Category Archives: Scotland

Why Celtic Fans Flew the Flag for Palestine

Kevin McKenna writes for The Guardian:

[…] During the fascist regime of General Franco in Spain, to display the Catalan flag was to risk death or imprisonment. The only place where the Catalans could safely fly these fags was Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium. Barcelona FC now embodies Catalan identity and pride. Wherever there is oppression in the world, football, by its very nature, can provide a vehicle for expressing pride in a national cause. It was never only ever about football.

Celtic supporters know this too. Their club was founded in 1887 and played its first game in 1888 to raise funds for the relief of the poor Irish who had gathered in the East End of Glasgow. When they arrived in the city they initially faced resentment, discrimination and squalor. Every time Celtic won a game their suffering was eased a little.

In Scotland, those days are long departed. In Palestine, though, another oppressed people is suffering. Perhaps now because of a simple act of solidarity and generosity, they will know that they don’t suffer alone.

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Like the Middle East 15 years ago, Europe has underestimated the destructive force of nationalism

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

iraq-war-13.jpgI started working as a journalist at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland, between 1972 and 1975, and then moved to Lebanon where the 15-year-long civil war was just beginning. I saw both countries as interesting but bloody and atypical, sad casualties of their divisive histories and out of keeping with the modern world.

Unfortunately, over the following 40 years it turned out that the Lebanese war was a foretaste of the violent sectarian, ethnic and social divisions that were to tear the Middle East apart. Nation states ruled by despots became more politically fragile by the year and foreign powers exacerbated civil wars by military intervention and by backing their local proxies. Extreme Islam flourished in conditions of chaos, replacing nationalism and socialism as the ideological vehicle for opposition to the status quo.

Just how Britain plunged into this morass without much idea of the dangers it was running should be illuminated at great length by the Chilcot Report when it is published next Wednesday, but the risks involved were obvious from the beginning.

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Is Brexit the End of the United Kingdom?

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

While the results of last night’s Brexit referendum put a square majority of voters in favor of leaving the European Union, the vote split starkly across geographic regions, with Northern Ireland and every single district in Scotland voting decisively to stay. Ultimately it was England and Wales that carried the night.

That’s not necessarily the end of things, however, with Scotland’s First Minister calling the Brexit referendum “democratically unacceptable,” and vowing that the Scottish government would immediately move toward another independence referendum.

[…] Northern Ireland might not be far behind, with the major Sinn Fein party calling for a vote within the region to withdraw from the United Kingdom and unite with EU member Ireland,. a long-time ambition for many in Northern Ireland at any rate.

Even tiny Gibraltar, which voted over 95% to remain in the EU, might be up for grabs, with Spain pushing for Britain to allow joint control of the tiny region as a way to keep the rock within the European Union’s economy.

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Trident whistleblower: MoD brainwashing public over nuclear safety

Rob Edwards reports for the The Herald Scotland:

William McNeilly said the public were being deceived over the safety of nuclear warheads being carried by submarines on the ClydeIn a new message to the public, he says that people are being deceived about the security of Trident nuclear warheads carried by submarines based at Faslane and Coulport on the Clyde. A terrorist attack is highly likely, he claims.

McNeilly disclosed last week that he had been dishonourably discharged by the Royal Navy for making public a dossier alleging that Trident was “a disaster waiting to happen” and going absent without leave. He is promising to say more in July.

The Sunday Herald revealed his allegations on May 17, while he was on the run. The following day he handed himself in to police at Edinburgh airport, saying he had achieved what he wanted.

His dossier, which detailed 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, was raised in the House of Commons by the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond. But it was dismissed by the MoD as “factually incorrect or the result of misunderstanding or partial understanding”.

McNeilly, a 25-year-old naval recruit from Belfast, was on patrol with the Trident submarine, HMS Victorious, from January to April this year. He posted a new report online last week defending the accuracy of his allegations.’

