Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 344

Issue # 344                                                                    Week ending 16th  April 2016

Could These Tales of Yellow Submarines Off Uig Be True? By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

People can be doing hugely interesting things and it can be years before their friends and neighbours actually discover what they are up to. We can all miss the details and then be shocked when we do find out. One such project is at Gallan Head at Aird Uig on the west of Lewis.

When I was growing up in Great Bernera, it was an eerie place we could see in the distance across Loch Roag. A piece of land jutting out into the Atlantic, through our cheap binoculars and plastic telescopes we could see it bristled with tall aerials and military installations, often washed down by huge waves.

With every retelling the local theories mushroomed. Some said there were wartime prisoners still incarcerated. Some said they were testing dangerous medicines by spiking the dinners of unsuspecting Uigeachs. Heck, that would explain a lot. Others even said they could talk to submarines under the sea from there. Imagine, talking to submarines? We couldn’t afford a telephone to talk to Angus Alex, our neighbour.  Then something happened.

So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine

Maybe that ditty by a popular beat combo at the top of the hit parade was about people living in submarines on the seabed in Loch Roag? To young fertile imaginations, there was little doubt. Oh, the hours we spent with those spyglasses up the hill in Tobson looking for even a hint of yellow in those roaring brreakers. We had to find out what the Liverpudlian musicians knew.

Everyone heard of people who worked at RAF Aird Uig who had been warned not to talk about work. What was going on? I remember as a wee balach in my torn cardigan, short trousers and ill-fitting wellington boots helping to cut peats by the Uig road one summer and seeing a large convoy of RAF vehicles with unsmiling drivers snaking past and heading for Stornoway.

They were from Aird Uig and that was probably the withdrawal of the military as the base was shut down in the mid-1960s. Other aerial stations nearby stayed open and Donnie Matheson, the smiley Uig-based local RAF driver, in his minibus was a regular sight for many more years after that as we toiled at the mudbanks that would keep us cosy and warm through those seemingly colder months of yore.

Years later, I joined the RAF myself. One night I was in the Kinloss control tower with a whiskery warrant officer who was an Aird Uig veteran. It was mainly a navigation aid for submarines and the radar could track the Russians. Er, could you actually talk to subs, I asked breathlessly. “When we needed to we could talk to them on extremely low frequency equipment.” Really? Heck. Should I ask what they were putting in the locals’ tea. Better not.

Now, a TV programme on BBC Alba on Monday brought it all back. It was about the community group of people who live in the former RAF accommodation and their plans to buy the out-of-bounds MoD land at Gallan Head and redevelop it all to create a visitor centre which will also feature a café and community hub. They also want to create local jobs and reverse decline in that area.

The cash came through from the Land Fund and the latest plans are for a hydrophone, a kind of underwater listening device, on the sea bed off Gallan Head. It will be linked to a PA system in the visitor centre and will pick up the sounds of marine life including whales, basking sharks and probably large lobsters that have swum over from Bernera.

It will also pick up submarines. Their plan also includes a dark skies space observatory to watch the magnificent heavens. There is so little light polution that it will be stunning. You can see the programme, which is part of the Trusadh documentary series An Àird/Off Radar, on the BBC iPlayer for a few more weeks.

A few years back, I actually met a veteran submariner. He told me how they communicated with bases back then. They used to surface near these stations to wave to their military colleagues who they were often in touch with, although he doesn’t recall any subs coming in to Gallan Head.

If they had come in, they would be encouraged to do some community involvement but the mighty waves there would present a hazard. I knew what he meant. At wave-lashed Gallan Head, it may not be a good idea for a submarine to have an open day.

