Slay Your Dragons

I’ve been itching to write but this is school holiday time and I’ve been on bike rides, eating ice cream in the park and watching How to Train Your Dragon (2) with popcorn and the smell of cheesy nachos.


If you want to find out why Scotland is heading through an obesity crisis get down to CineWorld. Outside every corridor of screens there is a terrifying array of lurid colours and smelly stuff without an ounce of protein to be seen with sugary drinks dispensed in cartons the size of wheelie bins and mountainous piles of warmed up edible cardboard. The family in front of me were festooned with cartons of oozy chemical and could hardly see above their giant bags of popcorn – they could have been coming out of Lidl with the weekly shop. The poor mother was some size – not so much seated in Row K, but filling Row K…

It cost just under £20 for two kids and me – and I’m a pensioner! I bought the smallest cheapest treat I could – two bags of popcorn…at £4 each. £30 to kill two hours to see a film so noisy I couldn’t even sleep as is my usual movie habit. Still, I now know how to train a dragon.

Not much fired being breathed in the debate which moves seamlessly on in its predictable pattern – scare after scare is used to terrify the voters but for those with the critical faculties to find it, each one is expertly unpicked and debunked. Prof Sionaidh Douglas-Scott’s report from Oxford University lends an unimpeachable voice to the only sane solution on the EU, the one with least hurdles for existing members and the course already laid out by the Scottish Government. Her calm exposition reads like straightforward common sense when compared to the childishly hysterical screams of alarm from Unionist MEPs and commentators who don’t know any better. Her work contrasts sharply with the Armageddon predicted by the high octane Professor Adam Tomkins, a man who does not bear contradiction with grace and whose worship of Britain warps his analysis.

The Douglas-Scott paper confirms what I was reporting on the BBC more than two years ago – that the EU lawyers have already looked at this question and reached a preliminary conclusion which will go before the Council if there is a Yes vote. There is no exclusion, no long wait, no queue to join, no new state accession, just an adjustment to treaty. And the talks on the terms will begin almost immediately (and on the rUK’s).

We have been ill served by those we expect to guide us through complex issues of public policy both in politics and academia and reputations have been damaged. The failure of the mainstream media – who didn’t pick up on my original story although it said virtually the same as the Oxford professor does today – is a major part of the disappointment. The story – a game-changer in the debate – has lain there untouched for want of a single journalist to confirm it. It is as if some subjects are just too big for our parochial newshounds to pursue as though they imagine that only proper journalists can go to Brussels, sniff around, meet a contact and get hold of something meaty. Perhaps they’re right – they aren’t up to it but I’m still puzzled because apart from the laughable propaganda sheets, we have some bloody good reporters, knowledegable ones, and unbiased products like Holyrood magazine which has for me maintained a classy standard throughout. But then who out there is reading it? Not the general public targeted by BTNT or whatever they are called now.


I heard another journalist on BBC Radio this morning – a woman – getting awfy nippy with Angus Robertson which is OK if he’s dodging a question. But he wasn’t. She sounded very indignant indeed that the British government made clear complex warships will not be built outside the rUK and it didn’t matter what a pipsqueak from the SNP said, that was that. They’ve said it so it must be true – even though they will build the second carrier on the Clyde after any Yes vote – oops! The lack of any understanding on her part was astonishing. If she was so sure of her ground, where does she think future orders will go? To which yard? Who will pay for the upgrade? Who will pay compensation to BAE Systems who are investing in a single Clyde yard? Where will the skilled workforce come from? Why has the MoD been inquiring around the globe about the costs of building warships? If the MoD is spending below the NATO norm on defence – and it’s heading that way – where is the money coming from for a massive upgrade of Portsmouth?


But that would be to engage in journalism rather than the objective which was to pity the little fellow on the line. How could he – how dare he – go against the British government?

The irony of course was that the lead story on her programme was an inquiry into how the same British government lost 114 papers dealing with named establishment paedophiles, as clear a sign that you can’t trust a word the government says as you’ll ever get.

