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Wings Over Scotland

A breath of outside air

Posted on April 18, 2014 by

When you’ve been wading in the Scottish and UK media for two and a half years, it’s easy to develop a siege mentality and believe that the entire rest of the world buys into its cataclysmic view of independence. So it’s a relief when you realise that beyond the borders of Britain, most people are calm, rational and practical about the prospect.

We’re going to take things a little bit easy over the holiday weekend, so why not relax and both read the article we’ve linked in paragraph 1 and watch the above discussion between some learned international gentlemen (including Scotland’s own Professor James Mitchell) at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC for a slightly less apocalyptic view of a world with an independent Scotland in it?

PS We’d advise skipping forward 10 minutes or so at around 55m when some Irish bloke pops up and starts talking about accession. He doesn’t half go on. On the other hand, it’s fun to watch the Catalan panellist (on whom the camera remains the whole time) go through all sorts of agonies wondering whether he’ll ever shut up, to the point where he actually starts trying to pull his own face off.

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    1. 18 04 14 14:26

      A breath of outside air | FreeScotland

    52 to “A breath of outside air”

    1. Steven Duncan says:

      Take the time to relax , enjoy and recharge your batteries Rev. Fully deserved for the amount of work you do.

    2. sionnach says:

      Yes, a well-earned rest. I do hope those batteries are Duracell: you’re going to need them in the next few months!

    3. Colin Mccartney says:

      How refreshing to listen to a well reasoned and sensible discussion at last.

    4. John H. says:

      I hope you have a nice relaxing weekend Rev. God knows you deserve it.

    5. Andrew Morton says:

      Take the Separats to the beach.

    6. Susan says:

      Could we have a picture of the Rats?

    7. AlbaYes says:

      I wish mcbully would take a rest
      Scottish Regionalism

      no wonder this clown doesnt allow comments

    8. Elspeth says:

      I know, this is an old one. But … really nice to enjoy it again, with a cup of coffee (and maybe even a biscuit)?

      You’ll have to put the www prefix thingy in – I’m not sure what I need to leave out when posting something from youtube.

    9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “You’ll have to put the www prefix thingy in – I’m not sure what I need to leave out when posting something from youtube.”

      Just the http:// bit.

    10. heedtracker says:

      The rUK would be “marginally less” in that article signifies the common sense real world future for England. it’s just a shame that they can’t even begin to contemplate it. Or they can but how will Westminster and the House of Lords stop progressive liberal England demanding even similar PR Holyrood democracy? How will they maintain UK’s grotesque inequality and slave wage, low skills economy with WMD’s they can never fire and new royal baby billionaire prince currently on tour in OZ?

    11. CameronB says:

      I suppose I will have to accept James Mitchell, Professor of Public Policy Politics and International Relations at the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, doesn’t understand the factors that lead to Scotland’s public services costing more per head to deliver than elsewhere in the rUK. Then for him to suggest the allocation of Block Grant does not take account of these considerations. I am truly astonished.

      @ Duncan Hothersal
      If you are claiming you are a socialist and believe in One Nation values, can I call you a National Socialist?

    12. CameronB says:

      P.S. I didn’t spot the exact time he made this comment, but it was in the Q&A, in response to the question concerning what the current responsibilities of the SG are, and whether we have electricity and running water on the same days. Towards the end. He also failed to mention Scotland has an independent NHS, instead suggesting we have devolved powers of responsibility.

      Anyone know who’s side he is on?

    13. Juteman says:

      I honestly can’t understand how anyone
      that believes in democracy could vote no.
      Would any Glasgow cooncilur of a Labour persuasion think it was a good idea if their city was run by Inverness?

    14. CameronB says:

      Well apparently, James Mitchell’s “primary interest at the moment is in public service reform following a period serving as a member of the Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services.”

      I wonder if his ‘mistake’ have anything to do with his Fellowip of the Royal Society of Edinburgh?

    15. Brian Powell says:

      The Catalan/Spanish speaker who said he was heartened to be told by James Mitchell that the debate was ‘gentlemanly’ was very badly misinformed.

      Though we are aware it is likely to get worse from the Together camp.

    16. Gayle says:

      Westminster governments have been generous to Scotland? Has he been inhaling something he ought not to have?

    17. Muscleguy says:

      I actually thought the Catalan guy was much more interminable than the the guy talking accession of international bodies. The Catalan guy just would not get to the bloody point. I know us academics are notorious for endless caveats but he took the biscuit.

