Are We There Yet?

Back home again in Glasgow – the Wheelie Bin of Culture, the Dipstick of Style. The assault of Hate on Arran is successfully completed and I see the Saltire is flying from Brodick Castle which I think means I’ve converted the entire island.


At least the five-year-old came home with an Arran Yes badge along with her bag of seashells. So much of this trip was a success – the super fast road network down the M77 and along the A71 and A78 to Ardrossan, the smart ferry terminal, the fantastic voyage on the Caledonian Isles, a modern high school at Lamlash, the very good value hotel apartment, a beautiful golf club at Shishkine – that I was proud of Scotland and even wondered if we needed independence after all…I mean Lewis Macdonald opened the ferry terminal and Brian Wilson the Arran Aromatics factory. There’s no end of success under the Union.


I think every holiday should start with a Calmac ferry – it’s so much better than a plane on the runway. The red funnel, the cars disappearing into the belly of the ship, sitting on deck watching the gulls wheel and the islands slip by. We even passed the Waverley gliding elegantly downstream, propelled by the giant paddles invisible below the waterline like a swan.


We didn’t wear a coat all weekend and since it’s one hour in the car and one by boat, it’s about the same travel time as Loch Tay when we go to Perthshire.

OK. I have to stop. My seven-year-old just said this is like a school essay ‘Where I went on my holidays’. There’s no fury, no edge and no analysis…get on with it.

Well, I’m making Arran my last public event for at least a month. I can’t keep doing this at my age. I have the blog, internet radio and two kids on summer vacation and a wine habit to keep up. It’s enough to handle without travelling the country as well. It has been great though to go around not just talking at people but listening and a very uplifting thing it is too. I haven’t met a single anti-English nutter and I’ve heard a lot of common sense. The characterisation of Yes people in the media and by Better Together? No Thanks is an insult to them all and a reminder that when it comes down to it they don’t care about you – their fear is the independence movement and they don’t care who they hurt to stop it.

A couple of points stood out from the Arran event for me – the tangible resentment at a misleading media and the desire for local control. The latter is a logical extension of political engagement because when you see how decisions are made and how wrong they are, your first instinct is to want to do it yourself. It’s healthy. Why shouldn’t the community run Arran? Why shouldn’t the community own Arran? They know what’s needed, they have its best interests at heart. A new start under independence with an on-going Scotland-wide Yes movement keeping pressure on the Edinburgh government offers the best chance to achieve it. There were examples at Lamlash of people who have never been what they term political but who have been drawn out -called out – by the cause and the desire for improvement and they aren’t going to retreat after September. They are the heroes of the campaign and one of them drove me to Blackwaterfoot.

I’m afraid the BBC came in for criticism as always and it’s a trickier subject than pensions and nuclear deterrence for me to explain. I don’t agree with those who say you should shut up and accept the service you are given by the national broadcaster. You can’t opt out of demonstrating in case your opponent tries to turn it against you. They turn everything against you. Since when did silence aid the debate? In fact when I saw the quotes from Jim Murphy I realised that it backfires against him. A Labour politician accusing peaceful demonstrators of bullying the media? Does he mean like Paul Sinclair in Johann Lamont’s office demanding the Head of News at BBC Scotland balances his coverage? Sinclair who called the First Minister ‘an arse’?

Or does he mean Labour spin doctor John McTernan, as nasty an online troll as there is in the entire campaign north and south and whose vile behaviour to journalists in Australia is the stuff of legend?

Or is Jim referring to Alastair Campbell, the bully of them all, whom many suspect of helping to harass a man to his death? Campbell, who pursued and berated journalists and bullied the media, who started a war with the BBC after Gilligan and concocted false claims on Iraq which misled MPs?

Perhaps it’s plain old loopy Brian Wilson spitting bile against the new Scotland and likening critics to Nazis, the same Wilson who ran Labour’s spin machine in the Rebuttal Unit? Lot’s of choice there, no?

Demonstrating is what Labour used to do – when there were Labour people to demonstrate. Marching was what Labour did when they had a reason to march. Chanting was what Labour did when they had a voice to raise.

Now they whine and girn because we took their ba’ way.

