A Nautical Nomad

Day two a trip to the outer Hebrides Wed 24 July 2019

After the blistering hot day yesterday I woke up to the pitter patter of raindrops on my window and it went from there to a deluge. Oh well ,it is Scotland. So down for breakfast and then on my way again, heading South this time and retracing some of my trip yesterday as far as Newtonmore before turning West towards Fort William . A long drive ahead ,but I was intending stopping off at various points as I progressed towards my destination for the day which was Oban. The rain was coming and going with some quite bright and warm spells as I made my way along the banks of Loch Lagan. Looking towards the far bank I passed the estate that Queen Victoria considered as her home in Scotland before deciding on Balmoral

Loch Lagan looking West

I stopped at Lagan Dam which is part of quite an interesting project, as it collects water to turn the turbines in the Aluminum smelter in Fort William, some 20 miles away . The water collected at Lagan dam feeds a smaller loch in the hills towards Fort William then goes through a i5 mile tunnel to the smelter which is sited on the side of Ben Nevis where it turns turbines to produce the high volumes of electricity required in the smelting process.

Lagan Dam

So after a brief stop at the dam I continued heading west, passing through Roy bridge and Spean Bridge. Near Spean bridge is a memorial set up after the second World War to the Marine Commandoes who trained near there at Auchnacarie . In recent years there has appeared a small garden of remembrance to members of special forces who have lost their life’s in recent conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq. So onwards West, passing The great Glen Cattle Ranch! yes a ranch in Scotland, at one time owned by an American guy who had his herdsmen rounding up the cattle on horseback.

On the edge of Fort William I turned of towards Corpach which marks the start of the Caledonian Canal and another mention of that great Scottish engineer Thomas Tedford, as he was responsible for the building of the canal which involved some pretty innovative engineering to accommodate the different levels required along the length of the canal as it made its way up the Great Glen , a natural geological rift stretching from Fort William all the way to inverness . This involved what is called Neptune’s Staircase , a series of locks to raise and lower the water level at both Corpach and Fort Augustus. Telford cleverly used the series of lochs which stretch the length of the Glen, only building the canal in the short stretches between them. Telford went down to England eventually and was responsible for building many bridges such as the Meni suspension bridge and he actually had a Town named after him ,Telford.

Caledonian Canal at Corpach

So onward to Fort William which sits at the head of Loch Linnhy where it meets Loch Eil. Fort William is named after the Duke of Cumberland, the victor of the battle of Culloden in 1746. In England they also named a flower after him and called it Sweet William, in Scotland the flower was named Stinking Willie. The Duke of Cumberland’s atrocities after the Battle of Culloden are well known and that period of Scottish history is a story for another day. The town was previously known as Marybourgh after the wife of William Of Orange. Fort William sits in the shade of the tallest Mountain in the British Isles Ben Nevis and passing through, brought back memories of ” the Ben,” There is a race every year on the first Sunday in September and I ran that race 15 times . It is 12 miles but harder than any Marathon, my best time was 1 Hour 54 Minutes.

Loch Linnhe

So through Fort William and heading along the banks of Loch Linnhe, I arrived at Balachulich crossing the Balachulich bridge and turning into the Appin road by the Balachulich Hotel.

Now, I had made up my mind to visit the memorial to James of the glen, which sits high above the bridge. Unfortunately time had been cruel to the steps leading to the monument and indeed to the area surrounding the memorial. However I managed to circumvent the barriers and obstacles put in the way presumably for safety instead of just fixing it.

I don’t know if any of you have read the Robert Lewis Stevenson book Kidnaped, but if you have then this book described what was called the Appin murder. There is a character in the book called Allan Breck Stewart who was a kinsman of James Stewart ( James of the glen). You will remember that David Balfour and Allan became friends and had many adventures whilst traveling through this area of Scotland . Now the man who was killed was Collin Campbell a tax and rent collector for the Campbell ,Duke of Argyle and not a well liked person . One day whilst traveling through Appin he was shot and killed and James Stewart was blamed for his murder. Stevenson alludes to this incident in the book and more or less implies that it was in fact Allan Breck Stewart who did the killing . Now although this book was fiction ,it was based on historical fact and Allan Breck Stewart was an emissary of Bonnie prince Charlie who , after the battle of Culloden had to flee to France along with many other Clan chiefs. It was Allan Breck Stewards job to come back from France and collect dues from the various Clans to keep their exiled Clan Chiefs in the manner they were accustomed to. James was tried in front of a Campbell Judge and a Campbell Jury , found guilty and hanged where the monument now stands and his body was left there for over a year with a guard posted as a warning to any of the Clan who had similar thoughts .

