Category: Reviews

Seasonal Greetings and Christian Values

In their recent Seasonal Messages the leaders of all our main political parties called in one way or another for a return to Christian values.  It wasn’t always clear whether these values included belief in a deity, but the party-leaders were unanimous about charity.  Perhaps they would also want to include humility?  This would be a fine thing.  After all, it was of this grace that Augustine said that it was the first thing in Christianity, and the second thing, and the third thing; and if our leaders espouse it we are left with an alluring picture of Messrs Cameron, Milliband and Clegg standing outside No. 10 each saying to the other, ‘After you!’ (with a wistful Mr. Salmond looking on).

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Independence: Greater Personal Freedom?

Once more into the breach.  I fervently hope it’s for the last time; and I fervently hope I have not been born to write the obituary of my country.

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Life in an Independent Scotland

The question on everyone’s lips is, What would life be like in an independent Scotland?  At least, that’s what the political and chattering classes think is on everyone’s lips.

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Door-stepped by the Referendum

First, a word about the national religion, football.  Former Cardiff City manager, Malky Mackay, found himself in hot water last week when it was alleged that he had sent racist and homophobic texts to a pal.  He’ll shortly be sentenced to be boiled alive; or at least, banned from all football-related activity.

As a Gaidheal I have a vested interest in opposing racism, and I cannot see that a man’s gender orientation has any bearing whatever on his prowess as a footballer.  But have we really reached the point where malice can put private correspondence in the public domain and ruin a man in a day?

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Hiding Under a Myth: Independence and the Declaration of Arbroath

But then on Monday I was ambushed (sorry for being so abrupt).  It’s hard to explain how it happened.  The Referendum campaign is driving me nuts, forcing me to adopt a life-style which minimises the risk of bumping into it.  It’s turned me into a fugitive, compelled to walk in the shadows and send out advance-parties to make sure it’s not there.  These are days when a man’s got to watch what he sees and hears.

And if there’s one place where you’re bound to meet Referendum it’s Reporting Scotland; and on Monday night my guard slipped or, more precisely, I got the timing wrong.  I usually manage to switch on just in time for the weather-forecast (it’s important to know whether there’s going to be sunshine and showers in my study tomorrow), but this time, to my horror, Remote put on Referendum; and, paralytic with shock, I froze, unable to switch off.

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Independence, Scottishness and Armed Cops

Few issues of principle have taken the foreground in the Referendum debate.  Instead it has remained obsessed with one question, ‘Will we or won’t we be better-off?’ and this in turn dissolves into statistics which are no sooner heard than forgotten.  Few of us want to clutter our heads with figures about Scotland’s contribution to the UK economy, the funding our universities receive from the UK Research Council or the number of barrels of oil that still remain under the North Sea.  Apparently the nett result of such calculations is that Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and this, claim the partitionists, is clear proof that we can go it alone; to which the clear-headed might surely reply that, on the contrary, it is clear proof that Scotland has done very well under the Union.  We ain’t broke, so please don’t fix us.

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Is Independence Really a "Vision"?

Even the slightest hint of a possible increase in the Yes! vote in the forthcoming referendum gives me a severe attack of the heebie-jeebies.  Why break one nation in two, why partition one small island, and why turn our back on institutions which for generations have served as models for other democracies, and delivered levels of prosperity matched by few other nations on earth?

Yet, there have been hints recently that the Yes! campaign is gathering momentum, and there seem to be two main reasons for this.

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Homo Economicus: Measured by the Market

We’re seldom allowed to forget that we live in a multi-racial, multi-faith and multi-cultural world.  Yet across all the divides there is one great leveller: the market.

At some levels it’s harmless enough.  Everyone enjoys Coca Cola and everyone uses a mobile phone.  But at other levels it’s far from harmless.  The market delivers cocaine as well as coffee, and great multi-nationals bulldoze their way serenely through ancient habitats and traditional cultures.  What Solomon said of the grave is now true of the market.  It is never satisfied.

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Scotland's Future: Independence from Mr Salmond

The danger with the independence referendum is that few seem to have any idea of the scale of what’s envisaged.  It’s not about what used to be called Home Rule.  Nor is it a mere Devolution Upgrade.  It’s about making England a foreign country.  It’s about making Scotland independent in the same sense as Australia is independent: part of the Commonwealth, with occasional visits by HM the Queen as titular Head of State.

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Independence and the Apostles of Negativity

It’s October, the SNP party-conference is over, soon it will be September and any day now we should hear someone roll out the arguments for a Yes-vote vote in the forthcoming referendum.  

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