Rocket Range Could Affect £100 Million Plus Investment
Planned investment of well over £100 million in Ben Loyal, Kinloch and Hope estates by their Danish owner could be in jeopardy should a vertical launch facility for commercial satellites on part of the Melness Crofters estate go ahead.  “It is of concern,” said Thomas MacDonell, director of conservation at Wildland Ltd, which runs the Scottish estates of businessman Anders Holch Povlsen. “It would be difficult if we were trying to sell environmental type wilderness holidays.” He thinks he’d have to advise his employer that this is not the place to invest a large sum of money. “I can’t see that having a designated peat bog up there, one of the largest areas of carbon sequestration in Europe and potentially a rocket coming up there with all the unburnt hydrocarbon that’s bound to be coming out of it, I can’t see that as being good.  We’re trying to redress the overgrazing which has been in Scotland for at least 200 years and we’re trying to show people that there’s a different business model which involves the environment, sport and the sea.” Suspicions have been aired about Mr Povlsen’s motives, claimed to be environmental rather than financial, and there has been criticism of the red-deer culling that goes on on his estates.  Mr MacDonell commented that when Anders Povlsen took over Ben Loyal it carried nineteen deer per square kilometre. Now there are seven and the target is to get that number down to five, to ameliorate the effects of over-grazing. At the higher levels, Scottish Natural Heritage monitoring showed that the estates were in an unfavourable, declining condition, he said. Under European law there’s been a requirement for responsible landowners to change that around, added Mr MacDonell, who was surprised that the previous owner didn’t get round to it since there have been Special Areas of Conservation since 2001. “As responsible landowners we are also interested in restoring woodland as you can see at Glenfeshie Estate where we’ve doubled the Caledonian pine forest since 2006.”  Fewer deer could to lead fewer guns on the hill, the loss of jobs and loss of income, once the target population is reached. Thomas MacDonell sees it differently. “I suppose it’s the type of job that you offer, it will be loads of things involved in that, which is one of the reasons why going to this more exclusive end of the market allows the business model in actual fact to hopefully pay better, hopefully work better.”  Would this not be elitist? “Well, yes, it is actually going to be targeted at the higher end of the market. If we were to go to the lower end, then we would be putting much more pressure, much more flow through of people, of guests. Then that in itself might damage the area.”  Contrary to rumour, Mr Povlsen has not recently added to his already extensive land-holding by purchasing two neighbouring estates. “No”, he added, “we don’t own either Eriboll or Strathmore.”  Although the virtual monopoly enjoyed by the Sutherland Estate in nineteenth century Sutherland ended in tears, no such worries need concern us in the era of Anders Holch Povlsen, said Thomas MacDonell. The present owner, unlike the Sutherlands, aims to make his vast but non-crofting estates sustainable rather than profitable and, again, unlike the Sutherlands, his business plan is based on realistic market conditions. “It was a spike in the sheep trade that encouraged the Clearances,” he suggests. So no-one will lose their home when the estates are reorganised. “No,” agreed Mr MacDonell. “We will work with our key employees — who generally live in these kind of houses — and we will come to an agreement and find an alternative which they like, which suits them.” So nobody who is in a tied house has anything to worry about? “No,” said Mr MacDonell, emphatically.

Litir Bhon A’ Cheathramh le Alasdair MacMhaoirn
Bha inntinneach dhomh a bhith a’ leughadh sa Cholbh aig Malcolm Bangor-Jones sa Bhratach sa mhìos seo chaidh cunntas mu bhàs Eòghan Robasdan. Mar a chaidh a sgrìobhadh bha an duine seo ainmeil airson na rinn e as leth còraichean muinntir an àite, agus fhuair e cliù mar Bhàrd nam Fuadaichean. Am measg na rinn e, rinn e an òran ainmeal Mo Mhollachd aig na Caoraich Mhòr. Chuinnear bho àm gu àm e air Rèidio nan Gàidheal air a ghabhail le Ioseph MacAoidh, Taobh Mhealanais, nach maireann, agus chaidh a sheinn gu grinn leis a’ bhuidheann Ùrachadh. It was interesting to read about the death of Ewen Robertson, the Bard of the Clearances, in Malcolm Bangor-Jones’ column in last month’s Bratach. Ewan was well known for all he did for crofters’ rights. Perhaps his most famous song is, My Curse on the Great Sheep, which can be heard from time to time on Rèidio nan Gàidheal, sung by the late Joseph Mackay, Melness. It was also performed beautifully by the group Ùrachadh.

