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.

Friday, May 30, 2014


This has been a week of two interviews. The first was a shining example of how the new digital world we live in is slowly but surely changing everything. The second was an overdue echo of darker times when so much was hidden away behind locked doors.

As regular readers will know, over recent weeks I have become something of an accidental tourist in the campaign for Scottish Independence. A couple of nights ago I arrived at Ayr Town Hall to speak at a meeting and saw my name on a poster on the front door.

'Mark Frankland: Writer, Drugs worker, Activist.'

Never in a million years would I have imagined that particular scenario! Or such a description of myself! The night was a joy. The podium was a politician free zone and eighty people or so turned out to watch three complete unknowns say what we had to say.

It was in every respect the very essence of grass roots. Before the meeting started, Kieran, Veronika and I got our heads together and wondered who on earth would tackle questions about what will happen with the currency. Then we just laughed.

For me the biggest joy of the growing ‘Yes’ campaign is seeing it slowly slipping from the grip of the professional politicians and mainstream media. A formal campaign is being played out in the papers and on the TV and it is predictably tedious. Politicians back-stab each other and behave like spitting fishwives. The tabloids roll out their predictable fairytale scare stories.

And you know what? It seems like people are gradually tuning out. We are all so very tired of all this. We showed how sick to the back teeth we are of politics and career politicians by giving Nigel Farage such a ringing endorsement last week. Personally I would be as likely to vote for Nigel as I am to buy a season ticket on the Stretford End, but I loved every minute of his success.

This is the era when London has become a giant safe house for the world’s billionaires. It doesn’t matter if you are the worst kind of person who has amassed a treasure chest of gold by trafficking people or drugs, so long as you have enough gold you will be welcomed with open arms. It is a time when the top 1% is thriving like never before whilst the other 99% wonders what the hell is going on.

This is the kind of thing which can lead to revolutions.

Are we beginning to have our own very British revolution? Possibly. Christ let’s hope so. Giving Nigel his Euro victory could one day be seen as the first shots of the British Revolution.

Why did so many vote Nigel? Simple. Because we’re had it with an endlessly smug establishment that is so very convinced that it can take us all for a ride for ever.

Well guys, maybe the times are finally a changing.

I am a big podcast fan. I spend many hours walking my two collie dogs with headphones in my ears. Sometimes the podcasts are as mainstram as they come: BBC flagships like ‘Any Questions and Any Answers’ or ‘Peinaar’s Politics’ or ‘5 Live Football Daily’. Other times they are the homemade efforts of people who have decided to do their own thing. The quite magnificent ‘Anfield Wrap’ is the voice of Liverpool fans all over the world and its episodes have been downloaded well over a million times.

Once I found myself caught up in the 'Yes' campaign, I hit the Itunes search box and within seconds discovered ‘The Scottish Independence Podcast. This is the brain child of Michael Greenwell.

If you follow Google you will soon find his site.

So. Who is Michael? Here is what he says about himself.

‘I have been doing some serious writing and anonymous blogging for quite a while now. In the meantime I have had about a million jobs, some interesting, some shit. At various times I have been a university tutor, a barman, a DJ (not a very good one), president of a small charity, a researcher, a librarian and a few other things to tedious to mention. I worked in Nepal for a couple of months doing volunteer work. I also worked in South Korea but didn’t have the best of time.. These days I’m back in Scotland and if I have enough money I can be found (or rather not found – that being the point) somewhere in the Highlands and Islands or otherwise in Glasgow.’

Basically Michael is just another ordinary Joe like me who has decided to get involved and has he ever. Over the last 18 months or so he has released 76 podcasts which carry the thoughts and voices of a huge variety of people. Have people been interested in what he has had to say? Too right they have. To date over 170,000 of his episodes have been downloaded.

When you sit back and think about it, this is way more impressive that mere hits on a website. To take the time to download something that is at least half an hour loang means much more than webpage hopping.

A couple of weeks ago Michael dropped me a tweet asking if I would like to be guest on his show. Course I would! We did the interview last Saturday morning over Skype. It was the digital equivalent of sitting in the pub and having a chat over a pint. The podcast hasn’t been released yet, so I have no idea whether or not I come across like a complete and utter pratt. If I do, well it doesn’t matter greatly. I am not getting paid by anyone. I don’t have a party line to stick to. I was just one ordinary Joe having a talk with another ordinary Joe, and if a few thousand people want to listen in, then the best of luck to them.

No money changed hands. No professional back room staff were required. And if by some miracle a million people want to listen to what we had to say, them they can do so.

Little by little, people like Michael and Stuart Campbell (‘Wings over Scotland’) and all the local ‘Yes’ organisers are taking control of the campaign away from the politicians and the TV stations and the newspapers.

All of a sudden it has become OUR campaign whether THEY like it or not. In many ways, it is the very best kind of revolution. I am more than confident that a brand new country will appear on the world stage on September 19th without a shot being fired.

Should that be the case, the likes of Michael will have given the rest of the world a wonderful template to follow. Revolutions do not have to be soaked in blood. Not any more. Not with the tools of the social media. In years the Scottish Revolution might become a case study of how to kick the establishment in the teeth without the need of car bombs and burning buildings.

The second interview couldn’t have been more different. Where my chat with Michael was completely informal, this was was a formal interview in every sense of the word.

Some background.

On 15th April 1989 I drove over the Pennines to watch Liverpool play Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough. Everyone knows what happened next. 96 of us never made it home.

On 18th April I was so enraged at the media coverage of the catastrophe that I wrote a letter outlining how appalling policing had been the cause behind everything that happened. I sent the letter to journalists and politicians.

I also sent a copy to The South Yorkshire Police.

A few journalists got in touch, in particular Patrick Barclay who called me to find out some facts and ended up being more like a counsellor. Thanks for that Patrick. It meant a lot at the time and it still does.

Many fewer politicians responded, but it would be wrong not to mention the long, thoughtful and very heartfelt letter I received from Michael Hesseltine.

The South Yorkshire Police?

Nothing. A deafening silence.

And that remained the case for over 25 years. I wonder what is written in the Guinness book of records on this front? What is the record amount of time to elapse between sending someone a letter and getting a reply? There won’t be many times when it took 25 years.

Two weeks ago I finally got my reply. A DC called Gareth called me up and said he had been reading a copy of my letter which had been hidden away in the dusty bowels of some government building or another since April 1989.

He said he would like to drive up to Dumfries to take a formal statement.

To interview me on the record.

I said yes. Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I? That had been the whole point of writing the letter in the first place. To give a true picture of what happened on that desperate day.

