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.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


I think it's fair to say the Scots and the English have had a few pretty tasty bust ups over the last couple of thousand years. We've been at it all the way back to the good days when Hadrian managed to knock up the kind of wall Trump can only dream off. We were at it at Bannockburn and Culloden when there were plenty of bodies left lying on the battlefield. We were at it at Wembley in 1977 when the battlefield turf was ripped up and re-planted in back gardens across Scotland.

Every now and then the Scots have had the chance to throw a party and drink the pubs dry. Much more often, the bust ups have involved the Scots being required to take up the foetal position and grit our teeth through yet another kicking. Like the Clearances. Like when Maggie took a wrecking ball to the ship yards and the coal mines. Like when Cameron stood outside Number 10 and rubbed it in like only an Etonian twat can rub it in.

And year by year and century by century, our masters in London have lovingly added straw after straw to our camel's back. It's been like a never ending game of Colonial Jenga. Another and another and another...

And as they have piled up the straws, just about every other colony has cut the cord and ridden off into the sunset. But not Scotland. Never Scotland. Our rulers in London have enjoyed a free hand to do pretty much anything they like. And we have been like the long abused wife. Why won't she leave? How can she put up with it? Day after day and month after month and year and year after year...? And he's such a complete bastard.... And yet she still won't leave....

It puts me in mind of Trump's statement on 2016 campaign trail when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and still retain the undying love of his treasured base.

But in the end, even the strongest camel's back will snap when a tipping point is reached and passed.

After the vast dramas played out on the battlefields of the ages, how ironic it might prove to be if the final straw was fifteen minutes of school yard nonsense played out on the floor of the House of Commons.

Emperor Hadrian, King Edward the Second, the Duke of Cumberland, Margaret Thatcher.......

David Lidington.

David Lidington!

As T.S. Eliot once upon a time said, 'This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.'

That's David Lidington. A whimper in human form. Every inch the archetypal insipid Tory. Of a weekend, he's the kind of guy you'd find selling raffle tickets at a church fete somewhere in the Cotswolds. He's followed a well trodden path from nice public school to Cambridge to MP for Aylesbury. Once upon a time he wrote a PHD on 'The enforcement of penal statutes at the court of the Exchequer 1558 - 1576.' Oh yeah. he most surely did. Then he honed his Tory dark arts with BP and Rio Tinto before signing on as a special advisor for Douglas Hurd and Queen Maggie. His special advice proved to be sufficiently special for him to be granted his super safe, blue rinse seat in 1992

And for twenty something years he has minced along happily. Every now and then he has had to negotiate a few bumps in the road. His local paper was a bit pissed off when he was found to be burning his through an eye watering £116,000 a year's worth of expenses. They were even more pissed off when they caught him claiming for toothpaste, shower gel, body spray and vitamin supplements. Now that's what you can properly call mincing corruption.

And so after all the vast unfolded dramas, the thunder of cannon, the crash of cavalry hooves, the agonised screams of men with hacked off limbs and spilt entrails, after all that, we had David Lidington getting to his feet and mincing his way through a fifteen minute filibuster. 

Filibuster. Yeah, right. Like some quaint public school tradition. And fair enough, on the surface of things it is better than other public school traditions which tend to involve buggering the new kid.

The Tory benches tittered appreciatively. Jolly good David. Sock it to 'em Liddus. Both barrels old chap. Let the unwashed buggers know who's in charge here. Tally Ho! 300 to 40. How d'ya like that then? 

Job done and not a cannon fired. Pats on the back and a well earned G and T in the bar for good old Liddus. Bloody good show. 

And Twitter north of Gretna got a bit uppity. There were plenty of outraged words but aren't there always? People are outraged all the time on Twitter. No doubt there would have been more than a few on the Tory benches who secretly hankered for some cannon smoke and spilt guts. But hey, ho. Mincing Liddus did 'em proud enough. A solid chap for the Lords one day. Safe pair of hands. And who's going to notice anyway? 

Well, quite. The Scots? Do me a favour. 

And if the big SNP walkout had been a little more meek, then it still might have been OK. If they had filed out from the chamber with an air of offended dignity, then Liddus might have hung on to his man of the hour status.

But it wasn't that kind of walk out. Instead it was a proper Scottish walk out. As the Tory benches brayed, the departing body language would have put a smile on the faces of the ghosts of all those guys who bled out at Bannockburn and Culloden. It was the pointing which did it for me. Proper pointing which carried a crystal clear unspoken message. Wanna step outside, pal? 

