Gimme A Break


dhm1169I’m flitting from meeting to show from interview to talk from Glasgow to Edinburgh and back this week and have something on every day and sometimes two things…I’m rescheduling because of overlap.

And on top of all that I’ve just heard from Ian Wood that there’s only 35 years of oil left…35 years! What are we going to do? And according to John Birt we won’t be able to watch Strictly while the oil dwindles…excuse me while I reach for the Kleenex.

The result of all this activity is that I have a backlog of stuff I want to write about but can’t possibly fit it all in so I’m offering a smorgasbord of savouries instead, starting with this little item from Catrin Dafydd who is a novelist, poet, dramatist and performer in both English and Welsh. She recorded this work as an act of solidarity and I think it captures the element we must never forget – that while No has industrialists, bosses, mandarins, bankers, landowners and lords, we have the people. I had an exchange with Catrin to thank her. See what you think here.

For more content, turn to We currently have the rather interesting Mathew Lygate, the social entrepreneur featured. He took a fascinating trip from the north of Shetland to the Lowlands, sampling Scottish opinion along the way. Maurice Smith caught up with him at Kelvingrove to find out about his Referendum Journey. It’s here.

And we’ll soon have on site my interview with Phillipa Whitford who’s made such an impression with her analysis of the state of the NHS. She’s a redoubtable woman – and  she wields a scalpel – but I still challenge her on the case that privatisation in England means lower health budgets in Scotland. See what you think when it’s posted, probably tomorrow. I think I want her on my side.

Meanwhile here at home one of the great battles (weren’t they all great?) is the subject of a campaign for proper recognition. We sing about the Battle of Stirling Bridge at Selkirk Common Riding.

‘It shall not be,’ brave Wallace cried.

‘It shall not be,’ his chiefs replied.

By the name our fathers gave her

Our steel shall drink the crimson stream

We’ll all her ancient rights redeem

Our own broadswords shall save her.

Yes, we like a gentle melody in Selkirk. ‘They’ by the way, are our English friends. If they think we will forget what happened at Flodden, they’re wrong so we sing of Stirling Brig in retaliation. You can’t say we’re petty.


The site of the battle is not marked properly despite its importance in our history and a project backed by Tom Devine wants to rectify that. Get details here and see how you can help.

Another of our leading historians, Dauvit Broun of Glasgow University is a key figure too. Incidentally, I bumped into Sir Tom in St Andrews Square this week while I was hobnobbing with the arty types in the All Back to Bowie’s yurt (that’s a tent to you and me). I told him he was a chancer for waiting until he’d been knighted before declaring for Yes!

As the media exults in Ian Wood’s U-turn on oil reserves, have a scan at this report from N-56.

They say: Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast of £57 billion of oil and gas revenues by 2040, well below industry forecasts

·         If the recommendations from the Review of North Sea activity by Sir Ian Wood (Wood Review) and by N-56 are implemented, oil and gas revenues as high as £365 billion by 2040 (more than 6 times the OBR figure of £57 billion)

·         OBR forecasting production of less than 10 billion barrels of oil and gas, industry experts such as Oil and Gas UK put recoverable oil and gas reserves at somewhere between 15 and 24 billion barrels

·          Instead of public sector deficits Scotland’s public finances could be comfortably in surplus by as much as 7% of GDP by 2020 (more than £12 billion per annum) with surpluses of £9 billion to £11 billion per year in the 2020s and £5 billion per year in the 2030s

·         While Scotland would have a surplus, UK will have a public sector deficit in the 2020s and 2030s

·         Potential to establish an oil fund – at a modest 3.2% real interest rate if all surpluses were invested in such a fund it could grow to more than £300 billion (in today’s prices) by the end of the 2030s.

In other words, keep some perspective. Wood timed his reversal of how many barrels to coincide with this declaration of support for the British state over Scotland. Another Proud Scot bites the dust. I don’t suppose his plans to move into fracking – which is getting a lukewarm Scottish government reaction – could have influenced his decision?

