Category - Scotland

The United Kingdom Nearly Died for Margaret Thatcher’s Sins

The Scots got sick and tired of Thatcherite policies imposed from London.

The American Prospect, By Robert Kuttner, September 23

Why on earth did the Scots, largely quiescent as part of Great Britain for three centuries, suddenly become the mouse that roared?

It wasn’t because they became besotted watching re-runs of Braveheart or Rob Roy, or even because they coveted more of a share of North Sea oil revenues. No, the Scots got sick and tired of Thatcherite policies imposed from London.

Thanks to the partial form of federalism known as “devolution” provided by the Labour government of Tony Blair in 1997, Scotland got to keep such progressive policies as free higher education and an intact national health service, while the rest of the U.K. partly privatized the health service and began compelling young people to go into debt to finance college like their American cousins.

But as long as progressive Scotland, with just one Conservative M.P. sent to the national parliament at Westminster, remained part of Great Britain, its own policies were in jeopardy. So the near-miss referendum was one part revived Scottish pride, one part observation that a dozen small nations are members of the European Union and do just fine, and one very big part revulsion against Tory policies‚ÄĒmost recently those of the hapless current prime minister, David Cameron.

Pope considering response to alleged ‘inappropriate acts’ by UK cardinal

Vatican confirms priests’ written allegations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien have been received and issue is in pontiff’s hands

The Guardian, By Severin Carrell, Catherine Deveney, John Hooper and Sam Jones, February 24

Pope Benedict XVI is considering how to respond after being told about allegations that the UK’s most senior Catholic has been accused of “inappropriate acts” against fellow priests.

The Vatican confirmed the pope had seen allegations made by priests against Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic church, by three serving priests and a former priest in his diocese which date back to 1980.

The claims ‚Äď which are denied by the cardinal and remain unproven ‚Äď add to a series of controversies over senior figures in the church and within the Vatican that will overshadow Benedict’s final days as pontiff and the first weeks of his successor.


Hours after the allegations were published, O’Brien decided not to give Mass at his cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday morning, where he had been due to celebrate Pope Benedict’s eight years in office. He cited legal advice.

UK’s top cardinal accused of ‘inappropriate acts’ by priests

Three priests and former priest report Cardinal Keith O’Brien to Vatican over claims stretching back 33 years

The Observer, By Catherine Deveney, February 23

Three priests and a former priest in Scotland have reported the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, to the Vatican over allegations of inappropriate behaviour stretching back 30 years.

The four, from the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, have complained to nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, and demanded O’Brien’s immediate resignation. A spokesman for the cardinal said that the claims were contested.

O’Brien, who is due to retire next month, has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, condemning homosexuality as immoral, opposing gay adoption, and most recently arguing that same-sex marriages would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”. Last year he was named “bigot of the year” by the gay rights charity Stonewall.

Tantalising Tuesday

‘sede vacante’ continues…
Yum but Oh dear.
Grand Mistresses of the Amazon
Young men who look like a Muslim should not fly
Thailand says Al-Qaeda & Salafist terrorist groups may attack US consulate
“Mr Beans” ¬£910,000.00 F1 rebuild
Scottish independence will need international jurisprudence 9 years ago
meet al Ikhbariya
Obama rebukes North Korea over test

Tonight I attended our Shrove Tuesday Mass, in the congregation were Japanese, Croatians, Australians, English, Scottish, Cambodians, Congolese, Americans and Canadians. We prayed for Benedict as he prepares for retirement, and then guffawed loudly when we went outside and burnt last years palms to make the ash for tomorrow. The smoke was not white ūüėÄ

Gratuitous youtube
Not Pope Forever … stay tuned…

Cameron Sets 2017 date for rump-British referendum on EU exit


From the Guardian:

David Cameron¬†will on Wednesday set a deadline to hold an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the¬†European Union¬†by the end of 2017 as he hardens his position on the issue that has bedevilled Tory leaders for a quarter of a century.

To the delight of Eurosceptics, the prime minister will throw down the gauntlet to his fellow EU leaders to agree to a revision of Britain’s membership terms within two and a half years of the next general election or risk triggering a British exit.

In his long-awaited speech on¬†Europe, which has been repeatedly delayed since the autumn, Cameron will pledge no rest until he wins because democratic consent for the EU in Britain is “wafer thin”.

The prime minister will say: “The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next parliament.

And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum.

