A Nautical Nomad

Trip to Asia 5 December to 23 December 2019

Halong Bay Vietnam.

After leaving Hong Kong on Sunday we sailed south towards Vietnam in the South China Sea . I have always had an interest in Vietnam since I grew up watching the Vietnam war on television. I have been there once before but my experience was not a fulfilling one as I had failed to do any research as to the port we were to dock at, It was the port for Ho Chi Mien City ( Saigon) and there were of course ships excursions on offer but this meant a 12 hour trip which did not excite me in the least, so I decided to do what I usually do and that is head ashore and explore the town or village we docked at. Well you know the saying in a Robert Burns poem ” the best laid plans of Mice and Men gang aft aglee” ? Well this was most apt in this case, as when we docked and I went to the rail of the ship to view the town, all I could see was a pier, and Jungle for as far as the eye could see, oops.

I tried to persuade the police guarding the pier to let me have a walk into the Jungle as there were various tracks I could see from the ship but they would not allow me to leave the pier. So, my previous experience of Vietnam was a walk up and down the pier and a look at the several small stalls selling local wares.

So yesterday I had made up my mind that this was not to happen again and I had made previous enquiries to ascertain that the visit was not to consist of an inspection of a pier. I was not disappointed as Halong Bay is a very beautiful part of Vietnam, With huge sandstone rock formations protruding from the water and forming a very large amount of islands within the bay.

View of Halong Bay from the ship

There was a complimentary shuttle to go from the ship to the terminal Building, a distance of 1 Km but I decided to walk ( a decision I was to regret later) although I had been getting twinges of pain in one of my knees, the result of a parachuting incident many years ago during a night jump into a very bleak Scottish moor , but that is another story. Every so often I get this flair up of this knee condition which gives extreme pain and makes it very difficult to walk. It can last for minutes or it can sometimes last for quite some time.

So I decided to set off along the shore towards what seemed to be the center of the town. Once through the terminal there was a selection of taxis, tour busses and motor bike transport available, all at what seemed like very reasonable cost, and there was a the usual offers of transport by the many agents based out side the terminal building. One guy after offering to provide transport on his motorbike simply refused to take no for an answer and followed me for about half a mile, constantly offering to take be to where presumably I would get better views of the bay and offering translations through his phone. I didn’t realize it at the time but subsequent problems with my knee made me think that this guy was probably a guardian Angel sent by God as a reward for not burning down any churches for some time. So eventually I had to be more direct with this guy resulting in him indeed going away.

So after a walk of a couple of miles my knee decided I had walked far enough and seized up resulting in me having to turn back stopping at regular intervals to rest my knee. I came upon this memorial which was commemorating the defenses of Halong Bay when under attack from American forces when the US decided to attack what was then North Vietnam . Please read the inscriptions on the memorial.

A very simple translation concerning a horrible event in history
The list of medal awards

Looking at this memorial brought back all that I had seen unfolding regarding the Vietnam war. Vietnam was a French colony from the late nineteenth century with a gap during the second World war where Japan occupied the country. It was part of what was then called Indo China. There was a communist influence from the North and in particular, China., A young man called Ho Chi Min came to prominence as a leader of the resistance leading the forces called the Viet Minh he had been the prim minister of North Vietnam for a time in the nineteen forty’s but became, probably the most prominent gorilla warfare leader in history as he set about to free his country from colonial control.

His war against the French culminated in the events in 1955 or 54 ( cant remember exactly) at a place in the North West of Vietnam called Dien Bien Phu Where the Viet Minh surrounded the French army and defeated them causing the French to leave Vietnam. Around the same time western countries were dividing up Indo china leading to North and south Vietnam being formed.

