Chocs Away…!

The attack begins…

Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C: Hello, “M Mother” are you there?

Flight Lt. J.V. Hopgood, DFC: I’m here, Leader

Squadron Leader H.M. Young, DFC: Here, Leader.

Flight Lt. D.J.H. Maltby, DSO, DFC: Here, Leader.

Flight Lt. D.J. Shannon, DSO, DFC: Here, Leader

Squadron Leader H.E. Maudslay, DFC: Here, Leader.

Flying Officer L.G. Knight, DSO: Here, Leader.

Gibson: Hello, all Cooler aircraft. I’m going in to attack. Stand by to come in in your order when I tell you….

He points the nose down towards the dam wall. Cue music…


Isn’t it telling that the Coalition is calling the latest stage of its terror campaign The Dambusters after a Second World War murderous attack that flooded the Ruhr and killed over a thousand? Identifying a political campaign with the British war effort is one of those unthinking moments that provides an insight into how the British machine still regards itself. And, in passing, it confirms what people like me have been saying – that this is a political campaign in which the finance sector is participating, whatever Standard Life’s allegedly neutral words indicate.

After the Currency Denial comes the bouncing bombs of the financiers and bankers crashing into the credibility of the plan to free Scots from the control of the profiteering classes and create a more equal Scotland. Boom! Goes your currency…Crash! Goes your financial centre…Take that you blighters!

We call it the Dambusters after the movie but the operation was, even more appropriately, called Operation Chastise. Oh yes, that’s the Union game right there…teach them a lesson they won’t forget.

The history is also a metaphor because there were two unforeseen side effects. First, the largest group killed as the Mohne and the Eder poured millions of tons of water into the Ruhr Valley were on our side. They were nearly 800 Ukranian prisoners of war held in a camp just below the Eder Dam. They were collateral damage, just as those Scots will be after a No vote who are again left at the mercy of the Tory government, unprotected by their allies the Labour Party. Others to suffer will be Scots embittered at the closing of the ranks among the Unionist elite who finally realise that the partnership of the Union was a myth.

Secondly, the raid failed. It was initially seen as a success in that it hit key dams and released torrents of water and disrupted German engineering. The crews – those that made it, 50-odd men didn’t – came home, rightly, to heroes’ welcomes and, for Guy Gibson a Victoria Cross. But they failed to hit the third Sorpe dam which would have been devastating. Instead the water levels were back to normal in six weeks and war production resumed. So sometimes, what appears to be a success at first, turns out in time to be anything but.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Unionists are having a morale boost and on the BBC it is now a sly joke among presenters to drop in a final question to…well anybody, really. ‘What’s your take on independence?’ It is as if it is now safe to ask since the great cloud has been lifted and the powers to which the Unionists defer, the City, the Treasury and, bizarrely, Barroso, have hit back and stopped the movement in its tracks. (I liked the airline boss’s reply which didn’t follow the script by telling them passenger duty and landing fees would probably reduce so it would be good for business). That answer inadvertantly gave one small perspective on the wider question which hasn’t occurred to any BBC commentator I’ve seen or heard. They have no idea and no interest in SNP or the wider Yes policies and have minds closed to anything other than the conventional,  deferential rote of honouring establishment power. If you have a title, you get automatic respect from the national broadcaster, no matter what you actually say. I think only Scot Angus Roxburgh in the London media (Guardian) and hardly anyone in Scotland actually tackled the content and implication of what Barroso said and challenged his role in saying it, not even the accoladed Andy Marr. Instead of fawning, it is their duty to us, the licence-fee payers, to challenge and scrutinise and it is proving beyond them.

