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.

Sunday, December 19, 2021



Once upon a time First Base used to get lots and lots of Christmas cards. My, how dim and distant this particular past suddenly looks. The salad days of New Labour when there was a quango for everything from the Methadone programme to anti social behaviour. I could easily have attended two meetings every single day, each and every one complete with a £20 a head budget for a finger buffet fit for Royalty.

Bloody hell. Asbos! The quango wallahs loved nothing more than to call a meeting to chew over the Asbo fat. Surely never in history have so many Vol -Au-Vents been consumed whilst fat has has been chewed to such pathetically little effect.


The point.

The civil servants tasked with heading up all those New Labour quangos were always furnished with a generous budget for Christmas cards and did they ever use it!

So we received stacks of cards and bugger all funding. Those who spent their days trying to starve us out for the crime of exposing inconvenient truths in the press were more than happy to use up a bit of their budget on wishing us a Happy Christmas.

Well, those days are very much a thing of the very distant past and the age austerity means barely a card lands on our mat any more.

I dare say it won't come as any surprise to hear we ain't exactly shedding bucket loads of tears.

So far this December, First Base has received a grand total of four cards.

Which is absolutely fine by us because we have received an overwhelming number of food and cash donations.

But one card was a very special card.

Oh yes.

First Base received a card from the Viceroy.

The Right Honourable Alister Jack MP, the Secretary of State for Scotland and our very own Colonial Master.


A spot of reality checking is very much in order here.

Has First Base received a card from the Viceroy as an official recognition from our lords and masters in the Imperial capital? Have these particular seasons greetings come from the very beating heart of the heart of the Empire!

Well, no, actually.

Instead all of my dealings with Alister have been entirely local. And they were particularly productive. Alister and his local team went out of their way to help two families First Base was supporting who were in imminent danger of feeling the full force of the Hostile Environment. One family was from Nigeria, one from Tunisia. Both were destitute and both faced the prospect of deportation to a fate worse than death.

Well Alister went out to bat for them and he saved their bacon and for that we will be forever grateful to him.

But things have changed somewhat. Moved on.

When our modern day version of Mad King George was installed on the throne in 2019, he appointed Alister as his Viceroy to rule over the five million pesky and disruptive subjects north of Hadrian's Wall.

And this is the context in which Alister's card dropped onto our mat.

And it duly got me thinking.

Because in a way it says a lot about where Imperial rule is sitting right now.

Imagine First Base was a wee charity in India in 1925.

Let's say in Nagpur.

A small charity managed by a very public follower of Mahatma Gandhi who was forever penning leaflets extolling the virtues of Indian Independence?

Would the aforesaid manager have received a Christmas Card from the Viceroy?

Not a chance. Instead he would have been beaten black and blue and imprisoned without trial.

It would have been the same story for a hypothetical charity manager in Nakuru in 1954 who was publicly backing the Mau Mau.

But add a few years onto each scenario and the story might have been rather different.

Lets say India 1946 and Kenya 1963.

By then, a very different picture had emerged and it was clear to every man and his dog Independence was only a matter of months away.

At this point I have no doubt the two Viceroys would have been frantically sending Christmas cards out to all an sundry in a desperate bid to curry a bit of favour for the future relationship between the soon to be ex Imperial power and it's soon to be ex subjects.

When John Mclean was packed off to Peterhead Prison to be ground into the dust for the crime of railing against tens of thousands of Scottish soldiers being fed into the meat grinder of the Western Front in the cause of defending the Empire, there would have been no chance of one of his supporters receiving a Christmas card from the Viceroy.

Instead, any supporter of John Mclean was more likely to join him up in Peterhead.


Things have changed.

Scottish Independence suddenly feels a lot more like 'when' than 'if'.

The last significant colony is slowly but surely slipping from London's grasp.

And a hard reality must be settling in. A hard reality which shines a light on a future world where this particular ex colony is home to the UK's nukes and the source of 20% of England's electricity.


Which means it is time to start making nice.

Just like it was in India in 1946. Just like it was in Kenya in 1963.

It's a time for Christmas cards rather than a rat infested cell in Peterhead jail of a bunk bed in a concentration camp in the shadow of Mount Kenya.

Am I reading rather too much into a single Christmas card from the Viceroy?

Probably. When all is said and done, I am a purveyor of pulp fiction so maybe you can embrace the festive spirit and give me a break.

The bigger question I guess is this.

Is Alister about to make like Lord Louis Mountbatton and Malcolm McDonald?

Not just the Viceroy, but the last Viceroy?

Maybe one day our Christmas card might just become something of a collector's item!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021



I can't say there will be much structure to this blog. You are not about to be taken on a careful, well structured journey from A to B to C. Instead it's going to be a bunch of random observations of a pandemic drenched world where the lunatics are running the asylum into the ground.

Every day brings forth facts which a couple of years ago would have been utterly inconceivable. Unthinkable.

I guess it is what Britain 2021 has become.

Unthinkable. All of it. The stuff on the news. The stuff in day to day life.

I was chatting with Kerr the other day. He owns the Little Bakery in Dumfries and he supplies us with two and a half thousand of his award winning pies a month at a price which is quite frankly ridiculous.


He was talking bills. Right now, as 2021 draws its final few breaths, he is paying 14p a unit for his electricity. Then 1 January 2022 will land on the mat. And does it ever.

The brave new year will see Kerr's electric costs go up from 14p per unit all the way to 33p per unit.

Just like that. Over night.

And he uses plenty electric. It's a factory when all is said and done. His flour supplier has been round to slap a non negotiable 20% rise on the table. His insurance provider is wanting a 100% increase.