It tells you what I’ve said all along, that inside the BBC there is a British mindset. They do challenge the government but when it’s Westminster – the home of democracy – against upstarts in Edinburgh or Cardiff, there is no contest. It’s as if we don’t have the right to challenge, that it is an affront to right-minded people…that we are forgetting our place. Defence contracts are theirs, you see, not ours. It doesn’t matter that Robertson pointed out that a significant portion of the defence budget is Scotland’s and we have a direct share in this.

It’s the same with the pound. Every BBC interviewer in London just assumes that sterling is England’s currency to do with as they like. We have been allowed to use it at their whim and if we leave we go with nothing –the Adam Tomkin’s doctrine, by the way. You simply can’t break this down with logic. They feel it, the Britnats, and it will only be after a deal is done on currency that they will look back and see it makes sense. By then their stroppy little outbursts will be forgotten.

And the level of so called journalism makes me cringe when I hear the highly dubious and unconfirmed claims that ministers intimidate businessmen being canvassed by the media. What do the same dim wits think removing contracts, closing yards, sacking workers and insulting them by making them foreigners amounts to? If that isn’t intimidation, what is? We will put up a border with guards…we will refuse to buy your electricity…we will deny you access to your currency…we will bar you from membership of NATO…each one a direct public ministerial threat to the Scots. Does our august media report it that way? Of course, not. Balance, perspective and intelligence are the last attributes we should expect.


Would a Scottish minister or ‘someone in the First Minister’s office’ – pretty pathetic that one – intimidate? Ministers are politicians so they try to win you over, convince you and get you on their side. We call that politics. Any minister worth the name will deal with business on that basis. If however he says: ‘Do this or you won’t get a grant approved’ or ‘Shut up or there will be no more work’ he crosses a line. Is there evidence of this? No. None. All C4 could come up with is a former businessman who is a pillar of Unionist Britain and you have to laugh at an organization like the Scotch Whisky Association which sells itself purely on its Scottish provenance and yet which challenges the Scottish Parliament – not simply on minimum pricing which is a trade issue and therefore fair game but on the parliament’s right to legislate…Not much pride in country there. But then half the distilleries are owned abroad anyway. If you were a marketing man you might think it looks a bit soft to say the people who make whisky which puts fire in a Scotsman’s belly are too scared to speak up in public because they’re cowed – by Fergus Ewing! Wasn’t Shona Robison also painted as a bully for asking why a professor heading a publicly funded research programme was chairing a Better Together meeting?

If you’re too scared to speak up, you shouldn’t have the vote, let alone run a company. If I was warned by a minister inappropriately, I would go public with it and let the world know. It’s the best way of scaring them off and it shows you have a modicum of fibre in you rather than the sleekit, cowering coward that seems to inhabit the world of Scottish business. If they’re worried about threats, let’s hear them stand up for Scotland the next time we’re told we’ll be denied something which is ours by right. But of course, they haven’t the guts for that either.


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37 thoughts on “Slay Your Dragons

  1. Aye same big business that didn’t want devolution. They were wrong in 1997 and are wrong again. Basically big businessmen don’t like change in case they have to do some actual work rather than sitting raking in the cash on the gravy train. Thankfully it’s us the people that will decide Scotland’s future and not 5% of the population on 3 figure salaries. These people have no ambition for their nation other than drinks at the 19th hole. This is a peoples movement and the people have had enough of the UK.

  2. Corporate interest and the UK state, t’was ever thus. Neither trustworthy apparently right up until somebody with some backbone says, eh wait now I disagree. Suddenly they become paragons of virtue and the last word in honesty.

    No, what they are is self interest writ large and its high time that folk woke up to the fact that these paragons they are so determined to keep in their highly paid, highly privileged jobs frankly don’t give a shit about them for five year periods. In fact right up until the next time their jobs are on the line.

