The Independent Man

Six months before we decide the nation’s future and every sign pointing to a real possibility of success, a referendum win that would re-write Scotland’s history and transform our place in the world. And it will be us, Generation X, that does it. It isn’t just the chance of a lifetime, it’s the chance of the millennium. It is in our hands.


To me, this is the greatest single event in public affairs of my lifetime. It trumps SNP election wins, ejecting the Tories from Scotland in 97, overtakes every single sporting event which put me through the ringer and left me elated, beats devolution hands down and for me stands beside the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and apartheid as a seismic event. The world may not agree about the scale of the comparative achievement, but to me being alive at this time and being part of the rebirth of the Scottish nation puts my generation into an historic category beside the men and women of the past who paid the ultimate price for our country.

I realise, and the evidence is before us every day, that many of our fellow Scots don’t agree and are content to think of the referendum as a kind of lifestyle choice which may add £10 a month to the mortgage or add a billion to the national debt, or, heaven help me, that it is “just too complicated” to bother with. But as we approach polling day, I believe another phenomenon will emerge. It is a sense of national belonging, a collective expression of will, an emotional impulse that taps into our history, our identity and our place in the national story. My word for it is nationalism. Yours may be a collective yearning for change or simply a shared love of Scotland. But I think the mechanistic and legalistic arguments will gradually fall silent, having played themselves out, and we will come down to the end game which is implicit in the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?

If we are truly a nation, the answer can only be Yes. To vote No is to deny our birth-right, to insult our ancestors and to forfeit the future. Of course, we can pretend like the Unionists that none of this matters in the modern global world and it’s easier to sneer at higher ideals and believe that voters are cattle devoid of meaningful choice, to be prodded forward for food and backwards for shelter, told one day we must end universalism and the next to support state socialism.

But for me, this is our chance…to beat the naysayers and apologists, to overturn the corporate adherents and to let our true self  break out and to forge a new way that is ours alone. Look at the social media, check out the websites, listen to the conversations and ideas, breathe the energy in the public meetings. It is palpable this need for a new Scotland and it continues to grow. It is new, it is internationalist, it is creative and challenging and it is our own. It is Scottish.

This blog is here because, as you know, I couldn’t stand by and let the debate rage round me while I asked questions on the airwaves but was prevented from speaking my mind. I think I did the honest thing by getting out of the BBC and speaking up. Others, as you may discern, are still inside some with views and attitudes officially concealed.


I took a rare step when I left. I decided not to stay silent about what I saw in the BBC. Don’t imagine I am alone in my views. Others have gone from there with resentments and disappointments and grudges harboured. But none have gone public in recent times. To do so is to blight any future career and limit opportunities. The BBC is probably the most powerful and yet unaccountable public organisation in Scotland. It has immense authority throughout the country and is easily the biggest media outfit. Even Scottish, its rival, now makes programmes for it. It disburses public money and without it private media concerns cannot survive. It’s senior staff and former staff are placed in secondary and voluntary roles in organisations throughout Scotland. Check out where even those who retire or leave find themselves.

The BBC is continually looking for new voices and faces, for distinctive ideas, to inform its many current affairs programmes. Mine is not one of them. A normal course for a still-active departee is to re-emerge as a commentator or a pundit, combining knowledge and experience of broadcasting with opinions that were closed down when on the other side of the microphone. I was even told before leaving that is what would likely happen. “How soon can we have you back?” a television producer asked. I am a perfect fit.

That was before I broke the in-house omerta and revealed what really happens inside.


No one should be surprised, least of all me, that criticism, even when it is backed by analysis and alternative options, is too hurtful for BBC managers to handle.

It’s a reminder that previous critics have been ostracised. I seem to remember Iain Macwhirter being persona non grata for remarks he had written until I think the First Minister made a reference to it. My own producer at the time denied Iain had ever been banned form appearing – only seven days after telling me she couldn’t have him on air because managers were angry with him! The former newsroom executive, the appalling Tim Luckhurst, was also excluded by executive diktat. So there is precedent for the BBC preferring to exclude those it deems unsuitable for the public airwaves.

Which means I remain defiantly blogging outside the mainstream and grateful for any support I get. Why don’t you join me? Together we can push for that Yes. If you want to support me, click on my wine club page and have a read.


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39 thoughts on “The Independent Man

  1. Another uplifting blog Derek which gets to the heart of this debate. The heart which the NO camp are furiously trying not to engage with.

    I was sorry when Iain Macwhirter was excluded from the airwaves. It was so obvious his views didn’t chime with the agenda being pursued. I can’t remember which election it was when his absence was finally confirmed to me as something more than temporary, but it was an eye opener which recent events have now confirmed. Stick with the programme or you’re out. A great shame, as his, and your balancing voices are much needed. Now more than ever.

  2. “To vote No is to deny our birth-right, to insult our ancestors and to forfeit the future.”

    That’s almost Braveheart, Derek, but I like it. Succinct.