And if it’s true that Yes people are angry – as we are all painted in their join-the-dots student politics project – well, Labour used to be angry too. When the Joseph Rowntree Foundation tells us today that for every £1 that low income working families have gained from increased tax allowances, they have lost £4 as a result of cuts to tax credits and child benefit, Labour should be angry. ‘For working families with children, if these cuts continue, the opportunity to reach an acceptable living standard may not improve, even as wages start rising again in real terms’, they say. Angry yet?

The report also found that ongoing cuts to tax credits have more than outweighed savings from higher tax allowances, increasing financial hardship for low-earning families with children. The report states that cuts to child benefit and tax credits have ‘created losses double the amount of tax allowance gain for working couples, and nearly four times the amount for working lone parents.’

That is only one reason why progressive Scots are angry because it used to be Labour that protected them. That pretence has gone as they admit they are wedded to Tory spending plans if elected.

What makes Labour angry today? Yes people standing up for themselves. They don’t like that.

No longer buying Labour lies. No, that’s awkward too.

Resentment at barely coherent MPs making a career at people’s expense. Oh dear, it really does make them fiz with anger that you’ve realized that most Labour backbenchers are little better than woodentops with no aspiration, no vision, no talent and no socialism.

But what really makes Labour angry is the knowledge that in a few weeks time, the whole house of cards could tumble taking with it salaries, expenses, free flights, subsidized meals, foreign travel and retirement in the Lords – the very birthright of the Labour MP-for-life.

At least our anger when it comes is reserved for a corrupted democracy, children in poverty, government waste, nuclear weapons and injustice. If that doesn’t make you angry, you might as well join the No campaign’s fellow travellers – the BNP and the Orange Order because, whether you’re a Labour voter or not, you’re no good to Scotland.

(Have a holiday in Arran instead)

Incidentally, you may have heard that Arran is just the latest in those communities ruthlessly used by Better Together? No Thanks who have refused to accept invitations to speak in what is supposed to be our great national debate. Even when someone is promised they end up pulling out at the last minute as they did before the end of the school term, denying young people a unique insight into the political process, leaving the organisers high and dry when it’s to late to find someone else. It is another deeply cynical manoeuvre in one of the most despicable episodes in modern political history – an official British campaign which can’t find speakers to defend its cause and can’t find a leader to present its case. Afraid, cynical, manipulative and anti democratic – and this is how they demonstrate Britain is best. It isn’t even in the tradition of the country they pretend to promote.

Any of you Labour voters who read here got anything to say yet? Are these campaign crooks your representatives? Proud of cheating the next generation out of hearing your arguments? Arran a bit far for you, is it? A bit scary having to stand up and make the case for the UK before your own people? You can hear the chickens clucking in the background as Scotland’s Labour Party members who boast of Keir Hardie run in the other direction. As you’ll see from the Ewan Hunter post alongside, Jim Murphy told him he’s a Socialist. Is Jim your kind of Socialist? Pro nuclear weapons, pro benefits cap, for Tory austerity, against restoring the cuts…that’s what Socialism is to your own leadership – a total sell-out and I don’t believe a single Labour voter intelligent enough to read on this blog doesn’t know that perfectly well. Get some guts and go public. At least express concern at the level and tone of your campaign. Ask where the progressive agenda is and the vision for a deserted working class. It doesn’t matter what your politics are if you don’t have self respect.




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39 thoughts on “Are We There Yet?

  1. Derek Cameron( no relation )

    A challenge to all of left of centre tendencies still hiding in the new labour bunker. A great piece of work.

  2. I’ll add another case of Labour bullying. Last May at a debate in Adam Smith College, Lindsay Roy phoned the temporary head of college and demanded Claire Baker be put on panel,citing unbalance of panel…there was Will Rennie, Murdo Fraser, Allan Grogan and Alyn Smith. Roy said if the head didn’t put Baker on he would go to the press. Baker and Roy was worried that Allan Grogan would get through to Labour voters and join Labour for Independence.

  3. Sorry, left out Lesley Riddoch on panel as well.

  4. Two Labour members are walking in the park. They pause at an old tree which has worms and grubs teeming in a wound in its trunk.

