Friday, August 29, 2014


We do have Public Holidays in Scotland but the recent late August Bank Holiday is an English one. Scotland fixes a late Summer holiday weekend at the beginning of August.  Public holidays in Scotland tend to tie in with local culture, norms and traditions.

Earlier this week I found myself in a bar/restaurant in Inverness, the Capital City of The Highlands Of Scotland. It was one of a major chain networked throughout the United Kingdom.  

Although we arrived in time for the weekday meal offer,  customers were told that there was no special meal deal (two meals for £10) because it was a Bank Holiday.  A Bank Holiday - whose Bank Holiday!?

The Barman, through whom I placed my food order, thought that over time the  late August holiday had crept in, in some places as an addition and in others, as a replacement for the earlier one Scotland traditionally has. 

"What" says I, "do you think will happen to the Bank Holidays in the event of a 'yes' vote for Scottish Independence?"

Him- quick as a flash  " There probably won't be any!".........

The  barman then talked about his view of the impending referendum and told me how he would be voting.

The Independence Vote has engaged all age groups of the population in Scotland and born Scots, who, for whatever reason are out of the country and who are gnashing their teeth because they are not allowed to participate in the vote. (You have to have been living in Scotland for six months prior and be registered to take part). 

Even people waiting at bus stops in Edinburgh got chatting to each other,  bouncing off thoughts and ideas about the referendum.  All of them were keen to know and to get to hear for themselves, what populations in other parts of Scotland might vote for.  One woman was surprised to hear there were no regular political meetings where I live 'on the periphery of civilisation'.  One Member Of The Scottish Parliament (MSP) had put himself out to visit when I happened to be elsewhere, I explained.  He deserves a lot of Brownie points for making the effort that no-one else in the Scottish Parliament has considered emulating.


Vincent said...

O ZACL! You will be part of this momentous decision so soon. I thought everything was clear in my mind, though of course I don't have a vote. I dislike Alec Salmond very much as revealed by all the TV appearances and utterances I've come across.

But now, having spent a few days in Dublin, and in particular this morning having taken the tour of Kilmainham Jail, now restored as a visitor attraction, it being the place where the main protagonists of the Easter Rising were executed by firing squad, I have to consider it differently. An Irishman or Irishwoman, I can't remember which, had said, "Look at us now, a republic, free from Britain, what do you think?" Of course it is a tricky comparison. I love Ireland with an emotion I could never feel about Scotland, I can't express why. Ireland went through so much for its independence, Its Famine exposed the infamy, its Celtic Revival and martyrs tipped the balance.

With Scotland it seems a whim based on base greed, foolish sentiment and misplaced calculation.

I can only wish Scotland well, but if it goes alone, it must go alone without rescue from the strong companion it has childishly cut loose from. On that basis, if it succeeds, wonderful.

ZACL said...

Gosh! how do I reply to your comment Vincent?

I am wondering if you deliberately create a perversity here or, whether you are simply demonstrating the southern and Westminster centric propaganda that has been the closest voice in your ear in that part of the world where I used to live and where you do live.

Vincent said...

Thanks, ZACL, you have given enough indication of your view on the referendum. I shall desist from further comment.

Vincent said...

Breaking a vow made a few seconds ago, I'd like to clarify that I don't side with Westminster, and am not aware of any specifically Southern view apart from a wish spread throughout the UK, in varying proportions, that the UK not be broken up.

I do dislike Westminster propaganda and have a strong antipathy to all the party leaders without exception, i.e. Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage and most of the next rung of ministers etc. So this puts dislike of Salmond in a better proportion.

My love of Ireland however is something deep and direct, Wales to a lesser extent. Scotland is difficult. I only know Edinburgh really, like it very much but cannot see the basis for a profound nationalism which would want to break away from England. Even though there are so many things which they do better there in Scotland. In fact that (wanting to break away) seems a definition of perversity, if we are to bandy that word about. If Westminster is awful, it's not awful just because it's in England. It has Scottish MPs, Welsh MPs . . .

I see a single nation with strong regional variations. Ireland is a special case for historical reasons. It has done well but look how long it took, how much blood was spilt etc.

To do such a radical thing with a mere referendum is against everything, against the entire history of our Island race. This is not southern propaganda. It took hundreds of years to assimilate picts, scots, norsemen, celts, saxons, and worst of all the Normans, because of their brutal conquest. In fact I don't think Great Britain has quite recovered from that in a thousand years.

