Friday 31 March 2023

Rewilding Alliance


Scotland is one of the worlds most depleted countries – with its huge areas of intensively managed and ecologically destroyed land.  

Rewild Scotland’s national parks – the Cairngorms and loch Lomond & Trossachs


Are not really nature reserves, with fake forests with dead undergrowth and the peatbogs (that could soak up carbon dioxide) have been burnt and drained. Scotland’s parks serves the needs of a select few. 


We must allow nature to thrive in our national parks, we live in times of both nature and climate crisis. Scotland has only % of natural forest. Our N should and could lead the way for nature and wildlife to recover.

I was surprised to learn that Japan has over 60% natural forests. Other countries of comparable size such as Denmark have 6 national parks. 




Nicola Sturgeon Leaves the Stage, February 2023

February 2023

The last day as first minister was an emotional farewell. 

Her final speech and end of era – definitely. As FM she won eight elections and was deputy FM before that under Alex Salmond. 

She’s been at the centre of Scottish politics for so long now, since the SNP victory in 2007.

She’s given a lifetime of service. Recently you could see there was a heaviness in his eyes  - and now its as if a weight has been lifted off her shoulders. 

Nicola faces press pack Photo Jane Barlow

There is this top image of her facing the all white male Press Pack (taken by photographer Jane Barlow) says it all. We need more women leaders. Nicola has always had many women in her cabinet, and fought against injustice, to protect our rights, invest in early learning, Baby boxes, mitigating Tory austerity.


Nicola had that rare quality of being a straight talker, and honest – and had the highest rating of any UK political leader – I trusted her. I feel sad to see her leave the stage, its very strange after her long stay in Bute house. 

She had weaknesses too, and was conservative with a small "c", The 2014 referendum was bruising. 

I took her photographs at Edinburgh book festival 2013. She was clearly less flamboyant or approachable than Alex Salmond, who had a large presences.She's a great reader and lover of books.

Sturgeon has impressed at Global events, such as the Global Women Leaders Summit held at Lake Como, Italy – with Hilary Clinton, Mary Robison, Helen Clark. And also the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security. 


She’s been there through the crisis of Brexit, which Scotland did not vote for and most of us feel very sad about. Many will remember her Daily Covid Briefings and steering us through the Covid pandemic. Thanks Nicola, we will miss you.

Nicola in Brussels


Time to Speak Out!

Time to Speak Out!


Scotland’s struggle against Tory austerity policies

The anger among public service workers is palpable. They have seen their incomes reduced by 30% under Tory austerity the past years. Strikes will continue. The Tories would rather invest 5.5 billion in Ajax vehicles, which are six yeas behind schedule – than a billion on health service workers  (or in education). Perhaps they should ask voters where they would rather see investment?  NHS Scotland has huge waiting lists and lack of staff, partly the result of Covid and Brexit, but mainly the result of austerity policies and the lack of funding under the Tory UK government.


The UK is no longer a super power with a captive empire, and should not be spending billions on weapons of mass destruction – but rather on ways to save our planet! The British empire collapsed after the second world war, after which 62 nations sought their independence. The Tories lack of investment has seen a lack of productivity and average UK incomes have fallen by 11K  since 2008. The unionists are living in a romantic past of an imperial British empire that no longer exists - its time to look to our future prosperity and potential.


The Scottish Parliament is only responsible for 20% of the Scottish economy (and mainly income limited tax levers) so has only very limited control over budgets. George Kerevan writes that “being hamstrung to a failing UK, the Barnett formula is like a vice around Scotland, holding us back from pursuing policies that could make a real difference to peoples lives.” The south of England elites only care about the financial global economy of the super rich and with a lack of UK manufacturing, the British economy has no solid base to grow. 


The UK government has refused investment in many future innovative Scottish businesses. It appears that unionists see their future potential as a “managed decline.” They may be disparaging a well-bring economy, but a healthy, well-educated society is necessary for investment, businesses, infrastructure and a thriving economy. The latter requires the former. 


Meanwhile Ireland, with far less resources than Scotland, decided twenty years ago that for future success their country should focus resources on education, which has paid dividends now, with a well educated workforce, record investment and a healthy economy.


I’m beyond angry now. We have such high levels of poverty and inequality, and we need land reform and fair opportunities, 20% of children live in poverty in Scotland. But how far can the Scottish Parliament with its limited powers, mitigate damaging Tory government policies? (Or the Red Tories who are equally as bad.) Scotland needs control of its energy policy, immigration, vat, and all economic levers. The reality is that Scotland has world leading universities, major international arts festivals, tourism, leading renewables. 


