We’ll Win Yet for A’ That

I spent last night at the Hydro by the Clyde at the Celtic Connections Burns Night concert and as we heard artists from Africa, South America, Australasia, Greece -and Dunkeld – I looked up at the great man’s face on the big screen and wondered how it was that the words and ideas of a boy from rural Ayrshire all those years ago could capture the imagination and the hearts of millions in all corners of the earth, defying time, fashion and technology to still wring our emotions today. One man. One pen. One world.

It is the achievement of a single talented person who has taken his place in the history of the world and it serves to me as a kind of metaphor for Scotland’s movement – that one small country should never be afraid of making its mark on the world. It can be done. The proof is there among our own people, the Scots, that we are as good as anyone. We have a song in Selkirk which has a line about holding our head high because we come from nothing small. Small country, but big history, big heart.

I suspect that it is in the thinking space where ideas and belief form that the real movement in the polls comes from. It isn’t just the thought that we might be economically safe or richer, it is the spreading realisation and belief that these things are within our grasp and it is fear that prevents us from seizing them. If you think about Scotland’s position long enough, you start asking: Why not? What’s stopping me?

Part of that answer lies in collective behaviour. If you live a privately-owned, well-off area with your life sorted, you recoil that anything might upset it all. Everybody else, pretty much, in your area is of the same mind and there is collective security. You don’t even have to defend voting No, nobody would bother to challenge you. Easier to write it off as irrelevant, naïve, unnecessary, romantic and dangerous.

But isn’t there a sense now that it ain’t quite so far-fetched? The British government is in danger of appearing ridiculous as it’s claims and assertions are destroyed from within. The debt issue has torn away the camouflage over the reality of currency and debt post independence revealing that London will have to invite us to take a share of debt rather than Scotland automatically inheriting it. It has shown how Scotland’s capacity to repay will best be served by an economy closely linked to England’s – in their own interests – making a currency union logical. The foreigners argument has been destroyed by the admission that dual nationality will be available and, as I wrote at the time it was announced, the cowardice of their own leader Cameron is having a deflating effect on a campaign with too many leaders, none of them strong enough. I don’t object to Britain using its diplomatic muscle to get international support – although it is depressingly familiar that they would use a devolved organisation as a front for their campaign – but I do object to the cant and hypocrisy of telling us it is for the Scots alone as they do so. The Herald’s leader today reads to me like a breakthrough in the debate saying it isn’t sustainable for Cameron. I urged editors collectively to challenge Cameron to debate with Salmond, well,  at least one is now on the case.

I think it is getting harder for Unionists to hold the line, a point reinforced by the admission that the parties will not be able to stand behind a united package of reform. That would have been their ace. All three, even the Tories, with a worked out scheme of Devo Max endorsed by the London leaderships so it would be implemented whichever configuration of parties runs the UK. Now that has disappeared and even if Labour produce a stonking settlement in March, we know it will be irrelevant unless Miliband commits to implementing which he can’t do in a coalition. It will hinge entirely on guaranteeing a Labour victory at Westminster and I’m not sure Scots will view that as a guarantee. Maybe it’s coming yet for a’ that.

*Can I recommend a piece in the Scottish news section of the Sunday Times which is unsurpassed for a glimpse into the smug, self-regarding, snooty world of the Britnat middle classes…It is a column by Jenny Hjul built on so many outdated Fear assumptions that I wondered if the Rev Stu had been invited to produce some satire by Murdoch’s men. It has border guards, your papers being checked on the train, immigrants – they won’t even stay in Scotland it’s so ghastly – and the kind of high decibel outrage that only the middle classes and their epic sense of entitlement can generate. Priceless…and all the more enjoyable for the SoS opinion poll.

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47 thoughts on “We’ll Win Yet for A’ That

  1. it’s coming yet for a’ that!

  2. John Mccutcheon

    Haven’t seen a paper today. Just listened to the news on Radio Scotland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What’s the story about the opinion poll then

  3. It sounds like a great concert. I wonder was there any sign of David Cameron straining his fibre there last night?

    (“Humbug” PM indeed. I may shell out £1.30 for a Herald next weekend if this keeps up.)

