Corruption Smells Like Burning Human Flesh 90

What does the stink of corruption smell like? In Scotland, it smells like burning human flesh.

How close would you like to live to a crematorium? Serious question, and I would ask you to kindly pause for a moment to consider the answer before you read any further. How close would you like your flat or house to be to a crematorium?

In Scotland, the current legal limit is two hundred yards. Most people think that is about right. We know that, because the Scottish Government held a public consultation on this issue and the large majority of respondents replied that 200 yards was about right. Which makes it rather strange that this week the Scottish Parliament will finally pass into law an act reducing the distance to nil. Yes, nil.

I want to make this very plain. It just does not mean that new homes can be built close to crematoria. It means that somebody can build a crematorium right next to existing homes.

The Bill has been working through the committee stages at Holyrood, and at every stage the committee strikes out the abolition of the distance between crematoria and homes. A the next stage the Scottish government simply puts it back. This week the Bill will finally be passed, with the SNP using its majority to override everybody else and insist crematoria should be built right next to homes.

Why? The truth is, Scotland does not have a massive population or a shortage of land – there are plenty of places away from homes where crematoria could be built.

Here lies the extremely ugly truth. Crematoria are profitable private businesses. Private business interests have been investing in new crematoria – through sticking the furnaces into existing buildings – for the last three years, under ministerial assurances that the bill will be passed. There is one in Haddington only thirty yards from homes, and with its exhaust chimneys actually below the level of people’s windows. Planning permission was given on the absolutely extraordinary grounds that the present law does not forbid the construction of crematoria close to homes, only the carrying out of cremations. So they can be built waiting for the developers’ ministerial pals to ram the law through Parliament.

Here is the nub. In what kind of banana republic are businessmen able to spend millions in preparation to carry out an illegal activity, safe in the knowledge that their ministerial chums will change the law for them? What does that say about our democracy and the functioning of Holyrood? What incentive do those ministers have to approve a policy so irrational and unpopular as this one, and keep ramming it through against the opposition of public consultation and the relevant parliamentary committees?

As we move forwards to independence, we are fools if we do not face one fact. Just being independent, or even just throwing off the Labour Party, does not rid us of the culture of corruption which we all know has bedevilled Scottish urban politics for decades. This all seems to me just like witnessing the handling of contracts by Dundee Council in the 1970s.

Sadly, Scotland does not have investigative journalists, only unionist stenographers, which is why you have not heard of this. The government will reply that modern technology makes crematoria emissions safe and clean. I do not care. It is an activity which ought to be secluded, for the dignity of both mourners and local residents. People do not want particles of someone else entering their homes and nostrils, no matter how microscopic or sterile. The Scottish Government’s behaviour in this matter is atrocious.

You simply cannot get more neo-con than the de-regulation of death itself for private profit. There could be no more stark example of the SNP acting against everything it is supposed to stand for. How ministers can do something so shameful, while acting in a manner so arrogant, is quite beyond me. I can think of only one possible reason, and it is not pretty.

At least after Independence we will only have corrupt Holyrood politicians to jail and not Westminster ministers too.

90 thoughts on “Corruption Smells Like Burning Human Flesh

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  • K Crosby

    Looks like I was right about the Snats being untrustworthy beyond being a vehicle for independence. You’re right to disown them Craig. What arseholes.

  • craig Post author

    K Crosby

    There are a great many excellent people in the SNP and they are still the main weapon for Independence. But there are some real arseholes too, and the corruption of power is dangerous.

  • YouKnowMyName

    quoting from a random (2012) scientific draft on the internet

    Crematoria represent a significant source of mercury emissions to the environment. While estimates of the quantities vary significantly, it appear that each cremation releases between 2 and 4 grams, with the maximum seen by this reviewer at 8.6 grams in an individual cremation in Switzerland.

    There has been an increase in the number of cremations annually and forecasts include both a further increase in the number of cremations over time and an increase in the amount of mercury released in the next few decades due to an increase in the number of the deceased having a larger number of their own teeth with amalgam restorations.

    This increase is expected to be followed by a decrease in mercury emissions from industrialized countries as the next generation of people has both few cavities and an increased substitution of amalgam restorations with restorations that do not use mercury.

    200 yards? – I’d like them on the coast nearest Norway – but then we’d accumulate monomethylmercury in the haddock. . .

  • Bob Costello

    Yes this sounds very much as though there has been some collusion on this matter and it would be good to hear from the Scottish Government, just what ,if any talks or contact there has been with interested parties regarding this and an explantation as to why this has seemingly been forced through the committee stages of the bill.

