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, March 29, 2017


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So, that's it done. The starting gun has been fired, There were no unforeseen nightmares in the Scottish Parliament. The vote for Indyref 2 was comfortably carried by 69 to 59. Which means it is time for all of us on the YES side to get our game heads on.

Once again the Unionists couldn't have done a finer job of making our argument for us. They seem so very convinced the way to keep their beloved Union together is to be be as arrogant and nasty as possible. Well, best of luck with that one guys. Please carry on.

Now the phoney war begins in earnest. We will hammer home our right to have a referendum at a time of our choosing and they will look down their patrician noses and tell us to go and sit on the naughty step. Do they really think this is a stance which will play well up here? I doubt it. Surely they cannot possibly be that stupid? 

It seems clear to me this determination to shoot themselves in the foot as many times as possible is driven by pure desperation. We all know it is a lousy idea to try to ignore those nasty letters from the credit card company. Does this mean we always open them and face up to the unpleasant truth? Of course we don't. Instead we hide the nasty letters under a pile of junk mail and pretend they don't exist. It is a truly lousy idea but we do it all the same. I think the ludicrous Unionist reaction to the prospect of Indyref 2 is much the same. Oh my God, this is a nightmare! Just put it off for Christ's sake.....

The smart move would be to show a whole lot of class and say of course the people of Scotland have the absolute right to determine their future at a time of their choosing. We wouldn't dream of denying this. How could we? We are the very cradle of democracy after all. The mother of all Parliaments. We have nothing but respect for our Scottish brothers and sisters and this is why we will try as hard as possible to persuade them not to desert us.

Think about it. Such a reaction would give us a few headaches. Such a reaction would firm up the resolve of instinctive remainers. Such a reaction would make the UK feel like the kind of place where everybody's voice is heard with consideration and good manners. Had Theresa May taken time out to think before she spoke, she might have recalled how a smiling Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in London and told Thatcher how he was about to become her worst nightmare. How? He told her he was going to take her enemy away. 

Ever since 2014 the Unionists have squandered opportunity after opportunity to hang onto the British Empire's last significant colony. On 19 September 2014, Cameron might have walked out of Downing St and said something along the lines of 'we promised the nearest thing to Federalism and by God we are going to be true to our word.' Imagine if they had actually delivered the dreaded 'Vow' and kept their promises. The prospect of Independence would have been pretty distant. 

But he didn't do any such thing of course. Instead he pandered to the right wing nutters in his party and rabbited on about English votes for English laws. 

Once again the unionists have blown a golden opportunity. Had they been gracious and happily allowed a referendum at a time of the Scottish Parliament's choosing, our job would have been a great deal harder. But they didn't because such a course of action would have meant upsetting the Daily Mail and it is now abundantly clear that pleasing the Daily Mail is the only thing Theresa May cares about.

So they are going to play out their tough guy Tory act. The Daily Mail will cheer them to the rafters and the people of Scotland will hate it. So carry on guys. Carry on and on and on. The more the merrier.

We now know the Referendum is coming which means we need to start getting our ducks in an orderly as soon as possible. We came close in 2014, but we didn't win. 

They won.

And this time it can not and it must not happen again. If they win again, our future is seriously dark. Yesterday we stepped into the last chance saloon. This is the last chance we are going to have to hop into a life boat before the Titanic slips under the sub zero waters of the North Atlantic. The world is splitting into camps and we still have the chance of joining with the good guys. If we allow the unionists to win the day, we have to accept a future in the camp of Trump and all the other right wing xenophobes who are inching ever closer to full on fascism. 

If we are to win, we need to take a long hard look at why we lost last time. Whole books have been written on the subject and many very obvious answers have been found. 

Next time there are a few things we need to do differently. 

Better. Smarter. 

Of course we will need to rekindle all of the vibrancy and optimism we unleashed last time. The optimism of the YES campaign won over a significant majority of the under 50's. Sadly it seemed to send the over 60's further into the arms of Better Together. It is a sad fact of life that many older folk resent the sight of younger folk having a good time. When a bunch of teenagers outside a Spar shop to have a laugh on a warm summer's evening, who is it who calls the cops to complain? 

All of us on the YES side will love the sight of huge crowds of optimistic young people asking for a brighter future. Sadly many in the silver haired generation will see things rather differently. And if we don't find new and imaginative ways to talk to our No voting elders, they might well once again carry the day for the unionists.

This of course is a huge problem. We are strong on social media and hated by the mainstream media. Is there anything we can do to persuade the likes of the Mail and the Sun and the Express to give us a fair hearing? Nope. Hell will freeze over first. The tabloid press will tell lie after lie after lie and there isn't a thing we can do about it. These are the papers the older generation read. More to the point, these are the papers the older generation trusts. It is the habit of their lifetimes. Will the BBC step up to the plate to offer proper balance? After last time it seems highly unlikely.

So how on earth are we to get a hearing from the older generation? How do we make the case for a future they have little stake in? It ain't easy but we absolutely have to come up with a solution to the problem. 

