The Scottish Independence Podcast 79 – Mark Frankland

final_small_Toxic_cover_for_webFor the 79th episode of The Scottish Independence Podcast I spoke with Mark Frankland.

Mark is an English writer and drugs worker who lives in Scotland and has every intention of voting Yes on September the 18th.

He is also writing a novel with an independence referendum theme and serialising it on his website, free for readers.

Not only this but he has also been active on the indyref speaking circuit, try this example out for size.

We talked about his novel, why an Englishman living in Scotland supports indy, and much much more.

Hope you enjoy (and if you feel up to helping us along with our running costs you can pop us a donation too.)

This is the direct download link (right click and save as)

You can listen to the show online at its web page

Or you can subscribe with itunes

We are also now to be found on youtube

If At First You Don’t Secede, Try, Try Again

Cerne-abbas-giant-2001-croppedThe new England football strip will have an image of the Cerne Abbas giant on it. The image on the strip, which maintains the large erect penis to be found on the famous landmark, is bound to cause controversy as in its day (it is believed to have been sculpted in the 17th century) the giant was a statement intended to promote internet pornography. The controversial image is sure to land the (English) FA in hot water, even though they have been quick to deny that the image is intended to promote porn, and instead suggest that it is intended to reflect Clive Tydlesley’s continuing support for the national team.

That would be an absurd story, wouldn’t it?

Just a little more absurd than this, which appeared on the Eurosport site…

Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol

Sf91c069745a15481a30f4c219eaa732475883984cotland have launched a new kit that has a strange-looking symbol on it.

There is another symbol on the shirt, which at first glance appears to be some form of abstract logo.

But it is actually a spider design, a spider which symbolises an ancient military victory against the English.

The legend goes that 14th century king of Scotland Robert the Bruce was taking refuge from England’s King Edward I in a cave.

In that cave, Robert saw a spider, which went on to weave a web despite the conditions causing it to struggle. Eventually the spider succeeded, inspiring Robert to victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

It seems a bit strange that a new-age Scotland strip should pay homage to a defeat of the English in battle – perhaps ironically, their last football encounter ended in a victory for England.

Fine, so the writer has misunderstood the symbol. If you don’t already know the story, it is a little fable designed to stress the importance of persistence, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” being the punchline. He also gets his little dig in at the end, also fine – it is football and a little banter is fine.

It’s an absurd story and the journo is a clown, fine, end of story.

However, whether it was done wilfully or through ignorance, this kind of story tends to cause a nasty outpouring of stuff from south of the border.

Here are some of the comments….

FireShot Screen Capture #298 - 'Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol I Early Doors - Yahoo Eurosport UK' - uk_eurosport_yahoo_com_blogs_early-doors_scotland-football-kit-anti-english-123854547_htmlLovely stuff. How wonderfully Better Together we all are. It continues…

FireShot Screen Capture #302 - 'Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol I Early Doors - Yahoo Eurosport UK' - uk_eurosport_yahoo_com_blogs_early-doors_scotland-football-kit-anti-english-123854547_html FireShot Screen Capture #301 - 'Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol I Early Doors - Yahoo Eurosport UK' - uk_eurosport_yahoo_com_blogs_early-doors_scotland-football-kit-anti-english-123854547_html FireShot Screen Capture #304 - 'Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol I Early Doors - Yahoo Eurosport UK' - uk_eurosport_yahoo_com_blogs_early-doors_scotland-football-kit-anti-english-123854547_html FireShot Screen Capture #303 - 'Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol I Early Doors - Yahoo Eurosport UK' - uk_eurosport_yahoo_com_blogs_early-doors_scotland-football-kit-anti-english-123854547_html FireShot Screen Capture #300 - 'Scotland’s new football kit contains strange symbol I Early Doors - Yahoo Eurosport UK' - uk_eurosport_yahoo_com_blogs_early-doors_scotland-football-kit-anti-english-123854547_htmlThere are more of these if you click the continue button…


If You Keep Voting For Neoliberals, This Is What Happens – Part 2

I was recently in a town in Eng-er-land and saw this poster on the window of the local council building…

The question I have is about who is actually making a mistake here?

Are/were the Tories plans to destroy the NHS a mistake? For the public they certainly were. For the Conservative Party and its leaders friends, I’m not so sure.

I think the mistake being made might well be to assume that the Conservative Party (or at least those at the top driving these things) genuinely want ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’.

They may want the best for their friends in high places and genuinely believe they are helping people, but that is not the same thing.

Also, they may want the best for the lobbyists that wine and dine them, and with whom they spend much more of their time than they do with members of the public.