  4. “It is a column by Jenny Hjul built on so many outdated Fear assumptions that I wondered if the Rev Stu had been invited to produce some satire by Murdoch’s men. ”

    If as I hear this woman is married to Allan Cochrane of Wee Cockie aka Comical Ali fame in the Daily Telegraph, then no wonder she babbles so much bigoted pish.

  5. Aye, hasn’t it been some week in the media. Leaving aside our preoccupation, I was struck that being wee will have it’s advantages. Big means big problems. Examine for example and contrast 1) the “poverty porn” that is Benefits Street and the sheer hopelessness of those featured ( no mention of the avaricious landlords, by the way ) and multiply this throughout England, and 2) today’s BBC feature on the 16 year old polar trekker who was doing this for “charity” ( his clipped accent gave the private schooling away ) and multiply this throughout England ie look at the openings this type of background offers and therefore future judges, industrialists, politicians etc., all movers and shakers. Oh what social division.

    My daughter once said and as I was driving her to a singing lesson in Kent ( she made it to the West End, by the way ), ” I know there are hugely talented girls on the estate whose parents won’t give them this opportunity” – pretty mature for a 14 year old. Wouldn’t it have meant so much more if the English laddie could have been accompanied, not necessarily by a lad from Benefits Street but perhaps from ” the estate ” and what this could have said about a healing society ?

    We have our “estates” up here, surely, but they present a wee problem by comparison. The “too stupid” moniker doesn’t hold water, so that leaves the too poor, and currently that’s being addressed as well. All looking good.

    By the way, Derek, had my haircut in Selkirk last week and broaching the Inde issue got the reply ” we are solidly no here “. Just as well the Borders population is only 110,000 !

  6. For my sins, I work with homeless young people and as a result of this I became acquainted with a gem of an organisation called Columba 1400 based in Staffin on the Isle of Skye.
    To cut a long story short, one of the success stories of this organisation was invited to return to his old High School to give a speech to pupils. This is an extract from his speech.
    The reason I’m mentioning this is because to me it is the inspiration everyone should have for the upcoming Referendum Vote.
    We need more Inspirational People. Derek you have it in you to inspire more and more people to stop behaving like sheep led by the media sheepdogs.
    Go for it.

    • Grove Academy is, I believe, a Secondary School and is in the State sector. It’s a bit tricky to describe any state school in Dundee as a High School, as that name is taken.

  7. If the unionist parties did ever get behind a common agreed line for substantially more powers, the SNP could call their bluff by immediately proposing the measures as legislation through Holyrood. Westminster can adopt Holyrood legislation just as much as vice versa and how could they object when they had all agreed those powers should be devolved? In fact, Alex Salmond proposed as much in 2007 when he listed a slate of increased powers that had been mooted or promised by all main parties at one time or other as common ground for improved devolution. Instead we got the Calman Commission, imposed on the SNP minority government, which set forth much more limited powers. The fact that what is legislated for now is sub-Calman, and hugely unstable, speaks volumes for the true desire of Westminster to cede more power to Holyrood.

  8. Haud up yer heids, ye gallant lads, ye come frae nothin sma’

  9. OMG check out the John Barrowman clip on Bella it is unbelievable!

  10. @Tommy
    Captain “I’m alright Jack”.

  11. Whilst Cameron is insisting the referendum decision is one for Scots, he is at the same time instructing a department in the FCO to push the message to other countries in the world that Scotland should not be accepted into international circles as an independent country.

    Westminster cannot be trusted, either in the campaign or in assertions that some form of additional devo will be on offer when we gullibly vote no. Those who still believe a Westminster government, of whatever shade of blue, will deliver any additional powers should consider how one stance has been widely professed, with apparent hand-on-heart sincerity, while another is sneakily pursued behind backs. Retaining power is all, irrespective of how it is achieved. Democracy doesn’t come into it.

    The John Barrowman farce is merely another example of the low regard in which democracy and the Scots are held.

    With the Scottish Parliament already held in higher regard than Westminster, these should strengthen the message that Westminster cannot, and should not, be trusted.

  12. When I saw you mentioning the Sunday Times today Derek in this article, I thought you were referring to the Kenny Logan story. It appears he has just worked out that he does not have the right to vote in the referendum! Apparently they are talking about taking legal action against the Scottish Government. You can almost feel the cringing fear from hundreds of miles away….It seems he and other Anglos have not heard of the Edinburgh Agreement!