    This time though they are really worried, because all those close connections that have been made between the corporate world and political governance are under threat and their neat little ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ arrangements are on a shooglie peg. The system itself is set for an overhaul and new management set to clean house. That management of course being a government directly accountable to the people rather than crown or parliament (the established order).

    On September 18th the Scottish electorate will have all the power, all the sovereignty, and the opportunity to kick off major change. The question is do we have the will to retain that power from the 19th onward and make those changes? Do we want to show these sharks and parasites the door and make something better?

    Well do we?

  3. The way forward it to write the positive: what we are, what we aspire to, and for the Politicians, how we get there.
    The issue is how to make these voices, not more authentic, but as authoritative as the now demonstrably lazy BBC.
    I say a picture this week on Twitter (I know). Flowers for every UK citizen who had died within six weeks of returning to work at ATOS’ insistence.

    It has been 100 years since Shinwell and Maxton; it has been getting close to two hundred years since the Chartists. These facts gob-smack. How little we have progressed other than to build blow the shit out of everything white elephants.

    • Ian Brotherhood

      Rosa Alba,

      Just to say, have been seeing your comments here and there and very much like the way you say what you do.


  4. Turns out oor Gavin Hewitt isn’t just a ‘captain of industry’ after all:

    “Formerly Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Belgium (2001 – 2003), HM Ambassador to Finland (1997 – 2000) and HM Ambassador to Croatia (1994 – 1997), Gavin started his professional career at the Ministry of Transport in 1967, where among other projects he worked on the early stages of the Channel Tunnel.

    He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1970 as a member of the British Negotiating Team in Brussels for the United Kingdom’s accession to the European Communities (1970-1972).

    During his earlier Diplomatic Service career, he also served overseas at Canberra (First Secretary, 1973-1978), Belgrade (First Secretary and Head of Chancery, 1981-1984), and Geneva at the UK Mission to the United Nations (Deputy Permanent Representative, 1987-1992) where he supervised the UK’s relationship with all the Geneva based UN Specialised Agencies and the Humanitarian organisations.

    At the FCO in London, Gavin Hewitt worked in Western European Department (1972-1973) and as Deputy Head of Personnel Policy Department (1978-1981).

    As Head of South East Asia Department (1992-1994) he was principally involved with the UN Cambodia Peace Plan and the settlement of the Vietnam Boat People problem in Hong Kong and the region as well as bilateral relations with the 10 countries of the area, including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

    – See more at:–training/glasgow-talks/panel-completed-for-glasgow-talks-whisky.aspx#sthash.uTga66Lq.dpuf–training/glasgow-talks/panel-completed-for-glasgow-talks-whisky.aspx

    He’s Westminster’s man on the inside of the industsry…..and he’s telling porkies.

    • Therefore he is just another in an extremely long line of the ‘establishment’ (small ‘e’ is deliberate) telling ‘porkies’?

    • Excellent! This is why I love these sites. I was going to try to look into Hewitt’s background and then I find some one had already done so! Thanks for the info and links. If supports my suspicions.

      Our dysfunctional media should be looking behind these public statements and considering the background of the people who make them since in most cases it gives you some insight into their true motivation. Instead we have to rely on Yes supporters being their own journalists and doing the research.

  5. Thank God for the internet and sites like this one.
    Traditional media outlets in Scotland will never be trusted again.

  6. Some people on W o S were worried that the Scotch whisky industry could up sticks and move elsewhere.

    They are already doing that by investing in other spirits and other whiskies made in foreign lands.

    The word Scotch is effectively an national industry trademark, protected by Act of Parliament, at the moment Westminster, and accorded within the EU an Appelation Controlee.

    The Act of Parliament, modified and nuanced over the years defines the production of Scotch whisky. Actually Scotch is not produced but at distillation it is termed Plain British Spirit and only by being matured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years it becomes entitled to be called Scotch. The EU definition of whisky is a straight copy of the Scotch whisky acts minus the maturation in Scotland bit, although it too must be matyed also in casks of oak for three years.

