The real winner in ‘The Ayes Have it’?

Debate the real winner in The Ayes Have it, The Ayes Have It.

Last week I had the privilege, along with my wife, of attending the Edinburgh Fringe Event ‘The Ayes Have It, The Ayes Have It’ led by Alex Salmond and the show producer and creator Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

Travelling down I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen comments on twitter and Facebook, and in my mind I thought it might be a question time/debate night style of show.

I couldn’t have been further off the mark.

When we walked in, there was clips of all the casts contributions in Westminster and Holyrood to build up the excitement. After getting drinks and settling into our seats, Tasmina Ahmed- Sheikh came out to introduce the show. She announced that Bernard Ponsaby, the STV political editor, who was supposed to be the speaker for the night, had received the sad news his mother had passed away.

The thoughts of the cast, audience and all involved were expressed to be with him and his family in these sad times.

This led to Alex Salmond stepping in and taking on the role of speaker.

An unconfirmed rumour suggested that a Perthshire MP had unsuccessfully submitted his CV last minute to be considered as the speaker of the house (a light hearted joke of course Mr Wishart).

The show kicked off with the Aye’s Kate Forbes making a vigorous case for Independence followed by David Davies making his case for the Union. 

Kate, as always, made a case that was almost impossible to argue, and I have to admit I was alsoimpressed with David – he read the room and knew the audience weren’t on his side, so played on the humour and audience engagement.

For me a politician has three jobs when speaking publicly. Know your brief. Read the room.

Appeal to your intended audience.

Kate achieved this with her impeccable knowledge on figures of the Scottish economy and her natural likeability and David did this by relating to our Scottish humour and mixing that in with his brief to get his message across.

Therefore, in my view both opening speeches were good in their own right.

The seconding speeches, first by Jim Eadie former SNP MSP, followed by Sir Brian Donohoe former Labour MP, were a bit more questionable.

Jim made a favourable comment that it was Winnie Ewing that said with her characteristic flair and panache “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on”.

Then it was the turn of Sir Brian, who made relatively decent points to start, but his speech didn’tgo down quite as well with the audience. In fact, it was maybe only time there was anger portrayed from the floor, when he quoted the line “Home rule is Rome rule”.

Thankfully, up next were the students of Broxburn Academy, 17 year old Emma, making the case for the Aye’s and 14 year old Sarah speaking for the No’s.

Emma made the case exceedingly for Independence and why is it essential, while Sarah didn’t dis-agree with the merits of Independence, she made a very strong case that we needed a bigger margin of support before we reclaim our Independence.

Both of the young ladies’ courage and conviction could have easily swung the vote and I am sure everyone in attendance would agree that our current politicians could learn a thing or two from these fantastic young ladies.

Finally it came to the vote, and given the concept of the show I think its fair to say the bookies wouldn’t have even offered odds on the outcome of results.

However, in my opinion the real winner here was the lesson for true debate to define and outline our principled, sovereign right to democracy.

Tasmina, Alex and David have done a fantastic job in reminding us of how politics can and in my personal opinion should be done.

Debate and democracy is something we are so missing in this country and “The Ayes Have It” showed an example of how we can bring that back.

I hope our current politicians can learn from this as well as future politicians in an Independent Scotalnd.

For if we want to stop the world while Scotland gets on, we must define our aspiration for when we reach that destination


Glasses full and empty

Before I start I should point out this blog starts fairly depressing, however, I believe in coming to a solution to any problem we must first fully understand what the problem is.

The ideas I propose near the end are more positive and dare I say more hopeful so please do read to the end.

I would have liked to start this blog by saying Happy New Year to one and all and let’s hope its a better one, but from what we have seen in the short time in 2023 it saddens me to say that it seems to be shaping up the same, if not worse than previous years.

However, as a glass-half-full person I do in hope wish you all a Happy New Year, as I do think with the right determination and the right strategic, tactical thinking we can change the course those in power are steering us on.

I and as I suspect the majority of readers here, are not in a position to change anything alone, but together we can either change the course of those in power or if they won’t change, we can replace them with those that will steer us on the right course to our rightful destination.