A rèir col’ais, mar a chuala mi bho Alex George MacAoidh nach maireann, rinn Eòghan faistneach mun a’ bhàs aige fhèin, nuair a thuirt e:
Nauir a laigheas mi air mo chùl druim
Aig faobhar na h-uaigh
Thoir botal dhan mo sgornan
Le òran ‘s ceòl
Mur èirigh, mur òl mi deoch slàint dha na h-uil’
Cuiribh tairig nam bhòrdaibh, cha bheò mise a phill
Nuair a chaidh Eòghan a lorg, ’s ann mar sin a bha gnothaichean, agus mar a thuirt am bàrd fhèin cha do phill e beò.

According to the story I heard from the late Alex George Mackay, Ewen foresaw his own death. He words were:
When I lie on my back
On the edge of the grave
Put a bottle to my throat with song and music
If I don’t rise, or if I don’t toast everyone
Put a nail in my coffin, I will not survive.
When Ewen was found, that’s how things were. As the bard himself had forecast, he didn’t survive.  Air cuspair an là an-diugh, leugh mi mi gu bheil na Nàiseantaich a’ gealltainn ri cùram cloinne suas ri fichead ‘s a deich uair a thìde airson gach leanabh. Tha mi dha-rìribh an dòchas gun tig foghlam ro-sgoil tro mheadhan na Ghàidhlig fon an t-siostam ùr seo. Mur eil, bhiodh pàrantan gu nàdarrach a’ cur an cuid cloinne taobh na Beurla. Ma tha ge-tà, ‘s e cothrom sònraichte a th’ ann.  Turning to contemporary news, I read that the SNP are promising to introduce thirty hours of free child care. I sincerely hope that Gaelic has a part in the system. If there isn’t, then parents will naturally turn to English, but if it is part of the system then it is a wonderful opportunity for Gaelic.

Nuair a bha mi ann an Hawaii a’ tadhal air sgoiltean Hawaiianais, chunnaich mi gu robh na sgoilearan annam P1 fileanta ann an Hawaiianais. ’S ann air saillibh foghlam làidir ro sgoil a bha seo, agus le 30 uairean a thìde thairis air dha no trì bliadhna, dh’fhaodh an aon chothrom a bhith ann airson clann ann am foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig. Abair ceum adhart agus faochadh dha na tidsearan. Chan eil gnothaichean air an obrachadh a-mach gu mionaideach fhathast agus tha taghadh a’ feitheamh oirnn, ach tha mi beò an dòchas!  When I was visiting Hawaiian-medium school a few years ago I saw that the children in P1 were fluent in Hawaiian. This was based upon a thorough pre-school education system. With thirty hours each week over two or three years a similar result could be achieved in Scotland. This would contribute enormously to Gaelic-medium education, and certainly be a help to the teachers. Details have yet to be worked out, and of course an election has to be won, but I’m hopeful.

Chuala mi gu robh coinneamh ann sa Bhlaran Odhar mun an Aonad Gàidhlig a b’ àbhaist a bhith ann an Tung. Gu ruige seo cha chuala mi guth mu na thachair ann. Mar a sgrìobh mi iomadh turas ron seo, b’e dìth taic a bha aig bonn nan trioblaidean. ’S e sin a rud a dh’fheumas a bhith air a chur ceart ge b’e càit am bi an aonad. I heard that there was a meeting in Bettyhill about the Gaelic unit that used to be in Tongue. At the time of writing I haven’t heard how things went. As I’ve written in this column many times before, it was a lack of support that was at the root of the problems. Until that is put right, it won’t make any difference where the unit is situated.

