I have always had great appreciation from my humble attempts to write about my heartfelt desire for an Independent Scotland. Where her people have the chance to play on a level field with the rest of the world, un-handicapped by those that would restrain us from our path. Much of this emotion I write comes from experiences and knowledge of my own life, and those of other observers in history. A palpable sense of belonging in this country where the ages that pre-date the Romans can be touched.
I have walked the slopes of Dalriada and placed my size 11's in the rock, claiming my rights on the land. Something that the Westminster rulers will never understand nor maybe even know about. On my small patch of land there is the remains of a small fort or protected settlement with a Pictish stone only a bare 100 yards distant....the past travels with me, in soul and heart.
And I can share with you memories and pictures from my Family, working the land with Clydesdales, pictures from 100 years ago, at Mill o Gryff Farm, Bridge of Weir. We have lived through momentous times, amazing times, changing times, where things that we grew up with we thought would never change, but they did!
The struggles of the 70's and 80's I lived through, struggled but survived, because that is what we do. I did many wee jobs when I had no work, dipping sheep by hand, as in lifting them into and out of a rock tank....I couldnae do that now, never mind the chemicals that stung the eyes and throat....but we did what we had to!
But digressing slightly, please let me share with you a posting I have copied from another site...I feel it should be shared, partly because the Nation of Scotland is a hard working team, the Farming communities and the Mining Communities once shared common purpose within each other, each holding together when they had to, helping each other, so I ken ye'll understand. So many communities were destroyed, but the memories of many linger on. My mother had friends she stayed with as a wee girl in the mining community of Larkhall. So I post this for her, and for the memories of my own, gained when from the safety of the Highlands, I watched the destruction of the Lowlands, where so many Highlanders had gone to seek work in the shipbuilding and the mines!
A SENSE OF NATIONHOOD
As long as I can remember I have longed for the nation I call home to have its full sovereignty and powers reinstated and for the people I call fellow citizens to have their confidence and their dignity restored. I want this, not because of some romantic notion of an ancient time and an ancient people but because it is the normal aspiration of any nation and any people.
I want to see the people of Scotland once again the architects of our own society and the driving force behind our own future direction. The reason I want this is not because of some delusional or disturbing sense of nationalism but because of a social awareness that things are not as they should be and not as the people of Scotland want them to be. The political institutions of our closest neighbours have, for some considerable time, embarked on a journey that the vast majority of citizens in my country do not wish to travel. They have embraced a set of values and objectives that are in stark contrast to those embraced by the majority of Scots. It has been obvious to many in my own country that the government that sits in another has long since lost the consent of the people of Scotland to govern in Scotland. It is not only the case that we are travelling in different directions but that we are clearly travelling in totally opposite directions.
When Margaret Thatcher came to power she transformed the political landscape from the deepest south to the furthest north but she did not unite at the same time. Towns and villages the length and breadth of these Islands were ripped apart and once thriving communities were devastated in her wake. I can remember the heartbreak of the seventies and eighties as entire industries were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people were thrown on the scrap heap without a care. I watched as decent hard working individuals such as shipbuilders and steelworkers looked on helplessly as their lives were turned upside down and the heart was ruthlessly ripped out of them.
I helped in the Soup Kitchens during the Miners’ Strike and I stood alongside them on the picket lines as they faced up to convoys of coal laden lorries charging at them whilst fending off the baton charges of the police. Grown men who had worked all their days up to their necks in dirt had been savaged by the brutality of Thatcherism and then demonised by the British Media for daring to stand up to Thatcher and her hired thugs. Tears rolled down my face and my heart ached for those proud and defiant men and their equally proud and defiant families as they were eventually broken into submission after many months of being starved and humiliated and pitted against each other by those in power. They knew it was not bonuses or pay rises they were fighting for but their very livelihood and their industry. They also knew as they walked through the gates back to work that for many of them it would be for the last time. Even after several decades those friends and families set against each other and their communities that were devastated by division and depravation still bare the scars.
That is not the society I wanted nor was it the society that the vast majority of people in the four nations that make up the United Kingdom wanted. However, it is the society that has emerged because the system is designed to favour the few at the expense of the many. That is not ill informed Marxism or Communism or even Socialism but the reality of a political system that allows a privileged minority to govern the majority through ‘Minority Government’. When we consider that no Westminster Government has come to power with more than 32% of the entire electorate vote then we realise that even Margaret Thatcher at her peak could only muster around a third of all those entitled to vote. This means that the other 68% or more than two thirds of the entire voting population either voted against her or did not bother to vote. The Labour Party once the champion of the working class bares more resemblance to a slightly watered down Conservative Party than the Labour Movement created in Scotland by the Founding Fathers such as Keir Hardie. Even the staunchest Socialist has known for many years that the Party of the Workers and the Poor is now the Party of the Middle Classes and those potentially disaffected Conservative voters.
