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Wings Over Scotland


Man bites watchdog

Posted on August 30, 2013 by

Having spent the best part of two years shining an unforgivingly critical spotlight on the Scottish and UK media, we can have no complaints when we come under the same sort of scrutiny. So we didn’t mind a bit when the right-wing Spectator columnist (is there any other kind?) Alex Massie had something of a swing at us yesterday in a no-punches-pulled column entitled “The Closing of the Nationalist Mind”.

amassie

The theme of the piece was the beastly manner in which awful cybernats, typified by ourselves, refuse to even countenance the other side of the argument. Ooft!

The case for the prosecution was this site’s handling of a Scotsman piece regarding eminent banker and economist Professor Brian Quinn. One stinging passage read:

“OK then! Alternative views that challenge nationalist (or Yes voters’) orthodoxy are inconvenient aren’t they? Why trouble yourself reading them? Waste of time, pal. Spare yourself heartache and misery by just ignoring them. Lalalalalalalalala, can’t hear you.

This, my friends, is what you might call The Closing of the Nationalist Mind.”

Now, it was sheer bad luck for the rakish and well-travelled reporter that even as he was writing that diatribe against our contemptuous dismissal of the reowned academic’s opinion (or more precisely Scotsman hack Bill Jamieson’s clumsily partisan interpretation of it), we were in fact finishing the edit of a much more serious analysis of Prof. Quinn’s comments, which went live mere minutes after Massie’s piece and necessitated the hasty (if slightly sour) addition of a disclaimer:

disclaim

And the fact that the existence of our second piece completely destroyed the entire premise of Massie’s article is just one of those unfortunate things that happens to writers from time to time. Even the best of us get overtaken by events now and again.

What we found a little more unfair, though, was to be lectured about not being prepared to listen to opposing opinions by someone we’ve been actively trying to engage in debate for almost a year and a half.

It was on the 7th of March 2012 that we first invited Alex Massie to participate in our (ill-fated, as it turned out) “Straight Debates” series, in which we sought to talk with all manner of people from all points on the independence spectrum in formalised and structured exchanges of views.

We were especially keen to get him involved, because for our money he’s easily one of the most thoughtful and insightful commentators on the Scottish politics scene, and because it would have been especially interesting to get a right-wing view of the possibilities and challenges of independence.

So we nagged away intermittently at the poor chap over the course of the next nine months, and sometime around Christmas he finally agreed.

massiemail

Then some more time passed, and in February this year we emailed a reminder, which got no reply. We had a few more tries at nudging him on Twitter, but met only with silence (not even a short polite “Sorry, I’m too busy” or “I’ve changed my mind”), and eventually, with no small measure of disappointment, we gave up on the idea.

We’re sure Alex has better and more profitable things to do with his time than spend it talking to closed-minded old separatists like us. That’s fine and dandy. But it seems a wee bit off to then start shouting the odds about how we’re the ones who don’t want to put our views to the test against people who disagree with us.

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    63 to “Man bites watchdog”

    1. handclapping says:

      I’m still trying to wade thro Darling’s Glasgow case for the Union but its all sharing either in the its good for us or the insurance sense. You could suggest that to Massie and see if he’ll defend it. All you have to do is polish up on New Harmony and the origins of the Plimsoll line and they’re toast.

    2. Murray McCallum says:

      It was very good of Wings Over Scotland to help this young man update his misleading article.

    3. Gillie says:

      Quote, Alex Massie, “Waffle and balderdash are part of the game”.
       
      The “game” being the debate about independence.
       
      When it comes to “waffle and balderdash” we have to acknowledge that Alex Massie is in a league of his own. 

    4. pmcrek says:

      I don’t think it would be unfair to point out that Mr Minto (a.k.a. Sneekyboy)’s article doesn’t just “discuss” but rather utterly dismantles the points Quinn and Jamieson were making to the point of revealing their opinions as farcical.

    5. Seasick Dave says:

      He looks like he could do with a good wash.

    6. Juteman says:

      I’m actually surprised at how civil the debate has been so far.
      We are in the middle of a war for a country. Hopefully it stays reasonably peaceful, but it is a war, make no mistake.

