Daily Archives: November 9, 2014


The Resonance of History

As Catalonia today fights for its freedom, it should not be forgotten that the current government of Spain are the direct political heirs of Franco and that many of their ministers have personal and family connections to his rule. Rajoy, Spain’s current Prime Minister, started his political career in 1981 by joining the People’s Alliance, a party founded in 1979 and led by 7 of Franco’s ministers to carry on the Francoist legacy. The People’s Alliance became the major component in the now governing People’s Party.

That is the essential background to the extreme Spanish nationalist dislike of freedom for Catalonia, and far right nationalist moves to declare the Catalan referendum illegal.

This is a good day to think of Euan MacColl’s updating of Jamie Foyers, to remember those Scots who fought alongside the Catalans against fascism at the Battle of the Ebro.

Faur distant, faur distant, lies Foyers the brave
Nae tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave
For his bones they lie scattered on the rude soil o Spain
An young Jamie Foyers in battle wis slain

He’s gane frae the shipyaird that stauns on the Clyde
His haimmer lies idle, his tools laid aside
Tae the wide Ebro river young Foyers has gane
Tae fight by the side o the people o Spain

Thair wisnae his equal at wark or at play
He wis strang in the Union till his dying day
He wis grand at the fitbaa, at the dance he wis braw
Young Jamie Foyers wis the flouer o thaim aa

He cam hame frae the shipyaird, took aff his warkin claes
O, A mind the time weill in the lang simmer’s days
He said, “Thinknae lang, lassie, A’ll come back again”
But young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain

In the fight for Belcite, he was aye tae the fore
An he focht at Gandesa till he couldnae fight more
For he lay owre his machine gun wi a bullet in his brain
An young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain

Faur distant, faur distant, lies Foyers the brave
Nae tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave
For his bones they lie scattered on the rude soil o Spain
An young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain

When the BBC was smugly quoting the current Francoist government of Spain as the bar to Scotland’s entry into the EU, I was longing for somebody to give just a little of this historic perspective. But of course, the mainstream media never did.

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The Way Forward

As I told The Way Forward conference in Kirkcaldy today, I am submitting my application to the SNP to join their list of approved candidates. They may not want me, and then I have to find a constituency that wishes to adopt me. So the tweets tonight that I am standing as an SNP candidate are a little optimistic. I am also very keen indeed not to come in as a carpetbagger where a hardworking local activist wishes to stand – I had (and I am being very open here) thought my natural target would be Dundee West, where I lived for seven years and was elected University Rector. But a very good man I know is going to be seeking that one, so I shall not.

Ideally I would love to take on Gordon Brown, Dougie Alexander, Jim Murphy or one of the other great dinosaurs – and war criminals – and bring some truths about them, and about what the unionist parties have done to Scotland, home to the people they “represent”. I won 5% of the vote in the 2005 election standing as an Independent candidate against Jack Straw in Blackburn, a constituency with which I had no connection at all. If I can bring a 3 or 5% personal vote to add to the soaring SNP vote, all kinds of things become possible.

I was asked if I would consider standing, after my speech at today’s conference. In replying that I was applying to be accepted as a qualified candidate I was not intending to start all the hares I have started. I must say I was really touched by the enthusiasm and applause that greeted my response. In clarifying what I am thinking, I am aware I may seem very presumptuous. I should be delighted to hear from any constituency seeking a candidate; otherwise I am going to be living in Scotland and still working flat out for independence, irrespective of whether I hold any position or not.

I expect my speech today will be online shortly. My essential argument was that we should concentrate single-mindedly on the goal of independence and not be sidetracked by the Smith Commission or any other “devo-max” initiative. These were never honest or genuine and will come to nothing worthwhile. Scotland will get nothing from Westminster: we have to take power ourselves if we are to build a more just and equal society.

All the talk of Scotland keeping and spending its own tax revenue is illusory as the unionist parties always exclude vital revenue sources including the revenues from oil and from whisky, which are somehow “UK”. Westminster will make sure that any new settlement gives Scotland less, not more, money. The mood towards Scotland in Whitehall is entirely vindictive. In addition to which, given the UK’s record on extraordinary rendition, torture and a long succession of aggressive and illegal wars, any settlement which leaves Scotland still subject to Westminster foreign and defence policy is absolutely unacceptable and immoral.

I accept that the SNP may need to appear to participate in the Devo-Max negotiations, if only ultimately to expose the total lack of seriousness and good faith on the unionist side. However the great bulk of the Yes movement should continue to spend its vast reserve of creativity and popular energy exclusively on the goal of independence, pure and simple. This may come sooner than people think.

It is more than likely that the Tories will be back in power in Westminster after May 2015, and very possible that 2016 will see a UK vote to exit the EU. National independence is not in fact a domestic concept, but rather a status in international law. The key to being a nation state is the recognition of the large majority of other nation states. A UK EU exit may be a propitious moment to declare UDI on the basis of the right of Scots to maintain their EU citizenship, and to gain the immediate support of other EU states for so doing. We should keep our options open on the future route to independence, but it is not so distant as some think.

There was a great deal more detailed discussion on other policy issues in reply to questions, and I will try to set some of that out tomorrow. I move in to my new flat at 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh on Thursday. People are always aghast that I publish my address, but I believe that a gentleman does not hide where he lives. Besides, my enemies will certainly already know, so its best my friends know too. If you were to surmise that the address shows where my long term ambitions lie, you may not be entirely wrong!!

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