There is too the long-term close association between Scottish media and the financial sector. When I was in newspapers we went to virtually every company announcement by banks and insurers, were treated royally and in return their pronouncements were given prominence. At that time there was some justification as some of these outfits were historically successful and, while boring, a source of pride. Connections forged then have influenced many of the commentators you read today. Financial institutions could afford lavish largesse in the form of lunches in the boardroom, golf outings, sponsorship and match tickets, some of which still goes on today…buying loyalty or at the very least making it that little bit harder to write a strongly critical piece. One well-known Edinburgh-based financial journalist told me how reporters were made aware of a building society – I think it was Abbey National, now part of Santander – who quietly offered them low interest mortgages. In return, he said, nobody ever wrote a bad word about them.


Longer term, on the ground, does a millionaire financier warning of leaving really scare the mass of Scots? Will banks who ruined people’s lives and still receive life-changing sums every year provide the leadership for people stuck on poverty wages, eking out a living on two jobs, surviving in stressed-out families? Will these people look to the Labour party leaping with joy at such threats along with the City and the Tories and imagine they remain on their side?

It wasn’t the feeling at the Yes meeting in Gilmerton in Edinburgh that I chaired last night where there was an anger and a resentment at being put in their place, kept down and lectured by politicians who have abandoned what they regard as the core values of their lives. There were stories of friends and family fighting to retain much needed benefits and an openness to egalitarian ideas that, far from being impossible to put in place, simply require the political will to introduce once the power is returned into the hands of the Scots. There was also news which I won’t repeat in detail because it’s likely to feature in the weekend press, about canvassing returns from some our housing estates which suggest a rising tide of support for a transformative Yes. These are Scots untouched by Standard Life pension and insurance policies. Their war generation parents probably expected that when the war was over they would live in peace, the peace they  fought for. For too many thousands of our fellow Scots their daily life is a war and in six month’s, for the first time in their lives, they will hold the power in their hands from 7am to 10pm to change that world for ever.

Now, how does that Dambusters theme tune go?

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30 thoughts on “Chocs Away…!

  1. Another fine piece which has done my heart good this morning as Willie Walsh did also. He was not expected to answer as he did and thus threw his questioner. Being Irish must have had something to do with it.

  2. “Dumb, dumb, dumb, they think we’re dumb, etc” How do we apply for the ” low mortagage or even Tickets for something. Corruption, like the rich are always with us!

  3. Woke up on the sofa last night to watch This Week with Pat Kane making a useful fist of a robust interview by Andrew Neil from about 6:00. What struck me was the two permanent commentators Messrs Johnston & Portillo looking down their noses but crucially completely lost by Kane’s cogent argument on a ‘nation state’ trotting out the same negativeness..Sad

    • Michael Portillo is half Scottish and half Spanish.
      He seems to suffer the cringe with the Scottish part of his identity.

      This might be something to do with his education – he won a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge.

      He apparently said on that programme that it was too late for Scots to be independent as we were all on benefits – I paraphrase.

      But don’t forget he was in the conservatives when maggie was in power and knew all about the McCrone report.

      One of the reasons I wish for independence is so that we can get rid of these sneering, middle class public school boys who think we are inferior to them.

      I want to be a 1st class citizen in my own country,

  4. I did wonder why there was low flying over Pitlochrie.

    Seriously, they are taking the loss here. What’s next, The Manhattan Project.

  5. Oops. PISS got changed to loss by kindle

  6. innerbearsdenurchin

    If I remember the Dambusters’ raid was only marginally successful in reducing ball-bearing production, unfortunately.

    This carpet bombing will be a lot worse than that. They are bombed oot!

    • innerbearsdenurchin

      A propos Willie Walsh, I suspect that orders have gone out, explicitly or implicitly, that every opportunity must be taken in every interview and to camera spot, that the Yes campaign/SNP/Alex Salmond must be attacked, usually at the end of the interview and with an appropriate repeatable soundbite.

      Is BluePeter still being broadcast? Has Jackanory been resurrected?