    • If you are not on the electoral role in Scotland,you can’t vote on anything,council elections,Holyrood elections or Scottish referenda.

  13. The NO Campaign walls are crumbling nearly as fast as they can build them at the moment, but it’s no time for easing back on the pressure. We can’t afford to underestimate them – they’re definitely running scared – evidenced by the attack on us all as cybernat abusers. They seem to have no answer to this social media onslaught but we need to tackle them here too – the message has to go out that we keep our language clean but to the point and keep hammering the arguments home and keep doing it right up to the morning of the referendum. I get the impression some of the media are about to break ranks? – pleasant surprise to see Herald run the story on the Devo Group shennanigans. Looks like they’re following up on their Putin story. Maybe we should target the Newspapers in numbers – nothing like sheer numbers of letters/emails coming in to make them think about their circulation in the future?!

  14. I have said all along this is a slow burner.Its a marathon not a Sprint.The no side have burnt out.They are actually now on a loop where they are back at the start re hashing old scare stories.Negativity eventually destroys itself or the people involved in it.People just eventually treat it as white noise.Oh yeh you frightened me with that story 12months ago.Thing is I know a bit more now…and you know what I am bored with it.That’s the way people feel.

  15. Derek, I live in a privately owned well-off area, life sorted and I’m just in from delivering 180 Yes newspapers, that’s me up to 280 total so far, +100 to go. Whether I personally will be marginally wealthier or poorer in an independent Scotland doesn’t cause me sleepless nights. However my academic and career experience does indeed tell me that in an independent Scotland we will all be better off, priority being I hope,to eliminate the scourge of the Benefits Street reality from our society. For that to happen we need the level of competent government provideed by the SNP these past few years. Now where does that leave Labour – Lamont as First Minister? Gray in lieu of John Swinney? Jackie Baillie as deputy to Lamont?
    I too attended the Hydro last night, confirmed why I prefer acoustic music.Delay upon delay as electric plug-ins to instruments were sorted. The orchestra were tops, pity they weren’t given their own piece.

  16. Jenny Hjul I presume lives in Edinburgh with Cochers yet she sees no reason to put the country down!
    In any other country on the planet a foreigner making comments like that would cause outrage and apoplexy? Oh, sorry of course that’s just nasty cybernat anti English xenophobia!!

  17. Derek, ofcourse we’ll win. No one, be they young or old, wants to sit round the embers of a dying empire when there’s the choice to be part of a vibrant, newly independent state.

  18. The opinion of anyone who lives with Cochrane is suspect. Poor judgement.

  19. Jenny Hjul is a stoater. Stoater as in banging her heid aff a brick wall.

  20. Hjul in the Sunday Times again, eh? That Gillian Bowditch has more holidays than Thomas Cook. Still at least she’s a proper journalist. Bowditch that is. When she was at John Kay’s talk at the Glasgow Uni she was busy scribbling away in her wee book. If we’d had an exam on it I’d have been asking after copying her notes.

  21. The momentum is all very positive at the moment, with a lot of little things having a cumulative effect. I have a fair degree of confidence that the currency issue will disappear before the referendum. Markets and business south of the border will demand it as soon as YES vote seems possible, if not probable. The debt announcement is just one indicator of moves in that direction. No-one has yet come out to make an economic argument as to why such a union would not be in rUK’s interests. Indeed, it would be economic suicide for anything else to happen, as Darling knows only too well. The EU is a fairly esoteric matter, most Scots believe we will still remain as a member, albeit the details might take time to sort out.

    I think the failure to agree a devo-max/lite/whatever epithet you prefer/ agenda is the real achilles heel here. As the YES position begins to lose the fear factor the lack of any alternative will become even more obvious. Cameron’s tactical decision not to debate Salmond cannot be undone. Any u-turn would be seen as weakness, so it will never happen, no matter what the circumstances or how likely a YES vote looks. Cameron will go down as the prime minister who was too feart to defend the union. But equally he will be able to disclaim criticisms that it will be a personal failure. It was a decision for the Scots, and we must respect their democratic wishes etc etc.