It's not so much death by a thousand cuts as death by a thousand machete slashes.

And of course there are only two outcomes. Kerr can keep his prices where they are and slowly but surely fade away into bankruptcy. Of he can pass on all the increases to you and me.

This isn't just a hint of inflation. This is a complete nightmare. Right there in black and white. Across the board.

And yet even at these ever rising prices, ordering in fifty tins of tinned spaghetti generally doesn't go well. Some days we are lucky to receive half a dozen. And this has somehow become normal.

Where will it all end up is the $64,000 question.

Christ knows.

Lets take a ride up the A76 to the village of Thornhill. Is it a village? I'm not entirely sure. Population of 2000 or thereabouts with a Co-op and a high school. Does this make it a small town?


Whatever. For those of you who don't know Thornhill, it is a postcard kind of a place. The high street is still home to well appointed expensive shops for well appointed customers who park up their gleaming 4x4's cheek by jowl. The venerable red stone buildings sit in front of a glorious backdrop of Scottish hills. Add in a seasonal sprinkling of snow, and the place positively gleams.

Our food parcels have been available for collection from the small library for many years. Once upon a time, a busy month would see three parcels picked up. A quiet month would mean a big fat zero. From time to time, I would get a call asking me to pick up parcels containing items which had slipped by their sell by date.

Well that was then.

I think it is fair to say things have changed somewhat.

The pandemic closed the library for book business but Dumfries and Galloway Council gave us a set of keys and allowed us to use the space for emergency food. I am truly chuffed to be able to report this arrangement is now permanent.

We are open once a week. On a Sunday. From 10 am to Noon. A brilliant team of volunteers runs the show from top to bottom. I turn up once a week with a van load of top up food to supplement what the local community donates. Which is lots by the way.

All of which brings me to last Sunday morning.

Our volunteers provided emergency food for 55 people.

In two hours.

In Thornhill.

In an affluent village/town of 2000 souls.


I know.

If this is a canary in the coal mine, we are about to be absolutely swamped when the biting cold reality of January arrives like a bunch of Russian mercenaries.

In balaclavas.

Happily other unexpected 2021 things are rather more encouraging. We are now nearly two years into the era of Covid and still the local community never ceases to be completely amazing. Every day sees food and cash donations pour in. Every week I turn up at Morrisons to pack my van to bursting point. I would like nothing more than to ramble on for page after page thanking all the people to are helping us to do what we do.

But that would be really, really boring.

And you would stop reading.

So the thank you will have to be scatter gun and general, but completely heartfelt all the same.

But I think three cases do warrant a spotlight.

Let's face it, power companies are not exactly flavour of the month right now. We see them as giant, faceless corporations who are draining our bank accounts and wrecking the climate.

As in bad guys. Wall to wall bad guys.

Well I am going to buck the trend here and give a shout out for three local purveyors of power who aren't such bad guys after all.

In truth, nobody in their right mind would ever call the Wood Fuel Co-Op in Dumfries bad guys. They sell a wide variety of eco friendly, re-cycled products designed to make open fires and wood burners environmentally acceptable. You know the kind of thing. You see these kinds of products stacked high in petrol stations where they are sold at double the prices the guys at the Wood Fuel Co-Op charge.

Their name of course gives the game away.

They are a Co-Op and here is how things work. When you pitch up, they will ask if you would like to become a member and thereby be eligible for a discount on the fuel you purchase. You don't have to say yes, but the member's discount makes it kind of hard to say no.

So. How much?

Well it's as much or as little as you like.

And where does the money go?

Well, that would be to us, actually. To First Base. To the local food bank.

And every month members are encouraged to give a donation when they stop by for their fuel.

And every month the proceeds are sent our way via our JustGiving page.

£710 this month.

How good is that?

If Heineken did green fuel businesses........


An e mail. Not asked for. Not solicited. Not begging lettered.

An email from out of the clear blue of cyber space.

It was from E'on. From their Steven's Croft Biomass power station in Lockerbie. The company had made funds available for the staff to give to charity and the staff had chosen First Base.

Could I furnish our bank details?

I could. I did. And £995 duly landed in our account,


Another email. Not asked for. Not solicited. Not begging lettered.

This time from Scottish Power.

Every year the company provides the staff with a fund for Christmas parties. By the way, this particular email landed before Christmas parties became quite such a thing as they are as I pen these words.

Well this year the staff got their collective heads together and decided the money would better going to hard stretched front line charities rather than cakes and ale. They decided to allow staff from across all regions vote to identify their chosen charity.

The email was happy to inform me that hundreds and hundreds of staff working in the South West of Scotland had voted for First Base.

Which meant some cash would be headed our way once I filled in a couple of boxes and provided our bank details.

So could I call to talk things through?

Of course I could. And I did and within a minute or so I damn nearly fell off my chair.


Seriously. Ten thousand bloody pounds.

I was completely speechless.

This is the kind of thing which counts double for us. Treble. When I fill in an application and get a 'yes' letter in response, it is good. Obviously.

But this is different. Hundreds of people have voted for First Base on the back of what we have been trying to do for the last twenty years.

I guess you can imagine how it makes us feel.

Humbled. Honoured. Motivated to keep on doing what we do.

It is worth remembering how behind the smug corporate logos lie millions of real living and breathing human beings. People power. The optimistic Ying to the scary corporate Yang.

I heard the CEO of some massive global investment fund interviewed a while ago. His outfit was managing tens of billions of pension fund cash and they were announcing to the world that from here on in the money was heading into renewables. Of course he made a long term economic case and warned of stranded money lost in the untapped oil wells of the future.

