The True Meaning of Being Scottish 58



I became deeply ashamed of being a British Ambassador when face to face with our complicity in torture and involvement in extraordinary rendition. I am ashamed of Britain’s acquiescence in the genocide of Gaza. I am ashamed of food banks and benefit cuts, of tuition fees and the massive and growing gap between rich and poor.

This morning I am deeply ashamed of some Scots.

I have no doubt whatsoever Scots will be economically better off in the short, medium and long term in an independent Scotland. But that is not the point. There is more to life than money. Those people holding pikes at the battle of Stirling Bridge were not rich men – their lives were harder than we can easily imagine. They fought for “freedom, which no man gives up except with life itself”.







Now’s the day, an now’s the hour:
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power
-Chains and Slaverie.

‘Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave




58 thoughts on “The True Meaning of Being Scottish

1 2
  • Sam

    I was taken aback to see two police officers armed with automatic weapons (as well as least 6 other unarmed officers) outside the MacDonald hotel in Edinburgh during the commonwealth games, apparently for the security of the divers who were staying there.

  • Vronsky

    I’ve done a lot of canvassing and you’re being unfair to the Scots, although I well understand your frustration. The Unionist strategy is to sow confusion and doubt in the hope of obscuring the fact that the referendum question is a simple one with an obvious answer. In this they have had a degree of success, though given the near unanimity of the media in pressing their case it is not very impressive.

    Most of the people we see when canvassing have no interest in politics – they give it thought only when they have some sort of personal collision with it, or near a polling day. They have no enthusiasm for the Union and little sense of ‘Britishness’ but are small ‘c’ conservative. For many, things could be better but they see no connection between their plight and the independence debate. They reflect that things could also get worse, but assume that a No vote will leave all safely unchanged (the most dangerous misconception).

    My prevailing impression from the No voters in the debate audience was not their pecuniary interest but their comprehensive ignorance of very elementary matters. In people like Darling this ignorance is feigned, but for many ordinary people it is quite genuine. They don’t know that Scotland is a net contributor to the UK Treasury, would own most of the oilfields, has an economy 99% of the UK’s without oil, has higher GDP per head than the UK as a whole, is a net exporter, including being a net exporter of food, that nuclear weapons are here because London isn’t … the list is long. Perhaps the most startling example on the night was the benighted young man who asked if an independent Scotland could afford free university tuition, blissfully unaware that it is only Scotland that chooses to afford it – rUK fees are the highest in the EU by a country mile.

    But we are out talking to people, explaining these things (usually to their astonishment) and pointing them away from the MSM and towards websites like your own. We don’t have to convert everyone, just a few. They will then get to work on their friends and families. Maybe Johann Lamont was right about it being a virus.

  • Simon

    Hiya Craig,
    With these stirring 18th c calls for liberty, I fear you’re heading off into a personal world where few will follow. The point is that the post-war egalitarian NHS england is not coming back. 35 years after thatcher, the self-serving elite, the corruption of the press, the growing inequality, the inability nobbling of politics, the whole neo-con thing, is going to get worse not better. India, that country of entrepreneurs, is the destination. The USA has shown that you can take a middle class society a long way down the road. Scotland has a (last) chance to get off the wagon.

    We can work it all out at Doune !

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Well, I am nearly as Scottish as Craig is. Perhaps more. I don’t know his family history, but the issue of Scottish Independence (which I am in favour of) completely dwarfs the real issues the world is now facing to almost complete insignificance. Yet virtually no one is taking any notice – and even those who are, are very lazy in their analysis of events – and expect others to do it for them – or they rely on their tribal allegiances and prejudices…

    “MH17 Analysis”