    18. Muscleguy says:

      In terms of membership of international bodies I think the situation will be much more complex but easier than he thinks because of the corpus of Scottish Law. Treaty after treaty and membership after membership have been ratified into Scottish Law. They may not have got around to ending feudal landholding but every change got incorporated by the Scottish Grand Committee as a matter of course.

      So just as the Acquis Communitaire has been completely incorporated into Scottish law so have lots of other things. And just as kicking us out of Europe will cause widespread unnecessary chaos so us not remaining a member of various bodies will be a harder thing than us staying. Otherwise you have the anomaly of a country that is not a member of X, Y and Z yet meets all the criteria and is fully in legal compliance with membership.

    19. BuckieBraes says:


      ‘Would any Glasgow cooncilur of a Labour persuasion think it was a good idea if their city was run by Inverness?’

      Come to think of it, it might be quite a good idea for Glasgow to be run by Inverness, right enaff!

    20. Murray McCallum says:

      Thanks for putting this video up. Enjoyed watching it.

      Given recent history, and listening to the Spanish / Catalan guy, you can’t help but be worried the way things are going there. Hopefully there will be some reasonable compromise.

      I didn’t mind the Irish bloke. Regarding some of the original signatories to the UN – I just wish some opportunist Scottish bloke had been around to say “I’ll sign it!”

    21. Appleby says:

      The article is refreshing, but it needs some comments from the pro side to help balance out the doom-mongers, including one that even agrees with George Robertson’s lunatic speech!

    22. Alba4Eva says:

      My first issue with the content comes at 12:30mins in. The first speaker is talking about quote “4 key components of the Scottish question”. The first ‘key component’ he discussed was ‘Identity’. He then moves onto his second ‘key component’ of ‘The constitutional question’… but it takes but 10 seconds before he reverts to his first issue of ‘Identity’ @ 12:40mins in…

      quote; “The UK has never EVER tried to impose a uniform identity across Britain. It has never intended to get rid of Scottish Institutions, to replace Scottish identity.”

      It hasn’t? Really?

      Understanding and being exposed to media propaganda myself, which is fully for pro-assimilation of the Scottish identity into the UK identity, I can’t agree with that point.

      His point becomes yet more confusing, when a few minutes later in his speech, he acknowledges that the UK establishment media are fully on the Better Together side. He didn’t seem to make the link though!

      I have a couple of other issues with the content, and will probably make a few more posts between the beers in the sun. 🙂

    23. Appleby says:

      The idea that a uniform identity hasn’t been attempted to be enforced on us is an insane and outright lie. From bans on Scottish cultural identifiers in the past to more modern times when all hints of Scots tongue was deliberately stamped out of school and people told it was “wrong, improper and mere slang”. All part of enforcing the idea that Scotland was the poor neighbour culturally and financially and that we were second class compared to our greater neighbours. All conquering empires trying to hold on to their land have attemped the same thing, to force their culture on others to suppress the natives and make them feel so inferior they won’t rise.

    24. rab_the_doubter says:

      Interested to see that the CBI, without consulting its membership, has registered with the electoral commision as supporting the No vote.
      Surely this undemocratic decision without consultation can’t be legal, after all, unions need to consult their membership about strike action.

    25. Thepnr says:

      O/T A wee update on the Wings Big Night Out(R)in Dundee 9th May.

      Have listened to various voices re cost of drinks, mingling with joe public ect so have spoken with the manager of Jolly’s Hotel in Broughty Ferry. This is a Weatherspoons pub that just recently reopened at the start of this month.

      There are 25 bedrooms too at reasonable prices, I did ask for a deal but the manager answered “our prices are quite fair” but anyway it’s an option for those who may want to stay over.

      This is not in Dundee city centre but only 10 mins in a taxi, more like the West end of Glasgow. A popular area for a night out in Dundee. They will be happy to host us on 9th May although he wouldn’t reserve an area for our soul use.

      He did show me where we could be accommodated and it is ideal for maybe up to 60 people.

      I’ll put more info re getting there for folk from out of town over in Off Topic. Hope to see you there.

    26. bjsalba says:

      For an American institution 30% funded by congress and 70% raised from private sources it was not bad. However, as might be expected from the Washington chattering classes it was a bit lopsided. Whilst no-one was flagrantly pro-union all the old well roasted chestnuts were pulled out with no rebuttal. If they were a real research organization they would have had a full range of opinions.