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SNP’s new MPs arrive in Westminster – including Mhairi Black, the youngest in centuries

Trident whistleblower says nuclear subs are insecure, unsafe and “a disaster waiting to happen”

The Sunday Herald reports:

William McNeilly, who says he was on patrol with HMS Victorious from January to April this year, alleges that the Trident missiles it carries are vulnerable to a terrorist attack that “would kill our people and destroy our land”. Infiltrators have “the perfect opportunity to send nuclear warheads crashing down on the UK”, he claims.

He has written a detailed 18-page report called The Nuclear Secrets, which claims to lift the lid on the alarming state of the UK’s ageing and short-staffed nuclear deterrent. He went absent without leave from the Royal Navy last week, is on the run and expects to be arrested. “This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us,” he says. “We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public. If we don’t act now lives could be lost for generations.”

The risk was “extremely high”, he told the Sunday Herald. “My information comes from good sources and I have no reason to lie. If change isn’t made, a nuclear catastrophe almost certainly will happen.”

McNeilly’s report alleges 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde. They include failures in testing whether missiles could be safely launched, burning toilet rolls starting a fire in a missile compartment, and security passes and bags going unchecked.

He also reports alarms being muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures being ignored and top secret information left unguarded.

“It’s just a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist,” he says. “There were some people that I served with on that patrol who showed clear psychopathic tendencies.”

The Royal Navy has launched an investigation into McNeilly’s report, and is working with the civilian police to find him. It describes his criticisms as “subjective and unsubstantiated”, stressing that submarines never go to sea unless they are completely safe.’

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Top secret files reveal pleas for US to intervene in Scottish referendum

Ben Borland reports for the Daily Express:

Barack Obama kept tabs on Alex Salmond's bid‘The embarrassing revelation is included in an extraordinary cache of documents obtained by this newspaper following a three year legal battle with officials from the US State Department.

The files – which run to hundreds of pages – show that Washington followed the Scottish independence debate in remarkable detail from the day the SNP first won power in 2007.’

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Scotland to become independent ‘within 20 years’, says defeated nationalist leader

Andrew Osborn reports for Reuters:

‘Scotland will break away from the United Kingdom within 20 years, the defeated leader of the Scots nationalists predicted on Sunday, after a poll showed a majority of voters would back independence if another referendum were held today.

In September, 55 percent of Scots voted to reject independence in a historic referendum after Britain’s three main UK-wide parties promised to grant greater devolution to Scotland in the event of a “No” vote.

But in a surprise poll on Saturday, 52 percent of those asked said they would now vote for a breakaway.’

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Rival Scottish Independence Rallies Hit Glasgow As Police Look On

Louise Ridley reports for The Huffington Post:

glasgow trouble‘Police are holding back opposing crowds of pro and anti-independence supporters in George Square in Glasgow, amid reports of flag burning and mounting tensions in the city after the Scottish referendum result.

The confrontation follows Alex Salmond‘s announcement that he will quit as Scottish first minister after voters rejected Scottish independence. Glasgow was one of just four local authorities which voted for independence from the UK, while the majority of Scotland – 55% of the population – voted for it to remain in the union. Police closed the city centre to traffic on Friday evening as they separated the crowds, with some protesters reportedly holding flags and setting off flares.’

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The Trews: Westminster Fear and Media Bias Shafted Scotland

The dream of Scottish independence is over, so what now?

From Another Angry Voice:

‘I’m disappointed, but not surprised at the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum.

It’s no surprise that a lot of voters didn’t dare to defy the entire Westminster establishment, the whole mainstream media (except the Sunday Herald), the outrageously biased BBC (reputation surely tarnished beyond repair now), the bully boy banks (who were bailed out by us just a few years ago when they caused the crisis that the Tories have so gleefully exacerbated through ideological austerity) and countless businesses who were pressurised by the government into making ridiculous threats (price rises, relocations, job cuts etc).