    1st Lab (pointing): The Tories say that we’re like that.
    2nd Lab: Aye, those were the days.

  5. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Arran, Derek. The talk and discussion on Friday night was brilliant – much appreciated. There was an Arran contingent at the BBC protest yesterday, but again we get minimal coverage on the BBC, together with lies about numbers at Pacific Quay, Stirling and Bannockburn. Can’t anyone in the BBC count?

  6. Excellent article as always Derek I look forward to yuor blogs,they hit the spot.

  7. If that’s you out of live events for at least a month, I’m damn glad we got you to West Linton when we did. Much appreciated.

  8. My favourite Labour chant on demos was, “Che Guevara, Che Guevara, Che Guevara Che”.
    (repeat and wave clenches fist, with broon envelope).

    Talk about larf? I nearly swallied mah Cooncillors Cuban cigar.

  9. labour will never be forgiven for the lies and scares.

    They will never be forgiven for siding with the tory/libdems

    Good riddance to the whole festering lot.

    A few more weeks Derek and WE will have the power in our own hands to vote for the parties WE want.

    And not a drop of sympathy for any of them.

    Come on Scotland , it’s time to wake up.

    More Radio broadcasts Derek please. Better than anything on offer these days by a country mile. Loved the style allowing your guests to speak even when they go off topic. The interview with Mr Salmond was brilliant. MORE please.

  10. Robert Graham

    good blog don’t you sit on the fence now say what you mean and catch your breath auld yin ha ha all the best a fan

  11. It’s good that people are angry and that their anger is channelled into persuading folk of the necessity for a Yes vote in September, for it’s only with indy that we have the opportunity for real change.

  12. An excellent Blog and one thing I agree with which is regardless of what happens in September Politics and politicians will have no easy ride from now on. Labour better pick better candidates, and even then I doubt they will get elected by other than those who have still to see the light.

  13. Representative democracy in the form of popular sovereignty scares the bejesus out of them. Imagine being responsible to the people? Imagine having to be nice to the whole breadth of society from rich to poor or face getting your jotters?

    You can see why they’re a bit nervous. They might have to work for a living. 🙂

  14. By the sounds of things Derek you deserve a break from public meetings, particularly as you have two wee ones to look after. Really good article again.

    I do wonder if poor old John McTernan is not suffering from a severe case of cognitive dissonance, after his comments on the cybernats’ supposed reign of terror, given his reputation in Australian politics for abusive tactics? I wonder how McTernan squares this with himself, or indeed if he any self awareness at all? 😀

  15. James Coleman

    “Oh dear, it really does make them fiz with anger that you’ve realized that most Labour backbenchers are little better than woodentops with no aspiration, no vision, no talent and no socialism.”

    Tis true that they have no aspirations or visions to improve the lives of their constituents. But they certainly have personal aspirations to get a seat in the pig trough of the HoL. £300 pd to sleep on the benches in their dotage.

    I do like it when you are angry.

  16. The Scottish electorate has, over the decades, given Labour more than its fair share of chances to improve the lot of Scotland, and the uk as a whole. Where are we now? With a weak Labour leader who is not seen as PM material by people in England, let alone Scotland, and who has loudly proclaimed his support for further Tory welfare cuts should Labour win the next Westminster election.
    Enough is enough. Scotland is on the verge of regaining its independence because people have grown tired of Labour’s unfulfilled promises and want a Scottish government which puts the people of Scotland first, with all the powers an independent nation needs to prosper. The Labour party is a party of spite and malignant negativity.
    The Labour party in Scotland is now seeing the result of its lackadaisical attitude towards the people of Scotland and is desperately pledging more worthless promises of further devolution. Too little, too late.
    The Labour party has only itself to blame.

  17. Excellent article – Project Fear predicated not on our putative worst fears but the establisment’s fear of loss of the economic benefits of the Union (for all they call us Subsidy Junkies) and the SLP’s fear of loss of the haggis train, perhaps even English MP’s gravy trains. Especially even in Scotland as the New Slate, Blank Canvas idea grows in popularity, to be writiten in the ideals of Common Weal – for all of us.
    While SLP diss plans for Future Scotland without coming up with viable, workable alternatives (Kez Dugdale on the Childcare Poker game in today’s Record).