But then he went personal. He talked of his teenage kids. And he explained how he really didn't want his teenage kids to hate his guts.

He explained how this was one of the main reasons why his fund was sticking two fingers up to the likes of Trump and Bolsonaro and piling tens of billions into a better future for our grand kids.

People power, right?

Long may it last.


Monday, December 6, 2021



It's 7.45.

Not even close to getting light.

Rain streaming down the window.

Wind shaking the pane.

And an old line from a Simon and Garfunkel song.

“A winter's day in a deep and dark December.”

Deep and dark.

Sounds about right.

For some months now, working in a food bank has felt a little like living on a Caribbean island in the path of an incoming hurricane.

The weather reports all point in one direction. Everyone agrees a storm is on the way. And everyone agrees it will hit. There is only one unanswered question. The $64,000 question.

How bad will it be? 

Will we manage to ride it out? Or will it just smash up everything in sight no matter what we do?

I have been doing this job for twenty years now and never have there been so many warning signs.

Is it worth a list?

Yeah. Why not? Get it all down on paper. All the elements of the coming storm. The avoidable and the unavoidable. The acts of God and the self inflicted.

Before starting the list, it is maybe worth creating a fictional character to play a lead role in our December 2021 drama.

He's an ordinary Joe so we'll call him Joe.

A couple of months ago he was living the high life on £93 a week of Universal Credit with all of his rent covered. Most of his Council Tax was taken care of too, but he was still setting aside £7 a week to cover his share.

So. £86 a week of disposable income.

Well the Johnson regime clearly thought this was the kind of lifestyle the likes of Joe had no right whatsoever to become accustomed to.

Well of course they did.

Don't you just love it when an old Etonian who describes the £250,000 a year he was trousering for penning right wing poison for the Telegraph as 'chicken feed' decides in his great wisdom that £93 a week is rather over generous for the likes of our Joe.

So Joe was duly issued with a 20% pay cut which took his disposable income down to £66.

50 inch TV's and holidays in Benidorm?

Maybe not.

A year ago Joe's weekly shop set him back by £25. He was actually pretty cute when it came to getting the maximum nutritional bang from his limited buck. He got by on the likes of tinned spaghetti at 13p a tin and own brand 'value' Corn Flakes at 55p a box.

Suddenly it isn't so easy to find three meals a day out of £25 a week.

Not when the cheapest spaghetti is 32p.

Not when the Corn Flakes are 90p

Mere pennies to Johnson.

Ten pounds a week to Joe.

Because the government's headline 10% food inflation does not exist in the value ranges. In the value ranges its 33% if your lucky.

Which is why Joe's weekly shop tends to come in at £35.

Leaving him with a disposable income of £31.

And the temperature is dropping. Well obviously. It's winter. A deep and dark December.

Two months ago Joe never used so much as a cubic centimetre of gas. But now the flat is cold enough to eat into his bones. Especially now he is trying to cut back on his food intake. Because Johnson and his courtiers have told us all to embrace the spirit of 1940 when Polish pilots saved our bacon and everyone tried to convince themselves whale meat was anything but utterly disgusting.

This time last year, Joe was just about able to eke out his life on £20 a week's worth of power.

Now he can't seem to get it below £23.

But it's only three quid.

If £250,000 a year is chicken feed, then £3 a week is micro organism feed. Fair enough. Because when all is said and done our Joe is very much one of the little people.

A little person with a disposable income of £8.

Except it isn't.

Because once upon a time Joe took and advance on his Universal Credit and now they deduct £5 a week to bring him back up to speed.

Leaving a disposable income of £3.

Except it isn't because once upon a time Joe got himself into rent arrears which means £5 a week is deducted to bring him back up to speed.

Leaving a disposable income of …..


Something has to give. Any chance of driving down those pesky variable costs like a sharp penciled manager of a private equity firm?


Oh dear Joe. What are you going to do? Going to heat or eat? That most December 2021 of questions.

Any chance of a leg up with the heating side of the equation?


Well it's time to make your way into First Base for the first time in a year.

Joe's is the story of three of the storm warning signs. The 21% pay cut at a time when food and fuel inflation are wearing flares and perming their hair an doing the whole 1970's immersive experience thing.

And yet the list goes on.

And on.

Mental health referrals are so off the scales that it even Yorkshire Ripper levels of raging insanity probably wouldn't be enough to be deemed to be enough to justify fast track treatment.

Alcohol dependency referrals have risen five fold.

Credit card interest rates are being jacked up on a weekly basis.

Petrol prices are smashing records.

The cost of a plumbing emergency has doubled as tradesmen adopt a policy of 'think of a number' pricing.

And all the while, the rest of the world watches the Westminster clown show like some some kind of tawdry but addictive reality TV show and they just laugh their socks off. I seem to recall there is a very German word to describe this. 


But this doesn't matter, right? Not to the likes of Joe?

What has the Chinese and French having a right good laugh at the idiots running our country got to do with Joe and his disposable income?

Well quite a lot when the value of the pound graph goes in the polar opposite direction to the value of a loaf of bread graph.

See where I'm coming from?

It's quite the storm warning when you are standing behind the counter of a food bank.

It's crystal clear things will be bad.

How bad?

I literally hate to think.

Thank God the public still have a much better sense of the nightmare all the millions of Joes are facing up to than the clowns in Westminster have.

Food and cash donations are still amazing. Every week my van gets filled up and emptied out on multiple occasions.

So for the umpteenth time, a huge thank you is required to each and every person who continues to help us to help the likes of Joe. We are only as good as the community who support us.