You can’t blame people for being afraid and making what they consider to be a conservative decision. However many “undecided turned no” voters may live to regret their decision in 2015 if the UK ends up with the nightmare scenario of a Tory-UKIP coalition (Boris and Nigel) hell bent on punishing Scotland for daring to even have such a referendum, and dragging Scotland out of the EU, (no matter which way the people of Scotland vote on the matter). Many people have simply failed to realise that uncertainty cuts both ways.’

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Police Probe Glasgow Voter Fraud Allegations

Sky News reports:

Suspect ballot paperPolice are investigating allegations of voter fraud in the Scottish referendum in Glasgow, election officials have confirmed.

Colin Edgar from Glasgow City Council told Sky’s Kay Burley police were called in after evidence emerged of 10 possible incidents of electoral fraud in the city.

The allegations appear to centre on attempts at personation at some polling stations.’

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Scotland votes ‘No’: Many nations are heaving a sigh of relief

Bridget Kendall writes for BBC News:

‘The referendum over Scottish independence has had the world holding its breath. And even though there is deep affection across the globe for Scotland’s distinct identity, the news that it is not going to leave the UK will mean many governments are heaving a sigh of relief.

Some feared that Scottish independence might encourage other separatist movements. Others worried that it would turn the rest of the UK into a weaker and distracted partner. But has Britain’s global standing been affected nonetheless?

There is an argument that the UK, along with the rest of the West, is already in decline – its clout eroded by the rise of emerging giants like China, India, Russia and Brazil. And the very fact of this referendum shows its power and prestige is on the wane, and its reliability as a partner has been undermined.’

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Can the Scots Blaze a Trail of Economic Sovereignty? A Public Bank Option for Scotland

Ellen Brown writes for Web of Debt:

‘Arguments against independence include that Scotland’s levels of public spending, which are higher than in the rest of the UK, would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes.  But that assumes the existing UK/EU investment regime.  If Scotland were to say, “We’re starting a new round based on our own assets, via our own new bank,” exciting things might be achieved. A publicly-owned bank with a mandate to serve the interests of the Scottish people could help give the newly independent country true economic sovereignty.

I wrote on that possibility in December 2012, after doing a PowerPoint on it at the Royal Society of Arts in Edinburgh. That presentation was followed by one by public sector consultant Ralph Leishman, who made the proposal concrete with facts and figures.  He suggested that the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) be licensed as a depository bank on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. I’m reposting the bulk of that article here, in hopes of adding to the current debate.’

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Spanish PM Rajoy warns independence votes “torpedo” the foundations of Europe

Reuters reports:

A woman brandishes a placard on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes during celebrations of Catalonia National Day (Diada) in Barcelona on September 11, 2014. (AFP Photo/Quique Garcia)‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired a last-minute broadside on Wednesday against Scotland’s independence referendum, warning that such events “torpedo” the foundations of Europe and wreak economic recessions.

Rajoy’s center-right government has been trying to quell calls in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia for a similar vote on breaking away, denouncing such a move as illegal.

With the regional government in Barcelona – which has penciled in a consultation on independence on November 9 – set to potentially give such a vote a green light on Friday, the spotlight could turn to Catalonia’s drive to cut ties with Spain a day after Scots are due to vote on whether to stay in Britain.’

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Ignored and fed up, UK regions call for Scottish-style devolution

Paul Sandle and Sarah Young report for Reuters:

‘A big gap has widened in Britain in recent decades between cities and regions at each end of the country. The ‘North-South Divide’ came about because manufacturing and mining industries in the north and midlands failed while London and the south east saw a boom in financial and media industries.

It’s a source of bitterness for many British voters, who see London as a city state increasingly detached from the rest of the United Kingdom not just economically but culturally. And analysts agree the government in Westminster has left whole areas of the rest of the country to stagnate because they don’t have the power to tailor their own growth policies.’