I guess we need to start by asking some simple questions. Who do the older generation listen to? Well, there is the tabloid press and the BBC. Can we do anything to get them onside? Not a chance. So who else? Family. Grandchildren. Now here we might just be onto something. Grandparents almost always love their grandchildren. It is one hell of a bond and we need to find as many ways as we can to use this bond.

I was chatting with Joan McAlpine MSP last week and punted an idea. What if we were to commission a range of twenty large postcards. Each would carry a drop dead gorgeous view of Scotland. You know the kind of thing. Lochs and glens and stags. The kind of thing which would look great on any mantlepiece. All of the cards would be pre-paid and on the back they would have a strap line something along the lines of 'Please let me have the future I dream of.' And then? Then we persuade as many youngsters as we can to fill in a card and send it to their grandparents. And not just one. One a week. Two a week. And when they next meet up with their grandparents, there is bound to be a conversation about all the postcards they have been receiving. 

Basically we use modern communications to sign up youngsters to do their bit via the social media. Then we use old school communications by using the Royal Mail to deliver the postcards. And finally we use even older school communications as young YES supporters have a face to face chat with their grandparents. 

How many votes might something like this turn to our side? Who knows? What we do know is every vote we can win from the silver haired generation will count double.

In hindsight, I wonder if we were rather too nice last time around. It is hard not to wholeheartedly agree with Michelle Obama when she says 'if they go low, we go high.' It is hard not to agree because she is so very right. But there is a problem. Last time they went low and we went high and they won. Just like Trump won having plumbed depths nobody ever thought would be plumbed. We are about to be in a street fight and maybe we need to use a few of the techniques of the street fighter.

The other day I heard some interesting stuff about the famous £353 million a week the NHS was promised by the Leavers in the EU referendum. There was an awful lot of thinking behind this very blatant nonsense. They started with the gross annual UK contribution to the EU. £353 million a week. Then they very deliberately decided to ignore all the cash we got back in the form of projects and rebate. They did this because they knew the media would immediately jump all over them. Of course it isn't £353 million a week!! The net figure is actually £200 million!!'

This very deliberate lie guaranteed the £353 million stayed on the front pages for the whole of the campaign. If they had put £200 million a week on the side of their bus, it would barely have got a mention. They rightly calculated the lie would become the story and the story would run and run. And what did the public get from it? Simple. They got the fact we were sending a whole bunch of money to Brussels and they didn't like it.

Clever, clever, clever...

Could we on the YES side copy some of this? I think we could. Maybe things like this. Imagine if these billboards were to appear all over Scotland.


I don't know the actual figures. They don't really matter. What matters is the Unionists would go absolutely mental and say things like 'It didn't cost £100 billion, it was only £50 billion,...' or  'We didn't steal the oil money because it wasn't Scotland's oil money, it was the UK's oil money...' It would run and run and run. And what would people take from it? Simple. They used our a whole bunch of our  money to build a motorway around their capital city.


Or maybe this.


Cue all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth. 'Scotland doesn't spend £50 million a week on Trident, it only spends £30 million a week.....' 


I know it would be nice to always occupy the very highest of the moral high ground, but when the opposition fights so very dirty we might have to do a bit of it ourselves. 

Whenever the next referendum comes around one thing is certain. Winning will be absolutely everything. We can't simply repeat what we did last time. We need to be better. And maybe we will need to be just a little meaner. We know they will have absolutely no scruples whatsoever. It might just be time to drop a few of ours. 

One thing is for sure. The YES side will be deploying a few of the dark arts even though this will be none of our doing. Is this a riddle? Maybe. 'A riddle wrapped inside a mystery in an enigma'. Remember the quote? It was Winston Churchill describing Russia. The rest of the quote runs '...but there is a key. The key is Russian national Interest.' I have no doubt who's side Vladimir Putin will be taking in the coming Referendum. So long as an Independent Scotland plans to evict the Trident submarines, we will be receiving the full support of Vladimir's merry band of cyber warriors whether we ask for it or not!  


  1. Another good idea would be to get the written constitution ready for application on Day 1 of the Independent Scotland. A Scotland with no discrimination against or bias towards any section of society. Equality for all regardless of age, gender, wealth, education, class, ethnicity, religious affiliation or not, sexual orientation or otherwise, and for every person living in the country. And a truly proportional parliament of 200 members absorbing those who served both at Westminster and Holyrood. With a pledge to serve the people of Scotland, with no Official Secrets to be kept from them.

  2. Agreed. Gloves need to come off with respect to the media. SNP need to start playing hardball with media, in particular the BBC. I like your idea about the postcards for oldies. Whatever we do we need to address that generation & who better to do it than their grandkids. But we also need to ignore the die hard unionists & concentrate all out efforts on the potentially persuadable. We need to address the conservative voters (capital 'C' or not) with a vision of Scotland that speaks to them even if a large number of us want a more left wing, egalitarian society.


  3. Love the postcard idea. As a granny, I would certainly find these hard to ignore.