Last Ferry to Orcadia

LAST FERRY TO ORCADIA: From The Province Of The Cat by George Gunn.

On the Wednesday night before the election a violent storm hit Caithness. Around eight o clock the sky turned black and great sheets of snow, sleet and hail lashed in from the Atlantic on a cruel North West wind. Ghostly, almost thunderless, white lightening flashed like a signal out of the firmament. Surely, I thought, this is a portent, like the Valkyrie seen over Murkle before the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, for one of the most important and strangest elections in Scotland’s history.

Because what sort of election is it when the main issue on the minds of the majority of the Scottish people, no matter that the media insist it isn’t, is independence for their country. But not so, it would appear, for the SNP, the only party that can deliver it? The SNP constantly deny this, but they have not campaigned for it. What an extraordinary set of affairs. Do they really think they can achieve independence by ignoring it. Eammon De Valera famously declared that he would defeat the British Empire by ignoring it. It worked for Ireland in the 1920’s but I fear it is not a strategy which will work for Scotland in 2020’s. Like the ultra-violent May Gobs, with their white lightening on the night of the 5th of May, this strategy has never been seen before.

Meanwhile off the North West coast of the Highlands the NATO exercise “Strike Warrior” which will run for two weeks 8th May and will involve more than 30 warships, three submarines and 150 aircraft from 11 nations and is a final test for the UK’s “Carrier Strike Group” ahead of its first operational deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific. There will be a shadowy role for the Vanguard submarines. That’s right – the vessels which are based at Faslane and armed with Trident nuclear missiles. Getting rid of Faslane and Trident being one of the main reasons many Scots want an independent country and an issue hardly raised at all, if ever, by any of the four main parties during the election campaign. “Strike Warrior” will be a war game with the UK force on one side and NATO’s Standing Maritime Group on the other. It will take place off the west coast of Scotland – the Hebrides, Campbelltown, Loch Ewe, Ullapool and An Garbh-eilean off Cape Wrath in North West Sutherland, upon which live ordinance of various kinds will be dropped. Something that can happen almost no-where else in the world. The NATO nations – the UK, the US, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland – will be joined in this ugly heavy metal jolly by Australia with 34 naval units taking part. Soon there will be nothing left of An Garbh-eilean. If the rocky island were our political aspiration then it is being pounded into rubble.

In a statement Scottish CND chair Lynn Jamieson said: “The UK government has not been coy about this war game. It has been trumpeted with all the posturing and a strut of an Edwardian Dreadnought parade – the flag waving prelude to the slaughter of WW1. At the heart of the promotion is the carrier Queen Elizabeth and its bizarre role in a Cold War style patrol of the South China Sea. This aggressive behaviour is utterly infantile and irresponsible in the midst of a pandemic, and a climate crisis, when the clear and urgent challenge is to learn to collaborate for the safety of us all and the future of the planet. We are already hosting a multitude of UK military bases and installations and it is intolerable that we are also forced to be the military playground for the United Kingdom and NATO. We want something more wholesome for our land and waters and a reputation for making peace not war. We trust that the new Parliament we will elect on Thursday will take that vision forward.”

On Wednesday afternoon before the portentous Gobs of May hit us I walked over the Hill o’ Forss and the clear blue sky was full of the drifting tracer residue of military jets high up in the atmosphere. Some conspired to form temporary Saltires in the vast Caithness sky and I thought of the significant elements of the Duke of Marlborough’s army camped just over the border at Carlisle in 1707, just in case the bribery and corruption didn’t go as planned. The timing of the “Strike Force” war games is uncannily prescient. They got scant mention in the TV news.

As much as the Scottish people are denied the whole truth being published in the broadcast and print media they are also denied true democracy when they come to vote for their parliament and subsequently their government. Because despite what the political parties, and the BBC and STV, think we have to remind ourselves that the ultimate political power still resides with the people and not with elected politicians, in however rigged a system. It certainly does not reside with a naval fleet, armed to the teeth, steaming up and down our Western sea-lanes and blowing up bits of our country.

The mad scheme to build a fusion nuclear reactor at Dounreay, the increasing militarisation of the Highlands as a playground for the armed forces and the planned expansion of the Trident missile system bases at Faslane on the Clyde, were all issues which were never discussed once in the detached, online campaigns conducted by the four main political parties. As a result we have a digitalised, virtual zoom-democracy where the only light shining is a dull shade of grey and the mantra of the moment, chanted silently around the Parliament building, obscuring the words of our poets, is – whatever you say, say nothing.

Scotland is being presented to its people as a country, unique in the world, where we can only concentrate on doing one thing at a time. It’s the pandemic recovery or a second referendum. Both, somehow, are impossible. This is a nonsensical notion and speaks to the trope that the Scots, despite their long and distinguished history of invention and discovery, are now reduced to being slow witted children who have to be led by the hand and are incapable of doing anything for themselves. Before the votes are counted you could be forgiven for thinking that we are all living in a surreal world where nothing much makes sense.

Time passes. The day of the vote dawns bright and sunny. The Valkyrie driven May Gobs have calmed. As I approached the Pennyland School polling station there was a queue stretching from the door to the street. This was also something never seen before in Caithness. Inside it was a busy scene of good natured organised chaos. There were not enough booths. There were no pencils. Voters had been instructed to bring their own but many hadn’t. So people were wandering about looking for a pencil. There were boxes of them by the registration clerks but they seemed to be being kept a secret. Despite this there was a sense of occasion. This was a mixture of Covid procedures, about which most Caithness folk have been very fastidious, and an understanding of the importance of the exercise we were collectively engaged in. The Pennyland School is in the middle of “the Atomics”, the housing estate built in the late 1950’s to house the Dounreay workers. There is still very much a strong Unionist sympathy here, with the correlation to employment at the DFR/PFR-HMS Vulcan nuclear complex some miles West along the coast. But despite this nuclear hegemony which it exerts over the town of Thurso, “the Atomics” and its associated British politics, is very much an island of industrial plantation and has the feel, I often think, of a lost and forgotten world. Caithness is a rapidly changing society with all the problems of having being shackled to an economic singularity, which is now receding into history and the nuclear repository at Buldoo. Caithness badly needs the creative impetus an independent Scotland will provide.

I walk down to the sea and look out to the sea. The Hamnavoe, the scheduled Northlink ferry, is steaming out of Scrabster bound for Stromness in Orkney. I think to myself – if Maree Todd does not win here for the SNP and if the SNP does not win well across the country we will all find ourselves on the last ferry to Orcadia.

Time passes. The following morning breaks with the bad news that Liam MacArthur has increased his majority for the Lib Dems in Orkney. Orcadia is calling. This is countered, with celebration and relief, an hour later by Maree Todd holding Caithness, Sutherland and Ross for the SNP by a majority of over 2,000, 43.1% of the vote. The Lid Dems in second place with 36.1% were bolstered by both the Tories and Labour lending them their vote. This is the tactic which pans out over the day. The Lib Dems/Tories/Labour are now the Unionist Party rendering Scotland into a two party country. The truth is, since 1999, it always has been. Now it is out in the open. The SNP, for all its faults, represents change and positivity for Scotland and the Unionist Party are the democracy deniers. They will crew the last ferry to Orcadia.

The result of the election so far, for the Highlands at least, is Kate Forbes massive 24,192 majority, 56.1% of the vote, in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch with a turnout of 68%. This is the biggest majority in the country and probably the highest turnout for any constituency which nationwide is at 64%. This, despite the portents of storm and the tragic effects of Covid, is heartening.

What is not heartening is listening to the BBC. They are a broadcaster in denial. They refuse to recognise the significance of what is happening here. They are obsessed by the SNP not reaching an overall majority. A majority which is almost impossible under the Holyrood voting system. Ah, you have reached the Moon but you haven’t got to Mars. They cannot accept that with 39 seats won, so far, and with 824,094 people voting for them, the SNP are by far the majority and that independence, through a referendum, is the people’s desire. Twice as many people voted so far for the SNP than for the Tories and yet we have to listen to the ramblings of Murdo Fraser, who has never won an election in his political life, and Willie Rennie, who is the only Rennie that actually gives you indigestion. Both sound as though they are on hallucinogenic drugs.

All that is the usual annoyance I have grown to expect from the BBC. However, two things chilled me. I was moved by a young woman who was vox-popped on an Edinburgh street who said that she didn’t support a referendum on Scotland becoming independent because she was English. This on a day when the SNP were winning spectacularly from Caithness to Kintyre and from Lewis to Edinburgh. The other spectre at the feast was the terrible news from Hartlepool. What is perplexing is that an articulate young woman can feel this way about Scotland whilst the English electorate seem to be committing political suicide. Boris Johnson has already rushed into print via the Daily Telegraph to announce that he will drop the portcullis of Westminster on the Holyrood parliamentary road to a Scottish referendum. So why is this young woman so needlessly worried about an independence referendum because she is English, when the UK government simultaneously announces it will deny democracy its legal head? This situation cannot stand for long and the young woman’s fears must be overcome and she must be reassured. Know Your Place Unionism will lead to the destruction of democracy. As far as I can see none of the English political commentators who appear on programmes like Newsnight have a clue about any of this. Scotland needs to embrace that young English woman in Edinburgh and assure her she is welcome, valued, needed. If anything, she is exactly why we need to be an independent country. She is us.

Time passes. Saturday in Caithness is bright, cold with an endless sky. The May Gobs are never far. You have to keep your eyes open. The list votes have yet to be announced. Gillian Martin, with a 64% turnout, retains Aberdeenshire East with a reduced majority of 1,889 over the Scottish Conservatives who increased their vote share by 11%. That increase came from the Lib Dems who were down 10%. The Unionist Party lost again. Today NATO launches its “Strike Warrior” exercise and they will begin bombing Innis Garve in the name of freedom. We are counting votes here in the Highlands, across Scotland, as the May Gobs return, in the name of freedom. The intellectual gaps in the SNP’s independence narrative are clear for all to see. Fighter jets scream across the Caithness horizons highlighting one. Trident, the death eggs of NATO, are nested in Scotland is another. Our future relationship, as an independent country, with the EU may be yet another. Yet I can’t be a pessimist, because I’m alive. That was the mantra of James Baldwin. I am optimistic because optimism is a state we can consciously bring about. I am also hopeful because I cannot, no one can, afford to despair. As the novelist Ali Smith put it recently:

“Hope is a tightrope across a ravine between a here and a there, and that tightrope’s as sharp as a knife blade.”

I am here in Caithness. Nervously waiting to be there. In a new country. Where anything is possible. There are 24 more constituency seats to be announced. The list votes will follow. The last ferry to Orcadia could still yet sail. On Radio Scotland David Mundell, the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland, told the nation that the constitutional question is a reserved matter and Nicola Sturgeon can think what she likes. Know Your Place Unionism in action. It doesn’t matter how you Jocks vote. We know best. In opposition to this, simultaneously as Mundell was talking, Audrey Nicoll held Aberdeen South and North Kincardine with an increased majority and 42.3% of the vote. 23 to go. The BBC tell us that this result, so far, is not “the miracle” the SNP were looking for. No-one in Scotland is looking for miracles. We are looking for democracy. The ability to put into action what we vote for. Will the Westminster government resort to the rule of law to keep their tied state together? The answer from David Mundell would appear to be “Yes”. In Renfrewshire South and Dundee East the people have also said “Yes”, but “Yes” to an independent Scotland. Mundell is already on the last ferry to Orcadia.

The day wears on. The words of Burns come to mind:

“Why should we idly waste our prime

Repeating our oppressions?”

Bad news. The SNP could not reclaim Aberdeen West. The Lib Dems lent the Tories their vote so the Unionist Party wins by 8.1% and with an increased majority. Whatever that actually means anymore? With Aberdeen West goes any chance of the overall majority the BBC drool on about like braxied dogs. The SNP hold Edinburgh Pentlands with their majority up 2.9%. The thought occurs – is this the longest election in the history of the human race? I am tiring. Galloway and West Dumfries goes to the Tories. This time it is Labour who lend their votes to the Unionist Party. In the end, who cares what intellectual holes there are in the independence argument when we are merely, as Burns sang, repeating our oppressions? Elections are about the sheer bloody arithmetic of battle. I can stand it no longer and walk down to the sea and stare out over a grey, cold Pentland Firth. The Hamnavoe ferry emerges out of the mirk West of Hoy en-route for Scrabster. The fluorescent strip across her bridge like an orange hyphen in a formula of rain is the only colour as the Mey Gobs batter my head with a vengeance. The last ferry to Orcadia is tied up at the Scrabster pier, ready to sail, with David Mundell as purser. The war planes of NATO are his Valkyrie.

Time passes. The results are in: 64 seats for the SNP, 31 for the Tories, 22 for Labour, 8 for the Green and 4 for the Lib Dems. Alba nowhere. George Galloway nowhere. Except that they are shackled by the chains of their egos to the cruel bulkheads on the last ferry to Orcadia. For Boris Johnson and to a lesser extent Sir Keir Starmer the message from Scotland is clear: you cannot manage what you don’t understand and you can rarely understand what you have never experienced. The Scottish people have spoken most eloquently. We are like the tide; our desire is our surge. I can hear the surf beating at Thurso East and the words from one of my favourite poems, “The Sea Is History”, by one of my favourite poets, the St Lucian Derek Walcott, for some reason floods into my mind,

“in the salt chuckle of rocks

with their sea-pools, there was the sound

like a rumour without any echo

of history, really beginning”

When it was all over Nicola Sturgeon made a fine speech. Just one seat off the impossible majority. But now she has eight Green allies so the bloody arithmetic is on her side. She is now empowered. The delay in the results only compounded the urgency emanating from the ballot box. We need, as soon as is practically possible, to implement the creation tools we posses in order to fashion our new society, post Covid, post UK. If Hartlepool is the future of English politics, then so be it. We can feel sympathy for our neighbours, the people of England, and we must help them, but we cannot let that divert our purpose. We have to remember, every day, that we have kissed the future. That sweetness must not turn to the rust of memory in our mouths.

©George Gunn 2021

Comments (18)

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  1. Tom Ultuous says:

    Great article George. Personally I don’t want to rush into a referendum. I want it when we can have mass independence marches building the momentum and when Johnson has run out of smokescreens.

    1. Rich says:

      Yes – but I’d add that 50% + 1 is not the way to change a fundamental of any nation . Should it go to a vote and Independence gets 50% – 1 it will close the fight down for another seven years , should it be + 1 you will have a country riven – much the same way as Brexit has done .
      I’ll not suggest where the line might be drawn .
      If we move on we have to move on together , and have enough support to carry the waverers . We have to be going into a feasible and worked-through solution if we are to avoid the impediment of the resentment of a near-50% of the population as a psycho-social drogue to some merely hopeful project .

      1. Rich says:

        And thank you , George , for the near-poetry of your piece . I love your language and your turn-of-phrase , as well as your humanitarian sentiments ,

      2. Tom Ultuous says:

        Rich, given the media bias are we ever likely to get the majority you seek? As far as I’m concerned 50+1 amounts to 60 on a level playing field. The small majority in the tainted Brexit referendum would’ve been 56+% Remain on a level playing field (not that that worried the “one nation” Tories).

  2. Ian Wight says:

    Great stuff George! Particularly like your point around: ‘Scotland is being presented to its people as a country, unique in the world, where we can only concentrate on doing one thing at a time. It’s the pandemic recovery or a second referendum. Both, somehow, are impossible’. It certainly is a nonsensical notion. It represents the tyranny of ‘either/or’ thinking over ‘both/and’ thinking. But the latter is a huge developmental step that will need to be achieved for us to emerge from all this ‘paralysis’ and stale-mating. There is an even more mature position beyond ‘both/and’, which is sometimes rendered as ‘interpenetrative’; this is where I really yearn for us to get to sooner than later – this involves the realisation that independence is ‘in’ interdependence; we need to be capable of holding, and pursuing, both.

    1. David B says:

      The argument is by no means unique to Scotland. Speak to anyone who worked for the UK civil service during Brexit – they were in organisational paralysis for several years. I think it’s reasonable to ask how a political class that can’t reform council tax or the SQA is going to manage a process as complex as independence.

  3. Blair says:

    It’s time Nicola Sturgeon changed tack logically because the independence argument is pretty much a non runner. Even Scotland as an independent country within Europe is rather optimistic without obvious European support. BREXIT has shown that there is a need for levelling up and establishing fair trading playing fields. Our digital societies have proven that work/taxes does not have to respect country borders.
    Our current problems are a result of our governments inability to change with the times. Over time (40 years) this failure to adapt has helped to sow the seeds of division and poverty.
    Scotland could remain part of UK and Europe if only our politicians could change how the old systems are configured and appropriate deals done. Boris and his government are just compounding the issues by his BREXIT deal.
    Nicola Sturgeon should forget about independence and concentrate on receiving a fairer share of the power. The route to Scotland being a small part of Europe as part of a more successful United Kingdom is not beyond us.
    Scotland has to take the initiative and let the UK know that we need the House of Lords to be replaced by a fully elected House otherwise grant us a referendum for us to become an independence country with the aim of rejoining Europe.
    It’s really up to our political leaders to pull their socks up.
    If the Scottish Elwctions were run on FPTP system the SNP would have 85% of the seats, Nicola Sturgeon has sufficient backing and rights to change our UK System.

    1. bill says:

      Blair, get real. Westminster rules. Boris is as likely to respond to a request for more powers, electoral changes or responses to climate change as he is to the request for a second referendum. His government has already reduced the powers of the devolved administrations by his internal market legislation in response to Brexit. The only way out of all of this mess is for Scotland to be an independent republic, with its own central bank and currency. A better electoral system, and changes to the tax system, especially on land reform is the way to develop equality and the society we want. Joining the EU is a question for later and there are more than one model for so doing.

      Great article George



  4. Jim Ferguson says:

    A fine read. The bombs, the bomb, the metal lumps!

  5. R. Dent. says:

    Maybe Alexander Johnson should send a pair of gunboats to bring the FM’s of Scotland and Wales to London for those jpint discussions they have been requesting for the past fifteen months, mostly not even receiving a reply? Ach but what’s left of the fleet only sails on election days unless there’s a big war game on! Thank you George for sounding the air raid siren and for quoting such uplifting literature, another resource of which Scotland is not short. Makars maketh the polity and the parliament as much as politicians. If the way to realise your ambitions and hopes is to live them, yes, to be the change you yearn to bring about, then Scotland must bravely and generously continue to attract the many, many English people who love our compassionate consensus so much they want less of it, refusing to render their friends and families ‘foreign’, by voting to prevent subsidiarity, self determination and independence. Were I an electorally welcomed English inhabitant of Scotland I might regard that loving progressive inclusiveness as being in itself an incentive to help the stateless nation thrive as the Scandinavian countries so close to Orcadia do, as Ireland does. So George here’s to the day that young woman vox popped in Edinburgh says, ‘of course I want a referendum. I’m English!’

  6. greenergood says:

    I don’t think it was any accidental action that the nuclear warhead convoy arrived in Scotland on Friday. Not enough people in Scotland realise what they’re seeing when the convoy goes past, but it is a colonial gesture, and has had the habit in the past at arriving at ‘special’ moments. I live on the Rosneath Peninsula, 4 miles south of Couport, 10+ miles from Faslane. I went to vote in my local village hall for the first time on Thursday. I came here as a Ronald Reagan ‘escapee’ in 1984, lived at Faslane Peace Camp for a few years and then settled in the Peninsula, but have never been able to vote, not being a UK citizen. My delight at being able to vote in this election was acknowledged by my voting tally person, who matched my happiness in her enthusiasm – a lot of other people voting in our village hall looked pretty grim. The number of Saltires along the Shore Road during the past month were suddently outnumbered by Butcher’s Aprons in the past 2-3 days, and methinks the Tory 6 per cent drop that corresponded with the Labour 6 per cent rise may have contributed to the dour expressions on people’s faces here, as they voted against their Tory instincts to keep a Labour MSP in power, rather than letting in a thoroughly capable SNP candidate. We have a lot of people here who function against their better natures because they support/need/rely on an employment scheme that is based on supporting an industry that is basically poised to kill a few million people if needed. It’s sapping to the soul and it’s perceptible here – probably very much like Caithness, but at this point even more so . I live in a community that has many residents beset by cognitive dissonance – but I and they don’t know how to challenge that. I don’t think I’m in an unusual position – I think this is extant all over Scotland. Would like to live in a country that can escape MOST of that cognitive dissonance, but it’s going to take a while …

  7. Graham Ennis says:

    So far, the realistic situation in Scotland is a clear vote for nationalists, SNP or Green, against the two unionist parties controlled and directed by london.
    This is far closer an outcome than I dared hope for, but it means, in plain language, a crisis within a year as the SNP/Green alliance seek to take their mandate for a referendum and run it. I believe that short of the NO vote of the last time, About which there is a certain “suspicion”, the next one will be a YES. the reasons for this are the simple fact that most Scottish people, a clear majority, have done a proxy vote for Freedom. The situation then will swiftly polarise. If the london Goverment refuse to acceopt a referendum, or use the courts or royal perogative to quash it, then the inevitable confrontation between Scotland and london will probably lead to a catalan situisation. At that point, Scotland, under international law, can legitimately declare independence. If they do not, then they deserve the consequnces of not doing so. If they do, London has either to ignore the whole process, and silently accept the situation, or enforce the suppression of any moves to UDI. That means a catalan type series of events. Considering what is at stake here, especially in the energy resources, and military implications, I think the responsde from london will eventually force them into outright suppression, catalan style.
    So I am writing this as someone who is an Irish citizen. We know, from first hand bitter experience, what happens next. Its Ireland 1921 all over again.
    But, given the Scopttish temprement, This can only result in a confrontation of a Catalan type. In practical terms, the London Goverment can do what the Spanish Goverment did, and simply swamp the democratic process.
    However, unlike Catalonya, Scotland has a different view. I cannnot think of anything more likely to provoke a violent response from the Scottish people.
    It should be remembered that the Irish rebellion, in 1916, resulted from less than a hundred armed resistance fighters, crammed into a few key buildings in Central Dublin. The historical result is well known. Likewise, a mere handful of scots, many of whom will have had service in UK regiments and special units, would be all that was required to trigger of a rebellion in Edinburgh. I say all this with a certain horror, as all it takes is an exchange of violance and a small residual cadre, to make Scotland politically and militarily ungovernable. History provides numerous examples of what happens next. In the recent war in British controlled Northen Ireland, exactly susc a thing happened. There was then 30 years of violence with hideous results. But in the end, the UK had to agree a treaty. I am of a strong guess that some Scots have seen the inevitablity of this, and made precautionary preparations. it takes a single combatent, with a single bomb, to start such a struggle. It might take 30 years to stop it, but I think that after their last internal Celtic war, the London Goverment will hopefully see the sense and the hard won lessons of that, and not provoke a second one. Whatever the constitutional politicians and the law says, in the present situation, which I think will be triggered in the next 18 months, people need to start thinking of the horrific and terrible implications of an intansigent London regime, that goes against the wishes of a democratic Scottish vote.
    Whilst not in any way wanting such an outcome, the legal scottish Goverment and its members, and scottish formers of public opinion, need to likewise start to think hard. At the moment, I would say the outcome is going to split 50%?50%, or thereabouts. If anyone has a cogent, politically based argument, againstr this happeing, then let them speak. In 18 months it will be too late. let me point out that such a debate is legitimate, and needs to be have. brash declarations that “Oh, impossible, it will never happen”, etc, need to be substantiated. With realistic arguments. They ned to start now.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      Hello again Graham. General little Englander thinking on Scottish independence coincides with that of scumbag Jeremy Clarkson’s “Go on, do it. Give us all a good laugh.” Because of that, I’m hoping that much of what you predict can be avoided but I’m by no means confident. I wouldn’t put it past the Johnston mob to try and stir up anti-Scottish feeling with the same type of gunboat diplomacy we’ve seen in Jersey.

  8. Marybel Tracey says:

    I went to Thurso High School from August 1968 to June 1973. I and my family lived on Castlegreen Road and my sister went to Pennyland Primary. Dad of course was at Dounreay. He was part of the construction of the latest PFR reactor. I had been previously educated south of the border but Thurso provided me with an eduction in more ways than one. My parents hated the bleakness of Caithness and found its physical isolation bad to bide. There was something pared back about the stark landscape and the huge skies which burrowed into my psyche. I began to understand that Scotland had its own identity, its own heritage , culture. It was something of a revelation to my 11 to 12 year old brain that Scotland was its own country and was not an appendage of England. That realisation has never really left me. Viewing the Great Tapestry of Scotland reawakened that belief when I saw it for the first time in Aberdeen in March of 2014. The celebration of Scottish talents in all fields of art from writers to musicians to painters and sculptors, in sport and science ……… what is Scotland capable of as a small but vibrant nation. In this last year of this pandemic I have been reassured by the constancy, the clear message from the Scottish government and the honesty when things have not been as they should be. A sure and steady hand….. save us all from the tomfoolery from Number 10, the cronyism, the outrageous spending on a conference room and flat while others less fortunate go to food banks for basic necessities. If I could grasp the possibilities of a strong country called Scotland at the tender preteen stage why can others not? I find the prospect exciting and inspiring …….the possibilities are endless.

  9. SleepingDog says:

    Who exactly are the ‘four main parties’ twice referred to? The Greens extended their lead in seats over 5th-place Lib-Dems, while devoting a section of their manifesto to peace and the banning of nuclear weapons:
    “The Scottish Greens believe in a world free of nuclear weapons.”
    I have to wonder if ‘main political party’ is a problematic concept for democratic elections, given that (in this election anyway) seats are zeroed and everyone is campaigning from scratch.

    Still, what should we expect from a Royal Navy, in an empire where war- and treaty-making are still royal prerogatives (like in, oh, say Henry VIII’s time), and foreign policy is controlled by a tiny elite protected by Crown privileges and official secrecy? A navy whose crews apparently pledge allegiance to the monarch with every daily toast? A navy from within whose ranks The Destroyer of the World may emerge at any time (like there is going to be an inquiry after the nukes are launched on exactly what the PM wrote in what sealed envelope)?

  10. ga says:

    “..what sort of election is it when the main issue on the minds of the majority of the Scottish people, no matter that the media insist it isn’t, is independence for their country. But not so, it would appear, for the SNP, the only party that can deliver it? The SNP constantly deny this, but they have not campaigned for it. What an extraordinary set of affairs. Do they really think they can achieve independence by ignoring it.”

    Hah. Very amusing. It sounds like George is a closet Alba-ist, which begs the question whether the editor has noticed.

    While Alba appear “irrelevant” most Scottish nationalists who aren’t in it for Holyrood grants have at least one foot in the Alba camp by this point – and politically, Sturgeon is living on borrowed time.

    1. George is welcome to his views – and I agree whole heartedly on the need for more urgency, and more campaign … not sure why you’d think I didnt?

  11. Robert Livingston says:

    Surely the reason none of the main parties (apart from the Greens) talked about Trident and related matters is that they all know that an ‘independent’ Scotland would never be allowed to rid itself of a Nato presence (any more than there are plans to get rid of the Monarchy as Head of State). Any second referendum needs to be very clear about exactly WHAT kind of independence is going to be negotiated. The 600 page SNP document last time round (a) was indigestible (b) read more like a party election manifesto than a blueprint for an independent nation and (c) included many areas already covered by devolution. We need a cross-party consensus on what kind of independence is envisaged. Otherwise it will be the Brexit farrago all over again, and a lot of people will end up very disappointed.

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