The hypocrisy inherent in suggesting that Britain should get out of the EU because there’s a “democracy deficiency” in being even partly ruled from abroad while saying that Scotland shouldn’t take the same exit in respect to being ruled from London never ceases to amaze me. For the Unionists. the story is always that Scotland – alone of all nations – cannot afford to be a nation alone without the guiding economic hand of London (yeah, the one that has so badly failed).

Take a look back at November 2011 when Conservative Chancellor George Osborne claimed that the prospect of an independence referendum was damaging the Scottish economy.

On the bright side, nationalist Englishmen twisting themselves in knots trying to simultaneously defend a rump-UK exit from the EU and say Scotland has no good reasons to exit the British Union will only be a source of limitless material for the Scottish independence campaign.

P.S. No, “devo-max” is not a credible option¬†for Scotland – maybe Cameron should suggest it to his tory Colonel Blimpish brethren for the rump UK in Europe. That could be his political swan song.

Scottish Independence: How Unionist Kevin McKenna Learned to Love It

Scottish Independence

Unionist Kevin McKenna has (almost) seen the light — and is speaking gospel — re: Scottish independence:

Last year, over coffee in Glasgow, I was discussing the strategy of the¬†Better Together¬†camp with a prominent Labour politician. I suggested to him that Labour’s problem in Scotland is that they had to develop a narrative that says good things about the union rather than simply parrot the predictable and scientifically questionable surveys of purple-faced and gin-soaked CBI types that claim we’ll be a developing country if we become independent.

One year later and, despite Douglas Alexander’s best efforts, Labour has still failed to sell the union on its own merits. Events since then may even have rendered the task impossible. Unionists, me included, have talked loftily about dangers of break-up and separation in a world that is thirsting for continuity and stability.

Yet we conveniently overlook the fact that London has already broken away from the United Kingdom and now exists as a world super-state governed by the greed of unhindered capitalism and recognisable as British only by its taxis and bad service. As the world’s most newly minted oligarchs continue to colonise the independent state of London, it becomes almost impossible for families on less than ¬£250k to live decently there. Poor London families made homeless by the coalition benefit cuts are being evacuated as far north as Middlesbrough.


Labour in the UK long ago gave up any pretence at being the party of the marginalised and the vulnerable. Instead, it throws rotten fruit at the SNP when it says what Labour should be saying.¬†Alex Salmond¬†last week painted a handsome picture of what a new Scottish constitution following independence would look like. Every Scot, he said, would have a right to a¬†home and free education. There will be no nuclear weapons. And we’ll decide who we’re fighting and who we’re not. Until Blair, Mandelson, Balls and Miliband hijacked the party, that was what I thought Labour stood for. Now they simply boo and hiss with the Tories and say it can’t be done.

Earlier this month, the UK Treasury declared that, following a period of intense and prolonged analysis of the economic numbers, each of us would be £1 a year worse off in an independent Scotland. Put another way, for £1 a year you will never have to endure the economic privations of a Conservative government ever again. You will not be penalised for being poor or old and nor will you suffer the pain of watching your young boys being killed in illegal wars or occupations.


With each passing week, it becomes more difficult to support a union that¬†doesn’t really exist anyway. Morally, it may soon become indefensible to remain in a state that rewards corruption and promotes inequality when you have an opportunity to leave it behind.

A Racist Libel

In case you were wondering, over in Scotland the grassroots campaign for a “No to Independence” vote is getting ugly, and racist. Horribly,¬†Labour Party stalwarts¬†are leading the nastiest attacks, fearing that Independence will destroy their power¬†in Scotland. Wings Over Scotland has the details, and an excellent comments thread.

The folks at Wings are capable of doing actual journalism as well as op-eds, as they recently proved by doing what no-one in the British media had thought to do over the question of an independent Scotland’s membership in the EU. Well worth a bookmark if you’re following the Independence debate.

Hogmanay Party Jukebox

In Scotland we call New Year’s “Hogmanay” and it¬†is the occasion for the world’s biggest annual¬†party. If you sober up before the 2nd, you’re doing it wrong. I’d like you all to join me in hoisting a glass or two of “the cratur” – scotch to you – as we toast the new year of 2013 and kick of an Agonist musical party. You know the drill – post a link to your YouTube of your favorite new Year’s party music and your drunken editors will try to imbed the video without crashing the whole site.

And now let’s get this party started. Something bittersweet and personal…

…and a footstomper from the vaults.

The traditional Scottish Hogmanay toast fits the Agonist readership well. “Here’s tae us, wha’s like us? Damn few, and they’re a’ deid!”

Happy New Year, folks.