Will it be enough? I hope so. It has always been enough before. In twenty years, First Base has never turned anyone away due to us having no food to give out. So of course we will do all we can to keep this proud record in tact when the storm escalates.

Will it be enough?

We'll find out soon enough I guess.

Well it's light now. Barely.

Time to head across to Annan Tesco to fill up the van. And then empty it. Again.

If you are minded to offer us a small leg up, we would be hugely grateful. You can find our online fundraising page by following the link below.


Thursday, October 7, 2021



Over the last few months I have been asked time and again about the impending £1000 per annum cut to Universal Credit. And my thoughts on the subject have been totally consistant.

They ain't going to do it. Not a chance. Not in a million years. Even this lot couldn't possibly be so cruel. Even this lot couldn't be so utterly stupid.

Well that prediction went well.

Here we are. October 6th . The date has loomed for long enough and now it is right here, right now. The clock has run out. The time for Tory rebels to call an emergency debate in Parliament has come and gone.

As of today, the threat has become a brutal reality. And the brutality all but beggars belief. Our world suddenly resembles a work of dystopian fiction. Reports from Manchester say the champagne is being quaffed like never before. There is an air of triumphalism. They are queuing up to bow and scrape at the feet of their moronic Sun King.

I listened to a journalist talking last week. He is just back from Afghanistan. He had been on the phone to an Afghani colleague. How are petrol stocks in Kabul? The Afghani reporter was surprised by the question. Stocks are fine. All the petrol stations are working normally. Why do you ask?

The rest of the world is watching the empty shelves and fighting at the petrol pumps with open mouthed amazement. What the hell is going on with Britain? And let's face it, they're having a right laugh. Can you blame them? I can't.

Feel familiar? It should. It's the way we all felt when watching America descend into chaos in the dog days of Trump. Now the joke is on us.

In 2008, a bunch of casino bankers in London and New York damn near crashed everything. And of course we were all expected to put on a brave face when they needed £50 billion's worth of bailing out. £1000 each to those of us who pay tax. £1000 each for the privilege of being able to use a cash machine.

And then Cameron and Osborne decided it was all the fault of the poor. All of a sudden the reason Lehman Brothers and Northern Rock had crashed and burned was all down to people living off benefits.

And my oh my, how they squeezed the pips. The famous Welfare Reforms. The Bedroom Tax. A cap on benefits. A cap on kids. The sick were deemed to be healed. The mentally ill were deemed to be potential rocket scientists. Benefits were frozen like mammoths in the Siberian permafrost.


And First Base went from handing out 80 emergency food parcels per month to handing out 600 emergency food parcels per month. Just like that. In the blink of an Etonian eye.

And all the while, we heard talk of workers and shirkers. Right from the top. A cartoon view of the the world as seen by men who had been educated to the tune of £40,000 a year. You can see lots of shirkers when you gaze down from your Ivory Tower. They are much harder to spot from behind the counter of a foodbank. From our counter, we see very different people from those whose lives are so vividly described in the pages of the Daily Mail.

Sick people. People with mental health problems. Drug addicted people, Alcohol addicted people. Single mums with no family to look after the kids. Carers looking after slowly dying partners. 

Disabled. Depressed. Disorientated.

Fit for work? Only in fevered dreams of the Department of Work and Pensions.

Inconvenient statistics. Inconvenient people. But people all the same. People who still need a place to live and some warmth and something to eat.

And then came Covid and a panicking government saw millions of people flooding onto Universal Credit. People who had bought what the Government and the Daily Mail had been selling for a decade. Tales of a cosy, dream of a life to be had on benefits. A life of constant takeaways and as much booze as you can drink. Holidays in Ibiza and a new 60 inch tele every six weeks.

For millions it was a hard landing. There ain't many holidays in Ibiza to be had on £73 a week. In fact £73 a week isn't even close to being enough to pay for the basics of life.

So they panicked and bumped the basic Universal Credit up to £93 a week. Hardly a fortune. But slightly better.

That was March 2020, when First Base paid 13p for a tin of own brand spaghetti and 14p for a Kilowatt Hour of electricity. A litre of diesel was 99p.

A lot has changed in the last eighteen months. Now if First Base is lucky enough to find anyone willing to sell us tins of spaghetti, they tend to cost 40p and the new price for a Kilowatt Hour of electricity is 24p. A litre of diesel is £1.40.

Food and power inflation are both running at 12%. Or so they say. The inflation we are seeing is way higher than that. But what do we know?

So £73 now buys at least 12% less than it bought in March 2020. £73 now is the equivalent to £64 then.

We haven't seen food and power inflation like this since Egyptian Army rolled their tanks into the Sinai back in 1973.

And the Government has chosen this exact moment to kick the very poorest people among us in the teeth. Mind boggling. And they are right now swaggering around Manchester waving bottles of champagne. No wonder the French media can't understand why we're not out on the streets setting the world on fire.

A smug faced Sunak told the gathered disciples about half a billion quid's worth of sticking plasters being made available to cover a £6 billion gaping wound. 

Nobody bothered to raise the fact that the £6 billion would have helped to  keep all kinds of businesses afloat in the very small struggling towns the Government pretends to care about. The people who were getting the extra £20 per week aren't the kind of folk to salt it away in shell companies registered in the British Virgin Isles. Hardly. Instead they spend every last penny in local shops or on heat and light. A good half of the cash finds its way straight back into Government coffers in the form of tax, VAT and customs duty.

The malicious idiocy is genuinely hard to comprehend.