So where does that leave the working class and the poor who still represent the vast majority of the ‘British’ population and where does it leave the people of Scotland? The political system that elects Westminster Governments is designed in such a way that it allows a privileged minority of the population to dominate and rule the majority without the majority consent. That same system and that same Westminster Parliament harbours politicians and a politics that is far removed from the politics in Scotland. Uniting in solidarity with the working classes of the other three nations that populate these islands is no longer enough and will not see the change we want here in Scotland nor anywhere else for that matter.
The Powers that be are pitted against us in their entirety and pose a formidable foe that will try to set families and communities against each other in order to sabotage the campaign for Scottish independence. They did it with the miners and they will do it with the Scots because they have tried to frighten, intimidate and bully us without success and the only thing they have left is division. When we see Campaigners attacking each other verbally and physically then we know that more sinister forces are at work just as they were during the Miners’ Strike. If we were not aware of the treachery and deceit of others who act against us then I would be worried. We do know what they are up to and that is half the battle. Doing something about it is the other half of the battle and the best thing we can do is affect the change we desire ourselves by voting ‘Yes’. By doing so we can lead by example and illustrate to the vast majority of citizens in the other three nations which make up the United Kingdom that they no longer have to settle for a system imposed on them by a minority.
In truth it is not the ‘Virus of Nationalism’ that flows through our veins but a longing for that which is taken for granted by so many others and in essence ‘a sense of Nationhood’.
I watched Question time on the TV , from Inverness, where there was a former Highland Regimental soldier spoke out with passion for the Union. He has now gone viral on twitter apparently, he lives on a croft with his dog and remembers his regimental history and his family. I also have passion, for our regimental history and the history of our Land. I have wept at the determination of the Scots regiments that sacrificed so much on the battlefields of Belgium and France in the Great War, particularly comrades of family members in the HLI still lying at Gallipoli, through those of the Deserts of North Africa, Italy, Burma, Korea..... The battle role list of honours lie like a backbone through the British army, and I am proud of what they did, the fighting spirit, the stoicism and endurance and courage.....But I also know how that Westminster cadre used,abused, sacrificed the loyalty that they harnessed.
Fittingly, as this is a Highlander, from a Highland regiment, I would say to him...remember Culloden, remember how even after the Highland regiments were ordered to slaughter their kinsfolk, they were considered cannon fodder, expendable, by General Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham....from his own words...no great Loss! Remember also, the men of the Western Isles, returning after that battles, after battles under Wellington, or from other battles against the French, to find their homes on fire, their families dispossessed, sheltering in the heather, not that it stopped there...even after the Great War, the same happened, men promised their sacrifice would give them a new home, land to work on and live, raise families...From Uist and Skye, Raasay particularly, returned home to find their people struggling to exist, where the Government had neglected them, even jailing them when they protested!....
From the moment the Edinburgh agreement was signed, Scotland's membership of the EU in the event of a Yes vote has been one of the main topics for discussion, both amongst the population as a whole and Scottish farmer in particular. Earlier in the year, Secretary of State for Scotland, Alastair Carmichael, speaking on behalf of Better Together at the NFUS debate in Stirling, guaranteed on three separate occasions that there would be no UK wide in/out referendum on EU membership in the foreseeable future. Recent events confirm that he was in no position to make such a claim.
The success of UKIP in the European elections raises a very strong likelihood of a Conservative / UKIP coalition after the 2015 general election that would hold an in / out referendum in 2017 - or sooner. Scottish farmers face the very real possibility of being dragged out of Europe against their wishes. There is, of course, a bitter irony here. The Westminster parties warn us about the difficult and tortuous process of re-entry into Europe. That this is baloney and insulting to our intelligence is widely accepted and need not delay us here. But is does seem extraordinary that the one part of the UK that seems broadly in favour of European membership - Scotland - is the one part that is being threatened about exclusion, and from an insular political class that simply cannot wait to leave.
It rather gives the Better Together rhetoric about being part of something bigger in the modern world a very hollow feel. Like the excellent Harry Reid in a recent edition of The Herald, I believe the real danger lies in a no vote. Only a Yes vote can allow Scotland to be a strong independent voice in Europe that represents our interests and allows us to promote a world renowned brand across the world. Only a Yes vote allows us as farmers and growers to fully engage as a modern and progressive country with a world that won't just accept us but, I believe, warmly embrace us. It is now absolutely clear that the farming industry in Scotland must, on September 18th, vote resoundingly for Yes. There simply is no other way.
