I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Over the last few months, the people over at Project Fear seem to have been coming out with a new scare story every week. Well three cheers to that. Each and every stark warning seems to narrow the gap between ‘YES’ and ‘No’ another point or two. The main worry for all of us who are pushing for a ‘YES’ is that they will run out of new stuff to try and scare as with and they will suddenly go all quiet.

It’s hard to think they will though. Let’s face it, these are people who just love to throw their weight about and bully people. Imagine George Osborne and Danny Alexander frantically kissing every Scottish baby in sight and playing the part of nice guys. Not a good look! No. I reckon they will keep on with the scare us all to death agenda. To persuade them to do otherwise would be like trying to persuade a lion to make do with lettuce for his tea.

No doubt all those hyper-smart interns fresh out of Oxford with their starred firsts in PPE will be coming up with new and devastating ideas on a daily basis.

If you vote ‘YES’, there will be a new law demanding that all males in Scotland must wear a kilt during daylight hours….!!!

If you vote ‘YES’, new legislation will compel all Scots to consume a minimum of 20kg of broccoli each and every year…..!!!!

If you vote ‘YES’, Vladimir Putin will have planes full of Spetsnatz paratroopers in the air within minutes are there will be nobody to help you when the sky above your towns and cities is filled with silk canopies coloured red, white and light blue….. !!!!!

If you vote ‘YES’, there will be an immediate Martian takeover of the whole country and every child under the age of five will be deep fried and eaten….!!!!!!

If you vote ‘YES’, God will be so incandescent with rage that he will immediately send a vast plague of locusts to reduce the whole land of Caledonia into an empty desert….. !!!!!!!

Now, there’s the sort of dire stuff that will finally get the wretched people of Scotland quaking in our boots and absolutely desperate to flock to Danny and George in our droves.

Oh please look after us Danny and George!

Please take care of us Danny and George!

And we’ll never ask again. Honest. We promise. Pleeeeeeese Danny and George… Please forgive us…

Please don’t hurt us again…..

A favourite from the Project Fear playbook is the absolute certainly that there will be no place for an Independent Scotland in the European Union.

Is this the case?

I have absolutely no idea. To have a clue about this, you probably need to be one of those specialist lawyers with a suite of ritzy offices in downtown Brussels who charge 500 Euros for an initial five minute consultation complete with a decent drop of coffee and one of those wrapped biscuits they go for in that neck of the woods.

From what I can gather, it will all come down to whether the other 28 members are willing to sit back and allow Spain to throw its weight about. If an Independent Scotland is allowed straight into the club, then a precedent would be set for an Independent Catalonia to do exactly the same and that of course scares the living daylights out of the boys in Madrid.

Will they or won’t they. Who knows? I am sure that Gorge and Danny don’t know either. They just like to pretend that they know.

But would it necessarily be such a bad thing if the boys from Madrid got their way? I don’t think so.

At this point I should point out that I have always been a great fan of the EU and I remain so. For two thousand years we Europeans have been killing each other in ever increasing numbers. There were 10,000 casualties at Agincourt in 1415. The advent of gunpowder took the figure up to 47,000 when the Brits and French had another square go at Waterloo in 1815. A hundred years later, a million casualties had been taken by the time the French and Germans collapsed with exhaustion at Verdun. Stalingrad? They lost count at Stalingrad. And of course if we had ever fired our nukes at each other the numbers would have gone into the stratosphere.

We Europeans are pretty good at lots of things, many good and many bloody awful. Mercedes cars – good. Tiger tanks – bad. Sadly the thing we have always been best at is falling out and killing each other in vast numbers.

And then out of the wrecked cities and 20 million dead of World War Two came the first manifestations of the EU. And for nearly seventy years we have managed to stop fighting each other. In my book that is worth any number of daft bits of legislation and bloated Brussels expense accounts.

Project Fear tells us that if we are excluded from the EU, we will never be able to sell anything to anyone ever again. We’ll all be doomed and with a matter of months we’ll all be living in cardboard hovels and living off the Red Cross. Oh really? Last time I noticed, China isn’t in the EU and yet they still seem to manage to sell plenty of stuff to us. And when I check out the butter section in the supermarket, it isn’t exactly impossible to find tubs of Anchor which one way or another have made it all the way hear from New Zealand. If Spain gets its way, will the rest of the world give up drinking Whisky the very next day?

Aye right.

