Scots in Europe

Posted on September 23rd, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I’ve just returned from a short break in Germany where I visited the Munich Oktoberfest. Copious amounts of beer were drunk, and I ate far too much schnitzel, but thanks to my sighted friends, I survived the event. It was a magnificent party.

What this trip also gave me were a few interesting insights. When we arrived in Munich, there was a queue for passport control. A man in the queue behind us was complaining that he did not see why he could not go through the EU channel since he still had a red EU passport. I refrained from making any comments, but it does show how little some people understand about the effects of Brexit.

When we handed over our passports, the German official knew we were Scottish because the plane had come in from Edinburgh. Also, I have covered my new UK passport with a Saltire cover just to be sure they know I’m not claiming to be part of Brexitania. The official chatted to us briefly in perfect English. He was no doubt doing his job by asking us why we had travelled to Munich but when we told him we would be visiting Oktoberfest, he laughingly asked us if we knew that they only sell beer by the litre. It was all very sociable, and we passed through without a hitch.

I’ll skip ahead to our return journey where we had a very brief stopover in Brussels to transfer flights. Here, the passport control insisted that my Saltire cover be removed and there was no banter at all. On arrival back in Edinburgh, the welcome was more friendly, but again the Saltire cover had to be removed before they would examine the passport. I really don’t know why this is because the cover does not in any way conceal anything except the black outer cover, but perhaps I am missing something. It certainly didn’t bother the German passport check.

However, the main thing I want to mention about this trip is just how much Scotland is loved in Europe. I made a point of wearing Saltire sunglasses instead of my usual Bluetooth audio sunglasses. The latter would have been useless anyway because the noise inside the beer tents is phenomenal. One of my companions also sported a Scotland hat, and these to items attracted a huge amount of attention. We were stopped or spoken to by people from Switzerland, New Zealand, Italy, USA, France and Germany, including some of the serving staff, all of whom told us how much they loved Scotland. It really was wonderful to hear such affection for our people and nation from citizens of normal countries.

The other thing about Oktoberfest is that, despite the vast amount of beer being drunk, it really is a party. I’ve been to the Edinburgh version and it is not a patch on the real thing. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine an event on the Oktoberfest scale taking place in the UK without there being some serious crowd trouble. And yet we only witnessed one act of violence which took place outside the complex, when two guys got into an argument and began swapping punches. Other than that, the whole event, with tens of thousands of well-lubricated people from all over the world, was like a huge friendly gathering where everyone just wanted to have fun and meet new friends.

That’s not to say the Germans don’t take security seriously, but their security staff maintain a low profile, only appearing when there is any trouble. And they do take a zero tolerance approach. One of our group was in a long queue for the toilets when a young Englishman jumped the queue, laughingly barging into one of the cubicles. Security must have spotted him because they were waiting as soon as he emerged. He was ejected from the tent for anti-social behaviour.

All in all, Oktoberfest is a cultural experience unlike any other. I can’t wait to go back again, even if only to hear so many people who have a positive view of Scotland which is so at odds with the way our own media portrays our country.

Short Sighted

Posted on September 4th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

There can be no doubt that there is a split in the Yes movement. While I can understand why people may hold different views, I can only reiterate my disappointment that this is playing into the hands of the Unionists. The UK has always operated on a divide and conquer basis, and I fear it is proving successful for them.

I must also express my severe disappointment that those who said that Nicola Sturgeon never had any clever plan for turning Scotland into a normal, self-governing country have been proved correct. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, because her actions, or lack of them, were fairly clear to see, but I retained the hope that the SNP might still prove to be the political vehicle which would gain us independence. Increasingly, this looks unlikely, although it must be said that no other political Party has yet shown itself capable of replacing the SNP in the eyes of the majority of voters who, let’s face it, do not keep fully up to date with the details of daily politics.

However, some who claim to be Yes supporters do seem to be taking a very short-sighted view of things. A recent article on the Wings Over Scotland website went into great detail about Rev Campbell’s reasons for feeling abandoned by the SNP. While it was difficult to disagree with much of the detail in the piece, I was extremely disappointed in the response of some readers who claimed that if there was another IndyRef, they either wouldn’t vote or would actually vote No simply out of dislike of the SNP and the current crop of Scottish Government Ministers.

Now, whether these accounts on social media are genuine or whether they were pro-Union accounts masquerading as Yessers, I cannot say. But the sentiment is typical of the short-sighted view that so many people take when it comes to voting. Whether in an election or a referendum, people really need to look at the bigger picture. Voting because of personal circumstances is understandable if selfish, but when it comes to a referendum on independence, what people really need to understand is that the whole point is to turn Scotland into a country where we can vote out unpopular politicians. Some may say that this is the reason the SNP is not moving us towards independence because it would spell the end of that Party’s core reason for existing. I’m not so sure about that, but it would certainly remove the constitutional question which overrides every election in Scotland. If we did somehow manage to become a normal country, then the SNP would need to justify itself to Scottish voters. Given that most of their opposing political Parties are merely branded versions of English Parties, whether the SNP would face much opposition is a moot point. But the overriding principle is that the main reason to become a normal country is so that you can choose your own Government and not be ruled from the country next door. If you make the wrong choice, then you vote them out at the next election. At the moment, the only election choices are essentially between the SNP and a Unionist Party. That is an awful situation which needs to change.

So, however much you may disagree with the SNP, to say that you would either abstain or vote No in any future IndyRef is, quite frankly, a ludicrous position to adopt. If we get the chance, we must vote to become a normal country. Failure to do so would condemn future generations of Scots to even more exploitation by Westminster, and those future generations might never get another chance. And if you hate the SNP so much, then you can vote against them in an independent Scotland in the same way as every voter in a normal country can do. As I’ve said before, independence will be around a lot longer than any individual politician, and just because you dislike the current SNP politicians should not undermine the fundamental cause of independence which is greater than any Party.

How It Begins

Posted on August 24th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I will admit that I have not read a great deal about the trial of former Nurse Lucy Letby. That anyone could consider harming a child, let alone killing several, is so appalling that I could not bring myself to read any of the horrendous details. I can only imagine the heartache and grief experienced by those families whose lives she wrecked by ending the lives of so many newborn infants.

But there is more controversy surrounding her because she did not attend her sentencing at Court, and the UK Government intends to change the law so that, in future, nobody can refuse to be present when being sentenced.

While this feeling is understandable, I’m not sure that the reaction has been helpful. As was discussed in an episode of the excellent Newsagents podcast, it is not impossible that some accused could turn their appearance in the dock into a farce through their behaviour. And when someone has been sentenced to a life in prison, what further punishments could a judge hand down?

As with so many things in life, this matter is more complex than it first appears, but what is worse is that some people do have suggestions for how to treat uncooperative prisoners. None other than TV "personality" Richard Madeley does have a suggestion for how to add further punishment to force people to attend their own sentencing. He is advocating the use of Tasers and truncheons to disable, bludgeon and perhaps seriously injure anyone who is uncooperative. That such medieval ideas can be promulgated to a wide audience is yet another symptom of the lurch to the Right in UK society. It may be idealistic to insist that even despicable murderers should be treated as human beings, and I do appreciate that there can be situations within some institutions where violence needs to be met with an appropriate measure of force, but if someone is simply refusing to cooperate, do they really deserve to be physically assaulted? We often hear complaints about Police brutality, and yet now we have influential people calling for violence as a first resort to punish people even when they are offering no violence themselves. I find that a very disturbing train of thinking, but it is sadly indicative of the suggestions and comments being made by some people about anyone else they consider undesirable. We’ve even had people calling in to radio stations to advocate using military forces to turn back refugee boats even if it means that it will result in deaths. This is sadly reminiscent of a scene in the early pages of George Orwell’s prescient novel, "1984" in which a cinema shows scenes of helicopter gunships massacring refugees in boats for the entertainment of the crowd.

We often wonder how the Nazis came to power in Germany. It is through the normalisation of brutality that these things come about, and that begins with the normalisation of brutal words and thoughts. Richard MadeLey’s comments were perhaps intended to be provocative, but the very fact that he can feel empowered to suggest such things on television shows just how far towards depravity the UK is sinking.

Extreme Nimbyism

Posted on July 21st, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

So the Tories managed to cling on to the Uxbridge constituency in the By-election, and most commentators seem to think it is because they turned it into a single issue campaign, with voters urged to show their displeasure at the proposed expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Since many Tories are motivated by self-interest rather than what is good for society, the tactic seems to have worked, but this really is an extreme example of Nimbyism. Reducing air pollution improves the environment and health, and it can reduce deaths. Yet, for some people it seems that being allowed to drive polluting cars is more important.

This sort of thinking is not confined to the UK, and it is impossible to introduce any policy which will not find someone opposing it, but the benefits of cleaner air must surely be visible to everyone. Everyone with the exception of Tories in Uxbridge, that is.

In a wider context, this result may be a harbinger of what to expect in the next UK General Election. Along with all the lies and obfuscation the Tories will employ, focusing on narrow self-interest may well attract voters. The only thing that might work against that idea is that the Tories have introduced so many harmful policies, and some voters may feel that a change is needed. Given that Sir Keir Starmer, aka Sir Kids Starver, offers a party which is so close to the Tories in its political ideology, even proclaiming that Greed is Good may not be enough to save the Tories from electoral disaster.

From a Scottish perspective, there is probably not much we can take from this. Scotland is very different in outlook, and we can expect both Tories and Labour to bang on about SNP incompetence and alleged corruption, while also playing the Union card at every opportunity. But perhaps the SNP can take a leaf out of the Tory playbook and focus on a self-interest campaign. Quite simply, if you don’t want Tory policies inflicted on you by Westminster, vote for independence.

Scotland in the Media

Posted on July 5th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

The other week, I was discussing the shocking state of the mainstream media with an English relative of mine. We were both bemoaning the biases, and he has even come to agree that the BBC are not impartial as he had once believed. I managed to recommend some alternative news websites and podcasts, so hopefully he’ll be able to find views not available from the mainstream media.

This did make me wonder about the general view that English people have about Scottish politics, and an article in today’s Guardian brought this home. The article featured research by a Think Tank called More IN Common UK, an organisation which, according to its website, was founded in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP, with the intention of carrying out research in areas of the UK outside London and the South East of England to find out what people are thinking.

What caught my eye was the headline, which read, "Get a ‘Grip and Listen’. Scottish voters share views as Yousaf reaches 100 days in office".

On reading the article, it was clear that the research had produced a wide range of views from people who had all voted SNP in the past, and all of whom resided in the Westminster constituency of Lanark and Hamilton East, traditionally a Labour stronghold, which perhaps reveals the bias inherent in More In Common UK’s attitude. It was also revealing that the quote in the headline was not attributed to any individual although many comments were cited. These ranged from admiration of Anas Sarwar, through disappointment with Nicola Sturgeon, the usual stuff about there being more important things for politicians to deal with than a referendum, and the view that independence was the best way to resolve those problems. Views on Humza Yousaf were equally mixed.

So, an English-based reader of the article might well have come away with the view that there was a fairly even split, although the unattributed headline quote suggests that Scottish voters are not impressed with our new First Minister.

But what was most revealing was that there was no background on More In Common UK, nor was there any caution about using research which focused on a single constituency, yet is implied to be relevant to the whole of Scotland by the headline. Nor, I noted, was any information given about how many people were interviewed, nor any percentage record of whether they still intended to vote SNP at the next General Election. In essence, then, the article is pretty meaningless in its attempt to ascertain what the voting public is thinking. The quotes were so wide-ranging that you could pick and choose to find the opinion you want. And, as so often with Anglo-centric media, they chose a negative one for the headline, even though the article did not confirm that anyone had actually said it.

Next time I’m chatting to my English relative, I think I’ll use this article as an example of how the media distorts views of Scotland. For myself, I’d have focused on the quote about the way to tackle our problems is to become independent. But then, I’m biased.

Progress to the Right

Posted on July 4th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I’m old enough to remember the days of Margaret Thatcher’s Government. I was a young lad in a decent job, and I do recall that the Tories were swept in on a wave of expectation after the many disasters of the 1970s. Three day working weeks, regular power cuts and endless strikes had left the UK in a sorry state, and because there was no media other than the newspapers, TV and radio, most people’s thoughts were shaped by what they were told to think, with any protest voices being labelled as part of the "Loony Left". I’m sure that sounds familiar to many readers because the media still plays those same cards when any threat to the established order presents itself.

Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit that I initially fell for some of the Tory slogans. Trickle Down economics sounded quite sensible to a teenage lad trying to work his way up the employment ladder. I know I was not alone in this, but I would add in my defence that I was far more interested in beer, sports and girls, with politics being a long way down my list of concerns.

One other thing I do remember, though, is that, for all the many faults of Thatcher’s Government, most of the politicians seemed competent, and most displayed some gravitas even when they were spouting Tory rhetoric. Recently, I’ve begun to wonder whether that was my memory playing tricks, because we all know the damage the Tories did to so many aspects of our lives. Indeed, the legacy of those days is still with us in far too many ways.

Recently, however, I was listening to The News Agents podcast. It’s very Anglo-centric, but since England controls Scotland on an ever-tightening leash, I find it can help to keep tabs on what is going on at Westminster without the BBC bias getting in the way. Last week, one of their features was an interview with Lord Deben, better known to my generation as John Selwyn Gumer, once a member of Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet. He has recently retired from his role on the Climate Change advisory Group, and it was a fascinating listen. Compared to today’s Tories, he sounded like a Leftie snowflake in his thinking. He was, though, articulate, sensible and made a number of very good points, most of which were critical of the current UK Government. I could not help thinking that Gummer, who was often viewed as a bit of a buffoon back in the 80s, would run rings around any member of the current UK Cabinet in a one on one debate.

Now, he is a Lord, so he is fundamentally part of the problem in the undemocratic way the UK functions – or, as most of us have realised, does not function. Even so, it was a reminder to me of how far to the extreme right UK politics has shifted. When a man who was part of the Government which killed off Scotland’s heavy industry, which introduced the poll tax and began the privatisation move, and which encouraged the greedy, "Me first!" society, can sound reasonable and sensible, it shows how far towards fascism the UK has degenerated. And Margaret Thatcher still lies at the heart of this problem because she helped create the environment in which today’s authoritarians have been able to flourish. As a result, the UK is a broken state. Even Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is further to the right than Thatcher’s Government ever was, and that is quite an achievement.

As ever, Scotland’s only hope is to become a normal, self-governing country. My hopes for this are actually encouraged because, thanks to greater political awareness and the advent of social media, today’s young people are far more aware of current affairs than my generation ever was.

What's The Plan?

Posted on June 26th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I’m glad I wasn’t the only person who was a bit confused by Humza Yousaf’s speech about the way forward for turning Scotland into a normal, self-governing country. Although there is some debate over his plan, it seems that the bar he is setting is quite low, simply requiring a majority of Westminster seats at the next UK General election. Now, I’ve been an advocate of this approach for a long time because it uses Westminster’s own archaic electoral system against the UK Parliament. However, I’m honestly not sure it will work now. I fear we have missed our chance for using this measure as evidence that the people of Scotland want to live in a normal country. It should have been done back in 2015, and I’m afraid that, with polls looking the way they are, the chances of winning a significant majority of seats are slim. That would give Westminster the ideal chance to portray any claims of wanting independence as ridiculous.

The really big problem, though, arises whichever measure of electoral success is used. It is that, quite simply, Westminster will say "No" whether the Government is formed by corrupt Tories or promise-breaking Labour. And what does Humza Yousaf intend to do then? There doesn’t seem to be a plan for dealing with that inevitable situation.

But what choice do Scots have? If we want to become a normal country, the SNP is still the only viable political party we can look to. That may change, of course, but I don’t think it will be happening any time soon.

So I’m not overly impressed with this latest iteration of the SNP plan, although I must give credit to Humza Yousaf for raising the issue of independence so frequently. If nothing else, he is gradually bringing it back to the forefront of politics. In itself, this may seem no big deal, but it may be the first step in his strategy of building up support. I wish him luck in that, and I welcome his announcement that he’ll be at the pro-Indy rally in September. I also like the way he is politely correcting English interviewers and pointing out the democratic deficit we are faced with. On that front, he needs to keep going. Whether it will change minds, we can only wait and see, but at least he is actively raising the profile of the Yes cause.

Unfortunately, unless there is some seismic shift in Scottish politics, I don’t think we are very much closer to independence than we were in 2015. Let’s hope that changes soon, although it is difficult to see how that’s going to happen. I fear we need some more radical plans than the one Humza Yousaf has put forward.

Devo Minimum

Posted on June 12th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

It was nice to hear Humza Yousaf state his determination to see Scotland become a normal, self-governing country within the next five years. I really hope he is able to deliver because some of the recent pronouncements from other SNP politicians on the topic of independence have been worrying to say the least. It seemed to me that they were setting up a scenario where they’ll admit that independence is not an option, but that we might be able to obtain some sort of Devo max which, while not ideal, could be the best option available. Of course, they framed this carefully so as not to give the impression that they have given up on independence, but the fact that they are clearly considering Devo Max is very concerning, and I’d like Humza Yousaf to come out and dispel any such notions as soon as possible because Devo Max should never be an option in a future referendum.

The reason for this should be plain enough. Devo Max has been promised before in the shape of Gordon Brown’s "Nearest thing to federalism" promise in 2014, and we all know how that worked out. Would any Westminster Government actually deliver Devo max? I very much doubt it. They’d say all the right things, then backtrack on promises as soon as they could. Nobody in Scotland should trust any Westminster Government to keep its promises.

And even if, by some miracle, a Labour UK Government did deliver, we must not forget that power devolved is power retained. That has been said so often in recent years that everyone should be sick of hearing it by now, but that does not make it any less true. So, even assuming a Labour UK Government scrapped the Internal Markets Act and granted (because they would be in control, so they would need to graciously permit us to behave like an almost-normal country), then what do you think would happen as soon as the English electorate voted in yet another tory Government? Yes, they’d soon find ways to reclaim all those powers that their Labour predecessors had granted.

But I doubt we’ll ever get that far. Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer is an out and out Unionist. He loves standing in front of as many Butcher’s Aprons as he can, and his politics are so far to the right that only the neo-fascist Tories can outmatch him. Whatever he may say, and no matter how many times Gordon brown produces lengthy documents spelling out proposals for reform of the constitution, there is no way Starmer will contemplate allowing Scotland any more autonomy. He may promise much, but he’ll not keep his promises. Just look at all the things he said he’d do when he was running to be Labour leader. He’s dropped just about every pledge he made. Why would anyone think he’d behave differently towards Scotland?

So, while I’ve supported the SNP for years in their quest for independence, I strongly disagree with any plans to consider Devo Max. They may claim that they need to deal with the realities of politics, but playing the UK political game by the UK’s rules has got us nowhere in the past eight and a bit years. That is not going to change whoever is in power at Westminster.

I know many Yessers are becoming increasingly convinced that the SNP don’t actually want independence. I’m more of the view that they do want it, but they don’t want to face the hassle and risk of taking dramatic action in order to achieve the goal for which most of their supporters elected them. Because it would be risky, and they would face enormous backlash from the media and the hardened Unionists in Scotland. But the SNP’s support is largely due to a desire for our nation to become like every other normal, self-governing country, and if they don’t produce some clear plan soon, they will find that more and more of their support will drift away.

We should know by now that Westminster always operates on a delaying basis. They pontificate and talk, and they make many promises, but they wear down their opponents by placing so many obstacles in their way that people get fed up. That is precisely what they have been doing to Scotland since 2014. This is why some in the SNP are now openly talking about Devo Max as possibly the best we can hope for. I’m sorry, but it’s not nearly good enough. What we need is strong leadership providing a clear plan for how to gain independence. Humza Yousaf has said the right things. Now he needs to turn words into action.

Kicking The Can - Again

Posted on June 8th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

So the SNP have decided not to decide anything for a few more months. It’s not an entirely unsurprising move since many in the Yes community are convinced that the SNP have no real intentions of ever attempting to make Scotland a normal, self-governing country. I’m not entirely convinced by those who argue that, but I must say that the SNP continually provide ammunition for those who believe they are far more interested in simply remaining in power in a devolved Government than in pursuing the purpose for which the Party was founded. After all, we’ve had nine years to figure out a strategy, and the options are fairly limited to say the least, especially when an emboldened Westminster knows it can get away with refusing a Section 30 Order indefinitely. Some other tactic is required, and the only real choice is which of the few available routes to pursue.

It is reasonable to argue that, with no UK or Scottish elections likely to take place this year, there is no harm in delaying any decision, especially when the new First Minister is still finding his feet in the role. But, as with so many things, politics is almost as much about the optics as it is about actions, and the optics of this decision are not good. For one thing, it will reassure Westminster that the SNP are in a mess and don’t know what to do; for another, it will send a signal to the Scottish public that there is unlikely to be another IndyRef any time soon. Some will be pleased about that, but Yessers will be disappointed to say the least. I wonder how many disgruntled SNP supporters will decide to switch to Alba or ISP? Or will they stick with the SNP, giving them yet another chance to actually do something?

To be honest, it is no wonder that the SNP leadership are reluctant to make that important decision because it carries a great deal of risk. I would argue, though, that remaining tied to Westminster carries even more risk. The UK Government is ramping up its process of undermining the Scottish Government at every opportunity, and the longer we delay, the more difficult it will be to break free of their neo-colonial grip.

What really puzzles me about this decision is that part of the reasoning seems to be that the summer will be spent campaigning. Campaigning for what, precisely? With no stated goal in mind, the public will be entitled to ask what the SNP proposes doing to turn us into a normal country. If that decision hasn’t been made, then any campaign is going to be fairly pointless.

On the other hand, Scots who are not obsessed with politics and are simply doing their best to cope with the stresses of daily life may go along with things for a while yet. But you can only kick the can down the road so many times before people start to ask why they should continue to back you. Actions speak louder than words, but if your principal course of action is to delay, prevaricate and procrastinate, then you are playing into your opponents’ hands. Sooner or later, Humza Yousaf is going to have to stand up and be counted. I sincerely hope it is sooner.


Posted on June 7th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Unsurprisingly, the House of Commons voted to suspend Margaret Ferrier MP for 30 days, thus almost certainly triggering a by-election in the constituency of Rutherglen & Hamilton West. I can’t say I have a great deal of sympathy for her, but it is interesting to note who voted in the decision. Barely a third of the total number of MPs took part, suggesting either that the majority didn’t care very much, or that they cared a great deal not to be seen to be passing judgement on such a highly charged case. And the reason it is highly charged has little to do with Margaret Ferrier’s blunder, and everything to do with the precedent this vote has created. It can be inferred from the fact that 40 Tory MPs voted against her suspension. This is because they know only too well that Boris Johnson broke lock down rules in an even more outrageous way than Margaret Ferrier did. These Tories actually seem to have developed a tiny bit of self-awareness, and realised that they could hardly vote against her when they fully intend to back Boris Johnson to the hilt despite his flagrant breaches of his own Covid rules.

So self-interest was at play in that vote, although the outcome was inevitable despite Tory attempts to fudge things. And self-interest also seems to be at play in the furore over Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. We know that the Tory Government has completely switched its position on the inclusion of glass in any such scheme, but the reasons for that switch are only now becoming apparent. Of course, it may be complete coincidence that Tory politicians have received hospitality from drinks’ companies who oppose the inclusion of glass, or own very large shareholdings in companies who oppose the inclusion of glass, or that a lobby group representing companies who oppose the inclusion of glass has made a large donation to the Tory Party. But it is a hell of a coincidence. There may be perfectly valid reasons for excluding glass, especially when we already have a system of bottle banks, but I can’t help thinking that the Tory reasons are mostly inspired by self-interest. But then, that lies at the heart of Tory philosophy, and the only way Scotland can ever escape being controlled by people who hold that attitude is to become a normal, self-governing country.

Bottling It

Posted on June 2nd, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

It’s been yet another Brownhog Day, with Gordon Brown once again promising us something or other which he isn’t able to deliver. Not only is Labour not in power, but even if they do form the next UK Government, Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) starmer has already said that reform of the House of Lords may not be the priority Gordon Brown thinks it should be. So it’s yet more nonsense from the Broon.

One of the attendees at this talking shop was Mark Drapeford, First Minister of Wales. I like a lot of the things he has to say, and I can’t help feeling he is in the wrong Party. But as well as joining the Labour pontificators, he also backed Humza Yousaf in calling for Westminster to respect Devolution. Now, I know they need to say things like that, but they must know themselves that it is a total waste of breath. Westminster will never respect Devolution, and we are seeing that yet again in their ludicrous stance over Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. Westminster was apparently quite happy for Wales to design a scheme which included glass bottles, even signing a joint document to that effect. But, buoyed by their successful blocking of the Gender reform Bill, the Tories are really going on the offensive now, using their internal Markets Act as a sledgehammer to squash pretty much anything the Scottish Parliament tries to do. After insisting that glass should be included in the DRS, they have now decided that they can block Scotland’s new legislation by changing their minds and insisting that glass be excluded. This will not only create havoc with the scheme, costing many retailers a lot of money, it allows the Tories to chip away at Holyrood’s decision-making powers. They will not stop here, but will use the IMA to block as much Scottish legislation as they can. Those who were jubilant when the Gender Reform Bill was blocked really should have tempered their feelings because, whether you agreed with that Bill or not, blocking it was an act of deep significance. Having succeeded, the Tories are now emboldened.

Of course, their hypocrisy over the inclusion of glass in the DRS, while evident for all to see, does not embarrass them in the slightest. Having demanded that Scotland’s plans be scrapped, they have now completely swivelled on their agreement with Wales, and are now telling Mark Drapeford that his plans will need to change. So far, he is digging his heels in, but it remains to be seen how far he will push things.

There’s no way yet of telling what will happen here, but one possible outcome is that both Scotland and Wales will either scrap their plans entirely or will go ahead without the inclusion of glass. But whichever way they go, it will cause much confusion and financial cost. It will also allow the BBC to mock the Scottish Government. And, once all of that has been achieved, just watch what happens when Westminster devises its own DRS. I’m not a betting man, but I’m fairly confident that their scheme will include glass, because that will allow them to point the finger at both Wales and Scotland, telling them they are out of step and had better improve their own schemes.

As ever, the only way to escape this madness is to become a normal, self-governing country. The same goes for Wales, and the sooner Humza Yousaf and Mark Drapeford get on with making this a reality, the better.

Boiling the Frog Since 2014

Posted on May 28th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Do you remember how, back in 2014, author J K Rowling, a Labour diehard supporter, assured Scots that, if we voted No in the IndyRef, we would be in a very strong position and could ask for virtually anything we wanted from the UK Government? How did that turn out, I wonder?

Another author, Alan Bisset, made an impassioned speech around the same time, and he gave precisely the opposite view, insisting that Westminster would trample on Scotland, knowing that they could get away with pretty much anything because we had given away our sovereignty. And not just given a little bit away as happens to member countries of the EU, but we’d have given everything up.

Needless to say, the media at the time promoted J K Rowling’s views heavily, while Alan Bisset’s claims were barely covered. But that’s the UK media in Scotland for you. But, as we know only too well, Alan Bisset was correct.

As usual, Westminster has adopted a gradualist approach, but it has reached the stage now where they feel no compunction about overriding legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. Whether or not you agree with the gender Recognition Reform Bill or the Deposit Return Scheme, Westminster has decided to squash our new laws, using the flimsiest of excuses. Be in no doubt that they will continue to do this sort of thing on a regular basis, and no amount of complaining by the Scottish Government will make any difference. The Tories intend to reduce Holyrood to little more than a talking shop, and will use their Internal Markets Law to prevent us doing pretty much anything.

And for anyone who thinks that a Labour victory at the next UK General Election will change things, then I’m afraid you are very mistaken. Labour now is to the right of what the Tories used to be, and they will revel in the chance to keep Scotland subservient to their own desires. That’s because every UK Government knows that England is reliant on Scotland’s resources. They will never agree to a situation where they might have to pay for things that they can exploit for free, so they’ll fight Scotland’s independence every step of the way.

We need some radical ideas on how to escape the Union because Westminster will never grant another Section 30 Order no matter how many times we beg for one. They came too close to losing last time, and they will not take that risk again, especially since there is so much evidence that every promise they made has been broken.

I appreciate that things have been bad for the SNP recently, but Humza Yousaf and his team really need to get the finger out before Westminster’s frog-boiling tactics leave us with no route to becoming a normal, self-governing country. We’ve had plenty of talking, but we need to see some action soon. And the SNP should not fear taking bold action, because the Yes movement is ready and willing. All we need is a clear route. Let’s get moving.

Forget GDP

Posted on May 24th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

There’s a great article in The National today about GDP and how ineffective it is at providing any detail on the health and wellbeing of an economy. It reminded me that the UK boosted its own GDP recently by including an estimate of the amount of money spent on prostitution and illegal drugs. With this help, the UK maintained its position as one of the largest economies in the world.

If you were in any doubt at all as to why GDP is such a poor measurement, take a look at the current UK. The levels of wealth inequality, poverty and destitution are at their worst for a century, yet the UK is still viewed as a major economy. Obsession with GDP places focus on the wrong things. If we want a healthy society, we need to use other principal measurements such as employment, wealth inequality, poverty levels, life expectancy and so on. Yes, these are measured, but they are not the principal focus of either the UK or the Scottish Governments. If we are to become a richer society in terms of mental wellbeing and happiness, that needs to change.

All Quiet On The Indy Front

Posted on May 22nd, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot
Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider
I haven’t posted any comments for a while because there really hasn’t been a great deal to talk about. Yes, there has been a lot of talk, but we haven’t seen much action on any front. The media, of course, has continued to put the boot into the SNP at every opportunity, but that isn’t news; it’s par for the course.
I hope that we see some action soon. The SNP’s rearranged Convention really needs to come up with a positive plan. If it turns out to be yet another talking shop with lots of promises but no actual progress, then I fear that discontent within the Yes community will continue to grow. That is not good, and the constant bickering between supporters of the SNP and Alba is only doing the Unionists’ job for them. I know both sides feel justified in their views, but the fact that there are two sides simply plays into our opponents’ hands. There is nothing wrong with having different views, but the insults really need to stop.
Given all the bad publicity over the Police investigation, the SNP really need to step things up several gears in order to galvanise the movement. If they can come up with some definite proposals, and can turn the talk into action, then I’d like to think that a lot of the arguments will fall away as the Yes community swings into gear.
I’ll keep hoping, but I must admit it is hard when we’ve had years of promises and yet are not one step further on the road to becoming a normal, self-governing country. Let’s hope that changes soon.

Coronation Spin

Posted on May 7th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I managed not to see a single moment of the coronation yesterday but, while social media was full of comments on how ridiculous the pageantry was, my newsfeeds were full of headlines proclaiming what a superb spectacle the event was, what a wonderful, benevolent, caring person Charles is, and how we are all celebrating with street parties and celebratory meals. All I can say is that this is very different to my experience of what is going on.

With any luck, the thing most people will take away from the flummery is that peaceful protesters were arrested before they had even begun their protest. This was despite being given Police permission beforehand. But, of course, the UK Government rushed through legislation which essentially allows the Police to arrest people for Thought Crime. It seems George Orwell was right; he just got the year wrong.

Carry On Clowning; Sorry, Crowning

Posted on May 4th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

A lot has been written and said about the farce of the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, so I thought I might as well get in on the act.

One interesting poll suggested that a majority of Scots view the monarchy as very much an English institution, and the reaction to the event in Scotland certainly suggests that there is little interest in it. I dare say a lot of people will watch out of curiosity or simply because it is, allegedly, a historic occasion, but I’ll certainly find something else to do with my time.

I’ve heard some claims that the cost of this day will now be in the region of £250 million, which is a disgrace when so many of the new King’s subjects are living in dire poverty. I’d have a lot more respect for him if he met the cost from his own immense wealth and even donated some of the cash he’ll never find enough things to spend his money on, to helping the poor. But he won’t. The monarchy is an institution at the very heart of UK society because it establishes the social class system. Adulation of the royal family is encouraged by the bulk of the media, and the King’s subjects are even taught to celebrate their inferiority by singing a national anthem which, unique in the world as far as I know, celebrates the personage of a single person whom we are supposed to treat with reverence. Perhaps North Korea has a similar national anthem, but I doubt many other countries celebrate their subservience the way UK subjects are taught to do.

As for the ludicrous attempt to persuade people to speak an oath of allegiance while watching on TV, I really don’t know where to start with that. It is so medieval that it has been rightly mocked. Sadly, I know at least one person who will probably dutifully recite it while standing to attention in his living room. Such is the power of indoctrination, although I’m thankful that it doesn’t seem to have affected most of my friends and family, all of whom expressed disgust at the very idea of stating their allegiance to an English king.

The other aspect which is gaining some publicity is the prospect of protests. Apparently, known members of republican organisations have been warned that they will be targeted by the Police. Now, I can understand that the authorities must be concerned about the prospect of some idiot with a home-made bomb making an attack, but peaceful protest used to be one of the British values we hear so much about. But even that is too much for the Tories who are almost on the verge of passing Thought Crime laws. If you even look as if you might be considering joining a protest, you could find yourself with a criminal record. Any resemblance to 1930s Germany seems to be quite deliberate.

There is no way I am going to London to watch this ludicrous spectacle, but I do think that a way of protesting which would have an international impact would be for people to join the crowd of spectators lining the route, but to turn their backs as soon as the royal carriage puts in an appearance. There would be no need for banners, shouted slogans or anything else, just the sight of hundreds of people turning their backs. I doubt that will happen, but it’s nice to dream.