    Thus the man in the photo, Vijay Mallya owns the biggest “whisky” brand in the world, called Bagpiper, with a Seikh playing the bagpipes on the label. It is made from molasses and couloured y molasses. This could not be sold in the EU or in N America as whisky.

    Post independence a fully expect Holyrood to of

    1) Take control the Scotch Whisky Acts

    2) Change the definition to include being bottled in Scotland. It can be bottled anywhere, believe it or not.

    I would also expect that the Scottish Government would examine the profit flow from exported Scotch and shut any off-shore siphoning being carried out.

    I wonder if the bleatings to Robert Peston about bullying by the Scottish Government is more about minimum pricing and tax tightening post a Yes vote.

    A case of getting your retaliation in first.

    • i do hope that the Scottish Government have all those things you mentioned in relation to whisky. Bad enough over the years of Union that we have watched industry after industry sold off to every Tom Dick and Harriet. I believe we actually have a Scottish Owner of Edradour in Andrew Symington, it belonged to the Grants at one time, otherwise they are nearly all owned by multi nationals who do not give a toss about the people they employ.

    • I’m sure I saw something about the SNP wanting to cajole/persuade the head offices of the big alcohol firms to come back to Scotland with various tax measures as carrot and stick.

      So add that one to your list and remember that the head honchos don’t fancy swapping Edinburgh or, shudder!, Glasgow instead of the filthiest city on the planet (Guardian this morning).

  7. Workhouses replaced by office factories…nothing has changed! We are all slaves.

  8. The article is so true….. the comments after are also spot on…. but will it fly further than the converted?…. which is the real problem…. if the people were educated by these truths then I am sure Scotland would be a light in a darkening world… meanwhile…. the stupidities that announced via a blurb on the bbc….. that a statue of Mahatma Ghandi would be erected in parliament square…”” it represents a symbol of someone who spoke out for democracy and what better place than ‘outside’ the mother of parliaments…”” What a lot of pretentious crap…

  9. Great article Derek. Been quite a revealing last few days in terms of expert opinion regarding Scottish independence.

    Prof Sir Donald Mackay’s critique of the OBR/UK Government’s oil revenue projections was as damning as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the president of European Commission saying Scotland could access the EU fund for scientific research was reassuring

    Where is Alistair “two billion barrels” Darling on all this? We need answers!

  10. Alastair is probably raiding Bob Munkhouse’s joke book at present for his next one liner!

  11. Thank goodness you heard Angus Robertson as well this morning. I was getting quite angry, both at her and I am sorry to say at Angus. I felt that he wasn’t making the point strongly enough, then I remembered where it was, the BBC and such as it is I would not have put it past them to have “edited it”.
    Between now and September we all have to be on our guard with what we hear and what we believe, if we leave it to our not so believable media we would end up thinking it will be the end of the world on the 19th September instead of the beginning of a new one.

  12. Very strange corporate strategy by Grants. They say they value access to the vast EU market for their products, but throw their lot in with BTNT (NTBT?) which almost certainly risks exit from Europe when the Cameron/ Farage coalition puts the referendum to rUK in 2017, by which time iScotland will be roaring ahead with it’s outward looking strategy.

  13. Great article Derek and the broadcasts are superb.

    Maybe after a yes vote we can bring the whisky back to Scotland as Ireland done with Guinness.

    And I’m sure these buggers are taking the Scottish Govt to court over minimum pricing.

  14. Great article, thoroughly enjoyed

  15. A large number of politicians, journalists and business leaders are making fools of themselves. They have lost our trust through their lies and manipulation of the truth. Some day their actions will rebound on them, though I presume most don’t give that possibility a second thought as they are too focussed on angling for an ermine robe.