    “The US military operates with an annual budget that exceeds the combined budgets of all other military forces worldwide. The US armed forces are awash in money, personnel, and equipment. In addition to overhead imagery available from reconnaissance satellites and from a drone squadron reported to be operating in Ukraine, the US military also fields satellites with infrared detectors as part of the Defense Support Program. These IR sensitive satellites are expressly designed to give immediate warning of any missile launches. These satellites are reported to be sufficiently sensitive that they are able to detect hot spots within forest fires. Despite these various advanced technical capabilities the only imagery released by the US military comes in the form of the cartoon shown in Image 17. The citizens of the world must pay attention to the fact that the US has not provided any reasonable means to assist in the identification of the perpetrators of the MH17 shoot down. The bulk of its “evidence” consists of a rehash of what is found on social media. And much of what is found on social media has been shown to be forged by the Ukrainian Security Service and Ministry of the Interior. When the neo­Nazis in Ukraine overthrow a democratically elected government, the west does nothing but rant against Putin. When the unelected government of Ukraine launches air strikes, MLRS Grad launches, and ballistic missile strikes against its own civilian population in Donbass, the west does nothing but rant against Putin. When the Kiev neo­Nazis burn people alive in Odessa, shoot them down as they attempt to escape the flames, and rape a pregnant woman before strangling her with a telephone cord, the west does nothing but rant against Putin. When 298 innocent lives are lost, the west again rants against Putin. But it finally does more. In the person of the USA, it issues a cartoon which seeks to implicate the rebels, individuals fighting against the outrages perpetrated against them by the unelected government in Kiev. By its actions the US, and all those leaders aligned with it, demonstrates complete, total, and utter disrespect for the basic tenets of democratic freedom and for those citizens of the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and those others who lost their lives in the MH17 shoot down. This year marks the launch of the First World War 100 years ago. Any reading of the history of that conflict shows the political leaders, and the media, doing all they could to provoke war, not prevent it. The actions of Ukraine, the irresponsible invective and blathering of Obama, Kerry, Cameron, and the rest, appear designed to provoke what will likely be the Last World War. The citizens of the world should act to stop them.

  • MJ

    “They don’t know that Scotland […] would own most of the oilfields”

    Vronsky: while I applaud your efforts to dispel comprehensive ignorance of very elementary matters, I should point out that Scotland would not own most of the oilfields. This is for the same reason that the UK does not own them. They are owned by the multinational oil companies and have been since the 80s. Scotland’s only interest would be in the tax revenues, based on profits.

    Scotland could only own the oilfields if it nationalised them and I haven’t heard much talk of that.

  • craig Post author


    Actually you are wrong. In international law the mineral resources of a state are inalienable. It is one of the most important doctines in modern international law (google it). Oil companies have licenses for exploitation under certain conditions. That is precisely why the state can in fact nationalise them if it wishes, including without compensation, quite legally in international law.

    But in fact you are just trying to be clever and failing. The practical situation, and what Vronsky meant, is that as you say the current operators will continue to operate and the tax revenues (which are not solely based on profit there are duties and premiums) come to Scotland. That is good enough. The No campaign attempts to muddy the waters (and did so again last night) by attempting to pretend the tax revenues might go to rUK instead. That is impossible.

  • JimmyGiro

    All the illustrations of ‘freedom’, were after bloody conflicts; where one bunch of power seeking cuckoos displaced another.

    Does changing landlords really equate to freedom, if it is not validated by bloody conflict?

    If you are free to vote, then you were not really subjugated in the fashion indicated by your ‘historical’ references. Therefore Scottish independence is more about the greed of the bureaucrats; in the same way that the wars of the 13th century were civil wars between the Norman nobility: William Wallace, John de Balliol, Robert de Bruce, these were all Norman names.

    And these Normans used, both north and south, the feudal system. So true ‘freedom’ would not mean a change of landlords, but a change of system. And who would be so free to change that system under the reign of a Scottish bureaucracy? Any notion of change would be thwarted by the charge of traitor against the ‘glorious’ new regime.

  • craig Post author


    National independence is one thing. The system the nation then lives under is another. Of course 13th century Scotland was not run along modern lines.

  • Abe Rene

    If I wanted Scottish independence, I would make a big deal about doing away with nuclear weapons. But I would be wary about making too much of North Sea oil. What happens when, inevitably, it runs low? A long-term viable energy policy is necessary. I would also make a forthright case for a separate and viable currency, which is surely linked to the viability of an independent economy.

    But since I’m not for Scottish independence I’ll leave those problems and others to the ‘Yes’ campaign. 🙂

  • JimmyGiro

    “Of course 13th century Scotland was not run along modern lines.”

    It was run under the self consistent rules of a Norman regime; which itself evolved from French, Catholic and Viking systems.

    But what happens when any system looses its continuation from the past; when it no longer evolves, but becomes a radical change?

    Could such a dislocation enable the free grab, by the greedy from the populace, on the grounds that the traditional checks and balances from such malfeasance, is temporarily in a flux? Think of the dissolution of the Soviet system; or even how the Nigerian oil wind-fall has brought much grief between groups within the ‘one’ system.

  • reality check

    What currency will we have after independence if the big country next door won’t agree to a currency union with us?

    Shut up! Freedom! William Wallace! Braveheart forever! You’re a unionist stooge!

    Frankly, who has got the argument that stands up here?