    7. callum says:

      I imagine that readers will be quite happy to pay his appearance fee.  Although, the Scotsman headlines the next day may implode into “YES supporters fund NO spokesman in YES/NO debate organised by YES sympathetic blogger”

    8. tartanfever says:

      Rev, you’re becoming a threat to them, not just a thorn in their side, but a full on serious no holds-barred kinda threat. People like Massie don’t like it.

      Journalism is for them, they own it apparently. They make make bleating noises about the virtues of twitter and facebook when it comes to personal pleas coming from civilians trapped in countries like Iran or China – but here in the UK it’s a different story. Social media is just full of ‘cybernats’ bleating on with their blinkered message of anti-English is the usual crap we get from these ‘professionals’.

      As we get closer to the vote it’s only going to get much.much worse, but you know that already. 

      I ventured onto Twitter last night to have a look at that SNP student chap at Edinburgh Uni thats been having a pop at you. What an insight reading his tweets. He likes getting drunk at the bowling club, thinks Lana Del Ray is a boy and has a propensity to type ‘YYYAAAAAASSS’ a lot. He displays photos of his belongings in his student digs as well ( is this really the latest craze ?)

      It’s not an experience I’ll repeat too soon and if anything just proved to me what a complete waste of time it is trying to have a conversation on Twitter. Handy for web links and the like sure, but not discussion.

    9. Gillie says:

      Quote, Alex Massie, on how to play the “game”,

      “There was dishonesty aplenty in the months before the invasion of Iraq and if both sides shared some responsibility for this there was, in retrospect, little doubt that the pro-invasion block was the more grievously culpable. Their arguments were, too often, more concerned with playing the man while ignoring the ball. I know this, at least in part, because I was happy to play the game that way myself. Like other supporters of the war I cheerfully labelled those who disagreed with my views “objectively pro-Saddam”. This was a bullying argument deployed to silence opposition and, where this could not be achieved, cast the worst aspersions on those who opposed toppling Saddam Hussein.” 

      Are we seeing Alex Massie playing the man once more?

    10. M4rkyboy says:

      I like Alex. He was on the Indy Podcast with Andrew and Michael and i thoroughly enjoyed that particular episode. He came across as likable and intelligent.

    11. Doug Daniel says:

      Yeah, been a bit disappointed with Alex Massie of late. He’s always seemed like he was one of the few pro-union commentators who was willing to at least acknowledge that independence wasn’t some crackpot idea, in fact I seem to recall him saying on the New Year “For A’ That” podcast that a part of him was pro-independence (think it was a case of the heart being nationalist but the head being unionist). But the last few articles I’ve read from him just seem like standard pro-union journalist fare (although still written far better than most).
       
      Maybe it’s just a phase or something.

    12. beachthistle says:

      “But, anecdotal as this particular example may be, it reinforces impressions fostered on other occasions and at other events recently. Namely, that many cheerleaders for independence spend as much and quite probably more time congratulating themselves on their sagacity than they do on talking to people who do not already agree with their views.”

      I hope Alex Massie remembers at least one recent occasion which broke that mould/his narrative – i.e. when he shared a few convivial drinks in an Edinburgh hostelry one afternoon last week with a cheerleader for independence – me, wearing my wee ‘Yes’ button-hole thingy. I was happy to listen to and argue with him – most memorably about his thesis that Scotland is inherently ‘illiberal’ (sic).

      I do agree with Alex however that it is not healthy, for either side, to stay within their bubbles, and I think we in the Yes movement have to make more of an effort to engage, get an early round in, etc. – not least because we have more to lose by not doing so, because at the moment the MSM narratives that to be Yes is to be the ‘Other’, and that we are the ‘chippy’ ones, are still prevailing/being believed…

    13. Jimbo says:

      “We were especially keen to get him involved, because for our money he’s easily one of the most thoughtful and insightful commentators on the Scottish politics scene…”
       
      In that case, it would certainly enhance the debate that the BT politicians seem keen to avoid. It would be great to read his positive case for the Union – If he can come up with one, and he doesn’t consider himself too grand to write for WOS.

    14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I do agree with Alex however that it is not healthy, for either side, to stay within their bubbles, and I think we in the Yes movement have to make more of an effort to engage”

      Well, heck, I tried.

    15. gordoz says:

      Scotland is full of Alex Massie apologists – “we simply couldn’t pull it off and the like”.