Pure YouTube gold. Thirty seconds worth of Friday night aggression guaranteed to rally the troops. And as someone who has been yearning for an end to the painful politeness, I punched the air. 

I reckon the walk out will prove to be an all the king's horses and all the king's men moment for our London rulers. Oh they'll shrug it off and look down their noses and mock. And the Mail and Sun will wade in with all kinds of puffed up outrage. And they will hurl out pelters and present their smug faces to the TV cameras.

And they won't have a clue about how things will play out in the pubs of Scotland this weekend. Because there is a choice here. Do you want to side with the mincing little Tory from Aylesbury? Or do you want to side with the lads doing the pointing?

I wonder how many No voters quietly moved across into the Yes tent last night? My gut feeling says plenty. More than plenty. Tens of thousands.

The straw to finally break the camel's back.

And hopefully we'll all start to wake up to the fact that we're not lining up against the likes of Edward and Cumberland and Thatcher. All they have now is Lidington.

And Mundell.

And Rees Mogg.

And May.

Pygmies one and all.

I heard an extraordinary fact last week. It is a fact which says everything about why the time has arrived for Scotland to choose the lifeboat option and get away from the Titanic whilst we have the chance.

OK. We all know the world is moving at a thousand miles an hour. Robotics, genetics, alternative power, algorithms, you know the kind of thing. And every government in the world is preaching the need for as many smart people as the universities can churn out to try and surf the crashing waves. Every man and his dog is screaming for more engineers and programmers and the like.

So here's the thing. A university did some research which went something like this. If you are a straight A student leaving school and all you are bothered about is making as much money as you possibly can, what subject would you study and where would you study it? Well it has to be engineering or something to so with computers and economics or the law. Surely? I mean if you want to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

Well I guess if they had asked the question in Germany or China or India, that might well have been the answer. But not here. Not in Titanic Britain. Not even close.

The answer? Any clues? Any gut feelings? No.....?


At Oxford.

Yup. A degree which involves studying Plato and the lads in the original Latin. And let's face it the only places where you're going to learn that kind of Latin are the right kind of public schools.

Fair enough, a knowledge of Classics in the original Latin offers nothing when it comes to riding the wild storm waves of the 21st Century. Instead it proves you're the right sort of chap. A good fit for the shining towers of the City of London where the world's dirty money is laundered and all those lovely fat bonus cheques are to be found......

Classics at bloody Oxford.......

David bloody Lidington .......

The United bloody Kingdom.....

One last straw.......

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


I was giving a talk at a festival in Moniave on Saturday morning which meant I didn't get to Dumfries until 12.30. When I first chatted online to one of the organisers of the town's Independence march a few months ago, he told me they hoped to maybe put 500 onto the streets. The day before there had been some Facebook talk of 2000. I have to admit this got my head shaking. I mean this is Dumfries when all is said and done. 66% 'NO' despite the likes of me throwing the kitchen sink at the thing back in 2014. 2000? well, maybe.

The roads into the town centre were all closed off so I parked up and walked onto Buccleuch St bridge and duly stopped dead in my tracks.

A sea of blue and white all the way up to the top of Buccleuch St. A sea of blue and white all the way to the far end of Whitesands. A sea of blue and white which must have been at least a mile long and probably then some.

Astounding. So 2000 had indeed been completely wrong: just not in the way everyone thought. 

By the time I reached Dock Park, people were talking about a tweet from the local cops. 


Bloody hell. 10,000 right bang slap in the very heart of Better Together Central. 

I walked along Whitesands with Christiana, Dami and John, the Nigerian family we have supported for two years whilst they have waited and waited on the Home Office. The sight of young John enthusiastically joining in chants for an Independent Scotland couldn't help but put a smile on my face. And the smile stayed wrapped across my face for the next few hours.

And yet, underneath the smile I also felt a slow burn kind of anger. All around me were 10,000 similarly smiling faces enjoying the spring sunshine and basking in a sense of unity. I was angry at the way such people are constantly portrayed by the ghastly Unionist media. I was angry because these nasty, English owned rags continue to make up fairytales about how dark and divisive InyRef was.

It wasn't of course. It was like this. A celebration. A carnival. A blossoming of hope which went on through the weeks of a hot summer and found its crescendo in September 2014.

Our referendum did not open a Pandora's Box of racism and bigotry like the Brexit vote. Those who bought into the idea of becoming a shiny Nordic place took to the streets and waved flags. Those who didn't stayed home and quietly put a cross in the 'NO' box.

