The Hamster Wheel

No matter how hard you try and no matter how fast you run, you can never escape. All you want to do is get out and be on your own and be free to make your own decisions but with every step the wheel keeps turning and you get nowhere.


My other nightmare is the hall of mirrors in which every image is a distortion of reality, every inviting corridor closes and diverts you into another and when you look over your shoulder there is a gigantic face of Jackie Baillie with a beatific smile saying No way out….

What is it about the Union that drives them to work so remorselessly hard to defend it at all costs when it is something so creaky and antiquated that even they have to devise ever complex models to reform it?

If it is worth so much to them that it supersedes every other issue why is it in need of such fundamental reform that it appears, even in their own terms, to be broken? What are they clinging to? We may reach a stage soon – and I think many in England think we’ve already surpassed it – where we have effective independence and about the only thing we don’t have is the flag…the very thing they accuse Nationalists of idolising.

Is it sentiment – some deep-rooted emotional attachment – because if it is then that’s what I feel for Scotland so that would make them Britnats which, I argue, by definition, means they care about Britain before Scotland. If you really did believe fighting poverty is a priority, as Gordon Brown was suggesting yesterday, wouldn’t you seek the best solution rather than contort yourself into painful political yoga positions to accommodate the very system which has created the poverty?

Naively, I thought poverty could be laid mostly at the door of those who have run Britain for 300 years, devised and retained its welfare policies, its monetary policy and taxation system and controlled every lever of power until the last 15 years when even for most of that time it was Unionists who ran Holyrood as well. That was until I saw Jackie Baillie on television and learned poverty was the fault of the SNP. Yes, deprivation only started seven years ago – stop complaining, Easterhouse…you had a job until Salmond came in, Whitfield…there were no low wages until 2007, Torry…You didn’t start dying before age 60 until the Nationalists arrived, men of Calton…remember how Labour created a world of plenty, now left in ruins, you people of Pilton…


It may be the unerringly smug delivery that frightens me most about Ms Baillie for her demeanor is of one who has been right all along, if only you had been clever enough to realise it. She emits a kind of insane logic in which something manifestly untrue changes shape before your eyes and just might be right after all. If, as The Axe Murderer, your life depended on it, you’d want her as your defence lawyer.

Brown and Ming succeeded in confusing me with detail until I wondered if it they had planned it that way – so that you couldn’t focus on the detail too much but got a generalised view about more powers.

I don’t want more powers. I want out. These guys decided they didn’t want their plans to go before the people because they weren’t interested in the governance of Scotland but in the interests of their parties. This isn’t Project Fear, it’s Project Destroy Salmond. That’s the only reason they’re in this game and if they could convince him to walk away tomorrow, their plans would follow him. Scots who do want more powers have to ask themselves who is really delivering those powers. The answer of course is Salmond. Without him there would be nothing on the table. I watched Brown pacing like a caged bear having mastered a new technique to scare the nervous and after every new idea I said the same thing: …’entrenched powers’ – why now? ’40 per cent of tax’ – why now? ‘partnership of equals’ – why now?

Because they’re in a deadly struggle to save their Union and must wring every ounce out of the system to persuade us to stay on side when all of this could and should have been enacted when he was in power but it didn’t matter enough then. Remember his backroom meddling in Scottish Labour to keep his influence alive? Remember how he couldn’t bring himself to speak to the newly elected Fist Minister for weeks because of his psychotic loathing of Salmond? Brown is seen as a big beast but his personal relations – with Blair, Darling, Salmond, Alexander and the Civil Service – reveal him to be a small man.

His credo is based on control. He is threatened by free minds and new ideas. He is literally history and represents a past Scotland is growing out of. He failed at Westminster and Scotland is his last chance to claim a sliver of success and influence. How complete would his tragic decline be if the Scots voted Yes. I’m fed up running around in circles.

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34 thoughts on “The Hamster Wheel

  1. ‘Brown is seen as a big beast, but his personal relations…. reveal him to be a small man.’ Absolutely spot on Derek.