I once spent half an evening with former MSP Rosie Kane in a pub in the south side of Glasgow and she told me that once she got in people like Coca-Cola were all over her. She said she was thinking “Don’t you even bother to read what party people come from?”.

Lesser-known is that those same lobbyists also spend a lot of time lobbying top civil servants directly and in this way can influence even the advice that ministers and MPs get from their officials.

Returning to the poster, I am sure that Tory plans have made the NHS worse and will make it worse yet. However, the mistake might be to think that they were ever designed to do anything else, or that they have any inclination to seriously listen to the objections of the public.

Wibble Wibble Wibble

The Free Presbyterians are worried about their position as one of the maddest groups of people in the country.

Although the Scotsman (sic) phrased in a rather sensational way, it is clear to see that some wingnuttery is still going on.

AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would weaken the position of the Christian Church and be a ‘provocation of God’, according to the Free Presbyterians.

Rev Allan MacColl, spokesman for the Scottish Free Presbyterians, known as the ‘Wee Frees’ said religion and morality were in a “terrible” state across Britain.

He added: “But present constitutional arrangements guarantee Christian religion in its position at the heart of the nation, and defends the position of the church and the Bible clearly teaches that.

“It is the duty of all nations to recognise the position of Christ church and any move away from that would not only be dangerous for the church, it is dangerous for the people.”

Speaking of the Independence referendum, the Rev MacColl added: “We are very uneasy about any move to secularise, or even change the existing arrangements.”

He said the church could not tell people how to vote in a referendum on independence, but could warn them

He added that independence would weaken the position of the Christian Church ‘at the heart of the nation’.

Rev McColl also said the Treaty of Union secured the Protestant religion and Presbyterian church and any change “would be a provocation of God”.

Although to me arguing about what angers god is akin to arguing about what colour fairies are, I suppose it is interesting that the defenders of the faith (just about all of them) are lining up to also be defenders of the Union.

What does that say about institutions in the (hopefully) soon-to-be extinct UK?

Teflon Superheroes

It comes as something of a shock to hear a somewhat reasonable discussion about independence.

I don’t agree with everything he says but here is an interview with an Englishman who lives in Scotland and now is in favour of independence, although he wasn’t initially.

The title comes from the guy’s best line and was his description of the type of people to be found at Warmongerminster, sorry, Westminster.


Striking Out

With UK strikes on the way and the media, as usual, only ready to focus on the disruption that may be caused and barely willing to focus on the reasons for it here are a few ideas, mostly in an American context but applicable to anywhere, taken from here, on the subject of striking that aren’t likely to get much play in the next few days…

[T]he strike is inherently dangerous to the rich, and to the corporations who have brought this country to her knees, because it is the only defense the ordinary citizen has.

Keith Olbermann, speech at Cornell University, March 29, 2011

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining… We demand this fraud be stopped.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

The governor can stop a strike any time. If I were the governor I would stop a strike by simply saying, “These men have a grievance and demand redress from you. Come and discuss these questions with the miners on the fair soil of America like intelligent, law-abiding citizens. If you refuse I will close up your mines. I will have the state operate mines for the benefit of the nation.” It is not right for public officials to bring scabs and gunmen into any state. I am directly opposed to it myself, but if it is a question of strike or you go into slavery, then I say strike until the last one of us drop into our graves.

Mother Jones, 1913

Never forget, people DIED for the eight hour workday.

Rebecca Gordon

The only thing workers have to bargain with is their skill or their labor. Denied the right to withhold it as a last resort, they become powerless. The strike is therefore not a breakdown of collective bargaining-it is the indispensable cornerstone of that process.

— Paul Clark, 1989

Orwell Was Wrong (Just Occasionally)

This article also features at Bella Caledonia.


I have been an Orwell obsessive since I was 11 years old when I read Down & Out in Paris & London. I was obviously too young to get all of it but I got a taste for his work early and it has stayed with me throughout my life. In fact, I know large sections of it by memory and went on a sort of pilgrimage to the house where he wrote 1984. Furthermore, I used to have a picture of him on my living room wall. It has now been moved to the office (or “smallest room” as it otherwise known) at the insistence of my girlfriend.

That doesn’t mean to say that I don’t think he was occasionally wrong (I’m even breaking one of his writing rules in the first half of this sentence just to see if anyone notices),  but I think most people would agree that he left an amazing body of work behind.