Let me first start by explaining why I think it’s not been a great start to the year and as always these are only my opinions that I hope can be discussed, then either forgotten if not good, taken on if good or used to progress other ideas.

In the first week of 2023, we have already seen severely worrying signs coming out of the UK Government that they will bring in a policy that basically attempts to ban strikes.

It has been fairly obvious that would be their next move when we look at how the Government and media approached last year’s strikes in attempting to exhaust us and direct anger towards the strikers.

If the UK Government decide to railroad ahead with this, I would hope that the UK public will stand up to it, whether it is through an organised general strike, through the unions or through civil disobedience organised by the people.

We should never forget that the unions and strikers strike to find solutions for us – the workers, whether it’s rail workers, teachers, NHS workers or postal workers. IF THEY WIN, WE ALL WIN.

And I say this next part with no apologies – if you stood on your doorstep clapping for our NHS workers and key workers through the Covid pandemic, while they put their lives at risk on the front line, but now won’t support them as they demand not just better pay but better, safer working conditions, I’d suggest having a serious word with yourself.

Let’s also not forget what is likely going to be the next Tory attack on the people in replacing the Human Rights bill with their Bill of Rights next year that could remove the worker’s rights we have become accustomed to, such as paid holiday leave and 48 hour working weeks to name a couple.

Think about that for a while, ban strikes this year, strip workers’ rights next year…. You would be forgiven for thinking this was a severe strategic attack on the people of the UK.

So with all this going on in the UK Government only months after the abomination that was the Boris years and Truss weeks, you would think Independence for Scotland would be an inevitable choice for anyone living in Scotland (obviously excluding hard-line unionists). 

This is where the half-full glass empties.

When we established our devolved parliament it was agreed by the SNP at the time as a part of their strategy towards independence, to show the public how Scotland could govern itself better, even with limited powers and ignite confidence and ambition in what they could do with full powers.

I am sorry to say that this current SNP and Green Government is doing anything but the above and if they are to continue on this course, it will not only damage independence support, but it will also damage Scotland.

In the first week of 2023, a paper has been released showing what the Scottish Government are planning under the gaze of their GRR and Ending Conversion therapy bills.

This paper is hard to believe to be true, but given that only last month the Scottish Parliament rejected an amendment to block convicted sex offenders from gaining a gender recognition certificate, which will afford them a new birth certificate, access to women’s prisons and refuges it really should not surprise us.

The paper released shows that there are plans and discussions taking place that would make it illegal for parents to give parental advice to their children and ban balanced advice being given to people, including children, struggling or confused with their gender identity.

As an example of why I say balanced if a female child was going through the common tomboy phase and was advised that they should change their gender medically to match how they felt, this paper suggests it would be illegal to advise that they were a normal female child going through a tomboy phase that they would likely grow out of.

The paper was brought to attention by Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland and as Scotland’s top KC Lawyer and Dean of Faculty of Advocates Roddy Dunlop states, whatever you think of Wings, his articles are backed up with factual reports.

If you want to read more on this report you can read wings blog here

Or if you prefer you can read the full report here

Again, all of this after the controversial GRR debate only a couple of weeks ago, you could be forgiven in thinking it is all a strategic attack on women’s rights as well as parents’ rights. 

So the question is WHAT NOW?

Some may be tempted into thinking that a Labour Government at the next general election could be the answer.

They would be wrong.

Three examples of why – Labours lack of support for unions and strikers, to extent of punishing MPs for attending picket lines, Labour have already backed the damaging GRR policies, both in Scotland as well as the bosses in London voicing support, and of course, Labour support keeping the UK and Scotland out of the single market.

For me, British Labour has become a poor man’s Tory party and is just as entwined in the establishment’s control over the people as the Tories are and “Scottish” Labour are nothing but puppets to their London masters.

This leads me to why we find ourselves in this mess, I believe it to be all down to us being under the control of the millionaires and bankers, that runs the British establishment, and their infiltration both in Scotland and London!