  2. Duncan Mitchell

    Brilliant Derek. Jackie Baillie got such an easy time from John MacKay and looked more smug than ever. Thanks for putting it out there along with the efforts of Gordon Brown and Ming Campbell to confuse us. I agree totally with your assessment of the reasons behind these late contributions.

    • Credit where credit is due: I think Gary Robertson did a great job on Monday’s Good Morning Scotland programme when faced with the inane ramblings of Ming Campbell. And he managed to elicit an absolute clanger from a veteran unionist, which must have jeopardised road traffic all over Scotland, as drivers from the NO camp held their heads in their hands in despair, and YES voters opened the sun-roof, thrust their hands aloft, and celebrated yet another unionist own-goal.

      Ming began by informing us that Willie Rennie (leader of the Scottish lib dems) had asked him to “look at the way in which the debate in Scotland has developed and to assess the extent to which a consensus has emerged upon which we can build.” He then began rabbiting on about additional powers now being considered for Wales and Northern Ireland. Gary Robertson, sensing that the interview could be completely ruined by senile incoherence, sought to bring Ming back on track with a very simple and straightforward question regarding the consensus and associated proposals which would, purportedly, be for the benefit of Scotland: “If people vote “no” in the referendum, when will you deliver?”

      Ming replies: “We’ll deliver as soon as is practicable.”

      Gary asks: “But what does that mean? Within a parliament?”

      Ming gets a bit shifty and starts muttering some semi-nice things about Gordon Brown and the tories, and then he gave us the announcement we’ve all been waiting for: “Independence isn’t just for Christmas, you know.” Aye Ming, and that’s why we’re so excited about it.

      Gary, sensing again that Ming was wandering off-piste, reformulated his question: “So there’s no time-frame for achieving consensus?”

      Ming’s reply, delivered with all the smugness of a Westminster snob, was as subtle as a bandaged sledgehammer: “Of course there’s not a time-frame for achieving consensus, because these are matters where there will have to be sensible, rational exchanges of views.” Let’s face it, we’d have to be crazy to expect Labour, the lib dems and the tories to exchange views in a way which could be described as being remotely sensible or rational, so why should we be misled into thinking that they will ever achieve a consensus. It’s like suggesting that my pet rabbit could beat big Gordy in a pie-eating competition.

  3. Great post Derek. Now let’s share it with everyone!

  4. Spot on Derek, too little too late.

  5. As with so many in the Labour party,these people are no longer socialists (may never have been) but career politicians whose principles would have made Groucho Marx proud.
    I think that their hatred of the SNP and Alex Salmond in particular is that they do not fit the mold of the Westminster amoral politicians but are driven by the selfless motive to see our country as a free democratic state which truly represents the aspirations of our people.
    The Westminster parties have been reduced to seeking power for it’s own sake and as such have lost credibility with the electorate that they will in any way try to improve our lives.
    Thanks Derek.

  6. Too true, Derek. They’re contorting themselves, tying themselves (and they hope the Don’t Knows too) in knots to defend the indefensible. The Union has run its course. Time for a new structure to take us into the future. What they may be promoting (though none of it is clear) was a solution suited to decades ago. Scotland has moved on whilst rUk seems not just stuck in a time warp, but actually going backwards. Someone commented that to rUK the future was closing down, yet the referendum debate has seen a few chinks of understanding from people down south as to what benefits independence for Scotland could bring about for them. But for anything to happen, for increased democracy anywhere in the UK, Scottish independence is first required.

  7. Indeed – the poor must not always be with us. With the Unionist parties, they are and will be.

  8. The LibLab tactics are specifically designed to cause maximum Division , Diversion and Deception . Cannot be delivered by any Westminster party without parliamentary debate and approval . Pie in the Sky politics .

  9. Jackie Baillie – supercilious smug teller of fibs. (I cannot stand her so always have to stop before I go too far.)

    Gordon Brown – A heavy weight in the sense he finds it very difficult to change direction with any alacrity. If he lives to be as old as Ming Campbell, he’ll still be spouting the same old shite and will be just as redundant.


