A Nautical Nomad

Days one to three 15 Sept 2019

So, off again on another wee trip, this time headed to New York with a two day stay here and shortly heading to the pier to board the Norwegian Escape, aptly named as for a wee while I will be escaping the madness that is Brexit back hone. An idiocy that Scotland did not vote for but is being sucked into because of the UK Union.

Ok so enough of Brexit as that is exactly what I am temporarily escaping from. So I started my trip just after four in the Morning with a two mile brisk walk to pick up the bus from the city center to take me to Edinburgh airport. A great new service run by National express and the best part of it was that I used my Sottish government travel card, meaning that all it cost me was a one pound booking fee.

Arriving timeously at the airport and through security without a hitch, I checked into one of the Airport lounges for a relaxing wait and some breakfast. Now on this trip I had decided to travel light and at the same time save some money . I booked with United at an incredible £320 return. New York and back. But hold luggage was extra at $160 for the two flights, so I decided to see what I could take in a carry on and together with a small back pack and I think I have managed it. I will know better when I unpack and realize what I have left out. The advantages of this ( apart from the cost saving) is that I am always in charge of all of my luggage, I don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel and I go straight from immigration to customs and on to ground transport.

Boarded at 8.45 ( early) and believe it or not the flight took off early too. I have managed to persuade the lady at the check in desk to allocate an isle seat as, because of the economy fare I did not get a choice and had been allocated a middle seat. Unfortunately there was two very large people sitting beside me and the over-spill left me kind of leaning into the isle which meant that every time the trolley came past it usually almost took my arm off, or indeed, a couple of times, my head, when I had dozed off.

On my way

Because of the early departure and a cooperative tail wind for most of the way we landed early at Newark airport. Not much of a wait at immigration although could have been quicker if the attendant on the aircraft had realized that I did indeed need an immigration form to pre fill in, She seemed to think it was all done electronically now. I think we are some time off from the day when immigration can read your mind electronically. This meant that I had to hurriedly make out one of the forms whilst waiting to go through immigration. Once upon a time there was also a form which basically asked you if you were ever involved in any acts of terrorism. I think they stopped issuing that form when they realized that not many people were answering that question in the affirmative for some obscure reason.

So through immigration and through customs and on to ground transportation where I realized I had made a big mistake. I had booked super shuttle which is a shared ride operation , basically a minibus service which does various drops around Manhattan before getting you to your hotel. Now I had cleared customs about 12.30 and at 15.00 I was still somewhere in Manhattan still in the shuttle when I told the driver to stop around 48 street and decided to walk South to my hotel which was in 32 street plus a few Avenues to the west. What I should have done was take the bus which goes from the airport to Pen station which it directly across from my hotel, what a Dick.

First view of Manhattan
Manhattan in sight
Holland Tunnel

After an energetic walk , zigzagging through Avenues and streets I arrived at my hotel in time to join a long line waiting to check in, but at least it was good to be in an airconditioned place as apposed to the very warm streets of new York.

Foyer of the Pennsylvania Hotel in a quieter time as I write this blog

Checked in and went to the room to find it was a complete tip, stained carpets and Curtains( for some reason) paintwork dirty , bathroom a complete mess. Tried to contact desk but impossible to get through , No doubt because every one was doing the same as me. Went down to the desk and went right to the front of the line and told the receptionist that I was not happy and if I couldn’t get another room I was going to check into the nearest hotel and send them in the bill for it. The girl went and spoke to the manager, returning to announce that I was to be given a room on the club floor. Great I thought and moved my luggage to the new room. A definite improvement ( which wouldn’t be difficult) but I am not sure what kind of club they had in mind when naming this floor the club floor but certainly not the normal hotel “club Floor” I can only assume it was a club for plumbing enthusiasts as the wash hand basin was precariously hanging off the wall and the tap had a handle missing which made things very difficult getting water out of it. Ok ,I suppose I have slept in worse places, although the last time I slept in a ditch, the Government were paying me to do so.

So out into the only place on the planet that could be new York, the city that never sleeps ( probably because all the hotels in the city are as bad as the one I was staying in). Only kidding , I have been in a number of hotels here and in the main they are all very good. Everything anyone can want is here and at any time of the day and night.

Heading for times Square
Empire State Building, day
Empire State Building at night
There is only one times Square
All the super heroes in one place
All the non Super heroes in one place

So into the night in New York and a meet up for dinner with a few people I have known for some time who are to be on this cruise followed by a retreat to an Irish Pub which at one time was a Scottish pup by the name of The St Andrews Lounge and now called O’Brian’s for the obligatory few pints of Guinness, before heading back to the hotel after a long day.

Saturday and was up with the lark and headed along to Herald Square next to the famous store Macy’s. There is tables and free Wi FI in the Square and a nice place to watch the World go by. Caught up on social media and headed north through New York ending up at an oasis in the midst of the madness that is new York, Bryant Park , again with free Wi Fy and great views of the surrounding skyline and the central libraries. Not bad coffee to. Walked up through New York as far as around 74th street and Central park, passing Trump Towers on the way, asked if Trump was at home but unfortunately he was heavily engaged in matters of state on the golf course, left a message that I was in New York so he will no doubt get in touch later.

Dinner at an Irish Pub off Times Square then an attempt to get into the Copa Cabana, which is a dance club only to be informed that it was a private function last night, so headed back to the hotel, stopping on the way to purchase an extremely large ice cream cone, bliss, Good Night New York.

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I wish I didn’t have to say, I told you so,so many Times

I apend below a piece I wrote in September 2015, and yes I did tell you so . I warned of SNP complacency and their fear of promoting independence. You will see it covers two main events the run up to the war in Syria ( which came about) and the bunker mentality of the SNP ( which still exists), Now we find ourselves on the cusp of yet another exceptional event as the Tory government implode and resort to the most devious tactics ever employed in the parliament of the UK. We will know on Monday if their latest attempt to force a general election before the 31 October will be successful. This simply for the propose of winding down the clock to Brexit day so that we will leave without a deal. This ,hopefully has been forestalled by the opposition parties who managed to bring in legislation to take away the option of a no deal Brexit but this of course does not hold a future Government to the same strictures and could be overturned by a majority government.