Moving forward though, and getting back to that half-full glass.

I believe all of this makes the case of why we in Scotland need independence and need it now.

However it is now evident independence in name will be good, It can be better, but real independence and real change are what we need.

When we reclaim our independence, why would we stick with the structure of our government the way it is now?

The structure as we know it was negotiated with the UK government under the Scotland Act 98, and it was their intention that it would fail and recent evidence shows it can fail very easily.

Independence is for many about breaking free and making a new start as a country, so let’s do the same with our governance, let’s have a complete overhaul.

Independence gives us the chance to do just this.

It has been suggested by some that there will be a two-year transition period between whatever ballot box event we use, and our actual independence day.

Tim Rideout and the Scottish Currency Group have an excellent timetabled plan, of how we can move to our own currency, between the vote and independence day

We should do this with our governance as well.

Use the two-year transition period for a citizens assembly to work alongside a Scottish Independence Convention, and come up with a system of governance that best suites Scotland, including where our government building or buildings are located, what voting system we use, who can stand for election, who can vote etc.

Personally I have been looking at the Swiss style of governance and really like how they govern themselves, by putting democracy at the heart of their governance.

I have also considered the thought, that we should have a maximum two-term policy for those sitting in the main Parliament, that votes on policy, and then have parliamentarians that get elected to an advisory second chamber that would only advise and not make policy.

This, I believe, would avoid careerist politicians from making decisions, but also avoids losing good long serving parliamentarians that are in politics long term because they are good at what they do, and not for a wage packet or comfy seat.

I also enjoyed Chris Hanlon’s latest blog on here Coriolis where he writes of a Citizens Assembly chamber.

All these ideas and others could be looked at and combined to form the best outcome to suit our newly independent nation, and on Independence Day, or week,  we could have our first General Election (or whatever the assembly decides to call it).

If this was done right, I think would remove the risk of the mess we now find ourselves in, and could even encourage support for independence from those we might not expect.

All of this can only happen when we become independent.

I recognise that the above idea posed, is for a post-independent Scotland and I have missed the small matter of how we get our Independence, you can see my views on that in my previous blog which I’ll possibly update next, but to be honest, my opinions have not much changed,

No more cap in hand

My reason for writing this blog is basically to say that Independence is and should always remain a priority for us in Scotland, no matter what the current governments do, they can be replaced.

The Scottish government can be replaced when the people of Scotland decide and the UK government can be replaced when the people of England decide. Still, the British Establishment will remain and for me, that is the main reason Independence will always remain the answer.  

So it is over to us now, we have to re-navigate the course of those in power, directly towards Independence, at full steam ahead, avoiding their Iceberg collisions of damaging policies, and if they won’t change their course, we will need to remove them, and replace them with those that will and those that can.

To summarise, while 2023 may have gotten off to a worrying start, I remain hopeful, it will be the year we make the change that is needed on our route to independence.

The time has to be now.



Alba, too wee to vote for?

Three weeks ago when down in Castlemilk canvassing for Alba, candidate Kirsty Fraser I had a great conversation with a gentleman whose views I suspect might resonate with a worrying amount of current Scottish voters.

As I introduced myself, while out canvassing for the Alba candidate, he told me that he was an Independence supporter, had voted YES in 2014, had voted for the SNP in every election since but now he thought he would be voting Labour at this by-election.

I had a feeling I knew what reasons were coming but I asked him anyway, why he felt the need to change his vote from the SNP to Labour?

His reply was that he thought Labour were the fastest and only real chance of getting rid of the Tories as the SNP didn’t have the electoral numbers to make real change down in Westminster and crucially, Independence wasn’t something he could see happening in the near future.

The response I gave to his reply was one I’m sure all Independence parties will be using as it’s almost been gifted to us by the Labour party. I asked the gentleman “do you really believe SIR Keir Starmer as Prime Minister would be better than any of the recent Tory PMs or future contenders? Isn’t the clue in the name, SIR Keir of the LABOUR party?

