Wednesday 30 November 2016

Diageo Scam over Scotch Whisky

If we get our long dreamed for independence – we need to BUY back our stolen Scotch whisky distillers…..and nationalize Scotch whisky!
 (note to SNP!)

91% of whisky is exported.
There are 105 Distillers in Scotland with only 30% Scottish owned, and with 20 small independent distillers. 
 40% are owned over seas – with 17% Europe (Pernod Ricaro), 5% Japan, 25 America.
Overseas firms now control nearly half Scotland's distilleries, and of the 60% that remain within UK ownership only around half belong to Scottish companies.

The interesting story is the London-based company of Diageo, who own a whooping 30% of Scotch whisky, do so because in the 1989 there was an illegal scam when the whisky share price was artificially manipulated and inflated in order that this company could buy up Distillers.

The UK has laws against these scams but they are rarely enforced.
Diageo claim that 30% of their employees are in Scotland.  

The Distillers Company Limited was a leading Scottish drinks and Pharmaceutical company which at one time was a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. The Company was formed in 1877 by a combination of six Scotch whisky distilleries: Macfarlane & Co., John Bald & Co., John Haig & Co, MacNab Bros & Co, Robert Mowy and Stewart & Co. With a trade association called the Scotch Distillers’ Association formed in 1865. It combined with John Walker & son and Buchanan-Dewar in 1925.

It was taken over by Guinness & Co,
(now part of Diageo in 1986 in a transaction which was later found to have involved fraudulent activity, and known as the Guinness share-trading fraud forming United Distillers and the majority of its assets are now part of Diageo.

Diageo was recently in the news for their plans to reduce staff pensions when the director of Diageo receives payments of 3.8m.

According to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in the Scotsman, ‘The whisky industry, for example, isn’t just a great Scottish success story, it is Britain’s biggest net exporter in goods.’  Well well, I thought we have been told how Scotland has always been too wee and too poor.’

**DECADES of foreign incursions have turned the Scotch whisky industry into a fiefdom of  major conglomerates, according to the heir to one of Scotland's last independent spirits dynasties. George Grant, the sixth generation of his family to work at the Glenfarclas distillery in Speyside, made the comments after Whyte & Mackay, owned by an Indian tycoon, announced nearly 100 redundancies in its Scottish heartland.

Scotland's domestically-owned firms are proud to state that they will be retaining their homeland bases long into the future. "My father and grandfather were approached by foreign buyers, but you can only sell a distillery once - after that, what do you do?" asked Grant. "It's a great honour I have as the sixth generation here. If I walk into the warehouse I can see my name stencilled on every cask. That has to mean something."
 Strangely, Angela Leadsome was talking of the UK food products – she spoke of Northern Irish whisky (?!), Scottish salmon, Welsh beef and English cheese – do the French want Wenslydale – more likely to buy Orkney or Arran cheese. And of course of English jam and biscuits...

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Alan Bisset ‘Vote Britain’

Alan Bisset ‘Vote Britain’
Take a listen!
Professor Alan Riach writes of how brilliantly many of our Scots poets and writers use both satire and extreme scorn to consider very serious issues, and he mentioned Alan Bisset’s Vote Britain - in his recent article in the National, ‘A Flyting philosophy distilled from books’ : Alan Riach
Vote Britain” begins: “People of Scotland, vote with your heart. / Vote with your love for the Queen who nurtured you, cradle to grave, / Who protects you and cares for you, her most darling subjects, to whom you gave the glens she adores to roam freely through, the stags her children so dearly enjoy killing. / First into battle, loyal and true. The enemy’s scared of you.”
“It moves through very serious issues indeed and uses extreme scorn and satire and ferocious comedy to prompt us to consider them. That combination of humour and seriousness is a literary skill, an approach or technique that runs back through MacDiarmid to Burns and Fergusson all the way to Dunbar, and is another example of the democratic strain that characterises Scottish literature.” 

“I have no use for any measure of devolution. I want complete independence and the complete disjunction of Scotland from England. The Westminster Government can never give us independence. Independence is not given but taken.”

This time we will be prepared for a new vote – far far more than back in 2013. We’ve now had 5 years to gather arguments and to look at both sides.  And for us to consider what the union has meant and to question if it is really a “union” at all?  We must be more radical too – after all why have independence at all if its not for something new?

It’s too soon right now for the IndyRef 2 vote – but we need to be ready. Brexit appears to be leading us all off a cliff edge by those in Westminster who appear to not know what they are doing. It’s quite scary. What are they doing? 

