The Green Surge: Open Meeting in Dunoon on 15th Dec.


Looking forward to this and also had a lot of fun designing the poster too –poster-open-meeting-dec-A4

Graphical illustrations of the underlying issues behind voting in the #IndyRef: Life expectancy and Income @R_J_Parker @SuseJohnston

These graphs relate two metrics, life expectancy and income, with how people voted. In all four cases of the councils which voted Yes have the lowest levels of both. If anything, this proves to me that the Yes vote was effectively saying, “the system is broken – we need to change the system”.

Disposable income against the vote in the Independence Referendum. Source: @SuseJohnston
Disposable income against the % No vote in the Independence Referendum. Source: @SuseJohnston
Life Expectancy against the vote in the Independence referendum. Source: @R_J_Parker
Life Expectancy against the % Yes vote in the Independence referendum. Source: @R_J_Parker

The thinking behind the graphs is available on twitter, at the accounts shown.

Not much more needs to be said, I think.

UPDATE: Actually, this from Mike Russell which is published in the Sunday Times today.

#indyref: I’ve voted

Just to record that today I voted for an independent Scotland. But whatever happens, whichever way the vote goes, it feels fantastic to be part of a free and fair vote on the future of our country – if only this was the case all over the world.


#indyref: 36 questions which helped me decide which way to vote

If you are havering over which way to vote, or if you’ve decided but want to reassure yourself you are voting the right way, I’ve come up with 36 questions which have helped me make my decision. They’re not in any particular order, but they do group around topics. They helped me make my choice, I hope they’ll be useful for you too.

  1. Would an Independent Scotland require a nuclear deterrent? How long will the present nuclear weapons remain on Scottish soil in the case of a ‘Yes’ vote?
  2. Does the UK really need a nuclear deterrent and does it strengthen our ability to respond to crises around the world or weaken it?
  3. Would a Scottish armed forces in an Independent Scotland increase or diminish Scotland’s security? Or its susceptibility to terrorist attack?
  4. In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, will the rest of the Union really withhold currency union as they have promised, or will currency be one of the major negotiating points?
  5. And if it is a negotiating point whose interest is it in to cast doubt on a currency union’s viability before the vote?
  6. Will border controls really be imposed in the event of a Yes vote? Or will the border be left to its own devices rather like the present border between the Irelands?
  7. Ignoring the historical context, how much should Oil reserves play a part in my calculations? And if they should how critical are they given such factors as climate change and the potential withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil (see below).
  8. If nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Scottish soil, would the restrictions on Oil and Gas exploration on the West Coast remain in force? Or would these reserves come into play?
  9. 97% of the world’s scientists agree that Climate Change is happening, and that this is due to human activity. Which of our potential governments is more likely to react well to this and provide for significant investment in renewable energy which is relevant to our communities and our environment?
  10. Are pensions going to be affected by a change in Scotland’s status when, for example, pensions are drawn by UK ex-pats in places like Spain? And in any case, is this a factor when my generation and those younger than me can’t really afford a pension at present?
  11. What will happen to income tax or VAT if there is a ‘Yes’ vote? Is it likely that these taxes will remain broadly the same until the populace decide, via a general election, to change things?
  12. In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote will the SNP remain in power for the foreseeable future or will we have democratic and fair elections representing the decisions of the people who live in Scotland? Will it be possible that new political parties emerge?
  13. In which case is it more likely that universal health care will remain in place through the NHS?
  14. In which case is it more likely that free universal education will remain in place?
  15. While, for example, education and health are devolved matters at the moment, how likely is it that in the case of a ‘No’ vote the UK government will start to claw back powers from the Scottish government given voter sentiment in England?
  16. Is a vote for Independence a vote for Nationalism or a more direct form of Democracy? And in either case, do you trust the Scottish people to make the right decisions looking forward?
  17. Is the quality of political debate in Scotland robust enough to ensure that decisions made are free from the self-interest of the decision-makers?
  18. How many times in the last 50 years has the vote of the Scottish people actually altered the outome of a general election in the UK? And does this really matter?
  19. Will the remaining UK be more or less likely to elect Tory governments if Scotland goes its own way?
  20. If Scotland gains independence, will Wales and Northern Ireland also wish to remove themselves from the Union?
  21. Will Berwick-upon-Tweed migrate to an Independent Scotland? Is that a good thing? Will other English regions ‘migrate north’?
  22. Does an independent Scotland change residents’ identity? Will they remain Scottish, English, Welsh and/or Irish? Can they still call themselves British, and hold allegiance to the British Isles?
  23. Will sectarianism be more prevalent in an Independent Scotland? Or will Scotland be a more equitable country, intolerant of all types of discrimination?
  24. Is a constitution written in consultation with the general populace a worthwhile endeavour and provide a sound basis for Scotland’s future?
  25. Is remaining in the EU a reason to vote for the Union?
  26. Will Scotland be more or less likely to be part of the EU in ten years time as part of the UK or as an independent state?
  27. How will a ‘Yes’ vote affect my livelihood?
  28. Is a ‘Yes’ vote an opportunity for myself, my family, my community? Will permanent, advantageous change be possible?
  29. What will the effect of a vote for Independence be on Grant Funding, particularly for UK-wide funds, like the Big Lottery, and EU funds, like SRDP and LEADER?
  30. Is Community Asset ownership, development and Social Enterprise likely to be more encouraged in an Independent Scotland or not?
  31. Will the ongoing move to Land Reform continue in Scotland either way? Will the progress already achieved be augmented in an Independent Scotland, and will this result in a more equitable pattern of land ownership in Scotland?
  32. What will happen to the present Scottish MPs in Westminster in the event of a vote for Independence? Will they come north and seek to represent the views of the Scottish people in a Scottish Government, or will they want to remain as MPs in the Union? And will an independent Scotland benefit from their talents more directly?
  33. Could a successful ‘Yes’ vote be another example of a “disruptive technology” entering the established “marketplace” and have the potential to change everything?
  34. How many people will benefit from a Yes vote in Scotland? How many will benefit from remaining in the Union? Discounting political allegiance, voting intention, nationality, race and gender how many lives will be positively affected either way?
  35. Which campaign has been run in a more imaginative, positive and constructive way?
  36. Is the ‘No’ campaign disadvantaged because it has the negative choice? Or is the ‘Yes’ campaign fighting against a majority who avoid change and are therefore predisposed to vote ‘No’?

