Please be advised that it is not for the fainthearted, but I suggest those of you sick of being branded Anglophobes or bigots for seeking self-determination may follow up our trawl yesterday into the depths of xenophobia in the Daily Telegraph – sparked by out-of-context quotes from the Daily Express – by peering into one of my latest correspondent posts on the right of this page. (Ivor griffiths)

This is an example of what those of us blogging for Scotland are subjected to and this latest arrival is the direct result of the smear run in the Telegraph. I’m not deterred in the slightest because it’s only argument, not incoherent anger and filth, that will win the day, but we’ve had ample evidence in the last 24 hours of how vile the so-called Unionist camp can be – not concealed in under-the-radar internet sites but in upfront mainstream Unionist media outlets. Just remember this when they call us cybernats. There are nasty nutters out there on both sides but this shows how idiotic it is to brand a whole community as cybernats because of the few. Equally I know this is not representative of Unionism, so don’t let the Ian Murrays and George Foulkes and Brian Wilsons distort the reality (Is it coincidence that most of the propagators of this kind of sewer politics are Labour?)

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Making a Difference Update

I recommend you look at the outpouring of Scotophobic hate in the Telegraph unleashed by  Nutty Professor Tom Gallagher. It is nauseating and dripping with racist poison which no doubt was his intention. He’s an expert apparently in sectarianism. By God, he is. For rebarbative, brutal hate for an entire people and their history you’d have to attend a BNP rally to better it. How proud the professor must be to see what his writings stir up, how gratified he must be that he can turn the zealots and the bigots on so easily. I doubt if even the American government propaganda machine is paying for this service. But what it does reveal is just how sick some of the opponents of self determination are and how ill-informed and self-obsessed about the country they claim to be proud of. If this is the Union you can keep it. I know this is a tiny proportion of public opinion but it does no harm to be reminded of just how airily ignorant and wilfully prejudiced some people are and how it can drive your desire to escape to create our new Scotland free from their contempt and hate. Try’ve-never-voted-conservative-but-scotlands-anti-tory-hatefest-fills-me-with-shame    but take a  deep breath first

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Making a Difference

I was girdin’ masel  for a hurl at Gordon Brown with no little distaste I have to say since I can’t think of the sulking beast of Fife without a sense of dread and longing for a talent so wasted. So I was pleased enough to be side tracked by the latest attack on my good self in the mainstream media. The latest appears in…can you guess? Yes, the Daily Telegraph which not only omitted the context of my remarks but lifted them straight from Britain’s house magazine of doctrinaire bigotry, the Daily Express. After the inevitable excoriation from Brian Wilson, these are truly my badges of honour. I must be doing something right.

If you notice, the mainstream barely mentions the lively, insightful pro independence activity on the internet. It is genuinely a phenomenon which is playing a key role in what may be the break up of Britain and yet the organisations we look  to inform us are failing to report them. They are terrified of the new journalism which exposes them and satirises them and beats them to news. The traditional role of the conventional newspaper and broadcaster is being redrawn from without and there is nothing they can do to stop it.

The objective of the Unionist commentariat is to ignore the pro independence net, don’t bring it to the attention of the dumb voters, don’t give it credence. This proves difficult when some sites make a major impact but is particularly tricky when some like me from their own world joins in. They try to ignore me but with a BBC name, that becomes tricky. When they worry that  someone like me may actually have a degree of influence, it is time to attack which is why Brian Wilson was first to smear me. It’s designed to head people off but of course does the opposite. For me, to be the object of poison from the propagandists is a clear sign of success.

Now he’s been joined by another frothing opponent of self determination, Professor Tom Gallagher, or as Alex Salmond calls him, the Nutty Professor. You can decide for yourself if he’s got a point. But for the record I don’t hate anybody English, I don’t want a border, I welcome all incomers, salute them as adopted Scots and hope they stay and take citizenship. My enemy is the British state which is currently responsible for a xenophobic platform denigrating Europe, foreigners, Romanians, Bulgarians, asylum seekers and frankly, sometimes Scots too. If you have the stomach for it, read the Telegraph article here

Then check out what I actually wrote here

Make up your own mind if the phrases taken out were an attempt unfairly to smear me and my known views.

And if it helps, check out what others say about Tom Gallagher and his motives. This is the Left Review documenting his association with American state interests and how he denigrates Scottish independence.  And these are the people telling us we’re biased…


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I’m a Scottish Internationalist

I was interviewing Sir Christopher Meyer some years back, the man who used to be our Ambassador in Washington. There was a row about how many British troops were being sent into some new conflict zone or other and people on the Left were asking why did we always comply with American requests for troops when were already badly stretched.