And there were a few sentences which were missing from Sunak's speech. He might have said something along these lines. In an alternative universe.

This Government is very much aware of the contribution foodbanks have made over the last eighteen months. Even when the Covid 19 virus was at its most terrifying, Britain's foodbanks made sure nobody starved.

'And now, as a result of my decision to take £20 a week away from the very poorest people in the land, I know foodbanks will once again have to find a way to feed hundreds of thousands of extra mouths. The sick. The mentally ill. The carers. The over borrowed. The inconvenient.

'So to all of the foodbanks out there, I have clear message. We appreciate what you do. We would hate to have to attend the G7 or the G20 and have to explain why people in Britain are starving in conditions of dire poverty. So know this, all of you foodbank wallahs. You have our respect. And we know you're going to need lots of help if you are going to feed all of the people who are going to need feeding through the cold months of the coming winter. I am therefore delighted to announce a new fund to help the foodbanks of Britain …...”

Aye right.

No flying pigs. There never are.

Yet again foodbanks will have to find a way. We're remarkably good at managing what at first looks impossible.

In March 2020 First Base issued 600 emergency food parcels.

In August 2020 First Base issued 2600 emergency food parcels as the Covid crisis peaked.

We did it. I have no idea how, but we did.

February 2022? God only knows what the world will look like then. It is very clear that no help will be headed our way from this vicious Government in London who swig champagne whilst throwing millions headlong into a winter of hunger and cold.

And fear.

And utter misery.

Like every foodbank in the land, we are going to need all the help we can get over the coming months. If you are maybe willing to provide us with some support, you can find our online funding page via the link below.


Monday, September 6, 2021



Last year a vast crisis was headed our way and the Government in London chose to more or less completely ignore it.

Night after night we tuned into scenes of horror being played out in the hospitals of northern Italy.

Horrified. Fascinated. Aghast.

But of course it couldn't happen to us.

Because we are British when all is said and done. We used to rule the world. We wheel out the Spitfires and Lancaster Bombers for special occasions.

And so it was I and 53,000 others were told it was absolutely OK to turn up at Anfield to watch Liverpool play Athletico Madrid in the Champions League Quarter Final whilst almost every other game in Europe was played behind closed doors.

And more of us died than died at Hillsborough.

We will never know how many.

In Liverpool. In Madrid. In a hundred other villages and towns.

But hey Ho.

I guess it's all part and parcel of being a Liverpool fan. You get killed by the actions and decisions of Tory Governments and then everyone pretends there's nothing to see here.

Except this time the price wasn't paid by 96 Liverpool fans.

This time the price has been paid by over 130,000 and the number rises every day.

Everyone saw the crisis headed our way.

And Johnson and Co chose to bury their heads in the sand.

Old news.

Catastrophically familiar.

Well it seems we now have another crisis headed our way and once again we can all see it. Once again it is very much a crisis in plain sight.

Crystal clear. HD.

It's on the tele every night.

It's in the press every morning.

It's talked about on talk shows.

And in pubs and corner shops.

Empty shelves.

Day to day items no longer on sale.

Yesterday I entered Tesco with the aspiration to buy a packet of frozen garden peas.

No chance.

There wasn't much chance of buying frozen anything.

With every passing week the gaps on the shelves are growing and spreading and getting harder to disguise.

It isn't so very hard to find the reasons behind our shops suddenly looking like shops in the old East Germany.

Every day the people who know about this stuff explain exactly why this is happening.

Every answer is right there in plain sight. Just like the people gasping their last on trolleys in the corridors of the hospitals of Lombardy.

We hear the reasons from the people in charge of haulage firms and farms and abattoirs and food processors and warehousing and retailing.

No drivers. No packers. No stackers.

No people.

When two million young and skilled workers leave a workforce of thirty million, it leaves a gaping hole.

Especially when those two million people do all the jobs the rest of us don't want to do.

And of course Johnson and Co will frantically try to blame it on the pandemic.

And of course The Daily Mail and the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph and GB news will frantically try to blame it all on the pandemic.

And of course a large number of the people who voted for Brexit with such deluded zeal will frantically try to blame it on the pandemic.

And you know what? In Stoke and Burnley and Hartlepool and Basildon they might even get away with.

But not here.

Not in Scotland.

Because we didn't vote for any of this shit.

We had none of it.

And we couldn't have been any clearer.

We were 62% to 38% clear.

As in crystal. HD.

Surely it is high time to find away to shout about this from the rooftops. Because even though we never voted for this shit, we are still going to have to live with it.

So surely the time has arrived for our rooftop shouter in chief to get out there onto the rooftop and shout.


And yes I'm talking about you here Nicola.

It's time to get onto the front foot and stop making nice.

It's time to get right into their faces.

How? How do do get their attention? Get right up their noses? Drive them half insane with rage? Make them squirm?

Well, here's an idea.

From what I can gather, the one part of the UK where the supermarket shelves are pretty much as normal is Northern Ireland. The supply chain has re-jigged itself and now the shelves of Ulster are stocked from The Irish Republic and the Irish Republic's warehouses are stocked from the countries of the Single Market.

From where I sit, this looks pretty much right. There are certainly many less wagons headed west along the A75 to Stranraer. Britain doesn't supply Northern Ireland any more. Europe does. The Single Market does.

Northern Ireland is in exactly the place Scotland asked to be.

We pointed out the fact we voted 62 to 38 to stay in Europe.

Surely this should have given us the right to stay in the Single Market?

Just like Northern Ireland?

And they said no.

Of course they said no.

And now our supermarket shelves are emptying out whilst the supermarket shelves of Northern Ireland are filling up.