      “Don’t fix what’s not broken etc”. For me he totally misses the point and does not deserve the chances and opportunities that Independence could very well bring to all of our people. The likes of Alex may all very well be yesterdays men very soon by the result of a simple vote, (god willing)

      His work neither challenges or inspires me and to that extent I often find it very academically churlish and week. Fine if you are of his political persuasion and Scotland has been plagued by this kind of commentator for 3 centuries, but in true terms it really is a very lazy style to adopt; (go with the flow).

      An inspiring vision of the future Alex ? We’re still waiting, but then “we are the cynics” aren’t we ?
       

    16. Juteman says:

      OT.
      Did anyone listen to Broons Bubblings today?

      A member of the audience said the promise of more powers after a No was a lie. Later, one of the panel said that was a lie, as all the No parties were committed to more powers.

      It was noisy at work, so I couldn’t hear all the debate. Does anyone know which panel member stated that all the No parties were committed to more powers in the event of a No?

    17. Seasick Dave says:

      Time to leave the old mindsets behind and to imagine a new future for us and our descendants.

    18. beachthistle says:

      Well, heck, I tried.

      Aye, I know you did – and keep trying, although I suspect that as you become more successful numbers and funding-wise, there will be less appetite for rank-breaking-fearing MSM journos and/or politicos to engage with you..

      Anyway, I was mainly meaning those of us currently living in Scotland. Much easier to find non-virtual real-life NaeSayers when living  in Edinburgh etc. than in Bath – and I’m lucky/unlucky enough to meet a fair number of Edinburgh-based ‘professionals’, mainly through work, who are talking about voting No, even though (as becomes clear after a few minutes) they haven’t read much nor thought through all the issues and implications…

      My policy is always to engage with them, ask them (politely) outright ‘why?’, and quietly challenge them – even if I get tut-tutted by those around who say “it is not the ‘right time and place’ for politics”. I always ignore this/them and carry on – we on the Yes side are not getting our fair share of the ‘right time and place space’, and it looks like we never will, so we have to take what we can get/create!

    19. creigs1707repeal says:

      Aw diddums – is this really the best the BritNats can come up with – “You’re no’ listenin’ tae us?”
      That is only because we have heard all your bogus objections and flawed ‘arguments’ to iScotland a zillion times before. And debunked them to boot!
       
      YES Scotland.

    20. gordoz says:

      beachthistle says:
      We on the Yes side are not getting our fair share of the ‘right time and place space’, and it looks like we never will, so we have to take what we can get/create!
      Well put … but can’t abide Massie myself.

    21. Juteman says:

      “Anyway, I was mainly meaning those of us currently living in Scotland. Much easier to find non-virtual real-life NaeSayers when living  in Edinburgh etc. than in Bath ”
       
      ??

    22. AlexMci says:

      pmcrek says
      I don’t think it would be unfair to point out that Mr Minto (a.k.a. Sneekyboy)’s article doesn’t just “discuss” but rather utterly dismantles the points Quinn and Jamieson were making to the point of revealing their opinions as farcical.
      yep you got to love sneekyboy, he has an uncanny knack of doing just that, brilliant.

    23. Macart says:

      Closed mind set is it?
       
      It hasn’t occurred to Mr Massie that many of us who now wholeheartedly support independence spent years supporting other parties and a UK mind set? It didn’t occur to Mr Massie that its because some of us had open minds that we were willing to listen to another POV after years of awaiting positive forward thinking constitutional policy only to be let down time and again by our then politicians of choice? It also apparently didn’t occur to Mr Massie that perhaps years of closed minded neglect and condescension may have opened our minds to those other paths? Had we as closed a mind as Mr Massie appears to have we wouldn’t have a government worth a damn in Scotland. A government with courage enough to trust its electorate with the ultimate decision in constitutional direction.
       
      Had we closed minds we wouldn’t even have a bloody parliament in Edinburgh and the office of Secretary of State for Scotland would still be our loan voice (oh God). Mr Massie could do with maybe checking the mirror out if he’s looking for people blind and deaf to the opinions of others.
       
      Ah’ll give ye closed mind.

    24. Juteman says:

      Superb post, Macart.