The referendum should never have been allowed, unless it was done through a calculation that the Noes would win and that would bury the matter.

ZACL said...

I am not going to publicly indicate any personal preferences other than to say I shall vote. My near ancestors were suffragists and I shall not waste their efforts to gain the franchise by not following through what they worked hard for, therefore, I shall vote.

Traces of Perfidious Albion can be seen in many parts. There has been much blood spilt and many cruelties exercised, be it recent or not so recent histories. In turn, those who were done unto, did unto others. Awful lessons learnt were perpetrated elsewhere.

It does not sound so different to those events unfolding in other parts of the world at present, sad to say.

The Scottish referendum has been sanctioned, albeit on Westminster's terms; only one question allowed on the ballot paper, not the two originally proposed. Yet, to confuse the issue, Westminster proposes to offer, (it says) that which it would not allow a vote on, if the outcome is 'no'.

BTW in the aftermath of the global financial crash, London offered a huge rescue plan to Dublin which was accepted. It's an interesting perspective on political relationships with near neighbours.

Meantime, I shall continue to think about where my mark will go.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting exchange, aptly illustrating the depth of feeling and opinion on either side. I have yet to find sufficient unbiased information to guide my opinions one way or t'other - not that that will make any difference to the Scots! I await the outcome with great interest.

I also muse on the immense and headlong rush over the past half century or more, for independence and cultural identity freed from multi-country leagues, empires and ideologies. I can understand it much more in ex-communist countries where whole nations were forcibly made to appear uniform. I can also understand the desire and struggle for independence, especially from empires which have abused whole cultures.

The Scots are a somewhat different story ... in the end, I suspect that people will vote less with their heads and more with their guts, but who can say?

ZACL said...

From my viewpoint, Gilly, you make very perceptive comments.

The Scots have never forgiven the Conservatives/unionists for the political cruelties and experimentations visited upon them by Margaret Thatcher's Government. memories are long. I should say, I was living in my home town of London at that time, yet, I was very much aware of what was happening. Some areas and their populations have not yet fully recovered from what happened then. There is just one Unionist /Conservative MP in Scotland now. Incidentally, this is why Malcolm Rifkind, who lives in Edinburgh, who was a respected senior Conservative Minister, stood for a safe Conservative seat in London.

Add to the abovem Glasgow, a cultural enigma an entity of its own, with strong ties to Ireland and its political scenes, you have a recipe for the three Macbeth witches' brew.
Glasgow is the city with high social poverty and the greatest density of population in Scotland, therefore, that is where it is expected the largest number of votes will be cast.

Both sides have persuasive arguments, and downright dubious ones, which, leads me to believe there will be a significant bunch of votes that will be the last moment gamble. It has always been said that votes will be cast through head or heart. I would add that some votes will be cast with head and heart; not always opposing bedfellows, if that is the case.

I don't subscribe to this, however, maintaining schism in all walks of life has and may continue to be an acceptable political route to retaining authority and power. There is talk of the need for cultural understanding abroad, there is a need for it closer to home as well. The Westminster bubble is just too rarefied to be able to take on board and respect the variations on its doorstep; here I do not refer just to Scotland.

Parliamentary representatives arriving at Westminster from all parts of Britain very quickly go native, ending up representing the establishment and not their constituencies. I do not see much difference in members' behaviours in the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh, or,those of the Welsh Assembly. Alors, plus ca change!

As you say ...... who can say?

ZACL said...

Vincent,apropos the Union - v - an Independent Scotland I am sending you a link which you may find interesting to read.

Vincent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vincent said...

Having spoken to some relatives today, one of whom is likely to go into (Labour) politics after he graduates, I feel ready to take a more broad-minded view of the whole business, ready to see how it appears to the young people who will live long enough to see it through & make it work. So I am climbing down from a strictly Unionist position. I really will wish Scotland success in its adventure/experiment, if it goes that way.

Sorry but I didn't find the Guardian/Observer article interesting, but irresponsible and unbalanced, completely unsuited to the seriousness of the decision which has to be taken. Such journalism is considerably more unpleasant than anything in the Daily Mail, in my view.

Snowbird said...

Which ever way the Scottish wish to go I hope all works out for them. I can imagine how everyone is discussing it though and good that people are all being brought together. It is a huge decision isn't it, a very historic moment!xxx

ZACL said...

