Tag Archives: Scotland

Oh Ma Heid…Unionism and Cognitive Dissonace

On Thursday night I went to bed comforted by the sight of Nigel Farage conceding defeat  in the European referendum. I awoke on Friday to find that Nigel had been a tad hasty and that the Leave campaign had indeed snatched victory. Within a few hours David Cameron had announced that he wouldn’t be staying to clear up the mess he had created. Shortly after that Nicola Sturgeon had announced that a second Scottish independence referendum was now very much on the table.

Welcome to Britain. Still proud to be British?

Previously I had noted that the EU referendum had never really got off the ground in Scotland. I myself saw it as England’s referendum; England’s arguments about by and large England’s problems. Front and centre was the immigration debate. The polite argument about being able to control borders, about being able to plan for services and housing was a fig leaf for an undercurrent of racism, and that fig leaf dropped off on Friday when a Leave victory was announced. In the days that have followed the racism and hatred that was hidden spewed forth. Messages posted on doors and lamp posts that “Polish Vermin should go home”. T-shirts worn proudly calling to “SEND THEM BACK”. A gathering of right wing English patriots in Newcastle waved a banner calling for an end to immigration and for the start of repatriation. The message was clear. Migrants, immigrants, Muslims, foreigners, call them what you will, aren’t welcome.

The message given out in Scotland was, like the vote itself, completely different to the vote in England and Wales. Scotland is your home, and you are welcome. Personal experience and the experiences of other Scots in England shows that in many quarters the Scots are viewed in the same light as any other foreigner. We are as unwelcome and as hated as the Poles and the Romanians. More so if the Daily Mail comments section is anything to go by.

Sunday Herald 260616

The links between the hard line unionists in Scotland and the right wing in England are strong. The sharing of Britain First imagery, the emphasis on the union flag, the poppy, “our boys”, and the monarchy, these are common links, strong common bonds. So it’s no surprise to see that some of the most vehement opposition to the EU in Scotland has come from this quarter. I’ve heard the arguments about how undemocratic it is to have another country ruling over us, about how undemocratic it is being ruled over by an unelected elite, and about how undemocratic it is to have an unelected EU President.

Yet these same individuals will see no wrong in being ruled over by an unelected monarch. They will see no wrong in our political system now comprising more unelected Lords than elected MP’s. They see no wrong in having a Parliament in another country set the laws in this country. In fact not only will they see no wrong in these things but they will actively argue for these principles, while failing to recognise that principles cannot be dropped when they don’t suit. In the words of Groucho Marx “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others”.

If democracy is your principle, defend it.

If unelected politicians are an affront to democracy, stand up against them.

If unelected heads of state are incompatible with democracy then campaign to have an elected head of state.

If you agree that the people best placed to make the laws in a country are the people who live there, then fight for their right to do so.

And if you think that all those things should apply across the globe except in Scotland then you are neither principled nor democratic. You are British, you are a hypocrite, and you aren’t a Scot.

Post Referendum Letters: 28/11/14 (Advertiser)

An edited version of this appeared in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

It seems that this will be my last letter to the advertiser on the subject of Scottish independence. Yesterday I sat outside the Scottish Parliament and watched the great and the good troop inside, where they announced that the Vow had been delivered, with Michael Moore MP describing it as “Home Rule for Scotland”. With home rule recommended by the Smith Commission I have nothing left to campaign for.

It’s a great pity that newspapers don’t include smiley’s on the letters page, as that first paragraph would have been accompanied by a sarcastic one. A really big one. 

Home rule? It’s far from it. The list of reserved powers is substantial. The minimum wage, VAT, fuel duty, equality, pensions, child benefits, foreign policy, weapons of mass destruction, the list goes on and on. We were promised “Near Federalism” and “Devo-Max”. We have been palmed off with ‘Devo Hee-Haw’ and it has to be remembered that these are just proposals. They still have to go in front of our Imperial Masters in London where they will no doubt be picked apart and further reduced.