I really don’t know the law about all this stuff, so I am going to play completely safe and say nothing that might jeopardise anything the Inquiry might turn up.

Maybe I can make a couple of points.

Gareth came along with another officer, Danielle. They explained that they were both volunteers. They were doing what they were doing because they wanted to, not because they were following orders. I think that is a really good thing. The right thing.

The first thing Gareth did was to give me a copy of the letter I had written twenty five years earlier. I hadn’t kept it myself and it was very strange indeed to read the words of my 28 year old self. The events I described were no different to the events I can remember vividly to this day. They were imprinted then and they remain imprinted now. What I was quite shocked to read was a paragraph where I said that it was clear that a cover up was being put in place.

That is appalling when you think about it. Even after three days I and many others were quite certain that the truth would be buried even though there had been 49,000 eye witnesses and millions watching on live TV.

Well we weren’t wrong.

It turned out to be the mother of all cover ups and it stayed more or less in place for two and a half decades.

Maybe that time has finally come to an end and my letter of 18 April 1989 will be one of many thousands of hidden away documents to finally see the light of day.

The interview lasted a little over four and a half hours – much, much longer than my chat with Michael. Gareth is coming back to Dumfries next week to get me to read over the full statement and sign it off.

And then?

We’ll see.

And we’ll hope.

Which interview will have the greater impact? The ultra formal statement or the chat over Skype?  I have absolutely no idea. What I do know is that the podcast will appear on ITunes and it will be available to any person on God’s green earth to download and have a listen. Some will like it. Some will hate it. What matters is that everyone will free to hear the words spoken.

The extra-ordinary depth and reach of the internet is offering us all the greatest chance of a Brave New World we have ever had. I can only hope that the new online revolutionaries like Michael will prevail and gain a toehold.

If they do, then the people will have a chance for once.

And just because there are no petrol bombs and bullet holes in the wall doesn’t mean it isn’t a real Revolution!    

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


When I am speaking at Indy rallies, I introduce myself as the ‘token English guy’. This is invariably received in the spirit that is intended. It’s called banter. Throughout my eighteen years in Scotland, there has always been plenty of banter. Pals from England have often asked if things ever go beyond the banter stage. Do things ever get nasty? Turn ugly?

I have always found this quite amusing, but it should always be remembered that there are many south of the border who are still convinced that Glasgow is three notches down from 1980’s Beirut. Years worth of apocalyptic films and dramas have filled their souls with terror at the idea of getting off the train at Glasgow Central and walking fifty yards into the deadly streets outside.

Maybe the Commonwealth Games might change some of this nonsense but I’m not holding my breath.

We have always had a fondness for banter on this rainy island of ours. Sometimes it is just a laugh: good natured. Give and take. And other times it can have a darker edge. After eighteen years up here, I am more than happy to report that I have never been involved in a single piece of knock about English/Scottish banter that has ever strayed into the darker areas where violence can appear out of nowhere.

Have I ever been involved in banter which has veered into ugliness? Sure I have. Plenty of times. As someone who has held a season ticket at Anfield for forty years, I am wary of engaging in so called good natured banter with any Man Utd fan. It might start as knock about fun, but it can descend into snarling nastiness in the blink of an eye. Once upon a time I did quite a lot of business in North Wales and I soon gave up on even thinking about engaging in banter with the locals. If you want to find a place where the locals really don’t like the English, then North Wales offers the perfect venue for a case study.

I should point out that we are not just any English family who has trekked north and set down roots. We are a mixed race family. My partner is of Afro-Caribbean descent which of course means that both of my boys are of mixed race. Almost all of the time at school, they were not only the only English lad in their class, but also the only coloured lad as well. Did they get any hassle? Barely any at all. Finding a place where tolerance is the norm was one of the big reasons why we upped sticks and moved out of Blackburn which has become a festering racial tinderbox of a place.

I spoke at a meeting in Dumfries last Friday night and took along a surprise guest, Teni.

Teni’s family fled Nigeria nine years ago when he was eight years old and his twin sisters were three. Maybe a few months ago people might have wondered why they got out of Dodge. That certainly isn’t the case any more.

They lived in London for five years and then moved north to Dumfries. To say they have had a tough time would be a every major understatement. For four years, Teni’s mum Yemesi has been battling to be granted leave for the family to stay from the Home Office. During this period they have not received so much as a penny in benefits. To make things worse, Yemesi has not been allowed to work. Imagine it. Trying to survive in a small town thousands of miles from home as a single mum with three kids and no money. Well the good news is that the family has survived. The fact that they have kept going owes nothing to Government. Instead it has been the local community which has rallied around and supported them. We have done our part by providing food parcels and in return Yemesi bakes 50 cakes a week for us to give out. The local High School have been amazing as parents and teachers have joined forces to make sure the kids have uniforms and the family can put some money in the power meter every now and then.

Thankfully the story has had a happy ending and a few weeks ago a judge in Glasgow gave the family leave to remain. The Home Office lawyer was given two weeks to appeal the decision and thankfully he has remained silent. Yemesi’s twin daughters told the judge about the nightmares they have been experiencing: nightmares where the family is deported back to Nigeria and the monsters of Boko Haram come to take them away in the night.

Last week Teni called in and I suggested that he now has a pretty big decision to make. He is about to be granted a passport and he is 17 years old. As one of Scotland’s newest citizens, he will have a chance to have his say on September 18th. Which way did he think he would vote? There was not so much as a beat of hesitation.


Why? Because of the people. Because of the way the community of Dumfries has made his family so welcome. Because of the way the community of Dumfries has rallied round to keep the family on its feet. He told me it has been so very different from London.


So much better.

So on Friday night at the end of my speech I invited Teni up onto the podium. The poor lad was as nervous as hell, but he spoke really well. And he got a hell of a cheer.

So where is all this leading?

I’ll tell you where. It is leading to my utter disgust at the Sunday Times choosing to poll a sample of English people living in Scotland about their voting intentions on September 18th. The findings?

66% said they would be vote ‘No’ whilst 27% said they would vote ‘Yes’.

The paper then highlighted the fact that when voters who were born in Scotland were polled, 44% said it would be ‘Yes’ against 42% who said it would be ‘No’.

The headline?


What were their motives for commissioning the poll in the first place? Well I think it pretty safe to assume that they had the headline firmly fixed in their minds before they asked a single question of anyone. The idea of course is as old as the hills. It comes from the playbook that once upon a time enabled this little island of ours to rule two thirds of the planet. It’s called divide and rule and the British Establishment are the best there has ever been when it comes to this particular dark art.

