Billy Connolly on Nelson Mandela – Glasgow 2014

0“Imagine what Nelson Mandela would think about us all here tonight. All colours, side by side. Everyone saying the same thing in so many different languages.

Equality is for all of us. Freedom is for all of us.

Here’s a song Commonwealth soldiers sung going into battle during World War I.

It was taken by one of our Scottish poets and turned into a song about the end of war and the start of freedom.

Hamish Henderson wrote these words in Scots, but the message is for everyone.

Freedom Come All Ye.”

- Billy Connolly,

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

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Our broadcasting corporation: it’s time to change the channel

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It’s time to change the channel – not to a new show but to a new broadcaster. Beyond the referendum, there is an opportunity to construct a new Scottish Broadcasting Corporation. Continue reading

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The referendum generation vs grumpy old unionism

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In twenty years where will Scotland be and what will have changed the country? Many believe it depends on the referendum result. To a great extent that’s true. However, the referendum process has already unleashed a new generation who will be significant in determining Scotland’s political direction. What no one seems to have notice is how one-sided this change has been.

Some call it the ‘movement for independence’. Gerry Hassan calls it the growth of ‘Third Scotland‘ – a Do It Yourself culture of political start-ups distinct from SNP and Labour establishments. A report by Ben Wray suggests that such groups may form the foundation of a new political party. They are the people for whom the referendum discussion has been a catalyst – bringing thousands into or back into the political process.

Yet there is a longer-term significance to Scotland’s generational shift. There are hundreds of talented, creative people campaigning for independence who within a generation will hold influence within Scotland’s public life – in media, arts, politics, academia and business.

To take just 10 examples:

Katie Gallogly-Swan is an articulate organiser and writer with the Common Weal group. She also co-founded a publishing group ‘Northern Renewal’.

Chris Silver is a writer and film-maker. Alongside Jack Foster he has raised over £20,000 to create ‘Scotland Yet‘, a full length film on the referendum campaign.

Cat Boyd is a leading member of Radical Independence, and has made a mark campaigning with the PCS Union.

Amy Westwell is a writer, student and Labour Party activist from Glasgow. She has written some excellent articles on Scotland and the referendum as part of Mair nor a roch wind.

James Foley and Pete Ramand, young writers from Glasgow, published their first book this year: ‘Yes: the radical case for independence‘.

Miriam Brett is an International Relations graduate from Stirling and presented her case for independence at ‘Aye Talks’, which received an excellent reception.

Graeme Cowie is a researcher at the University of Glasgow in constitutional affairs, member of the Liberal Democrats and supporter of independence.

Mairi McFadyen works at the University of Edinburgh and as a leading member of TradYes is highly involved in the National Collective ‘Yestival’ tour.

Kezia Kinder is a student at the University of Glasgow and is a leading organiser with Women for Independence.

Graham Hogg is a recent Strathclyde University graduate in architecture and a key member of the Lateral North group, which has published an ‘Atlas of Productivity‘ on Scotland.

In just a few days I helped make a list of 100 new voices of the independence generation. If someone wished to create an Encyclopaedia of these type of people there would be 1000s of examples to document across the various projects and 30 odd campaign groups for independence.

This tidal wave would meet its match if there was an equivalent enthusiasm and diversity which supports a No vote. There isn’t.

The only young people I’ve met with any passion for the No campaign are well trained members of the Conservative and Labour parties. That’s unsurprising, yet should raise unionist concerns. The recent Conservative youth conference in Edinburgh was cancelled after only 12 people registered. Media warnings by the likes of John Major, Lord Robertson and Baroness Trumpington only highlight this divergence between Scotland’s past and Scotland’s future.

Last week ex-Labour business minister Shriti Vadera compounded these fears by stating that the No Campaign is driven by “grumpy old men”. I wouldn’t be as harsh as Baroness Vadera, but she has a point. In wider society there are hardly any young people making a case for a No vote.

The most passionate supporters of Westminster in Scotland’s media are the likes of Alan Cochrane (in his 60s), Brian Wilson (age 66), Gerald Warner (age 69), Michael Kelly (age 74) and Iain McMillan, now ex-CBI Scotland Director (age 65).

Age brings experience, but the experience of reading this old unionism has been deeply dispiriting. It’s cynicism has done the greatest damage to the union. If you sound like the past and offer no future, it’s no surprise when new generations reject you. That’s what is happening in Scotland.

The only green shoots of a new unionism come from the federalism advocated by the likes of David Torrance. Yet as a concession to greater demands for change, it only highlights a gradual progression to a fully independent Parliament.