A Labour Party leader who is against his own MPs standing on picket lines, is against the UK joining the EU Single Market and now appears to even be against immigration!

In my view he is also against democracy, as he joins his blue Tory friends in thinking he, who does not live in Scotland, can rule out a democratic referendum for the people here to determine their own future.”

This is where I saw the opportunity to open discussion in Castlemilk on the reason I was there. I asked if he had heard of the Alba Party and if he would consider giving us his vote, rather than Labour. 

I took the chance to explain Alba’s position on Independence, our call for a Constitutional Convention and explained that we believed Independence could happen sooner rather than later with the right strategy and political commitment.

Then came the reply, one I have heard so often and one that prompted me to write this wee blog.

“I agree with what you’re saying but aren’t the Alba Party too small to get enough votes to win or make change?”

I tried to keep my reply short as we’d been chatting a while, I’m a big believer in short sound-bites being better than long essays on the doorstep as they stick in people’s heads when they comes to decide where to place their X at the ballot box.

So the reply I gave was,

“If we’d all thought this way in 1967, the great Winnie Ewing wouldn’t have won her seat in that historic by-election. If we’d thought that way between 2012 and 2014, Independence would still be sitting at 20-30% support.

For real change, not just replacing a blue Tory with a red Tory but removing them all, we need voters to have the courage and confidence shown in 1967 and 2014.

If everyone thinks that there’s no point in voting for Alba because it won’t change anything, then it’s likely nothings will change BUT if enough people find the courage to vote for Alba Party then change will come.

It might not be in this seat but if we increase the vote here we do two things. Firstly we give voter confidence for future votes and secondly, if we keep upping our vote share, we start pressuring other Independence parties to actually take action on Independence because if our vote share goes up they’ll need to be better than us to win these votes back. 

So please don’t buy into ‘a vote for Alba is a wasted vote’ we don’t have to win the seats but if your vote for Alba pushes action and helps the cause of Independence then we are all winners.

In my discussion in Castlemilk it was evident in both what the gentleman was saying and maybe more, in how he was saying it, with a number of sighs in between sentences and a disappointed, exhausted tone in his voice, that he still wanted and believed in Independence but his belief and confidence in it happening soon was lacking.

The two points made in the conversation about Alba Party being too small and Independence not happening, leaving Labour his only options, are opinions that I’ve been hearing more frequently recently.

I would say this to anyone who believes either of these statements,

“Every party is small until it grows.”

“SNP had 6 Mp’s in 2014”

“The summer of Independence campaign grew this to 56 seats, showing that parties can grow and things change very quickly in politics.”

A vote for Alba is by no means a wasted vote, the more support Alba wins, the more pressure is mounted on Scottish and UK Governments to act on Independence.

So to anyone thinking of voting Labour as a better option than the Torys, I say this,

“Labour aren’t the answer. They made their ‘Better Together bed’ in 2014, and shared it with the Tories. They are a British state backed party that will not act in the best interest of the Scottish people.

A Sir Keir Starmer led Labour government would be no different, maybe worse, than the disaster of Blair and Brown.

Going forward I believe the SNP are the main vehicle that can get us our Independence, however their driver (the leadership) seem to have got lost behind the wheel.

If Alba keep raising their share of votes in by-elections and opinion polls it will act as a flashing light on the leaderships dashboard and push for action to be taken.

If action isn’t taken then I am afraid either the driver of the vehicle will need to be changed, or a new vehicle will be needed to complete the journey.

Thankfully Alba are ready to be that new vehicle IF it is required and we even have a roadmap in ‘The Wee Alba Book’.

So if you’re an Independence supporter reading this and you find yourself agreeing, remember you don’t have to be a member of a party to vote for them, campaign for them or discuss them with your friends.

If you believe Alba can bring benefit and progress the cause of Independence then come and join our campaign and find out more.

Our next event is a National Assembly on Independence strategies to plot a way forward.

This is open to members of all parties and none to allow for the necessary wider discussion. 

Feel free to join and have your voice and opinions heard.

To find out more and register your attendance, sign up now.