  • Kempe

    UNRA resolution 1803 (1962)

    4. Nationalization, expropriation or requisitioning shall be based on grounds or reasons of public utility, security or the national interest which are recognized as overriding purely individual or private interests, both domestic and foreign. In such cases, the owner shall be paid appropriate compensation in accordance with the rules in force in the State taking such measures in the exercise of its sovereignty and in accordance with international law. In any case where the question of compensation gives rise to a controversy, the national jurisdiction of the State taking such measures shall be exhausted. However, upon agreement by sovereign States and other parties concerned, settlement of the dispute should be made through arbitration or international adjudication.

    In the most recent year I can find figures for Scotland imported £53 million more food than it exported. Although it shows a healthy surplus for such things as seafood (£500 million) most animal feed has to be imported (£351 million) and there is a £110 million deficit in fruit and veg.

  • craig Post author

    Reality Check

    There are over 200 states in the world, A very large number became independent in the last 30 years. Most have their own currency. Some have shared currencies. If every other developed atate can do it, why do you think Scotland cannot?


    Your figures show that overall Scotland’s net import of food amounted to under 10 pounds per persom per year!

    Please give an equivalent figure for the UK.

  • MJ

    “Most have their own currency. Some have shared currencies. If every other developed atate can do it, why do you think Scotland cannot?”

    Scotland is perfectly able to have its own currency. The problem is with a shared currency where the issuing authority of that currency refuses to play ball. It takes two to tango I’m afraid.

  • reality check

    I agree with Alex Salmond that a currency union with rUK would be best for people in Scotland if the country becomes independent. But his problem is that he can’t introduce into people’s heads the idea that a Scottish government would negotiate with governments of other countries where required. The same holds for the issue of EU membership. Somewhere along the line there has to be a recognition that independent countries should have more strings to their bows than just demanding stuff. That plays well only to an uneducated home audience of Braveheart fans.

    The 13th century has got nothing to do with any of this. I bet you didn’t mention the 13th century much when you were negotiating with representatives of other countries…

    The question “What’s your plan B?” is grown-up, sensible and apposite. You clearly have got an answer to that question – namely, that Scotland would go it alone and have its own currency. That is an answer I have got respect for. Unfortunately, Alex Salmond doesn’t say that.

    He can’t answer the question at all except to imply that it’s being asked dishonestly because the rUK will definitely want a currency union with Scotland and UK politicians are lyingly claiming otherwise in order to boost the NO campaign. Blah blah. Chip on shoulder. Blame the English. (Actually, most people in England who care about the issue support Scottish independence.) Why can’t he just answer the question? He’s not you, Craig. At the end of the day, he’s another bloody politician selling snake oil.

    It’s worth analysing what he does say: he repeatedly refers to the GBP’s being “Scotland’s pound too”. That is a statement which between the lines asserts a moral entitlement. It’s ridiculous! There’s no court you can go to to get another country to have a currency union with you.

    Let’s say that after Scottish independence the rUK renames the GBP the WENIP or the rUKP. Would the SNP then ‘argue’ that the rUKP is also “Scotland’s too”? Their ‘argument’ is superficial and nominalist. They miss the point that if Scotland goes independent then the rUK would also be independent. They are not trying to hook grown-up minds, sorry.

    As for why that plan wouldn’t work, the answer is because of international banking interests. Don’t blame me; blame them.

    People are not being told what independence means except in terms of national pride. The NO campaign may have been very unCamelotic and also pretty pathetic, and worse run than the YES campaign, but it’s YES who are proposing a change to the status quo, a change to a new system (your separation of ‘independence’ from the notion of a ‘move to a new system’ doesn’t cut the mustard), so it’s up to them to be concrete. And they can’t do it.

  • craig Post author


    I quite agree. The truth is the partner would not refuse to Tango. Without Scotland, sterling would be liable to massive outflows at times of high oil prices.

    I am quite certain rUK will agree to a shared currency. It is a good deal for rUK. Actually like you I think it is a very bad deal for Scotland.

  • reality check

    Your own distance from reality on the Scottish independence issue is shown by your reference to what it means to be Scottish. I’m no less Scottish than you are. Alistair Darling is no less Scottish than Alex Salmond is. When it’s insisted that the battle be fought in rational terms, in terms of what’s best for the people of our country, NO wins and YES loses. I mean what’s that photograph doing at the start of this blog article?

  • reality check

    Without Scotland, sterling would be liable to massive outflows at times of high oil prices.