    I would say though that Salmond must come out and debate. It would be a grave error if he didn’t. Succession planning is clearly underway for Sturgeon to take over after the YES vote, but in the meantime, Salmond has a responsibility to debate the referendum with Darling, Alexander, Sarwar, Lamont et al. There are votes to be won by doing so. Indeed a demolition job on Darling for example could have a dramatic effect, and only serve to underscore the need for Cameron to come out and debate.

    I definitely sense a change. My sister and her husband are typical of many middle class voters, they were very skeptical about independence about six months ago, but are increasingly moving towards a YES vote as they realise many of the scare stories are just plainly ludicrous. They are people that never vote, but will definitely vote in the referendum. It is these 35-40% of the electorate who never participate that will dictate out future…..I am positive they, and especially many within the Labour movement are heading our way. Never has the need been greater for our message to be loud, positive and offer the chance at transformation. The revolution isn’t in full swing yet, but it may not be far away.

  22. Derek

    Come off it!

    Cameron isn’t refusing to debate Salmond because he fears he would be beaten in the debate – although he most certainly would. Every single point he made could trump Salmond’s and Salmond would still win.

    We all know why.

    It’s disingenuous of you – bordering on Cybernattish – to suggest it’s cowardice. It’s political pragmatism. Plain and simple.

    A debate between the two leaders, rightly or wrongly, would be perceived as an England vs Scotland showdown. Which it isn’t

    In the Indy debate, Salmond doesn’t represent Scotland – he represents that part of Scotland which desires independence. It’s right that he debates with Scots on the other side of the fence.

    Unpalatable as it may seem to some Nationalists, Cameron’s refusal to debate is shrewd, pragmatic and dare I say it, statesmanlike. The same can’t be said for Salmond’s ‘poetic’ goading.

    I can’t believe I’ve just defended a Bullingdon Tory’s stance. 🙂


    NB: You don’t genuinely believe that ‘Reverend’ Campbell is a force for good in the indy debate do you?

    • Longshanker….it’s good that you have the ability at self-effacement, but strange that you can’t extend it past realising you’re defending a Bullingdon Tory. Do you think it should be a Scotland v Russia event then, or Scotland v Spain, or let’s see, who else has Cameron asked to take a swing at Scotland because he’s too scared to do it himself…..that’s right….anyone other country who’ll listen and lend a clumping fist for the Empire.

      He has no good arguments to take to a debate with Salmond, and would be faced with a series of awkward questions – like why don’t you ask the EC to clear up all doubt about Scotland’s position in Europe? His is a very natural strategy for a career politician – self preservation. Preserving the union comes a distant second to that. Scottish MP’s however need to preserve the union in order to preserve their careers, hence why we’re seeing them individually blowing off blunderbusses in an attempt to scare us ignorant voters.

      Rev Campbell trumps you in the honesty and integrity stakes anytime Longshanker. I’d love to see you two in a public debate – maybe you could invite him?

      • Polwarthian

        I’m a bona fide sceptic. A genuine don’t know.

        I’m defending Cameron’s stance from a purely political point of view. I’d like to see him debate Salmond too – for the entertainment value if nothing else.

        Cameron’s a lot of things. But a coward isn’t one of them – for the reasons given earlier – and yours.

        Of course he’ll not go to the EU for clarification. That could only help Salmond and his cause. What Unionist politician worth his salt would do that?

        I thought Coulson’s arrest and subsequent events would have killed Cameron off by now. It might still. That it didn’t is testament to his political and, as you said, self preservation skills.

        As for your honesty and integrity statement – be serious. You’ve clearly been taken in by the self aggrandising hype due to the boy’s ability to get his punctuation right.

        I offered to straight debate him a long time ago. The silence was deafening.


      • Tip
        look on the quarantine thread on wings
        you’ll see that ship has sailed.

      • Sorry Polwarthian that reply I made to Longshanker was meant for you as Longshanker will already know.

    • Quick the suns oot

      Cameron is my PM too and I want to hear him defend his right to govern here. Simple, no? That some people are willing to defend his stance is downright weird considering that the man himself was once willing to do this.

