Scottish independence

Nicola Sturgeon’s call for INDYREF 2 has been rejected again as was probably to be predicted. What is now important, though, is not the rhetoric from the First Minister which is impressive as ever, but what Westminster will do to convince Edinburgh that the Union is robust and worthwhile. If Scotland feels unloved, then it is up to Boris to demonstrate clearly that that is not the case.

It is worth noting how much the Uk has depended on Scottish statesmen and women and on Scottish businesses over the last 250 years. In Westminster, I think there have been at least 10 Scottish prime ministers (12 if we count David Cameron as Scottish and bother to note that Gordon Brown’s tenure took place * see below). For our economy, we can go back to Adam Smith and William Paterson, endless advances in medicine as well as the first country to educate women as doctors (though they never actually got their degrees)- think Sir James Y Simpson, Alexander Fleming, James Braid, even Arthur Conan Doyle; for transport, we look to Thomas Telford, but even when it comes to basic transport, it was the Scot, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, who invented the bicycle and meanwhile it was the Scottish law in 1772 which dictated that we all drive routinely on the left, some 60 years before it became a law in England. Alexander Bell! Oh for goodness’ sake! Even when I was looking at the development of radar in Daventry a few years’ ago, it was still a Scot, Robert Watson-Watt, who did it!

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“Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose – because they know that when given the choice we’ll choose independence.

“Tories have no positive case for the union – so all they can do is attempt to deny democracy. It will not stand.

“The problem for the Tories is the longer they try to block democracy, the more they show the Westminster union is not one of equals and fuel support for independence. This response [is] predictable – but also unsustainable and self defeating. Scotland will have the right to choose.

“Scottish government will set out our response and next steps before the end of this month – when we will also again ask Scottish Parliament to back Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”

*list of scottish prime ministers in UK

John Stuart 1762

George Hamilton Gordon 1852

William Gladstone 1864, 1880, 1886, 1892

Lord Rosebery 1894

Arthur Balfour 1902

Henry Bannerman 1906

Andrew Bonar Law 1922

James Ramsey MacDonald 1924, 1929

Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home 1963

Tony Blair 1997

Gordon Brown 2007

David Cameron 2010

 

 

 

 

The US Circle

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Just about to do the final Podcast for the US circle. What a pleasure watching these 12 episodes. The joy of watching Shubham telling us that social media is the bubonic  plague of modern times.  The guy who doesn’t know flirting or emojis. I felt a distinct connection with him and sent him an email immediately!!

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Boris the submariner

Today Boris explained to Dan Walker that he was surfacing through the ice as a submarine. Bizarre. Colourful and typically Boris! “The submarine is crashing through the ice floes. The conning tower is emerging through the ice floes right now. Here I am. I gave two press conferences yesterday. I want to be as available as I possibly can.” (not on holiday as you can see)

About extradition from the US: “I’ll be clear with you, the chances of America responding by sending Anne Sacoolas to this country are very low. That’s not what they do,”

Brexit: “Bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”/ with trade deals “epically likely”

About FLYBE: “It’s not for government to step in and save companies that simply run into trouble.People will understand that there are limits commercially to what a government can do to rescue any particular firm. But what we will do is ensure we have the regional connectivity that this country needs. That is part of our agenda of uniting and levelling up.”

Harry and Megan: absolutely confident they will manage “much more easily without running commentary from politicians”

The North: giving “people the chances to exploit their talents.”

Iran nuclear deal: “If we’re going to get rid of it, let’s replace it with the Trump deal. That’s what we need to see. President Trump is a great dealmaker by his own account and many others.”

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Alex Hobern from The Circle Series 1

Last week, I went to see Alex who won the first season of the Circle. We made a few videos each, the first part of mine I have just uploaded here.

Alex tested me on acronyms and I was fairly useless. It follows on from an exchange I had in the Circle with Woody. Alex’s video is here:

 

Here is my drawing of Alex:

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No time for a mistake

The destruction of Boeing 737-800

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On Friday, Mike Pompeo said “We do believe that it’s likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile.” Now, it seems, he was absolutely right.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded a public admission.

The President said he “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”and records that a human error “led to a big catastrophe and innocent people were killed.” Indeed, we also have the name of the man who made that error, one of the Revolutionary guard, Amirali Hajizadeh who has reportedly said, “I wish I was dead”.

But admitting a mistake is only the first step. The rest, which can take some time, is about putting right the mess created. I fear that President Rouhani may not go very far towards fixing what he has done wrong, and already he is scattering blame in the direction of the US and the Ukraine. This is regrettable. 176 people died when the missile, apparently, hit the cockpit of the plane. It is impossible for Iran to remain haughty about this scale of “mistake”, yet the language used does not seem nearly apologetic enough. And it is not enough to hang some boffin out to take the blame. In the end, the way this news has seeped out, dribbled out, is testimony to a regime absolutely out of control. The level of disaster here cannot be excused as “a mistake”. This goes well beyond “a mistake”, even “an unforgiveable mistake”, though that single adjective is a sign that Iran recognises this may not be a story it can ever spin. Nor, of course, in this case, would it be a time to press the crowds out on to the street…

Here is what is reportedly said: “Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base”

and

“Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

The regime is also preparing its excuse with expressions like: “human mistake and misfired”

Now, of course, would be the time to start releasing Western prisoners and to making overtures towards peace. Let’s watch this space and see what happens. My suspicion is that very little will happen soon.

Meanwhile, the new President of the Ukraine says that he will “insist on a full admission of guilt”

International pressure seems to have brought about the revelation some 72 hours after the “accident”. Indeed the official stance until today was expressed by the Iranian ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, who specifically ruled out a missile strike on the aircraft. Twitter has been full of indignation about Iran’s tardiness: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure.”

The most striking and most discordant note, however, has been made by a spokesman, the head of the foreign relations committee in the Russian senate, a building I used to walk past every morning and evening: “The admission of error,” says Konstantin Kosachev, “although not immediately, and expression of condolences is sufficient to be accepted. With this, the incident should be closed.” I wonder what that suggests? That he is worried further probing will identify the missiles as made in Russia (maybe SA-15), or that further questions might then be asked about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian backed Ukrainian separatists?

 

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There are now street protests in a number of universities calling on the supreme leader to resign, calling various officials “liars”. Maybe this is the beginning of the end? Let’s hope so.

 

Alastair Campbell

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An absolutely fantastic friendly from Campbell and Clarke showing us EXACTLY how to do it. Here, then, is the quest of the day- How to get Johnson to steal a chip from New Labour and unite an enlarged middle of his party as well as silence the fruitcakes and loonies at both ends. At the same time, how to unite and bring together a frankly divided country and to focus on reality rather than a never-ending “what might have been”.

And now to Alastair Campbell: I was so impressed by this man. He has the mind to cut through all the nonsense and to see what needs to be done practically. He also demonstrated a charm and ease that I had thought was vanishing in the corridors of Westminster. I am deeply heartened by this programme and what I saw today. Well done, all!

To see these two men spar was a rare insight into the carefully-guarded secret of centrist politics; it is self-deprecatory, undecided, but remorseful and actually embarrassable- ultimately, it can be held responsible (or they can) which is more than can be said for the Boris bus, Farage’s madness, May’s dithering (and hiding behind bureaucracy) or Corbyn’s dogmatic socialism (I enjoyed Ken Clarke’s observation that Corbyn was “naive”: exactly.) Oh what a joy to see intelligence so casually and confidently displayed.

There is certainly hope for the future!