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Upsurge in Voter Participation and Scare-Campaigns As Scots Head To The Polls

A Yes would not only be good for Scotland but good for England

Oliver Huitson writes for Open Democracy:

‘I would personally prefer a federal Britain and I would certainly be sad to see the Scots leave. But I really hope they do. Britain is a dying imperial project, steeped in hundreds of years of anti-democratic expertise; it is not quite impervious to change but whatever changes are forced upon it from below it somehow manages to refind its shape, its control – if it is one part bulldog it is nine parts snake, unseen and untouchable. Its governing institutions are instinctively hostile to democracy and transparency. I hope it’s a Yes because I would like Scotland to be free not of the English or Welsh, but of Westminster and its unelected policy board: the City and multinational business. I would like England to be free of them too.’

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How the media shafted the people of Scotland

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

‘Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

In the coverage of the referendum we see most of the pathologies of the corporate media. Here, for instance, you will find the unfounded generalisations with which less enlightened souls are characterised. In the Spectator, Simon Heffer maintains that: “addicted to welfare … Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else”.’

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Why an independent Scotland could become the richest country on Earth

Dominic Frisby wrote for The Independent back in January:

‘An independent Scotland could become the richest country on earth. I’m not joking. It has all the necessary ingredients. Let me explain. Each year the World Bank, the IMF and the CIA each independently publish a list of the richest countries in the world – as measured by GDP per capita at purchasing power parity. The UK sits at a rather disappointing 21st, but topping those rankings you have the likes of Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Brunei, Norway and Switzerland.

Some of these nations have got there thanks to their oil. But oil isn’t everything – otherwise the likes of Saudi Arabia (28th), Russia (43rd) or Iran (78th) would feature. Others have got there because they are financial or commercial centres. But the same regulatory options that have enabled them to be so are open to other countries – they have just not been adopted. There is, however, one characteristic common to all the top ten ranking nations, bar one. It is that they are small. In the top five, Singapore and Norway both have around 5 million; Qatar 3 million; Luxembourg and Brunei around half a million.’

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Independence for Scotland? Interview with John Nichols

Cameron Warns of Terrorist Threat If Scotland Backs Independence

Thomas Penny reports for Bloomberg:

Scotland will be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks in a “very dangerous and insecure world” if it votes for independence on Sept. 18, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said. Being part of a union gives Scots the protective benefits of being part of a larger country, Cameron told reporters at the end of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s summit in Newport, Wales, yesterday.

“With terrorist threats and other threats, isn’t it better to be part of a United Kingdom that has a top-five defense budget, some of the best intelligence and security services anywhere in the world, that is part of every single alliance that really matters in the world in terms of NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the European Union, a member of the security council of the UN?” Cameron said. “All those networks and abilities to work with allies to keep us safe. Isn’t it better to have those things than separate yourself from them?”’

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UK’s Nuclear Missiles Could Be Headed for the US if Scotland Wins Independence

Colleen Curry reports for VICE News:

‘The UK’s nuclear weapons are housed in the southwest corner of Scotland, at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the Ministry of Defense confirmed Tuesday. The missiles, 58 of them in all, are leased from King’s Bay Naval Base in southeastern Georgia, near the Atlantic Ocean just north of the Florida border. The British have been leasing the missiles and periodically having them serviced at King’s Bay since the mid-1990s, according to the British government.

If Scotland were to vote yes on independence and no on nukes Thursday, the British would be hard-pressed to quickly find or build another place in the UK with the infrastructure to store them, according to experts. That could force the UK to ship the missiles back to the US, at least temporarily.’

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Scottish Independence Vote And The ‘Contagion’ Effect

Brett Logiurato writes for Business Insider:

‘If Scotland does vote for independence, it could be the start of a domino effect for similar situations throughout Europe, analysts say.

Other areas have been seeking to hold independence referendums — Spain, for example, is worried that Scotland’s situation could embolden separatists in the Catalonia region, though a  tentatively scheduled referendum set for Nov. 9 in Catalonia has been ruled unconstitutional by Spanish courts.

Geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, said Monday he doesn’t expect Scots to end up voting for independence. But if they pull off a shocker, there could be many reverberating effects from the vote — one being that other separatist-fueled areas will be encouraged.’

