bonnets failed to win support from fellow members, and disappointing results in by-elections and in the General Election of 1935 led to a fall in morale and a questioning of the whole policy of election fighting.

Some had always felt that confrontation was too demanding and too slow to bring success. Co-operation on a cross-party or non-party basis continued to command the support of several leaders. R.E. Muirhead, as befitted a past leader of the Home Rule Association, was always well disposed towards co-operation and John MacCormick was busy in pursuit of his project to convene a Scottish National Convention.

In some versions of Party history MacCormick is blamed for the suspicions and controversies to which his activities gave rise. I believe that this is to misunderstand. Doubtless some might seek support by accepting compromise on their ultimate aim. For MacCormick his negotiations were seen as supplementary to the ongoing work of the Party, and he did not at this stage intend them to serve as an alternative to the Party’s programme. For him each agreement reached was merely a step forward to be accepted quickly while he moved on to promote the next possibility.

Despite defections, electoral fragility and internal tensions the Party might in time have reached a position of strength but for the impact of events that it had no power to influence.

By the greatest if ill fortune the birth of the SNP coincided with the rapid worsening of international relations and eventual war. Not that these developments came as any surprise, and Party members had been considering what their attitude towards the mounting crisis should be.

Some remembered the old tag about England’s difficulty being a subordinate nation’s opportunity. Some emphasised that Scots had no legislature to take decisions for them, and concluded that measures taken by the British government should be opposed or ignored as appropriate. Some would therefore argue against involvement in war at all. Others would deny the right of the government to conscript Scots in the event of war. Muirhead and Arthur Donaldson were prominent in the anti-war campaign, and Douglas Young was to gain power in the Party by his refusal to be conscripted.

The Party as a whole busied itself passing Conference resolutions firmly and sternly rejecting all thought of war. They forgot, however, the nature of the threat now emerging. The term “The Good War” was not coined till much later, but that is how public opinion saw it. Resistance to a “good war” invited gross misrepresentation and forfeited public support. Even among Party members the pieties of Conference resolutions became mere vapour when tested by actual events. Once the war came Scots proved ready to see themselves once again as “British” and that feeling came close to costing the Party its very existence.