      The conservative party manifesto for 2010 stated that Cameron would submit himself and other ministers to Holyrood for questioning (and presumably to beg forgiveness) once a year.

      He puts me in mind of a stroppy teenager, when asked to do the chores he is responsible for retorts that he won’t do them but slinks back later and does them in the end when he’s ready. Well Cameron, those dishes are still needing done, they won’t do themselves!

      • Quick the suns oot

        He doesn’t need to defend his right to govern here. Him and his ilk have had that right for the past 300 years.

        Like it or not it was part of the imposition of the Act of Union.

        Your use of the word ‘slink’ implies cowardice. Cameron, if nothing else, is an out and out political animal – just like Salmond.

        A debate would be great. But for the reasons I originally stated, it aint going to happen.

        Cameron has nothing to gain. Only Salmond does.


    • cynicalHighlander


      This isn’t a political decision it’s a peoples decision and it is what real democracy is about.

      Cameron represents the UK parliament as PM and Salmond represents Scotland’s parliament as FM.

      UK was formed by joining English (Westminster) parliament and Scottish parliament by a treaty.

      The UK government is going hell for leather in getting foreign countries involved against the democratic will of the Scottish people to thwart a Yes vote using millions of pounds in doing so which means that by UK rules it is open season for all to enter the debate which might be illegal under international law.

      So Cameron needs to stop using the UK government departments to conspire against Scotland or debate openly as what happens in normal grown up democracies.

      • “… it’s a peoples decision and it is what real democracy is about.”

        Exactly right. Let’s also not forget that the PM and FM are only people too. People who lead governments in different parliaments. Each with a different vision.

        The crux of the matter, for me, is David Cameron is poor in debate. I would give the examples of the EU referendum and Syria. David Cameron is not able to shape and change opinion – rather he changes his own position.

        A salesman changing his pitch to keep in the game.

        The notion that Scots are anti-Eton and/or toffs is overblown. An excuse. Look at the number of British PMs that came from Eton and had respect in Scotland.

        Scots can see through Cameron. He appears to lack a tangible, principled foundation where people can give some respect. This is his problem.

      • cynicalHighlander

        “Salmond represents Scotland’s parliament as FM.”

        Correct – with the proviso that that representation is within the remit of the Scottish parliament and its limited devolved powers.

        The referendum is different.

        In the referendum, Salmond represents the Nationalist party and their belief that Scotland would be better off with independence.

        Within that role he does NOT represent Scotland. Not yet, at least.

        Within that representation he’s a Nationalist politician seeking yet more power to fulfil his Nationalist vision for the country.

        So, comparing like for like is a complete non-sequitur.

        Personally, I think the foreign help seeking by Cameron is overplayed.

        It’s also counter productive and makes him look weak.

        I don’t mind the European presidents saying what they’ve had to say re: new territories, EU entry etc.

        And, I agree with the comments here regarding foreign politicians interfering in our internal politics.

        So no, Cynical Highlander, if Cameron chooses not to debate a Nationalist leader, it’s his call.

        Calling him a coward makes the people calling him it sound a bit desperate.


  23. “By the way, Derek, had my haircut in Selkirk last week and broaching the Inde issue got the reply ” we are solidly no here “.

    Some hae truth but canna think,
    And some wad think and want it,
    But we hae truth an we can think,
    Sae let the Lord be thankit.

    Rabbie aye.

  24. We’ll Win Yet for A’ That

    YES we will. 🙂

  25. “It will hinge entirely on guaranteeing a Labour victory at Westminster”

    We’ve been voting for that for the last 50 years, and look what we’ve gotten out of it.

  26. Talking of small. After the Calton Hill Rally my partner and I took ourselves off for some refreshment to an Edinburgh pub. A gent we sat beside realised after a while where we had been, and mocked us by saying he hadn’t realised because our YES lapel badges were so small. I told him politely, that it was indeed a small badge, with a small word, but it is a mighty big statement.

    As for Jenny Hjul, her column in the Courier are ridiculed regularly. Quite what a red-top writer such as Jenny is doing at the Courier is beyond me. I’ve never supported DC Thomsons’ politics but I used to appreciate the quality of the product. They have at least published details of the latest poll today.