This could have been our story.

This should have been our story.

Except London said no.

So Nicola.

Here's a thought.

Catch yourself a ferry over to Belfast and call a Press Conference in a Northern Irish supermarket.

Stand in front of one of those full shelves.

Point to all of those full shelves.

Adopt a look of pure rage.

And make the point.

This could have been us.

This should have been us.

But they said no.

Even though we voted 62 to 38.

They still said no.

Just imagine how much Johnson and Co would hate it. Rage at it.

But what are they going to say?

Because we DID vote 62 to 38 and they DID say no.

And of course the Mail and the Express and GB News will call you every name under the sun but who gives a damn really.

The message will hardly be subtle. Why should it be?

The message will ensure when Scots walk around all those empty shelves they will know where the blame lies.

They will know it could have been different had London said yes instead of no.

And they will be angry.

And more and more will come to the conclusion enough is enough.

300 hundred years is long enough.

Stop the world.

Scotland wants to get on.

The time for making nice has passed.

Front foot Nicola.

Front foot.

Sunday, August 15, 2021



Even though I have never shared a room with an elephant, I don't find it so very hard to imagine how it would feel. Yeah. Bloody terrifying. There are certain provisos I suppose. Like how big is the room? If the room was genuinely cavernous and I was at one end and the elephant was at the other end, then I guess it might be relatively OK. But sharing a regular sized room with an elephant?

No thanks.

So Frankland, what's with all the elephant talk on this grey Sunday morning?

Well it goes something like this.

Obviously the prospect of how an independent Scotland would manage to pay its bills continues to be a regularly aired favourite for the media.

Things don't tend to vary much.

The Scottish Government panelist will say everything is going to be be great: fairness and freedom and ice lollies for everyone.

The British Government panelist will paint pictures of a Scotland looking a lot like South Sudan with emaciated citizens fighting over who gets to eat the dead rat.

The usual back and forth will carry on for a while. Yes, I'm afraid you will be too poor to manage on your own. No we won't. Yes you will.

Until eventually it's time to wrap the thing up and the presenter will dutifully give a nod and a wink to the panelist from the British Government and dream of promotion.

And all the while the big fat elephant in the room munches quietly on a bunch of Acacia leaves and nobody notices it is even there.

Why on earth is the Scottish Government so utterly incapable of getting itself onto the front foot when it comes to explaining why Scotland will be absolutely fine and dandy as a small independent nation in the wild west world of the twenty first century?

Big talk Frankland. Is that all it is, or can it be backed up? Can flesh be retro-fitted onto the bones?

I reckon it can.

A good rule of thumb in almost anything is when in doubt, follow the money.

So let's follow.

Where is all the big money? The so called clever money. The money of the two thousand supposedly super smart multi billionaires who more or less own the planet? Who do they trust to look after their ill gotten gains?

Well that is easy enough to answer. It's not exactly a secret.

We're talking the likes of BlackRock and Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

The masters of the universe. The gleaming towers in Manhattan and the City of London where all the trillions of pounds and dollars are stashed. The best and brightest Oxford and Harvard have to offer are recruited to find the very best home for the treasure of the super rich. Their Cray computer sized brains are tasked with spotting the next big thing. The Shangri La where the greatest return on capital will be found over the coming decades.

Surely such a place is as hidden and mysterious as the lost city of Atlantis. Is it the bones of an idea inside the head of some obscure Silicon Valley wizz kid which in time will become the next Facebook?

Actually, it isn't.

Instead the answer the big brains have collectively found is completely old school. Right out in the open. Blindingly obvious.

The greatest of all elephants in the room.

They call it the next oil.

And it comes out of your tap when you clean your teeth in the morning.

Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, we're talking water.

As in the second most important thing in the world.

We humans can only manage without oxygen for three or four minutes, so air has to be our number one commodity and my how the high fliers at Goldman Sachs must yearn to find a way to corner the the 'air we all breathe' market.

Imagine it? Privatised air. A dollar a day for the privilege of breathing in and breathing out. A income stream of eight billion a day. The dream ticket.

Thankfully, this particular corporate wet dream is out of reach for the moment.

The second most important thing on the other hand is very much within their grasp.

We can only get by without water for three or four days and then it is very much goodnight Sooty.

And unlike the air we breathe, water is very much buyable. And right now the big money is pouring into water.

It is the ultimate commodity. Oil was pretty good. Almost impossible to manage without. But never completely impossible. There was always coal or gas or horses or slaves to be used as a fall back if the oil ran short.

There were always other sources of power.

But there is nothing to replace water and our planet is slowly but surely running out.

Or to be more accurate, we are running out of the water we can actually do something with. As in the fresh stuff. If only we could get along with the salty stuff, we would be right as rain. To coin a phrase.

And no doubt one day we will find a practical, affordable way to yank the salt out of seawater and thereby make it usable.

So long as we don't all die of thirst before getting there.

Well the big brains at Goldman Sachs obviously don't see that day arriving any time soon which is why they are buying water companies from Chile to Outer Mongolia.

As actual human beings, we don't actually need all that much water to meet our daily needs. Drinking, washing and toilet flushing can be covered by a couple of hundred litres a day. However, even such modest demands are becoming hard to meet in more and more places. A couple of years ago Cape Town took its four million citizens all the way down to sixty litres a day each. For a while it looked like they were about to run out altogether.

This is the story of the next hundred years for city after city. Country after country.

Even the worst of governments will have no choice other than to prioritise their citizenry when it comes to sharing out whatever water is available. To try to do otherwise would mean a mass uprising within weeks.