Check out all the places where we used to rule the roost and look at the legacy we left. Arab versus Jew in Palestine. White versus black in South Africa. Nuclear Muslim against nuclear Hindu on the Indian/Pakistani border. Catholic versus Protestant in West Belfast. Sunni versus Shia in Iraq. Kikuyu versus everyone else in Kenya. Ibo versus everyone else in Nigeria. Buganda versus everyone else in Uganda

It is a seemingly endless list of some of the world’s bloodiest hotspots where people continue to pay a horrific price for the callous machinations of the British Empire.

And here they are playing the same old nasty games. Right now there are absolutely no issues between the immigrant English and the indigenous Scots. It seems like someone, somewhere has decided to try and put a stop to this state of affairs. Why? For the short term gain of trying to scare people into voting ‘No’ and the hell with the consequences.

I heard a guy from Business Scotland the other week talking about the massive media coverage which will focus in on Scotland during the week of the Referendum. They had done a few calculations to work out what it would cost Visit Scotland to buy in such a monumental amount of global air time.

£800 million!

Wow. And that £800 million can tell one of two stories. It will either be cheering crowds in the streets celebrating the birth of the world’s newest country. Or it will be the sense of brooding emptiness as Scotland becomes the first country in history to shrink back from the chance of Independence.

If there is a ‘No’ vote on September 18th,, a lot of people are going to be absolutely gutted. Seriously gutted. And they are going to ask how on earth could such a thing have happened? And then they might remember that nasty little headline in the Sunday Times.


How will things be for us English immigrants then? Will the banter continue to be friendly? Will there be any banter at all? I doubt it. The callous, shadowy figures who are calling the shots for ‘Better Together’ are cynically setting us up to be the fall guys. Just like they always do. Are you upset that your real wages have dropped since the recession? Well blame the poor. Blame the immigrants. Are you upset that your country has been scared off the chance of a new future? Blame the English in your midst.

The foreigners.

The ones whose accent marks them out.

It might be about to get pretty ugly for half a million of us. Do the ones behind the divide and rule stunt care? Do they hell. Just so long as they can keep their nukes in Coulport and continue to skim the oil revenues, they couldn’t care less what becomes of us.

It is worth making a couple of points before wrapping this up. It might be worth taking a step back and looking at who most of the immigrant English actually are. Most of the ones I have met tend to be retired people who have sold up and moved north for fresh air and less crime. I wonder what the voting stats are for retired people born in Scotland? I am sure the likes of ‘Wings over Scotland’ would be able to show that the voting intentions of the immigrant English are in fact not all that very different from the retired indigenous Scots. My gut feeling is that the statistic is much more down to age than Nationality.

You see, when you think about it, the statistic doesn’t make much sense. There are different kinds of immigrants. There are immigrants like Yemesi and her family who left home to escape danger. And then there are immigrants like me and my family who left home because we wanted to live somewhere better. We didn’t have to leave England. We chose to leave England. And we didn’t have to emigrate to Scotland. We chose to emigrate to Scotland. Why? Because we like Scotland better than England. When you look at it that way, it seems a little odd that we should vote against our chosen home becoming independent.

I have a feeling that the nastiness of the Sunday Times will have a galvanising effect on many English immigrants. I think many will get off the fence and make their feelings known and I will have to stop using my ‘token English guy’ line.

Let’s just hope this will prove to be yet another nasty little ‘Better Together’ scare story that will backfire in their faces.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


One of the great joys of becoming an accidental bit part in the drama of the Independence campaign has been meeting others in the same boat. This is something that seems to be being entirely missed by the mainstream media at the moment. A deliberate miss? Probably. Our newspapers, TV channels and radio stations remain almost entirely focused on what the politicians at the top are saying and doing. This means every word or appearance from the likes of Alex Salmond and David Cameron is picked apart in minute forensic detail whilst the growing grass roots campaign remains almost entirely ignored.

The more I have become involved, the more I get the feeling that the media is completely missing the point. The real beating heart of the steady march to a new country is to found far, far away from the TV studios and the carefully crafted sound bites and photo opportunities.

It’s the grass roots stupid.

Unsurprisingly the media seems to have forgotten all about the concept of grass roots. In a way this is understandable. The British Establishment has been successively ignoring grass roots campaigns for hundreds and hundreds of years.

We can go back through the ages and find a whole host of huge protest movements which put hundreds of thousands of fired up citizens out onto the streets. For hundreds of years we have waved our banners and shouted at the top of our voices. Have we been heard? Not very often.

Most of the time, the Establishment chooses simply to close the shutters and switch up the volume on the TV. Hundreds of thousands of Chartists demanded the vote in the mid nineteenth century and those in power never turned a hair. Likewise the Jarrow marchers were met by closed doors and disdain, as was Ghandi when he gathered up a column of thousands when he walked to the sea to make some salt.

Sometimes, the Establishment does decide to take some notice and then things tend to get pretty ugly. Some of the darkest days in our history played out when those at the top decided to teach the uppity ones at the bottom a lesson they wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

In 1381, Wat Tyler marched an army of thousands into London as the Peasant’s Revolt reached its climax. The King was so scared that he sent out word that he was willing to meet up for a chat. It didn’t turn out to be much of a chat. Instead one of the King’s guys slashed Wat’s Tyler’s throat and that was that. No more Peasant’s Revolt.

In 1819, 80,000 half starved mill workers marched into St Peters Square in Manchester. The Establishment certainly sat up and took notice. They sent in the dragoons with their slashing sabres and when the dust settled there were 15 dead and 700 wounded.

It was much the same story in 1972 when a column of civil rights marchers arrived in Derry’s Bogside where the men of 1 Para were waiting. The Paras used SLR rifles instead of sabres. They killed one less than the Dragoons had managed in Manchester a hundred and fifty years earlier.

Nobody died at Orgreave in 1984, but the striking miners got one hell of a kicking.


We never seem to get anywhere when we take to the streets in our thousands to demand something better. The last time we tried was when Tony Blair was hell bent on getting started on his Iraq adventure. Thankfully he kept the troops in the barracks. He simply switched up the volume on the TV and pretended that everyone loved him as much as they had in 1997.

In Britain, street protest has never got us anywhere. However the ballot box is another thing altogether. Of course the Establishment does all it can to make sure that every time it grants the great unwashed the chance to cast a vote, the dice are appropriately loaded.

The very first whiff of democracy arrived in Britain in the chaotic months after King Charles was beheaded in the 1640s. It took another 286 years for the right to vote to be extended to every man and women over the age of twenty one.

These days the Establishment looks to a fully tame media to make sure the deck is properly rigged. And let’s face it, they are pretty damned good at it.