    @longshanker The choice of two parliamentary systems is at the heart of this debate. Cameron, who has no Scottish mandate leads one, Salmond, who does have that mandate, leads the other. We have every right to demand a debate. Cameron tells us there is an overwhelming case for the union he backs. Let us hear it. Unchallenged press statements issued from Downing Street are not good enough. Cameron “statesmanlike”? Pull the other shank.

    • Ken Clark

      On the terms you’ve used, you’re forgetting that the latter is completely dependent on the former.

      The latter’s current incumbent has won the mandated and legalised right to ask the Scottish people if they’re happy with that situation.

      Cameron fulfilled his role by delivering the Edinburgh agreement.

      In terms of debate, Cameron’s merely being pragmatic. He knows that a mano-a-mano event would be turned into Scotland v England debate. A posh Eton toff, up here, loses before he even starts.

      A purely political, hands off, let the Scots knock lumps out of themselves, decision. Simples.


  27. Burns letter to Mrs Dunlop
    “Alas I have always said to myself , what are all the boasted advantages which my country reaps from a certain union , that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence and even her very name”

    Over 200 years have passed since he posed this question and in the intervening years Scotland’s people have populated the Americas and the Antipodes , developed lucrative new trade routes and built merchant ships , raised Scottish regiments who fought with valour in far corners of the Empire and two World Wars , we have governed great tracts of the Empire , provided the backbone of the Foreign & Colonial Services and from time provided a fair few Prime Ministers .These Scots were bravehearts , intelligent , industrious and trusted .

    Scots people , our native treasure , were our export trade and the reason the union of Crown and Parliament was able to grow and expand into the British Empire . Scots were at the heart of its’ development and it can be fairly considered that we played a significant roll in its’ creation , administration and commercial exploitation out of all proportion to our native population size .

    Yet despite all of this and the addition of our scientific , medical and engineering inventions and industries at home we still await an honest answer to Burns’ original question .

    Almost by accident more than design we have arrived at a moment Burns would have savoured . Our neighbour has agreed that we may hold a referendum on Independence and both parties will be bound by the result .

    However it seems it seems despite our important roll in both the development of the Union and the Empire we are now judged by our neighbour to be completely unsuitable to govern ourselves . We have the unedifying sight of Senior cabinet ministers , civil service mandarins , the Whitehall war machine , the Treasury , the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service each producing White Papers of dubious value and veracity ( and for the civil service) at a previously unheard of rate .

    The coordinated message being presented by our union partner is we are better together . However , incredibly , the Prime Minister of this increasingly dysfunctional union has intimated that he is too posh to push and will not personally join the debate .

    Burns would have revelled in the unionists difficulties in defending the indefensible and had a field day in lampooning in his inimitable style the current cant’ and hypocrisy of our next door neighbours. We have a scant eight months more to endure before Burn’s 200 year old question to Mrs Dunlop is answered .

  28. There’s a guy in my work who admits he knows nothing about politics.Never reads anything but the sports section in the Sun.Yet he feels he has a right to speak for the majority with statements:”I can’t wait till Salmond loses that referendum”.Yet I don’t ram my opinion down peoples throat .I quietly believe what I believe unless challenged. Funny how its the least knowledgeable that are the loudest.

  29. Derek, I’m a bit surprised you’ve had no comment on the recent headline in the Herald regarding the Foreign Office Devo unit’s ‘drive to kill off independence’. As far a I can tell, though I may have missed it, the BBC has chosen not to touch that story either.

  30. @Big Jock
    “There’s a guy in my work who admits he knows nothing about politics.Never reads anything but the sports section in the Sun.Yet he feels he has a right to speak for the majority with statements:”I can’t wait till Salmond loses that referendum”.Yet I don’t ram my opinion down peoples throat .I quietly believe what I believe unless challenged. Funny how its the least knowledgeable that are the loudest.”

    There is a gaelic proverb:

    Far an taine ‘n abhainn, ‘s ann as mò a fuaim.

    Which means
    Where the stream runs shallowest, it is the most noisy.


    • My favourite Gaelic saying in the context of reminding us what is important in the next few months is:

      ‘Cha bhord bord gun aran ach is bord aran e fhein.’

      A table is no table without bread but bread is a table itself.

      The Union is a breadless table.

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