For English Eyes Only

This has been building up for a while now.

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Where The Work Needs Done

Edited from the original to respect Shetlander sensibilities.

Looking at the official results of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and Ballot Box Scotland’s quick mockup of the recent Ashcroft Poll is illuminating in some ways. Obviously, the place the work needs done is “Scotland.” But let’s have a wee bit of fun.

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The War Among The Vampires

He is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream.
The Lord of the Rings, Book I, Chapter V, “The White Rider”

A while back I speculated that the EU Referendum was being used as a proxy war between two different factions within The Establishment.

On one side, you had the Nativists: these are people who have – or at least believe they have – genuine pride and concern for the United Kingdom, a belief in their nation, and a willingness to put party-politics aside for what they perceive as the greater good. Despite their selfishness & arrogance, for whatever reason, they really do care about the UK’s international reputation, its territorial integrity, and its wealth. This is exemplified by the likes of David Cameron, Theresa May, John Major, and other pro-EU figures in the UK Government Party.

On the other side, you had the Conmen. These people might talk a big talk about the United Kingdom and Great Britain, or even let the mask slip & talk about England – but in truth, it’s all lip service to their voting base. They don’t care about the UK, its people, its borders, or even its wealth, even in a nominal sense: all they care about is themselves and their own coffers. This is clear to see in the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage, and all the other squillionaires who look set to make themselves even more rich in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

So what does this mean for Scottish Independence? I have a bold theory.

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Of Sma’ Fowk, and A’ Fowk: Robert the Bruce

A common criticism of historical fiction, particularly historical cinema, is its focus on the Great Men and Women of history: the kings and queens, princes and princesses, lords and ladies, emperors and empresses. Stories about the common people seemed – rightly or wrongly – to be rarer than sagas about royal dynasties, mighty conquerors, and cruel tyrants. I’ve seen more than a few criticisms of Outlaw King which lament a question they never found the answer to: what were the common people fighting for?

That such a question is even asked shows the importance of cultural representation of this period in Scottish history.

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Louie

It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the passing of ‘Big’ Louie Pastore. A loving husband, dad, grandad, brother, son, brother-in-law and great friend to many.

Louie passed away at Ardgowan Hospice this morning surrounded by his family.

His memory will live on through his photographs and his contributions to Inverclyde’s arts and music scene.

His family would like to thank all the staff at Ardgowan Hospice for all their hard work in looking after Louie, and we would also like to thank everyone for their kind words and condolences.

“𝐼 𝑑𝑜𝑛’𝑡 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝐼’𝑚 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝐼 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑠𝑒 𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑜𝑛’𝑡 𝑏𝑒 𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔.” (David Bowie)

Louie Pastore
Rest in peace
1962-2019

Louie Pastore was a very close friend to the family, especially my mother and father, who knew him for most of their lives. He was someone I wish I got to know better, because he shared a lot of interests, hobbies, and causes with me. We graduated from the same university course, where he went on to do teaching. He played music at the Spinnaker; he adventured all around Inverclyde looking for ancient artifacts and taking wonderful photographs; he contributed so much to the local community, through projects like Heid ‘o the Hill and Dark Side o’ the Clyde.

Louie was a big reason I became so invested in local history. I always had a great love and appreciation for Scottish cultural heritage, but Louie knew about the Roman remains at Lurg Moor, the prehistoric rock carvings at what is now Gourock Golf Course, and anything and everything archaeological in Inverclyde.

A great deal of the work I do, from occasional posts on this blog about local history & lives, to Gourock Heritage & Arts, is thanks to his shining example.

A man like Louie lived for his family, his tribe, his local community. I hope we can keep his spirit going.

The John Buchan Way

I believe that every Scotsman should be a Scottish Nationalist. If it could he proved that a separate Scottish Parliament were desirable, that is to say that the merits were greater than the disadvantages and dangers, Scotsmen should support it. I would go further. Even if it were not proved desirable, if it could be proved to be desired by any substantial majority of the Scottish people, then Scotland should be allowed to make the experiment, and I do not believe that, England would desire for one moment to stand in the way.
John Buchan, Debate on the Address, 24 November 1932

I’m struck by the changing timbre of UK Government Party in Scotland. Back in the day, the party battled with the SNP over the votes of rural constituencies over who would defend their interests the best from a distant, uncaring, increasingly centralised Westminster: the Opposition Party, despite being born in Scotland, were for the most part not as interested in the reality of constitutional change as the likes of its own founders. So for much of the 20th Century we had the strange situation where the UK Government Party seemed more interested in highlighting & exploiting Scotland’s distinctiveness than the party of Keir “Home Rule” Hardie. One of the greatest activists for Scottish Gaelic revival in the last half-century was Iain Noble, nephew of Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Noble; Malcolm Rifkind, another SoSfS, lobbied for a Gaelic TV channel, only to be blocked by Margaret Thatcher herself; yet another SoSfS, Michael Forsyth, also campaigned for expansion of Gaelic television, and even attended the premiere of Braveheart in a kilt.

Then consider the above quote: this was said not by an SNP, nor a Socialist, nor a Trade Unionist, but a Scottish Unionist Party MP in the House of Commons. I thought it would be interesting to include the entire speech in a post. While there are some more familiarly Tory-ish bits and pieces (particularly the notion that Irish Roman Catholic immigrants to Scotland are “not Scots”) there are also several arguments & observations that wouldn’t be out of place on the most fervent independence supporter’s repertoire. Certainly it puts to bed the phoney demarcation between nationalism and patriotism put forward by the likes of Ruth Davidson, who even invoke Buchan’s words (as well as Orwell’s own oft-abused comments) as evidence for how far Scotland has come since those terrible old days.

It’s clear Mr. Buchan did not support Scottish Independence any more than he supported any nation breaking away from the Empire he worked so tirelessly to maintain. Nonetheless, the tone and reason in his arguments, acknowledging the genuine merit of the independence position, is a far cry from the patronising scolding of people who proclaim to be against all nationalisms (because their nationalism isn’t actually nationalism at all). Here is someone who recognises the democratic deficit, recognises Scotland’s identity as a nation rather than a region or province, and recognises that you are not going to make the problem go away by ignoring or suppressing it.

One wonders what happened to the party of John Buchan in the eight decades since he made this speech. The John Buchan Way isn’t just a lovely walk in the Borders: it’s a mark of respect & trust. It seems Ruth Davidson’s gang strayed far from the John Buchan Way a long time ago.

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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

As predicted by nobody (except those who were paying attention) the European Elections were a resounding victory for Remain-supporting parties in Scotland – who won every single voting area, as well as more or less matching the EU referendum result of 62% of the vote – and an unmitigated disaster for them in the rest of the UK.

And amidst all the hand-wringing and caterwauling about what on earth the UK Remain Camp can do to solve this crisis, they actually exacerbate the problem in the process.

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