Hi Vincent,

I, too, found the Observer article a bit too much 'press-eaze'. The biggest flaw in the thesis was that it sanctified Alec Salmond without any foundations given for doing so. Had the writer taken a more sober approach any valid arguments may have flowed better.

Here's another link. The post and the discussional thread put the Observer article in the shade. It is an example to the politicians of all shades, how debates should and can be conducted.

ZACL said...

Hi Snowbird,

It is a momentous time. The kinds of chat and discussion about the referendum is fascinating. This is a fertile pasture for any budding sociologist.

A family member was totally diplomatic....'both sides have valid arguments as do both sides have weaker ones'. A comment that shows interest but also carefully avoids 'internecine strife'.


Vincent said...

"Here's another link" - now your description does interest me, but I don't see the link.

ZACL said...

Not sure what happened there Vincent. Perhaps Blogger has some angst with Wordpress. Hopefully, you'll get this link.

Vincent said...

Thanks for the link. I liked the tone of it. Facts and predictions are arguable either way, but I feel much more adventurous about the whole thing - ready to accept either verdict of the Scottish people, and an interested but uncommitted bystander of what happens afterwards, either way.

In gratitude for your link, I give you this one:

It's not one that I agree or disagree with, but represents a recognizable point of view, one which I completely distance myself from, for its jaded negativity. Yet I'm sure that the caricature fits certain people. the only place I've seen evidence of it, I think, is The Guardian, but so what, my contacts are limited, it's a big world and you'll find all kinds of weird ideas represented, & it's a moot point as to how much they matter in the bigger scheme of things.

My own view would be that the English have a peculiar lack of self-identity & keep their patriotism under wraps. If someone for example were to display the flag of St George or even the Union Jack on their premises, you cannot help wondering about the nature of the statement they are trying to make.

My aunt used to have a flag of St George on her front door. It was not from support of the England football team. I knew it was a coded advertisement for her racism when, not long before her death as it happens, she refused to meet me with my wife K, who is Jamaican.

And yet, living on this street 50 yards from the mosque, it would be very convenient to display our British identity (yes both of us) to all these people who knock on the door "collecting for Gaza", or whatever; but then, the moment they see a white face (or indeed K's, if she should answer the door) they apologize and go to the next house, which may well have a quote from the Koran in Arabic on its front door.

This is not British self-loathing, more likely not wanting to stir up any currents, or be confused with English nationalism, which is assumed universally I think to be hostile to immigration and vaguely Fascist, whereas no such stigma apparently attaches itself to the Scottish equivalent.

Compare for example the BNP and the SNP, & how they seem to evoke images of vileness and virtue respectively.

Me, I don't know what to think. When cornered I remind myself I'm Australian by birth.

Flighty said...

Sorry I read this post then forgot to comment.
An interesting post, and comments.
I think that I would vote yes, but I believe the result will be no by a fairly narrow margin.
Flighty xx

ZACL said...

Hi Vincent,

I read the dystopian article in the Telegraph, which, is a good representation of The Telegraph, but you would expect it to be. It has opposite style parallels to the Guardian/Observer article.

What do I take from it? I find it a very Orwellian depressive essay, the core premise of which is very much open to challenge. I, for one, would not accept the judgement that I have been ashamed of my Britishness, whatever I voted for.

There is one perceptive comment about the no campaign; to date it has been rather quiet. With the gap between the aye and nay camps apparently closing,(according to survey groups) the unionists are going to have to take stock.

ZACL said...

Hi Mr F,

I am very interested to know why you would vote 'yes'. would you enlighten me? (BTW, I would ask the same question if you had said the opposite).

In addition, am also interested in your prediction.

Thank you for your comment XX

Anonymous said...

I would vote yes because I think that at present Scotland has the worse of all worlds politically speaking. I have little respect for, or trust in, politicians in general and feel that our government/parliament is no longer 'fit for purpose' to use their own convoluted language.
I simply feel that Scotland would be no worse off voting yes, and in the long term may even be better off.
My prediction for the result is no more than a guess. Flighty xx

ZACL said...

Thank you Mr F, for sharing your thoughts. I hear much as such, as you describe.

It is a sad state of affairs when we have no confidence in our systems of governance.

One thing is for sure, whatever the outcome, there will be a voting turnout in the Scottish Referendum, which Westminster would give its eye teeth for.