We are on the verge of a general election , the prime oportunity for the SNP to go for it on an independence ticket and use the result to ascertain the peoples will in relation to independence. Surely after all the promises , the marching of the troops to the top of the hill and down again, the constant affirmation that we have a triple lock mandate for a referendum. Surely Nicola Sturgeon will grasp this god given opportunity to move towards independence.

I fear not, as from the utterings that have been coming from her she seemes to still be banging on about ” the gold standard” a section 30 order, which temporarily sets aside schedule 5 of the Scotland act. Now any one listening to her speaking about this “gold standard” method of legitimizing a referendum might just think that this is standard practice on a countries road to independence, but in fact it is nothing of the sort because if by some chance we were to achieve independence by this manner ,we would be the only country on the planet ever to have done so. No, all of the rest of the countries who have achieved their independence have either had to fight for it or they have simply ascertained the will of the people and declared independence. This ” gold standard” is a figment of Nicolas overactive imagination.

It is now time for, either the SNP to do their job ( which is gain independence) and stop trying to save the UK, which is what they have been trying to do for the last three years since the Brexit referendum or for a new party to be formed which will concentrate on independence.

In this respect, two weeks ago I declared my intention to stand as an independent, independence candidate in a possible forthcoming General election. I would go a step further and encourage Stuart Campbell of Wings over Scotland ( who has suggested fielding candidate in the next Scottish elections for list seats only) to start his new party now and field candidates in this forthcoming General election if the SNP will not use it as a mandate for independence. It is way past the ridiculous stage when the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon continually go cap in hand to successive incompetent Tory governments to ASK permission to hold a referendum. She is demeaning the Scottish people and should be ashamed of herself.

I have had it said ( not by too many people) that if I stood in this election I could split the vote. My answer is this. No, because there would be two completely different issues. A vote for the SNP would be a vote to remain in the UK for an indeterminate time, whereas a vote for me would be a vote to leave the UK at the very first opportunity which, if Nicola Sturgeon was to get her act together could be within the next couple of Months.

The time for prevarication is past ,it is time for action now. We are on our road to independence Nicola, if you don’t like it, then leave and let someone else take over.

Bob Costello‎ toYES BUS… SCOTLAND’S DRAGON FOR INDY 6 September 2015 at 16:13 · Dundee

THE ROAD

The drums of war are a beating once again and this time the perpetrators of another incursion into the affairs of the Middle East, the Tories , have an outright majority in parliament, so buckle up your kit Lads and Lasses because you could very well be on your way to Syria.

Yet again we seem to be on the brink of another disastrous incursion in the affairs of another nation . A nation which by Middle East standards was being run reasonable well until we decided to encourage an uprising for the purpose of regime change , ostensibly because it was being run by a dictator , similar to other countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman etc .
So why you might ask are we not attempting regime change in these other countries? Well simply because we are the best of buddies with these countries so we turn a blind eye to the governance of these dictatorships.
So why are we not so happy with Assad of Syria? Well it’s complicated but to be truthful, we don’t really have much of a problem with him but our best buddies the Israelis do, and that is alł to do with the Golan heights which is where Syria borders on Israel and has been occupied by Israel since the Six day war in 1967. Now the complication there is believe it or not , Oil. Yes there is oil in the Golan heights and Israel has started drilling for it , an action which is against all international accords which relate to occupied territories.
Now if we could just get rid of Assad and install a nice friendly and compliant government ,then I am sure they could come to some accommodation with Israel to annex the Golan heights to Israel, this time legally because it has been done before ,in around 1983 if my memory serves me well.

So here we go again , the West doing Israel’s dirty work for them. Now can anyone hazard a guess why we have a terrorist problem? Yes you are right ” Israel”

So let’s get back to this country and when I say ” this country” I mean Scotland. Now you might have noticed that we have at present a wee independence situation here , in as much as it would appear the majority of Scots would like to see this country independent , according to the Ipsos Mori poll taken the week before last. Now it is only one poll but it forms a pattern since the referendum. In fact it follows a pattern for over two years as when the last referendum was announced polling was standing at around 25% ,over the referendum campaign it rose to a high to 51% then dropped back to 45% at the actual referendum ( if the polling figures were accurate) since the referendum they have steadily risen and now stand at 54% for independence. Now this may or may not be a blimp but the direction has at least been all in the one direction and that is towards independence .

Ok so what relevance has all this to do with what’s going on in the Middle East ? Well quite a lot actually ,because Nicola Sturgeon who is the leader of the SNP has on several occasions alluded to the scenario of ” an exceptional event” triggering another referendum. Such an exceptional event could in fact be about to happen and that could be the Tory Government taking us to war again and this is going to be the granddaddy of them all because we are going to have a hell of a job choosing the enemy. We could choose Assad because he owns the Golan Hight’s which have all that lovely oil that Israel wants or we could choose ISIS or Al quida who are sworn enemies of both us and Assad , because we put them up to it in the first place and us, because of our support for Israel. Complicated? Yes very and that is why there will not be a good outcome , unless you think that another half a million refugees is a good thing.

Now getting back to independence, yes we might actually be on the brink of ” an exceptional event” and with the polls going in our favour you might think that hey, we are on our way. But you would be wrong and the reason for this is that we are not ready for a snap referendum. Why? You might ask is that. Well during the last referendum we made several big mistakes , mistakes such as not explaining properly that there would be no adverse effect on pensions in the event of independence. also there was huge concern regarding monetary union and the No campaign latched on to this and because of certain people’s stubbornness it was thought that we did not have a plan B.

A couple of days after the referendum and realising that although we had just lost a battle ,we had not lost the war .I approached the SNP and asked the question, ” OK what’s the plan”. This question was met by ” the plan”? There WAS no plan and a year later these questions ,pensions and monetary union have not been answered , and that is way we are not prepared for a referendum.

Wake up SNP for goodness sake and get us back on the road to independence .