Scottish Party Leaders Publish Tax Returns in Wake of Panama Papers Row
The leaders of four of Scotland's main political parties have now published their tax returns in the wake of the Panama Papers controversy.  At the weekend in light of the Panama Papers leak, Prime Minister David Cameron made public a summary of his taxes after facing criticism about shares he held in an offshore fund set up by his father Ian, a Scottish stockbroker.  Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, and her conservative counterpart Ruth Davidson made their tax returns public on Saturday. Ms Dugdale said she was making the financial information public as a result of the Panama Papers scandal and called on the other party leaders to do the same. Nicola Sturgeon published her tax return yesterday as did Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie; she pledged to do the same each year she remained as First Minister. Ms Sturgeon's return for 2014-15 revealed she had a total income of £104,817 and was charged £32,517 in income tax. An SNP spokesman said: "The First Minister's only income is the salary she receives as an MSP and First Minister.  Nicola Sturgeon pays tax on her full salary entitlement but only draws her salary at its 2008/09 level; the balance is automatically paid to the Scottish Government for use in general public spending.  As a result, in 2014/15 the First Minister paid around £3000 into the Scottish Government consolidated fund(its bank account)," added the spokesman.  Mr Rennie's papers for the same year showed his income was £52,283 and he was charged £10,480.20 in income tax.  Making his financial details public, Mr Rennie said: "Compared with certain other party leaders my tax returns are rather dull but here they are anyway." Ms Dugdale's documents showed she had an income of £57,465 in 2014-15 and was charged £11,250.40 tax. A total of £5242 was classified as "profit from self-employment" through her newspaper columns although the cash went directly to charity MND Scotland. A Labour spokesman said: "The Panama papers showed that the rich elite are playing by different rules from the rest of us."  Ms Davidson's tax return revealed she earned £52,223 in 2014-15 and paid £10,513 in tax.

Plans for £1bn Expansion of Glasgow University Revealed
Plans for a massive £1 billion expansion of Glasgow University have been revealed.  The former Western Infirmary hospital is the site of the new development, which will take shape over the next 10 years.  The hospital buildings, cleared when services were transferred to the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, will be transformed to include a new large-scale teaching and research hub, public spaces and a new College of Arts building. There are also plans to create new buildings for social sciences, the Institutes of Health and Wellbeing and the School of Science and Engineering. It is estimated that 2,500 jobs will be created during the construction of the new buildings. The project is of the biggest investments in education in Scotland. The £1 billion cash injection is more than investment from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Glasgow University principal, Professor Anton Muscatelli, announced the "very ambitious" project on what he said was "an important day in the history of Glasgow University". He said: "This major development will ensure we attract the best students ensuring the Glasgow University continues to one of the best in the world."

Mull Firm Wins Multi-million Pound Wind Farm Support Contract
An Isle of Mull-based marine services firm has won a multi-million contract to help a Danish energy giant develop a wind farm off eastern England.  Inverlussa Marine Services has been appointed by Dong Energy to provide sea support during the construction phase of the Race Bank wind farm around 17 miles off the North Norfolk coast.  The privately owned firm will supply services such as dive support and ship food and spares under the 2.5 year contract.  Ben Wilson, managing director of Inverlussa Marine Services, said the company faced a lot of competition from experienced European vessel operators for the contract.  The contract is the first Inverlussa has won in the renewable energy sector.  It will allow the firm to start generating a return on the £3.5m it invested in support of a move into the sector.  The investment programme included commissioning a purpose built boat, the Helen Mary. This was built in the Macduff shipyards, Aberdeenshire. Inverlussa recruited nine people to work on the vessel and support activity, taking employee numbers to 50.  The contract win shows that the development of the offshore renewables industry in the UK is creating opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises in Scotland.  This may provide compensation for some for the downturn in oil and gas related work in the North Sea following the crude price plunge.  Inverlussa will service the contract through a joint venture with Yorkshire-based Mainprize Offshore, which works in the North Sea. The Inverlussa team and vessel will operate from Grimsby.  Owned by the Wilson family, Inverlussa Marine Services developed out of a fishing business. The company has around £4.5m turnover. It has a mussel farming business on Loch Spelve, in the South East corner of the isle of Mull.  Dong reckons that with a capacity of up to 580 megawatts Race Bank could generate enough electricity to power 400,000 UK homes per year.  The company has interests in 10 wind farms off the UK and says it is investing heavily to increase its portfolio of projects.  It bought Race Bank from Centrica in 2013.