Were we left outside the EU, we would no doubt find it marginally harder to trade with countries like England and France and Germany. But we would find it a whole lot easier to made trade agreements with countries like the USA and India and Australia.

Swings and roundabouts. Neither one thing nor t’other.

For me the big gain would come from immigration.

At the moment being part of the EU means that we tend to get the worst of immigrants. Now hang on a second before you start to get all riled up. I have nothing but utter respect for the young Poles and Latvians and Lithuanians who get on a bus in Bialystok or Riga or Vilnius and take a ride to Scotland to find a job. They are brave, ambitious young men and women and I take my hat off to them. It is almost impossible to imagine our young people having the bottle to do the same thing in reverse.

But what do they give us? Very few come here with the intention of sinking roots and making a life for themselves here. Instead their game plan is to stay a year or two and save every spare penny so that they can get a good start in life when they return home. By and large, they share houses and rooms and work all hours god sends in minimum wage jobs. They hardly ever take any benefits and they pay their taxes. But they don’t pay all that much tax for the simple reason that they seldom earn enough to pay much tax.

Of course the idea of all of us being free to travel and work all over the EU is a truly great thing. But there is a pretty big downside. The downside is that being a part of the club means that we have to become a part of ‘Fortress Europe’ where would be migrants from the rest of the world are kept outside the gates at all costs.

I reckon that there is a good argument to had that these people we work so hard to exclude are in fact the very best of immigrants. These are the kind of immigrants who built America and Australia and Canada. We hear a great deal about the importance of infrastructure and that is fair enough. Assets like railway lines and ports and roads and broadband are crucial for any country. But we can never get away from the fact the most vital asset any country will ever have are the people who live there. Here is where an independent Scotland might just have a mighty opportunity. As things stand, we are a small, shrinking and ageing population who live and breathe in a country with a billion acres of empty space. There will be plenty of room for new people in an Independent Scotland and crucially we are pretty good at being welcoming to new people regardless of the colour of their skin. I have first hand experience of this as one half of a mixed race couple with two brown boys. There are not many countries left in Europe where a mixed race couple can feel comfortable any more. The Far Right is on the march again. The Mediterranean countries are uncomfortable. Places like Poland and Latvia and Lithuania feel pretty damn dangerous: these are places where most buildings in the rougher parts of town are adorned with swastikas. A trip to Moscow as a mixed race couple borders on the suicidal.

Amazingly enough, the only other European country apart from Britain where we can both feel at home and unthreatened is Germany. Ain’t that saying something!

Is Scotland better than England in this regard? It certainly seems this way. Nigel Farage is an amusing chap and it is truly heartening to see a frontline politician supping a pint and smoking a fag with the TV cameras running. But just because he is a cuddly fascist doesn’t mean he’s not a fascist all the same. His game is trading suspicion and poison for votes, and his game is playing pretty well down south right now. Up here? UKIP barely bothers trying up here. No point. They would lose every deposit they paid out.

Were we to end up outside the EU, we could play our two trump cards to huge effect. We have plenty of room and we are good at making people feel at home. Outside of the EU, we would have the opportunity to make like the Aussies. We could set a high bar which would allow us to cherry pick the brightest and the best from all over the English speaking world. We could open the doors and advertise what we have to offer all over the Commonwealth. Just imagine if an Independent Scotland started to become a magnet for the brightest and the best from India and Canada and New Zealand and Australia and Kenya and Nigeria and Ghana… hell, we could even add the USA to the list. Imagine the kind of people we would be handing out work visas to. Young, super smart, super educated, and super ambitious. Doctors, teachers, engineers and entrepreneurs. These would be immigrants who would be aspiring to come and stay for good. To make a life. To become the new Scots of the 21st Century. No way would they be about to settle for 12 hours a day at minimum wage for a few months before catching the plane back home with a few savings. Instead they would start things up. Inject energy. Make things happen.

Just like what happened all those years ago when so many millions took the boat across the Atlantic to Ellis Island and a new future.

Of course I am pretty biased on this one. My mother in law Judy is a complete and utter star and many, many years ago she took a flight from Barbados to Britain and went on to become a ward sister with the NHS and as fine a citizen as any country could ever wish for. And Independent Scotland which was outside the EU could open its doors to a million of Judies from all corners of the English speaking earth.

And would they ever make the place rock….     


1 comment:

  1. Soz mark,canny come with on this one.For all I abhor malignant passivism,to split now would damage everyone.To gain what?Burst pride?Naw.