Daily Archives: January 9, 2017


An Open Letter to the Board of Bella Caledonia 105

Bella Caledonia is folding. It has been an important, broadly (though not sufficiently) pro-Scottish Independence new media outlet in Scotland for a decade. As far as it reveals to an outsider, it is closing solely for financial reasons.

I confess to being confused by this. So far as I can judge, this blog has a slightly larger readership than Bella Caledonia (which stated its highest monthly readership was 370,000), and the total costs of this blog amount to £700 a year.

My offer to you as a Board is this. I am prepared to take over as editor and as host and continue to run Bella Caledonia as the major pro-independence blog you made it. The spare capacity of my blog servers will cope with your readership with no extra cost. We can still have a board, and any members of the existing board who wish to continue, can do so with my hearty good wishes. I shall be editor. I shall invite five new people to join the board and contribute as core writers (they don’t know it yet, but the first people I shall ask are Andy Myles and Hugh Kerr. Both campaign for Indy, but one being ex-Lib Dem and one ex-Labour then SSP gives an indication of the breadth I would aim for). We will continue to use many of those who have written before for Bella, but drop any antagonism to any other pro-independence website or group.

The difference visible to a reader will be nil. The difference behind the scenes is that nobody will be paid, including me.

If you wish to take up this offer, what we would need is of course full control of the website and its social media, and preferably access to the contacts address book for inviting writers. If Bella Caledonia really is the new media title it aspired to be, it should not fold when an editor leaves.

You can contact me via the contact button above.

Craig

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Those Diplomatic Expulsions 146

There is a fascinating precedent for Putin’s refusal to retaliate for the expulsion of 32 Russian diplomats by Obama, an easy diplomatic win on the international stage. In 1985, my first year in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Margaret Thatcher expelled 25 Soviet diplomats identified as spies by a defector (from memory Gordievsky), and later a further six.

In return, the Soviets expelled 25 British diplomats – all of whom were not spies. This was a brilliant move which caught the British government completely on the hop. Such a high percentage of our “diplomats” in Moscow were spies, that it was a practical impossibility to accidentally expel 25 who were not. In other words the Soviets had just informed us that they knew exactly who our spies in Russia were. That sent such a juddering shock though the FCO it even reached this bewildered new entrant. Secondly, spies of course do nothing useful or practical, and expelling 25 actual diplomats was a much more crippling blow to the work of the Embassy. The FCO does not have lots of Russian speakers standing around doing nothing, ready to step in and replace.

I don’t claim any great reason for retelling this, except it is interesting and I have never seen it published elsewhere.

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