The bizarre thing is that people living outwith the UK seem to have a far greater fascination with our royal family and this ridiculous pageant. Of course, they don’t need to live in a society which is directly impacted by having such a wealthy family lording it over them. Or maybe those citizens who are fortunate enough to live elsewhere and not be subjects are simply laughing at the pomposity of it all. For those of us living in the UK, the effect is quite different in that the existence and enormous wealth of the royal family is used as a media tool to maintain the vast social inequalities in our society. It is, quite frankly, disgraceful, and it is noticeable that, while other European countries have royalty, none of them pursue this constant adulation of monarchy the way the UK does. It’s as if they need to keep reminding us to know our place. Sadly, it works, although probably not on as many people as it used to.

As far as I am concerned, there really is no defence for maintaining a monarchy. Some people claim that the royals do so much for us, but what, exactly, do they do? Very little that is of any use. And even that old claim that they bring tourists is nonsense. Tourists come to visit interesting historical sites, but the presence of actual royals has nothing to do with that, as the Tower Of London and the Palace of Versailles constantly prove. And, of course, Brexit is putting many tourists off visiting a place which is portrayed in the international media as cruel and unfriendly, a far more influential factor than the presence of a royal family.

I only wish the Scottish Government would find some route to turning us into a normal, self-governing country sooner rather than later. Then we could take the sensible step of becoming a Republic.

Compare and Contrast

Posted on April 17th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

The UK media in Scotland are certainly ramping up the pressure on the SNP, with more and more revelations about murky goings on being reported every day. It will be interesting to see whether any of these propaganda outlets are prosecuted for contempt of Court, but I suspect they’ll get away with it because that’s how the UK operates.

As for the stories themselves, some people will say, "We told you so", others will be dismayed, and some will insist that none of this will harm the underlying cause of independence. That may be true, although the SNP is, at the moment, the only viable political vehicle for us to become a normal country. The UK media is desperate to bring about its demise, which is why they are working so hard to stir things up.

Now, I must say that if anyone within the SNP is found guilty of wrongdoing, then they deserve whatever punishment the Court decides. Actually, hang on a moment. The Court will probably impose a very tough sentence should anyone ever be convicted of wrongdoing because that is also how the UK operates.

I do hope that the Yes cause will remain strong in the face of these attacks. We need a political Party, and the SNP is still best placed to be that Party. If it does fail, then we will need to look elsewhere. Some people have already done so. What I find most disappointing about that is the vitriol being exchanged between supporters of the SNP and Alba. There may well be valid reasons for disagreement, but arguing amongst ourselves is playing into Unionist hands. We all want Scotland to become a normal country, and that must be our priority aim. We can argue about policies afterwards. Please, let’s stop the in-fighting.

With all that said, I do hope that everyone will be noticing the difference in media coverage regarding alleged misdemeanours within the SNP and the evident corruption within the Tory UK Government. If you ever had any doubts about whose side the media is on, those should have been dispelled by now.

Standing Up

Posted on April 13th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

To the surprise of nobody at all, Humza yousaf’s decision to challenge the use of a section 35 Order by the UK Government has stoked up all the debate about Trans rights once again. It is, unfortunately, the role of the UK media in Scotland to bash the SNP as often and as hard as possible, and by conflating concepts and ideas, they are using this as a very large stick.

There are a couple of aspects to this. As regards trans rights, I don’t believe anyone has a genuine problem with trans people being afforded as much assistance as possible to lead their chosen lives. What most people who object to the legislation are concerned about is predatory males using the legislation for their own ends. Those are two very separate concepts, but the media has done a good job of stoking up argument and confrontation. This is made easy for them because there are genuine concerns on both sides. We have seen time and time again that predatory males will take any opportunity to gain access to vulnerable people. Whether it be in care homes, in youth sports teams or in religious organisations, stories of abuse have been all too common. Establishing protections while also improving the lot of trans people is a delicate balancing act and the whole thing needs rather more sensible debate than it is currently receiving.

The main issue, though, does not rely on this particular piece of legislation. The issue is that Westminster has blocked Scottish democracy in an autocratic and high-handed manner, offering no real justification, and certainly not offering any tangible solutions. For this reason, I think the Scottish Government is right in its decision to challenge the use of Section 35. I am sure the Supreme Court will find against them, ruling in favour of Westminster as it usually does in such cases. In legal terms, the Scottish Government does not seem to have much in its favour in this situation, and many will argue that pursuing Court action is a waste of money.

However, I think it is a necessary action because when the Supreme Court inevitably rules against the Scottish Parliament’s ability to pass laws, then the world will see once again that Scotland does not have the most powerful devolved Government in the world. We will see Westminster over-ruling our Parliament on a whim, using this legislation because it is high profile. But the blocking is purely political and we should be outraged no matter what the subject of the legislation is. Westminster is simply showing Scots that the UK is in charge. Let’s hope that the reaction of most in Scotland will be to appreciate just what that tells us about the current constitutional situation. The balance is heavily weighted against Scotland, and once a successful Section 35 enforcement has been made, you can be sure they will do it again and again. We are often told that we need to stand up to bullies, and I applaud Humza Yousaf for taking this stance. As I said, I don’t think he will succeed, but that is not the point. If Westminster can use this proposed legislation to make a political point, then the Scottish Government, on behalf of our Parliament which passed the legislation with the approval of MSPs from all Parties, can surely do the same.

Where Next?

Posted on April 4th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I have not written anything much about the SNP leadership contest because I’m not a member of the Party, so had no input to the contest. I do feel that it was an unedifying spectacle seeing the contenders gift arguments to the unionists by slating each other rather than promoting themselves, and I must admit I was not overly enthralled by the prospect of any of them becoming First Minister. However, we now have Humza Yousaf, and I do hope he will do a lot more than create headlines by making meaningless statements or gestures about independence without actually doing anything to further the cause. For a start, I’d love to see him attend the All Under One Banner march on 6th May. Some might consider that a meaningless gesture, but the Yes movement is sorely in need of some positive action, and it would be a statement of intent.

Quite how any FM can bring us closer to becoming a normal, self-governing country, I am not sure, but I think we should all give Humza Yousaf the benefit of the doubt for a little while yet.

As for the wider Yes movement, it is disheartening to see supporters of both SNP and Alba slagging each other. I know there are some fundamental disagreements on policies, but if we all genuinely want Scotland to become a normal country, that must be the priority aim. Fighting amongst ourselves only helps the Unionists. As we know only too well, they have no qualms about joining together to maintain the Union, and the chances are that they will do so again. Already we hear stories of a proposed pact for the two main Unionist Parties to urge their voters to vote for the other Party solely in order to block the SNP at the next election. Since there is very little between the two Parties in terms of policies, I suspect this proposal may well turn into reality despite Labour’s Scottish branch office issuing denials. After all, they insisted they would not enter in to coalitions in local Councils, but have done so quite willingly in several areas. The Tory proposal to stand only one Unionist candidate in any area may seem far-fetched, but let’s not dismiss it out of hand.

As for Yes, where do we go from here? A recent poll suggests that Alba might be on track to gain some Holyrood seats, but since the next Holyrood election is years away unless Humza Yousaf calls a snap election, I think we need to reserve judgement on that one. At the moment, I’m not sure what the impact would be if Alba did gain seats. I think the hostility between them and the SNP needs to settle down or we will see yet more unedifying squabbles which would only help the Unionists. On the other hand, some would argue that the SNP need another Party to prod them along because the Greens, while expressing support for independence, don’t seem to have it as a priority.

As for all the polls which can suggest several things depending on how you read them, what strikes me is a point I have been trying to make for ages. Far too many Scots are falling for the Unionist trap of focusing too much either on individual politicians or on domestic policy issues. Yes, the energy bills crisis and cost of living, not to mention health and education, are important, but they will be important whether we are a self-governing country or remain under Westminster rule. Becoming a normal country will not solve those issues overnight, but it would give us a chance to address them as every other country does without having the Westminster Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, ready to cut our funding or strike down our laws on a whim. The cause of independence is fundamental, and nobody should be lulled into changing their minds on it because of any individual politician or domestic policy. The whole point would be to elect politicians who promise to enact policies we want, and to have the ability to remove them from office if they fail to deliver. At the moment, the SNP gather so many votes because they are the recognised Party of independence. This is not healthy for our democracy no matter how effective they might be in Government.

We need change, and we need political leadership. At the moment, that means relying on Humza Yousaf to deliver on his promises. But whether you are a member of the SNP, or of Alba, or of some other or no Party at all, please let’s stop the in-fighting.

The Media Trap

Posted on March 15th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

As I am not a member of the SNP, I haven’t spent a great deal of time watching the leadership debates. From what I can gather, the Hustings have been well received, with sensible debate and answers to audience questions. It has, though, been a very different affair on the televised debates.

I must say that I feel the SNP were in a no-win situation here. If they had stuck to their original decision of not allowing the media access to the debates, they would have been accused of trying to hide. But agreeing has left all three candidates open to the media hostility we all know exists. The TV format is designed to encourage argument and create an aggressive interaction, and I’m afraid the three candidates seem to have fallen into the trap of going along with this. The insults they have been throwing at each other have been a godsend to the Unionist Parties, which is precisely what the media wanted, and I am disappointed that the candidates did not agree beforehand to keep things civil while still promoting themselves as the best candidate. That sort of approach was perfectly possible, but it seems they have blown it.

From all accounts, the BBC did their usual trick of packing the audience with Unionist supporters. Now, I do understand the argument that whoever wins is going to become First Minister, so it is right that non-SNP members should be able to see what they are going to get, but I don’t recall the same thing happening with the Tory leadership debates where the audience was, as I recall, full of Tory Party members. Whether it was right to confine the audience to Party members, or fill it with opponents is something that can be debated. What is not in doubt is that the BBC did their best to give the Tory candidates a much easier ride than the SNP. That’s BBC impartiality in action once again.

As for who will become our next First Minister, I’m not enamoured of any of the candidates. All have points in their favour, but all have points against. Since my main concern is that Scotland should become a normal country, Ash Regan seemed positioned to be my preferred choice, but the truth is that she does not seem to have performed well when it comes to detail on her other policies. Both of the other candidates have said things which have slightly alarmed me, and I’m not convinced that either of them would be the leader we need if we are to gain independence. As always, I hope that I am wrong on that, but so far, I’ve not seen any signs of the sort of determination we need.

The one good thing about this contest is that it will be over fairly soon.

Uni-Directional Impartiality

Posted on March 9th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Like most Yessers, I am fully aware of the BBC’s bias when it comes to reporting news and current affairs. The latest furore over a tweet sent out by Gary Lineker has, however, reinforced my views even further. In the aftermath, with huge amounts of BBC airtime being given over to this Tweet, the BBC are now doing their level best to promote the UK Government’s reaction to it. Apparently, Gary Lineker’s Tweet has diminished the horror of the Holocaust if we are to believe Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Naturally, the BBC are highlighting this, as well as having promised to have a strong word with Mr Lineker.

But, of course, the Tory response is intended to misdirect attention. The Tweet in question did not mention the Holocaust; what he said was that the language being used around immigration was similar to that used in 1930s Germany. The point being that rhetoric aimed against minorities which encourages hatred and violence can be a precursor to much more horrible events further down the line. In this, Mr Lineker’s sentiments are matched by comments from some German commentators, and indeed echo the angry speech by a Holocaust survivor who challenged Suella Braverman only a few weeks ago, accusing her of precisely the same thing that Gary Lineker has done.

As if this were not bad enough, readers should note that the BBC happily condones Right Wing extremist language, and actively promotes Right Wing views on the truly awful Question Time programme which is largely responsible for promoting Nigel Farage and UKIP. And when you have the new Deputy Chair of the Tory Party joining GB News and being happy to be photographed with members of Far Right organisations, then I think it is fairly obvious which way the Tories have been heading for some time now. Anything like the Holocaust is unthinkable, but we’ve already seen riots outside hotels housing immigrants, which is precisely the sort of thing hate speech encourages.

There is very little chance that the Tories will change. They are too focussed on garnering votes from the most Right Wing elements of the electorate, but what is just as bad is that the BBC seems intent on silencing or at least distancing itself from any criticism of this hatred of foreigners. It seems that being impartial only works in one direction.

Leadership Choices

Posted on March 3rd, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

As I’m not a member of any political Party, the current SNP leadership contest interests me only in so far as I want to know that whoever gets the job will pursue the cause of independence as a priority. We all know that the Unionist Parties will bang on about the Scottish Government needing to get on with the day to day issues, but that is a deflection tactic. Yes, things like the economy, Health service, education and so on are important, but the fact is that the Scottish Government is always dealing with these things with one hand tied behind its back because Scotland is not a normal, self-governing country. That is not to say that all social issues will miraculously be resolved once we do become a normal country, but it would mean that the Scottish Government would at last have all the tools available to normal countries. Most importantly, it would mean we could vote them out if they don’t use those powers to benefit our people. At the moment, the SNP receive a lot of votes simply because they are seen by the electorate as the pro-Indy Party with the best credentials. That in itself is an unhealthy situation since it means many people will vote for them even if they disagree with their other policies. That is a situation which is likely to continue until the constitutional question is resolved.

It's been no real surprise that Humza Yousaf is seen as the continuity candidate. Of the three, he is most likely to maintain the direction the SNP has taken under Nicola Sturgeon, and that, I think, is the problem as far as a great many Yessers are concerned. While there is no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon is a highly capable politician who has consistently shown her Unionist opponents to be second-rate, she really has not advanced the cause of independence very much at all. In fact, the encouraging recent polls have largely been due to the authoritarian attitude of the Westminster Government which has been behaving pretty much as most Yessers have predicted it could and would behave if given the chance.

As for who I’d vote for, I honestly don’t know. All three candidates have strong points, and all three have weaknesses. All I would say is that the Yes movement needs some strong leadership in the coming months, and the new SNP leader will need to provide that in spades.

In the meantime, of course, the Unionist media will keep churning out articles about how bad everything is in Scotland, and will continue to dig dirt on all of the leadership hopefuls. I hope the SNP members remain mindful that the media is not our friend.

The Games Begin

Posted on February 22nd, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Not being a member of any political Party, my interest in the SNP leadership contest is based solely on whether the new leader will provide the leadership that the wider Yes movement needs. Which of them will actually deliver on turning Scotland into a normal, self-governing country? That’s my overriding concern.

From what little I’ve gleaned in the past couple of days, I’d say that all three candidates have strengths, and all have weaknesses. It’s rather a pity they couldn’t act as joint leaders in a triumvirate, but that didn’t work out too well for Republican Rome, and I doubt it would work in the modern political environment, although the Scottish greens seem to be able to cope with joint leaders.

My main concern is actually for the mental wellbeing of whoever does become the next SNP leader and First Minister. Both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon had the mental strength to withstand the hostility of the UK media in Scotland, and whoever takes over will need that same mental strength. The fact that the media are already making a huge issue out of Kate Forbes’ religious beliefs seems to have scuppered her chances, although it is noticeable that they never apply the same scrutiny to the religious beliefs of other political leaders in Scotland. Of course, the media will focus on anything at all which gives them a chance to bash the SNP, so I suppose this is only to be expected, especially as Kate Forbes has shown herself to be a talented Government Minister. But, rightly or wrongly, I suspect it is a step too far for a Party to elect a leader whose fundamental beliefs on social issues is so far out of alignment with the Scottish public.

I’m sure we can expect media hatchet jobs on the other two candidates before long. NO doubt journalists are already digging deep into social media profiles and chasing anyone who might have some negative comments on any of the leadership hopefuls. It is, sadly, a sign of the times that the entire media has fallen to this tabloid level of journalism, but I suppose they need to do their masters’ bidding.

As for the candidates, it’s still early days to make any assessment, but I must admit that I do like some of the comments on bringing the wider Yes movement together and working with other parties, but I fear the SNP’s Sturgeon loyalists won’t go for that at all. Some of them seem to detest Alba more than they hate the Tories. And before anyone gets upset at that remark, I know that the same holds true in the opposite direction. Still, it would be nice to see every Yes Party working towards the same goal and putting their differences aside until we achieve that goal. As ever, though, the media will be the greatest opponent in that as well. You can be sure they’ll focus on splits and division, both within Yes and within the SNP. Divide and conquer has always been the British way.

Whoever does become SNP leader, I wish them well, and I sincerely hope they can take us beyond the current constitutional roadblock. Now, more than ever, we need strong leadership.

What Next?

Posted on February 15th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Nicola Sturgeon’s surprise resignation has met with varying responses within the Yes community. I would like to reaffirm that I think she is one of the most capable politicians in the UK, and has demonstrated time and time again that she is a superb communicator and is never afraid to take questions. She can think on her feet, and has always shown herself better able to debate than any of her rivals in other Parties.

Of course, there are those who have wanted her to go for a long time, and her critics can point to the total lack of progress on achieving independence despite several mandates, and also to policy choices and competence in carrying them out. Yes, the UK media in Scotland will always pounce on any mistake to hammer the SNP, but there have been rather too many mistakes recently.

All that is, though, in the past. The main thing now is what happens next. Who will replace her? We need someone more than just a highly competent politician. We need someone with a bit of fire and energy who will take us to independence. Being a good politician is simply not enough. My big fear is that nobody of that calibre is likely to be available. I do hope I’m wrong on that.

My other fear is that the SNP could dissolve into factions. This would set the cause of independence back yet again, and we cannot afford that.

And then there is Alba. Tainted as Alex Salmond is in the eyes of many, I am curious to see how he will respond. His fallout with Nicola Sturgeon has been one of the big problems faced by the Yes community, resulting in followers of both taking aggressive stances against the other. As I’ve said before, becoming a normal country is far more important than individuals, Parties or policies. Whoever becomes the next SNP leader and First Minister, I hope they will find a way to work together with all other pro-Yes Parties for the common good. By all means disagree on domestic policies, but we all need to focus on the real target.

Missing The Point

Posted on February 8th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

It was interesting to listen to Nicola Sturgeon’s recent media interview where she fielded questions on a range of topics. The hostility of most journalists was fairly evident, and most of them focused their attention on the recent GRR controversy.

I must admit my admiration for the way Nicola Sturgeon did not lose the rag at some of the questions. One, in particular, struck me as quite lacking in self-awareness on the part of the journalist posing the question. He wanted to know how the FM thought that people outside of Scotland would view the GRR furore.

The FM did not retort with the obvious remark that the uproar is largely of the media’s making. She did, quite rightly, point out that other countries have passed similar legislation without there being such opposition. She did, though, refrain from pointing a finger at the main culprits in Scotland even though they were all sitting in front of her.

Now, wherever you stand on the GRR, the one thing you can be sure of in Scotland is that the media, which is almost exclusively pro-Union, is going to seize on any opportunity to bash the SNP. Look at things like NHS waiting times which are pounced upon every time they are poor; look at the reporting of the delays in building ferries; look at the howls of outrage over the minimum pricing of alcohol. They even ran many articles critical of the building of the Queensferry Crossing, and are always delighted when there are traffic problems on that new bridge. With that sort of track record, it was inevitable that the media would use the GRR as a stick to bash the Scottish Government.

This is where I think the FM has got things seriously wrong. Much of the criticism over ferries is justified, so it serves no purpose to provide the media with yet more ammunition to bash the SNP. The GRR was always going to be controversial, and pushing it through has given the media a field day. Nicola Sturgeon would probably claim that the legislation is the right thing to do to help a stigmatised minority, and that politics should focus on what is the right thing to do. She may have a point, but public opinion, in part stoked by the negative media coverage, is not with her on this topic. Many people have serious misgivings about the potential loopholes in the proposed law which could give predatory males access to female spaces. In light of historic cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and youth sports coaches, those fears are understandable even if the Scottish Parliament believes they are unfounded.

My main point here is not about the various opinions on the gRR Bill, but on why it was wrong to bring the legislation forward at this time. Given Scotland’s ridiculous constitutional situation, it is foolish to give the media such an opportunity to create an uproar with which to bash the Scottish Government and, by extension, to turn people against the idea of independence. The latest poll shows support for becoming a normal country has fallen, with the blame being placed on reaction to the GRR.

Now, this reaction may or may not be the real reason. Opinion polls are notoriously capable of producing the result desired by whoever commissions them. However, if there has been a fall in support for Scottish independence, then there are two things we can take from this.

First, it is confirmation that the media can influence people’s views by seizing on any news event which allows them to bash the SNP. Since the SNP is synonymous with the desire to become a normal country in the eyes of the UK media and many Unionists, it is something of a political blunder to provide them with what they are looking for.

Secondly, and the part which really bugs me, is that the electorate are influenced on independence by policy issues or personalities. Becoming a normal country should not depend on who is in power or whether you agree with any of their policies. Scotland as a nation has been around for centuries, and will be around long after the current crop of politicians have gone. If current politicians do something you dislike, that really should not alter your views on independence. Indeed, even the current crop of proto-fascists who form the UK Government should not really influence views on independence except in so far as they are extreme examples of the fundamental problem. The English electorate seems to like right wing extremists, and Scotland has no power to vote them out. But these extremists are symptoms of the problem, not the cause, and we should only point to their behaviour to provide examples of why Scotland must become a normal country.

That recent poll has rather depressed me as it confirms that far too many people are missing the point entirely. Let’s hope they soon appreciate the real constitutional issue, and are not distracted and misdirected by the media whose job it is to keep them in ignorance of the real problem. On this point, I do wish Nicola Sturgeon, when responding to questions about teachers’ pay from those Unionist journalists, had made far more of the fundamental problem being that Scotland’s budget is set by Westminster. She alluded to it in a vague way, but she really ought to hammer the point home. Some may see that as playing the grievance card, but it is factually correct, and failing to mention it allows the media to point the finger of blame at the Scottish Government for not agreeing a pay deal. Public sympathy may well be with the public service workers who are taking industrial action, but as we’ve seen with the GRR, the media are capable of influencing that opinion. By always avoiding the central issue of who controls Scotland’s purse strings, the media are able to create the #SNPBad headlines they crave. Many Scots are immune to this now, but clearly, a great many are not, so the FM needs to do a lot more to highlight the problem. And she certainly needs to stop giving them ammunition by supporting unpopular policies.

Predictions of Normality

Posted on January 27th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

It is notoriously difficult to make accurate predictions. In any given situation, you can usually find people who hold diametrically opposing views on what will happen next. This is why I have an issue with Unionists and their media who constantly demand predictions from the Yes movement on what will happen in an independent Scotland. We can have ideas about what we want to achieve, and proposals for how we want to achieve those goals, but it is impossible to predict everything to the level demanded by the unionists.

Of course, Unionists are not so great at predictions either. Look at all the benefits we were promised in the sunlit uplands of Brexit. I don’t think I’ve seen a single prediction come true except that we would get blue passports again. Come to think of it, even that wasn’t strictly accurate as the old passports in the pre-Eu days were black, not blue, and I’m told the new ones are similar.

But as I look around at the utter mess the UK is in at the moment, I could not help recalling two people who did give predictions about what the result of the 2014 IndyRef would bring. By coincidence, both were writers. First, J K rowling, these days more famous for her stance in the gRR debate, was an ardent supporter of Labour, and willingly sat beside Alistair Darling at media events promoting Better Together. She went so far as to assure us that if we voted No, Scotland would find it had more influence within the UK than ever. As usual with such pro-UK announcements, she received a lot of media coverage over this. And her prediction lasted right up until the morning after the vote, when David Cameron announced English Votes for English Laws. Since then, things have developed pretty much as Scots writer Alan Bissett predicted. He insisted that a No vote would give Westminster free rein to do as it liked with Scotland and that, far from having greater influence, we would see ourselves seriously weakened.

Naturally, Alan Bissett’s predictions were not as highly publicised at the time because he was on the Yes side, but you can still find them on Youtube if you can bear to listen to just how cannily accurate he was.

As we now know, pretty much everything Better Together told us was a lie. I’m sure some of them actually believed it at the time, but they have all been proven disastrously wrong. We now find ourselves out of the EU, and shackled to a UK whose Government has veered so far towards the right that it now, by my count, meets at least 10 of the 14 traits of fascism listed by Umberto Eco. Google that list and make your own count. You could argue the UK’s score is even higher.

We’ve seen the sewell Convention broken, we’ve seen the Supreme Court rule against our right to hold another referendum, we’ve got an ongoing Power Grab, and we’ve got a Tory Government who are intent on keeping Scotland subservient to its own rule. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting heartily sick of this.

As to how we escape and become a normal, self-governing country, I honestly don’t know what the best route is. This is another situation where you can drop in on social media and find a wide range of views and predictions. For my part, the only prediction I will make is that, whichever route the Scottish Government does decide to follow, the whole Yes movement needs to be united. Arguing among ourselves will only result in us remaining trapped in the Union. That may well require some pro-Yes Parties to stand aside in some constituencies, but if that is what it takes, then egos and arguments over policies need to be forgotten. The time to bring those out is once we are independent. After all, the whole point of being a normal country is that you can elect a Government which represents the people, preferably in a PR voting system which will hopefully bring us into line with other modern democracies. We have seen only too vividly the mess that First Past The Post creates. Some may claim it produces a strong Government, but it should be clear to everyone that it actually results in an authoritarian Government. We need an electoral system where the resulting Parliament is dominated by the need for compromise and discussion.

Will we ever reach that goal? You can make as many predictions as you like, but the only way we’ll ever achieve it is if everyone campaigns hard and makes sure as many Yessers as possible get out and vote when given the opportunity. If we win, then I think I can confidently predict it will not be a land of sunshine, milk and honey. There will be problems and difficulties; mistakes and successes. But that’s what being a normal country is all about, and I’d like to think that most people can now see that we could do an awful lot better than the posh elite in Westminster who have been running our nation for over three centuries and still insist we are an economic basket case.

The Way Ahead

Posted on January 15th, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Whether Yessers like it or not, the SNP is still the de facto political arm of the Yes movement. Some might argue that we aren’t going to become a normal, self-governing country as long as Nicola Sturgeon is First Minister, but as things stand, we certainly aren’t going to get independence without the SNP in power.

So the recent announcement about the options now being suggested for the March convention are interesting and important. At the moment, it seems SNP members will be given a choice of whether to stick with the next UK General Election as the de facto Referendum, or whether to wait until the next Scottish elections.

I will make no secret of the fact that I think using the General Election is not the way to go. The only way I would support that is if the SNP decided that a simple majority of elected MPs would be sufficient mandate. I know they are not even considering that, but I still think it could work because it uses Westminster’s own unfair electoral system against it. After all, we’ve had three centuries of Governments elected by a minority of the electorate imposed on us by the First Past The Post system, so why not let Westminster know that we will play by their rules?

But that is, I admit, irrelevant because the SNP seem to have no intention of doing it, sticking instead to the idea that they need to gain over 50% of the popular vote to grant yet another mandate. This, in my view, is very risky. It is almost unheard of for any Party to attain that level of vote in a UK General Election, and the UK voting system means that we will be automatically disenfranchising a large number of people who are likely to vote Yes. EU citizens and anyone in the 16-17 age group is not allowed to vote in a UK General Election. So to use this as your route to independence is, I fear, risking failure.

Which leaves a Scottish election where far more residents of our country are eligible to vote. I think this is still the safest route, as long as the choice of Yes supporting votes is not restricted to the SNP. Votes for the greens or any other explicitly pro-Indy Party must also be counted. If the SNP stick to their stance of saying that only votes for them will count, then they will again be leading us on the road to failure.

The big problem with using the Scottish elections is that they are still a few years away. That gives the Tories far more time to ruin Scotland and destroy our democracy completely. For those hoping Labour will get in at the next UK General Election, I’m afraid I don’t see that making much difference. Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer is an ardent Unionist and Brexiteer, so he’s not going to change much at all.

So can we afford to wait until 2026? I don’t think we can, especially as actual independence will not be for another couple of years after that. I honestly don’t think our NHS and other public services can survive that long under Tory aggression.

I do hope the SNP decide to use the Scottish elections as that will provide a far clearer view of the will of the Scottish people, but if they do go for that, then Nicola Sturgeon needs to call an election this year. I’m afraid to say that I don’t think she will do that because, fine politician as she is, she seems determined to postpone our chances of becoming a normal country whenever she can. To say I am dismayed to have reached that conclusion is an understatement, but she has done very little to demonstrate that she is prepared to push really hard for independence sooner rather than later. You can, of course, argue that using the UK General Election would show that she does want an early resolution, but as I mentioned, that is only an early way to losing the vote because of all the restrictions. If she sticks to that, she may kill our chances completely.

I will watch the Convention with interest because whatever they decide could seal the fate of our nation. That’s how critical this is, and I hope that the SNP will create conditions which give us the best possible chance of winning. We’ve tried playing by Westminster rules, and it has got us nowhere. It’s time to change the rules.

NO, Your Honour

Posted on January 3rd, 2023

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

For the past few years, I’ve been posting out on social media how pleased I am not to have been named in the New Year’s Honours Lists. Of course, the chances of me ever being named are so negligible as to be almost non-existent, but I do sometimes have a hankering to be approached by the Honours Committee just so that I could tell them where to stick their award.

This year, I got to thinking about why the Honours system is still so prevalent in the UK, and why so many people still seem to be impressed by the awards handed out.

To begin with, I know that almost everyone wants to feel appreciated, and sometimes it is nice to receive a reward for a job well done. The Honours system plays on this natural human reaction by handing out awards to people who have allegedly done something to make UK society better. This does include sports personalities, actors, charity workers and other campaigners, but the principal recipients tend to be people who have provided services to the people who run the UK. These awards are, I believe, a way to draw those people ever closer to the Establishment, and to make them part of the governmental system.

"Back the status quo and you’ll be rewarded with titles and a chance to earn more money," seems to be the way that operates.

As for those more ordinary people who are given awards, I must admit to a feeling of disappointment that they accept such baubles and trinkets which are designed only to make them feel grateful to the UK state. Much like military medals which are handed out to members of the armed forces who display bravery, these awards are designed just as much to reinforce loyalty as to show genuine appreciation. Indeed, the awarding of military honours was initially to encourage soldiers to try to outdo one another in their efforts to achieve the aims of their commanders. The Romans, for example, used to award prizes to the first man to reach the top of the wall of a city that was under attack. If that man survived, he could then strut around to show off his prowess to his comrades.

These days, a lot of people do seem almost as proud to display their awards. Perhaps I am in a minority, but I’ve never felt the need to show off the few awards I’ve ever received. Most of them have been for academic achievements rather than anything more unusual, but I’ve still never felt the need to put such things on display. I know of a couple of people who achieved those same qualifications and had the certificates framed and hung on their walls. Quite honestly, I have no idea where any of mine are. Probably at the bottom of a drawer or stuck up in the attic. For me, the achievement was the thing, not the reward.

But an awful lot of people do seem to feel that being given an award in the Honours List is in some way special. Perhaps it is, and I realise that my own objections to this system stem from the way it is implemented and controlled by those in power within the UK.

If Scotland ever does become a normal, self-governing country, I expect some similar sort of Awards system will be implemented. If it is, it would be a much better idea for it to be controlled by an independent review body rather than being left to the whims of whichever politicians happen to be in power. Perhaps a People’s Assembly could be convened once a year to propose and consider candidates, then convey their decision. Any such awards could then be physically handed out by an elected Head of state on behalf of the Republic of Scotland. Even I might consider accepting an award issued under such a system. As long as I have space left in the bottom of a drawer to store it.

Media Musings

Posted on December 20th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

While there have been lots of public complaints about Jeremy Clarkson’s misogynistic comments, the media outrage seems to me to have been rather less than the outpourings of fury over Nicola Sturgeon saying that she detests the Tories. Perhaps my own confirmation bias is at work here, but I haven’t seen nearly as many furious articles about Clarkson. His comments have been reported, but usually in bland terms, while there were huge debates about whether Nicola Sturgeon should have said anything so detestable as expressing her detestation. Tory politicians, in particular, seem to be maintaining a much lower profile this time around. Since Mr Clarkson compared his hatred of Nicola Sturgeon as being comparable to his hatred of a mass murderer, I’d venture to suggest that his words were far more detestable than anything Nicola Sturgeon said.

Most of the focus about his remarks has been on his use of a scene from Game of Thrones to express his hatred of Meghan Markle. He has apologised for any offence and promised to be more careful in future, but, as with most such comments, the damage has been done. Quite why he thought that using a Game of Thrones analogy was appropriate is beyond me since George R R Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series, often goes out of his way to shock readers with such scenes.

The media, of course, is funded by wealthy people whose aim is to maintain the status quo because a Tory regime (or even a Tory-light Labour one) suits them perfectly. This is why The Sun newspaper is still churning out its propaganda despite eye-watering financial losses. It is in the interest of the Establishment to have a means of distributing its view of how the UK should operate. This is the reason why The Sun published Mr Clarkson’s outrageous comments; it is the reason that the Michelle Mone PPE scandal was largely ignored by the media until the outcry became too loud, and even then the reporting was often superficial. It is the same with the rapid and highly persuasive debunking of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s claim that giving nurses a pay rise would cost every household £1,000. Anyone who does not rely on the mainstream media for their news will know this is a highly inaccurate and misleading claim, yet the debunking gets barely a mention, while the lie has been repeated so often that many people will have fallen for it.

Which is, of course, the whole point of repeating lies in the media. Since hardly any TV interviewer challenges such assertions, the lies are able to sink into the consciousness of those who lap up such short, punchy phrases even if they have the same relationship with the truth as the claims about NHS funding which the Leave campaign put on the side of a bus.

I’ve also seen some criticism of our new Queen Consort for hosting a dinner at which Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan were present. It should be pointed out that plenty of other, less controversial "celebrities" were there as well, but the presence of these two arch Meghan Markle haters has been pounced upon as yet another sign of poor judgement on the part of the royal family. Social media has gone into overdrive about this sorry affair, and I've seen some people state that they believe the past week signals both the end of Jeremy Clarkson’s career, and the beginning of the end for the royal family. Perhaps I am too cynical, but I doubt it is the end for either of them. The royal family is at the very heart of the Establishment, and even though it sometimes suffers criticism, the media is generally very supportive no matter what the royals do. This may change slightly with a new King on the throne, but I doubt it. The Establishment needs the royal family as a figurehead and a distraction from daily life. Republicanism is frowned upon to such an extent that it barely gets a chance to make its case to the public. Adulation of the royal family is a cornerstone of Britishness, so I doubt that simply inviting a couple of misogynistic right wing celebrities is going to make much of an impact. As for Mr Clarkson himself, as long as he keeps saying things which align with the interests of the royal family, I’m sure his career will be just fine. It may take a slightly different path if the public refuses to engage with him, but he’ll still be around to dispense his particular brand of unpleasantness.

