Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Currency in an independent Scotland, an Irish view : Scottish Independence (3)

I am grateful to Noel Howard, an esteemed social care colleague from Ireland, for sending me a copy of a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, which was published this morning, August 27th, 2014. 

Here is the text :


Throughout the Scottish independence debate the No side has consistently taunted the would-be independents with: “How dare you assume you may go on using the British currency?”

Has everyone forgotten that although Ireland wrested her independence from Britain by bitter force of arms, we continued to use sterling for the next half century – even through the economic war with Britain? And cheques drawn on Irish banks were cleared in London? And Irish banknotes, though often refused by shopkeepers, were exchangeable at par in British banks? And even when we introduced the punt, our coinage still continued to work in British vending machines, despite a discount of about 10 per cent?
Maybe other readers can supply reasons for this strange silence. I cannot.

Yours, etc,


Source :

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ben Nevis will lose Munro status if there is a YES vote, BBC reports

According to a source which it is not yet prepared to reveal BBC Scotland reports that should the YES campaign be successful in the Scottish Referendum on September 18th, Ben Nevis, Scotland's and the UK's highest mountain will lose its Munro status and will no longer be over 3,000 feet high which is the minimum height for any self-respecting mountain. It is predicted that the Ben's height (currently 4,406 feet) will collapse on the mountain markets by at least 1500 feet and will stand at only 2,906 feet in height.

Leaked BBC diagram of the projected statistics about the fate of the Ben

This is the most recent in a series of BBC reports which have not too subtly implied the certainty of the collapse of all the assets of Scotland should the YES campaign be successful and in this case the BBC is providing this information  for  Munrobaggers in order that they may be prepared for a disappointment should the referendum result go the wrong way for  them.

Earlier today I approached The Royal Geographical Society and The Ordnance Survey and though these organisations could not confirm the findings of this report, given all the other slightly hooded dire prognostications the BBC has made for a post-YES Scotland, these august bodies were not prepared to say the report had no foundation.

In the last few minutes a BBC spokesperson has announced, "In line with the BBC Scotland's unbiased and balanced treatment of the Scottish Referendum issue, the BBC is not at this stage  prepared to make any further comment on this matter but it stands by its report."

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

At the optician's : Scottish Independence (2)

We're up in Edinburgh for our summer holiday and yesterday my wife had to go to an optician to buy a new pair of reading glasses because she'd lost her only pair on our travels.

I lose and break my reading spectacles so frequently - twice a week at least -  that my optician is now the cut price store where I can buy a pair for £1 rather than the £70 I would pay at the optician's. My wife on the other hand  is more careful about her sight and seldom loses her specs and a rare event like this does not threaten to break her bank. So, having bought a 'make do' emergency pair at the cut price store my wife, with me in tow, headed to the optician's store which was one of a chain widely advertised on television.

Once at the store, a sight test was administered, a new pair of specs were prescribed and in order to pay for them we sat across a desk from a saleswoman to complete the deal. This is the time when not only do you have to pay the very attractive advertised price which drew you into the shop in the first place but you are also encouraged to insure your goods at an additional cost and you are introduced to other extras you might care to purchase.

*Which of these spectacles were bought in the £1 store ?

While we were navigating through this, the saleswoman noted that we lived in Devon and while she said nothing when my wife spoke, she did observe when I spoke that my accent was not from south of the border. I responded with an old chestnut,

"Naw, Eh come fae Dundee, but Eh dinnae let on."

"Ah," she says, "that explains the 'Yes' badges."  My wife and I were both wearing small lapel badges with the word "Yes" on them  which signifies our support for a vote in favour of Scottish Independence in the forthcoming referendum.  I thought for a brief moment she was suggesting that my being from Dundee meant I had more of a propensity to support independence, but eventually decided that she was establishing a connection between a couple living in England and their  wearing of 'Yes' badges.

"Well, I don't know," she continued, "I'm tempted to vote 'Yes' but I'm fearful about what Westminster can do to us if we do vote 'Yes'".

"The Westminster government seem very keen to keep a hold on Scotland," says my English wife. "Scotland must have something that London wants."

"Yes, and if we vote 'Yes' they might take it all away from us."

"Doesn't 'it' belong to Scotland ? Why should 'it' be taken away, wouldn't that be theft ? asks my wife.