This is about the time that the US became involved as South Vietnam was not at this point communist and America started providing military advisers and finance to promote their conflict with the North. American involvement grew over the years as did the efforts of the North Vietnamese to take over the south manly by way of the Ho Chi Min trail which was a road through jungle from the north to the South used by the Viet Minh to get troops and supply to the battlefields in the South. During this time the US initiated chemical warfare under the cover of defoliating the Jungle using a chemical called agent Orange which caused a huge amount of civilian deaths and birth defects.

President Kennedy initiated the largest aid program to south Vietnam but was restrained in his direct actions against the North for fear that it would bring china into the conflict. However with his assassination it left Johnston a free hand and this was when the Golf of Tonkin incident led to the bombing of North Vietnam. A US destroyer the Maddox claimed to have been fired on by numerous North Vietnamese torpedo boats. This was later contradicted by a pilot who few in support of the Maddox and reported that the only vessel firing in the area was in fact the Maddox . However, congress passed a motion to allow the US to commence bombing of North Vietnam.

The memorial in the photos commemorates the early raids on North Vietnam. The Vietnam war was a horrible event leaving millions of deaths and casualties. I remember visiting the Vietnam war memorial in Washington . it has a granite wall with the names of all the service men and women killed in the war, but the design of the memorial was the thing that struck me as it is below ground level, as though the US were ashamed of the war. They should be, and not just because of the millions of Vietnamese that were killed or disabled but also for the amount of damaged US soldiers who came back from that war to be shunned and left on the streets.

In 1975 Viet Minh tanks drove into Saigon and the last Americans left by helicopter from the roof of the American embassy. The Vietnam war was over.

So, after sitting at this memorial and thinking of how it all came about, I headed off again hoping that my knee would adjust itself . It didn’t, and so I decided to stop at a Resturant to have something to eat and more importantly to drink as it was hot. I came across an interesting place which had been built around mature trees .

An interesting building

The Resturant was a buffet and for a very reasonable amount I was able to avail myself of a wide choice of Vietnamese food, starting of with noodles steeped in boiling water , strained then covered with various pieces of meats /fish/ vegetables and what could only be describes as mollusks then covered with a soup. It was tasty but I really am not too sure of some of the ingredients. So then to the main course where I had some “chicken” which certainly did not have the bone structure of Chicken in Scotland and believe it or not, crocodile, yes I ate crocodile. Hence forth I can now be called “Crocodile Dundee ”

Crocodile Dundee

After what could reasonably be called an interesting lunch I once more hobbled towards the ship, diverting again into the back streets to see how the ordinary people lived. Yes poverty here, although Vietnam has, like China , embraced capitalism to work alongside communism. Poverty is not in the sole ownership of what we would call underdeveloped countries, just look at the UK with tens of thousands of deaths attributed to the Austerity policies of the present government.

An imaginative electricity metering system

From there I headed towards the ship with another stop at a small hostelry for a beer and another rest for my knee. It had been an interesting day, from reminiscing about the Vietnam war and how it must have affected the ordinary people, to eating a crocodile ( well a part of one anyway)
Crocodile Dundee signing out for another day

A Nautical Nomad

Trip to Asia 5 December to 23 December 2019

Days 4 and 5

So sitting here in the coffee shop on the ship docked in Halong Bay Vietnam and going back to the two previous days in Hong Kong and at sea.

The last day in Hong Kong was a delight with a trip to the Peak which sits above Hong Kong this involved going back to Hong Kong Island from where the ship was berthed in Kowloon. A trip which meant a taxi drive from the cruise terminal to the Watch Tower based at the ferry port for Hong Kong island.

Ferry port at the Watchtower looking towards Hong Kong Island

Once again a smooth embarkation process followed by a pleasant 15 minute sail to Hong Kong Island and the financial heart of the territories. The rout to the base station for the tram to the summit of the Peak, takes you through a succession of interconnected walkways and flyovers which wend their way through a succession of shopping malls and hotel lobbies to the base of the hill. On the way you pass a strange social phenomenon, which is various gathering points for domestic staff from the Philippians, who gather together in social groups to share food, converse and sell wares. In various locations between the ferry port and the base of the hill there are literally thousands of these people all using the one day off ( Sunday) to get together and maintain and make new friendships.