Today it has emerged that the 1000 richest people in the land have seen their collective wealth go up by over 15% in the last twelve months. It seems like the Great Recession was a carefully designed ruse to make the super rich even super richer. Those thousand people are now collectively worth £600 billion. That is more or less the same as the whole of the annual tax paid by the other 60 million of us. The gilded thousand don’t tend to get involved in all that paying tax nonsense of course. Tax is for the plebs.

You need a hell of a PR operation to enable this kind of thing to happen without the streets filling up with raging mobs all intent on doing a St Petersburg 1917 and smashing down the front doors of the big houses and stealing everything in sight.

The technique employed for many years is well established and hugely successful. Of course it is successful. The figures conclusively prove it to be so. No other country is home to so many billionaires. Are we bothered? Seemingly not. Instead we get all riled up at the thought that some single mum in Walsall might be cheating the benefits system.

Not surprisingly the Establishment has got somewhat complacent. They are absolutely convinced that they have the whole thing wrapped up on a permanent basis. They more or less laugh in our faces.

So what are you going to do about it little people? Oh do be quiet and get back to work.

This complacency is becoming more and more apparent with every passing week as we approach the Referendum vote in September. It was never supposed to be like this. We were supposed to have been well and truly bought off when we were given our devolved Parliament in 1998. They designed the thing with the very greatest care and rigged the system to make absolutely sure that it would be quite impossible for any party to achieve a majority.

It’s quite funny when you think about it. These are the guys who tell us how uniquely wonderful the Westminster system is. Commons, Lords and Queen. Bloody marvellous. Couldn’t be bettered. So why didn’t they chose to copy their perfect Westminster system in the new Parliament in Edinburgh? Well, that’s a no brainer. The Westminster system throws out Governments with huge majorities who can do as they please. No way was anything like that going to happen in Scotland. Not a chance. After all such a majority government might demand an Independence referendum. So they rigged the deck.

Except they didn’t rig it well enough and the nightmare came true. It’s a bit like the banks coming out with a promise to let everyone off their mortgages in the event of the sainted Kate Middleton ever choosing to kiss a frog which would duly turn into a dashing Prince with more hair than the one she’s got. Pretty safe bet, right?

That was how it was supposed to be in the Scottish Parliament. It was the way the Establishment thought they had taken the whole issue off the table for ever. Of course our beloved northern neighbours can have their say whenever they want. All they need to do is to vote in an Independence Party with a clear majority and they can have a Referendum. Of course they can. It has nothing to do with any of us down here in London. It's a decision for the Scots.

It’s the kind of promise that has made the Mafia a shed load of cash in Las Vegas over the years.        

But they got complacent. They got careless. They cocked it up. They failed to rig the system properly and in 2010 the thing that was supposed to be impossible went and happened. The people used the ballot box to elect a pro Independency party with a clear majority.

And now on 18 September their nightmare scenario is going to play out.

I reckon they banked on having one last fall back position. Even if the absolute worst thing in the world should happen, the people of Scotland will never vote to strike out on their own. No chance. Not once the well tried and trusted propaganda machine is revved up and put into action.

Imagine their surprise. At a time when the media has brainwashed us to ignore the fact that a 1000 people are robbing us all blind, the same magic is failing to work in the Referendum campaign.

We are supposed to be scared out of our wits. We are supposed to be appalled at the prospect of the utter poverty we will face should we ever be stupid enough to leave home and try and make our own way in the big, bad world. They really, truly believed they could keep the secret that Scotland will be a whole lot richer than the rest of the UK once it cuts the apron strings. It seems hard to believe that anyone could possibly be so arrogant. But then we need to accept how bloody good they are at this kind of thing. 49,000 of us saw with out eyes exactly what happened at Hillsborough in 1989 and yet they still managed to keep the truth covered up for 25 years. That is some going.

Last year the country had to borrow £100 billion to make ends meet. Last year the thousand richest people in the country saw their wealth go up by £100 billion. You really would think we would sit up and take notice of something so blindingly obvious. But we haven’t. Instead we are choosing to blame the fact that we are all so hard up on poor people and immigrants.

It's the kind of Grade A, weapons grade propaganda that would have Josef Goebbels purring.

All of which explains the extreme reluctance of the Establishment and the main stream media to recognise what is going on at street level up here in Scotland. Unbelievably, we are bucking a trend that has been firmly in place for many hundreds of years.

We are completely ignoring all the propaganda and choosing to do our own thing. Without social media the grass roots surge that is picking up momentum all the time would be kept under wraps. But the old methods just don’t work any more. Sure the newspapers and TV stations can bury the fact that Indy meetings are filling up halls whilst 'Better Together' meetings are all being cancelled because nobody wants to go to them. But YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are not burying the inconvenient fact that the tide is all flowing in one direction.

And nothing the Establishment tries is working any more. They try and scare us with lies and we find it funny. They try and tell us how much they love us and we find it funny. And all the while, all kinds of people who never in a million years imagined they would get involved in anything political are discovering the joys of grass roots agitation.

I’m one of them.

Last week I was chatting with Henry McLelland who is the Chairman of Annan Athletic FC. He agonised for ages about whether to go public about his intention to vote ‘Yes’ until he eventually decided to go for it. He has spoken at meetings and turned up on Annan High St to do some canvassing. Last weekend he was part of a group of 60, 90% of whom had never done anything political in their lives. Is 60 a lot? Well it is when you consider that Annan only has a population of 2000. It is the equivalent of 240,000 people hitting the streets of London to hand out leaflets and do some canvassing. Imagine that Boris! Bloody hell.

The Social Media is providing a window on this unfolding rebellion. And we should make no mistake that this is exactly what this is – a Rebellion. On September 18th the people of Scotland are on target to give the British Establishment the biggest kick in the teeth it has ever received.


We haven’t had any kind of genuine rebellion in Britain for 372 years. During that time just about every other country in the world has had at least one revolution. No wonder the richest people in the world London chose London to buy themselves a safe house.

Now there is a very real rebellion building up an unstoppable momentum. So this isn’t a once in a lifetime thing. It’s a once in 372 years thing.

And that is genuinely something. It’s a hell of a ride. No wonder so many completely different people are climbing on board.

And I am one of them.

Author, charity manager and a token English guy.

So I have a growing list of meetings to speak to.

And tomorrow I will release the first chapter of ‘Toxic’, my Referendum thriller which will be released at a rate of two chapters a week until September 18th.

So what is the main theme? Simple. The Establishment hardly ever loses. Right now they are staring down the barrel of their greatest ever defeat. How far might they go to turn the tide? It is plainly obvious that telling lies and scare stories isn’t working any more. How would it look if they decided to let loose the darker angels of their nature?