I have also, since a young age, been a firm supporter of Scottish Independence. That said, for a long time the use of the word ‘nationalist’ has sat uncomfortably with me. It is clear to anyone who looks that the Independence movement is not nationalist in the way Orwell described it in Notes on Nationalism

“Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

A very short and on the money general criticism of this essay came from the writer Philip Challinor when I interviewed him and he said…

I’ve never got patriotism at all. I mean I know Orwell approved of it but the essay he wrote about patriotism and nationalism is one of the ones I disagree with because I think the aspects of patriotism he disapproves of he has called ‘nationalism’, and the aspects of nationalism that he approves of he has called ‘patriotism’.

I don’t think Orwell could have been counted as a sympthathizer with regards to Scottish Independence. As far as I know the only time he talked about it in his writing was in the same essay…

“Welsh, Irish and Scottish nationalism have points of difference but are alike in their anti-English orientation. Members of all three movements have opposed the war while continuing to describe themselves as pro-Russian, and the lunatic fringe has even contrived to be simultaneously pro-Russian and pro-Nazi. But Celtic nationalism is not the same thing as anglophobia. Its motive force is a belief in the past and future greatness of the Celtic peoples, and it has a strong tinge of racialism. The Celt is supposed to be spiritually superior to the Saxon — simpler, more creative, less vulgar, less snobbish, etc. — but the usual power hunger is there under the surface. One symptom of it is the delusion that Eire, Scotland or even Wales could preserve its independence unaided and owes nothing to British protection. Among writers, good examples of this school of thought are Hugh McDiarmid and Sean O’Casey. No modern Irish writer, even of the stature of Yeats or Joyce, is completely free from traces of nationalism.”

There are so many ‘Orwell was right’ articles out there that it is refreshing to do an ‘Orwell was wrong’ one.  In the paragraph I quoted above there is a lot you can take issue with.

For example in the modern context, given that we now all live in the American Empire, and that in many ways the UK is now a satellite territory of the USA (or Airstrip One if you like), ideas about protection of independence simply don’t count. Furthermore, from a historical point of view you could point out that because the UK exists, Scottish Independence does not.

You could point out that there is a lunatic fringe everywhere. You might also say that, in the UK, the majority of the type of right-wing nationalism that he describes is to be found in England.

I think it is also clear that the charge of “power-hunger” doesn’t make a lot of sense. A power-hungry Scottish politician would head straight to London in order to work in the bigger, stronger unit and would not see the benefits in working in a smaller state.

I’ll leave it to others to talk about MacDiarmid, Joyce and O’Casey.

Time of writing is important here though. The first appearance of the Notes on Nationalism essay was in May 1945 so it is safe enough to assume it was written sometime before the end of the war. Orwell during the war had called for a type of “honest propaganda”. We can’t say for sure but maybe this is what he was attempting with the essay.

So in what he says above, I do think he was wrong. Nevertheless, I think people who want independence should be very careful about word choice as the “nationalist” label is still one that is occasionally used to deliberately create false perceptions about what is going on. If not that, then from ignorance of the real situation people immediately assume that because the word nationalist is there then something rightwing and nasty is afoot. The Orwell essay I have been talking about is frequently brought up in these discussions.

After so long it is always difficult to change a name but it might serve if more people would refer to it as The Independence Movement rather than the nationalist one. And what is more… The Independence Movement sounds sexier anyway.

Post Script

With this background I was rather surprised to come across a diary written by Orwell in Cranham Sanatorium in Gloucestershire a few months before his death.

Cranham, 17 April 1949
Curious effect, here in the sanatorium, on Easter Sunday, when the people in this (the most expensive) block of “chalets” mostly have visitors, of hearing large numbers of upper-class English voices. I have been almost out of the sound of them for two years, hearing them at most one or two at a time, my ears growing more & more used to working-class or lower-middle class Scottish voices. In the hospital at Hairmyres, for instance, I literally never heard a “cultivated” accent except when I had a visitor. It is as though I were hearing these voices for the first time. And what voices! A sort of over-fedness, a fatuous self-confidence, a constant bah-bahing of laughter about nothing, above all a sort of heaviness & richness combined with a fundamental ill-will—people who, one instinctively feels, without even being able to see them, are the enemies of anything intelligent or sensitive or beautiful. No wonder everyone hates us so.

New Video Channel

I have moved the little videos I made over to Vimeo because youtube were being very annoying. The Channel is here. Some of the political things that were on the other channel are already there but there will be more going on it including stupid things that aren’t political.I have put a modest example below called Across the Rio Tweed which is a deep analysis of what happens when you cross over from England to Scotland on the train on the East Coast Line…