    25. Macart says:

      @Juteman
       
      Cheers, but still pissed off at condescending eejits who seem to think that independence is some form of passing head cold. Take two tablets and we’ll get over it. Sick of people like him telling us how to think and because we choose not to listen to their bollocks, we’re the ones with the problem.
       
      Oh jeez, just noticed my spelling of lone. (doh)
       
      Mutter, f**king, mutter.

    26. Geoff Huijer says:

      Yes, this site’s ‘closed mind’ is amply verified by the
      moderation policy and barring of Unionist comments
      isn’t it?
       
      Er…oops…
       
      Kettle you’re black!

    27. When I saw the Quinn article, one of my first thoughts was that he must have had his fingers in his ears while going “Lalalalalalala” during the last time all of the same hypothetical tragedies and doom laden financial predictions had been thoroughly chewed up and spat out again.

    28. HandandShrimp says:

      When the No argument appears to consist of “Oh my god it is all too difficult and besides you are shite, you know you will fail” what the fuck is there to talk about?
       
      Oh I know every now and then Darling or Cameron will say “Of course Scotland could be a successful country it is just that I think we can bomb I mean do more together”. The very next day Ruthie or Willie will come out with some pish about Scotland making North Korea look like a prosperous liberal democracy. So no, there is no going la la la la, I’m listening and storing every word, every contradiction, every slight and every barefaced lie to use against them with malice of aforethought.

    29. HandandShrimp says:

      I have been mistaking Alex Massie for Alan Massie…any relation?

    30. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I have been mistaking Alex Massie for Alan Massie…any relation?”

      I believe the latter is the former’s dad.

    31. Tearlach says:

      Alan Massie – I have enjoyed his novels over the years, but I still remember with some anger a column he wrote in the Herald in the 80’s vigorously defending Tax “cheats” versus Benefit claimants. Blunt, unreconstructed US Tea party views. The sort of thing you would read on a Daily Mail column and sneer at, excpet the Herald printed it.
      This is what wiki says about him:-
       
      “Massie is one of Scotland’s most prolific and well-known journalists, writing regular columns for The Scotsman, The Sunday Times (Scotland) and the Scottish Daily Mail. He has been The Scotsman’s chief fiction reviewer for a quarter of a century and also regularly writes about rugby union and cricket for that paper. He has previously been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, the Glasgow Herald, and was the Sunday Standard’s television critic during that paper’s brief existence. He is also a contributor to The Spectator – where he writes an occasional column, Life and Letters – the Literary Review and The Independent. He has also written for the New York Review of Books.

      He is well known for advocating a Tory viewpoint, though this has been a losing battle given the decline of Conservative influence in Scotland (it is currently the third party). He was a leading, if lonely, campaigner against Scottish devolution and a critic of much of the legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament since it came into existence after the 1997 general election. His political views on devolution changed during the Thatcher years and he came to regret his support for the 1979 devolution referendum.”
       
      I’ll leave to make your judgment on father and son.

    32. Juteman:
      In answer to your question about Brians Big Debate today:
      It was Dr. Richard Simpson MSP, SLAB, who said “all 3 [BT] parties are committed to further devolution, so [the better together] website was not lying” I have the show recorded in MP3 format, it’s about 55 minutes in.
      Hope this helps.
      Sorry to be Off Topic.

    33. Stuart Black says:

      Regarding this silly wee boy that has been having a go on Twitter (look at me mammy, ah’m dancin’!), despite setting himself up as some kind of an interweb policeman he doesn’t appear to like people making comments on his blog, eh? Approaching 5 hours under moderation, perhaps he’s too busy reading the Guardian in Starbucks over a nice frothy cappuccino.
       
      Good of him to tweet to Hotherstall, Pat Kane et al, bringing his wisdom to their attention, nice to get a pat on the head son, isn’t it?
       
      I despair of clowns like this, and Higgins, and the rest, all too busy being right on and ultra PC to have even the slightest idea about the lives and thoughts of the average man and woman in the street, you know, these people out there who will actually win this thing for us. The big picture remains a barren hinterland to them, for focussing smugly on a smear of pigment in the top right corner and hugging themselves warmly in self-righteousness.
      Well named, by the way…

    34. Stuart Black says:

      Previous post is regarding Fraser Dick, for those unaware of his sniping at Rev Stu.
       