‘Toxic’ paints a picture of how the picture might change if the darker forces are let out of the cupboard.

Let’s just hope that such a picture will only ever be found in the realms of fiction! So long as the real world in the background never catches up with the fiction in the foreground of ‘Toxic’, then September 18th promises to be one of the greatest red letter days in the history of our island.     

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Last week we broke our record for the number of food parcels handed out in a single day.


It wasn’t exactly a very old record. It wasn’t Sebastian Coe in the 800 metres or Bob Beamon in the long jump. The record had in fact stood for less than a fortnight. It is the fourth time we've broken our own record in seven weeks.

This rather alarming growth seems to fly in the face of the wonderful economic news we have been hearing of late from our gallant leaders in Westminster. A couple of weeks ago we were all urged to get out and arrange street parties to celebrate the joyous news that the UK’s growth in GDP has rocketed up to a glorious 0.9%.


Doesn’t looking at the wonderful, seductive figure on your screen just make you feel all warm and tingly and basically wonderful. For a while things looked tough, but everything is fine again. If the annual rate in Britain’s GDP is 0.9%, then all is absolutely well with the world. The sun is shining and the birds are singing and the blossom is blossoming. God bless you, George. You're our saviour George.

But George.

Have you got a minute George? It’s just that I would like to ask you a quick question. Sorry to be uppity and yes, I know that I should know my place, but I just can’t quite understand why we keep breaking our food parcel record if things are supposed to be so fine and dandy in the light of this marvellous news about the 0.9% growth rate.

Oh, I see.

Ii doesn’t count because it's Scotland and Scotland is a complete pain in the bloody backside and I should know my bloody place.

I see. Sorry George.

It is clearly funny stuff. This GDP malarkey. George seems so keen to tell us about it, but then he goes and gets all stand-offish and stroppy Old Etonian when you try and ask a simple question.

On Friday night things got even more confusing. I went along to a ‘Yes’ meeting to meet a fellow author who is a part of the campaign. The first speaker of the evening was Richard Arkless from Business Scotland and it was Richard’s job to lay out the basic economic facts which should persuade us all to tick the YES box in four months time.

It took Richard a matter of minutes to get us onto the GDP thing.

The GDP per person across the whole of the UK is £24,000 a year. Oddly enough he failed to mention this has just risen by a marvellous 0.9%, a quite shameful omission which could well earn him a deserved torrent of abuse from a blazing mad George.

What Richard did reveal was the fact that the annual GDP per Scottish person is £28,000. As in £4000 per person more than the rest of the UK. He explained this is one of the reasons why meeting halls across Scotland are filling up with every passing week. The big secret is starting to leak out. It seems like we are not subsidy junkies after all. In fact we are subsidisers. Richard then told us that there is a good reason why there are no similar meetings going down in Wales at the moment. Their GDP per person is only £18,000 a year.

Bloody hell.

I tuned out from Richard for a moment and cranked up my brain for some mental maths.

31 x £28,000? I am not going to pretend that I had it in me to get the exact figure. However I got close because thirty times thirty is 900. I now have the benefit of the calculator feature on my computer.

31 x £28,000 = £868,000

That was the aggregate net annual worth of the 31 people who came through our doors to set a new food parcel record. And whichever way you look at it, £868,000 is the thick end of a million quid.

Let’s look at it another way. £28,000 a year is £76 a day. And according to George, that £76 a day has just rocketed up to £76.75 a day on the back of the big 0.9% news. So everything is tip top and great and all is well with the world.

But hang on a minute here. If those buggers all had £76 a day in their pockets, what in the name of hell did they think they were doing coming into our place for a food parcel? What was that George? Didn’t quite hear you…

Oh right.

Dirty scrounging bastards. I see.

Sorry Nigel. What was that…..

Dirty scrounging immigrant bastards. Oh dear.

They didn’t seem to be scrounging immigrants to me, but maybe they were all actors in the De Niro/Streep class. Which according to George wouldn’t be entirely surprising. For we must always be on our guard. These scrounging immigrant types can be wicked and devious. The clue is in the surname. De Niro? Pacino? And just look at the accents those lads can come up with. Bloody scary isn’t it?

But just for the sake of argument, let’s just assume the 31 people who came in for a food parcel were not immigrants at all. Let’s assume they were exactly what they appeared to be – locally born and bred people.

Ok George. Calm down. I DO realise that it was Nigel who said they were all immigrants. You just said they were scrounging bastards.


There is no way of escaping the fact that we must have been had and had in a pretty big way. Bloody hell. Those buggers had £2356 between them and they had the cheek to come in to us to blag themselves a food parcel.

The swine must have spent the whole lot on drink and drugs and Sky TV and spray on tan and high fat and sugar takeaways.

The rotten lousy good for nothing scrounging swine.

Bring back the birch.

Bring back National Service.

Bring back the Work House.

We should never, ever have given these awful poor people the vote.

And then my attention was reclaimed by Richard and another one of his slides.

It was a map of Britain. It showed the regions in different shades of green and it followed on from a map which had shown those same regions in different colours of blue.

The blue map showed how much GDP each region produced.

The green map showed where all of the GDP ended up.

Ah. Now these maps painted a rather different picture. For the very darkest patch of green was contained by the M25 motorway. And Scotland was painted in a shade of green that was so pale that you could hardly see it at all.

It tells a very different story. It seems that the £28,000 figure represents what people would get if the GDP of a country was divvied up at the end of the year and shared out. But it doesn’t seem like that is happening at all. Instead the green map suggests that the GDP from all over the land flows through a lovingly maintained network of pipes, every one of which terminates in London.

Oh I see.

I guess that is why London this week has for the very first time become home to over a hundred billionaires who between them have over three hundred thousand million quid in the bank.

So maybe the 31 people who came in for a food parcel were on the level after all. Maybe they weren’t undercover immigrants on the scrounge. Maybe they were just people will no money in their pockets and no prospect of getting any.

As in poor.

George… George … have you got a minute George…

No he hasn’t. He’s not in a very good mood. He tends to get cross when you bring up the billionaire list. He’s not on it you see. And that really bugs him.

What was that Nigel?

Oh right.

They’re all bloody immigrants.    


Sunday, May 4, 2014


On Thursday afternoon, I took some time out to do some more research for my referendum thriller, ‘Toxic’. There are many times when researching a thriller can be somewhat less than thrilling and this was very much the case on Thursday afternoon.

A section in the evolving story requires the writer to have an idea of what a ‘Better Together’ rally looks like. That can’t be all that hard, right? There isn’t much that is all that hard to find out in the age of Google.