One of the quieter gatherings of Philippine domestic workers

So, after the maze of walkways and flyovers it was a relief to get to the base station of the tram which goes up the side of the mountain to the Peak and quite a climb it is but with fantastic views all the way up.

View from the tram

The views from the top were exceptional looking down over the financial district of Hong Kong and over the straight to Kowloon, Of course at the top there was a shopping mall and a Gordon Ramsey Resturant ( you just can’t get away from these Scots in Hong Kong) which served a very decent late lunch.

Back then to the ferry port and the return trip to Kowloon and a taxi ride to the ship. I have sailed quite a few times with Celebrity and they are indeed beautiful ships, however one of the things that separated them from other lines is the on-board prices they charge, which are extortionate. A capachino is $6 including the mandatory tip which is 20%. A bottle of Heineken is $9 including the tip. They do full cruise drink packages to which are added the 20% gratuity. The gratuity on its own is more than the base cost of the drinks to the company. It really is a case of a captive market being exploited. On Sunday evening before we weighed anchor, we had what turned out to be the longest and most confusing safety drill I have ever been through( and I have had a few of them ). Generally, all the members of staff demonstrate the procedure for putting on a life jacked but in this case only one person did it meaning that probably 75% of the people in that crowded room did not see how to do it.
Now it is normal practice to instruct people to head straight to the gathering point in the event of an emergency but first retrieving any warm clothing and medication from the cabin usually a life jacket also, but in this case they instructed every one who were not in their cabins to go straight to the gathering point whereby they would be issued with a life jacket and “medication”. How the hell they are going to be able to do that I do not know.
The views as the ship left Kowloon of Hong Kong were memorable

Leaving Hong Kong

This is a photo of a strange contraption beside one of the pools on the ship and it reminds me of a Witches chair used in the 17th century in Scotland to determine whether a lady was a witch or not. It was a perfectly logical process and worked every time, The procedure was that the accused lady would be strapped into a chair which was then suspended over a body of water. The chair was them lowered into the water and remained there for some time. Now when the chair was hoisted out of the water and the lady found to be alive then she was obviously a Witch and truly guilty whereupon she would be burned at the stake. If the lady drowned then she was of course innocent. Pretty straight forward. It is reassuring to see that this ship is equipped for all eventualities.

I will leave Vietnam for another day as that country deserves special consideration.

A Nautical Nomad

A trip to the Asia 5 December 2019 to 23 December 2019

Day 5 of my trip to Asia and a busy few days it has been with a start in Dundee last Thursday boarding the airport shuttle outside the Malmaison hotel at 8.30 in the morning. Great service which drops you right outside the departures’ door at Edinburgh Airport , Effortless passage through check in and security with a few hours to pass in the airport lounge together with breakfast.

Flight on time and effortless boarding procedure, I was flying British Airways on this trip, which meant a flight to Heathrow to catch another flight direct to Hong Kong. When British airways opened terminal 5 at Heathrow they had huge problems with luggage transfer and being in the transport industry with regular airport pick ups ,it was a standing joke that when you looked at the flight number a saw it was BA you know that it would be an easy pick up because there would be no luggage to load on to the coach. Of all the trips I have done , I think I have only had lost luggage about three times and it was always with British airways, so that was a thought I carried with me as I boarded the flight to Hong Kong , was my luggage on the same flight?

The flight was on the A380 Airbus, a comfortable aircraft with decent seats and plenty of legroom ( not that I need much legroom) so I settled down for the long flight which was 11 hours. There was a good selection of movies available once I worked out how to use the selection process, which required a degree in quantum physics to navigate the process. Watched a couple of films had dinner which was average to say the least and actually managed to get a reasonable sleep before touching down at Hong Kong international Airport half an hour early.