As ever, people need to realise that the media is not our friend. Demonisation of striking workers is already in full swing but, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the media are currently out of step with public opinion. This may change if the constant barrage of anti-Union propaganda continues, but I doubt it. Everyone can see what 12 years of Tory rule have brought. Some may revel in this because they believe that keeping foreigners out is more important than anything else, but more and more people are able to recognise where the root of the UK’s problem lies. The media will continue to try to persuade people to act against their own best interests by portraying anyone who seeks to disrupt the status quo as dangerous. Remember how they treated Alex Salmond and Jeremy Corbyn? Meghan Markle and Nicola Sturgeon face the same treatment, as does Mick Lynch. There is a reason for this, and I’m pretty sure you know what it is.

Thanks for reading, and if I don’t publish another blog before Christmas, then here’s wishing you as happy a time as you can manage in the current circumstances.

We Need A Better Form Of Democracy

Posted on December 11th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

News has recently broken that the UK Government might attempt to block the impact of the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Their reasoning is that the Bill introduces things which are important for reserved matters such as pensions and benefits, or the issuing of official documents such as passports. If someone has their Birth Certificate altered, the UK Government may not recognise that change.

Wherever you stand on the GRA reform, this episode demonstrates once again the craziness of Scotland’s Government being effectively over-ruled by Westminster. I can fully understand the reasoning behind this because the current constitutional arrangement creates many such farcical situations, and it is, quite frankly, absurd that we should be in this situation at all, no matter which piece of legislation is the subject of the problem.

The constitutional divide also present Scottish voters with a very difficult problem. If you are desperate to see Scotland become a normal, self-governing country, but fundamentally disagree with the GRA, how do you vote? If you refuse to back the SNP in the next General Election, you may harm our chances of becoming a normal country simply because you disagree with the Scottish Government on one (or possibly more) elements of their policies. That’s a tough call to make.

That situation, of course, gives the SNP free rein to do pretty much as it pleases because it knows it can rely on the support of many people who simply want independence from Westminster control, and who see the SNP as the main vehicle for achieving that. Yes, I know there are other parties out there, but none of them have yet made much impression on the electorate, largely due to a virtual media blackout of their policies. In itself, this situation where the SNP know they will have huge support because of one over-arching policy is not good for democracy either. What we need is a situation where we could vote out a Government which introduces unpopular legislation if that is what we want. At the moment, every election is fundamentally founded on the constitutional issue, an issue which is so important that it creates this difficult situation for many voters. Because we know full well that any diminution of the SNP vote in any election will be loudly proclaimed by the Unionist politicians and media as proving that the desire for independence is lessening. Again, this is an unwelcome feature of the current state of Scottish politics. None of this: Westminster’s ability to over-rule the Scottish Government, the SNP’s ability to push through legislation in the knowledge that they will have a great deal of support no matter what they do, nor the predictable responses of the Unionist politicians and their media pals, is good for democracy.

As ever, there is an easy solution. If Scotland becomes a normal country, we can vote for any Party we like, basing our decision on their policies, not on the matter of their stance on the constitution. And every day that passes seems to throw up a situation which makes this more and more obvious. Perhaps that is why polling now shows a majority for Yes. Let’s hope we can turn that into some positive action before much longer.

As Others See Us

Posted on December 9th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

While I prefer not to give too much credence to articles produced in the Unionist press, I do have an RSS app which provides newsfeeds from a number of sources. I think it is important to try to keep abreast of what both sides are saying on the political front. The downside to that is that, every so often, you come across an article that is so barking mad it leaves you shaking your head in wonder. Just such an article appeared on the City AM site recently. It was so full of inaccuracies and wild statements that I really didn’t want to share it. For the curious, you can read it in its full glory at the link below. Be warned. Your blood pressure may be affected by the craziness.

Scotland needs to abandon its dream world and realise what independence truly means (

It is, of course, important that we should try to see ourselves as others see us, but that piece is so bereft of facts, and so full of unfounded opinions, it really must rank as one of the most ridiculous yet. I rather hoped it was a spoof, but I fear it is genuine. Yes, some English commentators actually do believe that nonsense. Or, being charitable, they don’t believe it at all but know they must churn out that sort of drivel in order to persuade their readers that Scotland should remain shackled to Westminster in this not-so-voluntary Union of Equals.

It's hard to know where to begin countering that stream of nonsense. The unnamed writer clearly believes all the BBC propaganda about the ineptitude of the Scottish Government.

But it gets worse as it goes on. To say that Scotland acquires its wealth from England is just plain wrong. In fact, as statistics have demonstrated for years, it is England that benefits from the plundering of Scotland’s wealth and resources. Our oil, gas, electricity, whisky, salmon, farm produce, and so many other things should make us a wealthy nation, yet we allegedly remain an economic basket case after more than 3 centuries of Westminster rule. And yet, the writer of that piece seems to think that this is the best we can hope for because we would be so poor without the beneficence of our English neighbours.

This is, apparently, due to geography. England is closer to Europe and so has better trade links. This is an utterly bizarre statement when you consider that Brexit has severed those ties. It completely ignores Ireland, whose people are significantly better off than their counterparts in the UK; it ignores that Iceland seems to be managing perfectly well despite being even more remote, and it does not even consider the fact that the UK controls our exports as being in any way part of our problem. Our ports are not controlled by our Government, so creating links to other countries direct from Scotland relies largely on private business, few of whom have any great incentives to establish those links. Ireland, on the other hand, has created a fast ferry link direct to the continent in order to by-pass England when sending goods for export. An independent Scotland could, and should, do the same. Links to Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands should be a priority for us But to say that geography makes this impossible is, quite frankly, weird..

Geography may have an impact, but it is certainly not the barrier that this article seems to believe. After all, hasn’t the UK recently agreed world-beating trade deals with Australia and New Zealand? You can’t get much further away than that, and geographical distance doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the UK’s ability to agree deals which add to the damage Brexit is causing.

As I say, it’s incredible that anyone should come out with such utter nonsense, and it is baffling to me that so many people in England actually believe this sort of thing. It’s almost as if England is a foreign country.

Striking Attitudes

Posted on December 2nd, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon. Scot

Nobody needs telling that the UK is in turmoil. It seems, though, that some people still don’t get who is to blame for this mess. I was appalled to see a Tweet by Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun, in which he referred to ambulance drivers as "Creeps" for announcing that they intend to take strike action. Not only is it almost laughable that a person like Kelvin MacKenzie can refer to anyone as a creep with no apparent trace of irony, he seems oblivious to why the men and women in this difficult occupation have taken the desperate decision to withhold their labour. The Tory government has sent the UK into a spiral of poverty and hardship for so many of its citizens that workers in far too many occupations are really struggling. It is not just ambulance drivers, but pretty much anyone who is paid by the UK state who is feeling the pinch, which is why we see nurses, teachers and others taking strike action. Yet the response of those on the extreme right is to blame the workers.

Similar things are happening in other occupations. The ongoing rail and postal strikes are taking place in privatised businesses where the management has adopted Tory philosophy by enriching themselves and their shareholders at the expense of their workers.

I am old enough to remember the many strikes of the 1970s and 1980s. But I sense a real difference between the current industrial disputes and those which helped give the UK the reputation of being the Sick Man of Europe. You see, back then, strikers were vilified by the media, and public opinion was at best ambivalent, and often hostile, towards the strikers. But people are no longer so reliant on the mainstream media for their news, and this time around I sense a very different attitude. Far more people realise that it is Government decisions which have created this utter shambles, and I detect a lot more sympathy for the workers than for the bosses or the UK Government. The premiership of Boris Johnson has shone a light on the greed and corruption at the heart of the Tory Party, and Brexit is so obviously the root of many social as well as economic problems that even the best efforts of the television and newspaper media cannot fool people into blaming the workers.

We have seen with recent announcements of thousands of job losses in the major tech companies that billionaire owners treat their employees as disposable items. On top of that, the huge inequalities in society both in the UK and USA are now so apparent that it is not jealousy which is driving protests, it is a deep sense of injustice.

Where will this end? I don’t think many people would venture to offer a prediction on that, but the way things are going, it’s not going to be a happy ending for many people at all.

Not A Colony

Posted on November 24th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

So the Supreme Court has given a definitive decision on whether Scotland is a colony or not. Legally, they are probably correct, but I thought it worth noting down a few thoughts on this question because, while Scotland may not legally be viewed as a colony, it has rather a lot in common with most colonies. Definitions vary, but there are some things that colonies have in common, so I’d like to take a look at them.

Military occupation or control by a foreign country.

The military occupation of Scotland was an established fact in the 18th Century but is no longer a feature. One could argue that British Armed Forces are based in Scotland, and that they owe allegiance to the monarch, who in turn identifies more with England than Scotland, but I think that’s stretching things a bit. However, there is no doubt that military occupation was very much a thing in the early days of the Union. As for control, that’s pretty clearly the case in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, our exit from the EU and the various Power Grab Acts of UK Parliament. Devolution may have lessened this aspect recently, but the UK Government is now hell bent on re-establishing control. In that respect, while Scotland may not feel like a colony to many, it does have something in common with traditional colonies.

Exploitation of resources.

Oil, Gas, electricity, whisky. Need I say more?

Suppression of culture and language.

The Highland Clearances play a part here, although their purpose was more to benefit greedy landowners than to deliberately suppress Scottish culture. They did, though, clearly play a part because many people who were a major part of maintaining Scottish culture were forcibly evicted and sent overseas.

Scottish culture used to be tolerated on BBC TV with shows like the White Heather Club, although these generally served to portray our customs as quaint and parochial. In my view, this situation has not changed very much, although I’ll admit I don’t watch TV very often these days, so I might be wrong. But how many of us were taught at school that we must speak proper English? And in recent years, things like Gaelic road signs have come in for a disproportionate amount of vilification from Anglophiles. Back in the 18th Century, kilts were banned, and if that’s not suppression, I don’t know what is. Since then, the methods of keeping Scottish culture as very much a minority aspect have been less overt, and Scottish language is certainly undergoing something of a rebirth. It could be argued that Scottish culture is reacting against centuries of direct or subliminal suppression, but I think there is little doubt that Scots are encouraged via the media to behave in a more British way rather than an outwardly Scottish one. And I don’t think I need to say very much at all about the BBC’s attitude towards Scotland becoming a normal, self-governing country. Most of the mainstream news is more than happy to talk Scotland down at any opportunity.

In these respects, then, Scotland has a lot in common with colonies of the British Empire. It does, though, differ in a couple of major respects. First, Scots were always free to rise to the top of British society provided they adopted British ways of thinking and acting. In regard to this, I think it is fair to say that for "British", read "English". But Scots were prominent in the empire building, and that’s something we cannot overlook.

Secondly, colonies are not usually given political representation, and Scottish MPs have featured since the Union of Parliaments. They have always been outnumbered, and we know that they are currently despised unless they, like their ancestors who helped build the empire, are prepared to conform to British behaviour. Indeed, we have seen Scots become Prime Minister, although moves have been taken to prevent this happening in future. Is that suppression? If not, what is it?

So is Scotland a colony? Technically, probably not, although it does have many things in common with a colony. The greatest irony of yesterday’s ruling was that the Supreme Court specifically declared that Scotland is not a colony because it has a measure of political representation, then promptly ruled that our political representation counts for nothing because Westminster is in control of our political future. I don’t know about anyone else, but that strikes me as contradictory at best.

The main thing is, though, that the entire world can now see that Scotland is most certainly not an equal partner in a voluntary union. That particular lie has been well and truly buried.

As Expected

Posted on November 18th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

In one way, Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement was reasonably benign in that it was not as harsh as many had feared. And yet he has followed the usual Tory policy of hammering ordinary citizens while letting the wealthy go relatively unharmed. Yes, more people will fall into the 45% tax bracket, but I’d venture to suggest that most of them will be able to cope given the income level required to fall into that bracket. Increases in pensions and benefits may appear generous, but those won’t kick in until next year, so many people will need to suffer through the winter.

He's also performed that Tory trick of delaying some of the worst increases for a couple of years, meaning that if Labour do manage to win the next election, they’ll be faced with either scrapping the changes and incurring the wrath of the money markets, or sticking with them and incurring the wrath of ordinary workers.

But even if this Statement wasn’t called a Budget, it was still a typical tory Budget. Taxes imposed on renewable energy providers, while the taxes on fossil fuel extractors still have the loophole that they can avoid tax if they keep finding new places to drill for yet more fossil fuels. Tories may claim to be going Green, but their actions defy those words they spout so easily.

There were, as expected, no attempts to curb money going to offshore tax havens, nor to make the giant multi-national companies actually pay any tax in the UK. Instead, the burden has fallen on the citizens, with a few of them being given meagre handouts as a token gesture to make it look as if Jeremy Hunt cares. He doesn’t. He doesn’t need to worry as he’s a multi-millionaire. That’s not jealousy speaking, it’s a comment on the fact that the very wealthy have done very nicely under the Tories. As usual, everyone else is being hit, and we now face the prospect of a very significant fall in our standard of living. And with energy prices authorised to increase again in April, that situation is only going to get worse.

A lot of commentators are insisting that the Tories know they will lose the next UK General Election, and Jeremy Hunt’s budgetary decisions certainly suggest that he’s aware that is a distinct possibility, but I’m not so sure. By the time the next GE comes around, you can bet that the media will be portraying Messrs Sunak and Hunt as the sensible guys, the ones who calmed the markets and steered the UK through difficult times which had nothing at all to do with Brexit. It’s all the fault of that horrible man Putin and those disgusting illegal immigrants. Smear campaigns will be launched against all other Party leaders, including Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer, and I’m very concerned that the English electorate will fall for it again. They usually do.

As always, Scotland needs to take another path as soon as possible to escape this nightmare.

Picturesque Pachyderm

Posted on November 12th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

There are lots of enjoyable things about Mastodon, where a lively community is springing up on Mastodon.Scot. The culture there is a lot more welcoming than Twitter ever was, and one of the reasons I find it especially enjoyable is that the custom is for people to add image descriptions to the photos they post. This is not compulsory, but it is very much part of the culture on Mastodon, and I have been very impressed with both the number of people doing this, and the quality of some of the descriptions. My thanks to all who do this, and it is no wonder there are so many visually impaired people on Mastodon if adding image descriptions is the default behaviour. I’m sure I’ve come across more image descriptions in one week than I have in the past year on Twitter, and that is not an exaggeration.

Unfortunately, some new arrivals are sticking with their lazy Twitter habit of posting pictures without descriptions. I do hope they will soon adopt the Mastodon custom.

But one thing some people seem to worry about is what to say in an image description, so I thought I’d provide a few pointers.

The main thing is to mention what it is that makes your picture important. For example:

who is in it?

If they are doing something relevant to the message you are trying to send, explain what it is they are doing.

If the location is important to the picture, say where it is.

If what they are wearing is important to the message, describe what makes it important.

If it has text, it is possible on some apps to copy that text into the image description. If not, either copy and paste or at the very least explain what is important about the text.

If it’s a cartoon or some other joke, explain what the joke is, and what makes it funny.

If it’s simply a nice photo of a landscape, explain what it shows. Are there trees? Buildings? Water? Is the light important to the image? Be as descriptive as you like. I’ve already found some photographers who must spend as much time describing their pictures as taking them, and it really makes a huge difference to the level of my engagement with the picture.

If it’s a photo of your cat, say whatever you like because I’ll skip past it pretty quickly. (Sorry cat lovers). Seriously, there are plenty of visually impaired cat lovers, so be gushing in the description of your pet. What colour? What is he/she doing?

There are a lot of visually impaired people on Mastodon, and now I know why, but we could ruin this wonderful environment if we don’t adopt the Mastodon culture. It’s a friendly, inclusive place, and I’d like to think that most people will want to keep it that way.

And I really don’t want to hear people coming up with the excuse that they don’t have time to add descriptions. Mastodon allows users to type up to 500 characters rather than Twitter’s 280, and I bet nobody will complain that this means it takes too long to type a message. Mastodon doesn’t have the same pressures as twitter, so take your time when posting, and take a little extra to prove that you are willing to be inclusive. And have fun doing it. It’s not a chore if you enjoy it.

Thanks very much for reading, and I hope to come across some of your descriptions soon. Please don’t worry that you are making a mess of it. Any description is better than none. As they say on that silly TV show, "Just say what you see".

Hostile Climate

Posted on November 8th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Plenty of UK media outlets, and the usual pro-Union trolls, have been demanding to know why Nicola Sturgeon had the temerity to attend the COP27 conference in Egypt. Now, I have little time for these grotesque events which create far more CO2 than necessary and which tend to be talking shops where politicians say a lot of good things before returning home and doing either nothing or, as will no doubt be the case with Rishi Sunak, the precise opposite.

But, while I can be critical of Nicola Sturgeon for some things, I think the protests and questions about her attending this event were completely over the top. For one thing, Glasgow hosted COP26, so it was only good etiquette for her to attend the subsequent meeting, if only to symbolically hand over the baton. More importantly, though, Scotland has huge renewable energy potential and, if it were not for the UK Government insisting on sticking with fossil fuels and nuclear power, Scotland could be a world leader. It is quite right that Nicola Sturgeon should let other world leaders know this, and that Scotland could be a beacon to follow if it became a normal, self—governing country.

It is also worth noting that, until Rishi Sunak decided he needed to be there in order to prevent Boris Johnson hogging all the limelight, Nicola Sturgeon would have been the only UK political leader to attend.

Of course, no matter what Nicola Sturgeon does, she will be criticised. I’m fairly sure that, had she stayed at home, the media would have pointed to her lack of enthusiasm for the battle against climate change. But then, that is how the UK media operates.

What's Wrong With The Euro Anyway?

Posted on October 27th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Unionist journalists are gleefully reporting that Scotland would need to adopt the Euro if it wants to become a member of the EU. This, to judge from the framing of the headlines, is apparently a bad thing.

Of course, what those screaming headlines don’t tell you is that every country which joins the EU must make a commitment to adopt the Euro as its currency. This commitment is, however, left open-ended, and several countries have still not got around to using the Euro. Sweden, for example, joined the EU in 1995 but still uses its own currency, as does Poland which joined in 2004.

So giving the commitment is one thing, but actually switching to the Euro is quite another, and this is not a new EU regulation, it has been around ever since the Euro became the currency of Europe.

What we are seeing here is another attempt at Project Fear. The big question is why this should strike fear into people. It harkens back to the standard UK tactic of abhorring anything foreign. The Euro is a foreign currency, therefore using it is a bad thing. Yet, over the decades since its introduction, the strength of the Euro has steadily improved against sterling which, as recent events have shown, is far from the stable currency British Nationalists like to think it is.

So would using the Euro be a bad thing? Well, to begin with, an independent Scotland would need its own currency for at least three years before it could even attempt to use the Euro. Having our own currency is vital if we wish to re-join the EU, despite what the Scottish Government seems to think with its bizarre pronouncements that Scotland would re-join the EU while retaining the use of sterling. As many have argued, our own currency is also vital to help us break the shackles of UK economic policies.

Of course there are risks to having your own currency, not least of which is that it could be targeted by speculators. However, given the strength of Scotland’s position regarding the potential to export oil, gas, whisky, salmon and renewable electricity among many others, demand for a Scottish Pound is likely to be high. Would there, then, be any need to move to the Euro after three years? It carries the hallmarks of the disadvantages of using sterling in that it is controlled by the European Central Bank, and some people point to Greece as an example of what can go wrong. This is fair enough except that Greece should never have been allowed to join the Euro currencies in any case since its economic books were doctored to make it appear that it met the criteria. I’d like to think Scotland would go about the change properly.

As far as Scotland is concerned, the Euro should present few problems since our economy would be strong. Ireland manages just fine with the Euro despite not having the many advantages that Scotland possesses.

Personally, switching to the Euro would not bother me overly much. The argument that it means dealing in a different currency to our main export market is not sustainable since we’d have a different currency if we adopted our own Pound. Also, once back in the EU, England would quickly fall away as our main export market, as amply demonstrated by Ireland who now deal mostly with the EU rather than the UK. If Scotland did adopt the Euro, our trading with major exporters like Germany and Netherlands would be much easier, and our exports of food and drink would also find a very large and willing market.

Then there is the spurious argument that people who cross the border regularly would need to use two currencies. As usual, this is portrayed as a problem for Scots even though it is not a problem for people in Ireland or Switzerland who need to use two currencies. Besides, many transactions are electronic nowadays, so carrying cash is not as vital as it used to be.

My only real objection to switching to the Euro after three years is that it would mean two changes of currency within a very short time, and I don’t think that is a great idea politically. But if the EU were to make an exception and let us move from using sterling to using the Euro, then the only reason to fear this is because the Euro is foreign, and foreign things are bad because UK culture says so.

As ever, if it’s in the newspapers and it proclaims some disadvantage to Scotland, it’s probably not worth worrying about.

Pants On Fire

Posted on October 24th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Does anyone actually believe that Boris Johnson would have pulled out of the Tory leadership race if he really did have the requisite number of votes from MPs? Well, some BBC journalists did, but their role is to repeat Johnson’s claims without question, so they don’t really count as impartial observers.

Of course, there is always a chance that he did have the votes but had learned that the Tory membership was unlikely to vote for him, but that seems highly unlikely given his cult status among the Tory faithful. Let’s not forget that these are the same people who elected him leader initially, and who also thought Liz Truss was the best possible replacement for him despite all the evidence to the contrary.

No, I think we all understand that Boris Johnson is a liar to the core. What was funniest about this latest venture was how he once again threw a load of gullible MPs under the bus by getting them to declare their support and then deciding to quit. Some of them, naturally, immediately declared their unwavering support for Rishi sunak whose approach to the role of PM is very different to that of Johnson. It’s almost as if they are desperate for a job in the Cabinet. And, for the avoidance of doubt, I don’t think that Sunak will necessarily be better as a Prime Minister, although it would be hard to be worse. He’s just a different type of uncaring, callous Tory.

I also laughed quite hard at the claim Johnson is putting out that he decided to step down from the contest because the Party needed to be united. Allegedly, he did this out of a sense of honour. How anyone can believe that Boris Johnson has an ounce of honour or integrity is beyond me. No, his brazen attitude is quite in keeping with his usual bombastic style because he is the one who caused the disunity in the first place. He seems to think everyone will have forgotten the record number of MPs who announced that they no longer trusted him because of his appalling record of lying and cheating. Having said that, many Tory Party members do seem to have forgotten it, although perhaps they just don’t care.

As for who will win now, the Tory faithful face a difficult choice. Penny Mordant is a woman, and Rishi Sunak isn’t white, so they will need to overcome some deeply ingrained biases whoever they decide to vote for.

In the meantime, the rest of us need to struggle on in the face of inflation and the Brexit fallout. But at least the Tory leadership contest is funnier than Friday Night Live.

What A Choice

Posted on October 23rd, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

The pro-Johnson propaganda has gone into overdrive, ably aided by the UK media giving platforms to any politician brazen enough to declare support and completely misrepresent Johnson’s achievements during his first stint in office. What’s really dismaying about this is that a lot of people will fall for it, and the same out-of-touch extremists who elected Liz Truss as PM are likely to support Johnson.

The apparent alternative is Rishi Sunak, although the colour of his skin will certainly count against him among the tory Party membership.

As for the rest of us, it has come to something when a multi-millionaire who despises the poor is probably the best Prime Minister we can hope for.

As far as Scotland is concerned, I’m almost tempted to say we should back Boris Johnson because he will undoubtedly make such a mess of things that it will boost the case for Scotland to become a normal, self-governing country. The trouble with that idea is the pain and damage he will cause.

Of course, that highlights the other problem we face. Far too many people base their political thinking on very short term views which directly affect them. Support for Scottish independence may rise if Johnson returns as PM, and it may fall if Sunak or some other extremist takes the reins, but that entirely misses the point that it is the structure of UK democracy which is the problem. The individual acting as PM is not the cause of our dire situation; it is that we are chained to a political structure which allows Westminster to exploit our country while simultaneously trying to persuade us that we have nothing worth exploiting.

The sooner we get away from this toxic union, the better.

Same Difference

Posted on October 21st, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

so that’s another Tory Prime Minister gone, or at least going. This has resulted in many people calling for a General Election and, while that is understandable, it’s almost certainly not going to happen. Quite apart from the fact that the Tories can’t afford to hold a GE now because they’d certainly lose, the UK system is that voters elect a Party to govern, and each political Party chooses its own leader. Nicola Sturgeon, in particular, seems to have forgotten that she was elected as First Minister without being elected by the public. In fairness, the Scottish system is slightly different to the UK one in that she had to be elected as leader by her Party, then as First Minister by the Parliament, but since the SNP had a majority, that wasn’t much of an issue for her. But let’s not forget that Gordon Brown and Theresa May were also elected as Prime Ministers by their Party, not through a General Election. Every time this happens, opposition Parties demand a General Election and the governing Party refuses because that’s not how the UK system operates. And, in fairness, the current farce is not caused so much by this system as by the chaos within the Tory Party.

But would it make much difference in any case? Even if there was a General Election and Labour were to win, the UK would still be governed by a Pro-Brexit Party which is vehemently opposed to Scottish independence, and determined not to undo the various right wing policies the Tories have introduced. They might re-impose a ban on fracking, but don’t expect them to do much about the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis or very much else. Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer is probably the most right wing leader Labour have ever had, and he only looks moderate in comparison to the fanatics who run the Tory Party.

So I can’t get too excited about Liz Truss resigning. Whoever the Tories inflict on us next probably won’t be any better. They will continue to treat the people of the UK as expendable and exploitable.

As has been the case for many years now, Scotland’s only hope of improving things lies with becoming a normal, self-governing country.

Economic PR Case

Posted on October 18th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

So the Scottish Government have published their long-awaited paper on the economic case for Scotland becoming a normal country. I’ve waded my way through it and managed to stay more or less awake most of the time. There were, though, only a couple of points which really interested me.

In terms of background, the paper contained some interesting facts on comparisons with other EU nations, and plenty about the damage being part of Brexit UK is causing, but we all know that Unionists are impervious to facts, so I doubt this paper will cause many of them to change their minds.

I was pleased to see a commitment to rejoining the EU, but this was countered by an insistence on retaining the use of sterling for an unspecified time before switching to our own currency. These two things are mutually incompatible as the EU requires member states to have their own currency, yet this was not mentioned at all as far as I could see. I’m still not clear on how the Scottish Government intends to reconcile these two diametrically opposed plans, but I’ll return to that in a moment.

Some people, notably the estimable Richard J Murphy, have condemned this paper in the strongest terms. I find it hard to argue with someone with Mr Murphy’s expertise and knowledge, but I’m not sure I would go quite as far as he has in his comments. One thing I do agree with him about is that the audience for this paper is probably not the ordinary Scot. Indeed, how many people will read through a 110 page document? No, this paper is designed to reassure the money markets and present Scotland as a sensible member of the global economy. After all, if the Liz Truss misgovernment has shown us anything, it is that the markets need to be satisfied that you know what you are doing.

One thing many Yessers are upset about is the commitment to accept part of the UK’s national debt from the outset. This is not a legal or internationally recognised route to follow, but I think Nicola Sturgeon is trying to present herself as being reasonable when it comes to negotiations with Westminster. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad idea. If she began negotiations with all guns blazing, refusing to budge on this issue, she might not be able to wring other concessions from the sociopaths who run the UK. And if she insisted Scotland would not contribute towards the UK debt but then had to concede it in order to gain some other important point, she would be open to even harsher criticism. So, whether Scotland will actually end up taking on this unnecessary burden remains to be seen. I hope we don’t, but I’m prepared to accept the need to put on a show of willingness at this stage.

Of course, we need to win IndyRef2 before any of this can be put into practice. I’m not convinced that this paper helps in any way, but not producing it would only have handed ammunition to the Unionist media, so it was a necessary publication even though it does contain some things which disturb a lot of Yessers. Producing the paper was more of a political manoeuvre than a genuine attempt to convince anyone of the merits of becoming a normal country.

Of course, the Unionist media have pounced upon certain aspects of the paper. They are gleefully reporting that goods traveling between Scotland and England would be subject to Customs checks. What none of them are too keen to highlight is that this would be solely because England voted to leave the EU and is determined to abandon equivalence in standards so that it can import food produced to lower quality levels in order to … well, I’m not quite sure what they are aiming for, but the effect will be to totally undermine the UK farming sector. That’s another reason Scotland needs to go its own way. But, as for those border checks, it is England’s doing. They want checks with every EU nation. Scotland, as part of the EU, will have open borders with 27 other EU nations, and we are surely capable of re-aligning our trade to take advantage of this. Ireland has done it, so why can’t Scotland? You won’t find a Unionist journo telling you that.

The other thing the media have leaped on is the commitment (albeit a rather half-hearted one) to adopt a new currency. I think this may be why the paper makes such great play of only adopting a new currency when the time is right. We all know that far too many people in Scotland have been conditioned to fear change, so insisting on a new currency straight away, while the obvious and sensible thing to do, is likely to terrify those people who would rather stick with a sinking ship than risk swimming towards a lifeboat. This is why some media outlets are loudly proclaiming the intention to adopt a Scottish Pound without headlining all the caveats the Scottish Government has placed on this move.

Personally, I remain concerned at the SNP’s apparent willingness to remain shackled to sterling, but I remain hopeful that reality will force their hand on this when the EU insists on us having our own currency before we can re-join. That’s when the frightened voters will come to realise the necessity of ditching a failing sterling.

As for the rest of the document, I really didn’t take too much from it. It was, I’m afraid, an exercise in PR. Of course, that is what much of politics is about, so I can understand why it took this format. And it might yet prove to be a minor blessing that the publication was largely overshadowed by the continuing farce of Westminster politics. Then again, the timing might prove to be beneficial in another way. Those international money markets might look at the Tory mess that is the UK, then compare it to the rather bland and less than radical proposals from the Scottish Government and decide that they know who is more worthy of backing.

In essence, then, I am neither inspired nor dismayed by this paper. I am mildly disappointed in the currency angle, but sooner or later, even the SNP are going to face the fact that their currency plan is going to need to be revised. By that time, I sincerely hope we have voted to become a normal, self-governing country.

Taxing Media

Posted on September 27th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Once again, the Tories and their media allies are using the tax trap to point a finger at the Scottish Government. The argument they are putting forward is that the UK Chancellor’s cutting of higher rate tax puts pressure on the Scottish Government to match it or face a loss of income because of all the Scottish millionaires who will flee to England to avoid our punitive rates of tax. Some media outlets have even gone so far as to track down wealthy people who claim they are considering moving to England. However, what none of these stories ever mention is the collapse in the value of the pound as a result of the UK Chancellor’s ideologically-driven tax cuts. What the British media in Scotland are hoping is that nobody will notice the looming disaster and will instead focus on the dastardly Scottish Government who are unwilling to adopt the same demonstrably disastrous tax cuts. It really is a superb bit of journalism because the Scottish Government could be attacked for adopting harmful policies if it does copy the Westminster model. In other words, the media will attack them whatever they do.

But why do they focus on the tax cuts when the arguments against it are so evident? Quite apart from the fact that the British media in Scotland is always desperate to find any angle which can be used to criticise the Scottish Government, another reason they do this is because they know it works on some people who are fully indoctrinated in the UK system. I have a relative who has already complained to me about living in the UK’s highest tax area. He’s certainly not a millionaire, but compared to many he’s pretty well off with a nice house and car, and is able to support his family. Obviously, with the current cost of living crisis, he is affected as all of us are, but he’s not on the poverty line by any means. However, he is very unhappy at paying more tax than people who live in England.

When I pointed out that there are other benefits to living in Scotland, he was very dismissive. He has no need of medical prescriptions except on a rare occasion of illness, so he does not regard that as important. It is, after all, the sort of benefit which is aimed at scroungers.

As for free university education, his kids aren’t old enough to go to university yet, so that hasn’t even crossed his mind, and he simply shrugged it off when I mentioned it.

When I then pointed out that he could move to England but would find that house prices would more than wipe out any tax benefit, that his Council Tax would be much higher and that the public services he takes for granted would be of much lower standard, he was not convinced. After all, he has no plans to move to England, so none of those things will affect him. His only concern is that he will be paying more tax than English residents. He will not be paying more tax than he is at the moment, of course, but that is not the point. His comparison is with other people who he perceives as being better off than he is thanks to the Scottish Government’s apparently punitive tax rates.

This is a very weird sort of logic, but I was unable to convince him that paying taxes to help other members of society might actually be viewed as a good thing by many. Sadly, Tory ideology is so ingrained in his thinking that his only concern is with himself and how unfairly he is being treated.

Naturally, we must still try to persuade people that the tax trap argument is deeply flawed because of its focus on a single aspect of taxation, but I think we should always bear in mind that some people will never be convinced. That is why the UK media in Scotland is pushing this line of argument. They are providing comfort for those who seek any justification for sticking to their Tory values.

As far as I am concerned, the media, notably including the BBC, is not providing news, it is promoting Tory propaganda. They are going out of their way to push this story despite the very obvious economic calamity the Tories are inflicting on the UK. The sooner we escape the madness, become a normal country and establish a normal media, the better.

Saintly Thoughts

Posted on September 25th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s spider

Just when you think the flag-waving British Nationalists can’t get any more ridiculous in their worship of the monarchy, they come up with yet another bizarre idea to promote adulation of the late Queen. Apparently, there are now calls for her to be declared a saint. And yes, that is as daft as it sounds because there are a couple of reasons why it shouldn’t happen. I won’t say it can’t happen because the extremes to which the UK will go to further its royal fetish should not be underestimated, but I’d like to take a look at the arguments against this outlandish proposal.