I challenged him on how Britain saw itself as some kind of world leader tucked in behind the US and suggested to him that we sometimes instead took the Denmark option of taking part in joint operations with a token force and retaining our right to opt out if we wanted to. He let out a shocked laugh, like Sir Humphrey recognising one of the Minister’s follies, and scoffed … “with due respect to little Denmark, I don’t think they have quite the role of Britain…”

Oh dear me, no. That was well off script, the idea that mighty Britannia would become just one of many equal nations helping out an intervention by giving a commensurate number of troops and support. It was the UK’s job to be the leader, upfront in the cockpit with the big boys. You could see how it was a mindset, one of those self-justifying acts that made everybody in London and our people in Washington feel engaged and important even as another batch of hard-pressed and under-equipped soldiers put boots on the ground. I despair at the endless generosity of the British government in making available our armed forces for international action. There are times when action is sanctioned by the UN and, yes, by NATO that it is a duty and probably the right thing. But you have to say there is a kind of mad desperation in the UK for all things military and getting our boys into yet another foreign ruck. I asked a British officer about our presence in Northern Ireland and he said it was good training. The Troubles had to be dealt with of course but they were also a great way of training service personnel. “There’s nothing like the real thing for preparing troops for action…”


It now appears that Britain’s downward spiral in the world is accelerating as vainglorious politicians pretend the country can police the globe, have world-class weaponry, maintain a nuclear deterrent and cut costs. Have a read at this piece to discover some of the latest American thinking on Weapon-mad Britain – – and these are the allies Britain is trying to please!

The terrible irony of course is that Labour is also sold on this demonic idea of British internationalism. Jim Murphy is clear that we must retain Trident and Johann Lamont’s statement to the STUC actually backs its replacement with a new generation of death weapons. This at the very time even the British military establishment is pondering it value, it is questioned in the right wing press – the Telegraph and the Evening Standard – and even the Americans who supply it think it’s time is up.

Britain provides help in all sorts of ways around the world and within what I think is an outdated approach it remains an active player in the realms of aid and support beyond our military interventions. But I fear the British enthusiasm for bigging up and posing as world leaders while also being afraid to take a line not supported by Washington has left us open to doubts about our intentions in some areas and questions about our credibility at home.

How very different this all could be under independence. For a start, we can decide when to send our forces abroad, how many and on what terms. As a new state we can be open to all countries.  We emerge with virtually no baggage on the world scene, we have a history of friendly relations and exploration and, despite the Meyer sneers, copied by the No campaign, we are well regarded internationally. What an opportunity to create whole new image for Scotland, building on the work of SCIAF and the Kirk’s World Mission, to take our expertise to developing countries and build stronger bilateral connections. Can small countries make a difference…of course. Remember the Oslo Accords in the 90’s brokered by Norway? Conflict resolution is a respected area of diplomacy…why not a specialised centre in Scotland? We have historical links to the Holy Land and to Bethlehem, could a Scottish initiative help to break deadlock there?


As an independent nation, stripped of London’s influence, we can determine what our international priorities are. And they may be surprising. Scotland made one of the greatest public declarations of compassion a country can make when, in 2009, the Scottish government freed Abdelbasset al-Megrahi. You may disagree that he should ever have been released but I doubt if you can disagree that it was a decision that defied the major powers, notably America, and sent a message of love and forgiveness around the world. It is the single decision of the devolved government which gives me the greatest pride.

We shouldn’t forget either that internationalism has always been part of our character, from explorers, traders, mercenaries, teachers and missionaries to the constant exchange of people and ideas. During the Cold War, a connection was maintained between the UK and Soviet Russia with regular meetings based on Edinburgh University in which leading academics and experts gathered to exchange information. Did any of it make its way back to London and Moscow? What do you think?

Our global footprint as a force for good is one of the most exciting prospects for our new country but we will have to be a new country first. We can’t operate globally without statehood. Even when we’ve tried, the British machine has done its best to stop us. Did they initially welcome Jack McConnell’s Malawi plans, did they welcome a Scottish representative in the British Embassy in Washington, did they make it easy for Scottish officials to travel to Brussels on joint missions?

All international relations are based, funnily enough, on nations. To be a nation or to claim nationhood is the natural progression for any country and from there it forms its  international arrangements.

The most memorable parts of my life as a journalist were travelling and meeting people just as fervent about their country as I was but equally keen to share and discuss from the West Bank to China from Russia to the USA. In the same way, Scotland needs to get out there into the world on its own terms and make its own friends, without the colonial militaristic trappings of a fading Britain.