      That they got away with it unchallenged is evidence that the USA is as ignorant of Britain as Britain is of the USA. I say that because I worked in the USA for over two decades and in all that time I never once heard mention of the “special relationship” which gets so much press here.

      I’ve asked a couple of NY friends what they know about the Scottish referendum – apart from the fact that I am spending time on it – nothing at all.

    27. Les Wilson says:

      Having watched the whole thing I am pretty sure where Mitchell’s allegiances lay. While in most cases he sort of fudges issues. He also of course while making excuses says he thinks NO will win. Positive stuff er not!. For me stated his intentions.

      The other point might have been a better balance in the debate as while they are meant to be speaking impartially they actually don’t, by and large. The usual oh so many problems.Where did the ever consider what people in Scotland think?, why this is happening at all. We have grievances but few if any were aired.They were even quoting the Andrew Marr show/ Barroso! We are also a Union of countries, not a new one or a breakaway. We were and are a country, but without our rights.

      Also, Scottish independence is entirely different from Catalonia, it is legal for a start. They did say it is a unique situation but could not really give any answers.
      Kinda depressing stuff as usual.We need more uplifting an positive things that will spur us on even more.

    28. Gayle says:

      The Welsh guy did my head in. He seems oblivious to the fact that the UK is a treaty signed by only Scotland and England, which would be dissolved by Scottish independence. The guy talking about the Barnett Formula, identity and Scottish government responsibilities was misrepresenting various aspects and lying about others. All in all it was a very pro union panel which could have been better served by having a better selection of panelists that would have given balance to the debate.

    29. Alba4Eva says:

      At 15:30mins in, still the first speaker, quote; “If Thatcher put £100 in Scots back pockets, they would still resist and think something was wrong.”

      …we wonder why eh?

    30. CameronB says:

      I’d better not mention then, that Woodrow Wilson was a controversial US President, because of his public support for white supremacy and his links with the KKK. 😉

    31. jingly jangly says:

      Have a good wee break Stu, you deserve it and more.

    32. Alba4Eva says:

      Les Wilson, regarding the Barroso issue and NATO membership, the following was telling for its’ absence from the debate (timeline permitting)…

    33. CameronB says:

      P.S. As well as his involvement in several notable world events. It is not as if the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is an impartial institution.

      According to wiki., Jane Harman is the current President, and CEO of the Wilson Center. In American terms she could be described as a wet liberal, though in 2007, as a U.S. Congressional Representative, she felt that although the Armenian genocide deserved recognition, it was not a good time to embarrass Turkey, given that country’s role in moderating extremism in the Middle East.

    34. John Jamieson says:

      Like Murray McCallum I didn’t mind the Irishman’s contribution. Onthe other hand the Catalan’s concentration on the Spain/Catalonia situation was tedious and largely irrelevant and his voicing of his personal preference on Spain/Catalonia (he was opposed to Catalan independence) highly unprofessional. His insistence on having the opportunity to respond to the first question (about Scotland and the EU) and then boring on about Catalonia should have been picked up by the chairman.

      At one point Jim Mitchell drew the distinction between the Union of Crowns and the Union of Parliaments: I think he should have taken the opportunity to explain the nature of the Union and its foundation by international treaty between Scotland and England. In my view it would have helped the audience to understand the referendum in terms of the potential dissolution of the Anglo-Scottish union. The failure to do so meant that the discussion was couched entirely in terms of “secession” and Scotland “leaving” the UK.

      A discussion that included consideration of the alternative scenario of two succcessor states would have been much more interesting.

    35. rab_the_doubter says:

      Have a chilled out and relaxing weekend. We need you on top form for the forthcoming S**tstorm which I’m sure is heading our way.

    36. orkers says:

      Small ‘c’ conservatives my arse Mitchell.

      You live in a different Scotland than the rest of us and by god you love the sound of your own voice.

    37. Seneca says:

      Obviously, we are faced daily with the negative campaigning style of BT. From a debate perspective, it’s becoming comical and is backfiring, but it remains frustrating since it is intended to deceive the Scottish electorate.

      Therefore, anything that helps to define their underhand tactics just a little more clearly, is useful, imo. This may be stating the obvious to many, but there is a point raised at 1:25:25, by Robert Moran of the US based communications firm, The Brunswick Group.