After all the noise coming from Jim Murphy as he flip-flopped on the subject of tax, the reality was disappointing to say the least: 70% of taxes and 85% of welfare spending remains under London’s control. Oh, and the Scottish Government will be allowed to bid for (not renationalise) the rail franchise in Scotland. Given that it isn’t allowed to raise extra money and everything it does raise will simply reduce the block grant of our own money that we get back anyway, I’m mystified as to how it could get the funding for this without stripping it from elsewhere.  

The simple fact is we have been offered a few token changes to meet the so called Vow, which according to a Freedom of Information request made recently, the UK Cabinet Office has no record of. It would seem that with nae power comes great responsibility. We can gather in and distribute money on behalf of London and pretend it is power. But how can we do anything about poverty when we cannot even set a minimum wage? The simple answer is we cannot. We can tinker with the edges, fiddle here and there but the power to change anything in real, meaningful terms is not available to us. Former leader of the Labour Party  (Scotland branch) Iain Grey said that “any politician seeing these powers coming to them should be excited about the possibilities…” I’d suggest that if that’s what excites him he should perhaps call it a day, like many other Labour high-heidyins.  

On the upside, the Smith Commission has recommended that we are given control over road signs. Unsurprisingly I’d like them to be tartan… 

Yours Sincerely 

Jim Cassidy

Post Referendum Letters: 25/10/14 (The Great Outdoors)

Dear TGO,

I was almost open mouthed as I read Roger Smith’s viewpoint in the November issue of TGO. Roger stated that the referendum result was the best option as Scotland would have been out of the EU for 5 years and revenue streams would have been lost. I cannot disagree more. For starters the figure of 5 years has been plucked from thin air. Why not say 15 years and make it a complete whopper? What is a fact is that Scotland is a member of the EU, and had 18 months in which to negotiate membership to an organisation of which it is already a member and already compliant. Another fact that was ignored is that the EU has no means to remove EU citizenship from its citizens. It bust a gut to ensure that the bankrupt Greek economy was retained, the idea that it would throw an energy and resource rich Scotland out is laughable. The real threat to continued EU membership is now looming on the horizon, with an in/out EU referendum and a possible Blue Tory/UKIP alliance. What is possible is not a mere blip in funding, but a complete end to it. In any case the point is now moot and a distraction from what is to come.

Roger is mistaken when he states the environment was rarely mentioned. Perhaps in the mainstream media it wasn’t, but at the public meetings I attended it certainly was. The Yes campaign was consistent in its message of wanting a cleaner, greener, nuclear free Scotland. This may be one reason why the Green Party in Scotland have seen their membership rise by over 4000 since the referendum.

I personally am no fan of windfarms and the industrialisation of our wild places, and Roger is correct when he says that the SNP’s record in this area is far from impressive. The present Scottish Government were however being pushed in the right direction, and while the overall battle against onshore windfarms has been lost, there have been successes, and the Scottish Wild Land Core Map was one. How successful this will be remains to be seen, but this will become apparent soon enough. While having a pop at the SNP, Roger fails to address the other parties and their intentions. The Tories and the Lib-Dems both support “respectful fracking”, the Lib Dems and Labour support more wind turbines, and the Conservatives are vowing to scrap onshore windfarms in future while supporting them today. It seems to me that the alternatives are more of the same, or slightly worse. There is no radical alternative out there, unless of course you consider UKIP, and they are radical in all the wrong areas.

Roger also asserts that the Scottish Government is set to receive more powers, while in the same issue of TGO he writes about the problems and benefits of fracking. Roger should know then that in December 2013 the unelected House of Lords voted to remove the Scottish Parliament’s powers over renewables by way of amendment 54 to the Energy Act 2013. This gave the UK Government a free hand to completely bypass the Scottish Government. Ten months later and there also seems to be a free for all on licences for fracking, something the Scottish Government was categorically against. Even national parks have not been kept off the target list. Westminster has stuck two fingers up to the people of Scotland, and said that if our legislation is a stumbling block to the UK national policy then they shall scrap it. “The Lords giveth and the Lords taketh away” would sum up the powers we may receive.

Scotland’s natural resources should be in Scotland’s hands, and I doubt very much if the new powers Roger speaks of will come anywhere near fulfilling his wish list, as they seem to be more about backtracking than backpacking. In any case they may be overtaken by the Westminster elections next year. One thing is for certain, there will be no conclusion anytime soon. 