So I had Googled ‘Better Together Rally’ to find 58 million hits in 0.7 seconds. No problem then. But there was a problem in fact. It seemed that just none of those 58 million hits referred to an actual living, breathing ‘Better Together’ rally with people and chairs and stuff like that.

It goes without saying that Googling the ‘Yes’ side of things will give you an entirely different experience. The video button will take you to a host of YouTube films of grass roots meetings held up and down the length and breadth of Scotland. Just about every one of these videos has more than enough to give a nosey writer all the information they might need to create a fictional equivalent. How many people are there? How old are they? Are they wearing badges and T shirts? Do they seem enthusiastic, involved, engaged, animated? What sort of rooms are staging the events?

You probably get the picture.

Well. It seems that there is no such YouTube record of a run of the mill ‘Better Together’ meeting. Not one. Out of 58 million results in 0.7 seconds.

This rather backs up the theory that Project Fear has become home to the so called disappearing meeting which for a while has a date in the diary and then all of a sudden is to be found no more. Why should this be? Maybe the organisers fear they will not even be able to achieve the requisite one man and his dog?

Bearing this in mind, you will understand why I was pleased to get an e mail from the local ‘Yes’ people highlighting the fact that none other than Ken Clarke was due to rally the troops of Moffat last Thursday afternoon.

Would Ken become yet another ‘disappeared’ statistic? Doubtful. Ken still has a box office appeal. Surely Ken would ensure a room filled with rather more than one man and a dog.

There seemed to be some concern in the e mails I received that steps might be taken to keep anyone wearing a ‘Yes’ badge away from proceedings. Would they really do that? To do so would surely be the worst of idiocy. Yet another open goal. Anyway, it didn’t greatly worry me. I’m not the badge wearing type and I was pretty confident that my Lancashire accent would be enough to be let in.

I struggled to get away in time and it was five minutes past the appointed start time by the time I got parked up. The meeting was held in Moffat Town Hall and large picture windows showed that the room inside was packed. So the man in the Hush Puppies could still pull a crowd.

One squad car and two bored cops seemed to be the extent of the security. For the umpteenth time, it occurred to me that if the guys with the long beards ever allowed their focus to move away from airports in particular and transport systems in general, they would actually find it pretty easy to do some pretty dreadful stuff.

Possibly those clever MI5 people in Thames House had dug out compelling intelligence that suggested that Al Queda are actually rather fond of straight talking Tories in comfortable shoes.

Outside the door to the hall there was a clutch of highly animated people in their early twenties. They were dressed smart and sharp and they were fingering their Ipads with great urgency. Their whispering voices were very public school. No doubt these were the much talked about Oxford University PPE brigade who were vying with each other to be gifted a super safe seat in Kent. Two of them reluctantly opened up a gap for me to squeeze through without taking their eyes from their touch screens for so much as a second.

I found a seat at the back and tuned into the words of the chairlady who said she was a farmer’s wife and promised to run proceedings with an iron fist. She expressed delight at the packed room and explained that to ensure things ran smoothly, they had collected up some advance questions.

So. That was how they planned to avoid any unpleasantness. After all, good old Ken has become something of a National Treasure these days. It wouldn’t do for him to have to deal with any awkward questions from a bunch of pesky nationalist types. No. That really wouldn’t do at all. Much better to write down a few open goals and duly present him with the ball. The iron fist lady promised that if there was time at the end, she just might open up the floor for questions. Oh really?

Next came the Right Honourable David Mundell, the one and only living and breathing Tory MP in the whole of Scotland. I am quite certain that David must be the only human being in the history of mankind to become the butt of a joke that involves him being outnumbered by giant pandas. Now I have to admit that I am speculating about this. I haven’t Googled it. Maybe there are lots of jokes like that to be found in China.

David was as dull as ditchwater. He explained to us that a referendum is a democratic thing and urged us all to abide by whatever decision we all arrive at in September. He hinted that it really would be rather bad form were we to take to the streets with claymores and faces painted with wode. If we vote ‘No’, it will mean that we are still ‘British’. And if we are still British, we all must remember to behave in the tried and trusted British way. With a proper reserve. With our upper lips as stiff as stiff can be. Jolly well done chaps. And jolly well played.

After ten minutes of so of this semolina pudding blandness, the floor was handed to the National Treasure who had once upon a time been John Major’s National Treasurer.

The applause that greeted Ken hardly raised the roof. To be polite, I might call it polite. To be realistic, I would call it tepid. Ken spoke like a man who was bored out of his mind. He rumbled along without so much as a shred of enthusiasm and didn’t say much at all. The crux of his message was that in a very, very bad world, you will be richer and safer if you are as big as possible.

I mentally penned a question, though I doubted I would get the chance to ask it.

Ken. I would like to go back to your theory that it is best to be one of the big kids in the playground if you want to be rich and safe. In the light of this, maybe you could explain why most of the richest ten countries in the world are actually really quite small. I mean Norway and Sweden and Holland and Switzerland. They all seem to be doing alright for themselves on the financial side. And I haven’t noticed anyone going out of their way to either target nuclear missiles at their capital cities or to bomb their underground trains. Why is this, Ken?

Ken was done and dusted inside ten minutes and it was time for the predictable prewritten questions.

Oh my God, how bad will things be if we are not allowed into the EU?

Oh my God, how bad will things be if we are not allowed to use the pound?

Oh my God, how bad will things be if they erect an electric fence at the border with Carlisle?

Ken didn’t have the heart to say the lines expected of him. Well. That has always been his thing.

He pointed out that Scotland is the second richest region in the UK after the South east of England and would be perfectly able to manage on its own. He said he would be delighted to see an Independent Scotland in the EU, but he warned that the Spanish would see things differently: they would do all they could to make sure the Catalans didn’t start getting ideas above their station. He warned that the Governor of the Bank of England would take no heed of Scotland when doing his calculations. Why would he? England is 55 million. Scotland is 5 million. And the guy who appoints the boss at the Bank of England is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As in Whitehall. As in England. Ken’s view was that an Independent Scotland would be better off with its own oil backed currency. Maybe he has a point?

All of the interventions from the floor came from people who were obviously on the ‘Yes’ side of the fence and their comments were met with considerably more applause than anything that came from the top table. Was there in fact a ‘Yes’ majority in the room? Or were the ‘Yes’ people just more inclined to clap? It was impossible to say.

I did a rough head count. About 200. Most were retired, though there were a few middle aged types like me. The pervading atmosphere was one of disappointment. People had come along to see Ken because Ken is always good value on Question Time. But Ken clearly finds Question Time rather more interesting than an afternoon with a bunch of retired people in Moffat.