  • Strategist

    I completely agree that crony capitalism is a huge risk in an independent Scotland.

    It is highly likely that an independent Scotland would resemble Ireland or Australia in its tendency towards corruption. Those countries have developed systems to deal with it.

    A healthy fourth estate in addition to an independent judiciary is what’s needed in any set up. An independent Scotland would need to set up constitutional provisions to guard against corruption, and could try innovations such as somehow making a free press and investigative journalism constitutionally safeguarded?

    The very deluded approach is to imagine that staying within UK is the only possible safeguard against corruption.

  • Strategist

    That 38 degrees petition is interesting.

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it seems that civic activism – including an internet-based fourth estate – is a lot more alive and well in Scotland than it is in the North of England. Devolution within England appears to have virtually no constitutional democratic safeguards built in.

    The flame of civic activism that the indyref sparked has got to be carefully tended. It’s good to have a strong SNP, but there is an inevitable tendency towards corruption in any governing party (the governing party tends to attract the wrong sort of people, amongst other things), so it’s good for Scottish democracy for opposition parties to stay healthy. In Scotland, for me, that would mean working hard for the Green Party to do well in the election, but in the long run it would probably be a bad thing for the LibDems to be completely eliminated.

    I’ve got to say that

  • fedup

    …. the culture of corruption which we all know ….

    There lies the problem, corruption is akin to dry rot, it flourishes in dark and dank out of the public eyes and it progresses to infest anything that it comes to touch. The only way to combat it, is a damn good airing and shinning the sun of publicity on it, and let the rays of truth frazzle the vampires of the decency, fairness and humanity.

    Well done Craig for airing the dirty linen and let’s hope you are an example to other nationalist who wish for a better country, society and people, and are not prepared to put up and shut up in the lieu of same old same old.

  • Erik Sandberg

    …And all In the sunny haze of Land Reform & a benighted budget in London, the SNP ain’t daft. This article should be shared and shared.

  • fred

    I was listening to the budget on the car radio yesterday and heard it said that power was to be devolved to the local councils in England, towns and cities would be able to elect lord mayors like London has who would have some authority and be accountable. I thought to myself how things were going in entirely opposite directions than they are in Scotland where every little bit of power is being taken by a few people down south.

    Here we have windmills going up everywhere, even on sites of special scientific interest thousands of them covering the entire county. The Highland council refuses permission and Edinburgh overrules them on appeal. So far Highland Council has spent more on legal fees fighting appeals than they have received in planning application fees, fees fixed in Edinburgh at a very small portion of the fees a council in England would receive, a thousand in Scotland would be a million in England. The money is going somewhere but it isn’t coming to those who have the inconvenience and their landscape ruined, up here they are shortening school hours because they can’t afford enough teachers. Roads not fit for purpose, never intended to carry the heavy loads of the wind turbines are ruined and the council has no money to repair them.

  • Neil

    Petition signed.

    Seems very strange to me, that in this part of the world, where land prices are astronomically high (Sussex/Surrey) the nearest crematoria are all tastefully laid out with extensive gardens and parking space, surrounded by tall trees, and a great deal further than 200 yards from any human habitation.

    Yet Scotland has acres of (relatively) cheap land to spare. Weird.

    Someone should start a boycott campaign: boycott all crematoria built under this legislation (if it passes). Either use another crematorium, even if it means travelling to another town, or preferably use a burial ground. My own Will clearly states that I wish to be buried.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Erik Sandberg

    Welcome to this blog. I believe you were the main (indeed the only) commenter at the recent appearance of Craig on the live-streamed interview.

  • nevermind, mental health is a burning issue

    A practical solution, which might be quiet popular with the surrounding housing tenants, would be to celebrate every life that is polluting them with, thanks to YKMN, with all sorts of heavy metals.

    If the dignity of mourners is not to be preserved, if the health of the surrounding areas inhabitants does not play on SNP politicians agenda, then have a party, every time a soul leaves the chimney, make sure you have the appropriate loud speakers ready to celebrate old Marge’s life.

    here are a couple of songs to start off with High way to Hell AC/DC, or Hells Bells another great one to start off with at about ^00 to 1000 watts.

    Then there is ‘Light my fire’ by the doors, just to get the process going for Marge.

    Followed by ‘Don’t fear the reaper’ from Blue Oyster Cult.

    and off course, a must and old favourite from Queen ‘Another one bites the dust’

  • nevermind, mental health is a burning issue

    See how long this millions of pounds investment stays a popular choice with mourners. The music equipment could ‘rock’ from a private home, then moved to another private home for the next cremation, so every time you get someone’s elses choice of music.

    My guess is that the sex pistols and God save the Queen will also feature prominently.