  7. Thank you for your heart-warming news from Gilmerton. I just HAD to switch off GMS this morning. The obvious glee demonstrated by these two female presenters as they stressed and elaborated suggestive anti – independence so-called news was too much to bear first thing in the morning. (Or any time, for that matter.) But it seems I missed the one beacon of light, the Irishman Willie Walsh.
    So thanks also to Helena!

  8. “stopped the (YES) movement in its tracks.”

    Oh, I would aggressively dispute that. From what I hear and read the YES campaign is still going very strongly. Your BBC friends and the London Mediocracy (not an error) may believe that, But then, that is what they want to believe.
    And your last paras suggest the same.

  9. I randomly Yahoo’d Dinghy Young ( actually DFC and Bar ) and was reminded how the cherished ( he of course was public school / oxbridge ) are the ones remembered and recalled a comment by a relative who ran the RSPBs Loch of Strathbeg reserve near Fraserburgh on one of David Attenborough’s programmes. He apparently jetted in for about half an hour and in the usual dulcet tones spoke for a couple of minutes on the behaviour of geese. No mention ( actually it’s changed now with the folks who do the work getting a bittie at the end ) of the soul who, with his camera spent three weeks on the hide in the middle of the loch during a freezing winter and whom my rellies had to warm up regularly.

    In our brave new country, Common Weal will be about mutual regard, just as much as about wealth in money terms.

  10. Bombardier: “Bombs away skipper”

    Bomber Pilot: “Good show chaps. That’ll teach those Scotch blighters ……We’ll back in time for crumpets and tea, and afterwards a warm pint at the Cock & Bull”

    You get the feeling the unionists are fighting the wrong war. The threats of 1979 will not work in 2014.

  11. Cheers Derek, your blog is my favourite and I note that Willie Walsh is now prominent on the BBC website. I wonder if it was down to the SNP spads, or the ramping up of the volume on social media? Will we ever know.

  12. Since you mentioned Barosso ,I did get this reply from his office in response to questons about how they planned to strip me of my EU citizenship.
    Now why could one those very clever professional journalists not have asked him.

    “In my answer I only wanted to share with you the position of the Commission as expressed by President Barroso and the context for the statements made by the President recently.

    The Commission has already made it clear that it does not intend to speculate about future scenarios and their possible implications in relation to the upcoming referendum in Scotland.”

  13. innerbearsdenurchin

    Military minds always fight the next war like the last one.

    Go back to Darling’s utterances during the Referendum campaign, remember he Captain Darling there too, and see that he has just dug out the old script.

    Go online a see the Quebec Referendum and see the same plays unfold. They played the love bombing too early though and messed it up with Osbourne’s away day foray.

    Let us hope they do not do an O’Connell Street invasion up the Clyde; for their sakes.

    They are losing.

  14. There is an old military adage that the unionists should heed, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”

    Pitching knights of industry against massed common ranks has only one possible outcome.

  15. Brilliant Derek – When you write like that, I feel your emotions, mirrored by my own. Onward to the next battle! I hope you never get weary! Please be a presence on Twitter!

  16. Big thanks to Farci for the link to Andrew Neil’s programme with great interview with Pat Kane. What a contrast to Portillo and Johnston. But what was the dog doing, apart from being very cute? I rarely watch Neil as he is so irritiating, but seem to have missed something. She seems to be called Mollie and her name came up with a hash tag symbol – does this mean we now have dogs Tweeting?
    can anyone explain please?

  17. Some people have never grown out of reading the Commando comics of the their childhood it seems.

  18. An alternative view -my father served in Bomber Command and I had the pleasure of working with an exdambuster chap many years ago (navigator, joined immediately after the damns raid) and these money grubbing, morally bankrupt vermin in a sack are not fit to cut these guys toe nails
    Rant over……………

  19. Thanks Derek for another great article.

    People here talking about Andrew Neil, I gave up on him years ago but the final straw came during the 2010 UK elections.