If there is only sixty litres a day of water available for the people, what are you going to say to the brewery which uses hundreds of litres to make a single pint of ale?

You're going to have to say sorry but no.

2000 litres of water = one quarter pounder

15000 litres of water = a pair of jeans.

This will become an increasingly common story which will play out over the decades to come as all kinds of industries roam the earth looking for a place to call home. A place where water is in abundant supply. A place where they can minimise the risk of laying out millions on a new plant only to have to shut it down a few years later due to there being no water.

This will be story for ninety percent of the nations which make up planet earth.

Only ten percent will be able to say yes. Nae bother. In you come pal. We've plenty of sites for you to choose from. Water? Of course we can give you water. We've got plenty. And renewable energy? Sure. Fill your boots, pal.

And guess what? Getting warm?

Of course you are.

Scotland is absolutely in that magical ten percent.

And being a part of the magical ten percent of places where water and renewable energy are in huge surplus with have any number of benefits.

Like being able to tell the corporations desperate to find a water rich home that a forty percent corporation tax is non negotiable. As is a generous employee pension fund. As is providing all employees with the best working conditions in the world. And maternity care. And sick pay.

And of course the companies would much rather be in Bangladesh paying a dollar for a twelve hour day, but Bangladesh is all out of water.

All the dollar a day goldmines are running dry.

In the years to come, there will be a price to pay for locating factories in the places where water is to be had.

Places like Scotland.

I mean, just take a look at a map. If Carlsberg were to create the perfect water collection system....

Here are a few cold, hard facts which London is no doubt more than aware of. Facts to keep them up at night.

Scotland has 31,000 fresh water lochs.

Scotland is home to 90% of the UK's fresh water.

England is on track to start running out of water in 25 years.

Scotland only uses 1% of the fresh water we have available.

I'm going to say that again.


99% percent is available to take us into the brightest future of just about any country on earth.

So long as we wake up and claim the right to own our own future and not allow it to be stolen.

It's the elephant in the IndyRef 2 room.

And you can bet your bottom dollar the smug faced bastard from the British Government knows it only too well.

It's what our lords and masters in London have been on with for four hundred years and more.

They are the leaders in their field when it comes to stripping a colony right down to the bone.

When the Brits arrived in West Bengal in the seventeenth century it was the richest place on earth.

When we left in 1947, it was the poorest place in the world.

Now what happened there I wonder? What indeed?

Well this is something we should all be all too familiar with here in Scotland. It's yet another elephant right there in the room. All that North Sea Oil money which was piped straight down to London to pay for the M25 and Crossrail.

Do we seriously thing anything has changed? Do we seriously think they don't have their plans in place to go to their colony stripping playbook which has been four hundred years in the making?

And yet the panelists from the Scottish Government refuse to paint the big picture.

It's all about water, stupid.

The new oil.

And we are Klondike.

Can anyone seriously suggest with a straight face that the Government of a newly independent Scotland will struggle to sell treasury bonds?


Try selling the fairy tale of endemic Scottish poverty to a Goldman Sachs bond trader tasked with finding a safe ten year home for a whole bunch of big money.

We own the box seat and right now we are allowing a public school boy from London to sit in it rent free and it seems we are too shy and embarrassed to acknowledge the fact that the said box seat is actually in our name.

Now if that ain't an elephant in the room I really don't know what is!

Friday, July 9, 2021



I've been on the receiving end of all kinds of funny looks over the last couple of weeks. How come? Well, it's all down to the football. Most people I meet are more than aware that I am a full on English born advocate for an Independent Scotland. Back in 2014, this was something of a novelty. Not any more. Now there are thousands of us – those who packed our bags and headed north out of Dodge. We sensed what was coming. We sensed it and we ran.

Well, we have a name now. We are the 'New Scots'. I have mentioned many times before in these digital pages how weird it feels to experience the sensation of being proud of my country. It is something I never thought would happen.

But it has.

And people get that – thankfully.

And people also pretty much get the fact I was  100% behind the Scotland team in our group stage clash with the neighbours from the south.

What people are more surprised at is my fervent desire to see firstly the Ukrainians and then the Danes turf the English from the tournament.

'Really?' they ask. Don't you think that is anti-English? Racist, even?

For the sake of clarity, I should point out each and every one of the people who have asked me this are Scots. Original Scots.

'Yes' supporting Scots. 

And of course they are all fully signed on to the 'live and let live' ethos of modern day Scotland.

So am I anti-English?

Of course I'm not anti-English.

So what am I? What fuels my very real desire to see the majestic Giorgio Chiellini lift the trophy on Sunday?

It is a deep gut feeling of anti-England.

Not England, the geographical entity.

Not England the place that happens to lie beyond the Cross of St George and the 'Welcome to Cumbria' sign on the M74 at Gretna.


It is the kind of England which has been slowly emerging from a dark cave for forty years and more.

It is the kind of England I used to see on the streets of Blackburn in the late Seventies. Skinheads in Doc Martins and braces, brandishing their cans of Special Brew. Brick red faces all twisted in hatred.

"We're going Paki bashing, We're going Paki bashing ... Na, na, na ..."

It is the England that spawned the pond life who used to strut into the little corner shop across the road from us to rob cigarettes under the the threat of snarling Dobermans.

It is the England which set my car on fire at three in the morning for my crime of being part of a mixed race couple.

Back in those days, this England was fringe. A dark thing which from time would emerge from the sewers to stink the place out.

The NF. The BNP. The Chelsea Headhunters. Millwall's F Troop. Combat 18.