  3. Derek,

    your feelings about independence are very similar to mine. In 1963 I
    represented the SNP in a school mock election. I have supported them ever since. I can vote for no other party.

    It”s a feeling about Scotland and the belief that it’s the only way to get the closest thing to a really just society

  4. At last someone brave enough to admit that nationhood is about identity and collective belonging and culture.I was beginning to think the referendum was a business stock float option.I am sick to the back teeth of people constantly talking about money.Nationhood is not about money.In fact if you do make a decision on your nationality based on capital please don’t bother We need people to care for their country and citizens not their private wealth.Sometimes I despair at the Thatcherite society we live in!

  5. YES arguments were dismissed by Charlie Kennedy tonight as ‘aspirational’.
    Obviously, sharing the wealth around a bit more and being serious about land reform are not hard-headed enough for the London MP.
    And then, there is always TRIDENT. Charlie’s message is: stick around with Charlie, hang on for 15 or 20 years and you can maybe see what a federal UK looks like.
    Now THAT is not even aspirational. It’s plain deception.

  6. YES arguments were derided tonight by Charlie Kennedy as “aspirational”.
    Obviously, sharing the wealth around a bit, and doing something meaningful about land reform are not hard-headed enough for the London man.
    And then, of course there is always TRIDENT.
    The message from Charlie is: stick around with Charlie, hang on for 15 or 20 years and a federal UK will see you alright, honest.
    Now THAT is of even aspirational. It’s plain deception.

  7. Jings, I think someone needs technical assistance.

    And if there isn’t a redirect, tens of thousands of Aye Right leaflets are going to be looking awfully silly.

    Oh yes and the blog post. This is what it’s about really, isn’t it? We wouldn’t be looking at independence if we didn’t feel like this. It’s not something you just do for the money.

    Sure, I want the “we’ll be better off” bit as well. I should have retired last year but I can’t because of the foul-up Brown and Darling made of the economy. But I also want to be working in an independent Scotland for emotional reasons, even if it’s only for six months.

    The Yes campaign has been frightened away from saying things like this, worried they’ll be criticised for “blood and soil” nationalism. They have to make it all about fairness and the social contract and self-government and controlling our own revenues and NATO and the EU and bloody corporation tax.

    It’s not about that. It’s about, I’m Scottish and I’m black ashamed that my country isn’t a country. This is going to be a very big thing for a lot of people by September.

  8. I came back to Scotland in 2007 after 10 years with Guinness (Diageo) and 2 years running my own successful business to look after my mum who had
    developed Dementia/Alzheimers. She died in 2010 but I have still not found
    any ‘real’, permanent work. I wrote and published a Scottish fictional historical novel myself as no Scottish publisher was interested (I’m not a footballer); some London ones were. I think the gap in my CV is too large now even though I also did a part-time HNC in Counselling (‘A’ pass) and done voluntary work for over 4 years.

    I digress, I would not change a thing as this opportunity is one I would never
    want to miss. I believe just the confidence we will gain at being a nation again will rub off on so many people that things can only get better. I know I will feel invigorated by independence and forget the fact I can only afford to eat 3 times a week. I believe the process of reversing the dehumanisation of the poor, weak, ill, disabled and unemployed will start the day after a referendum YES vote.

    Thanks to people like you Derek, your contributors and sites like
    Wings, Newsnet, and Bella people like me have some hope to cling
    on to.

  9. Interesting to compare Dereks considered blog entries with the frothing “SNP bad” hate fest to be found on Tom Mortons Facebook page. 🙂

  10. Just think, Derek, you can look forward to becoming a grand old man of Scottish broadcasting when we are independent! You will be batting away the invitations to contribute.

  11. I think you are doing a great job and share your work through Twitter and Facebook. Share your enjoyment of Burgundy although where I live, I am surrounded by excellent alternatives. I am happy to contribute to the cause as I have done in a modest way with the Rev. S and others but don’t wish to sign away a monthly mayment. Tell me where I can contribute through an email if you want.
    Keep going strong.

  12. Derek, the prospect of a wine club with no wine os too good to miss so I have subscribed with my PayPal account. Didn’t ask for any more info so am I right in thinking you pick up the address from my account details.

  13. My big moment came when, at the age of 5 and beginning to learn to read, I noticed the words HOME RULE printed in huge white letters on rocks at the roadside near Oban. I was fascinated and asked my mother what it meant but couldn’t understand why we DIDN’T rule our own country. And asking the usual question put by that age group, ” Why?” was told that that was a long story. So I had to wait till I could read the history of Scotland for myself.

    So, Derek, I’m with you and my great wish is to live my old-age in our independent Scotland.

    • I remember that. Back in the late 60’s/very early ’70’s we holidayed at Tralee Bay north of Oban and regularly went into Oban. We emigrated to NZ in ’72 when I was six. A few years ago the eldest had a job on the shores of Loch Awe and so we found ourselves in Oban and I had the strongest sense of recognition driving from the bridge down towards the town. The reaction was so strong I nearly had to ask my wife to drive.

      I remember quizzing my parents on it as well and receiving much the same response.