James Cassidy

Post Referendum Letters: 20/09/14


To: The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

So Scotland voted No. 55% of the electorate said they did not think we were good enough to run our own affairs. Or did they? There’s an element in there who would vote No regardless of any argument. There’s an element who voted No out of personal greed, the “I’m alright jack” brigade. There’s an element in there who voted No out of fear of losing their pensions, or out of fear of losing their jobs. I can at least say that the Yes campaign didn’t need to resort to the tactics of fear. We had no need to go to the streets of Airdrie and lie to people that their pensions were at risk if they voted Yes, or threaten activists that they would have their benefits stopped. Over the course of this campaign I have gone from a person who commented by letter or online to someone who started delivering leaflets round the doors, to someone who stood on the streets of Airdrie and told the truth about Labour’s lies, while our MP looked on in silence. Her silence spoke louder than I did, and it’s some consolation that the people of Airdrie and Coatbridge and the rest of North Lanarkshire said Yes. Along with Glasgow, Dundee and West Dunbartonshire, all suffering in part with great social deprivation, we at least can hold our heads up and say we were smart enough to see through the lies, and put working for the common good ahead of personal need or greed. We were smart enough not to believe the “jam tomorrow” promises of the Unionists. Already they have disappeared like a puff of smoke. The Three Stooges, Milliband, Cameron and Clegg vowed that if we voted No on 18th September that they would publish a motion that would go before the UK parliament on 19th September, and that all three parties would agree on that motion. I’m writing this on the 20th. No such motion was forthcoming. Ed Milliband has already backed out of any agreement. Our imperial masters have spoken, we are getting hee-haw.

The actions of 1979 have repeated themselves, and next year Scotland will again punish Labour. David Cameron will go to the polls as the man who saved the union, against an inept Labour leader exposed as a liar who reneges on a deal. More Tory rule and an in/out referendum on Europe await us. Will it take another round of Tory beatings before Scotland finally has the balls to say Yes, or will we instead send them a message in 2015 by winning a majority of Scottish seats and declaring our independence regardless? 

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy



The Referendum Letters: 26/07/14 (To Pamela Nash MP)

To: Pamela Nash MP

Dear Ms Nash, 

I am contacting you to seek clarification of a number of issues which have been raised at various points over the course of the referendum debate. As a constituent of yours I have many, many concerns to do with Scotland’s future. Some of these I have raised before on your website, however none of these had any response and I now see that your website is closed to all comment, so I will raise them here by email. You have campaigned regularly for the Better Together campaign, so I am sure that you will be able to fully answer my concerns. 

1. Does Scotland – including its oil revenues, of course – contribute a larger share of the UK’s income than the share of UK spending it gets? (And I mean the SHARE, not the AMOUNT – debt which has to be paid back doesn’t count as “spending”.) 

2. Regardless of whether YOU think it would be a good idea or not, is it true to say that an independent Scotland could continue to use Sterling as its currency if it chose, no matter what happened? 

3. Your campaign keeps saying that independence would make our family and friends in the rest of the UK “foreigners”. Even if we accept that’s true, what’s wrong with foreigners?  

4. In your view, would the rUK really build and patrol a 100-mile long physical barrier of some sort across the border if an independent Scotland had a different immigration policy? (Because obviously road checkpoints alone couldn’t stop illegal immigrants, who’d simply cross on foot.) And if so, what would you estimate as the construction, manning and maintenance costs of such a barrier? 

5. The McCrone Report was kept from the Scottish public by successive Labour and Conservative governments for 30 years to prevent them knowing how rich Scotland would be if it were independent. Are you aware of any similar documents relevant to the independence debate which are currently designated secret? 

6. If I vote No in September, can you guarantee that in five years’ time Scotland will still be in the EU? 

7. If I vote No, can you guarantee that in 10 years’ time Scotland will still have a fully publicly-funded NHS? 

8. If I vote No, can you guarantee that the “Barnett Formula” used to calculate the Scottish Government block grant will still be in force by 2020 and set at the same proportions? 