Was anyone inspired? I very much doubt it. Were they frightened? Maybe. But they probably left no more frightened than they had been when they arrived.

Was there one single thing said all afternoon that gave a shining, positive reason why it is a great thing to be a part of the United Kingdom? Well, I didn’t hear one.

Predictably enough the Chair sadly announced that the sands of time had run out. There would be no time for any questions from the floor. Well fancy that.

She thanked Ken and Dave and she thanked all of us. There had been no iron fist needed after all. She said that David would be saying a few words to send us all on our way and I could stand it no more.

So I made my way through the gaggle of bright young things at the door. They were still locked into their Ipads.

Outside it was still fine and the policemen were still bored. I got into my car and drove back to Dumfries.

Was this the Dambusters?

Was this Project Fear?

None of the above.

This was abject dreariness.        

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Last week I had a day out on the road undertaking some book research. I’ll start off with some background. As regular readers of this blog will already know, over recent months I have become something of an accidental tourist in the Scottish Independence campaign. A few of my blogs on the issue have had many thousands of hits, especially when they have been republished on the ‘Wings Over Scotland’ site. The fact that over 5000 people have so far tune in to watch my efforts at a ‘Yes’ rally in Lockerbie is still a thing I find quite impossible to get my head around.

I still don’t quite know why and how all of this has come to pass. I merely wrote a blog saying that this particular lad from Lancashire will be voting ‘Yes’ on September 18th and things have just gone on from there.

Once you lift the lid on what is happening at the moment, it doesn’t take very long to discover a brilliant grass roots campaign which is picking up speed with every passing week. It reminds me a lot of the Obama campaign which eventually saw Barack handed the keys to the White House. The powers that be said ‘no chance.’ The people on the street agreed with Barack. ‘Yes we can’.

And yes they did.

And all of a sudden it looks more and more likely that the people of Scotland are about to say much the same in September.

Back in 2008, the only thing I could do to help the guy who was as mixed raced as my two lads into the Presidency was to pass a tenner on to an American friend who duly handed it to the Barack campaign. As a non-US national, I wasn’t allowed to make a contribution directly.

Seldom have I ever enjoyed spending a tenner so much.

It is a whole lot easier to get stuck into the ‘Yes’ campaign. Fair enough, I wasn’t born in Scotland and neither were any of my family. Happily this matters not a jot. I live here. I’ve lived here for 18 years and I have no intention of living anywhere else. My lads went to school here. As far as having a voice, residency is considered to be a valid ticket to the ball game.

So I have written my blogs.

And I have had a go at speaking at one rally and I now have a bunch of bookings in the diary to do more in the coming weeks.

Oh yeah, nearly forgot. I have also done my research and fact checking to make sure that I am not about to be a cheerleader for something plain stupid.

I’m not.

If any Scot takes some time out to check a few facts, the decision on which way to vote is a complete no brainer.

If you want to find out these facts in an easy to understand format, get yourself onto ITunes and type ‘Scottish Independence’ into the searchbox. This will take you to the fantastic ‘Scottish Independence Podcast’. When you get there, pick out the podcast from 21 February – ‘The economic case for Indy’. It is clear, concise, and when you absorb the plain and simple facts, I can guarantee you will only cast your vote one way.

What amazes me, though it really shouldn’t, is the sheer audacity of the propaganda which is being thrown at us with such increasing desperation by the ‘Better Together’ people. If you check out the podcast, you will start to get a handle on why this is. 'Better Together' are like the debt ridden family members of a rich, dying aunt who is making noises about leaving all her wealth to a cats home.

Britain only has two regions which generate a tax surplus. This of course means that these two regions have to pick up the tab for everywhere else. One region is London and the South East.

The other region is Scotland.

So if Scotland chooses to up sticks to become the next Finland, then those nice people in London and the South East will be left to pick up all the bills all on their own.

Oh diddums.

No wonder Boris and his boys are getting their knickers in such a twist.

To lose Scotland will hit the government in Westminster where it hurts most: in the pocket.

Big time.

So no wonder they are throwing the kitchen sink at 'Project Fear'.

Is it working? Well the answer to that one can be seen pretty clearly in the opinion polls which are narrowing by the week.

However, my digging got me to wondering if the desperation of the London Establishment to hang onto its Northern colony was entirely down to cold hard cash. Might there be other reasons? Darker reasons?

And then an idea jumped into my head. How’s about coming up with a story for a new book? The premis? The premis is that there is some darker than dark secret hidden away which will be in danger of being uncovered should there be a ‘Yes’ vote in September. It is classic conspiracy thriller stuff, I know. Hell guys, I AM a writer of pulp fiction when all is said and done!

Once I had that idea, another idea jumped into my tired old brain with a two footed tackle. Why not dust down a way of doing things which used to play big in Victorian times? Why not make like Charles Dickens? This does not involve Mark Frankland suddenly aspiring to literary greatness. God forbid. Such an option will never be on the table for a dyslexic old Lancastrian who was the bane of his English teacher’s life. Nope. Not that. Where I can make like Dickens is to release the new book in chapters. Two chapters a week, via this blog page. No charge. Free at the point of delivery. Tell the tale in real time as Scotland’s September date with destiny draws ever closer.

And as the story gathers speed and starts to close in on a last chapter climax, the referendum campaign in the background will do exactly the same. The unfolding events in my fictional world will play out in front of the backdrop of the real world.

Well. That’s the theory, and by hook or by crook I going to do it. My mind is made up on that one. The first Chapter will appear right here on Monday 19th May and then there will be two chapters a week from there on in.

The title is ‘Toxic’ by the way.


Where to find a starting point?

Where do you find a place which might harbour the kind of toxic secret that people might go to just about any lengths to keep hidden?

The place lies just under a hundred miles north of Dumfries and last week I took a drive up there. Up through the old coal towns of the Nith valley. Past Kilmarnock and up the hill until the sprawl of Glasgow is spread out below. Down the M77 and then left at Junction 1. Traffic lights and the high red walls and bevelled glass of Ibrox park. Onto the M8 and westwards past the riverbank where the ships of Empire were once upon a time bolted together.

Erskine Bridge and a view to stir the soul. To the east is a vista of old cranes and warehouses and distant tower blocks. To the west is pure Rob Roy. Sparkling lochs and ancient mountains.

A view to make you mutter ‘wow’ under your breath.

Then Dumbarton.

Big, fine, square stone buildings. A hundred and fifty years ago they must have been quite something. Back in the day. When ship after ship brought the spoils of Empire up the Clyde.