We through the Yes Bus for independence ,campaigned hard throughout the referendum campaign ( as did all other grass roots campaigns and SNP activists) and then we supported Chris Law in his selection to stand for Dundee West. We then campaigned for Chris to be sent down to Westminster .
A few days before he went down there I spoke to him in Menies over a pint I warned him against getting too comfortable in Westminster because he might be back sooner than he thought. I expressed my concern that the SNP might wander off the road to independence.I gave him a quote from William Wallace spoken before the battle of Falkirk , I said ” we have brought you to the ring , now dance best you can” ( he said he might use it in his Maiden speech) .
I told him that the Yes bus team has sweated blood for the cause of independence and that I had had enough, and was retiring from the ring. But there would be one exception and that was if I thought that perhaps the party had in some way veered of the well trodden track of independence and their commitment had in some way wained then we would be back and the big blue bus would be once again on our City Square and this time it would be there to get them back on the track.

Well this has come to pass and we will be there in our City Square on October the 4th and we will be there to call the SNP to account . We the people want a road map to independence and we expect the SNP to provide one. We would like our politicians to speak to the people in Dundee on the 4th October to tell us of the road map to independence. That road map doesn’t have to have a date but it has to have the preparation attached to it and the SNP must stop being terrified of the word independence and terrified of the press.

And one more thing , I personally am fed up of having to say I told you so.

We are still on the road to independence
This is our unfinished journey.
Bob

A Nautical Nomad

A memory of a trip I did one year ago when I was persuaded to once more get out on the road to take a tour to the outer Hebrides with a group of Swedish people. This was day five of the trip

Bob Costello

27 August 2018 ·

Trip to the Hebrides day 5.
Well second last day and last full day on the islands .
Day started at 7.30 loading luggage then taking the guys from
Loch Boisdale Hotel to the Askernish Golf course then back again for some breakfast then load up the ladies luggage and on the road to Eriskay, a trip of about half an hour.

Early Morning View from Lochboisdale hotel


Having told them about the “Whisky Galore” incident where the ship Politician, ran aground in the shallows off the island of Eriskay with a cargo of Whisky which was subsequently claimed by the locals, they were interested to see the pub of the same name built in the 1980,s.
We headed there only to find that it was shut and did not open till 11 o’clock. The Outer Hebrides are fantastic islands but they do themselves no favours with their crazy opening hours, or to be more exact, their closed hours.

The Ladies on the beach on Erisky, Unfortunately they decided to keep their clothes on today

Last night after dinner ( which took far too long) I had my, now costomery, debate with the owner of the Lochboisdale hotel, on independence. These debates generally range into the night with copious amounts of beer and wine being consumed in the process and the rest of the bar customers becoming alarmed at times. Last night I had to be careful with the beer as I was driving today, but I am beginning to see chinks in his Unionist armour. His piece de resistance last night was.” Ah but you see I am actually for independence, but I would like to see a border drawn along the highland line, which would give the highlands and the islands, the oil” ” it wouldn’t work” I quickly retorted. “Why” he said ” because you would want to close the rigs on a sunday” I said. Game set and match. We always part the best of friends, agreeing to take up the debate on my next visit.

I digress, so after our visit to the closed, Politician and realising that a closed Politician Pub is about as useful as our real Politicians, I took the ladies a walk along the beach under strict condition that they were not to tear off their clothes and throw themselves into the sea as they did the other day on Lewis. They wandered off along the beach whilst I sat and pondered the meaning of life and the mysteries of the universe. Coming out of my trance I realised that they had disappeared from view around a headland and realising that we had to return to Askernish to collect the men and get to the ferry by one o’clock, I set off after them. When I reached the headland, they were nowhere to be seen. OOps lost four clients. How was I going to explain this to their husbands? My first thought was that they had indeed decided to go for a swim after all and been swept out to sea or been eaten by a sea monster. I headed back to the bus intending driving further along the road that ran parallel with the shore and there they were, waiting at the bus. Hmm , they had decided not to walk back along the beach to where I was waiting for them, in the full realisation that my mind reading abilities would kick in and I would of course deduce that they had taken another rout back, women!!

So back to Askernish where I locked the Women in the bus whilst I went to collect the men and set off to the ferry, getting there in plenty of time where, to kill time I engaged two Jehovah’s Witnesses ( who had set up a stall at the slipway) in a debate about religion in a blatant attempt to convert them to Atheism., I think it was a draw, as they did not convince me of the advantages of their way of life and when I left them, they still had the stall and were handing out leaflets.

Ferry from Erisky to Barra
Leaving Erisky
The group on the ferry to Barra

Really nice trip over to Barra on the ferry in brilliant Sunshine, with the cocelshell beach used as a landing runway for the airport coming into sight from about half way over. After docking we headed straight for the Airport for some lunch and to watch the plane landing , perfect timing.

Plane from Glasgow just landed Barra Airport
Barra Airport ,not quite as large as Heathrow

A nice lunch at the Airport Cafe and then a walk over the Machre and onto the beach on the west side of the island ( see photos below). Sten , (the group leader) went in for a swim but was pretty hyperthermic when he crawled out of the water., I had a paddle. The Women ,unfortunately did not take their clothes off to have a swim. So after we managed to get some life into Sten and get his circulation going again the group went for a long walk along the beach and I fell asleep in the sun.

Sten in an advanced stage of Hypothermia
Me relaxing on the beach on Barra

Back in the bus and a drive down the west side of the island ,stopping at the 9 hole golf course for a wee look. Must be the only golf course in the World to have an honesty box for the £10 fee for as many rounds as you like.

Then on to the Craigard Hotel which sits above Castlebay overlooking Kismul Castle in the bay. Looking forward to dinner tonight as the seafood on Barra is second to none.
Have a good monday evening folks


Slainte

The day democracy in the UK died

Wednesday 28 August 2019 will go down in history as the day democracy died in the UK. Thursday 29 August 2019 should have been the day that Nicola Sturgeon announced either a new referendum or the intention of the SNP to use a possible forthcoming General Election to secure a majority for independence in the manner I spoke about in my blog of last Saturday. It was the day that the British government asked the queen to confirm the proroguing of parliament , effectively shutting off any feasible opportunity to have legislation in place to stop or put off Brexit until a deal or another referendum can be put in place.