9. What will be the approximate set-up/annual costs of the tax-collecting bureaucracy your party plans to implement in the event of a No vote? 

10. In the event of a Yes vote, will the UK government have an obligation to pay the pensions of everyone in Scotland who has ALREADY qualified for the UK state pension, as would be the case if current pensioners emigrated to (say) Spain or France or Australia? I’m not interested in the Scottish Government’s position on the matter, I want to know what the UK government’s responsibilities are. 

11. In your opinion, is Scotland a country or a region? If it is a country, why should it not have the rights and responsibilities of any other sovereign country? 

I look forward to your replies, 


James Cassidy


No response was ever received…

The Referendum Letters: 01/07/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

On Sunday 29th June my daughter and I attend a peaceful protest outside the offices of the BBC in Glasgow. The protest was good natured and very well attended, a real family affair with all age groups in attendance. The reason for the protest was a simple one, to ask that the BBC act in accordance with their charter and report the referendum coverage fairly. It was addressed by Professor John Robertson, who has carried out a year long study of referendum coverage across the major channels, and found that the BBC was rather one sided in it’s reporting. I won’t bore Advertiser readers with the details, they are all available online, suffice to say that Professor Robertson’s research backed up what many people already suspected, that there was considerable bias in BBC reporting towards the unionist case. We attended this rally to ask for fairness and equality from the BBC, nothing more. Yet within hours Labour MP Jim Murphy was being quoted as saying that independence supporters were trying to “bully the BBC”. That is to be expected from him. What people didn’t expect was what happened next. Kathy Wiles was selected on Monday to be the Labour Party candidate for Angus at the 2015 general election. On Monday she posted a comment on twitter in response to comments from her Labour Party colleague Duncan Hothersall about a group of small children who attended the protest, in which she used a picture of Hitler Youth under a Nazi banner to describe them. Her attempts to cover up her actions were laughable, almost akin to Luis Suarez’s claims that the other player “fell onto his teeth”. Within 24 hours she had been forced to resign, and rightly so.

Two weeks ago I wrote to the Advertiser regarding the drip, drip, drip of Nazi smears that have emanated from Better Together and the Labour Party. I pointed out that this was a policy emanating from the very top, and here we are today seeing resignations from the lower ranks, yet Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont and Coatbridge’s Elaine Smith have all used this type of language and are currently getting away with it. If it is not Nazi slurs, we have them resorting to good old fashioned thuggery, where Iain Davidson, when not threatening fellow MP’s with a “doing” talks of a post referendum “bayoneting of the wounded”. It is no surprise therefore that new candidates such as Kathy Wiles follow the examples of their masters. I wonder how comfortable Ed Milliband, the son of a refugee from the holocaust is with these people on his team? When his own father was horribly attacked after his death by the press he said that it was for the people to judge whether this reflects the values and decency we should all expect in our political debate. As to his party’s contribution to the independence debate, I could ask him the very same question.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 13/06/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

Alistair Darlings Nazi smear attempt on Yes voters everywhere could almost be described as gutter politics, were it not for the fact that Better Together sank far below that level a long time ago. Sewer politics would be more apt. Reporting of his outburst may have gained a bit more traction had it not come in a good week to bury bad news, with the mainstream media focusing on Lallygate, when the BBC and the unionist media went into overdrive about the actions of some Yes supporters individuals comments. I have to ask myself if the world has gone stark, raving mad. Some keyboard warriors said some pretty despicable things, however we are talking about individual views here, not the views of Yes Scotland. Compare that with Alistair Darling’s leaked conversation where he states that the Scottish Independence movement is not based on civic nationalism, but he agrees with his interviewer that it is “Blood and Soil” nationalism, a phrase used by the Nazi party to describe their racially pure, aryan vision of Germany. Hardly applicable to the nationalism we have in Scotland. If you live here, you have a vote, regardless of race or ethnic origin. Mr Darling is not alone in his Nazi jibes though. Elaine Smith MSP has regularly thrown Nazi references in to her columns and letters, referring to fanatical nationalism and the lessons of history. In one of the worst quotes of all, in September 2013 the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Johan Lamont described nationalism as “a virus”, the very same term Hitler used to describe the Jews. Can these people sink any lower? To liken your political foes as to nothing more than a virus which must be wiped out is abhorrent, yet this is not the lone nutter in the bedroom speaking. This is the leader of Scottish Labour! If it’s not the Yes supporters themselves they are attacking its Alex Salmond. Each week I call full house on Better Together’s “Alex Salmond Dictator Bingo”. Mussolini, check. Hitler, check. Stalin, check. Kim Jung Un, bingo! Talk about playing the man, not the ball! Alex Salmond may be dead and buried in 10 years time, yet the unionists make out that a vote for independence is a vote for a Scotland ruled by him in perpetuity. What we have from Better Together is a top down campaign of hatred and bile. On September 18th, the people of Scotland will, for one day, have the power to decide the future of Scotland. Some of us will be able to look ourselves in the mirror afterwards and be proud of our actions. I do not think the Better Together leadership will fall into that category. 