  16. Ah yes, jingsandthings, the soft yet persuasive call of the ermine. How irresistible it seems to be to so many.

    Excellent article as usual, Derek, full of pith and moment. I do wonder if some of these blustering oafs (and I include female BBC presenters who bark the Westminster line in that too) ever realise quite how transparent they are to anyone who has a good grip on the facts and can tell a hawk from a handsaw whichever way the wind’s blowing. Maybe it’s that persistent stereotype that caricatures independence-minded Scots as rebellious and unherdable, but the outraged tones of so many unionists suggest that we are indeed “getting above our station”. That attitude has served the royals and the aristocracy well and keeps biddable minions in their place of course, so it’s copied by anyone who doesn’t have any arguments against independence because they’ve nothing else to throw at us.

    Sticks and stones. Is it September yet? 🙂

  17. A long time ago, before The Parliament was re-opened I remember the head of the Scottish Whisky Association state that they had to be based in London as that was the centre of power. A product that is uniquely Scottish and every major distillery is owned by a foreign company headquartered in a foreign country and the majority of the revenue is claimed as being produced in London.
    The biggest single tangible UK export is whisky. Take that from the trade deficit and see what happens to the value of the pound and the credit rating.

    Remember that Scotland is full of warehouses stuffed with money in the form of Hundreds of Billions of pounds worth of liquid Gold.

    • Arthur Morrison

      About £60 billions worth in duty in bond I have heard. All of which reverts to an independent Scotland. Hardly ever mentioned or understood but its important to get this point across to NO voters. Scotland is an extremely rich country and independence is in no way a risk. Quite the reverse.

    • Peter is is very valuable but be careful as about 80% of the price of a bottle is tax, duty and vat (Vat is actually charged on the duty!!! a tax on a tax!!!) it is tax free within the bonded warehouse system and as most production is exported from English ports, therefor an English export statistic, the value of the export is only the duty and VAT free element. Still substantial but

  18. […] state would accede to the EU without too much difficulty. If it weren’t for the inestimable Derek Bateman I would have misssed this one […]

  19. Robert Peffers

    A wee keek at the list of Better Together and YES campaign cash contributions, along with an understanding of the old saw, “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, highlights exactly what the referendum really is about.

    The strings operating Alistair Darlings blinking eyes and exaggerated hand signals lead right back to the Parliament of England at Westminster, English aristocracy, mainly English big business and the Orange Order. YES funding and footsoldiers are almost 100% one and the same ordinary Scots.

    This British/English Establishment are attempting to pull the wool over both the, perfectly decent and reasonable ordinary folks, of both Scotland & England. The real enemy is without doubt, “The British/English Establishment”. The ones who, throughout this latest financial crisis, have continued to increase their wealth by subjecting the rest of us to austerity. So the money they donate to Better Together is gathered from those who most certainly are NOT Better Together.

    Now consider the one-man play about Independence by the Scottish star of stage & screen, David Hyman. This play has been banned in several local council controlled theatres. Need anyone enquire the make up of those councils imposing bans? Ask them this question and see them wriggle, “What are you frightened of by David Hyman’s play”?

    • “We’ve got God on our side.” – Tory strategist Lynton Crosby, as quoted in the Telegraph’s Mandrake diary column today.

      Yeah and a straitjacket at the other side

    • Is this David Hayman by any chance? Didn’t know about this. Any links for more information on the banning – and the play, of course? Sounds interesting…..

  20. Not sure how many people actually read the Douglas-Scott paper, but a bit on there’s a fascinating insight on how difficult it would be for the EU to do anything other than create a simple pathway for an iScotland.

    The issue is on Citizenship, a founding ethos of the EU and its predecessors. Turns out we are citizens as individuals and also as residents of a member State. The former might even have precedence over the latter, therefore if Scotland left the EU we would necessarily continue as Citizens individually. How’s that for a mind bender ?

  21. Can’t understand why I didn’t get an email alerting me to this and Derek’s latest posts. Anyway, got this one through The Wee Ginger Dug – and it’s excellent, as usual.

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