As is their absolute right of course. They don't boast about it. I never, ever seem to meet anyone who owns up to voting 'NO' back in 2014. They did what they did quietly and they have stayed quiet about it to this day.

As I stood on the bridge and absorbed the extraordinary scenes in front of me, my mind couldn't help but wander back to Buccleuch St on the morning of September 19, 2014.

I arrived at work lacking sleep and a will to live. I recall a thin rain. A few cars. A couple of pedestrians. Forlorn 'YES' signs in forlorn windows. A sparkling future ripped away. How would the street have looked if we had won? Wow. Party time. And the party would have gone on for weeks. Better Together didn't throw a party. Those who voted 'NO' retreated behind their locked doors and kept it to themselves. We are told the Queen purred. Cameron stood on the steps of Number 10 and spat out a mouthful of poison.

He might as well have stood there and screamed 'SUCKERS!!!!'

And now we have a Government in Edinburgh who seem to be banned from even uttering the word 'Independence'. They seem to be running from Ruth Davidson and the Daily Mail like a Pakistani schoolboy being pursued by fifty skinheads dosed to their eyeballs on Meth.

We are so constantly polite. There must be a whole bunch of dead guys spinning in their graves at our endless politeness. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you George Washington and Charles Stuart Parnell and Mahatma Gandhi and Kwami Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta and Gamal Nasser. I suppose I best also give you our very own local boy, Robert the Bruce.

None of these guys did polite. History teaches us very clearly all about how to get out from under the stamp of London Rule. You don't do it by being polite. You do it by getting right in their faces.

And as I stood on Buccleuch St bridge, my eyes feasted on the sight of ten thousand people basically saying stuff being polite. Truly a sight for sore eyes.

Good people. Young and old. All types. All colours. From skipping kids to mobility scooters. And just about each and every one of them waving a flag.

At this point I need to remember to say a big thanks to everyone who donated food and cash to First Base. It came to about £1000. And it was appreciated . Of course it was appreciated. The march will help us to get our Independence sometime in the years to come. In the meantime, it will make sure a few people don't have to go hungry in the next few weeks.

Special mentions need to be made for Wings over Scotland, the guys who organised the 'Aye Night' in Castle Douglas a couple of weeks ago, and the local SNP office who stored all the donated food.

Later I got myself onto YouTube. As you do, right? Lots of videos of Dumfries looking like it has never looked before. Someone worked out the town hadn't seen such a gathering since the funeral of Robert Burns.

And then there was an ITV News interview with local Tory MSP, Oliver Mundell. Yeah, that's right. The son of the esteemed Secretary of State for Scotland. He looked like an ISIS guy had forced him to chew a mouthful of rotten prawns at the point of an AK47.

So Mr Mundell, what are your thoughts about the march in Dumfries today?

Now there could have been plenty of handy fire exits for a politician with a bit of class about them. Maybe Oliver might have tried something like this on for size.

First up, smile. Look like a regular guy.

'Well of course, I don't exactly agree with all the people who have filled the streets of Dumfries today. But when all is said and done I am a democrat, and it is hard not to be enthused by such a display. The police tell me the march has been entirely peaceful, and I think this says much about what a great country Scotland is.....'

Now that would have been a touch of class. Well, I think it would have been.

But Oliver didn't say that. Instead he glowered into the camera like a spoilt brat who had not received what he wanted for Christmas. He described the march as 'A complete waste of time'.

Oh dear.

And then he went one better and said it was 'affront' to all the decent people who voted NO in 2014.

Really, Oliver?

Abhorrent? Are you being serious? Continuing to believe in something is an affront? Maybe you should stop and think about this nonsense for a minute.

William Wilberforce didn't get slavery abolished at the first attempt. I guess it must have been a affront to all those decent slave owners when he just kept on trying.

The pesky Irish kept bleating on about Independence for fifty years before they got it. An affront.

Ditto the other 40 or so countries who finally managed the shake themselves free of London's grasp.

In 1939 we sent an expeditionary force across the Channel to take on Hitler only to see them sent packing a year later. It must have seemed like an absolute affront when we showed the ill grace to have another go in June 1944.

So here's the thing, Oliver. It's called living in a country where having an opinion is allowed. It is our hard won right. And it shouldn't be an affront to anyone.

Not that I am about to moan about it. Because every time you and your dad behave like petulant schoolboys you add another few hundred to our ranks.

So keep on spitting the dummy, Oliver.

Cue a few words from Peter Gabriel's homage to the great Steve Biko

'You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the fames begin to catch 
The wind will blow it higher.'