The airport experience was a delight, extremely well organized in every way, well signposted with everything in both English and Chinese and I found the same everywhere I went in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has the densest population on the planet, with a population of over 7.5 million in an area of something like 450 square miles, that is approximately half the area of Angus therefore you can see the need to keep people moving efficiently. From leaving the plane clearing immigration, collecting luggage ( yes it was there ), customs, and sitting in the taxi it was half an hour flat. I couldn’t help but compare it to the other communist country I visited a few years ago ,Cuba, which took hours to get through a tiny airport in comparison to Hong Kong , before then discovering that I did not have a form ( that no one had given me) so had to do the whole process again. Once in the taxi and on the 40 KM trip to the hotel the driver gave me the nearest to a formula one experience I have ever had, covering the distance ( in heavy traffic) in 40 minutes.

My hotel was the Harbour Plaza on Hong Kong Island and once again the check in was completed within minutes, again I couldn’t help but compare this with the normal experience checking into the Pennsylvania Hotel in new York which usually takes at least three quarters of an hour. So a shower and change and out to explore the area.
Hong Kong sits at the mouth of the Pearl river and is made up of several islands, in the main, Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the added on territories of Macaw and the new Territories. There is a long and complicated history surrounding Hong Kong and it centers round the British empire together with its appendage , the east India company., Now the east India Company was a government sponsored trading company similar to the Hudson bay company in Canada. These were companies set up for the specific propose of stripping the assets from countries ceded to the British Empire by force. The east India company played a big part in the events which lead up to the two opium wars with China.
The Scots played a big part in these early days in Hong Kong’s history with people like Mathison and Jardin moving from their positions in the east India company to be entrepreneurs in the Opium industry and facilitating the Opium wars. They also started one of the earliest Banks in Hong Kong . Many of the Banks now still in existence were managed by Scots, Banks like HSBC ( Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation )
It was because of these Scots that China finally came to an agreement with Britain that Hong Kong would be leased to Britain for 99 years ending the opium wars. China took back control of Hong Kong in 1997.

A relation of the yes Bus , Scotland’s dragon for independence

So, a wander around the area and a very nice chicken curry at one of the many restaurants. Hong Kong has a very good public transport system and indeed the independence movement in Scotland has a very close association with this very same public transport.
In 2014 during the campaign for Scottish independence my family decided to donate the usage of a double deck bus to the cause. Dundee is known as a very diverse City political wise, So we decided to allow the use of the bus free of charge to any grass roots group, to campaign in their own particular way, in and around Dundee. This bus was built in Scotland by Alexander Denis for the Chinese market in Hong Kong. The type designation given was the Dragon , a dragon being an important creature in Chinese mythology. So the dragon went to Hong Kong and plied the streets for several years before going to Kenya to do the same, then going to England, working on the streets of Manchester, before we bought it to service a contract for the High School of Dundee ( the forerunner of which was where William Wallace was educated in his early years in Dundee). So here was the Dragon on the streets of Dundee fighting for the independence of Scotland after servicing two countries both of which gained their independence from Britain, I often said that this was the dragon who would defeat St George.
Unfortunately that was not to be the case on that occasion, but we will come again. The Dragon was widely used by many grass roots groups from women for independence ( who had several cheese and wine parties on board it) to the SNP and mostly by the Yes Bus team who naturally formed around the dragon.

I digress, so back to the trip. After having a couple of beers at the hotel I decided to look for a bar with music and set off into Hong Kong , I must have waked a couple of miles without finding a single bar open after 11.30, so decided to return to the hotel to catch up with the Jet Lag.