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 11/05/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

I feel I must reply to Sam Daly’s letter in this weeks Advertiser. As Sam says I have known him a long time. I served in the same regiment, support the same football team and work for the same company. However as I was responding to a public letter, in a public forum, I used the formal term when referring to him. After all, whether I know him personally was not something the Advertiser readers were aware of, nor needed to be, although they are now. It just detracts from the debate in my opinion. However if he wishes something less formal, I’m happy to do so.

As regards the principle of “if you have to say something to someone, say it to their face”, I think Sam has perhaps forgotten that he emailed his letter to me two weeks before it was published, and we debated it by phone and email at the time. I told him at the time that I would probably write in response, but wouldn’t immediately do so for two reasons. One, I was at the time writing a response to one of David Stephen’s letters. Two, I couldn’t very well write to respond to a letter which hadn’t been published yet!

Sam seems to think there is a problem with my arithmetic, however after double checking my facts it looks like he still misunderstands the tax system. The Scottish NHS is funded through the block grant, not council tax. His offer to pay more tax to fund the NHS wouldn’t affect council tax in any way.

Sam also states that my assertion that free prescriptions for all can be obtained for little more than was already being paid for a means tested system is a baseless supposition, yet provides nothing to support his claim. I do actually put in a bit of research before making any claim, unlike some of the more prominent members of the No campaign who make public statement about numbers which fail to stand up to any reasonable scrutiny. The figures I have show that free prescriptions cost Scotland around £57 million a year, but a system of means testing is estimated to cost over half of that, and depending on which source you read would be anywhere between £30 and £50 million pounds. The difference between the two systems is barely the cost of an average premiership footballer. Considering that in 2007, 800,000 people in England and Wales failed to collect all or part of their prescription because they couldn’t afford to pay for it, I’d say the difference is well worth paying.

On the subject of football, Sam mentions a conversation which took place while at a football match. I won’t refer to anything Sam has said in private conversations, as I do not believe that this is an appropriate place to do so. Having said that I would like to clarify one thing. Regarding the Bedroom Tax, I think I’ve always been pretty clear on this. I fully agree that social housing is a resource of the state, not the property of the tenant, and that some sort of system should be in place to make sure that it is used to the full. However to say to a tenant that they are being penalised for not moving into a one bedroom house when there are no such properties available is just completely wrong. Given that the editor has requested letters are kept short and I’m already failing miserably, perhaps I will return to this at a later date.

