Scots – All of Us or None of Us

It still comes up long after the original franchise for the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum was set: who gets to decide whether Scotland regains its independence or not?

Folk might think that my advocacy and membership of the Alba party means that I might have changed my mind on things other than my voting preference. In fact, I feel even more comfortable as part of Alba than I had in the SNP for a long time, a comfort I hope to affirm at the inaugural conference taking place in my own constituency of Inverclyde this September. Should the topic of whether the franchise in 2014 – that is, any adult of voting age in Scotland regardless of their national status – should stay the same for any future independence referendum, I will happily and heartily advocate that yes, it should.

My reasoning hasn’t changed, and my conclusions have not either. If you live in Scotland, you get to decide its future. That’s how it works in other independent countries, so that’s how I think it should work for aspiring-to-become independent countries.

Nonetheless, there are some in the independence movement who argue that the question should be revisited:

The other point Alf made quite forcibly was on the franchise we should use for any confirmatory plebiscite. I also now agree to this point. It should only be those born in Scotland or of Scottish parental descent that are allowed to vote in any self-determination independence plebiscite. This should be extended to the global Scottish diaspora. In 2014 53% of Scottish born voters voted YES. It was those born outwith Scotland that tipped the balance in favour of the status quo.

Now, full disclosure: my hackles spring up whenever this subject comes up, because it’s deeply emotive to me. Having said that, I do want to explore it a bit more.

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Escaping the Event Horizon

It’s all so surreal. Unbelievable. Nightmarish.

I mean, I’d talked before about intrusive thoughts. And they’ve been largely the sort that you find in a later Alistair MacLean spy thriller – heck, some of them have been pushing into Clive Cussler territory.

I’ve gone on record saying that I don’t want anyone to die for Scottish Independence. Yet at the same time I can say, in all honesty, that if the extremely unlikely were to happen and the only thing standing between a bullet and either Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon was me, I absolutely would’ve taken the hit for either one. I know that about myself. I had those intrusive thoughts every time I was in either First Minister’s presence. How could I not? Indeed, when I was part of the crew seeing the First Minister’s helicopter land at Battery Park, we were told in no uncertain terms that there is a slim chance of death in any helicopter landing. Slim though that chance was, it was a sobering thought: dark thoughts ran through my mind. Yet I, and all the others there, stood there, waiting for the bird carrying the First Minister to alight on the green grass of Greenock.

Thankfully, the dark thoughts did not materialise, and I’ll never forget that day. What follows is a collection of some of my darkest, most intrusive thoughts over the past few years, as an illustration to show that even if things look hopeless, there’s always a way out.

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The World This Year

A long time ago, I purchased a copy of Hamish McRae’s The World in 2020 from a Largs bookshop. It was originally published in 1994 (paperback 1995), so 2020 seemed very far into the future for teenage Aly, eager for all the technological and scientific marvels promised by such a distance. While teen Aly was initially disappointed with the lack of Martian colonies, helper robots and public teleportation systems, I found myself dipping in time and again for the more sociological & economic insights – especially when it came to Scotland.

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Revolutions with Flowers & Song

Depending on who you ask, between 20,000 & 200,000 marchers turned up for yesterday’s big Edinburgh party. If anti-independence advocates aren’t immediately going for the lowest estimate, they use the curious logic that “only” 3.7% of a nation’s entire population turning out for a march is somehow a mark against support for Scottish Independence.

So I thought I’d have a look at other famous marches from history. While Mr Golden might think they also show a lack of enthusiasm for their causes (not least because the majority of those marches were against his party), I’ll let readers make up their own minds.

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Desperate to be Proven Wrong

Ever since the wee hours of the 19th of September 2014, I’ve been desperate to be proven wrong on some things.

After a few weeks of recovery, I attended The Big Debate at the Beacon in Greenock in the later months of 2014. Stuart McMillan, then-MP Iain McKenzie, and Mona Siddiqui were present. When discussion of the Smith Commission came up, Ms Siddiqui warned us that we shouldn’t “go into something expecting to be betrayed,” that we should have good faith that the parties of Westminster would listen to Scotland. I knew then that we shouldn’t, because how many times has Lucy snatched away Charlie Brown’s football before now?

All through the referendum campaign, I didn’t think about what would happen with a No vote. Then I had to deal with what happened, and all the things that were lurking the back of my mind came flooding out. And in every single case, I was desperate to be wrong.

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Nobody Here But Us “Populists”








It’s certainly been a good few years for rubbing your eyes, shaking your head, looking at whatever you were drinking, and then pouring it down the drain.

Because you’d have to be drinking some sort of unspecified purple liquid to think that England & Wales voting to leave the EU was anything but the triumph of what most media and political folk inaccurately label populism, and that the UK is “one of few states in Europe without support for a “populist” party.”

Just like Spain. And Portugal. And Greece. And all the other countries that don’t have a “populism” problem.

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Time To Say Goodbye to the Electric Eye

There was a time when I loved the BBC.

Growing up, there weren’t many opportunities for me to watch live television: for a number of years, we didn’t have a television in the home at all. Therefore whenever we visited friends and family, live telly was a special treat. We’d watch Star Trek with the grandparents – repeats of the original series, and the UK premieres of Star Trek: The Next Generation on BBC2; sometimes we’d catch Dòtaman on days off from school, or City Lights, The High Life, or Red Dwarf if we stayed up late; big events like the Proms and Hogmanay Live were essential viewing. But most of all, I remember the documentaries and current affairs programs – Natural World, Horizon, Panorama – because they were the “adult” programs. As a precocious wee Aly, I was indeed very interested in being very grown up.

Some of our family and friends worked at the BBC, and in the 1990s, I got the opportunity to visit BBC studios with the rest of the family. I couldn’t wait: back then, the BBC felt like one of those wonderlands where ideas and dreams came to fruition. Even though it didn’t have quite as many rides or attractions as Disneyworld or Universal Studios, it was more than enough for me to see all the cameras, the lights, the scurrying crew, the chattering headsets, the flickering monitors with analogue countdowns. This, thought wee Aly, was where they made Jackanory, Blue Peter, Record Breakers, Tomorrow’s World, Natural World, Horizon, The Living Planet, The Trials of Life, Lost Worlds Vanished Lives, and a host of other programs that informed, inspired, and enthralled. Best of all, David Attenborough himself was present! While we never got an opportunity to meet him personally (We did, however, get a chance to meet Philip Schofield, who was as warm and friendly as he was on television) it was amazing enough seeing him as they filmed Going Live! from afar.

The BBC continued to be a positive thing in my life growing up: I’ll never forget when Hartbeat was interrupted with breaking news of a ceasefire in some war off somewhere (much as I wanted to see the rest of Hartbeat, knowing a war was over was good news); seeing the Scottish Parliament opening ceremony; watching that first episode of Walking With Dinosaurs. Then Iraq. Then Hutton. Then the Gaza War. Then fascism. Then the internal scandals.

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What Dominic Raab Did Say

The more I’ve learned about politics, the more I’ve learned about the divergence between public perception and the reality. To those who work closely with them – their staff, their constituents, their friends & family – politicians are people, just like anyone else. But to those who don’t know them so well, politicians are entities that seem aloof, distant, beings beyond their influence. Some politicians do their best to bridge that gap: others make it their business to widen it.

For a while, my personal perception of politics seemed to be most like Yes, Minister: certain honourable exceptions from all parties aside, politicians were bumbling, well-meaning morons being manipulated by coldly calculating civil servants who were the true masters of political life. For all the dark undertones and bleak sense of inevitability, there was a charm and wit which made the horror of Westminster strangely cosy, comfortable, relatable.

Then it started to seem more like The Thick of It. Again, exceptions aside, politicians were incompetent, cowardly, corrupt, self-centred morons being manipulated by coldly calculating spin doctors and media tyrants who were the true masters of political life. While it pulled no punches in the language and depiction of the worst side of politics, the charismatic characters nonetheless managed to appeal.

Nowadays? It feels like we’ve stepped into the dimension of The New Statesman, a world where (once more, exceptions aside) politicians are cruel, callous, deluded, mendacious monsters who will stop at nothing for their own myopic personal gain, wreaking untold havoc and mindless chaos in the process for what seems like no rhyme or reason.

Look at the people leading the UK’s “negotiations” to leave the EU and tell me I’m wrong.

Credit to Tom Pride, who proves I’m not the only one who thought of this…

A supposed screenshot of a message supposedly posted by Dominic Raab MP made the rounds yesterday. It was a cunning fake, given that its contents were depressingly believable, especially to weary Scottish Independence supporters.

To make amends for this affront to Mr Raab’s dignity, I shall use this post to provide things that Mr Raab has actually said about Scotland, and our place in the United Kingdom.

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Except for Voters in Scotland

Let me be clear: nobody, not me, not anyone, is expecting the SNP to give up on independence. That is what it believes in and it is a perfectly honourable position to take.
Ruth Davidson, before then demanding the SNP give up on independence

Democracy is not just about one vote once every five years or one vote once on a particular issue causing all argument on that matter to be considered legitimately shut down. That is not the way democracy works. Democracy is a dynamic concept. People who are on the losing side are not obliged to accept that their view has been lost for ever and they are perfectly entitled to continue to argue for it.
John Bercow

The people of Scotland should not have a second referendum on independence. But the people of the UK should have a second referendum on leaving the European Union. This is because we won the first referendum, and lost the second one.
– if pro-EU anti-Indy people were honest


Since we really should be collecting all these, I thought I’d gather the ones I’ve come across.

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