Also there’s a very good report here from the government website which is the result of the unions and others including Jim Mather looking at ways of enhancing workplace activities and cooperation to bring up productivity and improve the economy.

And, before I dash off to interview Crawford Beveridge, I have spoken at two events this week, the Fringe and the Saltire Society about the Scottish media and I sense a strong theme running that after September if the mainstream thinks it will be back to business as usual for them, they could be in for a shock. There is an unforgiving mood among even moderate Scots at the dismal and often partisan coverage of the referendum and the talk is of cancelled subscriptions (and licence fees).

As an example, we’ve been told through our media friends how much money it will cost us to stand on our own two feet. I think the last one I saw was £3000 a year from that giant of politics Alastair Carmichael. Well there was a news conference yesterday  in Sauchiehall Street where a line-up of experts showed how Scotland could save billions by changing its defence priorities and at the same time making us safer. Not a single one of our proud journalists turned up. Do you imagine they would have stayed away if Better Together had wheeled out a half-dead ex general to say the opposite? No chance.



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39 thoughts on “Gimme A Break

  1. Wow! Retired?

    Jeez, what was it like when you were working? 😀

    So much to choose from but we’ll go with two. Ian Woods near complete reversal on his own report of last year. Basically, who knew? One tale for HMG, the city and the share holders, another for the people of Scotland. There’s a name for that, but moderation forbids. 🙂

    Bollocks! The man’s a two faced proudscot©BT.

    Next up, the meeja. No we won’t forget, not ever. What the media have done over the space of this campaign in collusion with HMG and BT is nothing short of appalling. They have willingly participated in the premeditated spreading of misrepresentation, demonisation, fear, uncertainty and mistrust. This has directly impacted upon a not insignificant number of the Scottish electorate. They have neither brought challenge or pressure to bear equally against both sides of this debate and have acted this way across the board through both broadcast and print media. The social damage this has caused may take years to heal, if ever and it has been done not out of some ideological belief, but out of naked self interest.

    Bottom line? They have lost our trust and I sincerely doubt many will lift a hand to support their failing industries. Why should we?

    • Aye Macart. This one from the City.
      “We think that Westminster has been deliberately downplaying the potential of the UK Continental
      Shelf (UKCS) ahead of September’s referendumon on Scottish independence”

    • Brilliant work Derek. Retired indeed ?

      Can’t wait for the broadcast.

      Macart spot on as usual. I wanted to chuck a wee rant in about the MSM and how they have failed the Scots, but your words speak for me. Job Done.

      I don’t give the BBC a penny and will contest any fines coming my way by showing numerous examples of state propaganda. ( VoteNoBorders grassroots campaign dor starters)

      Don’t pay the license . If we all stop that would get the message through.

      Stop now.

      P.S The Northern Irish don’t bloody pay a penny license fee FACT.

      • Looking forward to an independent broadcasting corporation personally Yesguy. Frankly my contribution to the constitution would be a state ban on Strictly come dancing and the Great British bake off. 😀

      • Is it not the job of the media, and the public, to scrutinise as closely as possible the claims of the yes campaign? Any party that wants to change the status quo must accept the burden of proving their case. I fail to see how the media scrutinising that case is “failing scots”.

        • Steve Asaneilean

          But EH BT?NT are offering change if we vote know (even if they can’t actually tell us what that change will be). So they too should be thoroughly scrutinised – but aren’t.
          In those circumstances the chant of “what’s your plan B?” works both ways surely?