      Also seems obsessed with the 33k raised last year, but you can read about his views of Rev Stu, Wings, and ‘us’ in his blog entitled Forgive Me ‘Rev’, for I have sinned. Nah, I’m not posting a link. 😉

    35. AlexMci says:

      @Stuart Black, agreed mate. These folk don’t get the reality of this vote in 2014. They can’t seem to get the fact that people like myself are pretty scared about whats going to happen if Scotland votes No next year. I’m frightened about whether my children will be able to go to University if they are clever enough. Am I going to have to work till I die to fund them through it. It’s all right for selfish wee pricks like that and his twitter friends, who have already had their education funded by taxpayers like muggins here, but they are enjoying turning this into a sick wee game of oh look my comments are smarter than his, without a thought to real people scraping about trying to get through life with some semblance of happiness and security. They don’t really care whether the NHS up here goes the way of England , you can be sure they are all comfortable enough to fund their insurance payments. Well I can’t so what smart arsed, look  down their nose comment do they want to fire at me, I’m fucking fed up of all these arrogant arseholes pretending they are better than most of us because they speak wooly words and don’t upset people with harsh words. Well wee man if your reading this I would love to see you do a month in my world, lets see  whether you would still be so ready to not upset anyone, who knows not a jot about real life, or the very real fears us down here have.

    36. Alasdair Stirling says:

      Doug Daniel: ‘Maybe it’s just a phase or something.’
      No, it is just the realization that their careers end on the 19th of Sept 2014.  It focuses their minds just a trifle.

    37. annie says:

      Stuart Black – just checked out the blog by Fraser Dick – never was someone so aptly named, I  left a comment which is unlikely to be posted but at least he is in no doubt who I consider to be a more capable figurehead for an independence website.

    38. Stuart Black says:

      Alex, he couldn’t do a month in your world, he’d be greeting after 5 minutes. We rail against all these PPE Oxbridge types that do a stint as someone’s SPAD and then get parachuted into a safe seat at Westminster, with no fucking clue about how the world works for the majority, well it seems we have that type up here too, and this wee prick is a prime example.

    39. Stuart Black says:

      Annie, I left a comment myself – actually quite restrained for me – at 4.23 but it shows no signs of making it past moderation so far.
       
      It makes my blood boil when I see stupid little twats having a go at this site and its author, to me this is the most important site in the Indy debate, because it addresses itself to real people, raising real issues, and bringing liars and obfuscators to task in a way that NO other site is doing. And the viewing figures bear that out. I wonder what Mr Dick’s figures are? Who cares?
       

    40. Macart says:

      @Stuart Black & AlexMci
       
      They have no goddamn idea what its like to wonder if you can afford next weeks rent. Is it farmfoods this week or are we going upmarket to Lidls? That’s if you’re in a single earner household. Shear luxury.
       
      I’d love it if some of these self appointed watchdogs or condescending journos would walk a mile in our shoes. Just for a second view the corruption of political and corporate UK through the eyes of someone who shits themselves every time a DL envelope hits the deck. What’s the bill du jour? A corruption and ideal fostered by their preferred system of government. Perhaps opening one’s mind is exactly what’s required in this debate. Opening your mind to the possibility that you can have the country and governance of YOUR choice. That all it takes is confidence in yourself and your community, your fellow Scots, whatever their point of origin. If they want Scotland to succeed, then consider living in a country where the government answers directly to the electorate.

    41. Stuart Black says:

      Hi Macart, nice post at 6.36 by the way.
       
      Yes, I do believe that the sick apprehension as the mail is delivered is an emotion that these ‘self-appointed watchdogs’ have never experienced, and hopefully never will. However, it is a reality for a lot of people and it would be a breakthrough if more thought was given to those struggling to get through their daily life than the hand-wringing over the gender-confused that seems to take precedence to an alarming degree. Or are priorities old hat?
       
      Child poverty? We might spare some time for that after we’ve stamped out “transphobia”.

    42. Macart says:

      @Stuart Black
       
      Must admit to being a bit piqued since spying this Massie piece on Peter Bell’s scoop it the other day. I’m over the half century now and in my trade that makes you a poorly paid dinosaur. I haven’t had a pay rise in six years and the trade itself is in a bad way. Keeps you focussed on the readership figures *sweats*. My wife is self employed and we live in rented accommodation. Basically a wage and a half to raise a family. We’re in the black, (just) but we can afford to put a meat and two veg on the table most nights instead of junk these days.
       