Like a few random nutters trying to stage a coup d'etat outside a beer hall in Munich back in 1923. Bunch of clowns, right? All piss and wind. No real threat. Nothing to see here guys.

Until there is something to see.

Until they become the Government of the day.

Until they send five million souls up their chimneys.

Until the joke turns sour.

The modern day descendants of the NF thugs who stomped through the streets of 1970's Blackburn are the DFLA.

Oh how the pond life always loves a set of initials? Are you familiar which this particular line up of letters?

Well, wait for it.

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance.

Seriously. It's true.

We saw them on the tele last summer when they descended on London to protect the statue of Winston Churchill.

Mob handed and collectively pissed. Red faced and bald. And off the scales angry.

We see them at England away games staggering about waving their inflatable Spitfires.

"Two World Wars and one World Cup, do -dah, do – dah day!"

Before England were turfed so unceremoniously out of Euro 16, they sang out their clever new ditty on an endless loop.

"We're all voting out!

We're all voting out!

Fuck off Europe!

We're all voting out!"

Eat your heart out Oscar Wilde.

And yes, they can be amusing in their shambling, vomiting idiocy.

Until they are no longer so amusing.

Until their spitting rage is corralled and harnessed.

Until they are dressed up in nice, crisp brown uniforms and issued with their orders.

Until a gang of chancers and con men bottle up the hate and turn it into an election winner.

Then they don't seem so funny any more.

And before you know it, you have a bunch of laws called the 'Enabling Act'. 

And then as surely as night follows day, you duly arrive at Kristallnacht.

Then they deploy Polish Workers of the slave labour variety and build the chimneys of Birkenau.

And it really, really doesn't seem so funny any more.

The road to Birkenau started with winning an election.

Have you seen what Priti Patel has in mind for Asylum Seekers? It basically means plasti-cuffs and a plane ride to Ascension Island. And 360 Tory MP's will bay and wave their ballot papers in triumph whilst the Labour Party opposite pretend to play with their phones because they don't want to do anything to upset the good folk of Hartlepool.

Or Rotherham.

Or Dewsbury.

Or Dudley.

Or Basildon.

And yes.


It is why we ran.



Found a sanctuary.

Because what was fringe on the streets of Blackburn in the late 1970's has finally become mainstream.

The monsters have emerged from their caves and donned suits and ties and now they are gloating about having the power to put those fleeing war and torture onto a plane to Ascension Island.

And OK, this is a rant. I know it is a rant.

I feel like ranting.

Let's go back to the inflatable Spitfires.

The Battle of Britain was fought out seventy one years ago. 

And we won.

Thank Christ.

Our pilots were a bit like the good guys in Star Wars. They came from all corners of the earth to stand up to the Nazis – Canadians, Indians, Kiwis, South Africans, West Indians, Czechs, Americans.

The pin up boys all the girls wanted to marry were the Poles who had learned the ropes in 1939 when Hitler first introduced Blitzkrieg to the world.

Oh, I almost forgot!

Many Spitfires were piloted by young Scots.

The Battle of Britain wasn't actually an England Germany thing.


If Scotland had been lined up to play Germany in Euro 20, can you picture the Tartan Army brandishing inflatable Spitfires and belting out "Two World wars and one World Cup!!!!"

Of course you can't.


It isn't what we are. Scotland has left such nonsense far behind.

Do I have anything against the players who will pull on their white shirts to take on Italy on Sunday?

Of course not. In fact I think they are absolutely commendable, each and every one of them. They are a shining light. The fact they have completely ignored the pond life booing and the poisonous words coming out of Downing St and continued to take the knee speaks the kind of volumes Priti Patel would love to burn.

Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Tyrone Mings....

These guys are absolute role models and they have my total respect.

As does Gareth Southgate.

And yes I appreciate they are offering a more effective opposition to the Tory Government than the Labour party could ever dream of mustering.

They have my absolute support in all things other than the game against Italy.

I will be honest now. I have asked myself a few questions about all this stuff. Am I actually behaving like a racist as several people have suggested?

Most of these self doubting thoughts were cleared away yesterday when I listened to the Anfield Wrap podcast. This is the 'go to' podcast for all followers of Liverpool FC.

Lo and behold, the main topic of discussion was why most Liverpool based Liverpool fans are openly rooting for Italy in the final. You see there has always been this catch phrase.

"Scouse, not English"

It's why we always boo the National Anthem at Cup Finals.

We remember what Thatcher did to the city in the 80's.

We remember Hillsborough.

And we will never forget.

A couple of years ago, some bright spark at the top of the EDL – The English Defence League – thought it would be a good idea to stage a march in Liverpool. They never made it beyond the steps of Lime St station.

They got the absolute kicking of their lives.

They were sent home tae think again.

Scouse, not English.

Listening to the familiar Scouse accents work their way through why they would be rooting for Italy did me a power of good.

Of course I am not a racist.

And I am not anti – England.

I am anti a certain version of England. It is a version which has taken fifty years to climb up out of the sewers and get its hands on the reins of power.

Inflatable Spitfire England.

Or should I say En – Ger – Land.

I am the Berlin Jew who saw the writing on the wall in 1932 and got the hell out.

I might even have chosen Scotland as a sanctuary from the Brown Shirts of my home turf.

And now I am planning to tune into the radio to listen to the 100 metres final at the Berlin Olympics.

Do I have anything against the runners representing Germany?

No, not a thing.

So surely I should be supporting them, I am a born and raised German when all is said and done.

Well actually, no.

No, I'm not.

So who do you want to win then?

Well, there's this American runner.....

His name is Jesse Owens.