Monument to James of the Glen

I decided to drive through Appin instead of going through Glen Coe, I bet you are glad ,otherwise I would have had to tell you the story of the massacre of Glen Coe, but that is a story for another day and another journey.

So after the stop and the trek to the monument I continued around the coast by Loch Linnhe and Loch Laich Stopping to take photos of Castle Stalker, which sits on a small island and was featured in Monti Pythons ,”The Holy Grail” It changed hands between the Campbells and the Stewarts over the centuries , once as the result of a drunken bet.

Castle Stalker

Onward then to Oban, a check into the hotel and a walk to the ferry terminal to pick up my tickets for tomorrows sail to Barra

Oban Harbour

Sitting in the lounge of the hotel, pint of Guinness and looking forward to setting foot on Barra again.

Slainte

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A Nautical Nomad

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Well a Nautical Nomad blog with a difference this time, as it is a mixture of a land-based trip together with an element of sea travel by way of CalMac ferries on my way to my favorite island Barra. A very much last-minute trip with a frenetic afternoon yesterday struggling to get ferries and hotels booked up for this week as the western isles are popular with the Barra Fest, or Fais Bharraigh happening this weekend. This is a festival of traditional Music ,held on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on Tangasdale Machair looking out towards Canada.

So, the reason for the last-minute arrangements, was that originally, Jamie (my Son) had scheduled in this week for a bike trip north, stopping at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore and going as far as Ullapool. As things turned out and because of an important contract we have for servicing delivery vehicles for a very large supermarket company and a significant increase in the amount, and geographical spread of the work, Jamie thought it better to remain in Dundee. Therefore, why waste the accommodation already booked and the extremely nice weather forecast, hence the reason for the rearranging that went on at the last moment, yesterday.

So, day one of my trip to the Outer Hebrides and last minute catching up at the office and looking out on quite heavy skies before I head North. What has happened to the nice weather forecast?

Bridge built by Thomas Telford

I started traveling at 09.30 still under very ominous dark skies, but before long the Sun made an appearance leading up to a very warm day, and by the time I reached Dunkeld the temperature was 70F ( 20c, for  those who can’t remember doubling it and adding 30 ) I decided to stop at Dunkeld for some belated breakfast. There is a lovely Square in Dunkeld with a fountain supposedly donated by the tenants of the Duke of Athol in his honor, which means that he no doubt erected it there himself using their money.

Monument to the Duke of Athol, by the duke of Athol

Anyway, most of the buildings in the square date back to around 1689 when the town was all but destroyed during a battle between the Jacobite Army and the clan Cameron who were government supporters and religious zealots. This happened several weeks after the battle of Killiecrankie which took place a few miles north of Dunkeld  coincidently on the 27July 1689 a few days from now ( plus 330 years). The battle of Dunkeld was indecisive but as the leader of the Jacobites , John Graham of Claverhouse had been killed t the point of victory a few weeks before at Killiecrankie, the uprising petered out shortly after.

So, after finding the only parking space available in the square I took some photos then went in search of sustenance, finding a nice-looking café in the road leading to the 11 th century Abby which sits on the banks of the river Tay. I was surprised to find the place empty but when I looked at the menu, I realized the possible reason for that situation as the prices were extremely high, with a sandwich costing just under £8 and a tea just under £3. It is a pity that some establishments in popular places charge such high prices. I decided I would not encourage this and left, but not before, very politely explaining why. As a tour operator I am used to seeking out the places that clients will receive value for money and not simple taking people to places where food or goods are overly expensive in the expectation that commissions will be received.

Street leading to the Abby where the rather expensive café was

Leaving the square, I went up to the main street and tried another restaurant to find the same situation there and once again left. There was a café next door to that one and the prices seemed reasonable, so I ordered a Bacon roll, pot of tea and finished up with a scone with butter and jam all for under £8, the price of only a sandwich in either of the other cafes. So, beware if stopping for refreshment in Dunkeld.

