Question time ( and the answers)

My application for question time in Dundee has been submitted.
The last time I was on question time was in March 1995 at the personal invitation of David Dimbleby. I took him and his team back to the airport after a question time in Dundee in November 1994 at which Alex Salmond was in attendance. I got into a prolonged debate with David who asked me if I seriously thought we would ever get the chance to vote for independence and if I though Alex Salmond could ever be a credible leader of the SNP. I told him that Salmond would be the man to lead us to independence. I still think that will have to be the case. When we got to the airport David asked me if I would like to come to Glasgow the next time question time was to be there and I told him I would, never thinking that it would happen.
The next day I had a call from David’s secretary asking if I would like to go and she subsequently sent me the official invitation.
At the question time, I got the chance to speak twice. There was a question from a member of the audience about a statement the chancellor of the exchequer (Kenneth Clark) had made the previous day. He had said that the policies he had put in place for recovery would take two years for the feel good factor to be felt. She wanted to know what he meant by the feel good factor. I put up my hand and David chose me to give an opinion. I said “it is quite obvious, what Mr Clark means by the feel good factor, because in two years there will be a general election and the Tories will be wiped out in Scotland, and everyone will feel a lot better”
Two years later the Tories were wiped out and as I have predicted, everyone did indeed feel a lot better.
The next question that I had an input to was regarding the breakup of the railways into different companies and the questioner asked what the reasoning behind this was. I again put up my hand and David chose me to put my view. I said “it is quite obvious why the railways are being split up into different entities because in a couple of years there will be an election and the Tories will be thrown out of government. They will therefore all require cushy directorships to slip into when they are thrown out of parliament”. David turned to Ian Lang who was at that time Secretary of State for Scotland and said to him “well Mr Lang have you a nice directorship lined up?”
The Tories as mentioned earlier were indeed thrown out of Parliament two years after that.
If I am chosen to be in the audience at this question time, I would like to ask David to cast his mind back to the debate we had in the car on the way to the airport and ask him just how near my prediction of independence came to pass.
I believe we are still on the road to independence, however, at the moment, I feel the SNP have lost their way. We need a road map to take us there

Back to 1999

So we now have the conclusion of the Smith Commission with the capitulation of the Scottish Government to an agreement of mediocrity. After negotiations, that commenced with the formation of the commission. This was set in place by the British government to in some way allow the Scottish people to believe that there was actually a vow, instead of the invention that was the editorial in the Daily Record a couple of days before the referendum.

The British government chose to string us along because they perceived an advantage in doing so and we have just discovered exactly what that advantage was.
The clue to that advantage is in what the Scottish government has been saying for the last few weeks. They have been telling us that this agreement had to be “without detriment to either party” well that is exactly what they got, and without detriment means exactly that and that is also, without advantage to either party.Well not quite true, because this “agreement is only for 6 years after which the British government will no doubt extract their pound of flesh

So we have been on a mission to stand still. Well not exactly, because what we will have is the blame for all of these taxes we are to act as unpaid tax collectors for.
So let’s speak about these new found tax raising and lowering (within limits) powers we are the new found recipients of.

Ok so let’s think about how we can use them, well we could put them up, (to the delight of Labour who we have been castigating for suggesting a penny increase to alleviate the effects of Tory cuts)to ease the burden of government cuts, and if the Scottish Government were in a suicidal mood, then I suppose they could do that. So let’s stretch the imagination and say that this might be something they would consider. So how much do you think they would dare to increase our taxes by? 1%, 2% or would you think 3% might be the amount?
Well, it might surprise many of you to learn that the Scottish Government have had the power to raise or lower taxes by 3% since their inception in 1999.Or, at, least they did until they voluntarily allowed the agreement with HMRC to laps in 2007.However, this could have been reintroduced with notice.

Now all this gives me the feeling of being given the responsibility of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, more so as the UK is heading for a financial crash that will make the one in 2008 ( aided and abetted by Brown and Darling, oops, sorry Lord Darling)seem like being hit by a snowball as opposed to an iceberg.