Each country has its own national interests and its nationalism. It is when they reach out to others in the spirit of cooperation that they can change the world through internationalism. That could very soon be Scotland’s role.

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I’m a Scottish Nationalist

Are you a nationalist? I bet you are. It doesn’t matter which side of the referendum you’re on, you either put your faith in Scotland or in Britain. You’re a nationalist.

There are people who simply refuse to acknowledge any national identity and have no time for any borders or governments and reject all talk of sovereignty at any level. It’s the John Lennon concept of Imagine there’s no countries etc…

But everybody else is essentially nationalistic. You will of course get denial from an Australian or a Frenchman for example because they don’t like the idea but watch them react when Advance Australia Fair or the Marseillaise starts up.

Most nationalities don’t think they’re nationalists because the question simply doesn’t arise. It would be the stupid question to ask a Kiwi if he feels like a New Zealander. It is so obvious that there is no response apart from pity for the questioner.

Not in Scotland. We have to agonise over the meaning and the detail and reject categories. Blood nationalist? Ethnic? Civic? For God’s sake, grow up and accept that if you feel you belong in a country and owe some loyalty, it means you are essentially a nationalist. Get used to it.

This is another of these debilitating hangovers from Union which taught me the kings and queens of England and forgot to say there were Scottish kings too. We were supposed to lap up the Proms with a field of Union flags – I did, I love the music – and gorge on stories of Empire – I did, I love them – but somewhere our own national story mostly fell between the cobblestones somewhere around Buckingham Palace. It was grand to be British and proudly nationalistic – but Scottish? That was for the dreamers and the nutters. And that abasement of their own country – Scotland – still afflicts many today.

Now I don’t for a minute think that Yes voters who say they are supporters but not nationalists are being disingenuous or intellectually dishonest. I just think they don’t like the idea of nationalism because they connect it with sectarianism and strife. They have been conditioned to think this way by the same British nationalists who trumpet the UK’s superior approach to international affairs, while berating anyone else who tries to clamber aboard. We learned how the Republicans were Irish nationalists and how ethnic nationalism caused horror in the Balkans. You may remember the Nazis too – a reference still used by Unionists about the Scots.

But they never question their own British Unionism as a strident form of nationalism.

I think for many in Yes, their vision of a country with its own distinctive political culture based on community, commonwealth and equality is nationalism. Anything that unites people in a shared national cause and expresses a collective national will is nationalism…by definition.

I get tired of the denials on both sides. What else can a campaign for (and against) a country’s status be but a type of nationalism? People share a dream, an aspiration which makes them part of a nationalist cause. It doesn’t mean they make the mistakes of history and Scotland has been very careful indeed in this regard. But to brand nationalism responsible for past wars is to ignore wars started for resources like oil, religion, territory.

I’m proud of being a Scottish nationalist. It is a statement of belonging and of belief and it doesn’t fall into the trap I outlined in a past series under the title Generation X in which Unionists are obliged to fudge – as Ming Campbell did recently in the Guardian when he gave an elegant exposition of Unionist belief. It is, put simply: I am a proud Scot who believes his country is better run as part of a bigger state and it is to that state that I gave my loyalty. You can be both Scot and Brit but the British side always trumps your Scottishness. It must do because you want it to be your state/country/identity, and it overtakes your Scottishness. Therefore Britain is your country and Scottishness within that wider British identity is part of your identity. I put it more bluntly – you are British first and Scottish second. We have dodged along with this duality for 300 years but in September that wont do anymore. This is decision time. Either Scotland gets your vote to be your state or you vote No to let Britain do that job.

But if so, do us all a favour and stop pretending to be both things at once. One is not equal with the other in this vote. That’s your choice. Which is it? Anything else is intellectually evasive. If you’re British, be proud and vote No…don’t come out of the polling booth pledging allegiance to Scotland. You will have failed the test and put Scotland second on your list of constitutional priorities. And make no mistake, the world will see it that way…the people who said No to their own independence…. Truly, a people who deem themselves unworthy of statehood, confirmed as dependents, reliant on ‘benefactors’ and cowed in the face of a campaign of fear which belittled them….Braveheart No More, will read the healdines. Scots leave their fighting spirit in the film studio as they opt for UK safety net…Bagpipes and kilts are mere fashion accessories not the accoutrements of a new nation…etc etc

I suspect that if the worst does happen, it will only be on September 19 that some Scots will learn painfully just how nationalistic they really are and have been all along. 

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