The café with the reasonably priced menue

Suitably refreshed I was back on the road, the A9 to be precise but no sooner had I crossed the bridge over the River Tay built by Thomas Telford in 1809 and started on my way up the A9 than I decided to veer off and stop at the hermitage. This involved a half mile walk to the waterfall and viewpoint. The viewpoint dedicated to Ossian, a hermit who at one time lived in the area in a cave. Great walk and some nice photos.

View from Ossian’s hall

Back to the car and once again on my way up the A9, the main artery up the spine of Scotland to the North. This originally a military road, built after the 1719 Jacobite uprising by General Wade. The same General Wade that is featured in the “British” national anthem. “God Save The Queen” where he is encouraged to “crush the rebellious Scots”. Nice to have a Union of equals, isn’t it? Although Wade is given the credit for building this Military road, it was a Major Cofield who was actually in charge of the works.

Heading towards Ossian’s Hall

So next stop Killiecrankie, about another 15 miles up the A9. I was going have to get a move on as by this  time it was into early afternoon and I had only came about 50 miles , but I had not been to Killiecrankie for a number of years and it had played an important part of Scottish history. The visitor Centre was closed, and a notice told me that it was only open at the weekend, disgraceful and all down to the National Trust for Scotland who own the Center. I will be writing to them as it is almost as if they are trying to suppress Scotland History, oops I forgot, the president of NTS is Neil Oliver who has a habit of twisting history to favor the union on his TV shows, perhaps this explains this weird situation.

So, onward and I decided to stick to the back roads, the old A9 which passed the 1689 battle site and indeed the stone that marks the place where John Graham of Culverhouse (Bonnie Dundee) fell, mortally wounded. Had he not been killed that day this country would have been a different place today and I am sure he would have led his Jacobite army south to once again defeat the forces of William of Orange and probably Scotland would never have joined the Union in 1707.

Dalwhiny Distillery

So, heading north with a stop for photos at the Dalwhinny distillery before continuing through Newtonmore and Kingusie before finally turning off just short of Aviemore and heading through Column bridge and by loch Morlich, arriving at Glen more lodge.

Glenmore Lodge

Glen More Lodge is a Centre or outdoor sports offering many courses on activities such as mountaineering, navigation, orienteering and waterborne sports. It is a comfortable sporting hostelry offering a good standard of basic accommodation with breakfast for a reasonable amount. It is situated a half a mile from Loch Morlich where many of the water bourn sports take place and a few miles from Cairn Gorm where there is a ski Centre.

Rescue Helicopter ready to take off

After I checked in, I donned my small rucksack and headed towards loch Morlich in very hot conditions, but to a point, sheltered by the trees which form one of the few remaining natural forests in Scotland, consisting mainly of Scots Pine.

The walk to Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich has one of the few beaches bordering an inland Loch and as you can imagine it was very busy today. After a visit to the beach and a further walk through the woods, perhaps about 4 miles in total I made my way back to the lodge.

Loch Morlach beach

A very welcome shower and a visit back down to the Loch shore for a bite to eat, this time by car. Back to the lodge and a nice pint of Stella, good Belgian beer.

So tomorrow I head for Oban, quite a drive, overnight in the Alexandra hotel and then the boat to Barra on Thursday. Let’s hope the weather keeps up.
Slainte       

The World this week from Mennies

Sat 20 July 2019. Trump, Sturgeon, Corbyn, Iran, Tory leadership

Trump

Another week and a busy one at that business wise with even more questions on the political front. The World is truly going crazy. On the other side of the Atlantic we have Donald Trump proving his racist credentials by suggesting four Democratic Congresswomen should go back to where they came from and here is his words.

“They should go back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Three of them were actually born in America and one has been there for two decades. So here is the president of America making blatant racist and false remarks, concerning four members of the American Government. This is astounding. But worse was to come because at a Trump rally the crowd were encouraged to chant “send them home”.

Now, the man is nothing more than an immature spoiled child, but there is something rather more frightening than this unwise expression of underlying hate in the US and that is this. This Man was voted in by this underbelly of deep rooted race hatred which was supposed to have been quelled during the fifties and sixties when segregationists like Governor Wallace ruled in places like Alabama and the colored people were treated very much as second class citizens.
Now trump is using this deep rooted hatred of fellow human beings for political advantage and the scary thing is that it appears to be working. Even more scary is the fact that if people like Trump can gain political advantage through playing the race card then it is democracy in action. representative democracy is a form of government wherein its citizens vote for or elect a representative to represent them in Congress or the Senate. So that is the kind of behavior the people voting for Trump will expect him to carry out on their behalf . It is as simple and as scary as that.