I am afraid the SNP’s negotiation abilities are somewhat limited and I feel that they should get back to doing what it says on the tin and that is striving for independence.
I for one will not be going out early and putting my beach towel on any of these deck chairs

The Times They are a changing

There is a malaise setting in to the membership of the SNP and there is only one source of responsibility and that is the top end of the party. There has been branch discontent in various parts of the country which has been dismissed by people like Peter Bell (who I have great respect for) as emanating from disaffected ex members of the labour party who were apparently trouble makers when they were Labour members. Well I feel that this line of defence is wrong and the problem goes much deeper than that.

Some time ago, I believe February of last year I cautioned against the seeming inaction in the SNP with regards to forwarding the cause of independence. I made the point that because of the huge increase in party membership there was a potential problem awaiting, if the inaction continued. I said that the SNP now had a huge army of willing volunteers and the worst thing you could do with an Army was to let it idle because it eventually starts fighting amongst itself and that is exactly what is coming to pass and the responsibility sits squarely at the feet of the SNP hierarchy and their policy of absolute control.

They tried to kid themselves that a good part of the increased membership were people who became members because the Scottish government were doing a good job of governing the country, which they were, but that was not in fact the reason that almost 100,000 additional members joined. No the plain and simple reason was that this was people who had been sorely disappointed at the result of the referendum and were disgusted at the way the Unionist parties had conducted themselves during the campaign and they saw the SNP to be the best conduit towards that goal. Anyone who thinks differently is suffering from self-imposed delusional behaviour.

The SNP have shied away from the independence cause in alarming ways and this manifested itself here in Dundee in several ways. Firstly, any approach I personally made to the SNP to find out what the plan was post referendum and to encourage a continuance of the campaign in a lesser way to ready ourselves for another referendum should the opportunity present itself was met with a blank look and a “what plan “ response.
In the run up to the general Election, Dundee and I suspect every other SNP branches were terrified of the word independence and went to great lengths to subdue any reference to it, to the extent of being instrumental in the moving of an event involving the Yes Bus team which included a rally and parade around Dundee, which was arranged for the week before the GE to the week after the GE. The reason being that, and this is the actual words of an SNP politician “we can’t have yes signs and Saltires in the City Square the week before the General Election”.

Late last year we again had organised a rally in the City Square at which we put out invitations to all of the pro-independence parties. This was to be a “Road Map To Independence” rally, as Nicola Sturgeon was at that time making weak noises about the Scottish people letting her know when they thought another referendum should take place. Now make no mistake, this rally was not about persuading the SNP to set a date for a referendum but to try to persuade them to set out a road map to independence, which seems in my mind to be the very basics to show intent.

Well what followed was distasteful to say the least. We had a concerted effort through the SNP to thwart our efforts in connection with this event. We had a local politician conduct a comical effort through Facebook to ask the people of Dundee whether he should appear at the same event as Tommy Sheridan. Of course as soon as he put up this posting there followed an orchestrated effort mainly by the local SNP office acolytes and employees telling him that he shouldn’t speak at the event. There also followed again an orchestrated campaign to discredit both me and several other people involved in the organisation of the event. We had the chairman of the licensing board ( SNP) refuse a late application , (probably for the first time in history ) to have a parade around our own City. Comically, the excuse he gave was that the last time I organised an event there was a late application, when in fact the event he was siting was the one that the SNP had persuaded the organisers (not me) to put off till after the General Election and it was in fact the SNP themselves who had submitted the late application, honestly you could not make it up , the SNP were at that point in time operating in a manner that would have not been out of place in Faulty Towers. This resulted in a torrent of hate filled postings by the mindless sheep that surround the SNP and which they seem to be comfortable with. What of course they didn’t realise was that every hate filled remark made on Facebook and twitter, received an answer which set the record straight. So at the end of the day I received far more support than I did criticism and the support was from quality thinking people. There is a lot more but I will not bore you at this point in time with the details. However getting back to my point about discontent in the membership. Because of this I resigned my membership of the SNP which I have had for over 30 years. I have heard from a source in the SNP that in Dundee the membership has dropped by around 11% . I could be wrong in this but I do not think so. So it is not just the West of Scotland SNP that are having problems at the moment but I believe, as I say a general malaise prevalent in the ranks of the membership and not just the membership but in potential SNP voters.