      He says that he’s not an expert on the Scottish debate, but as a general observation, US pollsters commonly agree that the yes side of any ballot initiative always has the steeper hill to climb and that the no side is always easier to run. You just need to raise enough fear, uncertainty and doubt to win.

      If the indisputability of this principal were to become commonly understood amongst Scots voters, it may help them to see through the propaganda and potentially become angered by it.

      Sorry if this is boringly obvious, but it seems that much of the public hasn’t yet registered this point.

    38. Alba4Eva says:

      Good, we are all unanimous then… A bunch of the ‘academic class’ in Washington, USA is not going to have any bearing whatsoever on the ‘Scottish Question!’.


    39. Cris Thacker says:

      Have a good break Rev Stu. You deserve it.

    40. john king says:

      Two companies have quit the CBI in protest at its support for the no campaign, saying ” the CBI does not represent its members veiws”
      the wind is changing guys.

    41. Les Wilson says:

      Caesar!4Eva says:

      Yes, I knew that, gave me a hearty chuckle! Thanks though !

    42. Les Wilson says:

      john king says:

      That is good to know John, hope many other do the same.

    43. Robert Peffers says:

      Face it this lot are spouting misinformed claptrap.
      Each and every international body has two main concepts. Common interests of member states and the desire to expand that membership to protect their common interest.

      So just why would any of them decide to take sides between the bipartite United Kingdom’s two former partners? These two formed The United Kingdom by a Treaty of Union that clearly only united two KINGDOMS? The clue is in the title, UNITED KINGDOM.

      It means that what was united were the two signatory kingdoms as one. There are also the documents, The Statute of Rhuddlan & The Crown of Ireland Act that prove beyond doubt that both Wales and Ireland were annexed and thus part of The Kingdom of England when the Treaty of Union was signed.

      No other Kingdom has ever joined The United Kingdom and thus, when the United Kingdom disunites, there will be a return to the two signatory kingdoms. All international bodies will just tell both former partners they are continued members subject to renegotiastion of terms.

      They then retain both former partners as full members. Why would they decide to lose one when they can retain both?

    44. goldenayr says:

      Have to agree with most of the posters.Why do they insist that Scotland will be a new country but England won’t?

    45. Alba4Eva says:

      Here is a final comment on the video…

      The Catalan/Spanish/American guy states at 1:15:20; “There hasn’t been, arguably, a change in borders in western Europe since WW2″… He says the one exception he can think of is “The referendum in the Tzar”.

      …he obviously forgets about German re-unification… Czechoslovakia splitting into Slovakia and the Czech Republic… the breaking up of Yugoslavia… the Baltic States.

      What he is suggesting is that the above video just stops at where we are in the present day?

      …ps watch Scotland. If ever there was historical evidence of legitimate Scottish nationhood, the vid amplifies it.

    46. Alba4Eva says:

      Sorry, that last video link I posted was amazing… it was French, but a comment came up with “Video not available in your country” (then the link was wrong?)… but I have a substitute here (almost the same vid, but not quite as well done or detailed)… but OK none the less.

    47. Anonymous says:

      What a complete waste of time. This is such a non-issue in the USA. Most Americans couldn’t locate Scotland on a map. Those that have even heard of the place probably did so in Braveheart and Pixar’s Brave. Scotland has a 50th of the population of the USA. I bet you the audience in that conference wasn’t much bigger than the panel.
      The Scottish referendum will come and go unnoticed by the USA and the World, whatever its outcome.

    48. Brian Powell says:

      I have often commented on the 10% who do not want a Scottish Parliament at all; this figure strengthens the Yes argument by a large degree, as most wanted the old devomax or Independence.

      This part of the No vote should be emphasised whenever possible in the debate.

    49. Edward says:

      I see Peterkin in the Scotsman has ever so slightly twisted the CI story stating that Business for Scotland ‘were angered’ by the CBI supporting the no campaign and registering with the electoral commission, instead of the fact that Business for Scotland forcing CBI to register.

      Peterkin has a history of only having a passing interest in writing facts

    50. Croompenstein says:

      @Anonymous – Please, please tell George Robertson

    51. deewal says:

      So the educated gentlemen at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC are as informed as the guy round the corner from me who doesn’t even know when the Referendum is or even more scary what a Referendum is. And Mitchell is a Unionist.

    52. ScotsCanuck says:

      … the Catalan panelist announced himself as “Spanish & Catalan” … similar to a North British Scot perchance ?

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