          • Steve Asaneilean

            Damn -half 8 on a Saturday is too early for me – should have read “if we vote No” -eejit that I am 🙂

  2. I have not bought any MSM news papers for the last six months and I used to buy at least 4 times per week. The only papers I buy now are the ‘Sunday Herald’, ‘The Independent’ and ‘The Morning Star’. I’m not a communist I hasten to add but I refuse to buy any paper which lacks integrity. MSM newspapers have lost all integrity and I will never buy another such paper again. I don’t care what they do or how cheap they become. I would not read them even if they were free, like the Metro. Who do their owners think they are? Do they think us sheep, with the memory of goldfish? Do they think they are ENTITLED to our purchases as if we have no choice? Just as the Scottish Labour Party have discovered that they cannot take their support for granted any longer, the MSM editors are in for a BIG shock, when their sales fall off a fiscal cliff; no matter the outcome of the Referendum. The scales have been removed from our eyes. I do miss a read in the morning but my habits have been changed to instead of buying a paper to reading Mr bateman’s blogs, together with Newsnet, Bellacaledonia, Wings Over Scotland etc. etc. WE are going to win this.

    • Financial Times worth reading too, to find out what the financial establishment really think.

      Met with developers representatives yesterday considering making a major construction investment in Edinburgh, (many of the investors from the Middle East) and asked if the referendum had appeared on their clients’ radar, and if so, did the result bother them. And they said no, business as usual either way.

    • Until very recently I was buying the Morning Star once or twice a week until they had a big article on how useless Scotland would be if we choose Independence. I now no longer care if the ‘Star’ is lost under the bi-weekly sports and motors mags, all the better far as I am concerned. Last watched tv about 6 years ago, plenty to watch on sites like Open Culture for free etc.

  3. Fantastic Derek. The fracking issue has far more to go. I have been musing over whether Jim Ratcliffe’s acquisition this week of a PEDL licence from Westminster was defensive? I know he has been looking into shale oil extraction in England where they say there are bigger reserves. I wonder if he had any real plans to extract gas underneath his Grangemouth plant or whether he just wanted to stop somebody else from doing so?

    Interesting pointers raised in Liverpool Echo.

  4. Have to agree on the media. I’ve kept my license so far, in order to legally watch the debate next week, but that’ll be farewell forever to the BBC for me. I’ll not call it a loss – like Labour, I didn’t even get a chance to leave them. They left me. I’ve not only better things to do with my money than pay to be propagandized at, I’ve better things to do with my brain.

    What’s really surprised me is that I’ve also lost all respect for the WHFP. Whatever their editorial position (and I think we all know who sets that) I expected some locally-relevant analysis of the practical implications of both outcomes. There’s been none – and once you start blaming Central Belt voters for loss of the USO, there’s no coming back from that level of partisan spin.

    • Steve Asaneilean

      You’re right about the WHFP – all the things they claim to stand for that are the bread and butter case for Yes – equality, redistribution, land reform, local democracy, public service – seem to hsve gone out the window of expediency. I stopped reading it 3 months ago and I shan’t return. They have let me and the rest of the West Highlands and Islands down badly no more so when they give a free hand to BW to express his weekly dose of negativity and bile.

  5. Poll tax was implemented in 1989. That was almost 25 years ago! The loathing for the Tories is still strong and getting stronger on a daily basis. The Lib-Dems and Labour are busily tarnishing themselves with the Tory brush which Cameron suckered them into accepting.

    Does the Meeja really think we will forgive and forget? Surely they jest!

  6. I forgot to add that in the event of a NO vote, real or connived, anything smacking of retribution will multiply that loathing tenfold instantly.

  7. Margaret Curran has finally lived up to my very, very low expectations of her. She says that Scotland would only be able to produce White Heather Club TV if it left what she calls “the BBC family.” Sounds like desperation talking Margaret or you really think so low of your country’s talent. Too wee, too poor should be her mantra.

    • Too wee, too poor and too stupid.

      Add, a disgrace, an embarrassment and at times disgusting

      and you have an adequate description of Margaret Curran.

      With Scots like her, who needs the Tories and UKIP ?

      Have a nice day, Margaret.

  8. Saw the Keiser Report the other night on fracking. They reckon it is the next big bubble, being pushed by Wall Street for the up front fees.

    Lots of people jump on the bandwagon, drill furiously for a short while, the returns are minuscule, the companies go bust, they walk away leaving devastation, the smart money has got out long ago, the state has to clean up the mess.

    Another “capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich” paradigm. As in the US, so in the UK. Vote YES to have nothing to do with this.