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Alex Salmond: I won’t hold a second referendum if it’s a narrow No

George Eaton reports for New Statesman:

The First Minister says he won't stage another vote. But could someone else? ‘One question that has risen with increasing frequency, as the Scottish independence polls have narrowed, is whether a narrow No on Thursday would result in a second referendum in the near future. With the SNP expected to remain the dominant force at Holyrood, the potential exists for a “neverendum” (the term coined by Canadian writer Josh Freed to describe the repeated votes on Quebec’s status).

But asked this morning on The Andrew Marr Show, whether “if it’s a No vote by a whisker”, he could come back for another “in a few years’ time”, Alex Salmond said that it was still his view that the result would stand for “a generation.”‘

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UK In “Full Panic Mode”, Rains Brimstone, Bribes On Scotland As “Yes” To Independence Poll Crosses 50%

From Zero Hedge:

All pundits who over the past few months have been saying the possibility of Scottish independence as a result of the September 18 ballot, is at best a pipe dream got a rude wake up call overnight, when Scottish YouGov poll for the Sunday Times put the “Yes” (for independence campaign) on top for the first time since polling began, with No below the majority cutoff line for the first time, at 49, when undecided voters are excluded, and even when including undecideds “Yes” is still ahead by two points at 47-45. As the Spectator reports, “in the space of four weeks, “No” has blown a 22-point lead.”

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Supporters of Scottish independence take narrow poll lead for first time

Stephen Addison writes for Reuters:

‘Supporters of Scottish independence from Britain have taken their first opinion poll lead since the referendum campaign began, indicating a real possibility that they might win, according to a YouGov survey for the Sunday Times newspaper.

With less than two weeks to go before the Sept. 18 vote, the poll put the “Yes” to independence campaign on 51 percent against “no” camp on 49 percent, overturning a 22-point lead for the unionist campaign in just a month, the Sunday Times said.

YouGov said that the results excluded those who would not vote and those who did not plan to vote or did not know how they would vote. With those groups included, secessionists would be on 47 percent and those championing the United Kingdom would be on 45 percent, it added.’

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Joseph Stiglitz: I’ve been shocked by No camp’s use of fear and bluffs

The Herald Scotland reports:

‘Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner who was chairman of US president Bill Clinton’s council of economic advisers, said a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK could work, as he dismissed the refusal of the main Westminster parties to agree to such a deal as “bluffs”.

But he also stressed that there were a range of of options for the currency of an independent Scotland, pointing out that Panama has used the dollar for more than a century, while countries such as Canada and some European nations have adopted their own currency successfully.’

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Fearmongering: Why Independence Could Put Scotland In Danger Of Russian Invasion

Editor’s Note: Of all the fearmongering coming from the ‘no’ campaign, this has to be my favourite piece. THE RUSSIAN’S ARE COMING! Desperate.

James Cook writes for Business Insider:

HMS Astute sailing to Faslane Naval Base in Scotland‘If Scotland votes “Yes” on independence, it will begin a long process of creating its own naval defence force, a process that could leave its coastline at risk. The Royal United Services Institute, a British military think tank, said last week that Scottish independence would trigger a national debate over the U.K.’s nuclear weapons if the submarines carrying the Trident missile system were relocated to the south coast of Britain, away from the fleet’s current base in Scotland. The relocation could add £3.5 billion to the cost of maintaining the U.K.’s armed forces.

But there are larger concerns over the future of Scotland’s naval defenses. While Scottish independence would indeed spark a debate on Britain’s nuclear future, as well as kickstarting a costly process to relocate the submarine fleet, some experts caution that Scottish independence could leave it vulnerable to naval threats.

Put simply, the Russians sail their submarines into Scottish waters on a regular basis. Russian vessels approach Scottish waters about once or twice a year, close enough to require the Royal Navy to perform counter-maneuvers.

And Russia has a recent history of military adventurism, in the Ukraine. Although there is absolutely no reason for Russia to invade Scotland, the departure of Trident from Northern waters could — in theory — let the Russians do whatever they like up there.’

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Scotland: A Question of Independence (Documentary)