The SNP would do well to take note of this dissatisfaction and get back to doing what their membership and a hell, of a lot of the Scottish people want them to do and produce a Road Map to independence. At this point in time they are still probably the best means of heading on that road and I for one at this point intend voting, first vote SNP and second vote for another pro-independence party but I will be looking very carefully at the manifesto they produce and making a final decision on my first vote depending on what is in that manifesto.

The SNP seem to have veered off that road and they had better get back on it pronto.
We need to be back on the streets doing what we did so well during the campaign, we are becoming restless.
We are still on the road to independence
Our journey.

Out Of The Box

This is a posting from exactly a year ago although the photo I used was from the days of the referendum. I was reminiscing that it was good to be back in the City square speaking once more to people who at that time were still trying to come to terms with the result of the referendum. I remember that day well because it was the day after we had been in the Square collecting for the food bank and like yesterday when we collected in the Murrygate , it was bloody cold.
it was also the weekend before we confronted Jim Murphy in Ardler.
I had heard that he was coming to Dundee on Monday but couldn’t find out when and where he was to be appearing.

As it happened we found out on the Monday Morning and the team hurriedly got some posters together and wrote various messages on them to welcome Murphy to Dundee.
We had a score to settle with him and we were on a mission. The only poster material we had to hand was the signs you see on the Yes Bus in the photo., So we wrote various massages on the back of them. Messages concerning Murphys roll in the Iraq war and how he came to Dundee during the referendum and lied to the Pensioners of Dundee.
On that day when he came to Dundee during the referendum we were at our usual station in the square handing our referendum material and talking to people about the referendum when the Murphy bandwagon rolled in and there was a spontaneous demonstration against Murphy and because we were there with our referendum materials people were coming to our stall and taking posters and demonstrating at the circus that was the Murphy mob.
However it was us who were vilified in the unionist press the following day.
That is all a long story and I wrote about at the time, but that was the background to our decision to demonstrate against Murphy, that Monday.

Again the story of that day has been written about,and the video we took at the time of Murphy going around pre chosen houses talking to conformed labour supporters was viewed 31,000 times in the first three hours of us putting it up and before the dark forces of the Unionist establishment took it down. That in itself is another story along with the harassment we received on social media and various other incidents which necessitated the involvement of the police.

So another day in the battle to move towards independence . Interesting times then and still interesting times ahead, if only the SNP would get their act together and put forward a proper road Map to independence instead of blowing hot and cold on what is after all the very propose of their existence.

Yes we did not have a very good experience with labour during the referendum and the election to Westminster that followed but that is in the past and Labour have been punished by the Scottish people for the disgraceful way they acted.
There is yet an opportunity for them to redeem some semblance of respectability in the eyes of the Scottish people and that is to embrace independence. Form a new Labour Party of Scotland and break away from their London masters.

The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon can play their part in this by extending the olive branch , by imploring the Labour party in Scotland to get on board and join us on our journey as we claim our inalienable right to decide our own destiny , our right to make our own mistakes and to benefit from our bountiful assets.

It is time to think out of the box

Our road.