Remember, Hitler was not a dictator, he was voted in to his position by the people of Germany.

Nicola Sturgeon

The gloss of Nicola Sturgeons reign is speedily evaporating , more so with her latest snub of Angus McNeil MP. Who proposed a motion to be debated at the forthcoming SNP conference concerning an alternative way forward on the road to independence. A suggestion that I myself made a couple of weeks ago and have made many times in the past. That the SNP should go for the next election ( Scottish or Westminster) on the a manifesto of independence. This in order to asses the will of the Scottish people concerning independence. Incredibly the motion was refused. So the SNP ( the party of independence) will not discuss independence. This is so incredible that I am lost for words. In the last few weeks when my blogs have been critical of this stance and been followed by several snide and insulting comments amounting to “Nicola has a cleaver plan but she is not telling any one about it”. I have asked the question, ” since Nicola was made party leader can you give me one credible item she has introduced to make independence any nearer or one measure of preparation for any future referendum. I have not had one single answer to these questions. It really is time for her and her husband , who is the chief executive of the party to go. Unfortunately there are too many snouts in the trough of Westminster and Holyrood for any credible challenge to her rule to be mounted. The time is now, for a new party to be started.

Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has eventually fallen off the fence and has made it ( more or less) clear that the Labour party will support a new vote on the EU before any agreement is finalized . This of course was followed by a predictable upsurge in Anti-Semitism claims . The reason being is that this change of policy has made Corbyn more electable , Corbyn supports the Palestinian peoples claim for their own homeland and Israel does not like this one bit. Therefore they are bringing their paid up members of organizations like Friends of Israel to bear on slandering Corbyn and his party with accusations of Anti-Semitism. Now Anti-Semitism is a hatred of Jews and does not include a dislike of the murderous practices of the Israeli government in their treatment of the Palestinian people, although the Israeli government would like to think that it does. Another crazy situation in a mad World.

Iran

America took an other step towards initiating a war against Iran with further ships being put in the vicinity of the straights of Hurmuz and a report that one of these ships shot down an Iranian Drone . This obviously because Iran shot down one of theirs within Iranian airspace.

Background to this was the agreement with Iran to stop any moves towards the establishment of a nuclear capability made in 2015 with more or less the whole World, and broken by President Trump a year ago. The reason being that Israel did not like the fact that America and the West were not at war with Iran and they preferred to be the only country in the middle east with nuclear weapons. Trump as Israel’s poodle has therefore put in place measures to cause conflict with Iran and of course compliant Britain stopped and impounded an Iranian Tanker at Gibraltar a couple of weeks ago.

So here we go again , America dragging its allies to war at the behest of Israel, the only glimmer of hope is that the EU will resist this madness and in some way recover the agreement that the US is intent on destroying.

Tory Leadership

Tory leadership and a choice between Laurel and Hardy, Johnstone and Hunt, with Johnstone widely being lauded as the winner and next prim- minister at which point he will immediately throw in the UK’s lot with that other village idiot Trump making it a near certainty that we will be at was with Iran within 6 months.

Speculation abounds as to whether Johnston will call a general election, but on the basis of Turkeys not generally voting for Christmas, I would say that this is probably not a goer, with one slight reservation and that is this. A possible coalition with Nigel Farage’s party of no hopers. Can you imagine that? The thought puts shivers up my back and mentioning Nigel Farage , he is apparently coming to Dundee, no doubt in the hope that there will be a day of incidents that he will put down to extremism. I have had it suggested that perhaps the yes Bus team might make an appearance, well I think people like that deserve only to be ignored.

The Nitty Gritty

So a couple of pints in my favorite hostelry and no doubt some political discourse, as there was last evening, with good discussion , debate and an element of hilarity with Grieg, Roy, Ray and of course my Nemesis John who always gives me a run for my money on the political front.

So wherever you might be on this fragile planet of ours I raise my glass to you , have a good and safe Saturday evening

Slainte

The Saltire and the Blind

Last Saturday I sat down and put my concerns regarding independence in a blog titled “Scotland’s Armageddon” where I put forward the suggestions as to how we could achieve independence and how I had concerns that the SNP leadership had not seemed to have considered them , although to me they seemed very valid and logical moves especially in light of the UK government’s point blank refusal to allow a section 30 .

To be clear, a section 30 temporarily modifies schedule 5 of the Scotland act which deals with reserved matters and in particular the reserved matter of the Union of The Kingdoms of Scotland and England and has the effect of recognizing the result of a referendum on independence which would nullify that Union.

It is worth noting that the Scotland act is quite clear that there is two separate Kingdoms brought together in a Union and at no time was either Kingdom subsumed into or by the other.

Ok, so my blog was expressing concerns that the leadership of the SNP seemed content to go down that one very narrow road of seeking a Section 30 derogation and I laid out alternatives, one of which was to use an election ( either Scottish or Westminster) to gain a mandate for a move to independence which would encompass the need to assess the will of the people. That would satisfy the UN charter on self determination.

Well, Monday Morning and I opened my twitter feed to discover that Angus McNeil ( MP for the Western Isles) was about to start a process which would encompass just that., He was to submit a motion to be debated at the SNP Autumn Conference which would make the next election ( Scottish or Westminster) a vehicle for independence gained through the election being fought on the basis of a manifesto of independence.

Because of my concerns ( expressed in my blog of last Saturday ) as to the commitment to independence being displayed by Nicola Sturgeon, I thought , brilliant Angus, go for it. I saw this as a way of marginalizing a leader who had lost the will to achieve what she was supposed to be there for in the first place .

Unfortunately just today it would appear that the leadership have blocked the motion. So in other wards the leadership of the SNP are to block a legitimate move towards independence . Absolutely incredible, Nicola Sturgeon is now seen for what she is and that is more intent on saving the Union than providing a road map to Scotland’s independence.

This is nothing new, but it is stark, and giving the unavoidable conclusion that all is not well at the top of the SNP . I personally have had grave concerns regarding Nicola Sturgeons commitment to an independent Scotland for some considerable time and as an example I cast my mind back to an incident a few days before the Scottish elections in 2016.

I together with a few of the yes bus Team went to what was supposed to be a public meeting in the Queens Hotel Dundee, where Nicola Sturgeon was to be speaking. It turned out that it was “public meeting” in name only and only SNP members had been invited. I was one of the first there and was greeted by a look of panic by the few political staff and activists setting up the hall. I had had recent issues with the SNP regarding various “independence” rallies which had resulted in my resignation from the SNP after 30 years of membership. Originally it had been planed that the meeting would consist of a speech from Nicola followed by a few soft questions by the faithful. This was hurriedly changed to a system where any one who wished to ask a question was to write the question on a piece of paper along with their name and give it to the political manager who had shown surprise at me being there .

The question I wished to ask was concerning the omission from the election manifesto of either a commitment to independence based on the result or at least an intention to wrest control from Westminster, of the ability to hold a meaningful referendum without recourse to the Section 30 clause in the Scotland Act. When it became clear that Joe Fitzpatrick ( who was choosing the questioners) was not to give me the chance to speak, I walked out of the meeting , which because the meeting had been held in a rather small room ( about 80 present as apposed to several hundred in her previous meeting in Dundee) meant I had to walk right in front of Nicola causing somewhat of an intake of breath by some present.

I wrote a blog after that titled “A letter To Nicola” link below .

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bobsblog.scot/868

Now, the reason for this lengthy explanation is to make the case that this recent behavior from the leadership is nothing new and in fact has been this way ever since Nicola became leader, and in this respect I would ask you to think back and suggest any thing or any credible initiative Nicola has instituted that would bring independence any nearer? I cant think of one.

I would suggest that this latest deliberate block on a very credible strategy by Angus McNeil has made Nicola Sturgeons position untenable. I think she should step down and make way for someone with independence as their main driving force.

If this does not happen then we , in the independence movement should seriously consider starting a new party. “The Scottish independence party”

The problem with following blindly is that one day you might wake up blind.

God forbid, but I feel that day is not far off

Scotland’s Armageddon

I sat down to write a blog on where we are on the road to independence and to be honest, I am finding it difficult not to duplicate the many blogs I have written on the subject.

I have been accused many times of wrongly criticizing the SNP and, in particular, Nicola Sturgeon. I have honestly tried to look at other alternatives and indeed places to place blame, because one thing is certain and that is we ( the independence movement) are in an awful position and the people with the mandate to deliver independence are the SNP with Nicola Sturgeon at the top.

So, what do I mean by an awful position? Well here we are, almost 5 years from the last referendum where we had a campaign lasting around two and a half years, raising support for independence from 27% to at least 45%, with, (until recently) support raising only marginally. The reason support increased at all was nothing to do with any credible independence related initiatives embarked upon by the SNP and all to do with the actions of the Tory government by way of broken promises and exposure to the lies and misinformation put out during the last campaign , as was the increase from 6 to 56 SNP MP’s in the Westminster parliament.

Ever since the day Nicola took over the leadership of the SNP the cause of independence has been swept under the carpet. This was very noticeable, even during the campaign to elect MP’s in the 2015 General Election and in this respect I will always remember the incident ( related many times before) where we ( the Yes Bus team and Yes we Care Dundee) were to hold a rally in the City Square of Dundee the week before the general Election. A week before the rally I had a visit at my office from Chris Law who at that time was the SNP chosen candidate for the Dundee West constituency together with his political assistant. I had known Chris for many years and had , through my workshops , renovated the Spirit of Independence, a 50 year old ex-Army fire engine that Chris had used on a highly effective trip around Scotland during the campaign.

The purpose of Chris’s visit surprised me, as he asked if I could postpone the rally until after the General election. I couldn’t believe my ears. I said to him “Chris, this is a pro-independence rally, the SNP’s main function in life is to deliver independence, you are the SNP candidate for Dundee West, we (the Yes bus team) campaigned for your adoption as the independence candidate. What is going on?

His next words almost floored me. He said “Stewart Hosie has said that we can’t have saltires and Yes signs being waved around the Square the week before a General Election” I was lost for words.

We did eventually agree to postpone the rally and what happened next is a story in itself and can be accessed on the blog, link below, as during the pleas to postpone the rally I had told Chris and his assistant that as it was so close to the date , there wouldn’t be enough time to get the necessary permission to hold the rally on the new date , the week after the General election. I was assured by both there that “it would be sorted “meaning, the rules would be adjusted to suit their agenda. In the event, it wasn’t “sorted” and we showed up in the square on the new date to find that panic had ensued because the gruesome twosome had immediately forgotten their commitment and had not rearranged the date with the SNP council, so on the very Morning of the rally the licensing board chairmen had to be found and signed off the permission there and then. Well the SNP did not exactly cover themselves in glory in that incident but there was more to come, because some time later we organized another rally and this was to be the Mother of all cock ups by the Dundee SNP as they , in their endeavor to spoil it actually used the excuse that they were refusing permission to hold the march element because “I had failed to apply for the holding of the previous rally in time” Yes you just couldn’t make it up straight out of a Blackadder sketch. Read below the saga of the second rally.

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bobsblog.scot/240

However, what these incidents told me was that something was amiss in the SNP attitude to independence and the result of the 2015 General Election which was a massive 56 MP’s returned to Westminster showed just how bad the SNP were at assessing the feelings and mood of the people which put the comment by Stewart Hosie” we can’t have saltires and yes singes being waved around the square” firmly in the context of the SNP not really knowing what they were doing. I think it is true to say that the 56 MP’s sent down to Westminster was not because of the SNP but despite them.

This has been followed by a catalogue of misread, confusing and miscalculated strategy over the last. almost 5 years manifesting itself in every election since, showing a drop in support for the SNP, with the snap General Election in 2017 returning a massive loss of half a million votes for the SNP. The only way the SNP could ameliorate this loss of confidence was by announcing some independence initiative or other weeks before each election. Every single promise, subsequently to be backtracked on until another election loomed.

We have had statements from Nicola, like the people will tell us when we are ready for another referendum, without actually explaining what is involved in telling her, so the people carried out mass rallies. This being the only way they could make their voice heard. Unfortunately, Nicola was selectively deaf and soon stopped asking for the people’s voice to be heard as it was apparently telling her something she did not want to hear.

These rallies were scantily supported by SNP politicians who, on a few occasions made cursory appearances and indeed we in the yes Bus team were subject to a campaign of vilification for having the audacity to hold a rally in Dundee (the yes city) and invite Tommy Sheridan to speak. This campaign set up by members and officers of the Dundee West SNP office. We had several incidents of obstruction of independence rallies by the SNP council on an ongoing basis.

At no time did Nicola Sturgeon appear at any of the rallies nor did she offer any kind of support even by way of a simple good luck message. Not a single mark of respect or support. This in marked contrast to her support for gay events, going as far as to lead one of these gay parades in London. I really do not see why she should put her own sexual orientation before her job by using her position to champion causes out with her remit as both leader of the SNP ( party of independence) and First minister of Scotland before showing support for what should be the SNP’s raison d’etre.

We have had the spectacle that was the Scottish Act 2016 played out in parliament where something like 80 amendments were put forward by the SNP and almost every single one of them ignominiously voted down out of hand. We have had numerous occasions of Scotland being sidelined and humiliated in Westminster like the EVEL laws brought in by subterfuge, meaning the no Scottish member of parliament could even debate a law concerning England, a country we subsidize. All this and much more and still no move towards another referendum or other form of determination of the will of the Scottish people.

Then of course we had the referendum on the EU, something we were told during the independence campaign was not going to happen and the only way of guaranteeing remaining in the EU was to vote no. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain but we are to be dragged out against our will, and still no move by Nicola to even prepare for another referendum, not only that but Nicola has made it quite clear that she is just not interested in going down any other rout than obtaining a section 30 from Westminster . This is a pre-arrangement that the result of a referendum will be honored. Since 1939 there has been 66 countries which have gained their independence from the British Empire and not a single one has had anything resembling a section 30. No, if a country wants independence it takes it under its own volition. Why has the SNP not put provision for this in place? In fact, why have they not made any sort of effort to prepare for an assessment of the will of the people?

Ever since Nicola took over the leadership the SNP have done nothing credible to forward the cause of independence and I am taking into account the flawed report by Andrew Wilsons Growth commission which came away with recommendations that would have tied us to the UK for at least 10 years. Simply ridiculous.

It appears to me that Nicola’s main efforts have been to save the UK and not to gain independence for Scotland this to my mind was made very plain in her so called answer to the vote on leaving the EU. I wrote a blog the day before the paper was due to be published titled “A Road Map to Unionism” and another blog the day it was published titled “I Told You So” Here are the links.

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bobsblog.scot/2182

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

This was indeed a road map to unionism and Nicola has been pursuing this for a long time .

Just because the SNP have not been pursuing independence diligently does not mean our adversaries have not either , no, on the contrary they have never stopped and now it is getting to the stage that the Westminster establishment are seriously worried about Scotland becoming independent as they realize that the subterfuge regarding Scotland’s dependency on England has been seen through for what it was and now they are doing something about it , evidenced by the large capacity civil service building at Haymarket to house UK civil service and the speech from the departing failure of a Prim Minister making a pretty thinly vailed threat to devolution.

Yes, because of SNP inaction to get a campaign going or to take advantage of the many opportunities to call a referendum, the SNP have allowed the UK to put in place a mechanism for the dismantling of the devolution settlement, meanwhile Nicola fiddles while Scotland burns.

As regards to a way to achieve independence and Nicolas gift to the UK by making it clear that she will not consider any other way except by a section 30. Well a section 30 is not actually required by any country who wishes through the majority of its people to become an independent nation.

The UN charter of self-determination makes this very clear.

The right of a people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law, binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms. It states that people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

That makes it very clear that there is a simple rout to independence and there is no constriction to this in the devolution settlement. Even if there was then in international law this supersedes this and remember, the UK is a member of the UN.

The process would be this, first we have to determine the will of the people and that can be done in two ways. A referendum, of which there is no impediment in the devolution settlement or constitution (no written constitution anyway) to stop this happening as apposed to the situation in Catalan where there was a condition in the constitution to prevent an unauthorized referendum. Or there can be an election where the SNP went on a one issue manifesto, that of independence. If a majority was gained in one of these ways, then independence could be declared, and negotiations opened with the UK regarding the split of assets borders etc. At the same time countries would be encouraged to recognize an independent Scotland and I know of at least 27 who would no doubt be ready to do that.

Now, why this has never been explained by the SNP is a mystery, it is almost like they do not want independence and remember many people have loaned the SNP their vote to gain independence and will thereafter go back to their natural elegance as Scottish Tories, Scottish Labour or Scottish Lib Dems . Could it be that the SNP realize that and wish to hold on to the power they have at present by continually dangling the carrot in front of the electorate?

The SNP must wake up or they will be responsible for the biggest political disaster ever in Scotland because the unionists are becoming desperate, more so with the prospect of a no deal Brexit happening as they could not survive without Scotland’s assets.

Nicola Sturgeon is sleep walking into Scotland’s Armageddon