15 Words That Have A Different Meaning in Scotland
If you live in Scotland - or have Scottish relatives - then you probably know the alternative meaning behind these everyday words.  Also known as ‘false friends’, these are words which look and read the same no matter where you are, but have a completely different meaning in different languages or places.  We take a look at fifteen words that might confuse non-Scottish speakers:

HEN - To most of the world, a hen is a female chicken, but in Scots the word is used to mean a woman or girl.  Example: Gie us a kiss hen / you aright hen?
MIND - Refers to a person’s ability to think and reason, but in Scots the word can also mean remember.  Example: Mind and no forget the milk when you go tae the shops
PUDDING - A cake or other dessert? Nope in Scots this word is also used to describe a certain type of sausage, such as black pudding or white pudding. Both often savoured after being battered and served up with chips.  Example: A black pudding supper thanks pal
SLOGAN - Something for advertisers to ponder and debate, or in past times in Scotland, a word that meant Battle Cry and a way to identify your comrades during a fight.
GREETING - A polite way to welcome someone when you see them, or in Scotland another way to describe crying (often used in a derogatory fashion) Example: They were pure greetin’ after the results last night.
POKE - To prod, or in Scotland referring to a cone-shaped container often used to serve fish and chips.  Example: A poke o’ chips thanks miss
AWAY / AWA - This is often used as a replacement for the verb ‘to go’  Example: That’s me awa for the night mum.
BEAMER - A slang word for a BMW car, or in Scotland it means a red face due to embarrassment.  Example: He had a beamer after she asked him out
FAIR - Light, or in Scots meaning very Example: She was a fair bonnie lass / she was fair confused
HILL - A hill is a word normally used to describe a mountain, but in Scotland can be used to describe even the slightest of slopes.  Example: The shops are just up the hill.
MESSAGES - A verbal, written, or recorded communication, or in Scotland a name for your grocery shopping.  Example: Am just stepping out for ma messages.
STAND - In Scotland stand can be another way to describe a set of bagpipes.
TAN - A darker skin tone caused by the sun, or in Scotland to drink something fast. Example: He just tanned that Buckfast
BODY - The physical structure, including the bones, flesh, and organs, of a person. Or in Scotland it can also just mean ‘person’ Example: There’s a body in the bath
MINCE - Finely chopped meat, or in Scotland, that something is terrible  Example: They were pure mince last night

Comment -R
NOT heard in all of Scotland.  Delete "Scotland" and insert maybe "Glasgow" or "Dundee".  But again I’ve a typical Highlanders bias.                    

Five Scottish Philosophers Who Helped Shape the World by Sofiane Kennouche
While Scotland has been prolific in giving the world physical inventions, its tangible contributions to knowledge and understanding from the minds of those such as Adam Smith and Hector Boece cannot be forgotten.

ADAM SMITH, 1723-1790
Often referred to as the “father of capitalism”, Smith is most famous for his text The Wealth of Nations, where he details the guiding principles of political economy. Born in Kirkcaldy in 1723, Smith progressed to the University of Glasgow and then to Oxford by the time he was 17. During his lectures at Edinburgh University in the late 1840s, Smith befriended fellow Scottish philosopher David Hume. His An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is seen as the first work in the discipline of political economy.  With his ideas birthed from the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, Smith urged that the ‘invisible hand’ of self-interest in free-market economies would have the greatest benefit for societies as a whole. Just three years before his death, Smith was named as Rector of the University of Glasgow.