      But me an missus Macart have known our share of bad times, unemployment, no name brands and balancing a rent on the head of a pin. When I hear or see some pillock lecturing others on how well off we all are and that we basically shouldn’t try for better, because it doesn’t get better than this? Well then its jaikets aff.

    43. Stuart Black says:

      Yeah, approaching 60 (far too rapidly for my liking) now, no pay rise in the last five years, and unemployed at the minute, but I must admit to being comfortable now, but I have lived through the bad times and I have enough empathy to be very concerned about what will happen to the majority of folk if we vote to remain under Westminster’s malevolent hegemony.
       
      There’s plenty on the opposing side to go jaikets off with, it’s particularly galling to find how many there are nominally on OUR side to do the same thing with!
       
      Any chocolate raisins left? 😉

    44. AlexMci says:

      @ macart and Stuart Black, can’t put it any better guys, this site is so good because someone like myself is welcome to express my feelings and views without feeling uncomfortable, and as I can do this on here and interact with all sorts of people from all walks of life is a testament to what the good Rev has set up here. At the wee night out a load of us had in Glasgow the other week opened my eyes to just how diverse the folk reading and commenting on here is, and it warmed my heart to know this. The people reading and commenting on this site are real, they are not just living in their own wee self obsessed world.

    45. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Regarding this silly wee boy that has been having a go on Twitter (look at me mammy, ah’m dancin’!), despite setting himself up as some kind of an interweb policeman he doesn’t appear to like people making comments on his blog, eh? Approaching 5 hours under moderation, perhaps he’s too busy reading the Guardian in Starbucks over a nice frothy cappuccino.”

      5 hours? Some of us are on 24 and still waiting 😀

    46. Macart says:

      Aye go on. (passes bag). 🙂

    47. Stuart Black says:

      Mmmm, chocolate raisins… 😀
       
      (Refuses to pass bag back)

    48. Macart says:

      @AlexMci
       
      Oh hell no! Before this referendum you wouldn’t have caught me anywhere near a constitutional/political debate. I had way more important priorities organising my chocolate raisin supply, fly fishing, single malts, and pulling a huge score on Galaga or Defender. But this is different, this one isn’t about the politicians, its about us and what we want. That’s worth getting interested I think.

      @Stuart

      Opens new bag. 😀 LOL

    49. Stuart Black says:

      Opens new bag. Brilliant! 😉
       
      (See’s it over then?)

    50. Stuart Black says:

      For what it’s worth, here is the so far un-moderated comment I posted on Mr Dick’s blog at 4.23 today:
       
      Well, I’m personally happy with the way he uses my money, and bringing the attention of media bias and outright lies from politicians, reported uncritically, seems a far more important service to the debate than the rather obsessive scrutiny that the Chelsea Manning stuff is getting. We’re trying to win a referendum here. Incidentally, does your vision of an independent Scotland have any room for some freedom of speech?
       
      It’s a tribute to my self-control (ha!) that I have managed to avoid editing the somewhat strange grammar, I tend to post in haste when in the grip of some strong emotion – normally anger 😉 – but that is the unedited version, interesting to see if it gets posted, along with Rev Stu’s and Annie’s comments.

    51. Hetty says:

      Sadly these oxbridge sorts don’t care about anyone else and are laughing at the poor, disabled and vulnerable. Basically they are immoral in supporting and creating such inequality in a rich country like the uk. In acting without morals, they are indeed deserving of contempt.

      Yes it is dreadful to think about what a ‘no’ vote would mean for ordinary people living in Scotland. Getting the correct info out to folk is crucial, it’s happening, many more are seeing sites like WOS and newsnet. It’s good to see, until the ‘no’ campaign can say anything at all positive about the ‘union’ for Scotland, they do not have a leg to stand on. People are thinking more for themselves and seeing the msm for what it is.

    52. Barontorc says:

      I could not believe my ears today when two guys, who I would have put clearly in the NO category, pushed forward the YES argument. I know for a fact that one is a Daily Mail reader and he said that you cannot believe a thing that’s printed in the papers. So, negative is, as negative does. This is a development quite unexpected and a forerunner that YES is in the bag.