Other than David (age 36) you’re hard pushed to find anyone under 40 writing about the future of Scotland from a Unionist perspective. The older generation of Unionist politicians refuse to recognise this sea change, never mind engage with it.
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For these reasons the referendum has opened up an irreversible conflict between the aspiration of people in Scotland and the Westminster political establishment. A generation have found their voice and they won’t go away. As said of previous generation, in a debate between the future and ‘grumpy, old men’ it’s change that wins:

“Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is

Rapidly agin’

Please get out of the new one

If you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’.”

Michael Gray

@GrayInGlasgow

 

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A map of Scotland’s democratic wave

The independence referendum has energised Scotland. There is a diverse coalition of organisations campaigning for a Yes vote with 1000s of activists across the country.

Here is a short list of Yes campaign groups as well as independent groups which have enriched the debate:

Yes Scotland

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This is the main campaign body for independence supporters. It has established hundreds of Yes local groups which have organised town hall meetings and canvass sessions every week across the country.

Scottish National Party

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The SNP are celebrating 80 years as a party in this referendum year. The SNP is Scotland’s largest political party with over 20,000 members and won a majority in the 2011 Scottish Elections.

Scottish Green Party

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The Scottish Green Party is autonomous from Westminster and decided to support independence with an open vote at its 2012 conference. Co-chair Patrick Harvie MSP has played a prominent role in the Yes Campaign by highlighting the environmental, democratic and social opportunities of independence.

colin_fox-quoteScottish Socialist Party

The SSP was established in 1998 and campaigns for an independent, socialist Scottish republic. It received almost 250,000 votes in 2003 and elected 6 members of Parliament. It’s co-spokespeople Sandra Webster and Colin Fox have organised events focused in Scotland’s working class communities.

 

 

Independents

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A number of high profile campaigners for independence are not part of any party or organisation. John Finnie and Jeanne Urquart are independent members of the Scottish Parliament who support independence. A number of high profile voices like Lesley Riddoch, Ian Bell and Derek Bateman all write eloquent pieces on their support.

Radical Independence David+Hayman+Radical+Independence+Conference+uhZ-R72qcP6l

Radical Independence has brought together 1000s of activists and campaigners in favour of an independent Scotland which priorities: i. the environment, ii. peace, iii. social services, iv. democracy, v. equality. Radical independence – which was launched by a savvy, young leadership in 2013 – has held major conferences, launches 21 local groups and held mass canvass sessions recording majority support for independence.

Labour for Independence

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LFI was formed by Labour supporters who felt alienated from Labour’s leadership and policy position, and believe that an independent Scotland would do better for Labour’s priorities. Since its launch a range of Labour figures have declared their support for independence including Mary Lockhart, Tommy Shepard, Jeane Freeman, and Sir Charles Gray.  Polls suggest that at least 25% of Labour supporters will vote Yes for independence

Women for Independence

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WFI is a campaign organisation to ensure that womens’ voices are heard in the referendum. By listening, engaging, and organising public events, WFI support discussion of issues that impact on women and seek to persuade more women to vote Yes.

National Collective

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NC is the creative campaign for an independent Scotland. Its membership of over 2,500 people includes artists and creatives who believe that independence is an opportunity to change Scotland for the better. NC also has local branches in Scotland’s major cities, a successful website, and ambitious plans to tour Scotland this Summer with a ‘Yestival’.

Generation Yes

Generation Yes Campaigns For Independence

GenYes is the youth campaign for independence. All students in Scotland over 16 can vote in the referendum. GenYes is campaigning with a focus on schools and campuses – putting forward the advantages of independence for Scotland’s young people.

Business for Scotland

BfS is a pro-independence business network with over 2000 individual members. It has local groups across Scotland which put forward Scotland’s economic strengths and the opportunities that come with independence to other business people.

Academics for Yes

Pic Bill Fleming. Academics for Scotland photocall

AfY is a group of researchers, academics and lecturers who support independence. Academics for Yes state that independence will benefit the higher education sector in Scotland and provide greater opportunities for Scotland’s economy and people.

Farming for Yes

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FfY has members of Scotland’s agricultural and rural sector campaigning for independence. Farming members state that Scotland has unique needs and interests in rural communities which are not catered for at a Westminster level. FfY want Scotland to have a greater voice in Europe, a stronger Common Agricultural Policy payment system and international support for exports from Scotland; and believe this will be achieved with independence.

English Scots for Yes

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Independence isn’t about where you come from – it’s about our future. Hundreds of thousands of people move from England to Scotland and many understand that independence is about creating a better society and a better, equal relationship between Scotland and neighbouring nations.