Day 3 and from the hotel I could see the ship I was to join across the straight between Hong Kong island and Kowloon. The day before, I had investigated the possibility of taking a ferry which seemed to terminate in the vicinity of where the cruise ship was berthed then walking to the ship. It is just as well I did not take this option as it turned out the ferry terminal ( although near the Cruise dock) would have meant a convoluted rout to the cruise ship taking several hours to walk. Thankfully I chose to take a taxi.
Before I left for the Cruise terminal I went to a McDonalds for breakfast ( good Coffee and always good Wi-Fi) . A Chinese Gentleman sat down at my table and started up a conversation, One of the most illuminating I have had. We talked about Scottish independence, the history of Hong Kong and more importantly the demonstrations going on at the moment. It opened my eyes. I had brought my saltire with me and had considered perhaps joining in one of the demonstrations as an act of solidarity with the young people demonstrating for more democracy. That guy changed my mind, he posed the question , what would they achieve with more democracy, they were in no way oppressed, they had every freedom, had I seen many police on the streets? ( I had not seen a single policemen since I arrived) What would change with corrupt politicians in charge? We spoke about the events in Tiananmen Square and how things had changed since then. He changed my mind.

That is my ship on the right , Celebrity X

I think I will leave it at that for today before everyone falls asleep and will continue with days 4 and five tomorrow , As of now the ship is heading for Vietnam.

Democracy, what is it?

I am in Hong Kong for a couple of days before taking a trip through Asia. We have all seen the footage of the students demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong and like me the first reaction will probably be to feel a sense of sympathy for them as thoughts of the events around Tiananmen square in 1989 no doubt come to mind.

When I came here I had prepared my self for the possibility of perhaps joining the protests as a mark of solidarity. I had brought my saltire and was prepared to display this in one of the protests. After all Scotland is also experiencing a democratic deficit as the SNP wearily plod on with their intention to “ask” the British government yet again for “permission” to hold a referendum on independence.

Now a few weeks ago I had occasion to personaly remonstrate with Jeremy Corbyn ( leader of the British Labour party) when he came to the Queens hotel in Dundee to tell the Scots that he would not be considering granting the asked for section 30 to facilitate an agreed referendum. This to me marked a severe denigration of UK democracy and in between fending off some of his henchmen who were trying to throw me out, and trying to speak above him I made the point that he was going against the principals of democracy.

So here was I in Hong Kong with the thought in my mind that it would be a good gesture to show some solidarity with the youth of this part of china and express my feelings on democracy.

This morning something happened that changed that.

I went into McDonalds for breakfast ( always good wi fi and decent coffee) found a table and got my computer out. I was busy checking and answering emails and social media when a Chinese gentlemen asked if he could share the table. I of course made it clear that he was more them welcome. He asked if I was working and I said partly between emails and social media. He asked where I was from and I said Scotland. “Ah, independence” he said. so as you can imagine, we had quite a conversation.

He was probably late sixties lived in Hong Kong all his life and had been in IT until his services had been dispensed with, so now he had a van and was connected to Google van which is a delivery service presumably hosted by Google. I said to him that Hong Kong seemed to be a vibrant place going by the amount of construction projects I could see going on. “not now “he said ” things are changing”, I was surprised.

“Was it since China took back the territories” I asked, “No, things have been much better since then” he said, I was surprised. “One of the things that has not helped is the student riots” he said, That caused me to pause. I went on to question him as to the motives behind the riots and asked if perhaps the cause of democracy was worth it, “Why do we need any more democracy” he said, The Chinese Government do not interfere with what we do, do you see any oppression, do you even see any police on the streets”. I had to admit that I had not seen a singe policemen up to now.

We went on to speak about Tiananmen Square in 1989 and it brought back to me thoughts of a very dear friend who was involved in the organization of the protests there and who had to move to the US shortly after. She made a notable career for herself on Wall street.

He went on to say to me almost exactly what I said to her when we both visited Tiananmen Square. “It made a difference, look at China today, it is different and so is Hong Kong because of that sacrifice the students mad on that day in Tiananmen Square”. ” This place is better since the British were here, they ruled Hong Kong for Britain , China rules Hong Kong for the Chinese people. Most of these students were not alive when the British ruled Hong Kong. What they are doing is damaging the country”

Well that put the situation into perspective and made me think about our democracy . Yes china has a communist government run by a congress of chosen people, not elected, but we have the house of lords who are ,in the main there because of either birth or because they have given one of the main parties large amounts of money and make no doubt about it these unelected people make laws.

