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Wings Over Scotland



We need to talk about the oil 255

Posted on January 21, 2017 by

The link between the rise of modern Scottish nationalism and the production of North Sea oil is pretty indisputable. Both took off in the early seventies, with that decade’s campaigns powered by the slogan “It’s Scotland’s Oil” and it’s still a given in media circles that the desirability or even the feasibility of Scottish self-government depends principally on the spot price of Brent crude.

I’ve always found that argument a bizarre one, firstly because it takes no account of people’s emotional attachments to either the UK or Scotland, and secondly because as this site has repeatedly pointed out Scotland is both a producer and consumer of hydrocarbon fuels, so low or high prices are neither an unalloyed good or an unalloyed bad thing for her citizens.

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What is incontestable is that the revenue from 45 years of North Sea production has not been well managed by the United Kingdom in comparison to the other states who have benefited from this bounty.

So far so uncontentious.

Outside of constitutional questions, party politics in Scotland revolves around health, education and jobs, with every party more or less in favour of all three. But what if there was an existential threat not just to this trinity but to our entire way of life? Where would that fit in to our politics?

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The unhappy 11% 299

Posted on September 18, 2016 by

The Sunday Times has a new Panelbase poll out today, and it borrows a question that was first asked by this website (via the same pollster) 14 months ago. These were the results this month:

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They broadly show little change from when we asked last year (for the five options the changes are +1, 0, -3, +8 and -5), suggesting that the main practical upshot of the EU referendum campaign was to halve the number of Don’t Knows, which was achieved by shifting almost all of them straight onto the Leave side with the Remain camp’s abysmal recreation of Better Together’s “Project Fear”.

Nevertheless, the chart is a fascinating and pertinent one. Because while there’s only one of the four non-DK groups in the list who definitely can’t get what they want, there’s another one whose decision will be a lot harder than Yes supporters would like.

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Soapbox: From your tether unwind 333

Posted on January 23, 2016 by

Governments, of all political stripes and nations, are often accused of being control freaks bent on constructing and enforcing a “nanny state”, where citizens’ freedoms are arbitrarily curtailed under a pretence of it all being for their own good.

Things from banning smoking and routinely snooping on private emails to forbidding people from wearing certain types of hats or expressing unpopular opinions (or even popular ones simply deemed unacceptable by a self-selecting elite) are justified for all sorts of social and economic reasons.

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But where, if anywhere, should the line be drawn?

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Unscheduled day off 269

Posted on October 10, 2015 by

Because this isn’t the fairer, better, equal Scotland we’re fighting for.

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See you tomorrow, readers.

The Tory who voted Yes 211

Posted on August 08, 2015 by

“In an independent Scotland, we’ll never have to worry about Tory governments again”, said the man on my doorstep, his YES badge gleaming in the sunshine.

“I am a Tory,” said I, watching with some amusement as the man’s jaw dropped.

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“But I’ll still be voting Yes,” I added.

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The end really is nigh 146

Posted on July 18, 2015 by

This week, as the UK’s new Conservative government brought forward a bill to impose tax on renewable energy projects, just seven Labour MPs turned up to oppose it.

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You know these guys that you used to see wandering round the city centre with a sandwich board telling us “THE END IS NIGH”? It seems they were right.

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Soapbox: On A Boat 70

Posted on June 28, 2015 by

I was on my way to work in London the other morning when I heard someone talking on his mobile phone. He was a white English man in his thirties, wearing builder’s gear, presumably on his way to work too. We were heading in the same direction, so I listened to his end of the conversation as we walked along.

He was in mid-rant when I first clocked him, complaining about drug addicts and alcoholics living on benefits, while he had to get up and go to work. “I’m on my way to work too,” I thought, and the only thing that bothers me about the thought of drug addicts and alcoholics lying around at home or still asleep on the streets is the utter waste of human lives it involves.

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But of course, I was on my way to a job I love, and even though I would happily write comedy whether or not I was paid for it, I’m guessing that my job probably pays a lot more than his does. And from the tone of his voice, I don’t think he was looking forward to his day’s work nearly as much as I was looking forward to mine.

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Soapbox: The Hangman’s Lottery 351

Posted on February 14, 2015 by

In September 2011, a group of US state employees took a man called Troy Davis from his prison cell in Atlanta, Georgia to a small room and strapped him to a gurney. They inserted a needle into one of his veins, hooked it up to some tubes connected to a machine and pressed a button on the machine, knowing that it would cause lethal chemicals to be pumped into his bloodstream until he died of asphyxiation.

These people – every one of whom doubtless considered themselves an ordinary, decent, caring member of society – participated willingly in the killing despite knowing that there was an enormous degree of doubt as to whether Davis was in any way responsible for the death of the man in whose name he was being executed.

Bafflingly, very few people found this behaviour at all odd.

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Soapbox: Happy hours 371

Posted on February 07, 2015 by

So, an experiment. Here on Wings we don’t tend to deal very much in specific political issues, other than independence. We’re not aligned to any party, and our primary goal is to see Scotland become a national democracy in which all voices can be heard. We happen to be on the left of the political spectrum, but that’s neither here nor there while Scotland’s politics are at the mercy of the whims of voters elsewhere.

But just for a change of pace at the weekends, when there tends not to be much happening, we thought we might try having a space where broader ideas can be debated outwith the framework of the constitutional debate or party politics. If there’s something you’d like to talk about in front of a sizeable audience, drop us a line.

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To give you an idea of what we mean, we’re going to start off by outlining a personal pet idea we’ve had for years, and which is an attempt to tackle one of Scotland’s most toxic problems – alcohol abuse. It’s a simple concept, it’s cheap to implement, it doesn’t punish the innocent and it seems like it’d work. See what you think.

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