Strategically, working together we can achieve Independence sooner you might think!


No more cap in hand

It’s Independence we demand!

Last Wednesday’s ruling against the Scottish Government’s ability to hold a referendum without consent from Westminster is possibly what some of us expected but none the less, it’s yet another confirmation that the British establishment believe they can keep Scotland in this so called union by simply silencing us.

Now some are saying we have to accept and respect this decision. I would say,  aye fine I’ll accept it. I’ll accept it as the court’s opinion but I certainly won’t be respecting it. The reason I don’t respect it is this. It is not for the Supreme Court to decide how or when Scotland has its voice heard.

Throughout Scotland’s history it is enshrined that the sovereignty of Scotland lies within its people. An example of this being this year, when the new King Charles had to swear an oath to uphold Scotland’s Claim of Right during his coronation.

In 2018 SNP MPs passed a motion on the Claim of Right in Westminster that passed with no  opposition, the signing of the claim of right in 1689 and of course the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

All of these examples are evidence that our sovereignty lies with the Scottish people and not a UK court or UK Parliament. On that basis, we Sovereign Scots have spoken and given our view, through a number of mandates, to our MPs in Westminster and our Scottish Government in Holyrood.

With the most recent Scottish election being the strongest statement, where a combination of SNP, Alba and Green votes, equalling a 50.12% majority of Scottish voters, voiced their desire for a referendum on our independence.

Now that is a decision that I accept and respect and Scotland should demand that it is accepted and respected, both by those down the road in Westminster and those two minutes further down the road in the Supreme Court.

So whatever comes next, whether we push to bend Westminster to our will to grant a Section 30 or whether we go for a plebiscite in the next General Election or use a Holyrood election to hold a plebiscite, the one thing for sure is this. 

Wednesday needs to kickstart the mobilisation of our grassroots campaign because independence is now essential for the survival of many Scots.

The reality is that Westminster policies – whether the government be Tory, Labour or LibDem – has and will continue to have, the majority of Scots suffering through this winter and beyond, with growing number having to turn to food banks and now warm banks!

Many Scots are facing survival choices of heating or eating, an outrageous disgrace in an energy rich country like Scotland!

We keep hearing the phrases “cost of living crisis” and “the energy crisis” 

I don’t believe it is a cost of living or energy crisis Scotland have, I believe it’s a cost of union and greed crisis.

We can do better: we must! The only way to really address our peoples’ needs, is full Independence!

So what now, well my thoughts are these: 

The politicians must now call a Constitutional Convention to get everyone round the one table to chart our next steps. This is our policy in Alba, called for again on Wednesday by Kenny MacAskill MP. 

A Constitutional Convention has been promised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in February 2020 and was called for again on Wednesday by SNP MP Joanna Cherry KC.

It’s critical that all our independence parties must now work together on independence. Of course we will have different policies for an independent Scotland but we should be united on the strategy of achieving independence! A Constitutional Convention is the best, most sensible way to achieve the required unity of purpose.

Now onto us, the grassroots.

As I mentioned earlier we need to re mobilise our movement. We need to be taking to the streets in mass civic demonstrations demanding our voices are heard. 

Wednesday’s attendance on Skye and at all the other rallies is great but we can’t let it be a one off. While some of us haven’t stopped campaigning since 2014, it’s fair to say the wider public engagement has stalled and this is reflected in election turn outs.

We have to re-engage and recapture the enthusiasm, positivity and most importantly the hope for a better future, we saw in the summer of 2014. 8 years ago saw a mass rise in Scots becoming politically active which resulted in a record breaking turnout at the 2014 independence referendum. We must reignite that flame!

What can we, the people do?

Let’s stop going cap in hand to the British establishment and let’s start demanding our sovereign right to determine our own future to reclaim our independence, for the sake of all our people in Scotland and the future generations to come after them.

To paraphrase a quote from the late Canon Kenyon Wright,

“On Wednesday they said no, they are the state, but we say yes and we are the people.”


It’s time to free Scotland

It’s time to free the people

Saor Alba Gu Brath