Born in Aberdeen on Christmas Day, Campbell’s popular teachings were well-known during the Scottish Enlightenment, before falling out of favour shortly after the movement began to decline. Campbell learned from divinity lectures at the University of Edinburgh before returning to Aberdeen. The Granite City’s involvement in the Jacobite Uprising in 1745 meant that Campbell’s divinity studies did not conclude until 1746 - when he earned his licence to preach. As a parish minister in Banchory, Campbell translated the Gospels from Greek into English and began to pen The Philosophy of Rhetoric, which he would not publish in its completed form until 1776. He would be one of the founding members of ‘The Wise Club’, or Aberdeen Philosophical Society, along with naturalist David Skene and medical scientist John Gregory. Campbell’s The Philosophy of Rhetoric is memorable for its understanding of human nature as a result of scientific endeavour, and for being influenced by the ‘philosophical common sense’ of fellow intellectual Thomas Reid.

ADAM FERGUSON, 1723-1816
As a moralist, historian and philosopher, Adam Ferguson is often regarded as one of the earliest voices of Scottish sociological study. Born in Logierait, Perthshire, Ferguson was accepted into a divinity course at the University of St Andrews, but later abandoned the ministry after a stint as chaplain of the Black Watch Regiment.  During the late 1750s, Ferguson succeeded David Hume as the librarian at Edinburgh’s Advocates Library before becoming the chair of mental and moral philosophy at the institution. His teachings revolved around the idea that man is a social animal, conditioned by habit, culture and language to learn from past actions. Ferguson also believed that civilised society bred the conditions necessary for war, such as a stratified social system and the professionalisation of the military. He was one of few philosophers to emphasise the ‘good’ that conflict could bring, such as advancements in science and better understanding of the human body.

HECTOR BOECE, 1465-1536
One of Scotland’s eldest fathers of philosophy, Hector Boece was born in Dundee and educated at the then-new University of St Andrews. He took on a professorship in philosophy at the University of Paris after leaving education,  In 1500, Boece left Paris for Aberdeen, where he was involved in the creation of the University of Aberdeen as its first Principal. His appointment allowed him to create the position of Regius Chair of Moral Philosophy; one which continues to this day at the university.  Asides from creating Scotland’s third medieval university and lecturing - oddly - in medicine and divinity, Boece’s other contribution to philosophy included Historia Gentis Scotorum (History of the Scottish People) - his most famous work until his death at the age of 71.

DAVID HUME, 1711-1776
David Hume ranks as one of Edinburgh’s most famous sons thanks to his tireless work during the Scottish Enlightenment. His works - which covered politics, economics and wider society - were pivotal in inspiring the younger Adam Smith to get involved with philosophy, while also being prescient of the modern age.  Hume’s ‘science of human nature’, based on observable fact and careful argument, featured ‘moral theory’ grounded in emotions and empathy. Such was the impact of his views that fellow philosopher Thomas Reid developed the ‘common sense’ school of thought to counter Hume’s views, highlighting the cross-cutting ability of philosophy to deal with societal issues such as economic or religious crises.  Towards the end of his career, Hume fell out spectacularly with fellow philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, during his time as secretary to Lord Hertford in Paris in the early 1760s. He returned to Edinburgh in 1768, where he lived until his death.

Edinburgh Man Caught with £1.6 Million Cannabis Farm
An Edinburgh man caught red-handed at a £1.66 million cannabis farm was snared after a passer-by recognised the pungent smell coming from a disused pub.  At the High Court in Glasgow, Bartosz Gloskowski, 23, of West Granton Road, admitted producing cannabis at the Queen’s Head Inn, Selkirk.  The court was told that, Gloskowski, who claimed to be driving for his own company, Speedtrans, was stopped by customs as he drove through the Channel Tunnel. Two pallets full of scales, lights, vents, fans, chemicals and trays were found.  These are typically used in the cultivation of cannabis.  Customs seized £4800 worth of Polish zloty under the Proceeds of Crime Act and allowed Gloskowski and his cargo into the UK.  Advocate depute David Taylor, prosecuting, said that Gloskowski rented a flat above the Queen’s Inn.  Police were sent to check out the area after a woman phoned to say she had noticed the smell of cannabis.She told officers the smell was growing stronger and said she believed someone was growing cannabis plants.  Mr Taylor said: “When police arrived they could smell cannabis in the street. They then saw the accused open the front door of his flat and noticed an overpowering smell of cannabis from within the property.”  A search of the property revealed that, using the attic space, another flat could be accessed and, from there, a wooden panel was screwed into the floor which gave access to the disused pub. In the second flat there were 50 bags full of stripped plant stalks. When police officers entered through the hatch in the Queens Head Inn they found a large cultivation of cannabis plants.  It was clear that the electricity supply had been bypassed. Gloskowski told police he rented the property for £500, but refused to answer any other questions.  His fingerprints and DNA were found on the inside of four pairs of disposable gloves and bottles of beer and water. Police drug experts said that the maximum street value of the cannabis obtained from the plants would be £1,660,000. Judge Lord Matthews deferred sentence on Gloskowski who is remanded in custody.