    Ming Campbell – A random word generator. An ancient MP who thinks being a politician for a billion years qualifies him as a serious thinker. It doesn’t, it just means he’s even more out of touch than most of his fellow MP’s.

  10. We’ve still some way to go regarding welfare. I’m a little old to start door-to-door but contribute financially – at my last donation to YES I suggested the money could be used to buy lemon iced buns for the youngsters chappin on doors.

    This doesn’t stop me subtly trying to convert any stranger. This morning I broached the subject here at Lilliesleaf with a young driver down from Motherwell who proudly told me there’s plenty work if you want to get it but he reckons ” about 40% ” of the locals his age are too lazy and just sign on. Now I suggest that rather than going down to the broo and checking, he’s quoting the Mail, Sun or whatever.

    Ian Duncan Smith speaks eloquently and once his weasel words are distilled by the MSM the influence can be huge. In this respect I didn’t think the BBC Scotland heid yins were particularly contrite just now at the Parliament so if it’s more of the same, all hands on deck, please.

    • Yes. Watched the debate, and judging by McQuarrie’s etc responses, there will be no changes to the way BBC Scotland report the referendum. They continue to dis Prof Robertson’s research and claim his methology is all wrong.
      To be honest I thought the committee could have given them a much harder cross exhamination

  11. The New Gordian Knot.

    Brown’s intervention deliberately adds overlying complexity to the intractable problem about devolving responsibilities to Scotland in an attempt to tie her down, whilst retaining total power at Westminster, in the hope to convince Scots they have real control over their lives.

    Alexander the Great simply cut through the ancient knot with one blow.

    Perhaps Wee Eck can do the same on Sept 18th.

  12. Another great blog Derek. I keep reminding family and friends that the SNP have inherited a mess it took various hues of Westminster governments generations to achieve. There is no quick fix, but they have made a promising start. Independence will allow us to complete the task.

    The Dundee Courier seems to have adopted Brown as a pet project for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. If memory serves me correctly they had him at number 3 in their top 50 Scots of 2013. It gave me the biggest laugh that day.

    The on-line comments were removed from the Gordon Brown story in the Courier yesterday. Probably too many home truths for the Courier editorial team’s “Project Gordon” The thread mirrored your own view Derek, of Brown as yesterday’s failed man. Number 10 was his by right in 1997, but in an act of weakness which will define the man, he allowed himself to be conned by Blair and co. While baby sitting recently I watched Disney’s Pinocchio.The scene where he is led astray by the fox and the cat automatically became re-dubbed in my head by Blair, Brown and Mandelson. It gave a topical slant to an old favourite. 🙂

    I have no sympathy for the man at all. He betrayed his roots and let down so many who looked to him for help. He will, unlike many of those people, live out a comfortable old age.It will be a bitter one though, haunted by so many “what ifs”.

  13. Jackie Baillie and Gordon Brown. Now there is an image of deceipt and mendaciousness. These people are below contempt. I am therefore totally bemused at why both have a strong, local following. Brown in Fife and Baillie in Dumbarton. What can be done about other than to outflank them with a ‘Yes’ vote?

  14. Brown and Baillie. Sounds like a Vaudeville double act or a circus.

    Either way proven liars. There are no powers on offer and even if there were it would be a meaningless gesture. One more time for the people in the stalls. THIS ISN’T A NEGOTIATION.

    On September 18th for a whole day, the people of Scotland will be in full possession and control of 100% of their country and its sovereignty. THEY will decide who carries those powers forward from September 19th. Both Ming and Brown quite dishonestly would have you believe that they and people like them still have the right to decide for you just how much of your own sovereignty you should control. BOLLOCKS TO THAT.

    YOU will tell them what’s what.

    Don’t let anyone tell you any different folks. In this referendum you have control of all the powers and the future of Scotland. Not Westminster, not big beasts from the political jungle, no not even the big beasts of Holyrood, YOU.