Mums for change 

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MfC is a group of mums who believe than an independent Scotland would create a better society. They state that an independent Scotland would expand childcare, protect education services, reinvest money from Trident nuclear weapons, and tackle child poverty.

Scots Asians for Yes

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SAfY contains those who have settled in Scotland from the Asian sub-continent. Scottish Asians for Yes support independence and demonstrate how Scotland can be a successful, welcoming and multicultural society after a Yes vote.

 

Yes LGBT

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender for independence ensure that the voice and rights of Scotland’s sexual minority groups are represented with the independence campaign. The group also advocates the inclusion of equality clauses in the written constitution of an independent country so that all within Scotland have equality irrespective of their sexual preference and identity.

Wealthy Nation

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Conservative supporters of independence – including former Conservative Party candidates – formed Wealthy Nation to campaign for a Yes vote. Led by historian Michael Fry, Wealthy Nation say that an independent Scotland will ensure civil liberties and create a vibrant economy which will encourage personal entrepreurship.

Scottish Secular Society

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The Scottish Secular Society decided to support independence after a poll found over 90% support for a Yes vote within its organisation. The Society support freedom of religion alongside the freedom of a secular state which does not privilege any single view over the other. Independence is an opportunity to create a modern constitutional arrangement for Scotland that enshrines and protects these principles for all.

Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

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The Scottish CND has campaigned for nuclear disarmament for generations. The UK’s major stock of weapons is located a Faslane and Coulport by the Firth of Clyde. The Yes Campaign is resolute in removing these weapons and investing the resource into better services for the people of Scotland. For this reason the CND support independence as a huge opportunity for a more peaceful and just world.

SHYesThe Sunday Herald newspaper

Scottish national Sunday paper declared its support for independence this month in a stirring editorial. The piece, alongside a special illustration by artist Alasdair Gray, declared: “The prize is a better country. It is as simple as that.”

Wings Over Scotland

WOS was set up by journalist Stuart Campbell in 2011 to report on the independence debate. Since then the site has expanded to become one of Scotland’s most popular politics site. Campbell raised over £100,000 from readers to fund the site and campaign in the referendum.

Bella Caledonia

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Bella is an online magazine which covers issues of democracy, equality and justice. It attracts tens of thousands of readers, has showcased a range of writers from Scotland and across the world, and support Scottish independence.

Smaller groups

There are also a huge host of smaller Yes groups including:

English Scots for Yes, Wales for Yes, Irish for Yes, Africans for Yes, Polish for independence, Yes Alba, Third Sector for Yes, Lawyers for Yes, Trade Unionists for Yes, Christians for independence, NHS for Yes, Cabbies for Yes, Sport for Yes, etc.

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Neutral organisations 

Common Weal

cwfest21Common Weal is a non-party campaign run by the Jimmy Reid Foundation which aims to develop a vision of economic and social progress. It aims to create a society of shared wealth. Common Weal has developed new thinking in a huge range of areas, publishing reports by top academics, writers and thinkers. It has raised the ambitions for Scotland’s future, whether that future is after a Yes or No vote.

20120430090421!Scottish_refugee_council_logoScottish Refugee Council

The SRC published a sensible report entitled ‘Improving the Lives of Refugees in Scotland after the Referendum’. It sets out the direction towards a more humane asylum system. Their AGM, in an informal vote, supported Scottish independence. The Yes Campaign position supports the end to ‘dawn raids’, closing Dungavel Detention Centre and giving asylum seekers the right to work.

Lateral North

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Lateral North is a research and design collective which investigates Scotland’s new place and identity in an emerging northern region. This month Lateral North published ‘An Atlas of Productivity’ which maps out Scotland’s resources, strengths and opportunities.

Engender Scotland

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Engender Scotland is a feminist organisation that campaigns for equal opportunities for women and men in life, access to resources and powers, and equality of security and freedom from harm. It publishes useful research on gender in a Scottish context.

At their independence debate support for independence rose from 65% to 79%, with only 9% remaining opposed.

So Say Scotland

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So Say Scotland are a voluntery group which promotes democracy in Scotland. They held a public assembly to consider how new forms of democracy can give citizens a greater say in their community. In 2014 they launched ‘Wee Play’ so undecided voters can discuss the referendum on independence.

Scottish Global Forum

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Scottish Global Forum is an independent think-tank which analyses Scotland’s place in the world. It was launched in 2013 to focus on issues of democracy, international relations, and security and defence. Since then SGF have provided commentary and speeches in national and international media on the international Scotland which is emerging through the referendum.