If Sam is happy with the union, fair enough. That is his entitlement. Some people have done well out of the union, such as our MPs (and their colleagues in the cash cow for elderly politicians that is the House of Lords, the Holy Grail of the gravy train). I would expect them to defend it to the last, irrespective of whether it is bad for the country as a whole. But for working class people to defend it, knowing that the cuts yet to come will be deeper and harder than before, irrespective of who gets in to Westminster simply defies reason. A no vote is a vote to set in motion a process which will emasculate Scotland and reduce us to regional status. Scotland isn’t a region. I’m not North British, I’m Scottish, and it is my view that we should be able to take our own decisions as to what goes on in this country. Just like any other country. The ever more influential Nigel Farage wants to see the Scottish Parliament scrapped. The Tories want our MPs reduced. Labour wants to scrap the Barnett formula by the back door. Both Tories and Labour are focussed on stripping the NHS to the bones, and will turn their sights on Scotland’s NHS if given half a chance. Strip away the union flag waving and the 300 years of shared history rhetoric, and that’s what is waiting. There will be a heavy price to pay if we cling to the UK comfort blanket, and it’s a price not worth paying.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 14/04/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to Sam Daly’s letter in last weeks Advertiser. I assume that from his letter that he is unhappy that the SNP’s definition of those who are poor differs markedly from his. Perhaps Mr Daly would like to bring in means testing, and all the costs that come with it? There are thousands of families across the country who work who no doubt would fall on the wrong side of Mr Daly’s line, and for whom a few days sick means losing wages they cannot afford to lose, leaving them to decide whether they can actually afford the medicine that will make them better. It’s all very well saying him that he is happy to pay more tax for better services, but he doesn’t speak for those I have mentioned. The truth is by stripping away the costly administration of the prescription system, it is possible to give everyone, irrespective of income, free prescriptions for little more than was already being paid. Isn’t that a fairer system? Or would he prefer that those who can as he puts it, afford it, can pay for it but not use it? 

He also states that our health service is in sharp decline due to funding cuts. Perhaps Mr Daly is unaware that our NHS, while independent of the English NHS since 1948, receives it’s funding as part of the block grant created under the Barnett Formula. This gives Scotland an allowance based on it receiving a small fixed percentage of how much England spends. As England moves towards a privatised NHS, government expenditure has dropped. PPP and PFI, along with privatisation ad directly billing the sick for treatment means that their NHS spending is dropping, and will continue to drop, and if their budget goes down so must ours, irrespective of our needs or our contributions. Even if Mr Daly’s generous offer to pay more tax was taken up it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference, because if England spends less, they will give us less of our money back to spend. Yet we Scot’s are the ones labelled subsidy junkies! 

He then goes on to complain that the SNP only agreed to pay the Bedroom Tax, which our Labour MP failed to oppose, when forced to do so. He completely misses the point that this is a completely unfair tax, as rotten as the Poll Tax, which should never have been imposed in the first place! Even worse than that, was that the money to pay this unfair tax had to be found from somewhere, so other budgets suffered because of it. Why complain about Social Services having their budgets frozen and then support stripping money through a completely pointless tax, designed to hammer those who can least afford it? 

Mr Daly seems to be parroting the ever more out of touch Johann Lamont, a woman at the head of a party now so bitter and twisted that it would scrap every last decent thing which has been put in place by the SNP, precisely because it was done by the SNP. The fact that at some point along the line she supported these policies makes no difference, and now she cries that Scots just want something for nothing! The SNP have succeeded where she and her party failed. God forbid that woman ever becomes First Minister, as she is all for reintroducing prescription charges, imposing higher council taxes, scrapping free bus travel for the elderly and supports cutting the amount of money that Scotland gets via the Barnett Formula. When I say that she supports it a cut, what I of course mean is that she is proposing that Scotland raise more of its own tax, which would indirectly lead to a cut in our block grant, and a massive drop in what Scotland gets, as the oil revenue which trickles back to Scotland would be turned off entirely. It’s just that Mrs Lamont doesn’t understand it’s a cut. Her recent shambolic television appearances when she had to speak without having things written down proved that. Other Labour figures have chipped in to provide clarity, such as Tom Clarke MP, only to muddy the waters by contradicting what their leader says, as it appears they don’t understand it either. 

Finally, as I’m sure Mr Daly knows all too well, the cuts to the opening times at Airdrie Police Station were carried out by Police Scotland, NOT the SNP, but why let the truth get in the way of things?. Even then I fail to understand his point. If you have lost your purse and can’t afford travel to the station, why does it make a bit of difference whether someone is manning the desk? You can call 101 to report it anyway. To me it makes more sense to actually have the police out on the ground dealing with crime rather than at a desk on the off chance that someone will want to drop by at three in the morning.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy