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 http://gallery.mailchimp.com/3d8f589fda4fb7526a70254d4/files/e3c82843-2a9f-41af-a4e3-de3eeec55737.pdf 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.