Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Lie at the Heart of the No Campaign

No campaign Monger-in-Chief, Alistair Darling
There is a theme developing in the unionist camp(aign). A leitmotif with an irresoluable contradiction at its core. An ambiguity so fundamental to unionist thinking that it underpins almost every question to which they demand an answer, every dubious objection they pose, even every scare they monger.

I would like to propose the following hypotheses which can be used to test each pronouncement made by the no campaign and its media associates as we approach the referendum on Independence in 2014.

1. The national hypothesis

On the one hand the union is presented as a partnership. A marriage between two nations (or four regions). An arrangement between equals which enhances the stability, the security, the prestige and the economies of its participants. The very antithesis of “too wee, too poor, too stupid”.

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Federation says "Aye Captain".

The following endorsements were beamed down to the YesScotland campaign headqaurters. These are believed to be an endorsement for the future of Scotland, from the future of Scotland.
Are we to leave the United Kingdom in 2014 then join the United Federation of Planets instead?

They're jamming all channels

Monday, 25 June 2012

The House Next Door

As a young boy, my father would tell me the story of my family in nightly instalments, with many repetitions of my favourite bits. As our odd history is possibly unique, and may well be illuminating to others, I will précis it for you now, with your permission.

We live in a large sandstone house with a substantial garden behind. These days the garden is mainly given over to apple trees, but it once held plants of every kind imaginable. Although we did not build the house, my family has owned and lived in it for many years, right back to the days of my grandfather.

Next door to us is another house which is similar to ours, but has been extended to the rear and on the roof so that it is almost twice as large. It was broken up into flats, long before I was born, so there are many more people there than live in our house. The house next door does not really have a proper garden, however, just a yard which is mostly paved over.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Imagine the Benefits of an Independent Scotland

I would like to take a few minutes of your precious time in order to imagine a Scotland very different from today's. A Scotland which could only come about once we no longer need to seek the permission of the Westminster before acting to create our future. A Scotland which could never come about under devolution, whether min, max, plus or sugar-free.

Imagine a Scotland where every citizen has a right to a basic guaranteed income, funded by the state. An arrangement very like a state pension, but paid from birth, with its value rising from infancy to adulthood.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Iran and the reputation of the BBC

At the beginning of the 1980s, I met the lovely girl who would later become my wife. She was a Persian student who had become trapped in Scotland by the Iranian revolution. Susan's family were all back in Iran and she, with no immediate prospect of being able to return home, was completely cut off from them. In those days they shot dissident students as they arrived at Tehran airport.

This was when I first came into regular contact with the BBC World Service. We both listened to the English language news service nightly, trying to get a clear view of events in Iran as they unfolded. News was difficult to come by as foreign journalists were extremely unwelcome. The Iranian state broadcaster carried nothing but propaganda. During those years, the BBC was a lifeline for Susan and the many other Persian exiles we knew back then.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Last Chance for the Unionist Case?

As I predicted a couple of weekends ago, the independence debate is beginning, at long last, to move from the procedural to the political. The argument over referendum dates, wording of questions etc. is quietening while attention is turning to more substantive issues such as the shape of an independent Scotland, her institutions and infrastructure.

The SNP and Scottish Greens, at least, have begun to outline their own visions for Scotland after the union, and are listing those aspirations which believe will become possible in an independent nation state with the full set of powers that entails.

The unionist parties remain predictably negative but have also, if reluctantly and haltingly, started to define the independent nation they would like to see – most noticeably by voting in Holyrood to retain the Queen as head of state in Scotland, once the Act of Union has been dissolved. It has been a slow start but it is, unquestionably, a start.