Let me be clear, once more. The Scottish government do not need the “permission” of the Westminster government or any one else to hold a referendum. There is absolutely nothing in the Devolution Settlement which excludes a referendum . There is however , what is called a section 30 order which refers directly to Schedule 4 and 5 of the Scotland act 1998, Schedule 5 contains the reserved powers including the Union. Using a section 30 order in effect changes one of the items in either Schedule, in this case the reserved item, the union of the two Kingdoms of Scotland and England. It has the effect of temporarily ( or finally if thought best) removing this ( or any other) reserved matter. In this case for the propose of recognizing the result of a referendum, but not for actually allowing or refusing the holding of a referendum. Now in the case of a referendum being held without a section 30 . The process would be that either the Westminster parliament would accept the result( unlikely) or the matter would go before the courts . There could also be a declaration of independence based on the results whereby countries would be invited to accept the sovereignty of an independent Scotland in the same manner that Kosovo became independent and Britain was one of the first countries to recognize them as an independent country. Quite simply a majority gained through an election ( General or Scottish) would fulfill the requirements UN charter of human rights as far as determining the will of the people to become an independent country.

Now another red hearing that has been going about for a while is that the British Government could dissolve the Scottish parliament. I do not think this is the case. In fact it would seem that the only way the Scottish Parliament or indeed the Scottish government could be dissolved is through a referendum of the Scottish people and here from the Scotland act s the item that deals with this issue.

Permanence of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government

(1)The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.

(2)The purpose of this section is, with due regard to the other provisions of this Act, to signify the commitment of the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government.

(3)In view of that commitment it is declared that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are not to be abolished except on the basis of a decision of the people of Scotland voting in a referendum.]

So all this is my way of saying , why on earth is Nicola Sturgeon Fiddling While Westminster burns and not taking advantage of the best and most advantages set of circumstance ever likely to present themselves?

Every day that goes on seems to throw up more and more questions regarding Nicola Sturgeons leadership and suitability to lead the so called party of independence which is why I am intending standing for Dundee west against an established SNP MP. It is my hope that other people will do this in their constituency’s an just perhaps the SNP will get the message and change tact. For the good of the country it has to, or the cancer of complacently ( or worse) will have to be cut out to save the rest of the body.

After my blog of last week which had ( for me) a good readership and I would say 99% positivity, I had some people saying that one of the attachments I had included in my assessment of how I arrived at the decision to stand against the party I had been a member of for over 30 years, was not showing up when clicked on. It was the attachment of a blog I did with my resignation letter to Peter Murrel , chief Executive of the SNP and husband of Nicola Sturgeon. So I have copied it and Pasted it below. Just in case there is any one out there afflicted by insomnia as my blogs are guaranteed to put the most ardent insomniac to sleep pretty quickly.

Letter of resignation SNP

Peter Murrell

Dear Peter

It is with much regret and very much soul searching that I must cancel my membership of the SNP. A party that I have supported for many years both financially and indeed a vast amount of my time.

To give you an idea of my commitment to the party and indeed the fight for independence which is what, up to recently I have always thought that the SNP were all about, I list below some of the input I have had to the independence cause and therefore the party.

Going back to 2013 and the wonderful march and rally in Edinburgh I supplied two coaches free of charge at a worth of £***

I also supplied a minibus for disabled people free of charge at a worth of £***

Over the years I have allowed free storage and parking at our depot for SNP vehicles

In the run up to the referendum I took in Chris Law’s 50 year old fire engine and turned it into The Spirit of Independence, in our workshops this involved completely stripping the paint by hand and repainting it , refurbishing the brass work and completely overhauling the mechanical elements of it . The value of this was £*,***

I made available the Yes Bus Scotland’s dragon for independence to any grass roots organisation to campaign in their own particular manner. A 20-year-old double decker bus with a history of service in two countries which had gained their independence from the UK. The value of this could be conservatively assessed at £**,***

This bus then went on to actively campaign throughout Dundee Angus and fife with the Yes bus team, a group of committed volunteers from all parties and none. This yes bus has continued to promote independence mainly in the City square both during and since the referendum.

The value of this could conservatively be put at £**,***

During the campaign I supplied vans and minibuses to collect yes materials from Edinburgh and distribute these materials throughout the area and convey SNP campaigners throughout Dundee.  A conservative estimation of a worth of £*,***

During the referendum campaign I supplied for a whole 2 months, a coach and driver for Business for Scotland who worked very closely with the SNP, **********************************************************************************the worth of this is £**,*** with a contribution from business for Scotland of £*,***

There have been many other areas of assistance which I have given.

So the forgoing plus the direct donations that I have made to the party I feel shows that I have had unstinting commitment both to the party and to the cause of independence.

I have since the referendum mainly through social media and discussions with SNP politicians sought to offer suggestions regarding the ongoing fight for independence. Sometimes this has been taken as being anti SNP by some of the less able to think members of the party instead of constructive criticism.

A couple of days after the referendum I approached a local SNP politician and said “well we have lost a battle but not the war so what is the plan. The response I got was “what plan”. I said that we had made mistakes during the campaign such as muddle on plan B and we failed to convince pensioners that their pensions were not at risk in an independent Scotland and before any further referendum we must at the very least answer these questions and we should continue at a lower level the grass roots campaign to make people aware of these and many other issues that they were obviously uncomfortable with. Again, the equivalent of a blank look. In short, we have not made any preparation for a future referendum and it is still that situation today.

During the referendum campaign   we, the yes Bus team were on the streets of Dundee almost every day talking to thousands of undecided and hard no voters explaining the positive side of independence. We had a fantastic mix of people from all walks of life and political persuasions including people from business for Scotland of which I am a member. We had people out on the periphery and the streets surrounding the city square handing out merchandise and leaflets (when we could prise the material from the SNP run Yes Hub in St Andrews Street. And most important was that all these people sometimes 20 to 30 (far more than the SNP could muster to deliver leaflets and 10 times more than the amount of people who manned the occasional SNP stall including the politicians who huddled ineffectually around their stall in the Nethergate.

Now I should have realized at the time but this reluctance to have much to do with the grass roots groups was actually apparent even then, because the only time we saw the politicians at the Yes Bus was when the press were there and they disappeared along with the press, so they did absolutely no campaigning in Dundee with the grass roots groups that I was associated with.

After the referendum the yes organization was disbanded and I can only wonder at the wisdom of this as it was a catalyst for the grass roots groups and to my mind would have been a logical way of keeping the independence movement alive.

We sent 56 MP’s down to London out of a possible 59. A massive majority and I cannot for the life of me understand why they were not tasked with attempting to wrest the power to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing from Westminster to Holyrood. You will be aware that with a majority of one in Holyrood we managed to persuade the British Government to grant temporary power to hold a referendum after the last Scottish elections.

So I have over the last few months began to have an uneasy feeling regarding the actual commitment of the SNP to actually commit themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of independence.

I keep receiving messages and postings from unthinking people with the well-worn message of “ the SNP knows what they are doing they have a plan “ well with half a century of business behind me I have found that blind allegiance and faith generally leads to disaster.

So I have had misgivings as to the commitment or lack of strategic planning exhibited by the SNP with regards to a future referendum for some time, but what has brought this to a head is recent events in connection with a rally  myself and others organized in Dundee on Sunday 4th October.

This rally was a “road map to independence” misconstrued by some of the mindless SNP trolls to be pressure for an imminent referendum. I realized for the reasons previously mentioned that we are not ready for a referendum should the opportunity present itself and taking into consideration the remarks from Nicola Sturgeon that “the Scottish people will decide  when we are ready for another referendum” and also realizing that many people in Scotland , a great many SNP members among them are becoming restless because of the inability or reluctance of the SNP to present a reasonable way forward (a road map) I reasoned that a sensible approach and opportunity for the SNP would be to present a road map , not necessarily with a date but showing that proper preparations had been put in place . I feel that this would have been a good compromise and would have placated the unrest which is brewing.

Now we had asked Tommy Sheridan (being a prominent pro-independence campaigner) to talk together with several other speakers. We had a great line up of top class bands to entertain the crowds. The problem was that we could not get any SNP speakers. Eventually the top brass put forward Jimmy Black who is not a parliamentarian but a councilor, who made it clear that he had been “put forward.” Now he promptly   did a posting on Facebook asking all and sundry (not necessarily his constituents) if he should appear at the same event as Tommy Sheridan. I have never in my life seen anything so transparent, immature and incompetent being initiated by anyone let alone a politician. As if that was not bad enough he actually made reference to why he thought he should not appear siting Sheridan’s conviction for perjury (which he has served his punishment for ) and inexplicably reference to a book about Sheridan which made unsubstantiated allegations about his past. So we had an SNP politician “on Facebook” indicating that a punishment handed down in court was not sufficient and the person should continue to be ostracized presumably for the rest of his life and more incredibly acting as judge and jury on unsubstantiated allegations that for some reason have never come to court.

Now this started a torrent of abuse, mainly from insiders within the close confines of the SNP in Dundee, mainly Dundee West, both to me and another person (a woman) who was involved in the organization of this event.

Now we had properly applied within the time constraints for permission to hold the rally but because of a misunderstanding concerning the parade element of the day we had not applied separately (despite the staff in the council offices stating that only the one form was needed) for the parade and therefore we applied as soon as we realized this. Now late applications are very commonplace and happen all the time and the Convener of the Licensing committee has discretion in this. This man is Stewart Hunter an SNP councilor. Now despite all the necessary departments being happy with the parade including the police who I had detailed discussions with and in an apparent attempt to harm the rally he decided not to use his discretionary power to allow the parade to go ahead. He used the excuse that the last time I organized a rally in May it was chaotic, and he only gave permission on the morning of that rally.

So, I will go on now to explain what actually happened to the last rally, again a grass roots rally organized by Yes We Care and not me. I was in fact nothing to do with the application.

This rally was to take place on the weekend before the general election. Several days before the rally was to take place, I had a visit from Chris Law (now Chris Law MP) at my office. He asked me if I could use my influence to stop the rally (a yes rally) and have it postponed to the week end after the general election as he did not want people filling up the City Square waving saltires and having yes signs all over the place. Yes, incredibly the SNP did not want any mention or sign of independence before a general election. I at first expressed my disbelief at this and found it difficult to comprehend what he had just said. I firstly explained that I had not applied for the permission so he was speaking to the wrong person, although I had agreed to put the Yes Bus there on the day as a focal point and to use as a changing room for the Highland dancers. I however agreed to have a word with the organizers to see what could be done however I did mention that as the event had been booked for that particular weekend, there was no permission in place for the following weekend. He assured me that this would be sorted!   Now apparently and before I had had the chance to speak to the organizers he had asked them to go to the Dundee west office and again asked them to postpone the event until after the General election and again I believe stated both by him and another person employed by the SNP that the short notice application would be sorted. In the event the rally went ahead without, as far as I can ascertain even an application being submitted and was only passed by Councilor (SNP) Stewart Hunter on the very Morning of the Rally.

So for this councillor to try to use my late application for an event that I had nothing to do with and was in fact the internal machinations and political maneuvering of local politicians (which in itself throws up questions of probity) that caused the late (if any) application to prevent a yes parade going ahead is nothing short of a disgrace.

The event on 4th October minus the walk around the town went ahead and was a huge success with over a thousand yes supporters present. This engendered extreme sour grapes on the part of the SNP and Stewart Hunter through the Dundee Courier (a staunchly unionist paper) tried to put a negative spin on the event calling it a shambles and stating the there was only 300 at the event. Negativity I have not witnessed since the referendum and all by unionist papers and project fear. It would seem that the Dundee SNP have taken that mantle for themselves.

Because of the success of the event, there appeared on Facebook yesterday a posting by Tom Thompson (a parliamentary assistant to both Joe Fitzpatrick and Chris Law, showing the front page of the unionist paper the Courier with a totally false impression of how the event had gone and a very negative slant on it.  This was closely followed by negative comments by several people who are either employees of the SNP or in a close cabal that can be seen regularly inhabiting the Dundee West offices, in a blatant attempt at character assassination of which I was the subject. I never thought that I would see the day when the SNP used a unionist paper to attack one of their own.

One of these people I mention is already the subject of a complaint to you in regard to libellous statements in reference to me on social media and of which I took great exception to especially as he was an officer of the SNP. A complaint by the way that you yourself have for some two months failed to address.

Well Peter I have had enough, I have supported the SNP through thick and thin for many years I have walked the streets of Dundee for months during the referendum I have engaged with people from all walks of life and convinced them to vote for independence or in the case of the General election, to vote for Chris Law .I have offered honest constructive criticism when I thought that they were straying off the road to independence. I have lived and breathed independence for the last two years and more during the campaign and after it.

During this last two weeks I have been sickened by the vile comments posted about myself and the other organizer of this Yes event by members of the SNP including staff members and I will say it again in case you missed it A YES EVENT.

I feel the SNP have indeed strayed of the road we are all going down I feel they are side-lining the grass roots organizations that did so much good work. I feel that the SNP are more interested in retaining power , power they see diminishing after a yes vote when we will have in Scotland a Labour part of Scotland , Conservative party of Scotland , a Lib Dem party of Scotland and all the smaller parties ,all off Scotland.

It is with a heavy heart that I must leave the SNP but my loyalty is to Scotland above any political party. Scotland, the place that gets me excited every time I come home to it. Scotland, the only place on the World I would ever live in and lastly Scotland, the country that belongs to the Scots

Regards

Bob Costello

A Nautical Nomad

Days two and three trip to the Outer Hebrides.

Once upon a time I carried out tours of Scotland . I have not done anything like that for quite a time but one of our clients from Sweden was setting up a tour of the outer Hebrides for a group of his friends and he managed to persuade me to take the tour myself. I was a bit apprehensive but it turned out a great tour and I enjoyed it very much. Here is a couple of days of that tour, from September 2018. it brought back many great memories.

Good dinner and some traditional music at the Ceilidh Place on Thursday and a decent breakfast before heading for the ferry to board at 10.30 . Brand new ferry called the Loch Seaforth. Some great views heading down Loch Broom and into the Minch en-route to Stornoway. Got the computer out and did quite a lengthy travel journal tried to save it and can’t find the bloody thing now, therefore the reason for this one consisting of days two and three.
Nice smooth crossing and managed to get a wee nap in one of the reclining chairs then went to the cafe for a coffee.

Disembarkation went smoothly, collected the group and headed the short distance to the Hebridean Guest house. Checked in the group and off loaded the luggage, mine being the last , then, disaster, no computer. I had left it in the cafe on the ferry and it was heading straight back to Ullapool. Quick about turn in the bus and headed back to the terminal where the receptionist informed me that the gangway was about to be sealed but I could try to get back on board., I ran up the stairs and along the passageway to the doorway to be informed by the crew member that the ship sailed in two minutes whether I was on board or not, ran to the cafe to discover it was not the cafe I had left the computer in so again ran the length of the ship and there it was right where I had left it. Got back to the entrance as the guy was about to close it and just managed to get on to the gangway in time, saving myself a six hour two way trip to Ullapool and back again.

So panic over , back to the Guest house collected the people and walked them into town as though nothing had happened, let them loose in Stornaway and headed to the Harris Tweed display centre which is a bit like the yard in Steptoe and Son. Nice guy though and tweed jackets etc at very good prices saving around £80 compared to high street prices.

Next job was to arrange someplace to have dinner for last night and tonight, which was rather difficult, but managed it eventually then off to Lews Castle with the group which involved about a mile walk and the main reason I took them there was to confirm that the Castle had been partially turned into a hotel and there was a Starbucks cafe there too. Yes indeed , civilisation as we know it is doomed as we now have a Starbucks Cafe on the outer Hebrides. Dinner was nice in a hotel on the other side of the town and afterwards, on the way back I excused myself and went into a wee Irish pub in the town centre, which had live music and had a very well earned pint, which went down exceedingly well.

Leisurely breakfast this morning and we headed off South and then West towards the standing stones at Callanish , always a good visit and brought back memories of when I was taking the production crew of the film Brave around the country when the film was in the production phase. If you watch the film you will recognise the Callanish stones, although it is an animated film and also Dunnottar castle. If you go to the verry, verry, verry end of the credits you will also see my name there.


So after Callanish it was off to the Black houses at Grerrinish , wonderful place and a great situation by the shore. We had a walk along the shore before heading for Dun Carloway and the broch. I remember a previous visit there over 20 years ago. I was at the Broch and telling the people about it when I looked towards the sea and there was the masts of the Royal Yacht Britannia close into the shore. Now the royal family at one time would take a trip around the coast of Scotland each Summer, to have a look at their subjects from a safe distance and at the same time make the peasants feel proud that their hard earned cash was being spent wisely keeping that privileged family in the manner they seem to think they deserve. So it looked like they had come ashore for a picnic. Being the ultimate tour guide and realizing that the Queen would be delighted to see her most loyal subject, me) and a group of Jonnie foreigners,. I decided to join the picnic and prove once and for all that the Royal family are good for tourism. So I put this to the group and although the majority of them were all for it , there was an English couple who were horrified, I therefore decided against it , pitty.

I digress. So after the Broch we had lunch at the hotel nearby. Then off north to the lighthouse at Ness point and a visit to the beach nearby where the ladies in the group immediately divested themselves of any unnecessary clothing and plunged into the water. I of course looked the other way. So coffee followed at the harbour at Ness to warm the ladies up and a cold drink to cool me down.

A drive back to Stornaway with an explanation of the Highland clearances to keep the group awake and my mind off the mermaids from Sweden. Dinner tonight at 8.30 so time to get ready. Another good day in, I could get used to this again.

Why I will throw my hat into the ring at the next election

Ok so here we are almost 5 years years since the last independence referendum. We have had the shutting up of Scotland with the EVEL ( English votes for English laws) legislation. Which means that although Scotland in effect subsidizes England and therefore every law passed in the Westminster Parliament has an impact on Scotland , Scottish MP’s cannot discuss predominantly English issues in parliament, We had the “Vow” which was actually an invention of the daily Record in the last desperate days of the referendum campaign to sweet talk the Scots into a sense of security, but it was gleefully adopted by Labour and Tory politicians as a means to an end , the end being the 55% to 45% result of the referendum.

Yes we now know it was all lies and it was followed by the Smith commission which was supposed to distribute a healthy amount of new powers to the Scottish government on the basis of Gordon Browns” virtual federalization” Well we know what happened to that don’t we , yes we were thrown a few scraps and as I and others warned at the time, all we really got was no more of our own money but lots more blame.

Then we had the ignominious Scotland act legislation acted out in a parliament that does not represent us fully and a humiliation of our representatives we sent down to West Minster full of hope, false hope as it turned out. The thing was that we shouldn’t have been sending them down to Westminster in the first place , should we? No, we should have been declaring independence on the amazing majority we had achieved in the Westminster elections. 56 out of the 59 possible seats went to the SNP. Problem was that Nicola Sturgeon did not make provision for this in the election manifesto. She either did not, or did not want to read the mood of the people in the May of 2015, eight months after the referendum, despite opinion polls consistently showing ( accurately as it turned out) a huge swing to the SNP on the back of the deep disappointment of the referendum.

It was worse than just that, because she actually discouraged any talk of independence. Independence was not to spoken off ,it was to be swept under the carpet because she knew best. In Dundee we had an incident that highlighted just how bad this was.

In the weeks leading up to the 2015 Westminster elections we , through the Yes Bus Team and Yes We Care had arranged an independence rally in Dundee City Square, for the week before the General Election. There was various acts and speakers arranged . Just over a week before the General Election I had a visit from the SNP candidate for the seat of Dundee West. The propose of the visit was to ask for the rally to be postponed until after the election. I expressed my surprise that the SNP candidate was asking for an independence rally to be put off in the run up to a general election when he was standing as an SNP candidate as the whole propose of the SNP was to gain independence for Scotland. He told me that a prominent SNP MP had said to him “we cant have saltires and Yes posters being waved around the city Square the week before a General Election” Yes you heard right, “we cant have Saltires and Yes signs being waved around the City Square the week before a General election” this from an SNP member of parliament, in other words ” we are trying to suppress any thoughts of independence in order to get ourselves elected. I expressed my amazement at this. However, at this time I was still a member of the SNP and although I personally was not the signatory on the application for the rally I agreed to speak to the person who was, to get their point of view. However, as it happened, the politician and his political manager approached the other party and persuaded her ( under protest and surprise) to allow the event to be rescheduled. Both myself and the other party had expressed concern that there was not officially enough time to apply for the event to be rescheduled to the week after the General Election and both of us were told that “it would be sorted” the local council in Dundee were SNP.


So there we were, the yes city, the Yes Bus team and Yes We Care, being hushed up from promoting the raison d’etre of the SNP, “BY” the SNP on the eave of a General election, an election they went on to win in Scotland by an almost unbelievable margin. They did not achieve this “because” of the SNP , they achieved this “despite” the SNP.

I will not go into our other attempts to hold independence rally’s in Dundee, although they are the subjects of other blogs as is my resignation letter to Peter Murrel. However I copy it below just in case you have not fallen asleep and need some assistance to do so .

https://bobsblog.scot/2016/05/04/letter-of-resignation-snp/#

Ok so, since the event of Nicola Sturgeons coronation we have had nothing but a steady down turn in the voting pattern for the SNP apart from as I explain above the 2015 General Election which, I believe was won on the back of the severe disappointment of the referendum in 2014. We had the Scottish elections in 2016 with again a notable reluctance to put forward the independence question, where there was a loss of seats for the SNP, resulting in them losing their overall majority.we had the local elections in 2017 where again the SNP lost seats and the Tories made considerable gains.

Then there was the snap general election in 2017 where the SNP lost 21 seats and half a million votes compared to the 2015 General election. All the while Nicola Sturgeon carried on as though nothing was happening, which was actually true , nothing had been happening regarding addressing the issues we lost the last referendum on since the last independence referendum. Still it never dawned on Nicola, either by design or incompetence that something was amiss.

Then we had Brexit , that vote happened in 2016 and yet even that did not trigger a reaction from Nicola, Scotland was to be dragged out of the EU even although we had voted 62% to 38% to remain. Instead Nicola produced a paper outlining the Scottish governments approach to the situation I wrote a blog the day before this report was published titled ” A road Map To Unionism” and on the day it was published I wrote another blog titled ” I Told You So” See below.

https://bobsblog.scot/2016/12/19/a-road-map-to-unionism/

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bobsblog.scot/2188

In the first blog I predicted almost exactly that Nicolas position would be to attempt to save the UK rather than take advantage of the forth coming chaos and prepare for independence. Everything that has happened since has done nothing to change my mind.

So here we are with the British government in chaos and their potential savior Nicola beavering away to save the Union. That is simply unacceptable As I explained way back in my letter of resignation to Peter Murrel and before, we should have been working to address the issues we lost the last referendum on whereas the only initiative ( if you could call it that) that Nicola has instituted was the Growth commission report under Andrew Wilson, which is a complete disaster as it more or less commits to the very flawed monetary policy that lost us the last referendum. Not only that but it gives credence to the ridiculous GERS figures which have been taken to pieces by both myself and more importantly by Professor Richard Murphy. See below a blog I wrote on September 4th 2016 almost exactly two years after the independence referendum.

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bobsblog.scot/1468

Only yesterday, I think it was the last straw for me when it was reported in the National, that the motion put forward by Angus McNeil to allow a discussion of a very feasible plan B was rejected out of hand. Yes, believe it or not , a request for a path to independence to be discussed at an SNP conference was rejected out of hand, How could this happen? well to me, and taking into consideration the lack of preparation since the last referendum, the amount of times the faithful have been marched up to the top of the hill and down again , the amount of open goals the SNP have failed to take advantage of, the way the unionist machine has never stopped their campaign, there is only one answer, Nicola Sturgeon.

There comes a time when it becomes apparent that writing blogs ,debating with people who prefer to follow blindly, a leader who does not have the capacity to lead, sitting here and watching the unionist machine march on un-assailed , that one has to look for the next step. I have been blogging for some time now, I do not artificially bolster the numbers of people reading my blogs, no, they are there for a record , a record of what I thought about the political scene at any given time. I hope that perhaps some day my grandchildren will read them. They will see a constant dissatisfaction of the way the SNP and in particular Nicola Sturgeon have diverted their attentions away from independence and to, I fear some possible half way house of federalization or some other non independence option.