By Jim Fairlie
Channel Four news presenter Jon Snow was on Twitter recently encouraging people to check out his blog, having just returned from a trip to the Western Isles and the Glasgow area where he asked people about the independence referendum.
He was ‘deeply impressed by the high quality of debate, and the relatively low quality of the arguments put forward by the No campaign’.
His points were well made. The No campaign has been asked on numerous occasions for a vision, an inspiration or genuine belief that we can create a better Scotland by being ‘better together’.
And yet, even staring down the barrel at the demise of the United Kingdom, they can find no such
positive message - nothing to inspire us, no driven positive belief about what we can achieve by remaining in the union -other than to say what we can't do, what we will lose or that we are UK OK.
I want to live in a Scotland where my ambition for me, my family, my community and my country, are matched by my Government. Being ok certainly doesn't do it for me. I can see the potential that Scotland has, and I can see only one way to release that potential – taking our future into our own hands.
The phrase, ‘the ties that bind us are stronger than thedifferences we have ‘, is true, but what we have to ask is what are they binding us to, and is being tied right for Scotland?
As a farmer and part of the food and drink industry, it is important for us to know that the government realises the challenges we face, but is also alive to the opportunities we can create.
There was utter disbelief and anger from more than 400 farmers at the recent NFUS debate in Stirling. Farming Minister Richard Lochhead told the audience that he had taken the largest ever food and drink delegation from Scotland to Japan. He was told by the British consulate in Tokyo that getting Scotch beef into the Japanese market was ‘not aWestminster priority at that time’. The Asian market, with the fastest growing middle class population in the world, is not a market that
Westminster wants Scottish produce to tap into? Better together?
At the same debate, there were also howls of derision and anger aimed at Scottish Secretary Alastair Carmichael, but for a totally different reason. Richard Lochhead and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon eased many minds by guaranteeingto underwrite the Single Farm Payments to farmers for the intervening period between a Yes vote and Scotland taking its place as a full EU member. When I asked Mr Carmichael that in the event of a No vote, and the UK exiting the EU, would he give a similar assurance that farming would be a priority for Westminster? He refused to give any assurance, other than to say there wouldn’t be an In-Out referendum on EU membership.
The anger at his, either blatant untruth, or total lack of understanding of what the government he
represents is doing was clear by the response in the room. It was also brought into sharp focus later when the Scottish Tories backed David Cameron's insistence that an In-Out referendum would happen.
For the farming community, that would spell disaster. Every Westminster government has tried to negotiate a total removal of any direct support to farmers; it has been only the EU thathas forced them to continue supporting agriculture.
Credibility and respect are hard won and Mr Carmichael’s was severely challenged by that exchange.
The food and drink industry is a vital part of Scotland's economy. Even before the SNP came to power, the previousLabour-Lib Dem coalition administration recognised that. They did not have the freedom to support it the way in whichthe Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie wanted because of Westminster’s indifference.
I believe that all political parties in an independent Scotland will see clearer priorities for Scottish businesses and the Scottish people without the Westminster shadow hanging over them.
As Jon Snow said, they need to wake up to the fact that theUK is facing oblivion, but it looks as though the leadership ofthe No campaign is all out of ideas on how to save it - because they
still don't understand the people of Scotland.
Jim Fairlie is a Perthshire farmer and a member of Farming for Yes.
Scottish Farming and the EU
The no campaign constantly demand "answers" and bang on about "uncertainty" so perhaps some facts would be in order. As it stands, Scotland receives the lowest level of direct farm payments (pillar 1) of any part of the UK and lower than all member states with the exception of Estonia and Latvia - both of whom will be ahead of Scotland by 2019.
Scottish agriculture is being poorly served by a Westminster government that doesn't include a farming minister in its cabinet. The covergence payments scandal saw monies earmarked of Scotland's Less Favoured Areas but never arrive. Scottish agricultural is different. A higher proportion of us work on the land; 85% of it is categorised as "less favoured"; we have 9% of the UK but more than 25% of the breeding herd.
In short, there are issues and challenges that only an independent Scottish presence in Europe can adequately address. What we have at present doesn't begin to look fit for purpose.
Which brings me, reluctantly, to the Scottish Conservative Party. Launching their European election campaign today, their leader, Ruth Davidson, reaffirmed the party's backing for an in/out referendum on Europe in 2017.