First of all, the idea of sainthood is that it is earned through selfless acts which benefit either other individuals or the Church. There is a caveat to that idea which I’ll address shortly, but I think it fair to say that those criteria would be generally accepted by most people as being required before sainthood can be awarded.

So what selfless acts did the late Queen exhibit during her long life? She certainly had a lot of hospitals and schools, not to mention bridges and other public constructions, named in her honour, but as far as I know, she did not use even a tiny portion of her massive wealth to pay for any hospitals, schools or even food banks. In fact, as recent revelations have shown, she often went out of her way to ensure that her wealth was protected from any of the laws which affect her subjects. I’m afraid that simply being polite and dignified while remaining silent on social issues isn’t my idea of what would qualify one for sainthood. As far as I’m concerned, I can’t think of any act the Queen undertook in her long reign which would come close to being a saintly act. Perhaps those advocating her canonisation can come up with some examples, but I’m stuck at a count of zero.

There is, though, another very good reason why this almost certainly can’t happen. First, though, that caveat I mentioned. I’ll admit that I’m no expert on religion as it has no bearing on my life, but my understanding of the Protestant faith is that it regards every Christian as a saint by default. That means the Queen is already a saint in the eyes of the Protestant religion, but so is every other Christian. However, the Protestant version of Christianity is generally confined to Scotland and Northern Ireland as far as the UK is concerned. As with most things in this so-called union of equals, it can therefore be discounted for the purposes of this argument because it is Anglicanism which is the version of Christianity most relevant to the idea.

A wee bit of history first. When King Henry VIII of England was awarded the title, "Defender of the Faith", the faith in question was Roman Catholicism. Henry retained the title even after he ditched Catholicism and transformed England into a Protestant state because he didn’t like the Pope’s views on divorce. UK monarchs retain the title, but the faith they are defending is never really explained. Is it Christianity as a whole? Probably not, considering that Catholics are not permitted to become part of the royal family. So is it only Protestant versions of Christianity? Or is it only Anglicanism? I’m not sure at all.

As for Anglicanism, it is often viewed as a half-way house between Protestantism and Catholicism. It does retain some features of Catholicism but, importantly, it does not canonise new saints. That is still the preserve of the Pope of Rome. This presents something of a problem for the idea of sainthood for the late queen. The royal family’s highly sectarian stance on Catholics is, like most things monarchical in the UK, rooted in history, but nobody seems inclined to modernise it at all. Unlike railway workers, it seems the monarchy has no need to modernise. But what this means is that an institution which specifically bans an entire religious sect from participation now needs to ask the Pope, as leader of that sect, for permission to allow its former head to become a member of the Catholic Church’s most exclusive club. If the Pope spoke Scots, I can imagine his response being, "Aye, right!".

Despite this rather obvious reason why queen Elizabeth II is very unlikely to be canonised, it is always possible if sufficient influence and inducements are offered to the Vatican, but I think it unlikely.

Anglicanism, though, does recognise saints who feature from the early centuries of Christianity, and does have a sort of quasi-sainthood for important members of (normally English) society who are held in high regard. It’s not sainthood as such, but it is an elevated status which allows those individuals to be revered if not actually worshipped. Perhaps, in the Alice through the Looking Glass world of the UK media, according this status on the Queen will be sufficient to begin referring to her as a saint. If that’s what they want to do, good for them. Personally, it won’t alter my opinion of the monarchy in general or Queen Elizabeth in particular, although I dare say it might reinforce my opinion of the extremists who are promoting this bizarre idea.

Deal Or No Deal

Posted on September 22nd, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

The odd thing about Liz Truss’s admission that a trade deal with the USA is not on the immediate horizon is that this is simultaneously good news and bad news. On one hand, any deal with the USA would inevitably have been agreed on even worse terms than the trade deals the Brexit Tories have agreed with Australia and New Zealand, and would have led to an influx of food produced to much lower standards than those currently required in the UK. Cheap imports of things like chlorinated chicken would have been commonplace, and these and similar cheap imports would be yet another disastrous blow to the already struggling UK agricultural sector, much of which is based in Scotland. So hearing that the deal is not imminent is good news.

On the other hand, it leaves the UK having left the EU and having no major trade deals to replace everything we have lost. It really is the worst of both worlds. Or possibly not if you feel some relief that we aren’t going to be flooded with cheap US imports. It’s all really very confusing.

Let’s not forget that this USA trade deal was touted as being the easiest deal ever, but that was when Donald Trump was President, and he was very keen on a deal because it would have allowed US healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to take over the NHS in its entirety. President Biden has a very different outlook, and his insistence that the Good Friday Agreement is respected is a deal breaker. That’s because the Tories have no intentions of respecting the GFA, and they seem quite prepared to abandon their ideas of a US trade deal in order to separate Northern Ireland from the EU. Once again, we have both good and bad news.

Then again, having the Tories decide our futures is bad news all round. Whatever they turn their hands to, the vast majority of UK citizens (sorry, subjects) will see no benefit at all.

On the whole, though, I think this admission that no US deal is imminent is probably good news for Scotland in the long run. That’s because it leaves the UK floundering in a Brexit mess of its own making, and the worse things become, the more likely the clamour for Scotland to leave the dysfunctional UK will grow. However, considering the pain we will go through because of Brexit, that’s no more than a silver lining on a very dark cloud.

Not Worshipping

Posted on September 18th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

One of the adjustments I’ve made since losing my eyesight is that I watch far less television than I used to. There are several reasons for this, not least of which is that few programmes have Audio Description, so watching them is largely a waste of time. The quality of available programmes is also a major factor. I have no interest in celebrity this that or the other, and I find that there are a great many podcasts now available which provide far greater insight into current affairs than any television programme does. As a result, I’ve been pretty much insulated from the seemingly endless and inane royalist propaganda being churned out, particularly by the BBC. Like many Indy supporters, I learned several years ago that what passes for informed news reporting on the BBC is mostly pro-Union propaganda.

Naturally, I’ve seen comment and come across a few video clips on social media, but none of them have Audio Description either, so I’ve tended to ignore the majority of them.

I’ve never really bothered too much about the monarchy. I’d certainly prefer to live in a republic where our Head of State is elected, but I know enough about British history to understand that this is never going to happen in the UK, where adulation of the monarchy is a central part of the Establishment system for maintaining control. As a result, I’ve been largely indifferent to the goings-on among the royal family. You can’t ignore it because worship of the royals (unless they don’t fit the proper Establishment requirements) is almost compulsory in the UK media, but I’ve never paid more than cursory attention to the bulk of it.

I think this past week or so confirms that my feelings about the monarchy are justified. We’ve seen an allegedly grieving King travel around the UK in an overtly political statement of intent while he’s busy laying off staff he deems surplus to his requirements. We’ve seen any anti-monarchy protest clamped down on or carefully studied by the Police, and we’ve seen endless over-the-top media interviews with royalist commentators and members of the public (sorry, loyal subjects), while there has been no republican viewpoint allowed. Now, you can say that this is out of respect for the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, but the monarchy has been very quick to conflate her death with the accession of the new King. I don’t think I’ve seen a single anti-monarchist insult the memory of the Queen at any of these protests; they are protesting about the institution of monarchy itself, and the automatic accession of King Charles.

The other main thing that has irritated me about all of this is the number of people claiming that the outpouring of grief and mourning among Scots is a clear blow for the cause of independence. These commentators seem very quick to conflate showing respect for an individual monarch with wanting to be ruled by Westminster. The two are not inextricably linked, and I’m sure there are many pro-Indy Scots who still want a monarchy. I’m not one of them, but that is irrelevant because it is SNP policy to retain the monarchy as Head of state when Scotland does become a normal country. Deciding on whether to become even more normal by transforming into a Republic will be a decision for the future, just as some former Empire countries are doing now.

One thing that intrigues me about this, though, is the numbers being cited. I’ve seen claims that over 750,000 people have or will join the long queue to file past the Queen’s coffin. Now, this is a historical event, so some people will want to be a witness for that reason. Others will genuinely want to pay respects, while I’m sure there may be a few tourists amongst them as well.

But if that figure is accurate, then we should expect the Scottish part of that to be around 64,000, based on Scotland’s population being around 8.5% of the UK. Yet the figure quoted for the Edinburgh pageant was only 33,000. If these figures are broadly correct, then I don’t think it supports a Scottish desire to worship the monarchy quite as much as the media and Unionist politicians would have us believe.

I understand there will be other "national" events such as a two minute silence. I doubt very much that I’ll be observing that except by the expedient of being busy listening to an audiobook at the time. I’m sure the media will tell us how well it was observed, but I’m not sure how much faith we could put in any such claims. After all, there was supposed to be a "Clap for the Queen" event during the week when we were encouraged to stand on our doorsteps and applaud, just as we did for the NHS during Covid. I don’t know about anyone else, but my street was silent when this event was scheduled to take place.

So is Scotland a monarchist country? As with so many other things, I expect there will be a binary split, but if we were fated to have a monarch as Head of State, I’d much prefer it to be a Scottish monarch rather than an English one. And before anyone gets too upset about that, I know that Charles III is King of Scots, but that’s just a feature of the Union of the Crowns. Scotland gets the monarch England wants, as demonstrated by the advent of George I of Hanover. When the throne was vacant with no obvious line of succession, it was the majority wish of the Westminster Parliament to invite George, much against the wishes of the Scots. Nothing much has changed in the past three centuries.

Monarchy Rules

Posted on September 10th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

There is no doubt that the death of Queen Elizabeth II is a historic event, and the first thing I must say is that the death of any individual is a tragic and emotional event for anyone who knew them closely. We have all lost loved ones, and it often takes a long time to get over such loss. From a personal perspective, therefore, I have sympathy with the members of the royal family at this sad time.

It must also be said that Queen Elizabeth II carried out her public role with an extraordinary degree of duty, diligence, commitment, grace and dignity. From anecdotes of people who met her, she does seem to have had a sense of humour and a level of empathy with individuals she encountered at close quarters.

Having said all that, though, I think it is important to differentiate between the person and the position of monarch. While I can fully understand that the Queen’s death will have had a significant impact on those who knew her well, I am struggling to empathise with those members of the general public who never met her and yet who seem afflicted by grief. Yes, it is sad, but the reaction, undoubtedly encouraged by the UK’s sycophantic media, is out of all proportion to the actual impact the Queen had on these people.

I am not going to dwell on some of the more sordid revelations about the royal family as readers can find those elsewhere, but I want to consider why the UK’s response to this event is so extreme.

I don’t wish to sound too callous, but I must say that the Queen’s passing has had no emotional impact on me at all. I feel neither joy nor sorrow, only the same level of sympathy I would feel about the death of anyone I did not know personally. I never met the Queen, and her only influence on my life in a personal way was when my entire Primary School class was bussed out to stand at a roadside waving small Union flags while the Queen was driven past us at high speed. It was a bizarre event, and even back in those tender years of my childhood, I struggled to appreciate what all the fuss was about. Personally, I’d have preferred to be out playing football with my pals.

I think the main thing which irritates or even annoys those of a republican persuasion in the UK is the over-the-top reaction of our media, particularly the BBC where presenter Clive Myrie went so far as to tell his viewers that the new Prime Minister’s speech about the cost of living crisis was insignificant compared to the news coming from Balmoral. I do hope Mr Myrie will take some time to reflect on that, because the current crisis is going to result in the deaths of many more elderly people, and a lot of those deaths are avoidable. When millions of people don’t have enough money to heat their homes or cook hot food, that is not insignificant.

This adulation of the monarchy actually goes back a long way. It really began in England in the 11th Century when William the Bastard, having defeated Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, found that his position as King of England was not as secure as he would have liked. He therefore began calling meetings of his nobles where he would make a point of parading around in expensive robes, wearing a crown and insisting on being title, "Your Majesty". This was the beginning of the move by the ruling family to instil an aura of mystique around their position.

Of course, this has not always worked too well. Under Richard II, the people revolted until they were mercilessly slaughtered. King John famously had to make concessions to his Barons, while Edward II and Charles I met violent ends. Over the centuries, though, and especially since the restoration of Charles II, the process of elevating the monarch to a status far above that of mere mortals has continued. The English (now the UK) national anthem is, I believe, unique in the world in that it does not celebrate the nation, but instead celebrates the person of the monarch, with the singers revelling in their inferior status. This was an important tool in reinforcing the social order during the 18th and 19th centuries, but the advent of television has greatly helped convince the British public of the value of the royal family in general and the monarch in particular. The Divine Right of Kings may have been abolished by Cromwell, but the royals are still regarded by many as being somehow inherently superior, and so are worthy of reverence. It is a testament to the power of this indoctrination that many people I would regard as sensible are going out of their way to express grief over the death of the Queen. This unthinking adulation of a Head of State is the sort of thing we would expect from North Korea and I find the obsession rather unhealthy. It seems to me that a large part of the official promotion of national grief is designed to remind people of their place in UK society.

My gripes about the institution of monarchy are many, although it must be said that other European nations do seem able to handle it in a far less extreme way. The UK, though, turns all royal events into enormous, expensive pageants, and the media do their best to shame people into joining in the show. This has led to the ludicrous cancellation of some, but not all, sporting events which means that people are still expected to work during the long mourning period yet are denied opportunities to find some enjoyment. And, having cancelled all senior football this weekend, it seems likely that the same will happen next weekend because the official mourning period will still be in progress, and having set a precedent, the sporting authorities will find it difficult to justify restarting their competitions. But cricket and rugby, sports generally not associated with the working class, are going ahead, and I will be interested to discover what happens in horse racing.

As for the oft-repeated claim that the royal family generate tourism, this is largely nonsense. I’m sure retailers of royal memorabilia can make some money from it, but it is worth noting that the UK’s largest visitor attraction is the Tower of London, where no royals have lived for centuries.

My greatest feelings, however, come from the vast accumulation of wealth acquired by the monarch. When her subjects are struggling to afford to live, the Queen did nothing to help, and we know from recent media exposures that her lawyers went out of their way to ensure that she was not affected by laws which everyone else needs to comply with. I’m afraid that the whole institution of monarchy in the UK is an affront to a modern state. Yes, it is sad that the Queen has died, but I find it even sadder that so many people who never came closer to her than handling a bank note with her picture on it, are now going out of their way to show how upset they are. Whether this is genuine grief or mere virtue signalling, it shows how ingrained the idea of adulation of the monarchy has become. People are conditioned to view themselves as inferior thanks to a simple accident of birth. For me, that just doesn’t sit right.

Will things change with the accession of Charles III? Some people think it presages the break-up of the union, but I have my doubts that it will have that much impact. It may be a small factor if the political process goes the way I hope it does, but I don’t believe that having a new monarch essentially alters the proposition for Scottish independence. Charles himself has clearly indicated that he intends that things should carry on by proclaiming his elder son as Prince of Wales without apparently giving any thought to how the people of Wales might feel about this.

I think things will carry on as before because it remains in the interests of the ruling Establishment in Westminster, along with their corporate and media allies, to maintain the status quo. We can therefore expect the media to continue to churn out eulogies for a long time yet. Continuity will, I believe, become a strong theme in the coming weeks and months.

In the short term, we will no doubt see a continuation of the barrage of programmes designed to maintain a feeling of loss and mourning. Whether even the BBC will be able to keep it up for ten days remains to be seen, but I’m sure they will have a damned good try. After all, their role is to persuade people how special the monarchy is, and it’s a message they will hammer home because they know that a great many people will believe it.

But it is not only ordinary citizens (sorry, subjects) who are subjected to this conditioning. The royals, too, are products of their environment. They have been brought up to regard themselves as special, and they will inevitably expect deference and obedience from their subjects. They are, after all, only human, and they, too, have been conditioned to believe that the UK’s monarchical system is, like most things British, the best in the world.

For me, all I can say is thank goodness for Podcasts and Netflix.

Suppressing Democracy

Posted on September 5th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Last week, I heard a video clip of what sounded like a gentleman of senior years asking a question on what sounded like a panel show. If I had to guess, I’d say it was probably on the BBC’s extreme Right Wing propaganda show, Question Time. That’s not really important except to give a flavour of the question and the audience reaction. To cheers and applause, this gentleman made the point that the next UK Prime Minister must treat the preservation of the Union as of primary importance, and he asked what steps should be taken to suppress Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

This sorry episode raises several points. First of all, whatever some pro-Indy Scots may think of the SNP’s efforts to turn Scotland into a normal, self-governing country, many people in England still perceive them as a serious threat to the preservation of the UK in its current form. This preservation seems very important to many in England, but while Unionist politicians may appreciate the truth that England needs free access to Scotland’s resources, the majority of ordinary English citizens (sorry, subjects) seem to view retaining Scotland under Westminster control is simply a matter of faith. They never seem to articulate any reason except their usual historical fantasy of winning a couple of wars together, and it is probably not too unfair to state that, if any of them actually came to Scotland, they would spend most of their time complaining that it is not sufficiently like England. That may sound over the top, but I’ve certainly come across English visitors like that. Effectively, though, this absolute conviction that Scotland must not be permitted to leave the UK is essentially a colonialist attitude. In the minds of people like that, the British Empire is still a fond memory, and the very thought that anyone in Scotland might want to leave the UK is a genuine puzzle for them. They simply cannot get their heads around it. Worse, they don’t even want to try.

Then there is the use of the word, "Suppress". Unconsciously or not, the questioner used a word which any fascist would be proud of, and he probably didn’t even understand why it might be offensive. The very fact that a member of the public can go on UK-wide TV and say such a thing is ample evidence that Right Wing extremism is now the norm in Unionist politics. People now feel free to express abhorrent ideas as if they were perfectly normal. Suppression is a term with violent overtones and from the audience reaction to the question, far too many people agree with Lisa Nandy MP that the UK should employ violence against anyone supporting Scottish independence.

The UK Government will, of course, officially decry such a reaction, but that does not mean they are above using underhand tactics to prevent Scotland from becoming a normal country. On Sunday, we heard that they intend to introduce a law which would require over 50% of the Scottish electorate to vote Yes before the result would be recognised. This is pretty much what they did in 1979, and it means that anyone who does not vote, for whatever reason, is deemed to have voted against. This goes against all idea of modern democracy, and I don’t think any other democracy has ever decided anything using this ridiculous method. The whole idea is to ensure that, even if the UK Government does reluctantly accede to the democratic demands of the Scottish electorate, the result will be heavily skewed in favour of the Union. When you consider that, under UK rules, 16 and 17 year olds will not be permitted to vote, nor will EU citizens living in Scotland, then the chances of us ever winning are remote.

More than ever, this convinces me that we must not play by Westminster rules. Nicola Sturgeon really needs to change her own requirements and declare independence on winning a simple majority in a referendum, or winning a majority of seats in a UK General Election. Any other way of doing it simply plays into the hands of people who will have applauded the anti-democratic question asked by that gentleman on TV.

Excuses, Excuses

Posted on August 31st, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Now is not the time! We’ve heard it before, and we hear it constantly from Unionist politicians and journalists. There was the Covid crisis, then the war in Ukraine, and now the cost of living crisis. For those who are fortunate enough to survive these various crises, the only thing you can be sure of is that there will be another crisis along very soon.

Unionists will seize on every one of these crises to insist that holding a referendum is the wrong thing to do because the Scottish Government should be concentrating on other, more important, things.

So when would the right time be? If we lurch from crisis to crisis, we will never be able to hold an IndyRef. Yet UK General Elections take place, Scottish Parliament and Council elections take place, but holding an IndyRef is deemed somehow wrong?

As with most big decisions in life, there is rarely a good time to take a major step. Anyone who wants to postpone a big decision can always find excuses. That’s all the Unionists are doing; finding excuses.

The whole point of becoming a normal country is so that we can tackle crises in our own way. Let’s face it, even an inept Scottish Government could probably still deal with things a whole lot better than the self-serving proto-fascists who currently run the UK. Most importantly, if the Government of an independent Scotland did make a mess of things the way the UK Government is currently doing, at least we would be able to vote them out, something we cannot do to the UK Government no matter how we vote. It is English voters who decide who runs the UK, and they almost always vote Tory.

And yet we will continue to hear the same old story from Unionists about now not being the right time because of some perceived crisis or other. On the contrary, now is definitely the right time. Independence is normal. Let’s get it done sooner rather than later.

Managing Expectations

Posted on August 29th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

There has been a lot of grumbling in some sections of the Yes community about the SNP’s commitment, or lack thereof, to turning Scotland into a normal, self-governing country. Wherever you stand on this point, there have certainly been some very worrying comments coming from senior members of the SNP.

In any field of work, managers soon learn the expression, "Managing expectations". In general, this is a phrase used to describe how to impart bad news to junior members of staff or, indeed, customers. I can’t shake off the feeling that some of the comments we have heard recently fall into this category.

It began a while ago with Pete Wishart putting himself forward for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. Mr Wishart hasn’t earned the nickname of "Comfy Pete" for nothing, and this was perhaps the greatest signal yet that he feels he is at Westminster to settle down rather than settle up. Since then, he has directed most of his Twitter ire at supporters of the Alba Party rather than at the Tories which is another disappointment.

Then we’ve had Ian Blackford declare that he enjoys working at Westminster and is pals with a Tory peer. Considering that most Tories walk out of the House whenever Mr Blackford stands up to speak, I’d have thought he’d be far more angry with the place than he clearly is. Has he, too, settled down? I sincerely hope not.

And then there is Nicola Sturgeon telling us that she feels British. Now, everyone is entitled to feel how they like, but identity is a very important part of the Yes movement. I have actually been trying to put into words my own feelings on identity which I will readily admit have swung very much towards Scottishness rather than the Britishness I, and many others of my generation, were brought up with. The 2014 IndyRef certainly has a big part to play in this, but I think it is the rise in English nationalism since then which has done more than anything else to make me identify ever more strongly with my Scottish roots. And, if statistics are to be believed, over 60% of Scottish residents feel the same, now identifying as solely Scottish rather than British. Personally, I find it a little disappointing that the leader of the SNP still feels British in spite of the way the British political and constitutional arrangements have treated Scotland.

I really hope all of this is not the SNP attempting to manage our expectations. You can argue that Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to treat the next UK General Election as a plebiscite election shows that she is prepared for the inevitable ruling of the Supreme Court in favour of Westminster, but I am very worried that she is playing right into the Unionists’ hands. Getting a majority of seats should pose no problem, but setting the benchmark as a majority of votes, which is virtually impossible, and then using the UK’s electoral rules of disenfranchising 16 and 17 year olds, EU citizens and anyone without photo ID is simply giving all the advantages to Westminster. I know people would argue that declaring independence on less than 50% of the popular vote would be undemocratic, but the entire Westminster voting system is undemocratic and we have had to live with its consequences for over three hundred years. How can they complain if we use their own rules against them?

But whichever rules we decide to play by, we really need to see some more impassioned statements on why Scotland must become a normal country. It’s all very well publishing a series of documents, but these need to be followed up, and followed up with outspoken passion and conviction. I’m afraid that, so far, all I’m hearing is some managementspeak which seems designed to manage my expectations, and that’s never a good thing.

Summer Round-Up

Posted on August 14th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Well, it’s been an interesting holiday season. The farce of the Tory leadership election continues, with each of the main contenders doing their best to prove how much they hate the poor, the Scots, the Welsh, refugees, or anyone struggling to pay their energy bills. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been jetting off on holiday while he holds the fort for his successor. His only recent contribution seems to have been an announcement that he will set up talks with the devolved Governments of the UK to discuss the energy crisis. I suspect these will be as productive as the talks he held with the energy companies, the talks about Covid strategies and the talks about Brexit. As usual with Boris Johnson, the announcement is almost certainly a publicity stunt to make it look as if he cares and is doing something. The reality will be a waste of time, with no tangible results.

And those sunlit uplands of Brexit seem as far away as ever, with the UK now recording the worst trade deficit since records began in the 1950s. The most remarkable thing about that is that the Brexiteers will continue to deny that this dismal economic outcome has anything to do with their precious project.

As for the value of sterling, it continues to fall against the US dollar, and its value has declined by far more than the allegedly catastrophic fall of 10% which was predicted if Scotland voted to leave the UK. Isn’t it funny how most of the media is silent on this?

And then there is the contentious issue of the proposed new freeports, although some of them now seem to be going under a different name in an attempt to convince us that they are something new and shiny. The most disappointing thing about this is the Scottish Government’s support for these Tory-inspired projects whose only benefit for ordinary people is that they may provide some low-income jobs with few workers’ rights attached. Any money being earned will, as usual in Tory Britain, flow upwards. In my view, the Scottish Government should be arguing against these Freeports which will become beacons of exploitation. Instead of proclaiming the imagined benefits of establishing Freeports, the Scottish Government really ought to be loudly proclaiming the case for Scotland becoming a normal country, and the creation of freeports could be used as an example of how the Tories intend to enrich their pals at the expense of working people who are desperate for even the lowest paid jobs.

Amidst all this nonsense, I’m told that nearly every item of food available in the majority of supermarkets is now emblazoned with a Union Jack even if it is produced in Scotland. This is offensive no matter which way you look at it, and it reminds me chillingly of those newsreels you see of Nazi Germany where everything had a swastika on it. This is one of the few things which makes me almost glad I can’t see, because the sight of so many Union Jacks would probably make me boak.

Related to that, I recently discovered that one of the backpacks I regularly use had a Union Jack stitched to it. It wasn’t visible when I was wearing the rucksack, but was there for all to see when I took it off. I was appalled when I heard this, but the problem has been resolved thanks to the judicious use of a pair of scissors to remove the offending (or is that offensive?) decoration. I’m now looking for a small Saltire sticker I can put on in its place.

All in all, the past few weeks have simply confirmed that the UK is a political and economic basket case, and the sooner Scotland becomes a normal country, the better.

Media Power

Posted on August 1st, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

I came across a tweet by Stephen Daisley the other day. He was promoting his article again, this time apparently focusing on the drugs death toll in Scotland. I will readily admit that I did not read the article because Daisley really only writes one piece, and it’s always about how awful the SNP are, and how Scotland is uniquely incapable of operating like a normal country. I did, though, take a quick look at some of the replies, and that is really what has prompted this piece. That’s because most of the responses pointed the finger of blame very squarely at the SNP in general and Nicola Sturgeon in particular. Not a single one of these respondents seemed to have any idea that drugs policy is reserved to Westminster. I’m sure Stephen Daisley knows that well enough, but presumably he either glossed over it or didn’t mention it in his article. Or perhaps the respondents simply gave a knee-jerk reply because blaming the SNP for everything is their default reaction.

This lack of basic understanding of how devolution works is a testament to the power of the British media in Scotland. By keeping people ignorant, they can play on fears and distract from the fundamental point that independence is normal. It is so normal that, even if the SNP were the worst Government in the world (and they’d need to go some to be worse than the Westminster lot), then I would still want Scotland to become independent. That’s because, once we are a normal country, we can elect whichever Government we like, and elections will not always be overshadowed by the constitutional question.

Getting back to the drugs death figures, I will agree that they make grim reading. But blaming the Scottish Government ignores the fact that addictions to drugs, tobacco and alcohol are symptoms of poverty, not causes. Poverty is a result of Tory rule, and Scotland has been particularly badly hit since the days of Margaret Thatcher and her de-industrialisation which offered very little in the way of alternative sources of employment.

There are ways to tackle the drugs problem, and Portugal has done an incredible job on that front, proving that alternative strategies can work. The Tories, though, will never budge in their view that criminalisation of drug users (unless they are Tory MPs) is the way to go. The Scottish Government is, as with so many aspects of governing a country, operating with its hands tied because of Westminster control. This should be self-evident, yet as the replies to Stephen Daisley’s tweet demonstrate, it clearly is not evident to some people.

As ever, the media is going to provide the greatest obstacle to independence. I was unlucky enough to hear a radio news bulleting on Heart Radio just this morning. There was a snippet about politics, with an SNP spokesperson being quoted by the newsreader, and then a clip being played of a Tory MSP giving his response. The subject of the snippet is not important here; what is important is the way these pieces of news are presented. Pro-Indy politicians are usually quoted by the newsreader, but pro-Union politicians tend to have their quotes recorded and played back. Should that make a difference? It shouldn’t, but it does. Listeners hear the words being spoken by the person concerned, and are more likely to remember that because it stands out from the rest of the newscast. It’s a subtle and common trick, used by most broadcasters, and it’s another media weapon we will need to overcome in our quest to become a normal country.

Resigned to Chaos

Posted on July 8th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

When is a resignation not a resignation? When Boris Johnson announces it. The man is such a scheming liar that he can’t even resign properly. What is truly shocking is that his gaslighting seems to have fooled the Tory MPs who were resigning in droves from his Government because of his lying and untrustworthiness. Some of them are even accepting Ministerial positions in his new, possibly interim, Government. If that doesn’t smack of poor judgement, I don’t know what does.

I’m no fan of Dominic Cummings who is himself a shifty character who shouldn’t be anywhere near a position of power, but I find myself in the bizarre position of having him agree with me that Boris Johnson has merely used that bombastic speech to stall for time so that he can figure out a way to remain in power.

With any luck, the Tories will see through this sham, although I’m not confident.

Not that it matters a great deal because the choice of successor presents even more problems. Who will the Press Barons plump for? The range of possible candidates is horrifying to contemplate.

Scotland needs to escape this Ruritania as soon as possible.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Posted on July 6th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Things are so bad for Boris Johnson just now that this article may well be out of date before you read it. There have been plenty of excellent articles written about the current meltdown of the UK Government, so I’ll keep this one short, and will only mention a few things which strike me about it.

First of all, as many others have said, the latest resignations are not demonstrations of some Tories developing a backbone at last. All of these people have backed Johnson to the hilt until now, and their resignations, in true Tory style, are simply to gain personal benefit by removing themselves from his toxic orbit. They have certainly not suddenly developed consciences, and I expect we will see them jockeying for position should the Tories decide it is time for Johnson to go.

As for those fanatics who remain ultra loyal to Johnson, it is hard to feel any sympathy for them. Either they are so stupid that they don’t realise he will throw them under the proverbial bus the moment it suits him, or they actually do believe in him. I’m not sure which is worse.

And what about Michael Gove? He’s been suspiciously quiet for a while now. Is he keeping his head down until he decides the time is right to stick the proverbial knife in Johnson’s back?

As for who will succeed Johnson when he is eventually forced out either by the Tories or by the electorate, it really doesn’t matter. I have said many times before that Johnson is merely a symptom of what is wrong with the UK. He may be the most extreme symptom so far, but that does not mean that his successor will be any better in substance. After all, the Tories have lurched so far to the right (dragging Labour along with them) that there only seem to be hard core Brexiteers left in their party. So Johnson’s successor will undoubtedly be just as xenophobic and uncaring as he is, although they might put up a better show of hiding it.

My final observation is perhaps the most important one from a Scottish perspective. Looking on at what is happening in Westminster, my over-riding reaction is that it is like watching a political farce unfold in a foreign country. Unfortunately, the current constitutional arrangement means that these ridiculous goings-on will affect us here in Scotland, but it still has the feeling of being somehow remote and very, very different to the sort of politics we want to see in our own country. The sooner we escape, the better.

Mountain to Climb

Posted on June 30th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

I thought Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on IndyRef2 was measured, sensible and forceful. I know many (including me) wish she had taken these steps a lot earlier, but at least she has now outlined her plan for what will happen when a section 30 Order is inevitably refused and when the Supreme Court rules against the competence of the Scottish Government. Perhaps that latter statement is overly pessimistic, but even if the Supreme Court rules in our favour, you can bet that the Tory Westminster Government will quickly pass another law to override the Court ruling. They have form on that sort of thing.

I know there is still a lot of suspicion among some ardent Yessers, and others, notably Wings Over Scotland, are saying that Nicola Sturgeon could and should have done this years ago, but I take the view that it is better late than never, and the one thing those intervening years have done is reinforce how far the UK is veering into extremism.

As usual, Nicola Sturgeon has taken a slow, cautious approach. Many will disagree with that tactic, but if it works, then I don’t think anyone except the most bitter of her opponents within the Yes movement will complain. We have a strategy, clearly outlined, and, with one very important caveat which I will come to shortly, I think she is going about this the right way. She’s certainly caught the Unionists off balance, as witnessed by their rather inane questions after her announcement.

What we need to see now are those long-promised explanations of the important issues like currency and borders. In all honesty, a Scottish Pound is the only viable solution if we wish to rejoin the EU, but selling that message is going to be the hard part because so many fearties are afraid of change. But sterling is rapidly becoming a second-rate currency, so I’m hopeful that a strong case can be put forward.

As for the border, that’s England’s problem as much as it is Scotland’s, and rejoining the EU, or joining EFTA, would open up a lot more borders, as well as significantly improving our ability to welcome immigrants who could help us cope with the shortage of workers.

Of course, we can expect a barrage of SNP Bad and Scotland too wee stories in the media now, and I do hope that the Scottish Government’s media team are going to be far more pro-active than they have been up until now. There will be lie upon lie thrown at us, and this needs to be countered at an official level, not simply left to the Yes community to argue against.

Now that caveat I mentioned. For some time, I have been worried that Nicola Sturgeon’s detractors among the Yes community were right, and that she would pin all her hopes on a Section 30 Order, then simply shrug her shoulders when it was turned down, and explain that there was nothing else she could do. Her announcement about using the next General Election as a de facto IndyRef caught many people by surprise, and my initial reaction was very positive. However, it has since been quietly mentioned that, to count as a Yes win, the SNP would be looking for more than 50% of the popular vote in that General Election. If true, I think this is a horrible mistake. I can understand the rationale behind it, but achieving that level of support in a General Election is almost impossible. In the 2019 GE, the SNP managed to achieve only 45% of the popular vote, with the greens bringing in another 1%. Because of the vagaries of the First Past The Post system, this resulted in an overwhelming victory in terms of seats, but I fear that, by setting this impossibly high benchmark, Nicola Sturgeon has left the door open for the No campaign to block Scotland becoming a normal country.