I worry for our children’s future. Its good Kate Forbes won nearly half of SNP votes because we need change. We urgently need a focus on businesses - business is half of the coin for a well-being economy. Sweden for example pursues a healthy, inclusive capitalism while also providing a decent standard of living – we need both Humza! Change is necessary and possible.


Scotland needs investment and a stake in future industries such as ScotWind – but Westminster has control of Scotland’s energy; Scotland needs more immigration to sustain our working age population but Westminster has control of immigration; Scotland needs to invest in infrastructure but Westminster has control of all economic levers; Scotland needs investment in it public services ( NHS, education, security) but its impossible as Westminster has control of austerity policies. 


Scotland needs a new way forward - independence. We can do better, why not? How angry are we? What are we afraid of? Time to speak up! 

(Please Note. We need independent-minded people in our independence movement – otherwise we can’t have only yes people who only want to toe the conservative line.)


The SNP now sees a new generation at the helm, a chance for renewal, I hope they are as angry as the generation before, on whose shoulders they now must build. Our strongest voice is the grassroots movement, our strongest hope is freedom to choose, our democratic right and sovereign will.

Time to speak up!



Tories disregard serious issues like poverty and only care about their own back pockets. In time of crisis we have small minded people, with small minded ideas – we need to think past this.


Thursday 30 March 2023

100 Years of Scottish Independence Activism

Months before the Great War, Westminster passed a Homerule for Scotland bill 1914, at the time Ireland was also agitating for home rule.

1) First there was the Home rulers – Keir Hardy, a founder of Labour, a miner turned journalist, Cunningham Graham, John McLean. 

2) Then there was The Poets (late 1830s) – Hugh MacDiarmid, Hamish Henderson, Edwin Muir,

1950s National Covenant for a Scottish Parliament, which 2 million signed; 


3)  The Intellectuals 1960s – third generation, Stephen Maxwell, (theorist), Gavin Kennedy, Tom Nairn (political theorist), Isobel Lindsay, Margo MacDonald, 


*Yes majority vote Referendum 1979, not accepted by Westminster


4) After came The Activists, the fourth generation – Alex Salmond, Winnie Ewing, Mike Russell, Nicola Sturgeon, John Swinney, Cunningham. Knocked doors, manned stalls, leafleting, marches, 

With a message of hope they eventually won power in Holyrood. 


*Mini-parliament 1999, Referendum 2014.with yes vote at 45%

*The thirteen year old UK Supreme court (set up by Blair 2010) dared to compare Scotland to Quebec, when all Canadian “provinces” have the right to hold a referendum on any subject under the Canadian constitution. Reducing Scotland, as one of the founding nations of the UK union, as less than a province. 

Margo MacDonald

Winnie Ewing & Nicola Sturgeon
Jim Sillars

(**George Kerevan failed to mention the very significant and important grassroots YES movement around the INDYREF vote 2014 building momentum around the exhilarating, hope-filled debates for a better future and our independence.) 


5) Yes Movement - alongside vigorous diverse hard working activism, creative arts, discourse, and online activism, consists of Believe in Scotland, the National newspaper, Common Weal, 

With the Intelligentsia, academics, and journalists - Tom Devine, Lesley Riddock, Ruth Wishart, George Kerevan, Alan Bisset, Kevin McKenna, Gerry Hassan, Ian Bell, Stuart Cosgrove, more.


Foreign-owned media and press is another major factor.


John MacLean
Hugh MacDiarmid

Cunningham Graham - First elected socialist and a founder of both the Labour party and the SNP

John MacLean – revolutionist and educator

Ramsay MacDonald – first Labour Prime minster, fiery advocate of Scottish self-determination.. Home rule – meant Scottish sovereignty within the British empire

Intellectuals - traditional values of community and love of ideas with radical reconstruction of nation.

Devolution of political power to localities, local control of land and recourses.

Cunningham Graham

Thanks to George Kerecan’s recent article The National –
 Four Generations failed to win Scottish Independence. Will the next”  He asks “why are we still propping up Westminster… and what is to be gained from playing within the Westminster rules of the Anglo state for yet another lost generation?”  “The latest generation activists have all but exhausted constitutional avenues within the arcane, anti-democratic British prison of nations, for achieving Scottish statehood.”

I’m surprised Sunak defends Northern Ireland's sovereignty rights – but not Scotland’s. How is this democratic?


What next? We must stop viewing Scotland in Westminster rear view mirror. I'm so tired hearing that Scotland – CAN'T – because matters are reserved to Westminster. 

Independence is a process and journey.

And start seeing Scotland as its own free nation. With its own story to tell. The baton is now being passed to a new generation, 


How will they respond?

Ramsay MacDonald

Four Generations failed to win Scottish independence. Will the next?  What is to be gained from playing within the rigged rules of the Anglo state for yet another lost generation? Scotland: we are only on our knees because we refuse to stand up.