Now everything is faded. Lots of shops are boarded up and graffiti covered. Now there are pound shops and bookies and pawnbrokers. A Wonga Britain town. A Tesco town.

A red light.

A stick thin woman hobbling across the road. A snap view into hollowed eyes craving the next tenner bag of heroin.

An utterly ghastly oblong box of a building from the 1970’s. A government building looking ready to be bulldozed. Its windows are home to a gallery of gaudy yellow posters.


Helensbugh next and more memories of better times. A long esplanade bathed in the sun. Dog walkers and cyclists. A sensational view over the water to Greenock. Struggling tourist shops. A woman sitting in a bus shelter with opiate glazed eyes.

Now the road narrows down and winds around rocky outcrops which are home to busy oystercatchers.

Pleasure boats bobbing on a gentle swell. Small farms with small fields. A manicured golf course greening up with the coming Spring.

And then with no word of a warning, the road is very straight. And very wide. And spectacularly well maintained. No potholes here.

One on side of the road there is a cluster of gaudily painted caravans that look ready to fall to bits.


On the other side of the road is a fifteen foot high fence topped with razor wire. And through the fence there are two banks of coiled up razor wire. Cameras. Warning signs. Glimpses of buildings.

Three police Range Rovers in half a mile.

A set of main gates. Cops cradling sub-machine guns looking bored. A small queue of vehicles waiting to be checked through.

Next comes Garelochhead. Postcard pretty with its white houses and its pubs and its long views. The road is small again now. It loops around the head of the loch and down the other side.

A lay-by. A fine clear view of Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde across 300 years of water.


Home to 7000 human beings and a fleet of submarines which live in a giant box of a building.

The comfortable silence is broken up up the sound of an outboard motor. A dingy buzzing like an angry bee with ‘POLICE’ written in black on a yellow background. Two cops. One at the tiller. One standing up with a semi-automatic hung from his neck.

They slow down.

They check me out from 50 yards.

They neither nod nor smile.

They just speed away down the loch.

A sign to the right says ‘Coulport’.

Indicate and make the turn. Up and up to the top of the hill and behind me the huge, jaw dropping vista of the Clyde Basin opens up.


Over the hill and down the other side to the waters of Loch Long. A 'T' junction. Turn right for Coulport. Turn right toward the heart of the nation’s darkness. Coulport. Our very own Hall of the Mountain King. Coulport. Weighing in at £2 billion, it represents the second greatest capital spend in the history of Britain after the Channel Tunnel. Huge caverns hacked from the stone belly of the mountain. And these vast Lord of the Rings caves are home to neither dwarves nor trolls. Instead they provide a subterranean lair for our treasured trove of 100 Trident missiles.

Plenty enough to vaporise 100 million Russians.

Coulport: the very last vestige of what was once the greatest Empire the world had ever seen. Our last ticket to the big boys club of the UN Security Council. Our last cherished memory of what we used to be.

The signs are very clear about the issue of stopping your car anywhere near Coulport. It is absolutely not an option. Sign after sign after sign. You are now on MOD land. This is our place. And these are our rules. And you will abide by those rules. This is what a militarised zone looks like.

Forget the postcard scenery.

Forget the pretty little villages by the water.

This is another world. And once again the road is ridiculously out of place as it heads back up the hill. It is wide enough for four thirty eight tonners to drive side by side. There’s a weird looking green giant of a truck headed down the hill with a Police Range Rover riding shot gun.

More nuclear trolls for the Hall of the Mountain King.

Mass death on an artic truck.

There is a an area of gravel at the top of the hill. It offers a bird’s eye view into the submarine base a thousand feet below. It offers a vast panorama of lochs and mountains.

I pull up. I get out. I light a fag. I feel the gentle breeze on my face.

Of course I know they will come. But 40 seconds! Boy oh boy, these lads are jumpy.

One Range Rover. Two cops. Faces as serious as cancer. Automatic weapons cradled.

“What do you think you are doing?”

“I’m looking at the view.”

“There is no stopping here sir. Didn’t you see the signs?”

“Signs? What signs?” I can play dumb with the best of them.

“This is an MOD road. A military road. No stopping. It is an Urban Clearway.”

I know I really shouldn’t laugh but I can’t help it.

“Urban Clearway! I have never seen anywhere less urban in my life.”

“Get back in the car sir.”

I get back in the car. I drive to the end of the military road and back onto the civilian roads. Roads where you are allowed to stop and take in the view. Roads where there are no armed men guarding the lay-bys.

Back through Garelochhead.

Back past the gates to Faslane.

Back to the place where a ragtag collection of old caravans has made a home in a small wood.

I park up in front of a rusty gate carrying yet another cheery message from Whitehall.


But the sign on the fence a few yards away is rather more encouraging.


And this visitor is indeed welcome. They are an eclectic bunch of people to say the least. Two guys with Glasgow accents and wild dreadlocked hair. Enthusiastic kids sporting the Huckleberry Finn look. A nine year old takes me through the white board on the wall which keeps a record of what submarines are in the base on the other side of the fence.

Today it is one Astute and one Vanguard. She’s pretty damned on the ball for a nine year old. Maybe in a decade’s time she will be a press officer for Greenpeace. I bet she'll be the best they've ever had. There’s a young lad from Portugul who doesn’t speak a word. There’s a Belgian veteran of peace camps all over Europe who has been summoned home by her government to take an updated medical. There’s a very serious young lady with a London accent who is stacking logs and viewing me with the suspicion of someone who sees MI5 in every visitor.

They give me coffee and they answer all my questions with the vivacity of true believers. They are very good people.

They offer a vision of peace and a future for mankind.

They are the chalk to Coulport’s cheese.

Coulport, whose caves are home to visions of the very worst kind of radioactive hell. Of decade after decade of famine and cancers the likes of which we have never seen before.

The dark heart of the Realm with a £2 billion price tag.

The £2 billion was spent as recently as the 1990’s. Whitehall considered Coulport to be a long term investment. The caverns of Coulport are to offer a secure home for our country’s nukes for ever and ever amen.

But that all might be about to change on September 18th

And on September 19th the MOD in Whitehall might be about to get the eviction notice to end all eviction notices.

No wonder they are fighting like cornered rats. Because without Coulport, the very last vestiges of British Imperial power will finally be stripped away. Sure they might find somewhere else for the nukes, but right now it doesn’t look all that promising.

Research job done.

Where is the best place to house the kind of toxic secret which might provoke dark forces into doing dark deeds to bring in a ‘No’ vote?

HMNB Clyde.

RNAD Coulport.

The dark heart.

The Halls of the Mountain King.

The perfect place for a toxic secret.