17 January 2015

Well folks , we had another food bank collection today this time in the city square in Dundee. it was great to be back in the Square. The plan was to have the dragon there but the old girl had a problem with her water works. ( problem seem familiar to some ) so she had to stay at home for a bit of R and R and Jamie was working to get her back on the road.
We had one of the smaller buses there instead. It felt like being back home, being in the Square and we had visits from a lot of old friends some I hadn’t seen since we were on the streets during the referendum campaign. So some good chats today. We also had a visit from Jim McGovern, who stayed for a wee chat, nice to see a politician stop by for a chat, even although he is from the opposition. Funny thing though, there will be a few Dundonians going home and saying that when they were “doon the toon the day” they saw a labour politician asking how the food bank collection and on-going campaigning was going but didn’t notice any SNP politicians about . Ah well I suppose that’s politics today.
I asked Jim if he would like a photo with me in front of the stall but he gracefully declined saying that he remembers getting his fingers burned the last time he posed with me beside the Dragon during the campaign when I surreptitiously produced a YES poster in front of the two of us. The other thing that might have put him off was the message on our banners that proclaims. YES TEAM SCOTLANDS DRAGON FOR INDEPENDENCE FOOD BANK COLLECTION MADE NECCESSARY BACAUSE OF WESTMINSTER POLICIES.
Spoke to a Labour activist who is at the heart of their political campaign who conformed that Jim Murphy is coming to Dundee on Monday but even though I pressed him he would not reveal either the time or the place. It is strange that Murphy is saying in the press that he wants to talk to yes supporters and here is me offering my services only to discover that his whereabouts on Monday are top secret. Well if anyone knows where he is to be and when, can they let me know , just so we can give him a good Dundee welcome as there are a few questions I would like to ask him regarding the nonsense he was spouting the last time he visited Dundee.
So a good day for the food bank collection in conjunction with “Taught By Mohamed Charity” and good to see friends from the campaign but bloody freezing. Time for a quiet pint I think.

Another wee step in our road to independence.
This is our journey

Tread Lightly

Well last weekend showed a definite change  in the SNP’s recent attitude to independence when Nicola Sturgeon made two speeches seemingly setting out a new take on the independence issue. This was followed all week by postings and tweets on social media from Yes supporters in their new found state of euphoria. Many of them announcing Nicolas secret plan was now coming to fruition.

 

Well I would caution as to what was actually promised because nothing was in effect put forward as anything which could be considered as a road map to independence.

Basicly,what was stated is what is in the SNP constitution and that is that the propose of the SNP is to take the country towards independence.

Now this might very well be a change of heart, from being terrified of the dreaded word independence being mentioned anywhere near an election, to a reassessment of the wishes of the members of the party. If it is, then that in itself is to be welcomed, but that will not in itself get us any nearer independence without action to go along with the new found bravado.

Now ,there is understandably many people who are now starting to campaign through social media for the SNP to include a date for a referendum in the elections. I do not think they will and I do not think it is necessary, if they properly pave the way for another referendum at a time  of our choosing.  To be able to do this we must firstly have the power to call a referendum at a time of our choosing and this will require a commitment to pursue this goal the manifesto. This is something that should have been included in the manifesto for the Westminster elections, if it had been then we could very well have had this power now.

 

There should be a concerted effort to address the issues that lost us the last referendum, such as pensions and the currency , plan B issue. To do these things the grass roots organisations must once again be activated and campaigned on a lower level with materials supplied centrally, through the SNP.

It is only if these basic things are done that we are ever going to get near the magical 60% of comfort that the SNP see as a possible trigger point for another referendum. Another way is of course to actually set a date in the manifesto and then work towards converting the no voters to yes and I am sure there are many now who have made that change. It should be remembered that when Alex Salmon set the train in motion for a referendum the yes vote was standing at only 27% and it went up to 45% if the results were in fact accurate .

On this point ,there is something that yes campaigners can do themselves to help in this conversion  and that is to treat people who voted no in the last referendum with some respect and consideration. These people were as entitled to their opinion as we were to ours and there were in fact a great many of them who voted in the way they did because  of some of the mistakes that we made in properly informing them of the various issues like pensions. So there must be no more calling them Naw Bags etcetera. If you cant coherently debate with opposite views without resorting to name calling than stay out of the debate and leave it to people who can. There is also of course the ongoing problem with SNP supporters who immediately jump on people who dare constructively criticise the SNP, and the SNP should be reigning in these unpleasant people.