Now, I can already hear you thinking that we would need 50% in an IndyRef, so why not use the same criterion for the GE? Well, because the two are very different beasts. The SNP may campaign on a single issue, and if they stick true to form, they will insist that votes for the greens, Alba or ISP don’t count. This could well result in them winning every seat in Scotland and yet still fall short of 50% because you can bet anything you like that the Unionist Parties will latch on to the fact that they can campaign on other issues, thus painting the SNP as obsessed with independence. Aided by the media, they will be able to muddy the waters to such an extent that many voters may be hesitant about supporting the SNP.

I do hope I am wrong about this, but I do feel it would be far more of a threat to Westminster to let them know that we will be playing by their rules, and that a majority of seats will count as a victory. It is their antiquated and unfair voting system, so we should use it against them.

Perhaps I am being too cynical, and I know that a majority of the popular vote would be a safer result in terms of demonstrating the democratic will of the Scottish people, but I fear it could be a mistake to go down this route. After all, we know the Unionists won’t play fair whatever system we choose, so why make it even harder for ourselves when their own electoral system could be used against them? And remember, the Electoral Commission will be very firmly under Tory control by the time of the next GE, and the requirement for Voter ID will also be in place, thus disenfranchising many of the very people who might vote Yes.

Again, I hope I’m wrong. Whatever happens, we have a mountain to climb, especially with the media set against us, so I see little point in taking the most difficult route to the top when an easier path is already laid out in front of us.

Fit For What Purpose?

Posted on June 28th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

According to rumour and gossip, several Tory MPs are secretly negotiating to cross the floor of the House of Commons and join Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer’s Labour Party. Quite apart from the interesting thing this says about Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer’s adherence to as many tory policies as possible, it reveals quite a lot about how unfit for purpose Westminster politics is. Some would argue, I am sure, that the current Labour Party is unfit for purpose as well, especially since Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) and his closest allies have decreed that it is not the role of Labour MPs to join picket lines or support Trade Unions in strike action. Perhaps I missed a lesson in History class, but I thought that was the whole point of Labour. Not any more, it seems. Who would have guessed that a Knight of the Realm would have taken Labour so far to the Right that they are now seen as a perfectly viable home for disillusioned Tories? I can think of another Keir who must be birlin’ in his grave.

But what else does this rumour tell us? Despite official denials, there is no reason to believe it is untrue, and we’ve already seen MP Christian Wakeford cross the floor earlier this year, so it’s perfectly possible that others may follow his lead. But this gets to the heart of the problem with UK politics. Theoretically, of course, voters elect an individual to represent their constituency, and no doubt some voters still do place their vote in support of a specific individual, but the vast majority of voters look for Party first, and place their cross against whichever individual is representing that Party. That is partly down to the media landscape where national issues are beamed into households on a daily basis, and it may also be partly because MPs, although officially representing their constituents, are doing so at a UK-wide level. If voters like the politics or, sadly, the personality of a specific Party Leader, they will vote for anyone who is put up by that Leader’s Party.

MPs themselves will present themselves in the media either as representatives of their constituents, or as representatives of their Party depending on circumstances, but the reality is that you really can’t have it both ways. I’ve had experience of this myself some years back when I approached my then Labour MP regarding a proposed Bill which I feared would seriously impact the disabled community. He listened, assured me he understood, and promised to see what he could do. What he did was vote for the Bill because that was his Party’s policy. As far as I was able to ascertain at the time, he didn’t even bother raising any concerns during the debate. On that occasion, Party loyalty overrode a constituent’s concerns. Now, I am sure others will be able to point to situations where a local MP has acted in the best interests of his or her constituents’ concerns, but how many of them have done so in defiance of their Party’s whip? Not many.

So, if you accept the premise that an MP is elected because of the Party who chose them to stand in a particular constituency, then surely that MP should stand down if they decide they can no longer represent that Party. At this point, I should say that I believe this should apply no matter which Parties are involved in a switch of allegiance. Most voters vote for a Party first and foremost, so if the MP no longer wishes to represent that Party, it is a betrayal of the electorate to simply switch sides. I suppose that, in the case of Tories moving to Labour, it is hard to tell the difference between the Parties at the best of times, but the principle should still apply. However, it seems most MPs in this situation are more concerned with preserving their status, salary and pension rights than in actually observing the wishes of their constituents. The fact that the UK system allows them to do this shows how unfit for purpose it is. Any MP wishing to stop representing their Party should announce their intention to stand down, thus triggering a by-election. They can always stand as representatives of the Party they wish to move to and, quite frankly, in many English constituencies, switching to Labour at the moment might well see them re-elected anyway. That, though, is beside the point. The entire system makes a mockery of electoral democracy. Whether it be Tory MPs defecting to Labour, SNP MPs switching to Alba, or any other transfer of allegiance, MPs should not be permitted to assume that they have the ongoing support of those who elected them.

I will admit that one possible effect of forcing MPs to stand down if they become disillusioned might be to persuade them to stick with the Party they represented when elected. It would take some strength of character to take a principled stance, and perhaps that is asking too much of our political representatives. But then, if they feel that strongly, they can always vote against the Party whip on any issues they feel strongly about. That may well result in other problems for them, but it would certainly be a more principled stance than crossing the floor of the House of Commons, thus preserving their job. As things stand, the system benefits the MPs far more than it benefits the cause of democracy.

Stating The Positive Case

Posted on June 19th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser recently gave an interview on GB News. I’m not going to post a link to it as I wouldn’t inflict GB News on anyone for the sake of their mental health. However, a short clip from that interview is currently all over pro-Indy Twitter, and it makes for incredible viewing as Mr Fraser lays out the case for Scotland to become a normal, self-governing country. Of course, that wasn’t his intention, but his comments are probably among the best arguments for independence that any Tory is likely to make.

For readers who haven’t seen it, or who don’t wish to watch, I note below the quotations from Mr Fraser. You should pay close attention to them.

He said that, if Scotland leaves the UK:

"We lose roughly a third of the land mass of Great Britain, probably around half of our territorial waters."

"We lose the magnificent resource that is Scottish fishing waters."

"We lose opportunities from North Sea oil and gas which is still there despite Nicola Sturgeon’s best efforts."

"We lose the potential from renewable energy from Scotland’s coasts in the North Sea and the Atlantic."

"We lose access to barrier free trade to Scotch whisky and Scotch salmon; all those great exports."

"The opportunity to study at some of the world’s greatest universities in Scotland."

"And the joy of having Scots as part of the British nation."

Now, there is quite a lot to unpack here, so bear with me. Let’s take the last point first as it is easy to deal with. Britain is not a nation. It is a geographical area, like Europe. The UK is not a nation either; it is a sovereign state comprised of three nations and a province. And anyone who regularly views Unionist comments on social media might take issue with Mr Fraser thinking his supporters view Scots (both the people and the language) as a joy.

Naturally, he could not resist having a dig at Nicola Sturgeon about North Sea oil and gas. It’s an odd comment since even the most casual observer knows that the Scottish Government wants to move away from fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy. Winding down the oil and gas sector is a climate issue. It’s also worth noting that the Tories have cut taxation on North Sea oil extractors to prevent them having to admit that Scotland could make money from those companies if they were taxed the way other countries tax them.

Now let’s look at his constant use of the pronoun, "We". Who does he mean? He is Scottish, elected to the Scottish Parliament, yet it is absolutely clear that he is not talking as a representative of Scotland. Instead, he seems to be very much siding with the people who rule Scotland via the Westminster Government. I suppose that should come as no surprise, but any self-respecting Scot should surely cringe at the Cringe he is displaying.

And then there is the main point; the one which really ought to ensure that this video clip forms the basis of the Scottish Government’s next pro-Indy political broadcast. In quite some detail, he lists all the things he and his Westminster masters will lose control of if Scotland decides to become a normal country. In other words, they don’t want to trade for any of these things like normal countries do, they want absolute control to exploit Scotland’s resources. And you only need to look at the difference between Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and the one the UK doesn’t have to see how Westminster manages Scottish resources. Whoever is going to benefit from that control, it certainly isn’t going to be the ordinary people of Scotland.

The conclusion most pro-Indy Scots have taken from this is that Mr Fraser is happy for Scotland’s resources to be exploited and used for the benefit of those "we" he identifies with. His words are those of a colonial master who refuses to relinquish control of a colonised state. You can argue all you like about whether Scotland truly has been colonised, but the things he said could easily be put in the mouth of a 19th Century plantation owner listing all the things he would lose if his slaves were freed.

Mr Fraser’s interview should reveal to every Scot the true feelings of Westminster. That is who he was speaking for, and we really should accept his words at face value. They want our resources, but they don’t want to pay for them. And if Scotland was a normal country, all of those resources would be ours to use for our nation’s benefit.

So, well done to Murdo Fraser. He’s stated the positive case for independence. I’ll bet he can’t state the positive case for the union with anything like such clarity.

On Your Marks

Posted on June 15th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

I am delighted that, after so many promises, Nicola Sturgeon has at last begun the moves towards promoting the cause of Scotland becoming a normal, self-governing country. I know that there remain some Yes supporters who do not believe she will deliver, and others who distrust her motives in doing this now, but in all honesty, if IndyRef2 is to take place next year, then she really had no option except to begin the campaign now and I, for one, welcome this.

I was also pleased to see her change of stance regarding a Section 30 Order. Not that she won’t ask for one, but at least she has now admitted that she must consider what routes are available when the UK Government inevitably refuses to grant such an Order. That, of course, gets to the heart of the democratic problem, because why should we need to ask permission at all if this really is a union of equals?

No doubt we can now expect a bombardment of "SNPBad" and "Too wee, too poor" media headlines, but hopefully most Yessers are familiar enough with these to be able to refute the increasingly desperate and sometimes bizarre arguments put forward by ardent Unionists. I hope that the Scottish Government will get its Media Team into gear to officially refute such arguments as well.

So is this the starting gun? Not quite, because there is no date for IndyRef2 yet, but to stick with the racing analogy, we should now be on our marks. Let’s hope that the "Get set!" and "Go!" stages are not too far away.

Same Old Scene

Posted on June 8th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

I must be a bit sad. I was having a bit of family time on Monday evening, but I kept checking in on social media to find out the result of the vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson. I had previously dismissed this as a bit of a non-event when someone mentioned to me that the Prime Minister might be forced to resign. I was fairly confident that the Tories would keep him because they have no other really viable candidates, and Johnson seems able to bribe enough of them to have been fairly sure of keeping his job.

There was always a slight chance I might have been wrong, but the Tories stuck to their extremist views and voted to keep the lying narcissist in place.

Not that a different outcome would have made much difference to Scotland. Any successor to Johnson will still be an ultra-Right Winger, and will continue to push policies which will be indistinguishable from those an outright fascist Government would enact. A new leader might not be so overtly corrupt, dishonest and venal, but that will be all surface, a mirage to present a better image to the public.

Worst of all, the big thing that will not change is the English voting public’s apparent belief that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, having the Tories in power is the best way to run their country. I know there are many voices, some of them very articulate, who show up the UK Government for what it is, but far too many people, predominantly although not exclusively in England, seem to have been trapped into dreams of past glories, of Empire 2.0, and xenophobia on an industrial scale.

Some may argue that the current farce of a Government will lead to a Labour victory at the next General Election. However, that election is still some years away, and under Sir Keir Starmer (Knight of the Realm) Labour will be almost as right wing as the Tories. Indeed, the lurch to the right has been so dominant in UK politics that voters who want a genuinely socialist Government have no prospect of finding a party which has any chance of gaining power.

And, for the sake of argument, let’s say Labour did win, and Sir Keir starmer (Knight of the Realm) did go against his principles and begin to undo some of the damage the Tories have done, history shows us that the media would turn on him, and the Tories would be back in power before very long. Sadly, too many people still seem to defer to social class and wealth rather than ability when selecting their political leaders.

Scotland can, and must, do better than this. Our politics is certainly not perfect, but our voters generally believe in a far more democratic form of Government than Westminster will ever provide. Most of all, if we were a normal country, we would be able to vote out an incompetent or corrupt Government. At the moment, even if there is a change of Government in Holyrood, the over-arching power of Westminster means that the Scottish Government will still be hamstrung.

If nothing else, the result of the No Confidence vote should make more Scots realise that there is only one way of us avoiding yet more harm to our nation.

Lovely Jubly

Posted on June 5th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

I’ve never been a monarchist, and the deeds and words of the Royal family went largely ignored for most of my life. I honestly never felt that the Royals held any relevance to everyday life. Equally, I never really thought about adopting an ardent Republican stance because, although I did feel this was morally the approach I ought to take, I realised at an early age that adoration of the monarchy is so deeply ingrained in the British psyche that it was, and remains, unthinkable that the UK could ever become a Republic.

Of course, things changed with the dramatic rise in support for Scotland becoming a normal country with the advent of the 2014 IndyRef. This provided, for the first time I can recall, the first potential opportunity for Scotland to turn away from the farcical quasi-democracy of the UK and become a modern, normal country which would have the opportunity to become a Republic.

In all honesty, though, I don’t think an independent Scotland would be founded as a Republic. The monarchical system is so deeply embedded in UK society, I think the SNP’s current stance of retaining the monarchy is actually the sensible approach in the short term because, as 2014 amply demonstrated, there are still an awful lot of Scots who fear, or actively oppose, change. Switching to republicanism immediately may just be a step too far for some people who might vote Yes if they could be reassured that their comfort blanket of the monarchy would be retained. It’s rather sad, but I fear that is the reality of the current situation.

However, if the current media frenzy over the Jubilee has done nothing else, it must surely have raised some doubts in the minds of questioning people as to why we are encouraged to adore the monarchy quite so much. The Queen is one of the largest landowners in the world, one of the wealthiest women in the world, yet she does nothing to assist her subjects, many of whom now face destitution thanks to the policies of her Government. Is that really the reaction of a caring monarch?

And while we are on the topic of subjects, why do the people of other nations get to be called citizens, but we in the UK are treated with such contempt that we must constantly be reminded of our status as lesser beings than the exalted Royals? Even worse, why do so many people revel in this status? It is absolutely cringeworthy.

Naturally, the media has been highlighting some individuals who portray all the right attributes of loyal subjects, assuring us how much they love a queen they have never met and are never likely to meet, and how much she does for the country. Quite what the things she does are is never actually explained except that she brings in lots of tourist money. This is a fallacy since the most popular tourist visitor site in the UK is the Tower of London where no Royals have lived for centuries. It is the history and the buildings which bring the tourists, not the existence of a Royal family who do as much as they can to avoid contact with the public except in carefully stage-managed appearances.

I’ve taken care not to pay too much attention to the media this weekend, and I can’t say there have been many signs locally of street parties or celebrations in my neighbourhood. Unless they were very quiet parties, of course. But it seems that the number of Scots who did join in the fawning and sycophantic celebrations was relatively low. Perhaps Scotland should re-visit the idea of becoming a Republic after all.

Voting Outcomes

Posted on May 21st, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

It should have come as no surprise to anyone that Labour Councillors across Scotland are going into coalition with Tories in order to run the Council, normally excluding the SNP who have the majority of seats on most Councils. After all, they did this in at least three Councils after the last local elections, and things have become even more hardline with the accession of Anas Sarwar as Labour leader. He may have claimed in his election campaigning that no deals would be done, but he was so obviously lying I cannot understand why anyone would believe him.

The Single Transferable Vote system is designed to provide proportional representation, which normally means that no single Party will have a majority. Indeed, I believe there are only two Councils this time where one Party does have an actual majority. In a normal country, this would be accepted as quite routine, requiring Parties to enter into coalitions to run the Councils. Unfortunately, Scotland is not a normal country. Here, the constitutional question overrides all other considerations. As a result, many Labour Councillors must feel that they have no option but to make deals with other Unionist Parties. They seem to have no qualms at all about this, even when it means aligning with a Party which has shown itself, through the medium of Westminster, to be leaning strongly towards fascism as a mode of government. Those who founded the Labour Party must be spinning in their graves.

However, not all the blame lies with Labour. I thought the SNP’s "Vote SNP 1 & 2" advice was misguided in the extreme, because many voters do not really understand the voting system. If voters used their STV to mark 1 & 2 on the ballot paper and then stopped, this opened the door for Unionist Councillors to be elected.

My own Ward is a distressing example of how much better the pro-Indy Parties could have done. Of the 8 candidates, only 3 were pro-Indy. I had 2 SNP and 1 Green, and these naturally attracted my first three choices. I then ranked the others in a fairly arbitrary way, but making sure that the solitary Tory candidate was the last choice.

The results in my Ward were very interesting. One SNP Councillor was elected in Round 1, meaning he had received enough first choice preferences at the first round of counting. Great!

The second round elected the second SNP Councillor. So far, so good.

But then it gets weird. In a traditionally Labour-voting area, I was fairly sure one of the two Labour candidates would eventually be elected.

However, much to my surprise and disappointment, the Tory candidate was elected, but not until round 7. I can only conclude from this that far too many SNP voters did not give their third choice to the Green candidate. I suppose it is entirely possible that there was not a sufficient surplus of votes after the first two rounds, but for the Tory to scrape in in round 7 was very disappointing.

Now, the STV system is complex in its detail, so I cannot say for certain whether more pro-Indy votes ranking Green third would have made a difference, but it might have helped. The fact that the SNP advised their supporters to stop after number 2 has, I fear, played into the hands of the unionists. If a Tory only got in in round 7, it surely demonstrates that the unionist vote was split in this particular Ward.

As for the upshot, at time of writing, no formal coalition has been announced, but since the Labour and Tory Parties formed the last Council, I fully expect them to repeat this. In democratic terms, that’s perfectly reasonable. In political terms, it merely proves that they are simply two sides of the same Unionist coin. A vote for one is a vote for the other. The sooner the SNP put aside their grievances with other pro-Indy Parties, the better. And it would not do any harm to educate voters in how to use the STV system either.

Encouraging Thoughts

Posted on May 19th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

I read with interest that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to tell business bosses that he will be cutting corporate tax bills later this year. In exchange for this generosity, he is going to encourage them to invest in the UK, creating jobs and driving innovation to help boost the economy.

That all sounds wonderful if you think like a tory, but what Mr Sunak seems to forget is that the people he is talking to also think like Tories. If they do create any jobs at all, it will be at the lower end of the pay scale, paying as little as they can get away with. Most of their profits will be retained after paying themselves large bonuses and forking out on dividends for their shareholders. Encouragement to act for the greater good of the UK economy is never going to cut it with business leaders.

Sadly, it simply does not seem to have occurred to Mr Sunak that raising business taxes would produce money for the Government which they could then be certain would be invested in the UK. Infrastructure projects could create wealth and the additional tax income could actually be used to help people on low incomes or who rely on social security. But no, let’s use encouragement instead. That’s bound to work.

Perhaps I am being unfair. Perhaps Mr Sunak has looked at the bungling incompetence of his fellow Tories when it comes to managing large projects and decided that he has a better chance of not having billions of pounds wasted if he leaves things up to the beneficence of business leaders. It’s probably got as much chance of helping the sinking UK economy as any other plan this bunch of inept bunglers has ever come up with.

Keep It In The Fridge

Posted on May 15th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

So Boris Johnson says that, in his experience, working from home does not work because people spend time making coffee, going to the fridge to get some cheese, then wander back to their PC having forgotten what it was they were doing. Jacob Rees Mogg, on the other hand, thinks people who are supposed to be working from home are instead watching daytime TV.

What can you say about this level of ignorance? Now, it must be admitted that working from home does not suit everyone. Domestic circumstances may mean that working from home is difficult or even impossible for some people, but for many others it really does work. In fact, many people who work from home are more productive because they have a genuine work ethic. What Boris Johnson and his Right Wing pals are really admitting is that they themselves are feckless, indolent layabouts with no self-discipline. Not only that, they have the arrogance to assume that everyone else is the same as them. This is, quite frankly, disgusting.

There is, of course, the other angle in that they want workers back in the office because their rich landlord pals are feeling the squeeze having all those empty office spaces. That’s certainly in keeping with Tory philosophy, but I do believe it is backed by a genuine belief that most workers are lazy and need to be kept under constant surveillance by their bosses. I’m sure we all know office managers who think this way.

And then there is the question of what Boris Johnson does all day when, since he lives in 10 Downing Street and is, by definition, working from home. Is he constantly raiding the fridge and forgetting which area of public policy he intends to meddle in? In all honesty, I think I’d prefer it if he hid in his fridge permanently.

As You Were

Posted on May 8th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

So what can we take from the results of the Scottish Council elections? As with so many statistics, people can read into them what they want to see, emphasising one aspect while ignoring others which might not meet their narrative. There is, though, no doubt that the SNP can rightly claim to have won the overall election, although that really isn’t the point of these local elections which really ought to be judged at a local level. Still, the SNP’s performance after so long in Government is quite remarkable, but there is, of course, one over-arching reason why they were so successful, and I’ll return to that later in this piece.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind regarding Council elections. First, turnout is usually quite low. On this occasion, it was below 50% overall, with some Council areas reporting less than 40% turnout. Whether that can be taken as providing a true reflection of voter intentions at a national level is debatable. We also know that Tory voters almost always turn out, so the Tory vote is amplified when turnout is low. It could be argued that their poor performance, losing over 60 Councillors, could perhaps have been worse if supporters of other Parties had turned out in greater numbers.

Yet, despite their losses, the Tories retain over 200 Councillors, showing that there are still plenty of people in Scotland who look at the shambles that is Westminster and think, "Yes, that’s the sort of Government we want".

And what happened to replace those 60 plus losses? Well, the split was roughly even, with around 20 additional seats going to each of the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems. Quite what we can infer from that is difficult to say, and each Party will no doubt provide their own interpretation. Overall, however, we must keep in mind that the pro-Union vote still prefers Labour and Lib Dem representation even if they can’t bring themselves to vote for the Tories who are now on the extreme Right of politics.

What I think we can say is that this does not really demonstrate a fight-back from Labour as some are claiming. They have simply benefitted from the dilution of trust in the Tories. Nor can the SNP get too excited about their successes because their overall vote share actually fell when compared to the last Council elections. In short, every Party gained from the Tory losses, but those losses were not great enough to result in a complete turn-around in the greater picture.

The other point we must remember is that the Single Transferable Vote system is designed to return a representative proportional number of candidates. Normally, this means that an overall winner in any area is unlikely. Indeed, we see that the SNP have control of 1 Council, Labour control 1, while the rest have no overall majority for any Party. In this system, the concept is that co-operation and compromise are required. In practice, I suspect we will see Labour going into coalition with either the Lib Dems or the Tories simply in order to deny power to the SNP. I strongly suspect that is what will happen in my own Council, thus meaning that the election has changed nothing except a shift in the numbers representing each Party.

One aspect of the elections was the STV system and the lack of understanding of how it operates. This was not helped by the SNP advising supporters to simply vote 1 & 2 for them, leaving other boxes blank. This is misguided advice. In my own Ward, for example, the Tory candidate was elected in Round 7 of a possible 8. If more voters had ranked her 8th, she might not have been elected at all.

As for other Parties, the Greens did quite well, but perhaps could have done better if more SNP supporters had voted them 3rd on their lists.

And what of Alba and ISP? Their performance was rather abject to say the least. Alba are, of course, are hampered by a lack of publicity in the media, and also by the media’s success in damaging Alex Salmond’s reputation with many voters. What I find most disappointing is the crowing by some SNP supporters at Alba’s failure. When the Unionist Parties are our main opponents, all pro-Indy Parties should be backing each other, and to see this acrimonious split is disappointing to say the least.

Whether Alba will ever make any impact on Scottish politics is difficult to say. They really do not feature in the thinking of most voters I know. But this brings me back to the question of why the SNP remain so successful. It is the simple fact that every election in Scotland is dominated by the constitutional question. In the minds of most voters, the SNP represent the desire for Scotland to become a normal country. This is why they win elections, gaining mandate after mandate. I fear that, sooner or later, much of that support will begin to question their own ongoing support if the SNP do not show signs of actually trying to deliver IndyRef2. If there is growing disillusion, where will those voters turn? That is possibly where Alba might begin to gain ground, but they are going to have to do much better at getting their points across to the wider public.

One thing I keep thinking is that UKIP never represented much of a threat in electoral terms, yet they pressured every Unionist Party in Westminster to veer alarmingly towards fascism. Could Alba apply similar pressure in Scotland, forcing the SNP to push harder for independence? On reflection, I think not. The reason for UKIP’s success was the media coverage and promotion, especially by the BBC. There is no chance of Alba or Alex Salmond ever benefitting from such promotion. So it will all come down to voter perceptions, and with the rancorous split between Alba and the SNP, I fear that many voters will remain hostile to the very thought of voting for Alba, or indeed any other pro-Indy Party. It is, sadly, a classic example of the UK’s "Divide and conquer" strategy. Because, unless all the pro-Indy Parties can put aside their differences, then we face an uphill struggle on the road to Normality. And I do mean all, because I’ve seen far too many hostile comments from Alba supporters towards the SNP as well.

So can we read much into the Council election results? I don’t think so. We are still in a form of stasis which will not be broken until a definite date for IndyRef2 is announced. Many fear that the polls have barely moved, but that is because most voters need a deadline date to focus their minds. They are too busy getting on with their lives and coping with the cost of living crisis to think about a referendum. But when a date is announced and all Parties begin campaigning, then we should see the polls move as the case for Normality is made and people know they must make a decision. And, quite frankly, if the Yes movement cannot make a case for normality in light of the past few years of Westminster bungling, then we won’t deserve to become a normal country.

HMS Ruritania

Posted on May 3rd, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Jacob Rees Mogg, the Minister for Brexit Opportunities, has admitted that actually imposing the border checks demanded by brexiteers would be an act of self harm. So, taking back control of the UK’s borders now seems to mean relinquishing control because doing the checks which any normal country would do would result in food shortages, just as many who recognised Brexit as a folly predicted. To avoid the shortages which would result from properly enforcing border checks, those checks have now been scrapped. Sorry, postponed. Implementation will now take place late in 2023. Unless they are postponed again, of course. Since they have already been postponed several times, that seems the most likely outcome.

British exporters, meanwhile, must go through all the hoops of paperwork, extra costs and delays when sending goods to the EU, thus placing them at a disadvantage compared to their EU competitors.

What a pointless farce this all is. And when you add the almost comical resentment of British travellers towards Irish people who are able to sweep through EU Customs checks while the brits are forced to wait in long queues while their passports are checked, you cannot help but wonder what Brexiteers thought they were voting for. It certainly wasn’t to take back control, because all that has happened is that power has now been grabbed by a group of extreme Right wing ideologues who fully deserve the appellation of fascists because their behaviour is very much in the mould of 1930s Italy and Germany.

Like most of those who wanted to remain in the EU, it gives me no pleasure at all to say, "We told you so." The problem was that, most of the information about what we would lose actually came out after the result of the Brexit referendum. Whether the result would have been different had that information been available beforehand is, though, debatable. The referendum was not decided on facts but on emotional attachment to dreams of British past glories, combined with a loathing of foreigners which has long been endemic in UK society.

And now we are seeing the folly of that decision, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Future General Elections are being rigged, and the Tories are using every trick in the fascist playbook in order to ensure they remain in power. England’s media seems mostly content to let them do this, and far too many of England’s voters seem oblivious to what is going on. Not that they have a great deal of choice, since Sir Keir Starmer, Knight of the Realm, is dragging the Labour Party further rightwards in an effort to appeal to the xenophobic bigots who have put the Tories in power. And since all three of the Unionist Parties are pro-Brexit, those voters who want to make a protest really have nowhere to go.

Voters in Scotland should have another choice. It’s about time we were given an opportunity to exercise that choice. Because, if we don’t, we risk being dragged down with this Ruritania of a state.

Indulgent Jubilee

Posted on May 2nd, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

It is an ample demonstration of Tory priorities that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has reportedly been persuaded that it would be a good idea to have a permanent Bank Holiday to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II. This is, so it would seem, important, while helping ordinary people to cope with the horrendous price rises currently dominating everyday life is not on his agenda.

And what of the Jubilee celebrations? These are what we should expect from a sovereign state which venerates its monarch at every opportunity. No doubt various members of the royal family will be present at some of the adulatory celebrations, and the entire show will be covered in detail by the BBC. Some people may regard this as outrageous sycophancy on the part of the state broadcaster, but it is really just a part of the Establishment’s way of reinforcing the class structure which the UK has never really shaken off. The public will be encouraged to gape in awe at the displays, and to realise that their monarch is far above them in society. It is a way of reminding people of their own lowly status.

Will the Queen, or indeed any member of the royal family, care about any of this? They will revel in the adulation being poured their way, but I suspect that will be as far as it will go. After all, the Queen herself is so rich that she could ameliorate many of the social problems currently facing UK society. She won’t do anything of the sort, and instead will continue to demand exemptions from laws which others must observe, while retaining her wealth for her own benefit. We should not forget that this is a woman who wants the Government (for which read Taxpayer) to refurbish the palace she hasn’t bothered to maintain during her long reign, and who wants another private yacht paid for by those same taxpayers who will be encouraged to fawn over her and her family. If ever there was a reason for Scotland to become a republic, I think the behaviour of the royal family is it.

Incredibly, a great many members of the public still cling to the belief that the royals care about them, but actions speak louder than words, and there are precious few signs that the royals have anyone’s best interests at heart except their own.

It will be interesting to see how many people in Scotland will turn out for Jubilee celebrations. Those who participate in the annual Orange Walks will probably be at the forefront, but I expect the event will pass most of us by. Elizabeth may be Queen of Scots, but I think there is a growing gulf between her and the people she ostensibly presides over.

Why Your Vote counts

Posted on April 22nd, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

My postal ballot paper came through last week. I moved to postal voting because of bad experiences when trying to vote in person since the aids provided for visually impaired voters are not fit for purpose. With a postal ballot, I can at least get sighted help from a trusted family member rather than rely on a member of staff at a voting station.

In my Ward, there are eight candidates standing. I was disappointed to discover that only three of them were representing pro-Indy Parties, and there were no candidates from either ISP or Alba. With only two SNP and one Green candidate, my first three choices were decided straight away, but after that things became tricky. There was one candidate who was standing on a pro-life platform, but since that is generally a euphemism for anti-abortion and anti-women’s rights, he didn’t really feature in my reckoning and was always going to be ranked very low.

But what about the other Parties? OK, it’s easy to rank Tories last because they have amply demonstrated their greed, incompetence and corruption for the world to see. But that still left me with two Labour and one Lib Dem candidate. How does any Yesser make that sort of decision? The Lib Dems have already declared that they will ally with the Tories in any Council where they gain seats, and Labour have shown a great willingness to do precisely the same in practice, even if they pretend they aren’t doing it. Any vote for any of these candidates sticks in the craw, but the best use of the STV system demands that we Vote Till We Boak, so I wanted to make a choice. Eventually, I decided that Labour were more likely to gain Unionist votes in my area, so ranking the Lib Dem candidate above the two Labour candidates might help scupper the Labour vote.

The STV system is very complex, and although I understand the theory, the practicalities of it are still something of a mystery to me. I sincerely hope that my vote will count in at least one of the first three rounds, and I’m fairly sure they will, but you never know. I’d really have loved to have candidates from other pro-Indy Parties so I could have ranked the Unionists even lower. It might have made little difference in the end, because we should not forget that our vote only counts once even if we rank all the candidates. The issue really is where you want your vote to count, but it still would have given me a lot of satisfaction to rank a Tory at number 10 on the list.

Sadly, I fully expect my Council to be run by a Tory/Labour coalition again. I’ll be delighted if the recent Tory scandals do undermine their vote share, but I fear the likely outcome of that is that the SNP will have most seats but without an overall majority, leaving the Council hamstrung. Whatever the final result, the one thing I can be certain of is that the three Unionist Parties will act as one. This is why I get so annoyed about the sniping and in-fighting between supporters (and politicians) of the SNP and Alba. Where our opponents always put aside their differences in order to thwart our aim of becoming a normal country, Yessers are split. We really cannot afford that. Our priority should be gaining independence, just as the over-arching priority of the Unionist Parties is to prevent it. We need to back all pro-Indy Parties until we achieve our aim. The time for internal squabbling is once we are a normal, self-governing country. Hopefully, our new Parliament will be elected on a fully Proportional basis so that discussion and compromise become the norm rather than the sort of confrontational politics we see today, especially in Westminster.

The Council elections may not seem like the sort of arena where constitutional matters should dominate, but the reality in Scotland is that every vote is decided by the constitution. That’s a desperate shame, and the only way it will ever change is once we gain independence and the Unionist Parties will actually need to develop some genuine policies if they wish to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. So, much as we might wish it otherwise, it is vitally important that we elect as many pro-Indy Councillors as possible, no matter which Party they represent. Because if the pro-Indy vote falls even a tiny bit from the last Council elections, you can be sure that the Unionists and their media pals will be declaring that Indy is dead. Let’s not give them that chance. You may detest Alba, or despise the SNP because of their failure to deliver on repeated promises, but you should still rank both of them above any Unionist on the Council ballot paper. Anything less gives our opponents exactly what they want.

An End To Charities?

Posted on April 16th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

There are a great many worthwhile charities in the UK. Like many people, I donate to quite a few whenever I can, either sending a cash donation or making deliveries of clothes, food, etc. And, like many people, I sometimes need to call on the services of some sight loss charities because they are the only ones who provide the help and equipment I need.

But charities should not be necessary. The very fact of their existence demonstrates a failure of Government. It is the responsibility of Governments to take care of their citizens, and the fact that charities are needed clearly show that far too many people are abandoned by the UK Government.