    This policy passed by the SNP clearly is a decision on dignity so lest make it as loud as you can please.

  • Martinned

    While I don’t have a very strong opinion on the appropriate location of crematoriums relative to people’s homes, I would like to point out that this is one of those topics where people’s individual preferences shouldn’t necessarily be dispositive. As with airports and nuclear power plants, I imagine crematoriums suffering from a significant NIMBY problem, meaning that a government that’s doing its job right is likely to set a minimum significantly lower than what the affected voters will prefer. For example, YouKnowMyName’s preference to put them in Norway is probably not the choice that would best serve the country…

  • craig Post author


    There’s been a legal minimum distance for over 150 years. There is no obvious need to abolish it. Scotland is not a crowded land. I suspect you will find there is a minimum distance in your country. The word “nimby” is ofen used to denigrate any objection to any human activity near residences. Yet plainly there are some human activities – like slurry collection, rubbish tipping, explosives manufacture and yes burning human bodies – which did not ought to be allowed next to residences. Unfortunately neo-liberals wish to destroy any kind of regulation. Are you seriously arguing there should be no such restrictions?

  • nevermind, mental health is a burning issue

    Thanks for the petition, Clark, signed.
    I’m sure you would appreciate my practical solution to this corrupt enterprise, should all else fail.

  • Phil the ex frog

    “a government that’s doing its job right is likely to set a minimum significantly lower than what the affected voters will prefer”

    Ah, the authoritarian dreams of an EU enthusiast.

  • Martinned

    @Craig: I didn’t say there shouldn’t be. I just said that the number you get from consultation is likely to be higher than the one that ought to be in the law.

  • Martinned

    @Phil the ex frog: Yup, that’s me, the authoritarian asking government to put the good of the country above party politics.

  • Phil the ex frog

    “…only have corrupt Holyrood politicians to jail”

    So that’ll be all of them then considering:

    “This week the Bill will finally be passed, with the SNP using its majority to override everybody else and insist crematoria should be built right next to homes”

    Yet you retain faith that the next lot of politicians, hopefully to include yourself, will not bow to corruption like those before them. Like the SNP. And the Liberals. Have you tried the Greens yet?

    Long live Greater Scotland! Long live the EU!

  • Phil the ex frog

    “put the good of the country above party politics.”

    No. You are asking the government to put crematoriums where people don’t want them. Did you miss the part that there is plenty of room to not have to do this?

  • Clark

    Nevermind, 11:44 am, one concern I have is that people who find that the shop nearby has suddenly reopened as a crematorium will become unable to play music in the daytime, either out of consideration or because they find “noise abatement” orders slapped upon them by the same councils that sneaked the crematorium in in the first place.

  • fred

    Solent Gateway Ltd has won a 35 year contract from the MoD to run one of Britain’s busiest military ports at Marchwood. Solent Gateway is a joint venture between David MacBrayne Group Ltd and GBA Holdings Ltd. Marchwood is home to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Britain’s Joint Rapid reaction Force.

    David MacBrayne Group is owned by the Scottish government.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Sorry that Scotland does not have real investigative journalists, but it is that way the world over.

    In the USA, Woodward and Bernstein are the worst fakes when it comes to Nixon’s crimes, making out, for example, that FBI Assistant Director Mark Felt was ‘Deep Throat’ when he clearly was Al Haig. the single source in the White House who they made out was not one of the President’s Men too.

    Now Kerry is finally being exposed as the maker of the West’s war in Syria, though making out that it is at best a strong change from the young Kerry who exposed the whole Iran-Contra scandal when investigative journalists Jonathan Marshall and Robert Parry converted Oliver North, who would have gotten us all killed in a surprise nuclear war if it had not been for the spies the KGB had developed, into just a scapegoat for the CIA agents were doing in Latin America.

    And have UK journalists been any better about it when MI6 supplied the assassin who assassinated Olof Palme, and SAS forces behaved to make it look like the Soviets were behind it.

    Or looking into who killed all those fair-minded spooks when it came to settling The Troubles at the Hill of Sone at the Mull of Kintyre?

    We live under police states whose media publish whatever their covert operators cough up.

  • DtP

    My chum used to live near an animal fat producer and on certain days – geez, it was an effort not to just randomly projectile vomit.

  • Sam

    Maybe I’ve missed something, but the latest amended Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill published on 10th March ( has the following statement.

    42A Location of crematorium
    (1) No crematorium may be constructed within 200 metres of any residential property.
    (2) No residential property may be constructed within 200 metres of any crematorium.

    Are you saying that you think this will be amended out again at stage 3?

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