Former SNP Leader Says Scotland Could Be Booted Out of UK If its Voters Block Brexit
Scotland could be kicked out of the UK if it blocks a leave vote in the EU referendum, a former leader of the SNP has said.  Gordon Wilson predicted a "constitutional crisis" if a narrow exit vote south of the border is countered by the strong remain vote in Scotland that polls consistently predict.  He raised the prospect of a referendum taking place in England over whether to dissolve the UK which he claimed may force Scotland to become independent regardless of whether the public wants to remain in the union.  Mr Wilson, an ex-MP who led the SNP for 11 years until Alex Salmond succeeded him in 1990, said that Scots had so far viewed the issue through "tartan glasses", with the possibility of a second independence vote if Scotland is dragged out of the EU against its will dominating debate.  However, speaking ahead of a EU debate in Dundee, he asked "what if the boot is on the other foot?"  Mr Wilson said: "Nothing has been said of what could happen where England is forced to stay in Europe because of Scottish votes after the English people had voted to leave.  What will be the reaction in England if the crucial decision of staying is taken by the minor partner, Scotland, against the wishes of the major partner with over 85 per cent of the UK population?  They will certainly be aggrieved. It may provoke a constitutional crisis with English folk quite rightly wanting to hold a referendum to dissolve the UK so that they can control their own destiny. And given the precedent of the Scottish vote, they will have every moral and constitutional right to do so."  Mr Wilson, who said in January that he was still considering how to vote in the EU referendum, said that the scenario would be an "undignified" way to win autonomy but "independence is independence and we shall just have to make the best of it."  He added: "With the polls showing the decision is on a knife edge, no sensible person can discount the outcome and the consequences. I have been around a long time. Radical change is rare. It can and does happen, usually from unforeseen consequences. With the SNP winning 56 MPs and Jeremy Corbyn being elected Labour leader, the planets may be in conjunction for change in the UK."  Ukip leader Nigel Farage, at his party's Scottish manifesto launch last week, was asked about the potential consequences of England voting out in the EU referendum but the overall result being to remain as a result of votes north of the border.  He said: "Ask me a week before the referendum. I'm not yet going to accept that potential outcome either way because I think in rough terms 50 per cent want to stay, 32 per cent want to leave, with those who have stated an opinion in Scotland. I think, have a proper debate in Scotland, and that gap will narrow and be pretty much the same as England."

Comment - R
One country deciding the fate of another is a constitutional crisis, whichever way round it happens. Neither England nor Scotland should be kept in the EU nor taken out of it against the will of their own electorates. That would be the antithesis of democracy. How English politicians would react if Scotland did keep them in Europe by an overall narrow margin is, for now, only speculation but I predict that they wouldn't take kindly to it, nor take it lying down. But if England did decide to dissolve the Union then I for one, although outwith the country, would offer them my wholehearted support.