"Well," replies the saleswoman, "it's all a bit more complex than that. My heart says 'Yes' but my head says  'No'."

I had tried not to be involved in the conversation up to now but I've never been able to stop myself from saying something when an  'adult-like' figure implies I am too much of a child to know about grown up things.

"The thing is," says I, "Scotland has so many natural resources with the potential to produce more than enough renewable energy for itself, while selling the surplus off to other countries. It may be the profits from that surplus which attracts the City of London and its friends in a certain party in the Westminster government. I think Scotland on its own will have a very sound economy for many decades to come."

The saleswoman's lips widened into a very tight thin smile.  It was  apparent to me that I hadn't made a convert to the "Yes" campaign. I wished I hadn't closed things off in such an abrupt way. I thought what I had said was valid but by being so pedantic and 'adult-like' myself I'd been hoist by my own petard.

When we talked about this exchange later my wife and I agreed that we had known fairly early on in our exchange with the saleswoman we were in the presence of someone who did not want an independent Scotland and that we  respected that position even if we disagreed with it. What surprised us was that the saleswoman did not trust her heart to say how she might vote. She trusted only her head and while we might not agree with what her head was telling her we felt that in the end all human action has its wellspring in the heart as well as the head and maybe we didn't need a pair of reading spectacles to see this.


* Answer to caption question. All of them were bought by me for me in the £1 store but I do not recommend this method for those who have a care for their eyesight. Always seek qualified help.

Monday, 11 August 2014

“Yes” is a creative word : Scottish Independence (1)

 I live in England and so I will not be voting in the September 18th, 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.  I was born in Scotland, have lived in Scotland,  and my parents as well as my forebears were Scottish, so I think it legitimate for me to express  views about the idea of Scottish independence, a notion which first came to mind over 60 years ago when, as a wee boy of 7 or 8 years in Dundee, my teachers, Mrs Wilson and Miss Gilchrist,  told us about the stirring deeds of  those early strugglers for Scottish independence, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.  In the last few months, these memories have returned to  me,  and I  have been  fascinated, given that I don’t have a vote, by how much the discussion about the independence referendum  has impacted upon my feeling and thinking.  What follows is just one example of that.

 In recent weeks when I’ve mentioned to friends, acquaintances and some  members of my family that,  had I been entitled, I would have voted “Yes” for independence in the forthcoming Scottish referendum,  I have been astounded to find I am accused of over-emotionality and sometimes of anger. I have attempted to dissuade those with whom I have been conversing from holding these notions about my psychological state by providing my rationale of the advantages of  independence for Scotland. My explanations have, almost without exception, fallen upon deaf ears and  been cut short by the other person. I have come to believe that when I am putting forward a case for  Scottish independence, those I speak with – all fellow United Kingdom citizens -  begin to feel I am abandoning them.  I experience them as  over-possessive, ‘stuck’ parents who can’t let go of the status quo. It is as if they are saying, “How dare you leave us here at home after all that we have done for you”. 

Let me say I do not think any Scots who call for independence are in the throes of an adolescent struggle for adult identity as they ungratefully attempt to break away from their parents.  Scots have been fully grown up for a long time. Scottish history blazons the Scots' contribution to all aspects of human life, endeavour  and culture, just as it does their courageous and industrious responses to the misfortunes and injustices foisted upon them,  such as, for instance,  the highland clearances which forced so many Scots’ families from their homes and shores as a consequence of the avarice of so called "landowners". 

Scottish people are creative and along with this they carry a positive propensity to look out to the world as well as a capacity to welcome newcomers and take them into their fold and offer them fully fledged membership of the Scottish community. 

The Scottish Parliament - a creative symbol

This is why, to be sure, an independent Scotland will be a full and enthusiastic partner in Europe and a positive force in the wider world.  It will not cry out “No !” as a knee jerk default response to any new idea from so called "foreign fields." The latter is a state of mind represented by the churlish, cynical and destructive  attitude struck towards Europe and elsewhere which, sadly, is a cherished monopoly of  the  current United Kingdom government.

“No” is a turgid word full of fear and inertia. “Yes” is a creative and courageous word full of hope. It provides, without fear, the  time for reflection and consideration of new ideas and so makes original and alternative actions possible.  Yes is a word which is symbolic of Scotland.