Would the UK government turn against the people if we demanded democracy? I feel we will very shortly find that out when we once again try to wrest control from Westminster of the power to ask the people whether they wish to be an independent country. I will not now be joining the protests in Hong Kong.

The dark Heart of old Labour

Last Thursday I managed to get into a meeting in the Queens Hotel in Dundee, held to give Jeremy Corbyn an election opportunity to support the Labour candidate for Dundee West, Jim Malone and of course lay out his intentions for a Labour government. Although the meeting was to go out as a public meeting , it was anything but that, as the room was about half filled with party activists specially invited. Although most of the seats were filled it was obvious that the seating area had been reduced to try to show a well attended meeting.

I sat down beside a lady and had a blether to her, she told me that although she had been a Labour member most of her life she was really swithering as to whether to vote for them this time as she fully supported independence, the lady was English and had lived in Scotland for some time and loved the country.

I fully believe that had I been noticed I would not have been allowed in to the meting and as I went down the stairs I hesitated just enough as the guy at the door went into the hall with a poster , he went one way and I went the other way around the back of the room and into an empty seat of which there were quite a few.

My reasons for being there were to try to get Corbyn to explain why , if he truly believed in democracy he was, ( according to recent pronouncements) prepared to thwart the will of the Scottish people by refusing to entertain a section 30 derogation of schedule 5 of the 1998 Scotland act, more commonly referred to as the devolution act. This was what was put in place during the run up to the 2014 independence referendum, it made the referendum decision agreed by both sides so no legal challenges could be made to the result.

Now , I have nothing personally against Jeremy Corbin, in fact I like him and compared to that child idiot Johnson he would make a much better Prim Minister. (to be better than Johnston however does not mean one would necessarily be a good Prim Minister) However he vacillates like no other politician I have ever known and he is a fence sitter. This was obvious in his approach to Brexit and more to the point as far as I was concerned in his attitude to Scotland.

Now Scotland have a pro independence majority in the Scottish parliament and also a majority of Scottish MP’s in Westminster. They were all voted in on the basis that there would be another referendum on independence, The only problem is that the SNP also have a leader who vacillates and has taken us no nearer to being prepared for a referendum in 5 years, but that is another issue and I have blogged on that bone of contention many times.

So in the absence of any initiative by the SNP ( party of independence) I decided to take matters a bit further so I went to the meeting and when Jeremy was well into his speech ( most of which I agreed with by the way) I stood up and interrupted , Jeremy kept on speaking and as he had a mike I had to raise my voice to be heard . There followed quite an exchange where I repeatedly asked why he thought it was within his remit to thwart the expressed will of the Scottish people. There was also an altercation with several of the party members including the last Labour MP for Dundee West. I had to warn the three members involved that they were assaulting me and to remove their hands from my person. The rest of the audience started behaving like a baying mob and I pointed out this to Jeremy and asked of this was his idea of democracy. So after a pretty intense exchange, some grappling and pushing and only once I had said my piece, I left. Mission accomplished .

That should have been the end of it but the rest of the day was taken up by calls from the press including papers like the Daily Mail who had by this time trolled my blog site to try to find anything they possibly could to discredit me with the intention of trying to get the main outlets like the BBC and Skye to take down the footage which by this time was going viral. Because of this invasion of my personal space I had to take down my Twitter account , Facebook account and my blog site. So for the past few days I have been silenced, This is what happens when you try to force the Labour party to act in a democratic manner , So beware.