Runrig Stars to Reunite At Skye Live
Former Runrig bandmates Donnie Munro and Blair Douglas are set to reunite later this month when they take to the stage at Portree’s Skye Live festival.  Taking place at the King George V playing field in Portree on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th April, the festival will see Munro and Douglas reunite for a special performance. Munro — whose son Niall organises the festival along with Ali MacIsaac — proved a hit at last year’s debut event and he has promised to deliver some big crowd favourites during the Saturday-night slot.  He said: “I am really looking forward to playing this year’s Skye Live festival. Last year’s inaugural event was such a great experience and the atmosphere of the ‘home crowd’ just something really special. To be invited back again this year as a ‘special guest’ is a great honour and, on this occasion, to be able to perform along with Blair Douglas, one of my original Runrig colleagues and such a great musician, makes it all the more special. I am sure it is going to be an amazing festival and, with such a brilliant and eclectic line-up over the two nights, it really is the place to be.”  Other acts appearing at the festival include Simian Mobile Disco, Capercaillie, Bicep, Jackmaster and Mercury Music Prize nominee C Duncan.

Scotland At Centre of Diplomatic Spat As Catalan Foreign Minister Prepares to Visit Edinburgh
Scotland is at the centre of diplomatic spat as Catalonia's foreign minister prepares to make an "official" visit to Edinburgh that Spain insists is unauthorised.  Catalan envoy Raul Romeva will fly to Scotland later this month to meet senior SNP figures in what Madrid sees as a clear challenge to its control over international affairs.  Spanish authorities do not recognise Mr Romeva - a veteran campaigner for Catalonia's independence - as his country's foreign minister. They believe that as an official in what they see as a mere "regional" administration, he should clear any international meetings with them. So Mr Romeva's scheduled April 28 visit to Scotland has sparked headlines warning of serious diplomatic consequences for Scotland - especially if the Catalan minister meets his Scottish counterpart, Fiona Hyslop.  In what was seen in Edinbugh as a veiled threat, Madrid daily ABC reported: "The Scottish Government is aware that a meeting between Ms Hyslop and Mr Romeva could provoke discomfort in the Spanish Embassy and a protest to the Foreign office."  The paper, which is close to the caretaker Conservative government of Mariano Rajoy, stressed that Mr Romeva had not informed the Spanish Foreign Ministry about his trip.  Concern about an official reception for Mr Romeva comes despite the fact that Scottish ministers are too busy fighting for their seats in Holyrood elections to meet foreign dignitaries. However, senior party figures will meet Mr Romeva, a former MEP with Catalan Greens, Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds.  SNP MEP Alyn Smith said: "I would think a meeting with any of our Ministers would be unlikely as we are all busy campaigning for re-election, but I certainly will be meeting Raul as we were good colleagues in the European Parliament for ten years and we have much to talk about.  "If this provokes discomfort in Madrid perhaps our Spanish friends might wish to reflect on the discomfort we felt at the intemperate, ill advised and wrong remarks of their Prime Minster during our referendum." Spanish unionists - who have blocked a Scottish-style independence referendum in Catalonia - have been openly hostile to the SNP and its government.  The SNP - which, as ABC reported has traditionally been "cautious" about criticising Spain - has become increasingly close to Catalonia's independence movement in recent months.

NATO Warships Pass Through Pentland Firth
NATO warships were seen going through the Pentland Firth this week after returning from an exercise in the Baltic Sea.  The vessels – the UK frigate HMS Iron Duke, the Spanish frigate Alvaro de Bazan and the Spanish combat replenishment ship Cantabria – passed through Caithness waters on Tuesday.  The warships had been on an exercise in the Baltic and were on their way back to the naval base at Faslane on the Clyde.  The vessels, which form the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), were under the command of Rear Admiral Jose Enrique Delgado, of the Spanish Navy. They visited Riga for a scheduled port visit during the group’s deployment to the North and Baltic seas “to demonstrate the alliance’s solidarity in the region”, according to a spokeswoman. The multinational groups are permanently available to NATO and provide a continuous maritime capability for operations and exercises. The groups routinely operate and train in the region, improving inter-operability and maintaining the highest levels of readiness,” she said. Prior to the visit the group conducted advance exercises in the Baltic Sea and worked along with regional navies and air forces.  “SNMG1 will continue to seek co-operation and exercising opportunities with our NATO allies in the Baltic,” added the spokeswoman.

Last Updated (Saturday, 16 April 2016 03:12)