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The fall guys 133

Posted on May 21, 2014 by

When I speak at independence events I introduce myself as the ‘token English guy’. It’s invariably received in the spirit it’s intended. Throughout my 18 years in Scotland, there’s always been plenty of banter, but pals from England have often asked if things sometimes go beyond the joking stage. Does it ever turn ugly?


I’ve always found this quite amusing, but it should always be remembered that there are many south of the border still convinced that Glasgow is three notches down from 1980s Beirut. Years of apocalyptic films and hard-man dramas have filled their souls with terror at the idea of getting off the train at Glasgow Central and walking fifty yards into the deadly streets outside.

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When co-operation becomes captivity 154

Posted on April 01, 2014 by

As alert Wings reader may recall, I work for a charity in the Borders. Our volunteer who does the Monday-morning food run up the Nith valley is away in Asia and Australia for a month, so my week now starts with a ride up the A76. The countryside is drop-dead gorgeous, particularly in the early morning when the newly risen sun paints the peaks of the hills all kind of glowing colours.


But the beaten up towns of the valley are like refugees. Only a few decades ago towns like Sanquhar and Kirkconnel had a genuine reason to exist. They mined coal. They helped keep everyone’s lights on. Then everything changed as Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill played out their poker game which eventually consigned places like Sanquhar and Kirkconnel to the scrap heap of history.

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A common enemy 124

Posted on September 19, 2013 by

[Over the coming months we aim to bring you the breadth and depth of the Yes vote under our “Perspectives” tag, because there’s no such thing as a “typical” Yes supporter. Yesterday we heard from 15-year-old Saffron Dickson. Today it’s the turn of one of the many English people living in Scotland who want out of the UK too.]

I saw a poll last week that gave the Yes campaign for an independent Scotland a 1% lead. The last time I looked, the No camp had had it by a country mile. Is this phenomenal turnaround any kind of surprise? Not in the slightest.

In an era of such abject political mediocrity, Alex Salmond stands out like a giant redwood among a field of saplings. It’s hard to imagine how far behind he would have to be for the No campaign to feel truly confident of success. A few weeks before the last Scottish Elections he was 20 points adrift, but when the ballots were counted he won by a country mile.


I’m no kind of betting man, but if I was, it would be a no-brainer as to where punt my cash. Not only is Salmond the standout politician of his generation in terms of getting ballots into boxes, the lineup who are going try to take him down aren’t even close to being in the same league. All of which makes it seem more than likely that Scotland will be its own nation in a year’s time.

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve now spent a third of my life up here as a “white settler”. I’m now a well and truly established immigrant. My English roots, though, don’t deny me the chance to have a vote on Scotland’s future and, unless something changes in a big way, that vote is almost certainly going to be Yes.

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