  18. My 12 year old said: (looking at your page) – Indpendence and Wine is your ideal mummy.

  19. I’m afraid the BBC came in for criticism as always and it’s a trickier subject than pensions and nuclear deterrence for me to explain. I don’t agree with those who say you should shut up and accept the service you are given by the national broadcaster.

    Over 2000 people yesterday met/partied/demonstrated with songs, poems and speeches in the sun at Pacific Quay that they don’t agree;-

    It was a good day out. BBC though were not receptive to Alex and I me using their wcs. They suggested that we might be able to make use of the Science Centre’s facilities. They were right.


  20. “an official British campaign which can’t find speakers to defend its cause and can’t find a leader to present its case”

    But George Galloway, backed by Labour MP and MSP can spout this nonsense.

    DOn’t watch if you’re easily upset.

  21. I love it when you’re angry, Derek! Great post, and check out the latest Labour candidates antics over on Wings, I used to be a member of this party, what the hell happened to them?

  22. I really liked your comment Derek “Are these campaign crooks your representatives?”

    By coincidence my conservative (with a small c!) next door neighbour said to me today that he’s finally come off the fence and decided to vote YES and added these immortal words “because its the only way to rid ourselves of all those crooks that are running the country from London”!

  23. Great article, Derek. The days when Labour protested against unfairness and injustices are long gone as are the ones where they looked out for the poor in our society. I cant see the difference any more between them and the Tories. There’s so much going on around us that we should feel angry about; so much that we should be shouting about. Sitting doing nothing wont bring about change; neither will staying in the UK.

    There was an article in the Evening Times on Saturday about a woman at Maryhill Foodbank so hungry she opened a tin of beans and starting eating them with her fingers. This really upset me and is something I just cant get out of my head. How could we have come to this? We are only one step away from bringing back workhouses. I’m bloody angry too.

    If you missed the article because you were in Arran, here’s a link to it:

  24. My first job was on the MV “Isle of Arran” the year it went into service. In winter we used to dock in Brodick overnight which was much nicer than Ardrossan. Then again we weren’t working 16 hours/day in winter either 😀

  25. Going by what I have seen on social media today, I believe that the Labour party are, and always have been, Scotland haters.

    How nice more of us are now aware of the fact, and act accordingly, if heaven forbid, there is a NO.

    God help them when they find out all the Yessers will not have gone away, added to the SNP machine, in the run up to the 2015 UK GE, we are all chapping doors and leafleting, the evidence of their treachery.

    They are finished.

  26. Throughout my childhood I listened to many Labour members (family friends) protest about injustice within our society. These people would not recognise the present Labour Party. Tony Blair and friends, with the path smoothed by A Campbell’s lies and deceit, trampled without mercy upon the high ideals held by fine, honest people.
    After independence the true Labour supporters ought to rename their party. Neither “Old Labour” nor “New Labour” will do. They need a fresh start in Scotland with the present lot dismissed. I’m sure the Labour Yes voters will insist on the removal, root and branch, of the right-wing element within their party.
    I’ll rejoice in their renewal………though I’ll still vote for AS!!

  27. Derek, please keep your chats at Bateman broadcasting ongoing if possible.

    I live down south & my (English, degree educated) mother-in-law has been curious/bemused about the whole business.

    Your broadcasts (& other carefully chosen online resources) have given her some understanding of the “Yes” position which the MSM has never provided.

    NB – by “carefully chosen” I mean some of the sites where you’re not going to see Nazi accusations unmoderated for days (sorry Guardian, you fail epically on this) or rants from “Yes” people who have sat too close to the keyboard for so long. It also excludes Wings (I crowdfunded them too) but she’s not ready for that yet. She can find it herself no doubt 🙂

    Obviously she’s not a participant in the referendum but +1 to you for doing what the BBC should be doing – informing people of the alternative point of view.

  28. Another great piece Derek, when the objective is to close down debate from the YES campaign and not fill in with information from an increasingly fetid BT/NO side, just what is left but a burst balloon. This isn’t democracy in action, this is oppression writ large.