Of course, there are charities in other countries, but the UK relies on them far more than most other nations. This, I believe, is not only due to a failure of Government, but a failure of the UK’s social model which has developed over the past few centuries. Ordinary people in the UK are taught that paying tax is a burden, so taxes must be kept low, and that working hard is the only way to escape poverty. These messages are so heavily ingrained, few people ever question them, yet the truth is that it is the less well-off who pay the highest proportion of their income in taxes, and many people who are in work still cannot escape poverty.

In contrast, in the Scandinavian countries where taxes are high, social security is also high. In the UK, we must put up with the lowest pension in the OECD, minimal levels of unemployment and sickness benefits, and appalling public services when compared to other countries.

This is why charities exist. When Governments fail, ordinary people do extraordinary things and establish ways to support those who would otherwise have no help. This suits the Government as it means they can spend money on other projects while leaving the less well-off and vulnerable to the care of others.

The trouble is, this has been going on for so long, it has become completely normalised in the UK, just as the need for food banks has been normalised. This deeply embedded system has been reinforced in the social structure for so long that most of us simply take it for granted. Yet it need not be this way. It is not something that can be altered overnight, or even in a few years, but can you imagine living in a high pay, high tax and high social security nation? Introducing Universal Basic Income would be a start, but it is precisely because that would place more power of choice in the hands of ordinary people that the UK will never introduce it. The UK is still a very class-orientated nation state, with the aim of the ruling class to keep everyone else in their allotted place. Wages are kept low, workers’ rights are being eroded, and all the power resides with employers who can use the threat of unemployment to keep workers in line. Having a UBI system in place would mean that people would have the opportunity to seek alternative employment knowing that they had a built-in safety net. This would not only reduce the need for many charitable organisations, it would move power towards workers, which is why it won’t happen here.

Perhaps we could gradually change things in an independent Scotland. Maybe one day we could reach a stage where charities are not required because our high taxes, deducted from our high earnings, pay for all the things that charities currently do. I live in hope. One thing is for sure, though; it won’t ever change if we remain in the UK.

Going To Extremes

Posted on April 14th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

The tide of public opinion may have turned against Boris Johnson and his Tory cronies, but there seems little prospect of them stepping down any time soon. Most of those who dared speak out previously have stepped back into line, most notably the spineless Douglas Ross who now insists that we cannot get rid of a Prime Minister in a time of crisis. As many people have pointed out, the UK changed its Prime Minister during both World Wars, so to use the Ukraine war as an excuse to keep Johnson in power is laughable.

Comedian Frankie Boyle has attracted some criticism for comparing the Tory Government to fascists, but his comparison is, in my view, justified. As I’ve said before, if you check Umberto Eco’s list of the traits of a fascist government, the UK ticks most of the boxes.

And still the Tories appear on TV and Radio to insist that Boris Johnson is the right man to lead what they still insist on saying is a country instead of a sovereign state comprised of three countries and a province. To be fair, that’s quite a mouthful to mention each time, and "country" is a useful abbreviation, but it does serve to reinforce the "One Nation" view so beloved of Tories.

But let us not forget that many ordinary citizens were given substantial fines for breaking Lock Down rules, while Johnson seems to have got away with little more than a slap on the wrists. This is a man who does not recognise a Party when he walks into it, and who seems not to realise that people were not supposed to gather together indoors at all, even though he was the one making the rules. And still Tories think a man who has such limited powers of perception is the right man to lead their country. It really is pathetic, but the way the Tories are behaving is just the sort of behaviour you can expect from a Right Wing extremist government. Be in no doubt that they will say or do anything to retain power. Democracy in the UK has always been something of a veneer, but now it is barely recognisable at all. The Tories are behaving in ever-increasing authoritarian ways, and we should not expect them to stop now. They will continue to tell lies and half-truths in order to mislead the public, and they will continue to make life worse for the vast majority of UK citizens. Sorry, we are subjects, not even considered worthy of being called citizens. That ought to tell you a lot about UK society.

The latest policy, to send refugees to Rwanda, is so abhorrent I had to check whether it was an April Fool’s joke. But, no; they really are that cruel and heartless. They detest coloured people so much that they are prepared to spend millions of pounds to send them overseas to a country which is hardly renowned for its observance of human rights. And be in no doubt that this policy is aimed at coloured people. I doubt very much that any Ukrainian refugee will be sent to Rwanda.

Why Rwanda anyway? Probably because no other country would go along with this barbaric idea. It harks back to the time of deportation which only Tories would regard as a golden age. Some people are saying that announcing this heartless policy is to serve as a distraction from Partygate, but I’m not so sure. It may help deflect away from it, but they can use Royal announcements or Russian jets flying close to UK airspace as distractions. This policy is, I think, intended to appeal to their hard core supporters, the very people Frankie Boyle was talking about when he said that the reason we don’t have a fascist Party in the UK is because those voters who would support such a regime are happy with the current Government. Sadly, I think he was spot on with that assessment.

Will this be the last inhumane announcement from the Tories? I rarely engage in making predictions, but I think it is a pretty safe bet they will come up with something equally bad or even worse before too long.

It really is time Scotland escaped from this madness. Becoming a normal country will not solve all our problems, and it will raise many challenges, but if other countries such as Norway and Malta can manage it, I don’t see why Scotland can’t. And let’s hope it happens before the Tories drag us completely down with the sinking UK.

Oh, To Be Normal

Posted on March 23rd, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

The latest anti-Scottish independence ploy seems to be an attempt to convince the public that Vladimir Putin would support Scotland becoming a normal country. Since Vladimir Putin is clearly an evil despot, this allegation is obviously intended to persuade people that Scotland should remain part of the UK.

It’s a pretty desperate measure whichever way you look at it. The inference is that the UK needs to be united to present a strong front against Putin’s aggression. However, that falls apart if you have taken even the most cursory attention to recent events. The Tory Party is so wedded to Putin’s oligarchs that the UK Government is completely compromised. The EU recognises this and has signally failed to invite Boris Johnson to a joint meeting of EU leaders plus other notable leaders such as the US President. Johnson is not invited because the EU knows he is (a) not up to the job of being a proper leader in a time of crisis; (b) compromised by the amount of Russian money supporting the Tories; and(c) because his crass comments about Ukraine have offended pretty much everyone with an ounce of human decency.

Given the UK’s rather pathetic attempts to join the sanctions regime against Russia, I don’t see how the break-up of the UK could make much difference to the united stance most nations are taking against Russia. In fact, if Scotland was a normal country and a member of the EU, we would be a part of the group which is actually trying to stand up to Putin.

Putin probably doesn’t care what happens in the UK now. He has already achieved his aim of rendering the UK ineffective, and Scotland’s desire to become a normal country probably makes no difference to him.

The main lesson for us here is that the British media will seize upon any event anywhere if they think they can spin an anti-Indy headline out of it.

Oh, to be a normal country and not have to put up with this constant nonsense.

Opportunities or Excuses?

Posted on March 11th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

It was very disappointing, although not really all that surprising, to hear that the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blakcford, has said that IndyRef2 might be delayed beyond 2023 because of the Ukraine crisis.

Now, I can fully understand that the SNP may fear attracting accusations of bad faith if they were to begin an IndyRef campaign while the war continues, but I think we should all know by now that it really does not matter when IndyRef2 is announced. Whenever it happens, the Unionist media will loudly proclaim that it is the wrong time because of all the other things that need attention.

In my view, now would be an ideal time to begin the campaign. We have on record Boris Johnson’s assertion that every country should be free to choose who governs it, and at a time when democracy is under threat, surely that is when we should show how it should be done.

It is always easy to find excuses to delay, but I don’t think the war in Ukraine is one of them. After all, it is not as if we could hamper the UK’s sanctions regime against Russia or their project to help Ukrainian refugees. The whole world has noticed how inept and callous the UK Government is and how little it is doing, and an independent Scotland could surely do much better.

Of course, even if IndyRef2 was announced tomorrow, we would not become a normal country for some time, and I sincerely hope that the Ukraine war will be over before then. This raises the question of just how long Ian Blackford thinks the war will go on. Is IndyRef2 to be delayed indefinitely? Because one thing you can be sure of is that some other crisis will occur before too long.

Whether you are one of those people who now believes the SNP have no intention of ever calling IndyRef2, or whether you still believe they plan to go through the process properly and sensibly, I hope you will agree that even Covid is not an excuse for delay. Yes, it remains serious, but it did not prevent the Scottish Parliament elections, and I doubt that it will affect the upcoming Council elections, so I cannot fathom why it should be cited as a reason to delay IndyRef2. It is perfectly possible for campaigners to chat to people on their dorrsteps with a little bit of social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

I have heard one SNP supporter claim that now is not the right time because there are other things the Scottish Government needs to focus on , such as energy bills, the NHS and so on. I would argue instead that an independent Scotland would be far better placed to tackle these issues than we can while we remain under Westminster control.

So what can we do to tell the Scottish Government that we want to become a normal country sooner rather than later? Well, wherever you stand in the IndyRef debate, I hope you will use the Council elections to make a statement. With the Single Transferable Voting system, all Yessers really ought to rank the pro-Indy Parties at the top of their lists. Whether it be SNP, Greens, Alba, ISP or whoever, if they are pro-Indy, put them as your first choices. I really do hope that the silly in-fighting so visible on social media will not carry over to these elections. Would a Yesser really vote for a unionist Party ahead of another pro-Indy Party? If they did, I would suggest that independence is not high on their list of priorities. Not only that, this sort of squabbling is precisely what the Unionists want, so let’s use our votes sensibly. It should not be a case of giving the SNP yet another mandate for IndyRef2, it should be about telling the world that we want to become a normal, self-governing country.

I fully expect the SNP to do well in the Council elections because I don’t think the likes of Alba and ISP have managed to gain much traction in the wider public, nor do most people seem to have latched onto the GRA reform issue. So the SNP will probably still be the largest pro-Indy vote winners by a considerable margin.

But they cannot take our continued support for granted. Yes, there are large issues in the world, but there always have been, and there always will be. Instead of playing it safe to avoid media accusations of poor judgement, we should instead have arguments ready to counter those accusations. Taking the Ukraine war as an example, we could point out that an independent Scotland as part of the EU would be able to do far more to help Ukraine than we ever can as part of the UK whose Government has been utterly compromised by Russian dark money.

Now is the time to show the world that Scotland can be a normal country with a much more empathetic outlook than the cruel UK Government. We really cannot afford to be chained to Westminster much longer, and the SNP need to start looking at opportunities instead of finding excuses for further delay.


Posted on March 8th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

It hasn’t taken long for the Unionists to insist that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a blow to independence for Scotland. A recent article in the Scotsman was so ludicrous in its contradictory assertions that I honestly could not bring myself to read it to the end.

Apparently, if an independent Scotland wanted to become a member of NATO, this would cause a problem with the SNP’s desire to abolish Trident nuclear submarines from Scottish waters. The writer seemed blissfully unaware that very few members of NATO actually have nuclear weapons. Or perhaps it was simply a false assertion to paint NATO membership as a problem for Scotland.

Continuing on the theme of Trident, if Scotland insisted on abolishing it, this would be a major blow to the west’s defences because there is nowhere else in the current UK for the submarines and nuclear warheads to be stored. This would mean that the Trident submarines would simultaneously be taken out of action, leaving the UK with no nuclear weapons, but also needing to be relocated to some other NATO base in another country, perhaps as far away as the USA. I still haven’t figured out how relocation and dissolution are the same thing.

And then, of course, there was the claim that breaking up the UK at a time of international crisis would be folly because the UK is one of the prime opponents of Putin’s Russia. This is so laughable I gave up reading any further. Again, the writer seemed oblivious to the fact that the Tories, compromised by Russian money, have already done more than enough to warrant the break-up of the UK, and the current shambolic Westminster government isn’t doing anything like the same as the EU when it comes to imposing sanctions on Russia or helping Ukrainian refugees. As usual, the Tories are big on rhetoric and very poor on actual action. In fact, the Scotsman article was pretty similar. Lots of assertions which contradicted each other, all written out in a sort of stream of consciousness way as if simply stating that Scotland has a problem is sufficient argument in itself.

The reality is that an independent Scotland which was a member of both NATO and the EU would be in a far better position to help Ukraine and sanction Russia than it is as part of the dysfunctional and compromised UK. Not that the evidence of our eyes and ears will ever stop Unionists from making absurd claims. But we are accustomed to that by now.

Flawed Law

Posted on March 6th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

As a heterosexual male, I have rarely offered an opinion on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The debate about Trans rights seemed to concern matters about which I had no experience or knowledge, so I felt it best not to come out with sweeping statements which were ill-informed and might be offensive.

Now, however, I realise that I had fallen into the trap which many proponents of the new Bill have set. Anyone who expresses concerns over the new legislation is quickly labelled as anti-Trans and vilified for their reactionary attitude. However, I do believe I can speak for most opponents of the legislation when I say that I am not anti-Trans. What I am against is poorly thought out legislation which removes all barriers to exploitation by predatory individuals (usually men) who wish to take advantage for their own purposes. It is the legislation, not the people it is intended to help, which presents a problem for many people. Sadly, by conflating opposition to the legislation with opposition to Trans people, the advocates of the new Bill have created a volatile environment in which discussion is overshadowed by abusive comments and a disregard for the views of others. It has also, I believe, done a great disservice to genuine Trans people who may experience a harmful backlash because of the angry environment that has been created.

Let me state right now that nobody should suffer any abuse no matter who they are. I have noticed that one reason being put forward for the new law is that trans people suffer discrimination. That is wrong, but I cannot help thinking that many other people suffer discrimination on a regular basis either because of the colour of their skin, their accent or a disability. Now, it is not good enough to accept that Trans people should put up with discrimination simply because other groups also suffer, but equally, any legislation intended to prevent such discrimination really needs to be fit for purpose.

I have said many times before that some people will always seek to find a way around any rules or laws in order to exploit gaps in that system. That applies whether it is something like avoiding paying tax, fiddling expenses claims or gaining a position of power over vulnerable people. We have seen in the past far too many examples of predatory men taking advantage of vulnerable people, often children, with awful consequences for the lives affected. This is why a system of PVG checks was put in place. Now, all such rules are to be swept aside if someone merely declares they identify as a person of the opposite biological sex. To me, that feels like giving predators a green light, and if even one person is harmed as a result, that is one person too many.

Of course, supporters of GRA reform are asserting that Trans people have rights, and that is quite correct. Their rights should be as protected as anyone’s, but this legislation strikes me as making those rights a smokescreen which predators can exploit.

Let me try an analogy with something I do have experience of. If I have understood the intent of the new GRA correctly, then it will soon be easier and cheaper for me to be legally treated as a woman than it will be for me to renew my Blue Badge Disabled Parking Permit. That doesn’t seem right to me. Since I am permanently and provably disabled, why do I need to keep paying renewal fees and undergoing face to face interviews, producing documentation to verify my status?

I hope that most readers will realise that the reason I need to undergo this often humiliating experience is to prevent other people abusing the Disabled Parking system. Indeed, many able-bodied people already abuse the system by parking in Disabled spots for convenience because they clearly have no conception of just how difficult and dangerous it is for a disabled person to park in a normal parking spot.

But what would happen if the Government decided that anyone could simply identify as Disabled and use a Disabled parking spot without needing to provide any evidence at all? I think we all know the answer to that. Most people would respect the safe spaces, but some would park there, thus causing potential harm to genuinely disabled people. And that harm could result not from any malicious intent but simply due to selfishness and a lack of consideration. Compared to the potential harm the new GRA could result in, that seems almost benign.

Once again, for the hard of thinking, the problem here is the legislation, not the people it is intended to help. There needs to be a recognition that checks and regulations are required in this as in so many other aspects of life in order to prevent predatory individuals taking advantage of the gaping loopholes in the proposed law.

I don’t care how a person identifies. That is up to them. What I care about is the safety of vulnerable people, and I fear the Scottish Government has lost sight of that potential danger. To say that this legislation is required because other countries are doing it is a rather facile argument. Most countries used to regard slavery as legal and normal. That did not make it morally right.

The new Bill is not law yet. Let’s hope enough MSPs realise the flaws and prevent it passing in its present form.

Another Fine Mess

Posted on March 3rd, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

It’s very difficult to know exactly what is happening in Ukraine. We know that Putin is a past master at spreading disinformation, and the Ukrainian Government has shown itself to be equally good at propaganda. News reports from other agencies often contradict one another, and we should be familiar with the spin our own mainstream media puts on everything. The one thing we can be certain of is that we are living in dangerous times.

There are still plenty of opinions about what has caused this, with some pro-Russian writers placing much of the blame on the West and NATO for pushing ever closer to Russia’s borders. I can certainly understand that this would create concern in Russia because if things were the other way around, the UK would be terrified. If the Warsaw Pact had endured and other western European countries had joined it, Russian influence could have been very close to us indeed in a physical sense.

But, of course, the Warsaw Pact did not endure, and the reason that the EU and NATO have spread so far east is that many countries wanted to join and did so voluntarily. Nobody forced them to join NATO or the EU. This is the message Russia has not understood. I’ve seen someone claim that Russia’s fear is based on having been invaded twice in recent centuries, first by Napoleon, then by Hitler. That same writer ignored Russia’s own invasions of Afghanistan, the Crimea and eastern Ukraine among others, and did not seem to consider that, while NATO has certainly been provocative, it is Russia’s own aggressive stance which has driven many eastern European countries to seek some sort of insurance against a Russian attack. The invasion of Ukraine has clearly only confirmed the belief of many European politicians that such insurance is very much needed.

Another view being expressed in several quarters is that Russia’s invasion is little different to the USA’s invasion of Iraq which was, naturally, aided and abetted by America’s UK poodle. The USA and UK have no qualms about bombing Muslim countries who are in no position to fight back, and their own militaristic aggression has been cited as a justification for Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The old saying that Two Wrongs don’t make a Right springs to mind. Whatever the provocation, whatever the actions of others, Russia’s invasion is inexcusable, just as the current bombings in Yemen are inexcusable. The fact that our media and politicians focus on white European countries as more important than nations inhabited by non-white people is not our fault. Many of us are all too aware of the horrors being perpetrated in Yemen and Palestine. But the hypocrisy of our media and politicians should not deflect from the fact that Russia’s actions are far more dangerous because they could easily lead to a much wider European and possibly World War. Rightly or wrongly, the western nations are going to focus far more on a war on their doorstep than on conflicts further away.

I can only hope that some sort of peaceful resolution can be found to this crisis, but there is little any of us can do to help other than contribute to the aid packages being sent to Ukraine. Hopefully, some senior people in Russia will soon realise that Putin has turned almost the entire world against them. Let us hope that they will be able to make him realise that as well.

And since I’ve mentioned hypocrisy, I cannot let Boris Johnson off the hook. His comments about the UK supporting the rights of every nation to decide who governs them and which organisations they wish to belong to were quite laughable considering his attitude towards Scotland. And as for his continual claims of the UK’s world-beating position in helping refugees, they are simply in line with his habit of lying about pretty much anything and everything. When the world needs strong leaders, the best the UK has to offer is Boris Johnson? That says it all, really.

What is Marxism Anyway?

Posted on March 1st, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

From a fairly early age, right back to when I first started paying a little bit of attention to the televised News and began skimming through some newspapers, I learned that a Marxist was a very dangerous person. Not only were their ideas heretical and unorthodox, they were dangerously so because of their intention to overthrow nation states and impose either Communism or anarchy on western civilisation. This viewpoint was expressed so often that I rarely ever thought to question it, and it was a matter of faith that calling someone a Marxist was a way to dismiss them from any discussion because of their ludicrous ideas.

But what is Marxism? I must admit that I struggle to read any textbooks about economics. I find them dry and dull, and I soon lose interest. As a result, I’ve never read Das Kapital. However, I recently decided to try to learn a little bit more about what Marx actually said as opposed to what both his detractors and adherents advocate nowadays. For anyone who is interested, there is a very useful little summary produced by Washington State University which you can access at:

PowerPoint Presentation (

When you get to the end of that presentation, you will probably agree that the concepts proposed for the Marxist State which will succeed capitalism are both scary and unrealistic. Many of them were tried in communist Russia and the ideas essentially failed because … well, because a lot of people are greedy. Whichever economic or social system is implemented, there will always be those who wish to take advantage of any weakness in that system to enrich themselves.

So I’m not all that keen on the new type of state which Marx envisaged. However, if you read the explanations of how capitalism works and its effects on ordinary workers, it is very hard to argue against what Marx stated because it has largely come true. His ideas of how capitalism would be replaced as the dominant economic model have not yet come to pass, and it is hard to see how they ever will, but that does not invalidate his descriptions of how the greed of capitalists exploits workers, drives down wages and creates huge inequalities. You only need to look at the UK and USA for daily examples of these inequalities.

Now, I must stress that I am not a Marxist in the current use of that word, and I’m certainly not advocating a communist-style regime as the one Scotland should be aiming to become, but I do think that we should avoid knee-jerk reactions to Pavlovian-type triggers such as someone’s ideas being dismissed out of hand simply because they identify as a Marxist. As mentioned, though, the solutions to correcting the imbalances created by rampant capitalism do not lie in a sudden sweeping away of that system as was tried in Russia and China to name the two most prominent Communist states which arose in the 20th Century. In my opinion, Socialism rather than Marxism is a better option, but even that cannot simply wipe away the current world economic situation and replace it overnight with some other type of socio-economic model. We are where we are, and we need to find a way to change things. This won’t be easy because capitalism and the Tory way of thinking are so embedded in the UK population’s outlook. For decades we have all been told that taxes are bad, that free markets are more efficient than state monopolies, and that the way to escape poverty is to work harder. I really do hope that a lot more people have now realised that all of these statements are not matched by the reality of life in the UK.

So change will be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Capitalism does create wealth, but the big problem is that the wealth is far too concentrated in the hands of a few people.

So how do we solve this? Well, for a start, many enterprises which were privatised under the Tories should be taken back into public ownership. Energy supplies and public transport of all sorts would do for starters. We should also remove any trace of privatisation from our Health Service.

Some people might argue that placing things in public ownership encourages inefficiency. That may be partly true, but I’d rather have some level of inefficiency than outright wealth extraction. Also, there is no reason why those who are appointed to run such public bodies should not be rewarded on a par with their counterparts who run private businesses.

And what about those private businesses? How do we prevent them from creating ever more inequality? Well, a bit of regulation would help. Like many things, capitalism needs to be regulated to prevent the greed factor driving decisions within capitalist markets. I have said in several earlier posts that human nature being what it is, some people will seek to exploit any loopholes in any system, and capitalism is no exception. This is why de-regulation has brought about the precise situation which Marx envisaged. The wealth which is currently concentrated in the hands of a few needs to be shared around a lot more evenly, large corporations need to be compelled to pay taxes, and workers need to be paid a living wage as an absolute minimum. Adding a firm regulatory oversight to capital markets might even end the "Boom and Bust" cycles we see all too often. That means that, instead of bailing out businesses like Banks in times of trouble, then allowing them to make huge profits once the crisis has passed, we could force them to follow a more conservative (that’s with a very small c) method of operating.

Restrictions on how much senior business executives could earn would also be required. I’m not necessarily advocating following the example of Dan Price, the American business owner who slashed his own income so that he earns the same as all his employees, but some sort of multiplier should be put in place. If, say, senior executives were only allowed to earn ten times the amount of their lowest paid employee, we would surely see some raising of lower salaries.

And if you think this sort of thing would cut productivity, then read about Dan Price in this article:

The boss who put everyone on 70K - BBC News

In short, then, I do believe that regulated and controlled capitalism operating within a socialist political framework could benefit everyone. As both Karl Marx and Dan Price have pointed out, greed is the problem. This creates huge inequalities which harm far more people than they benefit. I doubt very much that we will ever see complete Levelling UP to solve the problem of poverty, but a bit of Levelling Out would work wonders.

Breaking Heart

Posted on February 24th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

We have our youngest grandson with us today. He’s just turned one year old and has taken a few faltering steps on his own. Like most kids of his age, he loves making a noise, grabbing things he’s not supposed to touch, and climbing to places he’s not supposed to go. He also likes cuddles, and today the best thing I could think of doing was to give him an extra hug. He doesn’t understand why, but the thought of what is happening in Ukraine, and how it is affecting millions of people of all ages, but especially the very young, filled me with despair.

This blog site concentrates on Scottish politics and I certainly don’t know nearly enough about the situation in Ukraine to make any sort of informed comment. I’ve tried to read up on it recently, but the contradictory reports and the sabre rattling from both Russia on the one hand and the USA and UK on the other have done little except to ramp up the tension.

Nobody can know how this is going to end, but one thing I think we can be fairly sure of is that it completely undermines any claims anyone might ever make that Putin can be trusted at all. I expect he will push this as far as he thinks he can get away with, and I expect the West will let him largely get away with it, sacrificing Ukraine’s independence in order to avoid a truly catastrophic World War. Whether Putin will push it further, who knows? I hope for all our sakes that he pulls back from that brink.

A part of me can understand Russia’s fear of NATO’s ever-encroaching advance towards its borders, and we should not forget the USA’s horror at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. Poking a bear will, sooner or later, result in a reaction. But the miscalculations of the West do not in any way excuse this blatant act of aggression. What the Western leaders need to do now is rescue as much as they can from this awful situation. The big problem is that Russia has done its best to de-stabilise European democracy, and in the UK it has had its greatest success because the UK Government is almost completely compromised because of ties to Russian dark money. And even if the Tories did decide to turn their backs on their Russian backers, they have repeatedly displayed just how incompetent they are at just about everything.

I’ll stop here because I just can’t face writing any more about these dreadful events. My heart goes out to all of those who are suffering because of the greed, war-mongering, incompetence, callousness and corruption of all the world leaders who have brought us to this dark place.

I’m going to give my grandson another hug.

How Do They Do It?

Posted on February 14th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Every so often, a comment on social media attracts a fair bit of attention. One of my recent Tweets about the re-awakening of the "You won’t get your pension if Scotland becomes independent" threat fell into this category. My question was why, even if this claim was true, did so many people believe that Scotland, uniquely among the advanced economies in the world, would be incapable of paying a Pension. My question was to ask how other countries manage it.

Needless to say, when a tweet gains some traction, it receives a lot of backlash from staunch Unionists. I usually don’t even bother replying to any of them because I learned a long time ago that it is a waste of time. I made an exception this time because, among all the usual comments about me being a knuckle-dragger, a fantasist, a cult member and yes, you guessed it, a Nazi, a few people did respond by asking how Scotland could possibly pay a Pension when there are only around 2.4 million taxpayers in the country. One of them did actually ask the question in a reasonable way, so I did reply, pointing out that other countries manage just fine because Income Tax is not the only source of revenue a Government has, and that normal countries usually borrow to fund their spending. I did point out that the UK has a National Debt of over £2.6 trillion, and nobody seems to worry about that.

Of course, twitter is not the ideal platform for any sort of in-depth discussion, especially when the chat is constantly interrupted by accusations of knuckle-dragging, cultism and Nazism, so I thought I’d better set out some thoughts in a blog post.

First of all, nobody is claiming that an independent Scotland would not run a deficit. Indeed, many economists have pointed out that, contrary to what Tories would have you believe, a Government surplus is actually bad for a country’s economy because if the Government is running a surplus, then the ordinary citizens and businesses must be running a deficit. Whether Scotland’s deficit would reach anywhere near the artistically created £8billion so beloved of the GERS Believers remains open to debate, but for the sake of this argument, I’ll go along with it for a change.

Of course, most of the respondents to my Tweet either didn’t have space or the understanding to differentiate between deficit and debt. But again, for the sake of a hypothetical argument, let’s say that Scotland ran a deficit of £8 bn in its first year as a normal country. That would give it a National Debt of £8bn. If that situation persisted, the Debt would grow by £8bn each year.

But wait! Let’s take a quick look at the UK National Debt. It stands at over £2.6 trillion, and is increasing at a rate of over £5,000 per second. Yes, you read that right, every second of every day, the UK’s National Debt is growing at a rate of £5,000. That’s equivalent to £432 million per day, or nearly £158 billion per year.

But, for the purposes of this argument, let’s stick with £2.6 trillion as the UK’s Debt. With a population of around 65 million, that is equivalent to roughly £40,000 per person.

So if we return to Scotland which has a population of around 5 million, a Debt of £8bn equates to roughly 1,600 per person. And yet Unionists are terrified of this, while apparently quite relaxed about the UK’s Debt per capita being 25 times greater. So Scotland’s deficit would need to remain at £8bn for 25 years to get close to the UK’s current per capita Debt level, and by that time, at the current rate of growth , we’d still be a long way behind because the UK’s debt would have reached nearly £7 trillion.

My interlocutor’s response to this was that the UK has the 5th largest economy in the world, a Central Bank and a stable currency, so there is no need to worry about the UK’s debt. All of that is fair enough as far as it goes. Whether the economy will remain that high in the league table post-Brexit is open to debate, though. As for a Central Bank, Scotland will undoubtedly need one, but every other independent country seems able to create or nominate a Central Bank, so I think it is reasonable to assume that Scotland would be capable of doing the same. As for a stable currency, that admittedly presents a potential problem because if Scotland wants to re-join the EU, we will need to adopt our own currency. To have any chance of becoming a reasonably strong currency in the short term, the international monetary community would need to know that the Scottish currency is backed by some strong assets such as oil, a major export resource such as whisky, or a major potential source of energy such as renewables. If only we had those things. Creating a sufficient reserve of foreign currencies would, I think, pose a greater short term problem, but again other countries seem to manage it. Finally, and I know this is a bit of a low punch, but when it comes to having a stable currency, it seems to have escaped the notice of most Unionists that sterling has dropped by nearly 15% in value against the US dollar since 2015. It seems the Brexit vote has resulted in a greater fall in sterling’s value than the calamitous 10% we were told Scottish independence would create if we had voted to become a normal country in 2014. Still, no worries, eh?

So much for all that mental arithmetic. But let’s get back to the main question which began all this. How do other countries manage to pay Pensions to retired workers without the beneficence of the UK to support them? Even such economic powerhouses as Malta manage to pay a Pension which, in terms of percentage of average working earnings, is better than the pittance the UK pays. How is this possible?

As outlined above, borrowing comes into it, but none of the people on my Twitter timeline were willing to explain how other countries can afford to pay pensions. All they were interested in was repeating the mantra that, because we have so few taxpayers, Scotland could not afford to do the same. Income Tax was very much the focus of their opinions.

Now, this is understandable because Income Tax is the most visible of all taxes. This is why the UK Government eventually devolved some Income Tax powers to the Scottish Government. It was a carefully laid trap because whatever the Scottish Government did, it would provide ammunition for Unionists. If they increased taxes, this would raise howls of outrage because Scots were being taxed more than their fortunate neighbours in England; if they reduced taxes, this would raise howls of outrage because it would mean the generous English taxpayers would be subsidising layabout Scots even more; and if they did not use the powers, that left them open to accusations of demanding more authority and then not using it when it was available. As things have turned out, the Scottish Government has handled it fairly well by some judicious tinkering with the tax bands and rates, so most of that hubbub has died down now.

There is also the fairly basic proposition that if the employment rate could be increased, then more Income Tax revenue would flow. Under the UK’s control, Scottish unemployment is far too high. It will take any Scottish Government time to alter that, and they may not be successful, but they could scarcely do a worse job than the UK. This perspective does not seem to occur to Unionists who remain unable to explain how countries such as Slovenia, Denmark and Malta can pay pensions.

Of course, people are entitled to ask questions about the future of an independent Scotland, although I do believe that the last few years should have amply proven that demanding answers of the future is a rather pointless exercise. However, what I do find disappointing is that far too many people see problems but are unable to envisage solutions. I have said many times before that the point of becoming a normal country is that we should not do things the way the UK does. Sadly, even the Growth Commission Report fell into this trap, and the Scottish Government does seem too willing to follow the UK economic model. But, once again I say that other countries can afford to pay better pensions than the UK, so what are they doing differently? How could Scotland change things? Increasing employment levels, encouraging immigration and even establishing a Universal Basic Income are all possibilities. At the very least, we should look to those other countries and see what it is they are doing that the UK is not.

But, of course, Income Tax is not the only source of Government revenue. Things like Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Alcohol Duty, Petrol Duty, Road Fund Licences and a host of other things provide Governments with income. In Scotland’s case, we could even start charging England for the electricity generation we supply them with instead of having to pay them for the privilege of keeping their lights on. Unionists never seem to mention any of this, always concentrating on Income Tax which produces only a portion of revenue. After all, Norway did not become the richest country in the world by taxing its citizens’ income. I agree that we want to shift away from extracting oil, but oil is still needed at the moment, so why don’t we tax the oil companies? They pay taxes to every other nation where they drill for oil and gas, yet the UK gives them tax rebates. That is bizarre to say the least.

Again I return to my question. Instead of Unionists demanding to know how Scotland could pay a Pension, they really should ask how other nations can do it. They also need to consider why the UK Pension is so appallingly low in relation to average earnings. It is, I believe, the worst in the OECD and one of the worst in the world. If an independent Scotland could not do better, then I’d say we would have a problem. But, of course, if the Government of a normal Scotland stuck to Tory austerity measures, at least we would have the option of voting them out; something we simply cannot do at a UK level.

All of this does, as most readers will know, ignore the fact that the DWP confirmed in writing as long ago as 2014 that the UK would have an obligation to pay Pensions to anyone who had paid into the UK National Insurance scheme. I expect that this obligation would be transferred to the Scottish Government during independence negotiations, no doubt with some financial transfer being involved, very possibly on an annual payment basis. It would then be up to the Scottish Government to top up Pensions from their own resources in order to provide a decent Pension rather than the paltry sum offered by the UK.