  9. My feeling is that the media has gone too far to be easily forgiven, whatever the vote outcome. I only listen to radio in the car and opt for relatively news-free relaxation. So it’s Classic FM. Television is being watched less and less, even with an increasing number of channels there is little on offer but repeats of repeats of…

    Computers and tablets are in use more. Online headlines are flicked through but the stories of interest read elsewhere — either on the website of the source of the story, or another trusted source. With the internet finding information is not difficult, and you can then choose what to believe instead of being force-fed lies.

    I suspect, along with newspapers being in decline, that television companies, BBC included, are also in decline as providers of news and comment. Their only value now is as a source of (doubtful) entertainment which can be accessed by other means to provide us with stuff more tailored to what we want.

    The world has changed – only the political arguments of the Unionists have stayed still, mired in what they believe as a glorious past. That’s where the 1914 celebrations, Downton style, come in.

  10. if ever I accidently tune in to Reporting Shite my first reaction to any report is F*** Off.

  11. Most internet referendum sites are pro-Yes. The vast majority of newspapers are pro-union; most journalists on these unionist papers do not like being contradicted and having their mis-information exposed by people like Derek, hence their cowardice, anger and hatred towards pro-Yes sites and their users.
    Like the BBC these newspapers have sacrificed any credibility they once had by prejudiced reporting.
    Boycott the lot of them.

  12. Steve Asaneilean

    One of the tastiest smorgasbords I have seen with lots and lots to chew on. Delicious.

  13. What I want an answer to Derek is….why wasn’t the Edinburgh Trams project not designated as a UK project if we are better together?
    In terms of infrastructure projects it was no different from crossrail or sewer renewal in London which were and the Edinburgh tax payers are now stuck with the whole bill.
    Could it be that the London treasury regard us as a foreign country when it comes to income and expenditure so exempt from their normal rules?

    • That is an excellent point. The trams could have been a real ‘crossrail’ in Edinburgh, at the moment they a white elephant, they don’t even go all the way to the airport yet.

  14. Excellent point bringiton. Answer – because we are the milk cow for London’s never ending fountain of earthly delights and there’s nothing left over for our pathetic little infrastructure projects. Remember the howls of outrage at the cost of the Holyrood building, Designed by a Spanish architect! Who did we think we were? .
    What a great post Derek. It sounds as if the Indy scene is bubbling away with some zest. I find it hard to keep up with all the brilliant blogs, podcasts, ref tv, theatre etc. M Curran is somewhat culturally challenged if she thinks we can’t produce engaging radio and tv. I can’t be bothered with the MSM drivel being pumped out daily. The White Heather Club is Brechtian by comparison!

  15. dennis mclaughlin

    Do not be sidetracked by the oil argument Scotland.
    Our NHS staying in public hands away from privatisation is the one subject close to every person in Scotland’s heart.
    Philippa has warned us all of what lies down the road with a NO vote,so again Derek I know how glamorous the lure if the black gold is ; we ignore our health service’s future at our peril.

  16. I lived in the USA@ I had Breast cancer i 1994.

    Although I had Insurance, it cost me over $8000 in co-payments and medical services, treatments and medications and not covered by the insurance.

    Here is a quote from CNBC fromJune 20 13

    Bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills will affect nearly 2 million people this year—making health care the No. 1 cause of such filings, and outpacing bankruptcies due to credit-card bills or unpaid mortgages, according to new data. And even having health insurance doesn’t buffer consumers against financial hardship.

    Is this what we want?

    • No, it’s not, but nobody is proposing that, and it’s not happening in England.

      The only way the NHS in Scotland will be privatised is if it is in the next SNP manifsto, which I would be somewhat surprised to see.

      • If “Scottish” Labour becomes the government at Holyrood, and Scotland is, God forbid, still in the union, it will do whatever London Labour wants it to do.

  17. I wouldn’t rely on the N-56 report. From an organisation founded by a member of Yes Scotland advisory board so not exactly impartial.

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