    53. Patrick Roden says:

      @ Doug Daniel

       

      “Yeah, been a bit disappointed with Alex Massie of late. He’s always seemed like he was one of the few pro-union commentators who was willing to at least acknowledge that independence wasn’t some crackpot idea, in fact I seem to recall him saying on the New Year “For A’ That” podcast that a part of him was pro-independence (think it was a case of the heart being nationalist but the head being unionist). But the last few articles I’ve read from him just seem like standard pro-union journalist fare (although still written far better than most).
       
      Maybe it’s just a phase or something.”
       
      This was before Wings became a threat. Doug.
      Keep up the good work rev, we are winning this referendum!

    54. Muscleguy says:

      @AlexMci
      “I’m frightened about whether my children will be able to go to University if they are clever enough.”

      Already happening. There are not enough funded places at Scottish universities for the Scots who want to go, unless you live in the ‘right’ postcodes (meaning ‘deprived’). IF your kids and you live in the ‘wrong’ postcode it may well be that your kids will be disadvantaged.

      Mrs Muscleguy works in Student Recruitment and Admissions at an Old Scottish University, it is not at all clear how tertiary education can be run post Independence when they will lose the income from English, Welsh or Northern Irish domiciled students. At one point in this years clearing the ‘No More Scots’ sign went up (not in public but in effect). There were places open, for fee paying ‘foreigners’ but no more Scots.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m a DevoMaxer who has been persuaded/left with no choice (angry about it) but to vote Yes. But Education is being run through smoke and mirrors. Now it could be that all those lovely North Sea oil and gas revenues have been earmarked to fund Tertiary education in full, or maybe Islay’s whisky tax receipts. But we don’t know.

      Because, understandably, she fears for her employment my wife is very sceptical about Independence even despite being English. We both grew up in NZ so we know small countries can have successful economies and thriving and vibrant democracies (the Leader of the Opposition may soon be a gay man).

      More detail needed beyond ‘trust’ us please Mr Salmond. An acknowledgement that the issue is taken seriously in Holyrood and a solution is being sought would be good.

    55. tartanfever says:

      Muscleguy – liked your post, but don’t understand the position on education.

      Agreed, it’s not ideal, and financial pressure will grow as it always does on the education sector. But the choice is what we have now or vote no and in a few years time see fee introductions at all Scottish universities on a par with England.
      Ask your wife what her choice is and let us know?

      Also, that ‘detail’ you require to make your vote choice, where exactly do you go looking for the info ? There’s plenty out there on the various pro-independence websites, including the SNP and the Yes campaign. The reality of it is that Independence will not be easy, but neither will staying in the UK – it’s not an easy transition to some kind of nirvana but will require work, some sacrifice but have no doubt we will get there. Just don’t expect all the answers to be handed to you on a plate, thats not realistic.

    56. Murray McCallum says:

      Muscleguy

      An interesting post and I agree there needs to be a clear long term plan for state funded education in Scotland. You would hope the centre left parties in Scotland could all agree this? I personally think the Scottish public would buy into our taxes funding such a long term plan.
      As a parent living in England my eldest child will be subject to the £9,000 per year tuition fees from Sep 2014 (I hope they don’t increase again and that grants remain available).
      My feeling is that a community sense of the greater good has been diminished in England since tuition fees were introduced by New Labour and then vastly escalated by the ConDems. Why should anyone fund another child’s education? Once such fees reach such a high value it will be very difficult to reverse this trend.
      I think you are right to seek clarity on policy. For me the greater risk is staying within the UK, being forced to narrow policy differences (which the UK austerity policy is likely to require) and ultimately ending up with an elitist university education system.

    57. Angus McPhee says:

      “At one point in this years clearing the ‘No More Scots’ sign went up (not in public but in effect). There were places open, for fee paying ‘foreigners’ but no more Scots.”

      You do know that clearing is the last chance option for those who have either not been accepted by their first choice(s) or dithered and stuck in a last minute application, AND/OR the institutions try and fill up the courses nobody wanted to do. The gates  have to come down at some point and the appropriate point has to give enough time to actually process applicants before the academic year starts. ( that being in less than two weeks time) Frankly if you can’t get your act togeaher to apply when you are supposed to apply, perhaps University isn’t appropriate.