As mentioned, it is impossible to foresee the precise details of how a Scottish economy would operate, but I would suggest that copying the UK model is very much the wrong way to go. For too long, UK citizens (sorry, we are subjects, not citizens), have been repeatedly told that taxes are bad and must be kept low. To match this, wages have been driven down, power given to employers, and the levels of poverty increased. Yet if we look across to our Nordic neighbours, we see high income, high tax and high social security economies. That’s not to say they are perfect, because no country is, but the Nordic countries always do well in the research into national happiness levels. Could that be more than a coincidence? Not that Scotland could suddenly catch up with those countries. That transition would take time, but unless we break free from Westminster control, we will never know how much we are capable of. The only thing we can be sure of is that remaining part of the UK will condemn us to high levels of unemployment and poverty, a failing economy, low wages, and one of the worst Old Age Pensions in the world. Surely we can aspire to better than that?

Gonnae No Say That

Posted on February 8th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Attercap

I dinnae uisually scrive this blog in Scots. That’s on accoont o me bein taucht tae speak and writ proper Inglis baith at hame and in the schuil. Ma auld granny uised for tae gab in Scots, so I hae a smidgin o the leed, but I’m nae so fluent as I’d like, and it’s a sair fecht that I’ve had tae uise a dictionar tae help me writ this airticle.

Onyhoo, I wis fair chuffed when I heard that Billy Kay’s beuk, "Scots: Mither Tongue" wis oot in audio form. Since I cannae see, I need tae hark tae audio beuks acause I cannae read like I uised tae.

It’s a braw beuk, fu o stories o how oor ain leed wis scorned and mair or less replaced by Inglis. All I can say is, if ye havnae read it yet, dae yersel a fauvour and get haud o a copy. Ye’ll no regret it.

It maist maks me greet when I think o how so many o us were brocht up no kennin how tae speak oor ain leed. Oft in the beuk, Billy says that the schuils should teach Scots at least fer ane lesson each week, and I couldnae gree mair. Oor weans should be taucht how tae speak Scots and no be feart tae dae so. There’s nocht wrang wi speaking Inglis an aw, but it wid be a bonny thing if awbody coud speak baith leeds wi fluency.

We hae a muckle count o years tae owercome acuase the boul in the mou fowk wha are in chairge o the so-cried United Kingdom aye want awbody tae be like them, tae act like them, and tae think like them. A body wha disnae dae thon things is cried a nyaff or iller. Ton’s no richt. Naebody shoud be telt no tae speak the leed o their ane nation. It’s oor heritage, and we shoud be prood o that.

So mony thanks tae Billy Kay fer mindin me that Scots isnae a dialect o Inglis, it’s a tongue by itsel, and it’s ane we shoud aw try tae speak mair.

My apologies to anyone who speaks fluent Scots who identified mistakes in the above. For anyone who doesn’t understand Scots, a translation of the text is noted below. I should say that it is a measure of just how ingrained learning English has been during my lifetime that it took me over half an hour to write the above text because of the need to constantly look up words in an online dictionary. My thanks to for their excellent resource. Of course, I can speak Scots a lot better than I can write it, but even so I am embarrassed by how little I know, and I still had to check the spelling of words I can say without thinking about them.

I also attempted to avoid the use of apostrophes as far as possible because I agree with Billy Kay’s comment that using them reinforces the view that Scots is a debased form of English. If a letter is dropped in Scots because that is the way we speak, I see no need to insert an apostrophe to suggest that the English pronunciation of the word includes an additional letter. So, "of" in English is simply "o" in my written version of Scots. I am not at all sure whether this convention is normal in written Scots, but it’s something I think we should make more of. Scots is a language, not a mere dialect of English, and we should not attempt to make it fit English grammatical conventions.

Translation of Article:

I don’t usually write this blog in Scots. That’s because I was taught to speak and write proper English both at home and in school. My old grandmother used to chatter in Scots so I have a smattering of the language, but I’m not as fluent as I’d like to be, and it’s annoying that I had to use a dictionary to help me write this article.

Anyway, I was really pleased when I heard that Billy Kay’s book, "Scots: Mither Tongue" was available in audio format. Since I cannot see, I need to listen to audio books as I am unable to read the way I used to.

It’s a good book, full of stories of how our language was scorned and more or less replaced by English. All I can say is, if you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favour and get hold of a copy.

It almost makes me cry when I think of how so many of us were brought up not knowing how to speak our own language. Often in the book, Billy says that schools should teach Scots for at least one lesson each week, and I couldn’t agree more. Our children should be taught how to speak Scots and not be afraid to do so. There is nothing wrong with speaking English as well, but it would be a grand thing if everybody could speak both languages with fluency.

We have a great many years to overcome because the upper class people who are in charge of the so-called United Kingdom always want everybody to be like them, to act like them and to think like them. A person who doesn’t do those things is called an uncouth commoner or worse. That’s not right. Nobody should be told not to speak the language of their own nation. It’s our heritage and we should be proud of that.

So, many thanks to Billy Kay for reminding me that Scots is not a dialect of English. It is a language by itself, and it’s one we should all try to speak more.

Strong Government

Posted on February 1st, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

When I was at school back in the 1970s, a new subject had recently arrived on the curriculum. It was called Modern Studies, and it offered a different route to the traditional subjects of History and Geography. Many of us in my year group opted for Modern Studies, either because we didn’t like History or Geography as subjects, or didn’t like the teachers, or thought that Modern Studies would be a bit of a skive since the teacher running the course was reputed to be less than competent. To be honest, I still don’t know how I managed to scrape a Higher pass in Modern Studies, and much of the little we did learn has long ago vanished into the recesses of my memory.

There was, though, one thing which was drummed into us so often that it has stuck with me ever since. It was that the First Past The Post voting system meant that the UK had a strong Government, while the Proportional Representation system used by most foreign countries in one form or another produced weak Governments who often failed to implement their promised policies. This mantra was repeated many times during our study of the UK electoral process, and I’m pretty sure every one of us sitting the Higher exam regurgitated it word for word.

This was, as I now know, a very useful way of indoctrinating pupils in the "World-beating UK" mindset which is still so prevalent. It was, as many readers will recognise, constantly reinforced by the media in newspapers and on TV. The sub-text, as with so many aspects of "British" culture, was that PR might be all right for those silly, namby-pamby foreigners who don’t know how to run a country properly, but it’s not nearly good enough for the world-beating UK which has the best system in the world.

I clearly wasn’t the only one who underwent this indoctrination. A couple of years ago, I was speaking to a friend who is, or at least was, very pro-Union. We moved onto the topic of voting systems and he expressed great concern over any proportional system, asking how on earth it could possibly work. He was so entrenched in FPTP through his experiences of voting that he simply could not conceive of any other system working effectively. This was the "World-beating UK" philosophy in action.

Yet even today’s sycophantic media are struggling to portray UK democracy as anything except a total farce. Yes, we have a strong Government, but we are now seeing the true weakness of FPTP because there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to prevent this autocratic Government pushing through legislation which is designed to harm the majority of people in the UK. Indeed, the Government is so strong that the Prime Minister can repeatedly lie quite brazenly and get away with it, while an MP who calls him a liar is evicted from the House of Commons for a lack of decency. Credit to Ian Blackford for saying what everyone knows to be true, and he certainly made a point which has resonated with most observers of UK politics. The sad fact is, though, that his highly symbolic gesture is nothing more than that – a gesture. Boris Johnson doesn’t care that it happened, and neither does his pet Speaker who continues to protect him from the consequences of his lies. Boris Johnson will continue as Prime Minister for as long as it suits the Tory Party, and he will continue to tell lie after lie in order to reassure those voters who still think he is a good leader. At the moment, with no General Election on the horizon, the Tories can afford to keep him in place so that he can be blamed for all the ills afflicting the UK thanks to Covid, Brexit and anti-social Tory policies. As I’ve stated before, they will ditch him as soon as it looks as if a General Election is imminent, but for the meantime they will happily back him because he is enriching them and their wealthy pals.

Thus we see the consequences of having a strong Government elected via FPTP. It has always been this way, of course, but most previous Governments have kept their machinations well concealed and have not been too openly corrupt. Boris Johnson simply does not care. He has taken advantage of the weakness in the UK electoral system and has ruthlessly exploited it for his own advantage. In doing so, he has caused immense damage to the UK as a whole, to Parliamentary process in particular, and to everyone around him who must surely realise that he will happily sacrifice their careers if it suits him. He probably doesn’t even care that he has turned the UK into an international laughing stock because I doubt very much that he is capable of caring about anything except Boris Johnson.

What his ridiculous antics have shown everyone who cares to pay attention is that the UK system of democracy is broken. It is open to abuse and its rituals and conventions are barriers to progress. Even the Two-Party system, giving voters a choice between an extreme Right Wing Party and a Very Right Wing Party is designed to maintain the status quo. We will never see electoral reform in the UK because the current system helps maintain things for the benefit of those at the top. Even if the English electorate does turn on Johnson or his successor as leader of the Conservative Party, Labour’s stint in office will be barely distinguishable in terms of policies. Its presentation may be more acceptable, but it will not reverse Brexit and will leave most Tory policies in place. But then, when a Party is led by a Knight of the Realm, you cannot expect much else. And if recent history tells us anything, it is that the English electorate will always elect a Tory Government sooner or later.

So people living in Scotland really do need to wake up to what is going on and take the opportunity to escape as soon as it comes along.

Nothing Like A Dame

Posted on January 31st, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Last week I put out a Tweet mocking the inaction and subsequent action of the Metropolitan Police over the PartyGate scandal. In that comment, I mentioned that I thought it must be a coincidence that their actions are helping support a Tory Government which had made their Commissioner a Dame. Needless to say, Twitter being what it is, someone took me to task over this sarcastic remark, Quote Tweeting my original Tweet with a list of previous Met Commissioners which included their lordly titles as Sir So-And-So. He ended with the comment that, after all these examples of Met Commissioners receiving knighthoods, it was ridiculous of me to cite Dame Cressida Dick’s reward as suspicious. It was a reasonable comeback to my initial remark, but it missed the point I was trying (and obviously failing) to make.

My comment was not at all having a go at Dame Cressida Dick on a misogynistic basis. If she is capable of doing the job she was appointed to do, then I have absolutely no issues with her being a woman. Others have made plenty of comments as to her competence in the role, and she has certainly made some very controversial decisions, but again that was not the point of my Tweet.

The point I did want to make is that, whether the incumbent of the position of Met Commissioner is a Sir or a Dame, they are likely to be very loyal towards a system which rewards them with this exalted rank. This is, after all, the point of the Honours System. The Establishment dishes out baubles and trinkets which are designed to make individuals feel they have succeeded in some aspect of their life, and to make them feel more a part of the system.

The problem Cressida Dick has is that she is Commissioner at a time when the Government of the day is so blatantly and outwardly corrupt that her every move is instantly pounced upon as evidence of her loyalty to Boris Johnson. And, as I remarked in my original Tweet, her actions do have all the appearance of being designed almost solely to protect Boris Johnson in his role as Prime Minister. Some of her predecessors may very well have performed actions which assisted the Governments of their day; indeed, I would be astonished if they had not. But former Governments were not as openly corrupt as the current one, so those actions would have gone largely unnoticed by the public. Social media has also had an undoubted impact as people now have a forum to highlight what they may perceive as inappropriate actions.

Do I feel sorry for Dame Cressida Dick for finding herself in this situation? No, not at all. She has willingly aligned herself with Tory authoritarianism and, on the face of it at least, done her best to help Boris Johnson avoid the consequences of his uncaring and Hypocritical actions. My criticism of her has nothing to do with whether she happens to be a female Commissioner. I’d be equally critical of a Sir who behaved in the same way. Mostly, though, I want everyone to realise that the real fault lies with the entire UK system which attempts to bind people to the Establishment through the offer of knighthoods, medals and other rewards. Far too many people are impressed by such things, although it must be said that the UK media has, over the years, done its best to promote such beliefs. The class system is still very much in force in the UK, and this lies at the heart of many of the current problems.

It is long past time that Scotland made its own way, leaving such archaic and corrupting systems behind.

Time To Go

Posted on January 21st, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

At time of writing this, Boris Johnson’s future as Prime Minister is still in doubt as to when it will end. Indeed, it may already have ended by the time you read this, but I’m fairly sure he will stick around for a while yet. Being a narcissist, he will never admit to himself that he has done anything wrong, so I doubt he will resign because that would be an admission of failure.

Of course, the ultimate decision as to whether he stays will be made by the Tory MPs themselves. Some may be agitating for a vote of No Confidence, but I think there are enough self-serving Tories to ensure he survives any such vote.

There is, though, no doubt that the Tories will ditch him in a heartbeat if he continues to perform poorly in Opinion Polls. The one thing the Tories will not abide in a leader is an inability to keep them in power. They are not rigging the constituency boundaries and passing laws to disenfranchise poor and disabled people just for Boris the Clown to mess things up through his obvious incompetence and corruption. The Tories don’t mind incompetence and corruption as long as it is kept behind closed doors, so Boris will, I am sure, be ditched before the next General Election. His successor won’t be any better in practice, and may be even worse, but they’ll put on a more pleasant front and pretend to be all contrite about Johnson’s premiership while simultaneously continuing the same policies.

So I don’t think the writing on the wall is very clear yet. I may be wrong, but I really don’t care all that much because, as mentioned above, whoever replaces him will be another greedy, self-serving Tory.

Some people may argue that having a Tory MP defect to Labour shows that Johnson has gone too far, but I think that move says more about Labour being a Right Wing party under Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer. One MP moving from an extremely Right Wing Party to a moderately Right Wing Party won’t alter the basic problem with UK democracy. The First Past The Post voting system is an abomination, the unelected House of Lords as undemocratic as you can get, the patronage and class system inherently dangerous to true democracy, and a complicit media is a barrier to more people understanding just how corrupt the entire system is. The fact that Scotland is still a part of this dangerous farce is utterly depressing. We need to escape, and we need to escape soon.


Posted on January 17th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

I suppose there might be something to the pro-BBC argument that they must be getting something right if both Left and Right accuse them of bias, although I confess I can’t see it myself. I’m probably biased too, but I believe that, like many Scots, I’ve seen the BBC in Scotland for what it is.

However, the Tories seem determined to do away with the BBC, which is a strange attitude when viewed from the position of a pro-Indy Scot.

Indeed, I’ve seen a lot of people based in England, often with connections to the BBC, telling us how much we would miss it. Now, there is no doubt that the BBC do produce some excellent programmes, and some which are extremely popular despite pandering to the current obsession with celebrity culture. But their news and current affairs programmes are so biased in favour of the Tories, I cannot understand their opposition to it. Except that Rupert Murdoch wants to do away with the BBC in its current format, which perhaps explains the latest threat to the Beeb.

Personally, I won’t miss it a great deal. Where there is a demand for a specific programme, some independent production company will step in, as witnessed by the bizarrely popular Great British Bake Off moving to Channel 4. Many older people will recall with fondness the magnificent and ground-breaking nature documentaries produced by David Attenborough, and while the BBC continues to produce high quality programmes of this sort, so do other documentary channels. Yes, there can be a lot of drivel to wade through before you find something worth watching, but there is a lot of drivel on the BBC as well.

What has been interesting is the level of backlash from Scots to those who claim the BBC is a trusted organisation. Clearly, I am far from alone in my view of the propaganda which emanates from BBC Scotland.

In any event, despite the Tories’ latest pronouncements on the abolition of the Licence Fee, I very much doubt that the BBC will disappear. If it is able to earn money from advertising, it will continue, albeit probably in a slightly different form. Perhaps that will damage the quality of some shows, but it surely can’t make their news and current affairs programmes much worse.

Wasted Oil

Posted on January 12th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

A recent article on the Business for Scotland website highlighted the massive profits oil giants Shell and BP are expected to make in light of the increasing price of oil.

You can read this article at:

It’s interesting that few in the mainstream media are highlighting the ever-increasing price of oil. They were very quick to trumpet its fall a few years ago, but anything which might suggest Scotland could be a wealthy country is taboo for our journalists.

But to earn money from oil, you need to impose taxes on the oil companies, and as the BFS article shows, the UK is alone in allowing the oil companies to extract this valuable natural resource without paying tax. No doubt this lack of income will be reflected in this year’s GERS figures which will once again demonstrate just how impoverished Scotland is with Westminster controlling our finances.

Of course, we were warned by Sir Ian Wood in 2014 that oil was about to run out, so I suppose we should congratulate the oil companies for continuing to make enormous profits by extracting a resource which no longer exists. Or perhaps Sir Ian Wood was merely spouting a scare story to influence voters in the IndyRef? Who knows what might have motivated a Knight of the Realm to say something so palpably untrue.

Of course, we want to move away from oil and switch to renewable sources of energy, but that is a long term project and, for the moment, we are sadly reliant on oil. That being the case, the very least a responsible Government should be doing is extracting a share of the profits by imposing taxation. But then, we all know that the UK does not have a responsible Government. If Scotland was a normal, self-governing country, we could impose taxes on these oil giants and use that revenue stream to develop our renewables sector. The chances of the UK adopting that sort of strategy are, sadly, virtually nil. Once again, we have an example of how Scotland, far from benefitting from the Union, is actually being held back by it.

NHS Identity Crisis

Posted on January 9th, 2022

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Most Yessers will be only too familiar with England often being equated with the UK, and also with the UK Government’s habit of promoting the UK as a country instead of a sovereign state comprised of three countries and a province. This is so widespread that it is often impossible to know which country or countries politicians are talking about when they say "this country".

We are also very much aware of the habit of Union Flags being plastered over our foodstuffs even when those products are produced in Scotland. This is very much in line with the One Nation view so beloved of Tories.

Not that Tories are alone in promoting this view of Britishness. Sir Keir Starmer, Knight of the Realm and lover of all things British, often seems to be trying to outdo the Tories when it comes to British nationalism.

Then we have the recently announced request for more singing of God Save the queen, plus the desire for the National Anthem to be played by the BBC at the end of each day. This is, of course, the English National Anthem which, funnily enough, also doubles as the UK National Anthem.

Recently, I came across another example of this British nationalism that I wasn’t aware of. The NHS is often portrayed as UK-wide by the media and UK politicians, but many of us know that there are separate NHS organisations for each of the three countries and one province of the UK. Imagine, then, my surprise when I went online to order Covid Lateral Flow Tests and was directed to a website which, according to my screen reader, was very much labelled as being part of NHS UK. I didn’t think there was any such organisation. However, if you open a web browser and type in "NHS.UK", you’ll find there is a website presenting itself as being a UK-wide NHS.

The thing about this is that it is clearly not a UK website. While there are some general health tips and links to details of medication which will apply everywhere, the site is very much an English one. If, for example, you try to book a Covid vaccination, or try to find your nearest GP by following the links on the NHS.UK main page, it is immediately apparent that this is only available to residents in England.

Now, it may seem a small thing to get worked up over England once again portraying itself as the UK, but this is yet another warning that the UK Government’s policy of promoting One Nation is creeping into every aspect of our lives.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the latest rumours are that free provision of Lateral Flow Tests will be withdrawn before long. This is very much in keeping with Tory policies of not caring about the poorer members of society, but the worst thing about it is that it confirmed that NHS.UK is in charge of distributing these test kits. All that Nicola Sturgeon has been able to do is issue a protest because Scotland apparently does not source its own supply of LFTs. If that is indeed the case, it is a ridiculous state of affairs. No nation should be dependent on another for a supply of equipment which is essential in combating a global pandemic, especially if that other country is going to insist on charging ordinary citizens for the provision of these kits. Once again we see that the best solution for Scotland is to become a normal, self-governing country. Let’s hope we don’t need to wait much longer.

Delivering Bad news

Posted on January 4th, 2022

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Every Yesser knows by now that the BBC is little more than a propaganda outlet for the UK Government and the maintenance of the status quo. However much the Tories bash the BBC as being too left wing, anyone who has followed the anti-Yes utterances of the BBC knows full well that we will never get a fair hearing from the State propaganda outlet. I very rarely listen to any news or current affairs programme on the BBC because I just get too wound up listening to the bilge they are pumping into our houses under the guise of impartiality.

However, I did have the misfortune to hear a little bit of BBC News on the TV the other day when they were highlighting that Scotland is out of step with the rest of the UK in insisting on a 10 day isolation period for anyone testing positive for Covid. The rest of the UK, we were told, has reduced this to 7 days, while the USA has gone as low as a 5 day isolation period. Now, this is factually correct but, as so often with the BBC, context was sadly lacking. There was no mention that the UK and the USA have death tolls from Covid which are among the highest in the world, so perhaps citing them as evidence of good practice when it comes to pandemic control is not the smartest thing to do. But by missing this out, the BBC was able to portray Scotland as the guilty party when, in fact, there is scientific advice that 10 days is the minimum we should adopt. Indeed, I saw a news article from CNN stating that Taiwan has utterly rejected the US advice because they know that covid can still be infectious for up to 10 days. I should possibly not add an anecdote here, but if it's good enough for Alex Massie to use unverified speculation, then I can probably get away with it, especially as this is not speculation, albeit it is only one incidence. It concerns a young couple I know. The young woman contracted Covid ten days before Christmas and so both went into isolation, taking care to remain apart as much as possible. They hoped that they would still be able to attend a family Christmas meal on Boxing Day after her 10 day isolation had ended. The young man kept taking Lateral Flow tests during this period and was negative right up until the 10th day when he tested positive. If Scotland’s rules had been relaxed to 7 days, both of them would have attended a large family Christmas and spread the infection even further. That’s why Scotland really ought to stick with the 10 day isolation period, and I hope that Nicola Sturgeon sticks to her guns on this point.

As for the BBC, their biased reporting has manifested itself in other ways recently. Someone on social media pointed out the vast difference in media reporting between the Ghislaine Maxwell trial verdict and the Alex Salmond case. While Maxwell has received coverage which has often been sympathetic despite the sickening nature of the crimes she was found guilty of, Alex Salmond has been vilified despite being found not guilty. The cynics among us might suspect that this treatment might relate to their respective positions vis-a-vis the Establishment. One was very much a part of the elite, while the other wants to dissolve the Union to allow Scotland to become a normal country. The BBC, who have featured programmes damning Alex Salmond, even went so far as to interview Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer as a so-called independent commentator on the Maxwell trial verdict. They have admitted they were wrong to do so, but how many times have we seen the BBC mistakenly broadcast opinions and comments, then admit a mistake once the message has been delivered? It’s such a common tactic, and usually involves any admission of error being far less prominent than the original claims.

So let us be in no doubt at all that the BBC will be against us if and when IndyRef2 comes along. It is, after all, part of their remit.

Irrelevant Polls?

Posted on December 27th, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Recent polling suggests that the Tories could lose all their seats in Scotland if there was a General Election now. They are even in trouble in England where some forecasts suggest that Labour would win a majority of seats.

This is, of course, good news in a way, but hardly relevant to the issue of independence.

For one thing, the polls have not come about because of any stellar leadership displays by Sir Keir Starmer. Instead, it seems Tory voters who are not at all concerned by the proliferation of food banks, by the UK economy being crippled by Brexit, by shortages of food and medicines in some places, by the slaughtering of pigs which cannot be taken to market, by petrol shortages, by the cruelty of letting people drown in the sea, and by their rights being diminished on a regular basis, are incensed by Government politicians and advisors having Christmas parties.

Now, I can understand the outrage because those parties should never have taken place and the fact that they did merely confirms the utter disdain and contempt Tory politicians feel for other people. It seems, then, that Tory voters don’t really care about what policies their leaders enact, but are outraged when those leaders are too brazen in showing their contempt. Still, whatever triggers the reaction that makes voters realise that they have been lied to, it still won’t make much difference to Scotland. That’s because Sir Keir Starmer (always give him his full title) is part of the Establishment and would really behave as just a more reasonable Tory. There are few signs that he would repeal any of their inhumane policies, and that’s probably because he knows that it is not the policies which have caused this latest backlash.

Let us not forget either that any change to a Labour Government is usually fairly short-lived. Voters in England always seem to look to the Tories to govern them after a while. Their underlying message of personal enrichment seems to strike a chord with far too many of those voters.

As for Scotland, I’d really like to hope that we become a normal, self-governing country before the next UK General Election. If that were to happen, then the polling should be regarded as irrelevant. Sadly, I am increasingly of the opinion that the Scottish Government will find more excuses to delay IndyRef2. I really hope I’m wrong about that, but there are few signs that there is any interest in pushing for IndyRef2 with any sort of energy. That is a great shame because it really is depressing to think that the only good news for Yessers is that the Tories might lose a General Election we really ought to have no part in.

Surely more and more people are open to the idea of becoming a normal country now. The handling of the Covid pandemic and the constant stream of scandals and ineptitude emanating from Westminster has revealed, time and time again, that the current constitutional arrangement is holding Scotland back. All we need now is a chance to show the world that we want to take our own place in the international community. Let’s hope 2022 brings us some real progress on making this a reality.

Masking the Problem

Posted on December 18th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Much is being made of the North Shropshire By-Election result, and there’s no doubt it is historic in terms of the loss of one of the Tories’ safest seats. Whether it heralds the end of Boris Johnson, I’m not so sure. For one thing, only a fool would want to be Prime Minister at this point in time, and for another there is no General Election in sight, so there is, as yet, no need for the knives to come out. We should also bear in mind that Johnson is in charge of probably the most corrupt Government in UK history; certainly the most blatant in its corruption. And the people who have benefitted the most are the Tory MPs and their pals, so they’re not going to be in a rush to kill the golden goose.

It does seem, though, that the fiasco of the Tory Xmas Parties has got through to voters in England in a way that their actual policies have not. Perhaps that explains a little about why the Tories keep winning in England when it comes to General elections. English voters don’t seem to mind harmful policies as long as the Government enacts them in a sober and responsible manner.

Despite this stunning By-Election result, I fully expect the Tories to win the next General election as well, although possibly with another leader. Not that the leader matters a great deal. As I’ve said many times, Boris Johnson is not the real problem; he is merely a symptom of the problem. He’s a massively harmful symptom, but whoever replaces him will inevitably pursue similar policies, perhaps with not quite so much blatant corruption on display, although we should be in no doubt that underhand goings-on will continue behind the scenes.

Where does all of this leave Scotland? Quite frankly, it makes no difference. It’s like watching politics in a foreign country. The problem for us is that the foreign country in question controls our own country. If Scotland was a normal, self-governing country, I’d wager Nicola Sturgeon would have been much stronger in her responses to the Omicron Covid surge. There are some things she could do within existing powers which I’m disappointed not to see. For example, I think schools should be closed now because the statistics from other countries, notably the USA and South Africa, show that children in the 5 to 9 age group are particularly susceptible to Omicron Covid, and many suffer severe infections. Closing the schools a week early would reduce the impact of this outbreak.

I’d also liked to have seen her make working from home a law rather than advice. I know of at least one Tory-supporting employer who has told his staff that they will only be allowed to work from home if it becomes law. This is despite almost his entire staff working from home successfully during the first lock down.

At the risk of sounding too authoritarian, I also think it would help if mask-wearing was enforced more vigorously. While some people do have legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask, it really is not at all onerous for the vast majority of us. I was talking to a lady in the USA the other day (I’m afraid I didn’t ask her which State she lived in), and she told me that enforcement is vigorous where she lives. Buses will not allow anyone to board unless they are wearing a mask, and the bus will stop if the driver becomes aware of anyone taking their mask off. In shops, people are refused admittance or, in smaller stores, refused service unless they are wearing a mask. Some people may consider these sorts of measures Draconian, but really all they are doing is compelling people to have some consideration for those around them, and I do believe they would help curtail the spread. As for those who object that this is an authoritarian approach, some of us are old enough to remember the outcry when seat belt wearing was made compulsory in the UK. Many people insisted it was an infringement of their right to endanger their own lives, and there were some prosecutions in the early days. Nowadays, pretty much everyone wears a seat belt without even thinking about it. Mask wearing in public could do with that same attitude applying.

Having said that, there is a lot more that could be done if Scotland had control over its finances and used its own currency. If we were a normal country, then the hospitality sector could be recompensed for the loss of business they are experiencing. Furlough could also be re-introduced to help keep other workers safe until the worst of the outbreak has been tackled.

Sick Pay is another area where far more could be done. Due to the UK’s low wage economy, far too many people are compelled to go to work because they cannot afford to be off sick. The irony of this is that, by going to work, they increase the risk of becoming very ill indeed. The UK’s Sick Pay is pathetically inadequate, and I’d like to think that an independent Scotland could pay a much higher rate which could be increased temporarily even further during the Covid pandemic.

Unfortunately, without those powers which most countries take for granted, we are stuck with meekly following the Tory path to more deaths than necessary. So far, Nicola Sturgeon has been careful not to point an accusing finger at Westminster, but perhaps it is time she began letting people know just how much her hands are tied. I suspect, however, that she is wary of being seen as a Grinch who wants to impose restrictions which other parts of the UK aren’t bothering with. Again, this demonstrates one of the problems of the UK. Unionists and the media always try to portray the UK as a single country, and a great many people believe it because they have been constantly told it is a fact. But if Scotland were a normal country, we could impose our own Border restrictions on anyone coming in from other countries, including a period of quarantine. At the moment, that is impossible because we have no control over our Borders, and because the infrastructure of the UK is such that Scotland is far too reliant on food and other goods arriving via England. Without our own direct trade routes to the wider world, we are exposed to the importation of Omicron and any future variants of Covid because of this reliance on traffic coming via England.

It is, of course, very easy to blame the constitutional arrangement for pretty much anything, and there is no saying that an independent Scotland would get things right in tackling Covid. But, quite frankly, could they do any worse than the bumbling buffoon that is Boris Johnson and his band of ideologues? I do think the Scottish Government could do a bit more with the powers they have, but they could do a huge amount more if they had full control, and much of that could be in ensuring that the livelihoods of people affected by any Covid restrictions are not impacted too severely. Nicola Sturgeon is currently attempting to persuade Boris Johnson to make additional funds available to cushion the impact of restrictions. I wish her luck, but I doubt she will have much success. And, of course, if the Clown in Chief does make more money available, it will be trumpeted as yet another Union dividend. If that happens, I hope Nicola Sturgeon points out the absurdity of any nation needing to go cap in hand to its larger neighbour just to allow it to do what almost every other country in the world can do without any problems.

Worst Yet

Posted on December 9th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

The revelations about Boris Johnson’s propensity for lying to anyone and everyone continue to mount up. Whether any of this will be enough to have him ousted from office is, sadly, debatable. If anyone in the Scottish Government had lied so consistently and brazenly, they’d have been hounded out of office long ago, although I’d like to think that most of them would have resigned long before the media pack descended on them.

The media, of course, are complicit in promoting Boris Johnson in the first place, but there are plenty of others who bear responsibility. Yet surely they must see that he is playing them for fools as well? He is clearly a narcissist who has no compunction about lying or using other people to promote himself. Take, for example, Allegra Stratton who resigned over her sneering and laughing about lock downs in a leaked video. The big question is, "Who leaked that video"? When you look at who benefits from this, it is perhaps overly cynical to suggest that she has been offered up as a scapegoat so that Boris Johnson had someone to blame. But then, with so much lying and deception at the very heart of the UK Government, perhaps we are entitled to be extremely cynical about each and every development.

And let us not forget that while many in the media are now pursuing Boris Johnson over the Christmas Party scandal, his Government continues to push through laws which any fascist regime would be proud of.

The man is a dangerous liar, and he is almost as dangerous to those who attached themselves to his coat tails in order to gain positions of power and influence as he is to the rest of us.

I have said before that Boris Johnson is not the main problem; he is simply the latest symptom of the fundamental problem at the very foundation of the UK system of Government. He is, though, the most dangerous symptom we’ve encountered so far.

I suspect he will continue to brazen things out, and will probably get away with it. The only thing likely to alter that is if the Tories slump in the opinion polls. Power is what Tories crave, and if Boris Johnson poses a threat to that, they will have no hesitation in ousting him. Until then, he will continue to laugh at us, and use and discard his underlings whenever it suits him.

Boris Johnson as Prime Minister is a classic example of why Scotland needs to become a normal, self-governing country as soon as possible. He may be the worst we’ve seen to date, but whoever succeeds him will have his example to follow. They know they can get away with things, and they will continue to do so. The only difference might be that his successor might not be quite so brazen about it. That’s really not much of an improvement.

Communicating Normality

Posted on December 2nd, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

The latest poll by IPSOS MORI shows Yes on 55%. If we take the word of Unionists, that’s a decisive figure, although naturally the media aren’t mentioning that.

It is, of course, only a single poll and could be an outlier, so there’s no cause to get too excited about it.

What bothers me at a basic level is that the reactions of voters are once again focused on the individuals heading either side of the argument, i.e. Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson. As I’ve repeatedly said, Johnson is not the problem, he is merely the latest symptom of the underlying problem. Nor, for all her qualities as a politician and communicator, is Nicola Sturgeon the solution, she is simply the current leader of the Party which should have the solution in its hands. Neither of these politicians will be around forever, yet becoming a normal, self-governing country is a permanent change.

I do understand that the messenger is as important as the message when it comes to politics, and I’d far rather have good communicators on our side than not because we need to persuade a lot of people to shift their views if we are to establish a solid and permanent lead in the polls, but it really is quite disappointing that some voters might suddenly switch away from Yes if Boris Johnson were to be replaced as Prime Minister. Can people not realise that this would not be a solution at all? The problem would still be there.

Still, I suppose that, as long as the arch-clown remains in office, the more people might come to appreciate the extent of Scotland’s situation. Perhaps some of them might decide to stick with Yes once they realise that someone else very like Johnson or, heaven forbid, even worse, could easily gain power thanks to the inherent unfairness built into the Westminster election process.

So, let’s keep working on promoting the cause of normality. Independence is normal. That’s the message people need to understand.

On Your Marks!