    The Danish, Swedish and Swiss currencies don’t suffer much from fluctuations in the oil price.

  • Ed

    The question of a national currency is the one point on which the Independence movement in my opinion is not coherent. At least I haven’t seen a coherent statement on what an independent Scotland would choose to do.

    For what its worth, I suspect that leaving the pound is not floated because it might not poll well. But practically, an independent Scotland should do that. For the love of all things good, do not join the Euro; have your own currency, your own rate-setting central bank, your own Treasury. A shared currency with England+ would be better than joining the Euro, and fine in the short-term, but full monetary independence should be a concrete goal within a couple of years of independence.

  • Tony M

    There is just no getting away from the fact that just enough people (in any country) can have their heads deliberately filled with broken bottles and can be easily and wickedly manipulated enough to act against their own and their country’s best interests. Though there are always exceptions and Scotland is the exceptional nation bar none. It would be distressing to contemplate Darling’s post-No Scotland, as with every day that passes the young will come to despise what older generations have bequeathed them, a festering legacy of despair, neo-liberal impotence and corporatism, aka fascism. There are younger generations too, living in a coherent-thought free nether-world of video-games and escapist fantasy, slumped before some frivolous gadget executing a monotonous loop, excitement, variety the product of some random number generator function, for whom taking responsibility for their own lives and futures, seeing, tasting touching the real world stripped of media misrepresentation, is too hard they blubber, never thinking of fundamentals, only of labels, conditioned uniformly to conform, mindless robots of flesh and repaeting flickering images. Others too are simply bought by the ton-load, egregious conspicuous consumption their measure of worth and only functioning outlet for their strait-jacketed and caged jumbled thoughts, ineffectually compensating for their negative spiritual worth and inner darkness.

    I think people should take a few weeks break from such influences before voting in September, to interact in the real world with real people and see that any doubts they have been fed and harbour are just insubstantial psychic vandalism, that they aren’t credible objections, but symptoms of their learned dependence. Real democracy some forbidden fruit, some taboo thing which would destroy us with just it’s scent, outside our remit and comprehension.

    I’m glad I don’t have a TV and haven’t missed anything by such trivialisation of the singlemost important opportunity any Scot has ever or ever will have to change things, to take Scotland forward against a grim backdrop of the rest of the UK stumbling backwards, recoiling from progress, back towards a darker age, dragged by the soaraway London city state’s criminal supremacy and recklessness towards utter economic, moral and social ruin.

    You can if you like call it Freedom, to me it is normality, the inherent inviolable rights of every human being, including the right to self-determination, the expectation of democracy of capable, incorruptible benign rule and so much more. A no vote is a Tory vote and all unionist parties, including ‘Labour’ are Tory parties in one form or another and to them you are indentured slaves, to labour for their enrichment and the ruin of your own health and spirit.

    Independence or slavery. It’s seemingly a tough choice for some and they’ll hang their childish irresponsibilty, their self-negation and self-flagellation, on some insignificant detail or other. They are few (and loud and darling media luvvies), we are many. We prevail.

  • Tony M

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation”

    Oh well another blog bites the dust. So long.

  • David S

    Most people in Scotland probably think Scotland has got its own currency already because most banknotes in their wallets have the word “Scotland” printed on them.

    A YES audience member at last night’s debate asked Alistair Darling whether he’d ever tried to pay a London taxi driver with a Scottish £20 note. The issue she raised is of course a printing isssue, not a currency issue, but I doubt that she or most viewers understand that. If Scotland has its own currency, then we will have to pay a commission when buying sterling, except perhaps in a few shops in Berwick or south of the bridge in Coldstream.

    Whether a new currency will work depends on what demand there will be for it in international financial markets. OK so let the two sides debate that.

  • David S

    What I mean is that we would have to pay a commission to buy sterling and most shops south of the border would only take sterling. Currently most supermarkets south of the border all take “Scottish” money.

  • reality check

    Scenario: Scottish government tries to negotiate a currency union with rUK but cannot accept the price that the rUK government wants, so Scotland goes it alone with its own currency.

    What are most people going to think when they have to pay commission to buy sterling with their Scottish poonds every time they go south to visit family members or work?

    They’re going to blame the “fucking English bastards”!

    They won’t get it that independence would mean that England becomes a foreign country – nor that if you don’t want that, then you should vote to keep the union.

  • David S

    If you want to be a foreigner when you go to England, vote for independence.

    There’s nothing insulting or twisty about that statement. The truth is that most Scottish people do feel British (i.e. they are culturally British).

1 2

Comments are closed.