A National Council for Scotland

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The National Council proposal states that the people of Scotland should participate in post-referendum discussions. Politicians in both London and Edinburgh will face important decisions after the vote that will define Scotland’s progress for future decades. The group proposes a ‘Citizens Assembly’ to hear the views of people in Scotland on what decisions should be made.

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Starter for 10: the campaign for Scottish independence

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In just under 100 days times we will make the most important political decision of our lives.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

I think this is really important & I hope that as many people as possible look closely at both sides before making up their mind.

Below I’ve chosen 10 favourite videos to provide different perspectives from the Yes side of the debate- from facts, to speeches, to comedy videos to stories.

There’s lots of amazing stuff that is worth checking out linked at the bottom. Lots of it is created by young people who’ve got involved for the first time, which is exciting for Scotland no matter what the result.

Enjoy!

Generation Yes Campaigns For Independence

1) Introduction to the independence debate: democracy, prosperity, equality 

In this wee comedy video two actors compare the Yes vs No campaigns.

2) Ivan McKee, Owner of 5 manufacturing businesses, presents a 30 minute economics presentation.

Want more info on Scotland’s wealth? This is long but very useful!

3) Dennis Canavan, a Labour Politician in London & Edinburgh from 1974-2007, on why his experiences led him to support independence.

Dennis explains why independence is about creating a better Scotland, no matter what your own party or personal views are.

4) Pro-independence businesspeople explain why they support independence 

A variety of businesspeople explain why Scotland would be better off with control over its wealth, resources and decision making. 1000s of businesspeople are supporting independence.

Follow link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/scotland-26353466

5) 10 top myths about independence debunked

There’s 100s of articles answering questions about independence. This video does it while having a laugh.

6) Lesley Riddoch was against independence. She wanted more powers for Scotland. But then she changed her mind. In this lecture she explains why.

Lesley Riddoch is excellent because she understands that independence doesn’t solve Scotland’s problems – but it provides an opportunity to make things better.

7) Mirriem Brett, a student from Stirling, explains why independence is an opportunity for young people in Scotland.

Mirrem is one of hundreds of young people campaigning for a Yes vote because it gives Scotland the power to create a better society.

8) Cat Boyd, who campaigns to improve working conditions, explains passionately why Westminster politicians have failed Scotland.

Cat is part of RIC which has brought 1000s of people together – outside of official parties and the official campaign – to organise events for a more equal Scotland.

9) Bad Romance by Zara Gladman (A.K.A. Lady Alba)

What happens when independence, Scotland, and Lady Gaga collide? Lady Alba explains why she’s voting Naw.

10) Patrick Harvie, Co-chair of the Green Party in Scotland, explains why his party supports independence.

Independence isn’t about nationalism. It brings power closer to the people.

Further links to nice people:

Yes Scotland

Green Party

Scottish Socialist Party

Radical Independence

Labour for Independence

Women for Independence

National Collective

Generation Yes

Business for Scotland

Academics for Yes

Farming for Yes

Mums for change

Scots Asians for Yes

Yes LGBT

Wealthy Nation

Scottish Secular Society

Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Wings Over Scotland

Bella Caledonia

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Common Weal

Scottish Refugee Council

Lateral North

Engender Scotland

So Say Scotland

Scottish Global Forum

A National Council for Scotland

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UK war crimes in Iraq

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On the same day as the news of David Cameron courting of Putin emerged, further revelations were released accusing the UK military and government of perpetrating war crimes in Iraq.
Continue reading

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Tabloid splash: Talking art cave is new Scottish celebrity

23017813A talking cave caused a twitter storm after emerging as a new Scottish landmark.

Yesterday the cocky cave received a splash in The Herald newspaper with its cavernous walls prominently featured. The piece revealed that the cave also has supporting structures, someone leaning against a pole and pictures of a man playing a tuba. This is believed to be the first cave of its kind in Leith.

Online commentators were shocked when the cave spoke on social media, saying ‘Hello world‘.

This has caused widespread speculation. Some claim that this statement was in reference to Beyonce’s up and coming visit to Scotland. Beyonce of course asked the question ‘Who run the world?‘ to which she answered ‘Girls’.

The cave remains non-gender specific, but is believed to be a fan of the American music star.

DJ Johnston-Smith compared the cave to batman’s secret layer. Batman was unavailable for comment.

It’s unclear what the cave will say next. However, a source close to the cave said “Yesterday it set up its own version of COBRA [UK crisis team] and I think it’s planning on taking over Leith one pub at a time.”

The cave has already amassed 146 followers on twitter on the handle @TheArtCave.

This makes the cave one of the most popular online talking caves in Scotland.

Michael Gray
@GrayInGlasgow

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