Posted on November 30th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

So Nicola Sturgeon has given another commitment to putting the wheels in motion for IndyRef2. Some, like me, will say it’s not before time; others will point out that we’ve heard this before, and yet others will say that giving Westminster notice only gives them more time to put obstacles in the way. I’ve also seen some people claim this is what Nicola Sturgeon wants. That way, she can hold up her hands and announce that she’d love to hold IndyRef2 but her hands are tied. I’m not sure that is a viable position for any politician to put themselves in, far less one as capable as Nicola Sturgeon, but I do worry that it is taking so long to put the wheels in motion. "Next year" is also a fairly vague and broad time frame.

However, even natural pessimists like me must appreciate that we really have no option but to trust that she really is going to deliver in one way or another. I suspect she will need to abandon the Section 30 route as there is no way the Westminster Government will agree to this. Quite what solution she comes up with remains to be seen. Let’s hope it is something definitive which will allow us to progress to becoming a normal, self-governing country before too much longer.

As for the timescale itself, there are a lot of factors to be considered. I came in for some criticism on Twitter the other day for insisting that there was no reason to delay. Apparently, I am one of those people who don’t understand the complexities of setting up a referendum. Now, my memory may be failing me, but I don’t recall much in the way of complexities in establishing either IndyRef1 or the Brexit referendum. Once the decision to go ahead has been made, much of the work can be done before the referendum is held. Such things as deciding the date, deciding the actual question and so on need not be done before the decision is made. As long as they are taken within a reasonable time, that is all that is required.

There are undoubtedly other issues needing addressed. The currency question needs to be explained, with a Scottish currency the only real option if we are to re-join the EU. But that requires a Scottish Central Bank, and work will need to be done on that. However, there is no reason why an existing Bank, such as the Scottish National Investment Bank, could not be appointed to this role. Alternatively, one of the existing Scottish Banks which has its Head Office registered in Scotland could be given that role provided they were disentangled from ownership by English Banks. So, yes, there’s work to be done there, but Scotland won’t become a normal country the day after IndyRef2 (assuming Yes wins), so there will be time to finalise these arrangements.

Then there is the issue of campaigning. There can be no doubt that the Scottish Government will need to play a leading role and will need to set out proposals for things like currency, borders, etc., but there was a White Paper last time, and a similar, but hopefully more persuasive, document can surely be produced this time around. I’d also like to see a draft Constitution produced. I think that could go a long way towards helping persuade people to Yes.

But, when it comes to spreading the word, it will not all be down to the SNP. The Yes movement was far broader than the SNP last time although very few Unionists seemed capable of grasping this point. For them, anyone pro-Indy must be a member of the SNP. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Yes is far more widespread than that, so spreading the message won’t be left to one Party.

There will be a huge number of issues to be addressed during the campaign because everyone will have their own specific circumstance at the forefront of their minds. People being people, they will look at their situation and demand to know how they will be affected. Unionists will be able to pick on any number of business sectors and find fault with whatever plans the Scottish Government devises. The media will no doubt help them amplify these questions. The big answer, of course, is that these are mere deflection tactics. That’s because independence is normal. Focusing on the specific impact on a specific group of people is to miss the big picture. It’s what the UK media will do, but we must never lose sight of the fact that independence is normal.

I’ll say that again.


Plenty of other countries cope just fine without Westminster controlling them. Scotland can surely cope as well. Yes, transition may be tricky for many, but it won’t be as disastrous as Brexit, and will open up opportunities which Scots will surely embrace. We can protect our NHS from Tory privatisation, we can expand and develop our ports, we can create direct shipping routes to Europe, we can welcome scientists, doctors and other professionals who can help boost our universities and hospitals. We could even sell electricity to England rather than have them simply take it from us without payment.

Naturally, the threat of a hard border will be raised yet again, but as I’ve said many times before, this border will be England’s border with the EU. If we can re-join the EU, we open so many more borders. And England will still want our food and drink produce. As for our own supplies of food which currently come from depots in England, I am confident that the major supermarkets will quickly establish new depots or expand existing ones. Business looks for a market, and they won’t ignore the potential of the Scottish market.

Personally, I can’t wait for IndyRef2 to begin. The majority of Scots aren’t paying much attention because they are too busy coping with their own lives, but once a date is confirmed, it will focus their minds and force them to think about the issues. Those of us already convinced of the need to become a normal, self-governing country will have our work cut out for us, but if we each manage to persuade 1 other person, Yes will win. That’s not a daunting target, is it?

So, while I retain reservations about why it is taking so long to get the ball rolling, I welcome this announcement and look forward to seeing some actual progress. I still don’t know how the Section 30 issue will be overcome, but the Scottish Government needs to have a contingency plan ready. All we are waiting for is the green light.

Limited Vision

Posted on November 21st, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Sir Kenneth Clarke, former Tory MP and Government Minister, has recently denounced the lack of democratic accountability in the UK and warned that Boris Johnson is on the brink of turning the UK into an elected dictatorship. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment, but reading an account of his warnings in The Guardian, I was struck by how far Sir Kenneth Clarke did not go.

It is important to remember that Sir Kenneth Clarke is a Knight of the Realm and very much part of the Establishment. He may bemoan the fact that the Party he is a member of has moved away from what he sees as Tory core values and lurched to the extreme Right, but his solution is sadly lacking in focus. He says the UK needs a written Constitution, and again I don’t think many people would disagree, but he made no mention of some other changes which would be essential. To be fair, it may be that a proper Constitution would set these issues out, although Sir Kenneth Clarke glossed over that aspect. Perhaps he did that because he knows full well that there is no way the current UK parliament would approve a Constitution which actually addressed the fundamental problems with UK democracy. Because, among the many things wrong with the way democracy works in the UK, the two real big issues are the archaic and inherently unfair First Past The Post electoral system which is designed to ensure that one of the two Establishment Parties retains power, and the impending boundary changes will deliver the Tories a massive advantage there. If they can be elected with an absolute majority by less than 40% of the electorate voting for them, they are never going to want to change that. But FPTP is one of the major obstacles to a fairer democracy. It is out of kilter with the way most modern democracies work, and it really needs to be changed to a more proportionate system. However, as said above, that will never happen in the UK because both Establishment Parties are content to stick with FPTP. Quite why Labour aren’t against it is a bit of a mystery, but their leader is, after all, a Knight of the Realm.

The second major reform the UK needs is to replace the House of Lords with a properly elected second chamber with defined powers when it comes to passing laws. Some countries, notably the Scandinavian countries, operate a single chamber Parliament, but since they are elected proportionately, that’s less of an issue since Proportional Representation generally requires Parties to form alliances in order to pass laws. However, most democracies have a second chamber which is elected rather than manipulated by the Government, and most second chambers have genuine powers which extend far beyond the ability to merely delay Bills passed by the lower chamber as is the case with the House of Lords.

Without these two fundamental reforms, Sir Kenneth Clarke’s hopes for a written Constitution are nothing more than the wishes of a toothless tiger.

But, once again, we must not lose sight of the fact that these changes will never come about in the UK unless there is some sort of revolution which completely overthrows the Establishment. That’s so unlikely as to be of no concern. But within the current political landscape, neither of the main Westminster Parties is going to advocate Proportional Representation, nor will they abolish the House of Lords. That’s because the system is geared towards preserving power in the hands of the elite, and most MPs belonging to these Parties have the principal aim of attaining a place in the House of Lords. Everyone plays by the Westminster rules, and those rules are designed to maintain the status quo.

So, while I applaud Sir Kenneth Clarke’s words as far as they go, they don’t go far enough, and until the weight of opinion is in favour of fundamental change, he may as well be talking to the wind.

As for that public opinion, it is not going to shift because the media will ensure that any discussion of change is either kept very low key or ignored completely. That’s because the media also has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Yet again, we see that Scotland’s only chance of escaping the madness is to become a normal, self-governing country, preferably one with a written Constitution and a Parliament of two chambers, both of which are elected by the people.

That naturally leads on to the other thing Sir Kenneth Clarke did not mention; the role of the Head of State. The current political Establishment is thirled to the monarchy, and we have seen how the monarchy behaves. Whether it is protecting Prince Andrew or refusing permission for renewable energy projects on their land, they serve only themselves. The image the media provides them is very far from the truth. So, while majority public opinion in Scotland – opinion which is shaped by the media – is still in favour of the monarchy, I believe that becoming a normal country would give us the opportunity to become a Republic with an elected Head of State. I’m not in favour of the US system which has too many things in common with the UK system, but other countries are able to operate systems which put power in the hands of the electorate rather than deferring to the inherited rights of the wealthy elite.

As we see all too often, Sir Kenneth Clarke’s aspirations are limited by his acceptance that the UK system should be largely preserved. That is no good for an independent Scotland, and we should aim much higher. That’s not to say we will rid ourselves of individuals who seek to use a political career to further their own personal interests, but at least it would allow us the opportunity to get rid of them; an opportunity which is currently denied us. And, as I’ve said before, the current Tory corruption under Boris Johnson is not the problem; it is merely a symptom of the underlying problem. Without radical change, the UK is doomed to be regularly governed by self-serving charlatans.

Polling Doubts

Posted on November 17th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Some recent Opinion Polls show that, at long last, the Tories have slipped below Labour in UK voting preferences. It seems that, although many voters were content to support the Tories despite the lies, one of the worst Covid death rates in the world, Brexit, the threat to peace In Northern Ireland, and betrayal of the people in the North of England who fell for the xenophobic promises of Brexit, it appears that the thing voters detest most is Tories enriching themselves through corrupt practices. Perhaps it is simple jealousy, but I must admit I thought most people should have understood this is fundamentally what many Tories stand for. But then, Boris Johnson’s Government have perhaps been just too blatant in their greed and utter scorn for ordinary people. Maybe voters in England have woken up at last, although those of us old enough to remember the fall of Norman Major’s Government may be feeling a sense of déjà vu at the moment. Whatever happens, it will be a short term thing because the Tories long ago captured the hearts and minds of enough voters to allow them to gain power thanks to the archaic and fundamentally undemocratic First Past The Post electoral system.

Still, some people are taking comfort from the Polls. I’m afraid I do not share that view, and there are several reasons why, not least of which is that Polls are not the same as elections.

First among my many reasons for not feeling a surge of hope is Sir Keir Starmer. It is important to give him his title to highlight the basic problem with him. His opposition to the Tories has been lacklustre at best, and behind the scenes, he has been doing his best to rid Labour of any actual socialists. He is pro-Brexit, pro-Union and generally pro most Tory policies. I can’t help feeling he is in the wrong Party, and it must be evident that it is not his leadership which has caused the rise in support for Labour. The way the electoral Establishment works, voters in England really have only two realistic choices of Party, so if they fall out with the Tories, Labour is their obvious home. All in all, then, if Labour were to gain power with Sir Keir Starmer, Knight of the Realm, as leader, I doubt very much would change. All we’d really see is more vicious attacks on the Government by the UK’s extremist media (who still masquerade as the mainstream media). Even adopting Tory Light policies won’t protect Labour from this.

The second reason I can’t get too excited about the polling data is a very practical one. There won’t be a General election for two or three years yet, and as we have seen, far too many voters cast their vote based on short-term or immediate concerns, with very little thought for the long-term future. Again, I cite the so-called Red Wall voters who actually voted in Tory MPs because they were more afraid of foreigners than the people who do actually exploit them and take away their jobs and social security benefits. This lamentable tendency to vote on short-term, populist issues means that, by the time the next General election comes around, these people will have had plenty of time to revert to type and elect a Tory Government once more.

Then there is the Boris Johnson issue. Perhaps more people are recognising him as a lying cheat who has only his own best interests at heart rather than being simply a lovable wide boy. But Boris Johnson is merely a symptom of the problem at the heart of the UK system; he is not the problem. If Tory MPs decide they’ve had enough of him making them look like stooges who will vote for anything as long as it suits their leader’s interests, then Johnson’s days as PM will be numbered. But what then? All that will happen is that the Tories will elect a new leader who will become Prime Minister without the need to go to the voters. And, while that new leader may present a different public face to the world, he will still be a tory who has been part of this Government for a few years, and who shares their aims and ambitions; i.e. he or she will be out to make themselves richer.

So even if the Polls are correct, I see little reason for cheer. The only thing that can save Scotland is to become a normal, self-governing country so that we can escape the built-in corruption and lack of democratic accountability which is the main feature of Westminster. There’s no doubt that an independent Scotland would have its own fair share of chancers in politics, and I think we could all name a few of them already. The difference is that, with a properly proportionally representative Government, we could vote out anyone who did try to pull the same tricks and cons Boris Johnson is currently getting away with.

What's In A Name?

Posted on November 8th, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Words are important, and names especially so. The other day, I contributed to a social media chat about whether Scots regard the term, "Jock" as offensive. The general response was that it was offensive, and my contribution was to say that English linguistic culture often ascribes de-personalising names to people from other nations. The examples I quoted were Jock, Paddy, Taffy, Fritz and Ivan, but I’m sure you can think of others. My point is that these terms, often regarded as mere banter by those who use them, are very rarely used by the people at whom the names are targeted to refer to themselves because they regard them as derogatory. Indeed, I strongly suspect that the sort of person who would claim that referring to Scots as Jocks is mere banter is also the sort of person who would be annoyed if an Australian called them a Pom. They would recognise it as not being complimentary, yet they cannot understand why terms they use themselves are viewed as derogatory by those they address in such ways.

One respondent in the chat did have a go at me for attacking everyone in England and, while I believe the English are the worst culprits for this sort of verbal insult, I think it is important to note that I referred to English linguistic culture which extends to all native English speakers. Yes, that includes Scots, and before any Scots start denying they use such terms, I would point out that older generations will undoubtedly remember when it was common practice to refer to people from Pakistan and China by names which are most definitely frowned upon nowadays. So, we are not blameless, and the chat went on to include lots of suggestions for derogatory terms for the English, something I am not really interested in discussing since it reduces us to the same level as the people we were complaining about.

I’m afraid that much of this is wrapped up in British Exceptionalism. Using derogatory terms to describe other people reinforces their lesser status, and I often recall the Fawlty Towers sketch where the Major describes people from various countries using a succession of words which were, sadly, in common use only a few decades ago. I know that particular scene is now sometimes cut from screenings of the programme but I think that misses the point. It was supposed to highlight bigotry and condescension which used to be built in to British culture. It was a superb portrayal of precisely the sort of attitude which still enables people to use terms like "Jock" and claim it is merely banter.

We all know that the N Word is now taboo unless spoken by people in the Black community when talking among themselves. I think it’s about time these other derogatory terms were viewed as equally taboo.

But there have been other examples of casual misuse of language recently which have highlighted the lack of knowledge about, and interest in, Scotland by people who really should know better.

Last week on Twitter, Clarence House’s official account proudly announced that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall had visited Glasgow Station. Anyone who is going to produce official statements surely should be aware that some basic research so as not to use inaccurate names is an essential part of their job. Yet the Prince’s own household could not be bothered to check the actual name of the station, perhaps holding the London-centric view that a provincial place like Glasgow must have only one railway station. It was, once again, sloppy and condescending use of language.

The problem is that this was not a one-off example. We’ve now had Sky News broadcasting that Kay Burley would be reporting from the Isle of Sky. OK, maybe that was a simple typo, but it’s pretty poor from a national broadcaster. But then, it was only the Jocks who would notice, so they possibly thought it didn’t matter very much.

Cop Out 26

Posted on October 26th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

So what can we expect from COP26 apart from another spike in Covid cases? Well, I may be overly cynical, but I don’t think we’ll get much more than fine words and some promises to take action which will be completed at some point in the future when all the politicians giving the commitments will be long retired from politics and probably working for hedge funds.

I’m afraid that letting the UK Government host a conference on environmental issues is as contradictory as appointing Tony Blair as Middle East Peace Envoy. The Tories love making grandiose statements about their world-beating ideas, but their actions always contradict their public announcements. Take, just as the latest example, the permission given to have sewage pumped into English rivers at the time they are championing the environment.

No, I’m afraid Nicola Sturgeon’s strong words will be ignored. All COP26 is going to provide is a lot of hot air, plus a publicity platform for Tory propaganda. Union flags will abound, rousing speeches will be made, and then they will congratulate themselves for a terrific conference before going back to doing the bare minimum required to make it look as if they actually care.

Everyone ought to know by now that all the Tories care about is their own personal financial wellbeing. Whatever environmental calamities afflict us, they’ll be all right, Jack. (That’s Union Jack in case you were wondering). Everyone else can just suffer. Floods, droughts, storms, petrol shortages, food shortages, medicine shortages, energy price rises, all affect the less well off the worst. It is only when things begin to affect Tory politicians themselves that they will take genuine action, just as happened during the 1858 Great Stink which resulted in a proper sewer and waste management system being instituted in London. Until the stench of the polluted Thames affected the House of Commons, they did nothing about it. I’m afraid very little has changed since then in the way they think and behave.

Their attitude is amply demonstrated by their refusal to allow the Scottish Government to participate even though the conference is being held in Glasgow. I’m afraid these people are stuck with a Victorian colonial way of thinking, and nothing is ever going to change that. Surely more Scots will wake up to the urgent necessity for us to become a normal, self-governing country rather than allow Westminster politicians to drag us into the shit. That’s literally what is happening in England, and Scottish Water is not safe thanks to the Power grab which they still claim doesn’t exist. The Internal Markets Bill gives them the power to do pretty much what they like in Scotland without us being able to do anything to prevent it. Just how far are we going to let them go?

The Wrong Outlook

Posted on October 19th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Byline Times continue to provide some of the best journalism around. They recently produced an article about healthy life expectancy in the so-called Red Wall constituencies. You can read this at:

Healthy Life Expectancy has Fallen in 80% of ‘Red Wall’ Areas Since Conservatives Took Power – Byline Times

What this article demonstrates once again is that far too many voters fall for Tory lies and will elect Tory MPs even if a Tory Government will act directly against the best interests of the voters who elected them. Indeed, under Boris Johnson, we have seen unprecedented levels of Tory greed and corruption which has resulted in them and their friends being enriched at the expense of pretty much everyone else.

So why do so many people actually think that the Tories will do anything to improve their lives? It’s a puzzle, and there is no doubt that the media has a large role to play in delivering the sorts of messages that the Tories want delivered. After all, the Tories are the main Party of the Establishment, a social order which is underpinned by the class structure and which teaches ordinary people that they are better off letting their social betters run things. This social order includes such things as adoration of the monarch, respect for wealth, militaristic bombast and, of course, unhealthy lashings of British Exceptionalism.

The Tories do not only rely on the social order , education system and media to cultivate this world view. They dangle carrots such as the proven lie that hard work can lift people out of poverty. A handful of individuals will be celebrated for this, but they are very much the exception rather than the rule, but a great many people still seem to think that they can join the wealthy elite if only they would work a little harder. Inherent in this outlook is the belief that anyone who is successful will leave the ordinary plebs behind. There is no aspiration towards lifting society as a whole, simply an aspiration to join the ranks of the rich and famous.

Then there is the belief that taxes are bad and must be kept low. Not that most people would complain about paying less tax, but the Tories combine this with a low wage economy which ensures that workers have little power and can be exploited by employers, as well as giving them every excuse to close down public services and privatise things like the Health service.

The question of where power lies is one reason why Universal Basic Income will never become reality under a Tory Government; it places power and decision making about employment in the hands of workers. The fact that it also reduces poverty, improves mental health and wellbeing is entirely beside the point. For Tories, it is power and control that matter, and those things must never reach the masses.

In many countries, notably the Nordic countries, the model is very much high wage and high tax. This allows them to provide first rate public services and pay high levels of Old Age Pension and other social security benefits. Whether Scotland could ever reach that level is doubtful even if we were to become a normal, self-governing country. Too many of us have grown up accepting the UK way of doing things that this would be an enormous change which will take generations to implement. Yet it is the sort of model which would give us the sort of public services and pensions that most of us want. And yet, the threat of higher taxation is wheeled out whenever any economic discussion of Scotland’s future is under discussion. As far as the media narrative goes, taxes are bad. End of discussion.

The entire mindset of the Scottish population needs to alter. That isn’t easy when the media constantly reinforce the Tory perspective, but at least the proportion of Scots who do realise that there is a better way is considerably higher than the equivalent number of people in England who seem so thirled to the Tory way of thinking it is impossible to see how the situation will ever change. If people are prepared to vote Tory even when it has been demonstrated that this will result in poorer health and earlier deaths, then what hope is there? At least Scotland has a choice. It’s about time we made it.

Build Back Blether

Posted on October 10th, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

The sheer inanity of Boris Johnson’s "Build Back Better" campaign is quite shocking. It is well known that the Tories love three word slogans rather than actual policies, but the way this one has been presented has reached new levels of cringe. The Tory faithful seem to be lapping it up like a bunch of Primary School children being told jokes on a theme, and that seems to be the way Boris Johnson views them as well. His smirking amusement as he delivers his dreadful lines comes across every time.

This is not politics. This is a children’s entertainer putting on a performance. It is a distraction from the cruelty of the policies the UK Government is enacting, and above all it is a deflection from the calamitous consequences of Brexit. The underlying theme of the slogans seems to imply that the EU has held us back and that it is therefore necessary to rebuild. As with most Tory remarks, it is the precise opposite of what is actually happening. Does anyone, apart from hardened Unionists and the UK media actually take any of this seriously? I hope not, but even dismissing Johnson as a clown is dangerous because that is what he is counting on. It is all an act, and it is a highly dangerous one for the vast majority of people in the UK.

Scotland really needs to escape this madness sooner rather than later. Despite what Nicola Sturgeon may believe, time is not on our side.

What Will It Take?

Posted on September 27th, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Brexit is proving to be every bit the disaster the so-called fear merchants predicted. Indeed, did any of us really understand just how dependent the UK was on the EU supply chains? Covid and other world supply issues have not helped, but Brexit is the prime reason for the current problems.

Naturally, the Tories and the compliant media will hide behind excuses, but my big worry is that people will do that usual British thing of simply shrugging and getting on with life.

What will it actually take before people wake up to the fact that the Tories are dragging us back to the 1970s in more ways than one?

Mobile phone roaming charges? It’s those bloody foreigners, isn’t it?

Long queues at airports? It just shows how vindictive and inefficient those foreigners are.

Food shortages? We survived rationing in the war, didn’t we?

Restricted menus at restaurants? Well, we’ll just eat what they have.

Petrol shortages? Just join a queue. You’ll get some fuel eventually.

No beer at the pub? OK, that’s bloody infuriating. I’ll have a whisky.

No turkey at Christmas? Grin and bear it.

I’m old enough to remember the Three Day week, scheduled power cuts and shortages of sugar and bread. What happened? People just got on with things as best they could.

The problem with these Brexit issues is that they are being drip fed to us, disguised as Covid issues. Yes, those drips may be turning into a steady stream which may soon become a flood, but we are still in frog boiling territory. And every problem can be deflected by blaming somebody or something else. We’ve seen byline TV produce an interview with a major supply of turkeys who stated quite categorically that Brexit is the sole reason for the supply problems, and further claim that his interviews with mainstream media outlets have been either edited or unused because he dares to lay the blame on Brexit.

How long will the Tories get away with this? I fear it will be a very long time. People in the UK are always told that things could be worse if we don’t stick with our current Government. It’s the fear factor the Tories always rely on; and it’s the same fear factor Better Together used in 2014. They use it because it works.

So what will it take? And even if people do get fed up of the Tories, what can be done? There probably won’t be a General election for a couple of years and, quite honestly, Labour aren’t any better than the Tories in terms of their policies. They are, above all, pro-Brexit because they have this bizarre idea that the EU referendum reflected the permanent will of the people for all time. And, being pessimistic, even if Labour did somehow overcome the burden of being led by a Tory-supporting knight of the realm, and managed to win a General Election on a promise of re-joining the EU, who could blame the EU for telling them to take a running jump? Who, after all, would invite a petulant, bullying narcissistic nation into their club?

Scotland, of course, has another option, although the SNP do seem to be doing their best to find excuses not to hold IndyRef2. Many political experts are warning that 2023 is not a feasible date because so little preparation has been done, and because the Tories will probably call an election that year, thus blocking any chance of holding the referendum we so badly need. As usual, I hope these predictions are wrong, but I’ve seen very little to give any confidence we will see IndyRef2 any time soon.

Barring any major civil unrest – which I am not advocating except in some peaceful way which might actually have some impact – I cannot see how we are going to avoid being dragged back into the unlit uplands of post-Brexit Britain. Having lived through the problems of the 1970s, I, for one, am not looking forward to that at all.

Let's Be Friends

Posted on September 17th, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

So there’s been another Broontervention. For the first time (again), Gordon brown has told us why Scotland is better off being controlled by Westminster rather than being a normal, self-governing country. Now, I will admit that I did not listen to his comments, so perhaps I have misunderstood, but the reports I’ve heard suggest that he had some polling evidence which he claims shows that Scots have a lot in common with their English neighbours. Well, knock me down with a feather. Who’d have guessed it. After three centuries of common control, speaking the same language and consuming the same media, we have things in common?

But do these shared interests mean we want to be governed by our neighbours? That’s an entirely different question, and from what I’ve heard, it seems Gordon brown is up to his old tricks of conflating issues to make a point. He's also a great one for making things that aren't going to happen sound very plausible. Remember his promises of a near-Federal UK? They were nonsense at the time and remain so. It sounds as if his latest arguments are just as facile.

What made me laugh was when I heard that one of his arguments for remaining part of the UK was that Scots prefer Coronation Street to River City. Since I don’t watch either of them, I can’t comment on what would make one more watchable than the other, but it’s a very strange argument to suggest that enjoying Coronation Street means you want to be governed by Westminster, and have the ruling Government of the day decided by your neighbours in England. After all, I suspect many people in Ireland watch Coronation street as well, but they don’t seem to use it as a gauge of how they want to be governed.

As for Scots, a whole generation of us grew up watching US sitcoms such as Cheers and Frasier, and the next generation fell in love with Friends. But, much as I enjoyed these programmes, it did not fill me with a desire to be governed by the USA. It was simply a case of enjoying entertainment programmes which were well written and acted. The source of those programmes was immaterial to my politics.

You can, of course, throw in Australian soaps such as Neighbours which were huge hits when they first aired in the UK, and which are still being broadcast today. Again, while these shows may have persuaded some individuals to move to Australia for a change of lifestyle, I don’t recall a mass demand for Scotland to be governed by Australia.

As so often, it sounds as if Gordon brown is clutching at straws and using any old argument he can think of in order to bolster an increasingly fragile argument for remaining in the UK. Personally, to pinch a corny line from a theme song, I’d much prefer Scotland to become a normal country and then, because of shared interests, hope that our neighbours to the south become good friends.

Campaign Highlights

Posted on September 10th, 2021

by Rab Bruce’s Spider

So we are to see IndyRef2 by 2023. Personally, I think that’s too long to wait, but I am eager to see how Nicola Sturgeon is going to get round the Section 30 issue when Boris Johnson shows the world that Tories don’t do democracy and says "No".

If and when we leap that hurdle, we then need to see a very hard-hitting campaign. It is all very well to promote a positive case for being a normal, self-governing country, and it is fairly easy to say that having full control of our own affairs would give much more power to the voters of Scotland. But we need to recognise that the Better Together mob rely on fear of the unknown to persuade people not to vote for change. Their two main weapons are to trumpet the greatness of the UK, referring back to past events which suit their agenda, with particular reference to World War 2 which ended over 75 years ago. This flag-waving rallying cry still resonates with older voters who were raised on a constant diet of British greatness.

And then there is the dire warning tactic.

"You may think things are bad now, but it would inevitably be worse if you left the UK"

What few voters know is that the UK has used this tactic many times in the past. Going back as far as the American War of Independence, Westminster was warning Americans that their new state would be too wee and poor to survive. They’ve done the same with Malta in particular.

And don’t forget how they fought tooth and nail to cling on to India because they were extracting wealth at an enormous rate, so much so that India, once the wealthiest nation on Earth, has still not regained its position among the top rank of financial powerhouses.

People also need to be told in no uncertain terms that empty supermarket shelves and rising prices in all sorts of sectors are down to Brexit. And they need to be reminded that Scotland did not vote for Brexit. It is perfectly fine that the people of England should be able to vote to wreak economic disaster on their own country if they think it is a price worth paying to keep out foreigners, but it is not right that they should drag the other nations of the UK out with them. I want to see the Yes campaign, and particularly the SNP, hammer this message home.

There are other things we need to constantly highlight. Things like the Bedroom Tax, the cuts to Universal Credit – not to mention the inherent flaws in that Tory brainchild.

We need to highlight that Scottish military personnel are frequently placed in danger because the UK is almost always at war in one part of the world or another.

Then there are the obstacles put in the way of our renewable power potential, and the fact that England charges Scottish power generation businesses for the privilege of sending electricity to England. We don’t need to dismantle the current so-called National Grid, but we should be able to sell our electricity to England rather than watch them take it.

Pensions are another issue, particularly since it is the older generations who are most opposed to Scotland becoming a normal country. The paucity of the UK pension must be highlighted, and a commitment given to raising it substantially when we have the power to do so. This should be one of our headline campaign issues.

These and other areas are easy to point to, and people must be made aware of them. Our campaign must strike home at the doubters and persuade them that Scotland can do much better as an independent nation than it ever can as part of the UK.

Of course, there will be difficult aspects to consider, but there are arguments we can put forward. The "Too wee, too poor" argument relies on GERS, and the Scottish Government need to come out strongly with criticisms of this flawed analysis of our wealth. The message that GERS shows just how bad a job the UK has done of running Scotland’s economy needs to be shouted loudly and widely.

Inevitably, the Currency and Border questions will arise. On these points, people need to understand that Scotland already has Scottish Pound banknotes. It is perfectly feasible to establish a new currency which, if backed by Scotland’s wealth, will soon establish itself. Having our own currency is essential for membership of the EU, and that message also needs to be explained clearly. And we should not forget that the 2014 IndyRef included Better Together claims that Sterling would fall by as much as 10% if Scotland became a normal country and retained use of the Pound. Yet Brexit has seen Sterling fall by more than that and nobody seems to care. We need to make it clear that a Scottish Pound would almost certainly perform better. Initially, this would be due to our oil reserves, but the climate catastrophe facing us means we need to ensure this is a short term benefit. It will, however, give us time to establish our currency and put our economy on a more stable basis than the one we would have as part of the UK. Given our potential for renewable energy, we can surely find a way to remove oil as a major prop of our economy.

As for the Border, it must be reiterated that this is a construct of England. By re-joining the EU, we open up the world to our importers and exporters. Current supply chains will need to adapt, but since they are collapsing thanks to Brexit, any change would surely be an improvement. What becoming a normal country would do is push us into developing our ports and establishing ferry routes to the EU, just as Ireland has done to avoid sending goods through England. If Ireland can do that in a matter of months, Scotland can surely match it.

There are lots of other areas we could talk about, but whatever we do, we need to see the official campaign repeat messages on every factor they can think of. The biggest problem will be the media who will do their utmost to prevent these messages reaching the public. That’s why the work of grass roots campaigners will be so important.

Let’s get ready!

Union Jack Smokescreen

Posted on August 27th, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

The pronouncement from Scottish Secretary Alister "Union" Jack that a second IndyRef would be permitted if support for it remains consistently at 60% is the usual smokescreen from a Tory Minister. He gives no clarification on how long this consistency will be required, thus allowing plenty of wriggle room to weasel out of any sort of genuine commitment. Still, it’s nice to know that our Lords and Masters might graciously condescend to grant us some sort of democratic decision over our own future at some unspecified point in the future if we abide by their imposed rules which don’t really seem to have much in common with actual democracy.

Besides all that, we were assured in 2014 that 55% provided a decisive decision, so why now do we need to produce 60% support for the idea of becoming a normal country? And, just in case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know how a normal country operates, it does not rely on the beneficence of a larger neighbour for permission to make its decisions.

The Primary Goal

Posted on August 23rd, 2021

By Rab Bruce’s Spider

I have no interest in the war of words between supporters of the SNP and Alba. Quite honestly, it does nobody any good and, in a practical sense, is rather pointless. The only elections we are likely to face for the next few years are the Council elections. I want to see all pro-Indy parties doing well in those elections, but the reality is that, in terms of bringing IndyRef2 closer, the results really won’t make much difference.

So I’m hoping that Scotland will have decided to become a normal, self-governing country before the next Scottish elections. The announcement of a deal between the SNP and Greens will, I sincerely hope, make it more likely that IndyRef2 will happen since we now have the majority pro-Indy Government all Yessers wanted, and which the Loyalist Parties claimed was necessary to show that Scots had a desire for self-government. As I’ve said before, and as many are saying online, the SNP really need to deliver this time around. If we get to 2026 without IndyRef2, I believe their credibility will be gone. They need to see it through this time, and they need to ensure we win the vote.

As for the inter-Party rivalries, I doubt these will disappear, but they will surely be put to one side once a proper IndyRef campaign begins. All we need is to hear the starting gun. There are some positive noises coming from some senior SNP representatives, notably Mike Russell, but what we need to see sooner rather than later is action, not more words. Scotland’s case has never been stronger, the contrast between our nation and England has rarely been more stark in political terms.

I have sympathy with those who believe Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to IndyRef2 has been far too cautious, but I think she has taken a large step in the right direction now. Let’s hope she maintains that forward momentum. I’ve seen a few people express the opinion that the Greens have only been brought into Government to help push through controversial legislation such as the Gender Reform act, but I think we need to wait a little while to see what the actual impact is as regards IndyRef2. After all, the SNP could probably have counted on Green support for the GRA anyway. They didn’t need to bring them into a formal co-operation agreement for that. So I’m hopeful that, at long last, we are going to see some movement on IndyRef2.

When and if that happens, we will need a positive campaign from all pro-Indy Parties, and we can expect support from the EU now as the UK is no longer a member, so EU politicians will be free to make statements they could not during the first IndyRef. I know there will be controversial issues such as currency and borders which will need to be firmed up, but becoming a normal country must be the primary goal.

The RBS who actually cares about Scotland.  If at first you don't secede, try, try again.

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