You Can’t Shut Us Up

Inverclyde_Council Offices

“Inverclyde Cooncil Chambers. Ye will ne’er airt oot a mair wratchit byke o’ flot an deeviltry. We maun be caitious.” Big-Wan Kenobie

Why are politicians among the few occupations you cannot have sacked for incompetence?

Just about every other profession – doctor, researcher, engineer, accountant, butcher, baker, candlestick-maker – relies upon the competence of the individual. If a doctor regularly misdiagnoses or wrongfully prescribes medication, they are struck off the register. If an engineer screws up in calculations or measurements, they’re given the heave-ho. If a candlestick-maker’s wares accidentally start an inferno, they’d likely be fired. So why is it that politicians can only be persuaded to step down when they wreak untold havoc upon communities through incompetence, corruption or sheer wrong-headedness? Why must it come to outright illegal activity before action is taken to remove them?

It’s no coincidence that another two jobs from which you seemingly cannot be terminated as a direct result of inability are journalists and bankers. And it’s no coincidence that the three occupations which seem most profoundly opposed to Scottish independence are politicians, journalists, and bankers.

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48 Lies

Now that Mr. Darling has admitted that we can use the pound, can we do something about this?

goodbye-scotland-referendum-better-together-copy

In addition to a few surprising revelations, I counted at least 48 things* that Alistair Darling said which were incorrect in some fashion – either mistakes, misrepresentations, half-truths, non-sequiturs, assertions-stated-as-fact, or flat-out untruths. So, until an official transcript is online, I’ve compiled them here, as well as pointing out why they’re not true. And stealing some graphics from Politifact, which badly needs a UK division.

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Scotland’s Story

Terry Pratchett_Stories

The Alex Salmond – Alistair Darling debate has been and gone. I foresee that there will be much discussion of everything said, analysis, cross-examination, and whatnot. Already the Reverend, Paul Kavanagh and James Kelly have their thoughts up (as well as a time-travelling Peat Worrier), and to be frank, I don’t think there’s much point in me going through all the motions.

But here’s the problem: we’re still letting the UK government dictate the narrative. They set the agenda. The main points of debate, according to them, are:

  • Currency
  • EU
  • Pensions
  • Jobs
  • Budget

These issues, so it seems, are the most important in the entire debate on Scottish independence. The only things which people care about.

None of those things are some of the ten reasons I’m voting Yes – why were none of my reasons discussed at in any detail at all?

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Adventures in Canvassing

Erm, no, not THAT kind of canvas...

Erm, no, not THAT kind of canvas…

It’s one thing to rant online about independence: it’s quite another getting out onto the street and conversing with folk in a public setting. So for a good few months now, I’ve been getting involved. I’ve attended meetings for organisations as diverse as Radical Independence Campaign and Christians for Independence; I’ve handed out leaflets at stalls; I’ve delivered newspapers, and have the ink-blackened hands to prove it. And I’ve had a brilliant time doing so, meeting all sorts of people from all angles of the upcoming referendum, engaging with the people in the area I live in to a degree I never felt comfortable with before.

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Rip It To Shreds – Tear It Apart

“Life is hard for Hamish. The last two harsh winters have all but crippled him. ‘I’m sure all the farmers in these parts will vote NO,’ he says.

‘In the last 12 years I’ve only ever made a profit once. Two years ago I hardly had any lambs at all because the weather destroyed most of them. I’m still recovering.’

Life for Hamish is already hard. Up at 5am in all weathers, he works till 10pm most nights for the kind of money that barely keeps food on the table. To make ends meet he drives lorries for a haulage company.”

"Of course we knew we were living next to a volcano, but moving to Ravenna? I just think there's too much uncertainty..."

“Of course we knew we were living next to an active volcano, but moving to Ravenna? I just think there’s too much uncertainty, and I don’t trust that Alexander Salmoneus…”

I’m still naive and unjaded enough to be shocked by such sad stories as this poor farmer who’s experienced such terrible times, and still astounded that it’s the Scottish government which is blamed for his ills. Not the UK government, which decided to siphon off tens of millions from the EU earmarked for Scotland, and decided to give it to farms in England. Not the UK government, which has seen to it that Scottish farmers have among the lowest CAP rural development fund in the EU. Not the UK government, which is embarking on the exact same type of social cleansing as the Highland Clearances in its “urban development” forcing all but the richest out of the big cities.

I have less sympathy for the couple who seem to think keeping Scotland in the UK might somehow save them from Alex Salmond’s “blight” of renewable energy. In what universe is renewable energy – cleaner, safer, more environmentally friendly – a blight?

You want to see a “blight”?

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The Acceptable Face of Nationalism

Nigel the Highlander

Video courtesy the Reverend.

“I was born in Inverness, I’m a passionate Highlander, and I love Scotland. I will take a stand to keep the United Kingdom together. I will give my life for my country as my grandfather did in the First World War. And his brother Charlie. Highland regiment! British Army! I am British forever! We will never, never change! We will keep our union together in the name of Jesus!”

Social media has erupted over Nigel Kirk Hanlin, whose appearance on Question Time’s final show recorded in Scotland before the referendum was certainly memorable in comparison to the usually fairly bland and tepid proceedings of the show. I really didn’t feel much desire to talk about him: he’s just like dozens of other No voters I’ve encountered along the campaign trail, with the same anger and repudiation of the “Nationalists” attempt to break up their country.

I didn’t see much point in commenting on him, but the media seems to disagree: not only did Huffington Post UK and The Independent run it, but the Scottish Daily Mail are interviewing him. Meanwhile, unionist Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are extolling the passion, energy and heart of Mr Hanlin in his determined patriotism.

Or is it… nationalism?

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