Yes Jeremy Corbin comes over as a easy going affable guy ( and I honestly believe he is) but behind him is the dark arts of a dark heart of old Labour. I have had a better few days than the last few have been, but it will no doubt settle down and the sooner it does will have a bearing on whether I bring charges for assault or not. An assault that a prospective prim Minister presided over and made no attempt to stop. The Queens hotel is a licensed premises and as such is subject to the Licensing act Scotland in which makes it clear that only the proprietor or their employees can ask someone one to leave the premises. If that person refuses and only then, can the “staff” use reasonable force to remove that person. Anything other than that is a bar room brawl and that therefore is what the Labour party indulged in in order to silence a reasonable request for clarification on a very important issue to the Scottish people

There is a lot about Scotland that Jeremy does not understand , the law is perhaps one of these things, and the other is that the people of Scotland will not stand idly by and allow an undemocratic master to rule over them. Before you come back to Scotland Jeremy do some homework and do please reign in your dogs of war as they do you no credit.

The bitter disappointment that is the SNP Leadership

Well here we are on the cusp of a General Election which will take place on the 12 December. An election that on the 24th October Ian Blackford ( the leader of the SNP in Westminster ) described as “holding an election in December, as ” sheer madness.” However, by Saturday 26 October, two days later, Nicola Sturgeon ( leader of the SNP) together with Joe Swinson ( leader of the Libdems) had clubbed together to put forward an intention to place a bill before Parliament to have a general election on the 9 th December.

Incredibly , Boris Johnson had opened the door to both parties to form a deal to allow the December 12 date to proceed. Now just three weeks before this debacle I had suggested that the SNP do a deal with Johnston to allow his negotiated settlement on the EU withdrawal bill or a December General Election to proceed on the basis that he would agree to a section 30 as long as it could be put into law immediately.

I had quite a reaction to this on both Facebook and Twitter. The Twitter response was hugely positive. The Facebook response , although in the main positive by the amount of people for and against, was met with the usual mind numbingly stupid reactions from a group of well versed Nicola personality cult, abusers, in a stream of invective and outpouring of expletives , common among the less able to think , who incredibly still think Nicola has a clever plan. A plan I remind you changed from ” General election in December sheer madness” on Thursday ,to “General election in December without a deal to gain a section 30, a great idea” within two days.

because Nicola Sturgeon and Jo Swinson had conspired to allow a December election, this bounced Jeremy Corbyn into also agreeing to a December election. Now let me be plain, and let no one be under any misapprehension. Nicola Sturgeon facilitated an election at which according to all polling will allow the most right wing government in British history into office and she did this WITHOUT ATTEMPTING TO GET A DEAL ON A SECTION 30 ORDER, (in fact the leader of this party has twice stated very clearly in parliament that there will be no agreement on a section 30) an act of either deliberate obfuscation as regards an independence referendum or blatant stupidity and believe it or not there are still people who think she has a clever plan.

I do not think I have ever saw such a debacle as I witnessed in the House of Commons as a result of the change of minds of the SNP, Lib-dems and Labour, all vying for their own place in history mixed in with self interest, in particular the SNP, where snouts in troughs replaced the main propose of their existence which is supposed to be delivering independence to Scotland.

So then we had the unedifying spectacle of the hastily arranged rally in George Square Glasgow , An event deliberately designed to divert attention from the fiasco in parliament and make people believe that it was all part of the clever plan of a referendum sometime in 2020 .

Nicola sturgeon gave a rousing speech which was immediately pounced upon as a speech announcing the next independence referendum., Only problem was it did no such thing, and Nicola as usual was very careful with her play on words. Nowhere in her speech did she confirm that there WILL be a referendum in 2020 . The only utterance that came anywhere near that was that she said “I look forward to leading you in PREPERATION for a referendum next year”, something she should have been doing during the last five years. During the speech she made at the party conference a few Weeks ago she again was very careful in her play on words when she was confident that there SHOULD be a referendum in 2020, not WILL be, you will notice. There is absolutely no justification for believing that either speech was not yet another occasion where she has marched the faithful up to the top of the hill and down again as she has so many times in the past.