We need to focus on invigorating debates, open hearts and minds, investigate what democracy really means, examine creatively, listen and read widely,


 *A Flyting philosophy distilled from books : Alan Riach
He writes about how important it is for all of us to read – and to read a variety of materials. And how that will effect change to a more democratic Scotland. Flyting is when poets get together and try to out do each other in words!

“If folk are to be open to the big questions and have some fun talking about them, the discussion needs to be snappy and sharp, and the whole world is the location in which the debate needs to take place, in popular culture and also in the entertainment world as much as in the most serious, esoteric or difficult arenas. Politics has for so long normally been the provenance of slippery, sneaky, snaky evaders of direct questions, the organised and impenetrable self-congratulators or the unapproachably smug and affluent. Radical thinking makes a different politics, informed by irreverence, imagination, honesty and respect for what matters. It gets us to the fundamental things. This is what close reading helps us to do. Or close listening.
When we open the maps to find the destination of a different Scotland, more democratic and less institutionally dominated, we know that even if the cartography is mistaken today, at least the maps show that the land is there. Whatever actually happens, or can be made to happen, change starts happening in the way you think about what might happen.” 

Extract from A Flyting philosophy distilled from books : Alan Raich -

We need to focus on invigorating debates, open hearts and minds, investigate what democracy really means, examine creatively, listen and read widely,

Sunday 27 November 2016

Scotlands Many Voices

Thinking this over – it seems England views Scotland as a north region, like Yorkshire say – rather than a separate country that has centuries old entirely separate history, many ancient traditions and old Celtic ballads and a distinct culture. Before James VI left to become King of England, Scotland had its line of Scottish Kings, from King David and later the Stuart kings. It's really a question of - does Scotland's separate identity matter for the success of the country and for the UK too?
Scotland is one of the oldest countries in Europe. Scotland is also a land of many huge contrasts from the great imposing drama of the highlands; the misty heathers and fast running streams; the green and cultivated lands of the north east; the quiet beauties of St Andrews and Fife and the coastal walks; and the charm of the borders.  

Alasdair Moffat and Alan Raich in their book, Arts of Resistance write of the destruction of Scottish culture. 
“The wholesale reduction of a culture to tartan tourist clichés. Ian Crichton Smith evoked images of the white streams screaming through the moonlight of the Cullen’s – a permanent scream of protest against all the trivialization of our history that has been foisted upon us.”  

Keeping Scots Alive!; culture, words, art and Music
In the 18th century after union of Parliament – many poets and others worked diligently to keep Scots and what the Scots believe in, alive...such as Allan Ramsay, Fergusson and Robert Burns.
They felt it was vitally important.
In the 17th century after Union of the Crowns, the Scottish royal court left Holyrood for London. This was good! It meant all the hangers on left too -  and meant the Thinkers and the Philosophers, were free to voice opinions! The Scottish Enlightenment led Europe. Many great Scottish thinkers left a huge mark on the world.

The poet Hugh MacDiarmid said in his Lost Interview, ""Lord [Harold] Acton, the historian, has said that no small nation in the history of the world has had a greater impact on mankind at large than the Scots have had. That influence flowed from the national character which is utterly different from the English. To analyze that national character is to discover the factors comprising our Scottish culture."

*Some Forgotten Scots Heroes – Thomas Muir, George Hamilton, James Clerk Maxwell, (Maxwell is the greatest physicist ever – and yet it was only in 2008 that a statue of him was unnveiled in Edinburgh. Odd really considering)

James Clerk Maxwell
*Scottish Artists – Arthur Melville, Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret MacDonald, Glasgow Boys, Henry Raeburn, 

*Great Scottish Poets – Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, James MacPherson, Robert Burns, Hugh MacDiarmid,

*Scottish Writers – Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Iain Banks,
Alasdair Gray, Irvine Welsh, Janice Gallowy, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Nan Sheperd, George MacDonald,

*Scottish Scientists  - James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell, James Chrichton, Alexander Fleming, John Napier, John Leslie, Joseph Black, James Hutton, John Leslie, James Clerk Maxwell.

(I'm ashamed and saddened that growing up in Edinburgh I learned practically nothing of Scottish history, culture and the arts. I used to walk down the Royal Mile and wonder about all the history here... I am now teaching myself.

‘To be truly internationalism, we must first be nationalists.’ Hugh MacDiarmid.
The sky in Scotland changes with often rapid speed – when the wind gets up one moment and is suddenly still and clear the next. Then a sharp wind catches us as the skies darken and heavy clouds roll over and there will be a sudden heavy shower as we hurry for cover and wait for the weather to shift and for some warm rays to descend and we are grateful.

The dark and light of our weather.