For months I have shook my head at the sheer chutzpah and obvious irony in being lectured about the "tortuous process" of negotiating from the standpoint of a valued population an Independent Scotland into the EU - and getting that lecture from a Westminster government that seemingly cannot wait to leave it. It seems we are "better together" only when it suits.
Ms Davidson's declaration renders untenable the position of the Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael. At the NFUS Stirling debate on March 17th, he repeatedly - to hoots of laughter - guaranteed that there would be no EU referendum in 2017. Today confirms what we suspected - there can be no such guarantees.
For the No campaign there is nothing left in the tank. Bogus threats about currency, EU membership and pensions habe not worked - unless you're like me and want independence. Fear is a poor motivator but hope inspires. Carmichael guaranteed no EU referendum; nobody believed him so he said it again. It rather sums up the hubristic muddle that characterises the utter disaster of the No campaign.
Many talk about the risks of change. Like the excellent Harry Reid in today's Herald, I see risks in not changing.
For Scotland's farmers, the big risk is an EU referendum that would see us excluded from Europe by a UKIP pandering government, against the wishes of the majority of Scots - and particularly its farmers.
I'm voting Yes more many reasons. To get a Government that more accurately reflects the wishes of my fellow Scots. To have the chance to use Scotland's abundant wealth for the benefit of all, not the few. To be rid, in time, of the affronts that are foodbanks and payday loans and poverty.
And I'm voting Yes for Scottish farmers. Because only a Yes vote can secure our place in Europe and allow our elected politicians to represent properly those who make our industry reknowned throughout the world.
We can, we should, we must be independent.
Why we need a new approach
The Scottish fishing industry has much to gain from independence. Supporting our fishing communities and seafood sector will always be a priority for Scottish governments.
In 2012, Scotland accounted for 87 per cent of the total value of UK landings of key stocks, representing 37 per cent of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of these stocks available to the EU. However, Scotland receives just 41 per cent of the European Fisheries Fund allocation to the UK, despite having a far higher share of both the UK sea fishery and aquaculture sectors. As a result of being a low priority for the UK in EU negotiations, Scotland receives just 1.1 per cent of European fisheries funding despite landing 7 per cent of the European Union's wild-caught fish and accounting for more than 12 per cent of EU aquaculture production. Scotland is the world's third largest salmon producer with 83 per cent of UK aquaculture production by volume.
Europe, it would be fair to say that it’s one of the big issues in the independence debate. For farmers, it looms especially large in the foreground of arguments about Scotland’s future. If you’re pro-Europe, as I suspect a lot of Scottish farmers are, how should you vote on September the 18th to safeguard our future in the EU?
Some readers may already be aware of, and may even have attended the recent debate organised by NFUS at UA’s Stirling mart. One of the panellists in Stirling that night made a very interesting statement in relation to our future in Europe, and I’d be willing to bet that anyone who was at the meeting that night has already guessed what I’m on about.
Alistair Carmichael MP, one of the Better Together big hitters, was the man responsible. At first I thought that it must have been a gaffe, until he repeated it to emphasise the point. No, he really did claim that there was no question of the UK government holding an in/out referendum on Europe. Why did he feel the need to make such a sweeping statement? Why did he say that the threat of a referendum on EU membership had passed us by earlier this year when a referendum bill was killed off by the House of Lords? It was an odd claim to make and it drew an audible reaction from the crowd in the UA ring that night.
There have been many questions and scare stories aimed at the Yes camp since the announcement of the referendum. It seems to me that the more we talk rationally about the ramifications of a Yes or no vote, by and large most people eventually agree that Scotland will be a better country for being independent.
It seems to me that some people’s biggest fear of independence is in fact total contempt for politicians in general. They often ask why there’s any difference between a Westminster or Holyrood lie. For me, it’s very clear what the difference is, if Alex Salmond et al are lying to us, we the people of Scotland will punish him and his party at the next general election by kicking them out!
Well, thank goodness that’s all over. The NFUS conference comes and goes every year. And every year, the “great and the good” of our industry put on their sharp suits and their shiny shoes and head off to a fancy hotel. Not a welly or a boilersuit in sight for a whole two days.
Thankfully my involvement in this annual circus was limited to attending a very nice dinner and listening to a few rather dull speeches on Monday night. The real dynamite speakers were reserved for the daytime sessions.
The NFUS is presumably taking a neutral stance in the upcoming independence referendum. So it was surprising to see a lineup of conference speakers bristling with politicians from the “Better Together” parties, with only Richard Lochhead alone making the case for independence.