Which way are you going to go?

Scottish Independence? “… the vanguard of a broader populist movement to restore democracy across these islands …” Irvine Welsh in the Guardian today

The Guardian published a series of short opinion pieces by a variety of writers on how they regard Independence. Really. Very. Interesting – whether you agree with Irvine or not.

Aside from Irvine what struck me was the following by Richard Holloway. It articulates exactly how I have felt about the entire debate.

I agree  with the priest in TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral who said he saw “nothing quite conclusive in the art of temporal government”. Economics strikes me as no more conclusive a science than theology, which is why I have been more irritated than enlightened by the use each side has made of the dismal science in the debate; but while the arguments of the yes side may not have persuaded me, the arguments of the no side have propelled me in the opposite direction. Rather than making a positive case for the union, the Better Together campaign has wasted its energy on attacking the idea that Scotland could go it alone, a tactic guaranteed to anger those of us for whom the question was never whether we could but whether we should.

And then I think, none of us will ever know which way we should go, even if it was possible to have all the best available advice, because we’ll only ever test one post-referendum reality – the other will lie discarded, untested, on the other side of the 18th September forever. 

The article is here.

The effect of Scottish Independence on England: @DeborahOrr nails it!

Scottish independence would change England more than Scotland

Had to share this article in Saturday’s Guardian, which was in turn inspired by J. K. Rowling’s recent donation to the Better Together campaign. A really interesting take on what is going on – and right in line with Angus Reid’s Modest Proposal which speaks to, in my mind anyway, the UK’s present democratic deficit.

A Modest Proposal
from the poem, Call for a Constitution

if I as a writer of poetry
were called upon to give a form of words
to model the nation’s behaviour
it would be this: ownership obliges
everyone to respect and to care for
the sacred; to respect and to care for
freedom of conscience; and to recognise
the gift of every individual
to respect it, care for it, nourish it;
to respect and to care for communities;
and to care for the land, and wherever
the land has been abused to restore it
so that it can support all forms of life:
five principles, five fingers on the hand.

NB. Just realised appropos the above, today’s the day when the Scottish Gov’t published its consultation on a constitution. Not as poetic, but I really liked the idea of popular sovereignty – we’re all our own rulers. Heady stuff – a lot to be admired, a lot to be discussed …

Bella Bathurst in the Guardian today: Smacks of petulance, not a respect for democracy

Today in the Guardian, Bella Bathurst concludes:

“In all the different Scotlands, one image always recurs: that of a marriage. Just for the sake of it, let’s pretend that there’s this couple, Albion and Caledonia. They’ve been married for a long time – more than 300 years – and it’s been a productive but troubled relationship. Albion is happy with things as they are, but Caledonia wants to leave. Albion flirts with other countries and Caledonia feels bullied. When Caledonia threatens to walk out, Albion reminds her of all the things she’ll lose: the house, furniture, money, security, music, pictures. Which only makes Caledonia more determined to go. Her blood is up, she’s made plans, she’s sure she’ll get by somehow. All of us – English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, whether we have a vote in the referendum or not – get to be counsellors on this. So what chance would you give them?”

I had to read this three times to believe that this national newspaper would characterise the vote in Scotland on Independence like this. Smacks of petulance, not a respect for democracy.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time – We’re going to be on #BBCRadioScotland sometime in May!

… and that’s the name of the radio programme with presenter Claire English – It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It’ll be half an hour of Sadie and me talking about what brought us to Dunans and how we’ve overcome the obstacles to make a success of the project. We enjoyed it immensely, particularly the initial bit standing on Dunans Bridge in full sunshine talking about that moment when we first saw Dunans and fell in love with it {sort of}!

I’ll post more when the programme gets broadcast some time in May. The photo is of Sadie and the BBC team walking back from the initial take on the bridge.


[And notice all those cars to the right of the ladies? That’s nearly 20 people who went on the ever-popular Lairds and Ladies’ tour today!]

#ScottishIndependence #VoteYes The Yes Campaign gathers momentum, even the Guardian is reporting it

In my view, Land Reform, community ownership of assets and independence are the right way to go. There’ll be uncertainty, there’ll be change, but if we wish to have a happy, vibrant, civilised country which makes its own decisions then it has to be a Yes.