The fact is, that she has one opportunity left to redeem herself and that is in the formation of the party manifesto for this election. She must make it plain that this election is to ascertain the will of the people as to the strength of opinion on whether the majority of the people of Scotland wish to be independent as required in the UN charter of self determination, just like the 66 countries who have gained their independence from the British Empire since 1945. It should be noted that not a single one of these countries had even heard of the section 30 derogation that Nicola sturgeon erroneously calls ” the Gold standard”

She wont do it, of that I am sure, and then she will be guilty of squandering the most opportune set of circumstances ever likely to present themselves in the history of politics, and let me make another prediction. There will not be an independence referendum before the Scottish elections in 2021 as long as Nicola sturgeon and Peter Murrel ( her husband) are at the top of the SNP.

I have been disillusioned and extremely disappointed at the way the independence cause has been handled by the Sturgeon, Murrel pair since shortly after Nicola was made leader and I do not think it is any coincidence that shortly after she took over, Alex Salmond was sidelined and then basically put out of the game by allegations brought about by a change in the procedure for making complaints brought about by Nicola Sturgeon. I have put my thoughts on this down in previous blogs and I am convinced that the most recent reticence in progressing a referendum campaign has a very close connection to this and believe that revelations which will surely surface during Salmond’s trial might at long last explain this illogical restraint. It is surely no coincidence that Salmond is probably the only SNP politician capable of taking the independence fight forward and he has been muted.

On another matter, because of my frustrations surrounding the constant delays and willful obstructions to the cause of independence I had decided to stand against the incumbent member of Parliament for Dundee West. On a simple manifesto of “independence now”. I had prepared a campaign and had a first class and willing team together and I was indeed looking forward to the fight. Unfortunately because of close family and personal matters I have decided not to stand, I firmly believe that a new party or at the very least a new leadership of the SNP are now required to take the fight forward. I am totally sickened by their insipid performance to date and as this General Election campaign will have, in effect nothing to do with independence ( as witnessed by the candidates literature to date which omits any mention of a referendum) I will not be campaigning, however when eventually we do get into an independence contest I can assure you that the Yes bus will be back on the streets of Dundee and in our city Square.

An opportunity in the madness that is Brexit

I posted on Facebook to the effect that I thought the SNP should make an offer to support the latest Brexit plan in exchange for a clear run at another independence referendum. this was met with the usual hate the Tories and don’t you dare suggest anything different than our glorious leader suggested the other day So instead of answering them individually, I will say this And I will break it down so that the more intellectually challenged among you might be able to absorb it

What I am suggesting is that every country in the UK gets what they want.

England and Wales voted to leave the EU.

Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain

We in Scotland have no business trying to force England and Wales to do something they did not vote for.

If the SNP backed this latest plan and agreed to vote with the Tories, then every country will get what they wanted except Scotland.

However, if the SNP backed this UK government plan but with the proviso that schedule 5 of the Scotland act 1998 and in particular the item relating to section 30 was amended so that the right to hold a referendum ( any referendum at any time) of which the result would be honoured on all sides was made the remit of the Scottish government in perpetuity. Then that would mean that all the countries in the UK union would then get all that they wanted.

Now as the more awake of you will see, that shortcuts exactly what Nicola Sturgeon was kicking into the long grass the other day in her speech. Not only that but it guarantees an affirmative answer ( something that Nicola Sturgeon’s plan absolutely did not) for what otherwise would be a matter for the British government and remember two prime ministers have said at least five times that they will not allow this to happen.,

Now you will have noticed that legislation can be passed in the British Parliament at a days notice, therefore there is absolutely no reason to doubt that this legislation could be in place before a vote on the latest Brexit plan

Now, is there anyone out there who would sacrifice a chance as we have now to have an agreed referendum simply because they do not like the tory party?
This is a credible road map to independence and should be seriously explored .