 

There will never be a better time to get the independence movement going again after this unnecessary 15 months of hibernation. The Tories are now as unpopular in Scotland as they were when Thatcher was the Prim Minister and Labour in Scotland are in self destruct mode , to the point where I feel they are now actually realising this and I have a feeling that before long there will be Labour MSP members jumping ship  rather than be ignominiously given their marching orders  in May. I have said it many times that the only hope for Labour in Scotland is to separate completely from London Labour and embrace independence. I would like to think that they are considering this option as only then, can they rebuild a once proud party.

 

So it is over to the SNP , they need to be more open with the Scottish people and they need to do more than talk about independence . The Army is ready to march , we lost a battle 15  Months ago  but .there is still a War to be won.

“So open the West Port and let us gang free”

We are still on that road to independence .

Our Journey

 

 

 

Our Road

I was just looking at Nicolas speech made( yesterday I believe) regarding the upcoming elections and the forthcoming year . She did actually mention independence, which was a pleasant surprise and this may well be down to the various voices advocating actions in an independence vein. However , I note that as in the past Nicola has made the point that the Scottish people will make it clear when another referendum will take place, she is now concentrating on  an exceptional event having  to take place and sitting the referendum on exit from Europe as the kind of exceptional event she has in mind. This or the opinion polls showing a significant increase in support for independence.

 

Now a couple of points here. I feel that the change of tact regarding the Scottish people telling her that they want independence might just have something to do with the fact that there has been several rally’s to tell her exactly that and have been ignored by the SNP to the point of no SNP politicians even speaking at them.

 

As far as the exceptional event goes , and that being the EU in/out vote , Well I have the feeling that this vote in Scotland  might not be the clear cut decider that some people expect. Lets say there was a 10% difference of people who wanted to stay in as opposed to the people who wanted to come out ,in Scotland and a very small majority in England who wanted to leave the Union. Well that would be about the same percentage that we had at the referendum for staying in the union, so it would be reasonable to say that the will of the Scottish people was being ignored by leaving the EU and it would be reasonable in these circumstances to hold a referendum on independence .

 

OK so what if the majority for staying in  was much lower, say two or three percent? that would quite possibly present a problem.

So given the two scenarios that Nicola has presented for a move towards independence of the possible EU exit or the support for independence rising sufficiently to warrant another referendum and I have  good reason to believe that the trigger point being put about SNP circles is 60%, there are several things that have to be in place before either of these scenarios would be successful and they all need the same actions to take place and the same time-scale.

 

This is what they are , and some of you will have heard me saying this before , many times .

We need the mistakes made in the referendum campaign of 2014 to be corrected ,such as the confusion on pensions and monitory union and in this respect this needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This to my mind will require the restarting up of the fantastic grass roots groups that were so effective during the referendum campaign. This would have again to be done in conjunction with the SNP as was the case with the Yes set up. I am sure the grass roots groups could manage to self finance as there would be literature etc which could be produced and coordinated through the SNP. That way every household  in the country could be in position of all the relevant information concerning the unanswered questions of the last referendum.

Perhaps Wings over Scotland could be persuaded to produce the “Wee Blue Book” mark two . That was a fantastic publication and would be the very thing we are needing.

 

OK so that takes care of the unanswered questions and now to the actual referendum . Well we need to have in place , the right to hold one and this needs a commitment in the manifesto to be produced for the forthcoming election in May to demand that right be passed from the Westminster government to the Scottish government. Now this should be in every independence minded party’s manifesto.

Now we need , not only the right to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing but we have to be able to regulate it as well and that means stopping the automatic right to a postal vote with special exceptions. We must ensure that there is proper international scrutiny and of course , this time there must be exit polls allowed. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Scottish government agreed to no exit polls in the last referendum as the only people that ,that could assist was people who intended cheating.

 

 

So that is my take on where we are on the road to independence, in other words we need a proper road map to independence . We need to energise the grass roots groups once more. We have an army out there ,willing to do what they can to move towards our common goal and the worst thing you can do with an Army is to let it idle.

We need to be on the streets once more with hope ,hope for the future of our children and our Grandchildren and indeed our country.

This is our road to a better future and we must grasp it with both hands .

Bob