    When the vacuum that is left is then peppered daily with mis-information, lies and barmy statistics, which go unchallenged by the news machines of the press barons and worse of all by the BBC it stinks to the high heavens.

    When the regulatory bodies which we should hope will intervene, simply fail to see misdemeanors and worse, actively collude with the bad guys, as we’ve seen with the Electoral Commission’s backward flops to help out the despicable CBI and when illegal funding that made its way into BT/NO coffers and not forced to be handed back, but is defiantly kept and remains there, we have an ongoing serious problem.

    When principled journalists such as yourself Derek have to quit your job because you can’t stand what’s been done by your employer it’s a clarion call to any decently minded operator that something is far from right, but what’s their reaction, nothing less than to slap gagging orders on?

    If an academic study with the back-up and support of the university can be spurned and attacked, as happened to the UWS, we’ve moved into perilous waters indeed where white is spun from black and nobody knows anymore, which way is up. Enough, already!

    We must vote to bring honesty back into our civic lives, it’s crystal clear. Forget the subterfuge, the smoke and mirrors, the side-issues and all else that’s put up and do the only thing to get rid of it – make it a solid YES, please!

  29. Ah the Waverley. Couple of weekends ago we were kayaking near Oban, refamiliarising ourselves with it all on a course. We were sat having lunch on an island facing the Firth of Lorne when the Waverley hove into view proceeding south. She looked lovely and your description of her being like a Swan with only the half circle either side indicating the paddles is very accurate.

    BTW it’s amazing what comes back to you after 30 years which was the last time I sat in a kayak on the sea and went travelling in it. I didn’t fall out once either, despite some nasty crosswise swell at various points.

    I expect Scotland will find itself similarly flexing remembered muscles once we are independent again. We used to do it, no reason we cannot do it again. Technology has advanced as has society. The safety devices and practices these days are remarkable and do not detract from the enjoyment.

  30. Best yet Derek.
    Thank you.


  32. Wow, now that is what I call a great blog Derek. That wee trip doon the water with all the sea breeze has obviously agreed with you.
    I have fond memories of visits to Arran including one about 45 years where my mother, unknowingly, downed a very large gin and orange on a warm summers day at the home of a local hotel owner friend. She thought it was only orange so my dad and my sisters were all affronted when she started greetin’ and then laughing before sliding under a table in the ferry cafeteria!
    Great days, especially the crowd on the pier singing “will ye no come back again”. Scotland is on its way back, keep up your sterling work.
    (My sisters will kill me for sharing this!)

  33. Excellent blog getting to the nuances of a diverse, eclectic nation, I do hope we strive to create a decentralised political future where local communities are represented by themselves over party loyalty and that a meritocracy is the order of the day.

    The will to change against the intransigence of the establishment. 126 years ago Labour were that progressive radical movement but not now they espouse the very same toxic policies and ignore the very people who loyally elect them in the hope for change but it is futile. Self interest is now the order of the day. That Labour party left long ago and aren’t coming back those with a conscience like Bell and Grogan left others like Canavan were abandoned which says the rot set in along time ago when an honest and respected figure was shown the door.

  34. Another case of BT failing to attend a public event and forcing the local YES group to cancel their information stall at the Doune & Dunblane Agriculture show next Saturday – just like the abandoned debate in Arran. The YES stall was booked several weeks ago with confirmation from the organisers with three days to go to disallow the booking because BT will not attend to provide the necessary ‘balance’
    Clearly a tactic that is a cornerstone of BT’s campaign countrywide.

  35. Simply excellent Derek. One of the most eloquent, and in my opinion, accurate critiques of the Labour Party in Scotland. They truly have lost their soul.

  36. Heather Allison

    We all really enjoyed your talk on Arran. However, you do seem to have upset the Better Together Arran group though, who now feel they are being lied about. Of course you have not, and they have been caught out on their usual tactics to silence debate and discussion. Well done!

  37. Derek, superb article and good to hear that you enjoyed your trip to Arran, but may I point out that Shiskine is the spelling for the Golf Course in Blackwaterfoot.
    I think it must be a BBC thing as one of your ex colleagues who has a holiday home on Arran pronounces it Shishkine as well 🙂

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