My great fear is this and that is that my grand children might read some or all of my blogs and say this, “Grandad , you were right, but what did you do about it”?

Ok , I am no politician but I weathered the storm of the independence referendum in 2014. I stood in the City Square with the yes bus team almost every day in the run up to the day of the vote . I was a member of the SNP for 30 years before I felt I had to leave because I believed in independence and was concerned at the rout they were taking by brushing independence under the carpet.

So I have decided to stand at the next election as an independent, independence candidate, probably a “Dundee for independence” ticket with one main manifesto commitment, independence.

I will do this for one reason and one reason only and that is when my Grandchildren say to me ” Grandad, what did you do about it”, I will be able to proudly say, “I tried my best”

The world this week from Mennies

Saturday 17 August 2019

Brexit,Wings over Scotland, and Donald Trump

Another week in and yet another busy week in business with the new property acquisition moving on apace and plans laid in place for further expansion moving on. all this of course depending on what happens when we leave the EU , whether by a crash out or an orderly falling of the edge of the cliff, Lemming-wise to oblivion. Whatever the case ,there are challenges ahead, of that there is no doubt.

This week has seen various moves to thwart Boris Johnson’s stated aim which is to leave the EU by the extended deadline of the 31st October regardless of whether there has been a deal or not meaning that it is either a case of a slow lingering death of cutting the throat of the nation by leaving it exposed to chaos and lack of trading partners with preferential trading terms.

There has ben an attempt by Caroline Lucas, leader of the greens and all things socialist, to set up a “Woman’s Cabinet” to save the Nation aided and abetted by that other champion of the road to unionism Nicola sturgeon and a few others. One slight problem with this Women’s cabinet of wisdom and fairness was that it consisted of an all white cast and excluded any colored Women. Whoops, the theory behind it also seemed to lack a basis in fact as the thought that the problem was men handling Brexit, obviously did not take into account the fact that it was a women who got us into this mess in the first place, Theresa May. Oh well quite possibly a plan B there someplace and thinking about it ,I have not heard much about it for a while now .

Corbin has been active this week after his conversion on the road to Damascus , with the threat to call a motion of no confidence on Boris the clown and instead install Joseph Grimaldi ( aka Corbin) in his place. The conversion was from staunchly resisting another EU referendum to embracing it .no doubt brought about by the many elections and polls lately showing that pro EU candidates generally came out on top. His other revelatory change of mind was on agreeing that the Scottish people should choose whether to have an independence referendum . Only problem there was that he forgot he had a Scottish branch of London Labour and didn’t tell them of the change of mind , instead letting John McDonnell his shadow chancellor blurt if out in an interview last Sunday , leaving the leader of the labour branch office in Scotland, Richard Lenard, fuming oh well nothing like showing these politicians in Scotland just how unimportant they are in the scale of things just like Boris the clown did two weeks ago when he chose to fill Scottish related cabinet positions with English politicians, mind you with mind the caliber of numbingly stupid MP’s like well known groper, Ross Thompson to choose from you cant really blame him.

There has been a great deal of activity regarding the announcement that the Blogger of Wings over Scotland Stuart Campbell, could put up a new party to contest only regional seats in the next Scottish elections, which will only take place if there has been no attempt by the SNP to call a referendum on independence.

The problem is that during the run up to the election in 2016 the SNP insisted that their supporters voted for them in both the constituency vote and the regional vote, Their reason for this are mysterious because it resulted in them loosing their overall majority and almost depriving us of an independence committed majority. It is a complicated voting system designed so that no single party can have overwhelming majorities in the Scottish parliament. It is called the De Hont system and it works. Now it means in practice that the first vote which is based on the first past the post system and called the constituency vote is calculated before the second vote which is called the regional vote and based through a formula around the seats won through the Constituency vote giving preference to smaller parties . Now if a party receives a large amount of constituency seats and they have also a large amount of votes cast for them in the regional vote then to a great extent these regional votes are wasted . That was what happened in 2011 and the SNP know this , therefore it beggars belief that they would encourage their supporters to make the same mistake again, but they did in 2016. Now what Campbell is suggesting is that he will only field candidates in the regional vote leaving the Constituency vote to the SNP. It makes perfect sense, unfortunately not to the SNP who have been sniping at this all week., They really have to get their act together and act soon on a referendum or commitment to use a General election ( which could be soon) to gain a simple mandate for independence or the chance could be lost indefinitely.

So. across the Atlantic and to our friend Donald Trump who is coiled like a python ( Monty Python) waiting to strike as soon as Britain leaves the EU with an offer to flood us with good old American delicacies, like chlorinated chicken whilst removing large swathes of the NHS in trading arrangements which ,if china is anything to go by will last at least a couple of weeks.

However , Donald has bigger things on his mind at present as he is thinking of “buying Greenland” yes I am not kidding . He probably realized that the population of fifty six and a half thousand would be relatively easy to over come using the massive and military machine at his disposal , which would be the normal method used, no doubt getting the CIA, first to encourage unrest among the locals for mistreatment of the Caribou and lemmings ( sorry that is Brexiteers isn’t it ) before sending in Americas finest to save the population. However in a fit of uncommon compassion he has decided to get ” his people” to look at the possibility of “buying” Greenland.

Now this might not be as daft as it seems at first sight, because it has been done before when in the late 19th century America bought Alaska from Russia and they bought it for the princely sum of $7.14 million , at todays prices this would be about £1 billion, cheap for a country with the assets of Alaska and I do not include Sarah Palin who is about as thick as a full set of Palings ( fence posts). Donald ,of course probably doesn’t realize that Greenland belongs to Denmark, the people who discovered America long before Columbus got lost and ended up on an island in the Bahamas, to just before his death still thinking he had reached Asia.

So if any Greenlanders are jumping up and down with excitement thinking that Donald is about to appear and make them all very wealthy I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was them, as he probably doesn’t even know where it is.

So to the best part of the weekend, a couple of pints in Mennies and a look back on the week past . I raise my glass to my many friends wherever on this fragile planet of ours you are .

The past , remember it, learn from it, but don’t dwell on it


Slainte