  14. Somehow I failed to explore John Robertson’s allusion to the ” Propaganda Model ” when he was on telly.

    Look it up on Wiki – it and Craig Murray usefully explain the potential for social engineering in a so called democracy

    • For an excellent piece on “Propaganda model” look at the interview by Andrew Marr with Noam Chomsky on youtube. Fascinating interview and you get to see Andrew Marr squirm.

  15. Your posts on these themes are top-notch Derek. I wholeheartedly agree that, come September, and people are asking themselves, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, they’re going to think, ‘Aye it should. Course it bloody well should.’ And they’re going to go into the booth and vote Yes.

    We will win this.

  16. If the Yes campaign started to concentrate on the emotional side of the independence argument you can be sure the unionist media would wallow in accusations of Braveheart mindlessness.
    I think Yes supporters know this and are keeping a cool head. It could be the reason why non-VIP tickets for the Bannockburn anniversary have been slow to sell? Canny.

  17. I have always said that the Independence Referendum is about the heart. That is why the sneers, fears and smears are having a marginal effect on the people in Scotland. That shows that money hardly matters. And on the day I believe most people will put a X in the YES box regardless of how they might have felt the day before.

    PS Derek. If you need money come right out and ask for contributions. Many will be willing to make a donation.

    • Derick fae Yell

      I would second that.

      A body has to live and I suspect a crowdfunder would comfortably pay your wages until September. You’d get a tenner fae me!

  18. Have just read your Wines of Burgundy Wine Club blog. And I am willing to contribute but NOT on a monthly sub basis. Give me a method to pay a lump sum and I will.

  19. Another great blog Derek and I fully appreciate and agree with your comparisons with apartheid and the removal of the Berlin Wall when considering the decision that is currently in our hands. I am a retired guy, married for 40 years, never had kids so am very comfortably off in health and financial terms. However I am passionate about leaving a fairer, democratic and self governed Scotland when I eventually turn my toes up. I just can not understand how those who have so much more to gain for their existing and future extended families, are not as
    passionate. So please let’s keep up the dripping tap treatment…..I firmly believe that we can make this happen.

  20. Great article as per usual:

    I so admire your ‘coming out’ of a BBC closet as it were; more to follow one hopes and if we win (and I think we look like we’re going to win) thena new BBC Scotland will need people such as yourself, so you may find yourself in SBC.

    I do enjoy your work and share them because the quality and voice are always there.

    I am an identity nationalist first and a socialist second whereas others are socialists first and nationalists second. Both mindsets have learned and are the better for it. It is interesting that the longer the ‘socialists first’ group pursue indy the more attached to their identity they become. In any case, our new Scotland will need identity nationalists and socialists working hand in hand and think that will turn out just fine.

  21. Yeh, why no Facebook page Derek?

  22. Btw : people like me, willing to give a donation but not subscribe require a donation button.

  23. I’m like James Coleman, give details where one-off donations can be sent and I’ll help. I’m living on a small pension and not in a position to take on standing orders. Once I’ve bought my Bordeaux, I’ll be happy to send you the change.

  24. Derek,

    Love your blog and really believe you are having/will continue to have a really positive impact on the Yes campaign. And well done for speaking out bravely.

    Perhaps you should consider a funding along the lines of what WOS did just a few weeks ago.

    I would be delighted to make a (small) contribution, and then I could raise a glass to YOU!

  25. Ach, it’s only for six months. Derek ain’t getting a penny on 24th September! And I like his style.

    It occurs to me that my monthly disposable income is going to start looking rather healthier in October, once I’ve cancelled all these standing orders to Yes Scotland and the SNP referendum fund and various other hangers-on. Just get us past that line, and it’s money well spent.

  26. Hi Derek – love the blog content – but the new layout looks terrible on a mobile phone!

  27. It’s a lot better on IE7 which is what I’m stuck with at work though!

  28. Anywhere you go round the world this debate about Scotland’s self-determination will be getting viewed rather curiously.
    “Why wouldn’t you want to be independent?”
    “Why would you let another country make your decisions for you?”
    Let’s face it, for those following head & heart, it’s a no-brainer!
    Imagine the enormous boost to the national psyche that’ll come on 19th Sept following a Yes vote? I can’t wait!
    You’re doing a grand job Derek. Keep up your great work!

  29. Murray McCallum

    I rarely consume alcohol and am therefore delighted to feel a part of something by driving Derek to drink.

  30. We are fortunate to be the generation which can make such a difference to the future of our country.
    As Wordsworth said “Bliss was it in that hour to be alive, and to be young was very heaven”
    Wish I was young, though !

    • “. . . but to me being alive at this time and being part of the rebirth of the Scottish nation . . ”
      That’ll do.

  31. I’d love to join the club Derek, if you’ll have me. But I ain’t touching the scourge that is paypal; much easier to set up a monthly transfer with internet banking if you can provide the details (by email)

  32. Talk about missing persons what happened to Ewan Crawford who used to be on the radio occasionally?

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