      * Discalamer … I am in receipt of funding for a MSc place and live in Glasgow’s West end.

    58. Jeannie says:

      Re university fees, I think I read somewhere that the right to free education might be considered within a Scottish constitution.  Also, SNP policy is stated as no tuition fees.  However, the SNP might not be in power, so without a guarantee in the constitution, any other party getting elected to Holyrood might change that policy.
       
      In addition, the question of who is in and not in the EU in the future will also, presumably,  affect available funding. 
       
      However, the question of availability of university places is more difficult to ascertain – it can, for instance, depend on the subject – some are more popular than others and fill up more quickly.  Some depend on very high grades, so fewer people qualify to get on them.  Not every student wants to leave home to go to University, so may only seek a place locally or within reasonable commuting distance, placing greater pressure on some universities rather than others, some students have to work and therefore only apply to go to city universities.  Some universities specialise in certain areas.  In other words, it’s not just a question of the amount of availability of student places overall, or the availabilty of adequate funding.  It’s also down to the particular needs and choices the students make.  I used to work in an inner-city uni, which was largely filled with students from Glasgow, the Lanarkshires, the Ayrshires, the Dumbartonshires, with a smattering of students from Northern Ireland, but very few from further afield, so not much pressure from foreign students.  The student body of the “old” university along the road was much more diverse.
       
      I’m sure I read something recently about this and the body in charge of it insisted that Scottish students were not being disadvantaged, but I just can’t remember where I saw it – might have been something on tv.

    59. gordoz says:

      Muscleguy says:

      @AlexMci
      “I’m frightened about whether my children will be able to go to University if they are clever enough.”

      Mrs Muscleguy works in Student Recruitment and Admissions at an Old Scottish University, it is not at all clear how tertiary education can be run post Independence when they will lose the income from English, Welsh or Northern Irish domiciled students.

      Sorry guys but from a ‘non-elitest University’ perspective this is utter tosh. We are working in devolved situation a moment. With independence things will change – but if anything they will improve. We could not fill the places during entry on vocational / professional degree programmes at 1st yr. You should be looking at the advice they are getting from the schools …. 19 students did not accept offered places … why not ? Students are still picking elitest programmes at University that lead nowhere; thats what should be targetted.

      “it is not at all clear how tertiary education can be run post Independence when they will lose the income from English, Welsh or Northern Irish domiciled students.” 

      So they are all to be barred  – news to me ? 

      Its still cheaper to study a given degree (including accom /living costs) in a Scottish University that it is in rUK.

    60. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “So they are all to be barred – news to me ?”

      I believe the point is that if Scotland is independent, Scottish universities will no longer be allowed to charge students from the rUK. They’ll have to be treated the way students from the rest of the EU are now, ie no fees.

    61. AlexMcI says:

      @ muscle guy, strange you say this but today I was having a conversation with my dad, he was saying my sister who is not employed at the moment had been offered a place at a university in Glasgow to do a social care degree but she doesn’t know whether she will be able to do it, apparently the want £4000 for her tuition. I told him that can’t be right and they should look into this as its a cast iron thing that she should get education free. After reading your post I’m worried I may have gave him false info. Anyone else heard of this happening. She is 36 years old if that makes a difference. If this is true I will be bloody disgusted.

    62. Murray McCallum says:

      AlexMcl
      May be best to call the Uni direct.  However, the attached guide for mature students may help
      http://view.vcab.com/?vcabid=cneSpclcScraalc
      As far as I can see (page 4 of the guide) the fees are paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) directly to the university.  The SAAS website is at
      http://www.saas.gov.uk/index.htm
      I suspect it may be to do with timing and having your application in by end of June.  However, I see from the SAAS website you can still apply after that date but the funds may not be in place for the start of your course.

    63. AlexMcI says:

      @ Murray McCallum ,thanks for that , I will pass it along to her.As I say I can’t understand how she won’t get help with her funding, I have just started an HNC construction management at nights, and the college has just sent my application to SAAS the other day, although my fees for the year are only around £700, I should only be paying around £70 myself. And that’s with me working full time, again thanks for your help.



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