    Now what are you going to do with that power? Give it back to those who have for so long abused it or keep it and see if you have a few ideas of your own you’d like to try?

    Up to you.

    • That’s a very powerful point. We will be in complete control for one day…what will we do? hand it back to the Westminster elite?

  15. Absolutely. And, I’d like to know, who gave him permission to speak anyway? I thought JoLa was going to reveal SLAB’s proposals next week? Will they be the same or different? Can’t wait.

  16. to paraphrase the late Jimmy Reid; the hamster wheel is for hamsters!

  17. Mine was one of the on-line comments removed by the courier. I think I’ll tell them why I’ll never buy their paper.

  18. “I don’t want more powers. I want out.”

    Seldom seen it put better than that.

  19. You look at the NO crew and they are all out of the one stable. Darling, Brown, Lamont, Curry, Bailey, Davidson, Sarwar, Galloway, Carmichael, et al. What mental state would you nead to be in to want anything to do with these selfish, self serving misfits, what’s even more worrying who would let them direct their life for them? It really is quite frightening that there are such people walking the streets and sane enough to have a vote. Cricky Jings.

  20. Gordon is a tax cheat and should be in court. He and Sarah have extracted £2 million out of the office of Gordon and Sarah Brown and have not paid any tax. He is a egoistic con man who is afraid of his own shadow

  21. Its to late for Brown, he already lost any small slice of credibility in his days as chancellor, and then prime minister pensions gold .. you name it he blew it ! then theres all this more powers for scotland nonsense, after insisting on only one Question , no returns to devo pluss, deco max, or whatever the hell you want to call it, personally im not buying it, there can only be one reason for the clamour to put an other option on the table, and that the only option scots were allowed to vote for , IS Winning the Debate…man

  22. Jackie Baillie is my local msp you must remember that hear in west Dunbartonshire a dug with a red rosette could get elected, none have done much to change the fact that w Dunbartonshire has one of highest poverty rates,low life expectancy but you can guarantee she is on front of local papers as bedroom tax abolished thanks to jackie. ..this is what the Yes campaign is up against labour activists are telling folk that the snp will shut Catholic schools, pensions will not be paid, benifts cut there absolutely desperate and will do anything to win

  23. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength…” and the Unionists want to give us more powers. Excellent blog as always. I was expecting you to also take on Ming the Merciless on his totalitarianism. I blogged my thoughts on tanks in Morningside at

  24. Wonder if Gordon still has that union jack flying in N Queensferry.This is how much Gordon knows about Scotland.He advised that the UK pulled its resources in creating a unified NHS.Gordon it has always been the Scottish health service there is no UK health service.Hence no PFI in Scotland.Where have you been BUPA? Surely this is basic stuff you should know about the country yo live in.

  25. Scotland04 –
    There is indeed PFI in Scotland – some £5billion pounds worth for which we, and our children are paying £30billion in total by the end of the contracts. And in fact, whilst PFI was initially a Tory idea, it was New Labour which went wholeheartedly in for them – in total the UK tax payer will stump up over £301billion for some £54b worth of projects… That’s Gordon Brown’s real legacy – indebting us and the public sector for the next fifty years…’The Third Way: make the next generation pay’… Cheers

  26. They lie because it is in their DNA.

  27. Well written, Derek. I agree entirely that they hate Alex Salmond. Which is one reason he should take care as we all know what can happen to those who oppose the establishment. No names, no pack drill, but I’m sure you know who I mean.

  28. And the truth is coming out about the Lockerbie Bombing and the UK/USA cover up and the deal done with Libya to take the wrap in exchange for lifting sanctions. Read about it today in the D Telegraph.

  29. Of course Gordy was never too busy to meet his, Tony’s and now Ed’s favourite politician (Clue it begins with a T)

  30. Well, what can we say about Andrew Marr’s latest impartial interview with AS today? Nothing really, I think he managed to say it all by himself. Unbelievable stuff, not least in light of all the debate going on at the moment. Clearly the BBC are not very good at internal communication.

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