    For the live ‘through-the-night’ coverage, the BBC decided to hire a large boat on the Thames and invite a load of ‘celebrities’ along to have a free drink. Neil was there with camera crew to gather the reactions of said celebrities. Needless to say, it was bloody awful – nothing but a bunch of mainly ignorant people spurting the usual myths.

    I decided to switch off after Joan Collins told us that she was hoping that David Cameron would win because he ‘looked presidential’.

    Just why do we pay a licence fee ?

  20. While Willie Walsh’s comments re- the new, reconfigured BA’s attitude to an independent Scotland was encouraging, let’s remember that this poisonous little tyrant tried to destroy trade unionism, forever, within this company, using despicable, intimidatory tactics against loyal and hard-working employees. Re- Pat Kane’s appearance on the “Brillo-Pad Show” last-night, I thought his contribution was passable but am deeply disappointed he didn’t take the opporchancity to tell “Brillo”, “Portaloo” and “The Treacherous Postie” New Labour’s Alan Johnston, that the REAL attraction to an independent Scotland is that, at long last, we would get the governments WE voted for!

  21. Great read derek,mair o same please.

  22. According to someone who was there a recent YES campaign event on the streets of St Andrews met with indifference from the passing public but perhaps St Andrews is a special case.

    By contrast a recent Saturday YES event at Stenhouse in Edinburgh attracted 120 enthusiastic volunteers.

    My late father was with the Dambusters Squadron when it sank the Tirpitz battleship in a Norwegian fjord and I can assure you he would have been absolutely furious at the Dambusters name being associated with this tawdry attempt to damage the country he loved.

    He would also be turning in his grave if he could see what his beloved Labour Party has turned into today.

  23. BA (Terminal 5) at Heathrow is subsidised by Westminster – centralist economic policies. BA is a private company half Spanish? Other airports have to compete. Not a free, fair open Market place, Westminster subsidising London Heathrow economically. Other Airports have APT. Flights from the other airports are less economically viable. APT affects the ability of providing comparative, competitive price. This makes Air travel more inconvenient and more expensive for travellers from the North. Over night hotel stays etc. London gains economically but it creates more congestion etc. This adds to the S/E traffic chaos, especially if there is fog/bad weather etc. All the eggs are in one basket – London S/E. Willy Walsh is a wanker in customer service and employee relationship/rights.

    26Million Russian died in th 11WW. (one in four?)

    Andrew Neil is a wanker can’t watch his reports. . Thatcher rent boy. On £Million+ a year. Earlier broadcasts on Oil related matters are completely untruthful and he knows it. Twa faced, ‘vacant coupon’ . One commentator stated, ‘He gave a talk in Scotland, not unsympathetic to more power to Scotland’. Hypocrite!

  24. You’d think they would have learnt something about PR from Project Fear.

  25. London is a giant parasite sucking the life blood out of the rest of the UK and elsewhere. ‘Casino London’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Any casino punter operating a system as blatant as the Ponzi scams in the City would be forcibly ejected from the building, with the management’s wishes that they never return firmly impressed upon them – literally.

    But Its days are numbered.

    The Chinese, who have a long established traditional cultural penchant for gambling and games of strategy, are, with their new plaything (capitalism) gearing up to dominate financial services just as they have manufacturing – as we speak. Only one eventual winner there.

    Unfortunately it remains uncertain whether the rUK will survive the inevitable removal of the London Leech, so large has it become in relation to its host. It will all depend on how quickly Thatcher’s monetarist madness can be reversed by rebuilding genuine wealth creating industries. If Scotland gets a break (sic) we won’t be as badly effected. But it is going to be bad.

  26. Saw Garry Robertson on Sunday Politics, looks like a troubled soul. asking all those negative questions of Bruce Crawford. The answer to each question was the same. Garry tried coming at it from different directions, hoping to get a different answer. The answers he was geting didn’t suit him, Lost soul Garry had an agenda. They’re trying to rubbish the Bannockburn events.

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